Thanks to Verne for sharing this in case you or somebody you know graduated from West Seattle High School in 1970:
We are looking forward to seeing you Saturday July 18th, 12-4 pm. Class of ’70 is having “Our 45th Reunion Potluck Picnic” at Alki Shelter #1 (the only shelter) on the grass by 61st and 62nd SW and Alki Ave. Come down and join your classmates for some casual fun in the sun. We had enough funds for the shelter and 4 tables, so this is free this time. Might want to bring a chair, something to share, and beverage; we’ll have some water and paper plates available. We don’t have everyone’s emails so please forward this to your classmate friends and invite them to join us. We hope to see you there. I bet we see some kids, grandkids, and dogs too.
Your reps, Cathy Westwood McLynne and Jami Hanning Vaux
P.S. You can use the “Share This” button below this story to do exactly what they suggest – options include e-mailing the link as well as sharing to your favorite social-media channel.
35th/Roxbury charter-school updates: Site sale finalized; new development plan; local forum scheduledJune 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm | In Arbor Heights, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 37 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
DEAL CLOSED: The nonprofit that’s developing the school for California-based charter operator Summit Public Schools, Washington Charter School Development, has closed the deal to buy the property. King County records show the purchase price was $4,750,000, almost $2 million more than the site’s 2008 sale price.
TWO-PHASE SITE DEVELOPMENT: Once we found the records of the purchase, we started checking on the status of the plan to remodel and add onto the former supermarket building at the site, and discovered a change in the plan: It’s now going to be developed in two phases, confirms a spokesperson for WCSD, which is affiliated with Los Angeles-based Pacific Charter School Development. First, they’ll remodel the existing building, and they’ve applied for a building permit to do that. The proposed additions (shown here a month ago) would be in a second phase. The school itself would be phased in anyway – Summit says it would start with 6th and 9th grades and add middle/high grades each year until fully enrolled as 6th through 12th.
CHURCH STAYING TFN: Summit Public Schools is still more than a year away from its proposed opening (and awaiting state approval, required because charter schools operate with public funding). So in the meantime, WCSD says, Freedom Church/Jesus Center is “renting back the building for the near future to allow the Church to continue providing its outstanding and award-winning community service in West Seattle while plans for the school are being finalized.” In addition to the church, the center also works with a variety of community programs and partners, including the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.
PUBLIC FORUM NEXT MONTH: According to the calendar for the Washington Charter School Commission – which will have to approve Summit’s application (linked here) before it can open the school – a public forum is planned at the site as part of the process (as mentioned in our previous update), 6 pm July 21st.
School’s out but some students are preparing for next school year already – which leads to a reminder from West Seattle High School athletic director Trevor Leopold, who asked us to share it: Summer conditioning is available for all athletes playing next year, including incoming threshold – “report to the WSHS weight room at 9 am tomorrow” (Monday, June 22nd). If you didn’t turn in the packet(s) for the fall-sport player(s) in the family by this past Friday, your next chance starts Wednesday, August 12th, with the deadline Friday, August 14th; Leopold says the school “will NOT be accepting participation fees at this time. However, there will be a possibility of a small equipment fee in the fall.” Sport-specific information ahead:
(From left, teacher Tim, students Jackson, Grant, Henry, Riley)
As we noted in an earlier story, Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) 8th graders are tasked with working in groups on major projects to research, plan, and present big ideas to “change the world.” Rather than just let their ideas and proposals stay within the confines of the campus, most if not all of the groups found ways to share them with the community. In the case of one group, its members wrote a story about their project and invited us to publish it:
Four Explorer West Middle School students – Riley Walden, Jackson Cecil, Henry Burton, and Grant Gerberding – started a project to reduce homelessness in King County and Seattle.
The project assigned by History/Social Studies teacher Tim Owens was to research, plan, do, and analyze the data, then present it to panelists. They decided to research on housing for homeless people.
One of the group members, Riley Walden, pitched his idea of using retrofitted shipping containers as temporary or even permanent homes. They decided to specifically work on this idea, and with more research, they found that Seattle was a perfect place to house the containers.
