West Seattle schools: Community performance planned for ‘Wizard of Oz’ featuring Gatewood first-gradersMarch 27, 2015 at 11:47 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS culture/arts | No Comments
The book is 115 years old. The movie, 76 years old. But “The Wizard of Oz” as a story is ageless and timeless .. as evidenced by the Gatewood Elementary first-graders’ production. It was staged the past two mornings, but if you didn’t happen to be in the audience, there’s good news – a performance has been added, in the evening on April 7th, with the community invited to see it! More on that shortly. First, parent Jena Inghram shared photos and information about the production:
Their amazing veteran teacher, Mrs. Donna Schwendeman, has spent the last month helping her first-graders prepare for their own musical production of “The Wizard of Oz”. This has been a huge labor of love for our kids and she has put in many many hours of her own time.
A little bit about what they learned along the way…
In preparation for this play, Donna read aloud The Wizard of Oz while the students drew mental images of the story to share out each day. They viewed the movie and discussed the characters in depth. Each student received a full script that was read aloud in class. Students were asked to list 3 characters that they were interested in playing and were cast accordingly. Donna arranged for a field trip experience to see a production of Cinderella…they discussed and critiqued it. A professional actor was invited to Room 2 to discuss his experiences and to teach theater technique (voice projection, etc.). Students and families came together and assisted in set and costume design.
Parent comment: These first graders are amazing- all of them! They sing a capella solos…And read, memorize, and follow along with a huge script. They remember props and cues better than the adults and remind us when we mess up! And especially to the kids who aren’t in as many scenes, they have had to wait patiently during the many hours of rehearsals supporting their peers who had more speaking parts. These kids proposed creative ideas about the set and the costumes and they helped manifest them. What an amazing experience, Mrs. Donna Schwendeman has given this lucky class of first graders. We are all so grateful for the creativity and the exposure to the arts that she brings to Gatewood.
Now, about the community performance, added, Jena says, after so much great feedback about the play: 6:30-7:30 pm Tuesday, April 7th, in the cafeteria at Gatewood (4320 SW Myrtle), with $5 admission at the door, a donation to start an arts fund at the school.
Thanks to Howard Chilcott for this report on the Chief Sealth International High School Seahawks‘ first week of baseball:
Our Seahawks are off to a nice start to their Metro schedule, posting a 2 win/1 loss record over week 1. That includes strong wins over Ingraham and Franklin and a heartbreaker yesterday vs. Lakeside. Highlights have included strong pitching, increasingly solid defense, and big hits as the team is developing nicely early in the season.
The schedule includes a rematch with Lakeside away on Friday, then Ballard on Monday, 4 pm at SWAC! Also, please join us in supporting the boys at their Annual Spaghetti Dinner & Auction Saturday 4/4 at the School Galleria, 6 pm.
(Sealth is at 2600 SW Thistle.)
(2014 photo by Greg Slader)
See a baseball game free at Safeco Field this Saturday – while cheering for local players! West Seattle High School assistant baseball coach Bryan Tupper shares the reminder:
Come out and support West Seattle High School Baseball at Safeco Field. WSHS continues the annual tradition of playing in the High School Baseball Classic for the 9th year in a row! This year, they take on Sedro Woolley from the Northwest Conference. Admission is free and concession stands will be open.
The game is at 12:30 pm Saturday (March 28th).
Global Reading Challenge: Scenes from the finals, featuring teams from West Seattle, Lafayette ElementariesMarch 25, 2015 at 9:09 am | In West Seattle books, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 3 Comments
(Tuesday night WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
We went downtown last night for the 20th annual Global Reading Challenge finals, in which West Seattle Elementary‘s Reading Warriors (above) and Lafayette Elementary‘s Rad Radical Hyperactive Jellyfish (below) were among the seven teams that made the cut from around the city.