(Members of the 2015 graduating class – photo courtesy South Seattle College)
Tonight at Benaroya Hall downtown, South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) became this year’s final West Seattle school to celebrate its commencement. The photo and announcement are from SSC:
South Seattle College celebrated the achievements of its 2015 graduating class at the 45th Commencement … All told, more than 800 graduates received degrees and certificates surrounded by cheering family, friends and South faculty.
“Graduates, you need to be very pleased and proud of your accomplishments and completion of your certificates, two-year and four-year degrees,” South Seattle College President Gary Oertli said to the full house at Benaroya Hall. “I’m truly proud and honored to share this special occasion with you. Your hard work, drive, and commitment have helped you earn this special day.”
This year’s commencement address was delivered by Class of 2015 graduate David Yama. Yama, who dropped out of high school at the age of 14, started at South to earn his GED, and today will graduate with an associate of science degree. This year, Yama has been recognized as the top-scholar on the All-Washington Academic Team and also earned a spot on the All-USA academic team as the top-scholar. During the ceremony, Yama was honored by Congressman Jim McDermott for his outstanding academic accolades. Yama will continue his education in pursuit of a doctorate thanks in large part to the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, which he will be awarded with a value of up to $40,000/year for the next three years.
South’s 2015 graduating class is as diverse as the degrees and certificates they obtained. Awards included bachelor of applied-science degrees, associate transfer degrees (which open up the opportunity to transfer to four-year colleges and universities to pursue bachelor’s degrees), high-school diplomas, and associate degrees and certificates that prepare graduates to enter the workforce with desirable skill sets.
Summer quarter at South will begin on Monday, June 29.
For coverage of our area’s high-school graduations, see the links on the right sidebar.
(WSB photo from June 1st @ Denny)
Two weeks after Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole visited Denny International Middle School and heard students request more help from police in staying safe (WSB coverage here), members of her department followed up to start making good on that promise. Southwest/South Precincts Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon shares these notes of what happened when they visited the Denny/Sealth campus this past Monday, one day before the last day of school, particularly to lay the groundwork for a safer start next fall:
* SPD Reps met up with students and staff at 12:40 at classroom
* Walked SW Kenyon Street between 2600 Block and Delridge SW
* Walked from Kenyon & Delridge to Holden & Delridge; observed Holden Stairs; returned to Denny via same route
* Mark drove routes between Denny/Sealth Campus and Westwood Village to observe areas about which students expressed concerns.
* SPD Officers spoke with students about ways to minimize their chances for victimization (Robbery/Assault)
* Discussed the possibility of SPD officers getting together with students at the beginning of the school year to discuss safety measures; being proactive and focus on prevention vs. being reactionary.
Measures in Progress
* Mark will work with Youth Ambassadors and Denny Staff through the summer to engage surrounding neighbors to form Block Watch groups with have Denny/Sealth student safety as a prime focus.
* Mark will facilitate communication between the Youth Ambassadors Program and The Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative regarding the Safe Passages Program (a group of adult volunteers who provide a presence in the Rainier Beach community between the 1400-1800 hrs on school days to deter youth violence and disorder). The goal is to try to implement this program for the Denny/Sealth campus area by the fall of 2015.
* Raise tree canopy on SW Kenyon Street Between 2400 – 2600 Blocks. Tree canopy should be no lower than 8′ to ensure good lines of sight for pedestrians transiting SW Kenyon ST.
* Request SDOT conduct additional vegetation clearing at dead end of SW Kenyon ST & 24th Ave SW.
* Request SDOT conduct vegetation clearing along trail/walkway/bridge over creek between Delridge WY SW & 24th Ave SW along SW Kenyon Street (Longfellow Creek Legacy Trail).
* Request additional vegetation clearing be done on the Holden Stairs, between Delridge WY SY & 20th Ave SW. (possible return of the goat herd?)
* Request vegetation clearing along the non-through streets of 26th Ave SW, 25th Ave SW and the North/South Alley that runs parallel between those two streets, between SW Thistle Street and SW Trenton ST. Students use these corridors to transit anyway; let’s open them up to reduce cover and concealment.
* SPD conduct student safety assembly at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.