Even this event was affected by the southbound Highway 99 closure – our area’s teams made it in time, heading northbound, but the start time was postponed so everyone could arrive from the north end. Ahead – scenes from the competition:
Click to read the rest of Global Reading Challenge: Scenes from the finals, featuring teams from West Seattle, Lafayette Elementaries…
Thanks to Caryn Johnson for this report on today’s West Seattle High School varsity baseball game on a showery afternoon at Hiawatha:
Sophomore Carson Wright started on the mound and pitched 5 2/3 innings. He pitched well against a big-hitting O’Dea team. Giving up 11 hits, but only giving up 6 runs (4 earned). He struck out 3, hit one, and didn’t walk any. Freshman Anthony Coats came into pitch in the 5th inning and pitched the remaining of the game not giving up a hit.
Jamie Maples led the team on the offensive side of the ball with 4 hits and 2 RBI’s. Morgan McCullough also had a good outing with 3 hits and 1 RBI. As a team they had 9 hits.
Defense had their first test of the season against the big bats of O’Dea. Everyone on the field got into the action and recorded outs. The highlight on the defensive side was a 6-4-3 double play in the top of the 7th inning by Morgan McCullough, Jack Page and Alex Pastrana. This closed out the top of the 7th and gave West Seattle one more shot to score some runs. In the end they fell a little short, losing to O’Dea, 6-4.
WSHS is on the road for its next game, Wednesday against Cleveland at Rainier Beach HS.
Thanks to West Seattle High School teacher Rebecka McKinney for sharing photos and info on a big event this past week – the biggest-ever Diversity Dinner organized by the WSHS Diversity Club, with more than 200 people attending, the largest turnout ever, and performances including members of the wider community as well as students:
The night started at 6 p.m. with a wide variety of cultural food that people brought to share. There were many cultures represented with a variety of dishes that included pad Thai, injera, lasagna, pupusas, pan dulce, rice and beans, lumpia and many more.
“It was a great turnout, even more than I expected,” said senior Diversity Club co-president Emily Fiso. “It was a great atmosphere, seeing different cultures interact with each other.”
After everyone got food, the entertainment began with the WSHS Latino Club.
They performed the punta dance. This group included WSHS seniors Shaneen Walter-Edwards, Brian Silva and Maaza Tsegai.
“It meant a lot to me to be able to perform because there’s not very many Hondurans in Seattle,” said Walter-Edwards. “I was happy to share my culture.”
Next was an Eritrean dance group that performed a Tigrinya dance.
This group included three WSHS students as well.
After the Eritrean dance, the WSHS Chinese class performed a traditional Lion Dance.
Chinese teacher, Su-Chun King, put this performance together.
Mahelet Wondie from Chief Sealth High School followed this with a spoken word piece on Africans and Americanization.
WSHS senior Kate Longabaugh followed that with a traditional Irish dance piece:
Next up was a local mariachi band that was made up of students and adults, some of who attend Chief Sealth:
The Mt. Rainier and Kennedy High School Pacific Islander Club followed this up with two Samoan dances and one Hawaiian dance.
“It was nice to be able to see my own culture represented,” said Fiso, a Samoan student who invited the club to perform. “I like how they brought a different energy to the crowd and everyone was involved.”
The final group of the night was the Northwest Tap Connection African class performing the kuku. This group included performers from age 5-17, led by Ms. Lakema Bell.
“I thought it was really nice that the African dance class could incorporate that type of dancing with people of all ages,” said senior attendee Shaheeda Kariko.
The night ended with a cultural fashion show that represented many of the cultures of WSHS.
This included Irish, Filipino, Somalian, Ethiopian, Yakima Nation, Samoan, Nigerian, Namibian, Eritrean, Moroccan, and Mexican.
“I was really happy to help bring different communities together,” said junior Diversity Club co-president Meron Mulu. “This was the first year we reached out to connections our students had outside of West Seattle. It’s not only important to celebrate culture, but it’s fun.”
See a list of WSHS’s many cultural, service, and interest groups/clubs on the school website.
High-school baseball: West Seattle shuts out Rainier Beach. P.S. – Boosters still selling M’s tickets!March 21, 2015 at 1:54 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | 3 Comments
The West Seattle High School baseball team won its first conference game of the season on Friday in a big shutout, 12-0 over Rainier Beach. Thanks to Caryn Johnson for the photo and report:
Jamie Maples #6 pitched the entire game. He struck out 12 and only gave up 1 hit. The West Seattle defense was able to keep Rainier Beach off the bases for the most part, only allowing one runner to reach as far as 2nd base. Lots of offense for the game by West Seattle. In the 2nd inning, they sent 11 batters to the plate.