(Sealth staff & students’ procession at start of this afternoon’s ceremony)
Story by Tracy Record
Photos/video by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
You probably know that’s short for “You Only Live Once.” It started and ended what language-arts teacher Breanna Whited told the Chief Sealth International High School Class of 2015 at its graduation ceremony this afternoon. (More on her speech later.)
Though commencement is considered to be the start of the rest of graduates’ lives, as Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer detailed, the 267 graduating seniors already have achieved quite bit. She went through a long list of achievements including more than 20,000 hours in community service and $1.2 million in college scholarships.
The principal noted some of the class’s “bold” accomplishments – from a World Water Week focus on the unglamorous but life-saving topic of toilets, to Hafid Yassin‘s dunk seen ’round the world.
The first student to speak was Timothy Wo, who observed that “we’re all thinking right now … ‘it’s over’.” (That’s him in the frame grab below, but the video is of the entirety of the rest of the ceremony, beginning with the principal’s speech.)
To get to “the promised land of graduation,” he said, he and his classmates “crossed the land of procrastination.” Whatever lies ahead for them in the immediate future, he expressed confidence they would “reap success, whatever it is, and make it into whatever it can be.”
Another student speaker, Monica Harris, urged her classmates to “stand tall – we have nothing to fear.”
And she celebrated the fact that “by persevering, we have proven we deserve to be here today.” The proud family and friends had proven that too, and they were saluted during the ceremony.
They of course exhibited plenty of exhilaration themselves:
Back to staff speaker Whited, introduced as “hilarious and beautiful.”
She spoke warmly and personally to her now-former students, saying she watched them while chaperoning the senior prom three weeks ago: “It was OK for me to cry there, which I did, because I had to be strong to speak to all of you today.”
Mentioning she was a 1985 high-school graduate, she said, “I am you in 30 years … and yes, you’ll still be this fabulous.” With the help, Whited continued, of three things to remember, starting with: “Apologize quickly, even when you are right – you will be loved and you will be happy. It’s better to be happy than to be right.”
The essence of her other advice: Shut down your “negative self-talk,” and “do what you love,” which she said she’s been doing for decades. And shortly thereafter, the Chief Sealth Class of 2015 was off to find a way to follow her advice.
OTHER NOTES: One of the valedictorians and the salutatorian, Sophia Boyd and Olivia Boyd, are sisters, and the daughters of former longtime CSIHS principal John Boyd. Samuel Orlin also is valedictorian. … SPS executive director of southwest schools Israel Vela had a stand-in, northwest ED Jon Halfaker, because he was at his son’s graduation in Kent … Last year, umbrellas were in use because of the threat of rain; this year, one was in view because of the sun:
Thanks to Madison Middle School science teacher Fred Jenner for sharing word of students’ success at the districtwide Science & Engineering Fair – and congratulations to the winners!
Madison students received many awards at the 17th Annual Science & Engineering Fair! There were more than 200 projects displayed from around the district. We are proud to say that we had students from every grade level win awards. Here they are:
Engineering Category (This was the first year that engineering projects were officially part of the fair):
From the 6th Grade:
Best Data Analysis: Will Cell (Project Title: All The Eggs, Less The Mess):
Best Young Inventor: Natalie Hinkey (Project Title: Water Monitor Alarm):
Most Likely To Be Patented: Livia Woelfle (Project Title: The Convertible High Heel Shoe)
From the 7th Grade:
Best Aeronautics Project: Svetoslav Nikolov (Project Title: Which Airplane Wing is the Most Useful and Aerodynamic?)
From the 8th Grade:
Most Original: Alina Guyon (Project Title: Homes For All)
Inquiry Category – From the 8th Grade:
Most Original: Angelique Brock & Madeline Rainwater (Project Title: Fear Factor)
Congratulations to all!
Congratulations to the Seattle Lutheran High School Class of 2015, shown in our video as they walked up to the entrance of the Menashe Family Gym on campus for their commencement ceremony on Thursday night.
Inside the gym, they became the 35th class to graduate from SLHS. The program listed 28 graduating seniors, including class president Maddy Winter, who gave the welcome and invocation.