Next game is Monday against O’Dea, at Hiawatha at 3:30.
Also coming up, the team’s game vs. Sedro Woolley at Safeco Field, one week from today, 12:30 pm on March 28th, admission free! To qualify for the High School Baseball Classic at Safeco again NEXT year, as well as to raise money for the Wildcats’ team, boosters are selling tickets for a Mariners game THIS season – 7:10 pm Monday, June 22nd, vs. Kansas City. You can buy one or more $12 tickets by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. (You’ll get a reply with info on what to do from there.)
Dancing, drumming, and dinner were part of the festivities last night at Highland Park Elementary, as Native community members, family, and friends gathered for a Traditional Mini Pow Wow. We photographed Duwamish Tribe chair Cecile Hansen after the blessing she gave to open the event:
This was the second year of the event.
The group Niksokowaak – “all my children, all my relatives” – organized the Pow Wow.
(Rendering envisioning the new school’s interior)
As construction continues on the new elementary school at the site of the former Genesee Hill Elementary, the process of deciding what to call it has just expanded to include you! Here’s the announcement:
The West Seattle community, along with Schmitz Park Elementary families, staff and Genesee Hill School alumni, are being invited to submit suggestions for the name of the new school building being constructed to replace the old building on the Genesee Hill school site.
This Seattle Public Schools Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) project was approved by Seattle voters in February 2013. The Schmitz Park Elementary program is scheduled to move into the new building at the Genesee Hill site in September, 2016.
“We hope to select a name that honors our legacy as Schmitz Park Elementary, while building a new tradition, in a new location, on Genesee Hill,” said Gerrit Kischner, Principal, Schmitz Park Elementary.
If you wish to nominate a name, including the current Genesee Hill School name, please email it
to email@example.com. All nominations need to be received by March 31, 2015. Please include the criteria for why the name should be selected. Seattle Public Schools’ School Board naming procedure states that the naming of new buildings should be selected based upon: (a) geographical location or local community name; or (b) distinguished individuals who have served the local community, state, or nation, whether in education or other fields.
Once names have been received, a committee that includes a representative from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society will compile the names. The community will then be asked to vote for their preferred name. The results of the poll, along with other submitted information, will be used to make a recommendation that will be sent to the Seattle Public Schools superintendent for review and consideration. The superintendent would then make a recommendation to the School Board for approval. For more information, please visit schmitzparkpta.org.
From Madison Middle School librarian Stacia Bell, word of a big event next week:
Next Tuesday, March 24th, popular young-adult author Marissa Meyer will be visiting Madison Middle School to talk with students about her Lunar Chronicles dystopian series and her experience being an author. There will be two author talk assemblies in the Madison cafeteria—one at 9:40 and the other at 1:30 — and parents and families are welcome to attend. Marissa will also be selling and signing her books after each assembly for interested students. Paperback copies of the books will be on sale for $10.95 and hardback copies for $19.70. Students and families can pay with cash or check (make checks out to University Book Store). Students are also welcome to bring previously purchased copies of her books to get them personally signed by Marissa. And as always, all of the books in this series will be available for checkout in our Madison Library. Contact Madison Librarian Stacia Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions. Hope to see you out!
If you couldn’t make it to Madison Middle School last night for the PTA-organized presentation by/discussion with Seattle Police and Parks personnel, no worries, we recorded it on video. (No slide decks, so you can just listen to it in the background by playing the video, too.)
Starting at about 4 minutes in (after an introduction by PTA president Carla Rogers), the first presenter was SPD’s local Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon, who gave an overview of the situation – since the first of the year, in the Southwest Precinct‘s coverage area (West Seattle/South Park), police have investigated 17 incidents in which youth were targeted. Most of the robbers stole their victims’ cell phones; Solomon stressed the importance of not going around openly using your electronics. Most of them were, like their victims, youths, he said. He answered lots of questions about what advice to give kids, both about prevention and about what to do if something happens. Then at about 32 minutes in, Seattle Parks security supervisor Marlan Teeters spoke. His part of the discussion included community-center lockdown policies. And at about 49 minutes in, Madison principal Dr. Robert Gary spoke about school policies and procedures – including an explanation of “shelter in place” vs. “lockdown,” and also why parents will likely hear about one or the other before the school gets a robo-call or other notification out. Dr. Gary also talked about traffic/pedestrian safety outside the school and said they’re working with SDOT on ways to calm the morning traffic, in particular.
P.S. Find out more about the Madison PTA here.
From Laura Martin with West Seattle HS‘s Music Boosters – if you weren’t there, her reader report and photos show you what happened at the Big Band Dinner Dance!
There was an impressive amount of talent on display at West Seattle High School last Friday night! Guests attending the annual Big Band Dinner Dance dined on a gourmet meal prepared by students in the Culinary Arts program, and danced to top-notch big band music performed by students in the Jazz Ensemble [below].
Dancers of all ages also had a lot of fun swing dancing to the fabulous music of the West Seattle Big Band [below], who performed at the event, and who very generously support the music program at West Seattle High School.
Led by WSHS teacher Danielle Warman [front/center below], students in the ProStart Culinary Arts program prepared a beautiful and delicious buffet of entrees, salads and side dishes for over 150 guests.
After dinner the Culinary Arts students followed up by serving delectable desserts. Guests raved about the dinner, as behind the scenes, 25 students prepped, cooked, plated, and served.
Under the direction of Music Teacher Ethan Thomas, the Jazz Ensemble performed a range of pieces that quickly brought the audience to the dance floor. Jazz Ensemble students rehearse daily for an hour before school for the entire school year, and nearly all of the students also are enrolled in a regular band or orchestra class period during the day.
The proceeds from this fundraising event will help fund travel expenses for orchestra, band and jazz band students to participate in music competitions and festivals. Thanks to everyone who attended and made this event such a success and so much fun!
(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
Crosstown rivals faced off today as high-school boys’ soccer got going, with Chief Sealth International High School (in red) and West Seattle High School (in white) facing off at Walt Hundley Playfield in High Point.
The game, played in intermittent rainshowers, ended in a 1-1 tie. Sealth’s goal was by Abdiaziz Hursane, WSHS’s goal by Carter Mensing.
Next up: The Wildcats play Nathan Hale at Adams, 3:30 pm Thursday; the Seahawks host Cleveland at home, 4 pm Friday.
(Click image to see full-size, full-details flyer)
Tomorrow’s the night the Madison Middle School PTSA is hosting a special meeting with information about keeping kids safe:
Our Children’s Safety and Security is of paramount importance to each of us. If the recent reports of lewd or violent behavior by unknown suspects in West Seattle has you worried about your kids, then you can’t afford to miss the Student Safety Night Event that Madison PTSA has put together for you!
From advice for routine issues like safely crossing busy intersections, social-media pitfalls, to alarming issues like how to respond to and handle a potential threat by an attacker or mugger, we will host experienced experts to share their insights with you!
Join us for this FREE informational event on March 18th at the Madison Middle School Library and learn from our Special Guests like Mark Solomon – Crime Prevention Officer from Seattle Police Department’s South Precinct and Marlan Teeters, Security Supervisor for Hiawatha Park. As usual we will also have our Principal, Dr. Gary, in attendance to represent safety on campus at Madison.
The meeting will be at 7 pm in the library at Madison; the campus is at 45th/Spokane.
9:00 AM: Seattle’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration was actually back on Saturday – the downtown parade. Thanks to Denny International Middle School for photos of the Denny Marching Band in action that day: “Congratulations to the scholars in the Denny International Middle School Marching Band for doing a great job marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday. The music and marching was outstanding! Thank you, Mr. Pimpleton and volunteers, for all of your hard work and support! Go Dolphins!”
As previewed here on Saturday morning, the running order also included the West Seattle High School Band. (Sorry, no photo! We’ve been able to cover the parade in the past but this year, with a historic election ahead, we were covering the VIEWS-presented candidates’ forum.)
ADDED 10:42 AM: Thanks to Laura for the WSHS video from the parade:
If you’re a parade fan, mark your calendar for the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day next year!