Later in the program, the grads were to hear from valedictorian Jeffrey Baxter and salutatorian Alexandria Naftchi. Proud families, friends, and faculty filled the gym to cheer them on:
The class scripture exhorted them to “… Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
One local graduation remains … Chief Sealth International High School, 2 pm Saturday at Southwest Athletic Complex.
‘We’ll work hard to keep the boat moving forward’: Meet West Seattle High School’s new girls-basketball coach, Darnell TaylorJune 11, 2015 at 9:13 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, WS & Sports | 3 Comments
By Randall Hauk
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
West Seattle High School has announced that Darnell Taylor will succeed Sonya Elliott as head coach of its girls-varsity basketball team.
“Coach Taylor lives in the West Seattle community and wants to see our Girls Basketball program succeed at the highest level,” WSHS athletic director Trevor Leopold tells WSB. “He will demand a lot of the players, and, by doing so, will be able to build relationships, not only with the girls on the team but the community, as well.“
Taylor, 36, spent the 2014-15 season as an assistant at Liberty High School in Renton, helping head coach Carly Fromdahl guide the Patriots to a district championship. Despite the success, Taylor tells WSB that the commute from his West Seattle home to the east side of Renton was forcing him to consider taking a break from high-school coaching, as he had prior to last season to be able to help at home with the pending birth of his son DJ, now 3 years old (with his dad in the photo, above right).
More congratulations as the school year and sports seasons come to an end. Thanks to Ann Conway for the photos and report:
Congratulations to Holy Rosary School‘s 7th-grade boys’ CYO team (National League – predominantly 7th graders) who took first place. The game was played at Walt Hundley Playfield on Sunday the 8th. Go Gators!
During the game, the Holy Rosary Gator made an appearance and played a pivotal role while in deep centerfield.
P.S. Holy Rosary’s school year ends Friday after morning Mass; tomorrow is a short day, too.
Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
The 220+ members of the West Seattle High School Class of 2015 are now celebrating the first night of the rest of their lives, after receiving their diplomas in the breezy sun and shadows of Southwest Athletic Complex, where family and friends filled the stands.
Graduation is a time of “mixed feelings,” as pointed out by valedictorian Tin Vo, who recounted some of the “life lessons” he and his classmates learned.
He closed by wishing them all the “best of luck,” drawing laughs by concluding “May the Force be with you.”
The class’s motto was “Our goal is to influence history, rather than merely observing it.” Toward that end, one of their class advisers, science teacher Jeff Ursino, asked, “What kind of history do you think is worth making?”
He suggested it wasn’t the kind you’ll find in a museum someday, saying that “history is made bravely, and in the company of people we love.” His advice: “Worry less about who you are, and ponder who you want to be.”
Their other adviser, Tom Burggraff, offered advice he suggested he’s known for, “Go out and be somebody.”
Principal Ruth Medsker warned that there will be times along the road that “you’re going to want to pack it up,” but, she said, just “persist … There’s only one you, and you will pass this way but once. Do it right.”
And stop to celebrate the successes, advised School Board director Marty McLaren, just before the presentation of diplomas, as joyful a ceremony as ever, with name-readers calling out each grad’s name loud and proud.
Then one final speaker, Sahra Ibrahim, who observed, “After today, life does not get any easier.”
But it gets different. And so off she and her classmates went, into that new life.
(Video to come – we’ll add it to the story as soon as it’s ready late tonight. P.S. 2 more local graduations to follow.)
ADDED 1 AM: Here as promised is the video – starting with the introduction of valedictorian Vo and continuing through the remaining 53 minutes of the ceremony:
The 7th / 8th grade boys win in convincing fashion over St. Al / John of Ballard/ Greenwood area to take the CYO American League crown. The win on Sunday makes 3 years in a row as CYO champions. Many of these boys will be moving on to high school next year, playing for WS, Vashon, O’Dea and Kennedy Catholic high schools next year; I’m sure we will be reading about their continued baseball achievements in years to come.