Congratulations, Global Reading Challenge finalists from West Seattle and Lafayette Elementary SchoolsMarch 16, 2015 at 10:45 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments
We’ve been watching the Seattle Public Library‘s page for the Global Reading Challenge – the “Battle of the Books” for 4th and 5th graders – awaiting word of any local teams who made it to the GRC finals one week from tomorrow – and finally the list is up: Congratulations to the Reading Warriors from West Seattle Elementary in High Point and the Rad Radical Hyperactive Jellyfish from Lafayette Elementary in Admiral! They and seven other teams from non-WS schools will be in the final round at 7 pm March 24th at the Central Library downtown. Here, by the way, are the books in the GRC this year.
ADDED 11:47 AM MONDAY: Thanks to Laura Bermes from WSES for the photo added above and more info on their team: “This is West Seattle Elementary’s 2nd year participating … Congratulations to our team: Merichle, Dan, Jimmy, Nelson, Leyla, Jordan & Amer!”
4th-grade PE students had an audience at Highland Park Elementary School this morning.
Physical-education professionals are gathered in Seattle for the SHAPE (Society of Health and Physical Educators) America national convention this week, and today dozens of them visited several SPS campuses to check out unique programs, such as flag football that’s played at HPES as part of an NFL collaboration:
Teacher Kevin Schmidt leads this program at Highland Park.
What the kids showed off today are drills they do after their teacher explains the objective, as the students write it down:
Once they have grasped the goal, it’s on with the drill. Highland Park Elementary, by the way, was the only West Seattle stop for the visitors from the conference, and it was the first school they visited on their all-day citywide tour.
When PTAs and PTSAs raise money for their schools, it’s usually for academic and enrichment necessities that just can’t be covered by the school budget. Right now at Denny International Middle School, the PTA finds itself raising money to keep kids safe, in the wake of the recent robberies/assaults against students in their area (and elsewhere in West Seattle).
Denny PTA co-president Catherine Irby Arnold tells WSB that after meeting with police to find out what more could be done, they’re setting up a Block Watch as soon as they can – what’s above is *part* of their roughed-out map showing the coverage area – and are raising money via their Direct Drive to train volunteers, since they need at least 20. Also, she adds, the money will cover buying security vests, flashlights, and Denny sweatshirts for the volunteers. “We will kick this off as soon as possible. We are all fed up with the rash of security issues around our school. Safety of our scholars is our highest priority.”
If you’d like to help, you can donate online – scroll down this page and click the golden button.
It’s time for high-school soccer to resume, with the boys’ spring season starting (girls play in fall). The varsity teams from Chief Sealth International High School and West Seattle High School have a match scheduled for Tuesday (March 17th), 3:30 pm at Walt Hundley Playfield in High Point.
It’s also time to sign up for Sealth’s popular summer Soccer Skills Camp for girls and boys going into grades 3 through 9 this fall, all skill levels. The camp is under the direction of CSIHS’s award-winning head soccer coach Ron Johnson and will be led by current and past Sealth boys and girls soccer players. The camp is not until July 27-31, but spots fill fast. Here’s the flyer/application form.
You can help! Refs, 6th-12th-grade players needed for ’206 Bangout’ 3-on-3 basketball tournament @ WSHSMarch 14, 2015 at 11:22 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | No Comments
Know a middle- or high-school student who loves to play basketball? The Junior Class at West Seattle High School is hosting another 206 Bangout tournament, and inviting girls and boys in 6th through 12th grades from all over the area. Two more weeks for players to register, and they’re looking for referees too. Class of 2016 event coordinator Jaimie Bell says the tournament is three weeks from today, with the signup deadline a few days earlier:
The West Seattle High School Junior class is hosting a 3 x 3 Basketball tournament “206 BANG OUT” on Saturday, April 4th. This event is for 6th – 12th grade kids, with open divisions for all skill levels, from 9-3 pm in the WSHS Gym. Cost is $20 dollars per team. A team of 4, with 1 sub and 3 players.
To sign up, please contact: email@example.com or pick up a registration packet outside the Activity Center inside WSHS. Entry deadline is April 1st.