Back Row: Coach Peter, Nathan Smith, Luke Kramer, Jake Jonson, Aaron Barber, Ben Patacsil, Isaac Renz, Jaiden Harrington, Coach Jon
Front Row: Isaac Ajeto, Matthew Morin, Cristian Eastey, Kellen Carr, Wyatt Henry, Ryan Shimizu
Not Pictured: Chase Gaither, Caitlin Manning
Congratulations to the team, and thanks to Jon Morin (who is also proprietor of longtime WSB sponsor West Seattle Design Build) for the report and photo!
Homeschooling doesn’t all happen at home: West Seattle’s Family Learning Program wraps up its 4th yearJune 7, 2015 at 8:28 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off
By Randall Hauk
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The Family Learning Program, a West Seattle organization dedicated to providing “classes, clubs, and community for homeschooling families,” marked the end of its fourth academic year with its annual “Summer Send-Off” Friday at Southwest Teen Life Center in Westwood.
In addition to the program’s usual course schedule, program participants were invited to participate in a potluck luncheon and “fun zone” activities, including a variety of field-game races. Additionally, the FLP steering committee used the occasion to conduct the program’s inaugural scholarship fundraiser, raising $1,600 through a silent auction.
When the program launched in 2011 at what was then the Southwest Community Center, with which it partners in presenting the program, 25 families were participating, mostly from the West Seattle community it was created to serve. Of the nearly 80 families in the recently concluded session, some traveled from as far as Shoreline and Tacoma.
“When we founded this, there was no community for a diverse variety of homeschooling philosophies in West Seattle,” says Kathleen Lonergan, one of the program’s founders. “That is what we wanted to be.“
Have a vehicle that needs to be washed? First benefit car wash of the (almost) summer season – that we’ve heard of, anyway. It’s for the Seattle Lutheran High School cheer squad and they’re washing vehicles at the West Seattle Eagles parking lot in The Junction (4426 California SW) until 3:30 today, $10 donation.
VIDEO: Alki, Schmitz Park Elementaries help Southwest Seattle Historical Society celebrate start of Alki Homestead restorationJune 5, 2015 at 11:13 am | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 5 Comments
(Substituted Friday night: Jean Sherrard‘s panorama, courtesy SWSHS – see WSB view at story’s end)
ORIGINAL 11:13 AM REPORT: We’re on the lawn at the Alki Homestead / Fir Lodge, where a short ceremony and photo op has just wrapped up, to mark the start of the Homestead’s restoration.
(WSB Instagram clip as students arrived at the Homestead; more visuals on IG)
Students from Alki and Schmitz Park Elementaries walked over here to be part of a “group hug for the Homestead” photo coordinated by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
Joining them were two West Seattleites serving in county and city government, County Executive Dow Constantine and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.
The Homestead’s new owner, Dennis Schilling, was here too, and SWSHS executive director Clay Eals (with Rasmussen and Constantine in the photo added above) emceed.
From the two schools’ leadership: SPES assistant principal Liora Minkin and Alki principal Shannon Stanton:
P.S. This was also an anniversary of sorts – one year ago tomorrow, these same two schools gathered a half-block away outside the Log House Museum – home to SWSHS and the Homestead/Fir Lodge’s former carriage house – to celebrate the unveiling of the restored Admiral Way totem pole that now stands on the east side of the LHM’s grounds.
ADDED 1:30 PM: Adding photos, and our video of the quick speeches will follow (about 15 minutes total – added 7:21 pm, below).
(Added Saturday – the SWSHS version, shot from above)
Councilmember Rasmussen led the crowd in a chant about bringing back the Homestead’s famous fried chicken (new owner Schilling has said he’s not sure yet what kind of business the restored lodge will be home to); Executive Constantine told the kids to be sure to smile, since the photo will be part of history, and noted that while he’s a Schmitz Park alum, he’s not sure where his daughter Sabrina will be going in four years, since his house is on the Alki/Lafayette line.
June is graduation season, and one of West Seattle’s four high schools celebrated last night:
MIDDLE COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL AT HIGH POINT: Thanks to teacher Alonzo Ybarra for permission to use a photo from the report on the website for MCHS – HP, which, as we’ve reported here and here, is facing closure. The celebration was last night at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, where the school’s held classes for three years.