We are also looking for experienced people who would like to help with refereeing at this event.
Bring your friends, bring your family, and take it to the hoops!
(Photo courtesy Sam Crowley)
Congratulations to Madison Middle School seventh grader Jack Crowley, who is headed to the Washington State Geographic Bee! It’s the geography version of a spelling bee, and Jack’s trip is hard-won, after months of competition at school, according to his mom Sam Crowley. The state-level competition happens two weeks from today (Friday, March 27) at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Competitors are in grades four through eight; each state and U.S. territory will send its winner to the national competition in May at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. Good luck, Jack!
(WSB photo, taken this week, looking southwest across the AHES site)
Someone asked us why the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild site is idle. That’s by design – as reported several times before, this was intended to be a two-phase project, with demolition/site prep in the first phase, and then a stopdown while the full construction project went out to bid. We checked in with Seattle Public Schools today and confirmed that Bayley Construction is the winning bidder, for $25.4 million; the contract is expected to be awarded within a few weeks, likely going to the School Board on April 1st. If all goes as planned, work at the site is expected to (re)start in early May, though the district tells us neighbors might see some activity – such as “trailer mobilization” – before then. The new school is expected to open in fall of 2016; AH continues using part of the Boren Building as its temporary site until then.
If you missed that clip of Chief Sealth International High School musicians at the Lionel Hampton Festival in Idaho the first time we featured it a week and a half ago – take a listen; call it a sneak peek of the “Music Night Out, Great Gatsby Style!” benefit coming up 5:30-10 pm Friday, March 27th. Early-bird pricing is available through tomorrow – here’s the event announcement:
Support Denny Int’l Middle School and Chief Sealth Int’l High School Performing Arts programs by celebrating a night of dinner, dancing and great music at The Hall at Fauntleroy (9131 California Ave SW, West Seattle). The evening will feature the orchestras and jazz bands from Denny and Sealth. Come dressed Great Gatsby style (1920′s) and be ready to dance! There will be a small silent auction, raffle, raise-the-paddle and our traditional dessert dash. We’d love to have you attend!
Tickets are available now here – Please click the “Buy Tickets” button. Donations can also be made through this button. Earlybird-price tickets are $45 per person through March 13th, and $50 per person after that until March 25th (last day of ticket sales). There is a limited number of VIP tables to purchase for $600 a table. VIP tables will be the best stage-view tables, include 10 guests and a bottle each of red wine and white wine for enjoyment during dinner.
If you haven’t seen this in our calendar, you still have three more days to get it on yours: Talented student musicians and chefs ready to entertain and serve you, plus a chance to get out on the floor and dance, with the West Seattle Big Band on hand as a bonus. It’s happening this Friday night (March 13th):
Come enjoy an evening of great music, dancing and a gourmet dinner at the West Seattle High School Big Band Dinner Dance, Friday Mar 13 from 6-9pm, held at West Seattle High School.
Fabulous big-band music from the West Seattle High School Jazz Ensemble and the West Seattle Big Band. Dinner prepared by students in West Seattle High School’s amazing Culinary Arts Program! Dinner served 6-7, Swing Dancing Music from 7-9. Swing dance instruction, door prizes, beverages, dinner & desserts all included!
Tickets purchased in advance are $15 each, or $17 at the door. Special deal for students only – $8 ticket purchased at the door for dancing only.
Tickets can be purchased online at wshsptsa.org/events/big-band-dance
This event is a fundraiser, and West Seattle High School band, orchestra and jazz band students are raising money to pay for their performance and competition trips this spring. For more info – please email WestSeattleHSMusic@gmail.com
(WSHS is at 3000 California SW.)
Belated congratulations to the West Seattle High School Unified Basketball Team! While covering the WSHS girls’ state-tournament run last week, we learned that the Unified Team had already been to state and finished at #2. (If you haven’t heard of Unified Sports – explained here – it’s a Special Olympics-led program; teams include players with and without intellectual disabilities.) West Seattle Coach Billy Edwards shared the top photo from the team’s win at districts; he tells WSB, “The team was 11-0 and District champs going into the state tournament. The team was short handed going into the state tournament due to illness and travel. The team still fought hard and earned 2nd place in state.”
‘Spread change’: Hundreds of youth gather at Chief Sealth IHS for first-ever Washington State Global Issues Network ConferenceMarch 8, 2015 at 10:55 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 3 Comments
(Video from closing ceremony, provided by Sealth teacher Noah Zeichner)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“Get out to your communities and spread change,” exhorted a teenage speaker toward the end of the first-ever Washington State Global Issues Network Conference, held Friday and Saturday at Chief Sealth International High School.
That change could take many shapes, agreed participants – the conference’s “global villages” resulted in resolutions ranging from reducing use of plastic water bottles, to intervening when injustices are witnessed, to holding a Global Issues Network Conference at another school.
That last one, in fact, is the intention, Sealth teacher and conference co-organizer Noah Zeichner told us – that the conference, which he declared “a huge success,” will become an annual event, hosted at a different school each year, now that CSIHS has taken the lead and sparked the flame, drawing 200+ youth from not just elsewhere in Seattle, but some from out-of-state. “From the 6th grade teams from Denny International Middle School to the groups who traveled all the way from Texas, California, and Colorado, students brought so much positive energy for learning from each other and for tackling some very complex global problems. Our student leaders from Chief Sealth worked tirelessly to make the two days run smoothly. The conference couldn’t have ended in a more uplifting and energizing way as it did on Saturday night. I left more convinced then ever that youth are capable of doing amazing things and sometimes we adults just need to get out of the way.”
Conference co-coordinators were Sealth students Aisaya Corbray and Paloma Robertson.
While climate change was a central focus, the workshops and presentations that comprised the bulk of the two days spanned a wide variety of global and local issues, from immigration to pollution, racism to education funding.
After updates from Zeichner on Friday, we visited Sealth on Saturday, in time for the second-to-last keynote presentation; both days’ schedules were packed, with events 8 am-8 pm.
The keynoter we saw was West Seattle-based filmmaker Amy Benson, whose work we featured in 2012. Her first-ever feature-length film, now called “Drawing the Tiger,” was known at the time as “The Girl Who Knew Too Much.” Benson told WAGIN participants that she has been working on it for seven years, and will finally premiere it this year.
It is about a girl in Nepal – “a super sad story,” she warned, featuring suicide, which ended the so-promising life of that girl, Shanta, at just 16, after she left her rural home for the big city, given a chance at a sponsored education. Here’s the trailer featured on the project website:
“The story started to be about the power of girls’ education,” Benson said. But then it turned into something else entirely; before they could return to meet and talk with Shanta again, they learned she had committed suicide, the leading cause of death for girls and women 14 to 49 in Nepal.
The film is also the story of how Shanta’s family deals with her death, after they had had such hope her education might change their lives as well as hers. And it shows changes in the country, including the effects of globalization: One member of the family who makes money by handcrafting Buddhist statuettes has lost his job because the items are now all manufactured in China.
The film, she explained, “doesn’t have an ask,” adding that it’s “a complex story.” That led her to share some insights about the filmmaking process, saying that when you tell someone’s story, anyone’s story, your own story is in it, because it’s from your perspective. “I think humans are incredibly fascinating,” she said. “I believe that stories are what make us human … we all tell stories, all over the world. I believe that by telling stories and listening to stories, we understand one another better, and we can change the world with stories.” This is a great time for storytelling, she said, because it can be done so easily – even with your “fancy phone,” she said, holding up her own smartphone.
As enthralling as her presentation was the ensuing Q/A, with youth participants asking questions from the audience. She told them first that she is at the spot where she is so absorbed in the project, she doesn’t “see it how others see it.”
When will the film be out? she was asked first. Reply: Next month, with “its world premiere, in Canada.” And it will be shown in Seattle at some point afterward. Updates will be via the film’s Facebook page. Benson and her filmmaking partner, husband Scott Squire, also are hoping to show the film to Shanta’s family before it is shown to anyone else.
How did Shanta’s death affect you? she then was asked. She was “so sad, in a way I’ve never felt sad, like I wasn’t going to be happy again … I felt very confused, and I felt guilty …” But – “now that I’ve learned a lot about suicide,” she understands that is common.
How did you find out? she was asked. The person who runs the nonprofit that was helping Shanta called to tell her.
Another question: Did you speak Nepali? “My great advice for someone who wants to be a documentary filmmaker is that maybe your first film should be in a language you speak.” But – for her, it just didn’t work out that way.
What’s your next project after this? Her reply: It will explore the topic of love and marriage and “why marriage still exists” – something a little lighter about why people fall in love and stay in love.
P.S. Watch for Benson’s Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help cover the costs of finishing the film – she said that they have color and sound left, and that will cost $32,000.
CONFERENCE’S ‘CARBON FOOTPRINT’
Following Benson onstage was a presentation created by Denny International Middle School students who had been calculating the conference’s “carbon footprint.”
(Photo courtesy Denny principal Jeff Clark)
That took into account what was eaten, what transportation modes were involved for participants to get there, how much energy was used to heat Chief Sealth IHS during the conference. It was a way to demonstrate that “you yourself can take action,” said a student.
The travel averaged 29.2 pounds of CO2 per person; the food, 20 pounds of CO2 per person; the building’s carbon footprint, 4.5 pounds of CO2 per person. That totaled 53 pounds per person for the conference – lower if people made choices with lower carbon footprints, such as bicycling or walking, which halved that total, or by eating less meat, which meant a lower “footprint” for food.
The conference’s overall impact, 16,583 pounds of CO2, could have been mitigated by “planting 193 urban trees,” one student explained. (They also shared overall information from 350.org.)
OTHER DENNY PARTICIPATION
Denny IMS principal Jeff Clark sent a congratulatory message today and shared it with us:
Denny International Middle School scholars did a fantastic job presenting and participating at the Global Issues Network Conference hosted by Chief Sealth International High School. This conference brought together over 170 scholars from as far away as Haiti to learn about global issues from each other and guest speakers. The participants committed to taking action to better our local community and world.
I am very proud of the five teams representing Denny — their presentations were informative, interactive, and compelling —congratulations to the Dolphin presenters! A huge thank you to the Denny staff who coached our scholars and contributed in so many ways to making this happen for them: Ms. Evans, Ms. Choi, Mr. B. Evans, Ms. Kelleher, Ms. Clausen, and Ms. Olsen! A special note of thanks and congratulations to Mr. Zeichner, the Sealth scholar Ambassadors, and Sealth staff for hosting such a successful and inspiring event on our campus!
Here are two of the photos Clark shared with the Denny community, showing their youth at work during the conference:
For all the students from all the schools that participated, it’s back to classes tomorrow, with a new view at how individual action can make a difference.
The WAGIN Conference, by the way, was a successor at Sealth this year to the major event that Zeichner and students have organized this time of year for the past four years, World Water Week. And in a full-circle moment, the student with whom he coordinated the first WWW at Sealth in 2011, Molly Freed, was part of the conference this year – coming home from college to be a keynoter.
P.S. See photos from the conference by browsing its Twitter feed at @wagin2015.
P.P.S. Just after we published this, we found out there’s already a Change.org petition launched regarding the plastic-water-bottle issue – check it out here.
“What could be more American than what happened in this place?” President Obama asked that question in Selma, Alabama, yesterday, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the civil-rights marches there. This past week, teachers and students from Chief Sealth International High School augmented their studies of those events with donation-funded moviegoing trips. Social-studies teacher Matthew Baudhuin shared a photo of one group of students at the theater, with this report:
My colleague at Chief Sealth, Dr. De La Ossa, and I wanted to share with the WSB an awesome opportunity Google provided for 150 of our students last week. Through the Donors Choose program, Chief Sealth applied for and received a generous donation from Google to take students to see the film “Selma.” We took 150 US history students on Wednesday and Thursday downtown to the Regal Meridian.
This was an incredible opportunity for our students, especially just days before the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March in Selma in 1965. The students were inspired and moved — engaging in a serious discussion about the 1965 Voting Rights Act that resulted from this protest.
(Side note: We’ve mentioned Donors Choose before – it’s also open to donations from individuals, and used frequently by teachers all over the country to seek funding for relatively small projects like this – you can search by school, type of project, and/or other criteria here.)
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