Three more graduations ahead in West Seattle – here are the dates/times/locations:
WEST SEATTLE HIGH SCHOOL: 6 pm Tuesday, June 9th, Southwest Athletic Complex (2801 SW Thistle) P.S. We’ve been asked to mention that leis are available for WSHS grads as part of a music-program fundraiser – full details here.
SEATTLE LUTHERAN HIGH SCHOOL: 7:30 pm Thursday, June 11th, Menashe Family Gym on campus (4100 SW Genesee)
CHIEF SEALTH INTERNATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL: 2 pm Saturday, June 13th, Southwest Athletic Complex
Thanks to Sheryl Guyon for sharing photos and news of Madison Middle School musicians’ success
Madison Middle School has an award-winning Music Department. They competed this weekend at Music in the Parks in Silverwood, Idaho. Under the expert direction of Mr. Clark Bathum, the concert band won 1st place for their division!
The Orchestra and Jazz band were pleased to each win second place, most notably with an excellent rating. The competition was intense this year, with more than 1,800 music students attending from Northwest high schools and middle schools. The school is incredibly proud of Jonah Elbaum, who was awarded Outstanding Jazz Soloist:
As one of the youngest members of the jazz band, his award is exceptional. Perhaps the greatest compliment of all came at the end of the trip. The hotel manager noted that this was the most polite and respectful group of young people they have ever had stay at the hotel. Mr. Bathum expects the very best from his students and this remarkable group of young people never fails to deliver.
According to the Madison home page, you’ll be able to see the award-winning young musicians in concert before the school year ends – the orchestra and jazz concert is listed for this Thursday (June 4th), the band concert for next Monday (June 8th), both at 7 pm.
(Photo by Dennis Hinton – creekside sign created by Taproot School)
One incredibly busy month of visits by salmon-raising schools – starting with Pathfinder K-8 on April 30th (WSB coverage here) – is over at Fauntleroy Creek. Judy Pickens has the wrapup report:
The last of 20 salmon releases in Fauntleroy Creek occurred May 28 when second- and fourth-graders from Concord Elementary brought their coho to Fauntleroy Park.
All told, volunteers with the Fauntleroy Watershed Council hosted 750 students this year and an additional 175 adults and younger siblings. Their participation in the Salmon in the Schools program resulted in the release of nearly 1,700 fry that will spend the next year in the creek.
Also this spring, volunteers documented 31 coho smolts leaving the creek for two years in saltwater, a dozen more than in 2014.
Next big season for volunteers on the creek will be this fall, when they watch for returning spawners – 19 last year.
Calling all WSHS students and faculty, current and former, to join us at the first Saturday in June (6/6/15) annual All-School Reunion. 2-3 pm sign-in, 3-5:30 individual class reunions and program including honoring Hall of Fame inductees, Scholarship recipients and more. Renew your membership and receive a beautiful alumni license plate frame (while supplies last)! Sign up in advance for a group photo of family/friends/classmates by student photographers in their studio, just drop an email to email@example.com for scheduling. AND HELP US SPREAD THE WORD BY SHARING THIS EVENT WITH ALL YOUR ALUMNI CONTACTS!
You can see a photo of the license-plate frame on the All-School Reunion’s Facebook event page.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole spent about an hour with students at Denny International Middle School this afternoon. It ended with that group photo, following a bouquet presentation and an exchange of warm words of thanks, but the message the chief heard before all that was clear and unmistakable: Students want more help staying safe.
That’s just one of the “Youth Ambassadors” who spoke to the chief; others showed her a student-produced video showing some of the area concerns, including Roxhill Park, and recapping some of the incidents targeting students earlier this year. (Added: We captured most of the short film on video, but hope to get/find a direct copy to substitute eventually:)
O’Toole promised to step up patrols, but also spoke of prevention and intervention; she advised the students to stay watchful, telling the story of what she learned, working as a decoy officer, right after mentioning she’d been discussing the area with former Southwest Precinct commander, now Assistant Chief, Steve Wilske:
The Youth Ambassadors told the chief they’re seeking a $2,500 “Small Sparks” grant from the city Department of Neighborhoods for their safety project – that’s related to the Block Watch-style effort the Denny PTA told us about earlier in the year. Their class, as explained by the event announcement from Seattle Public Schools, is facilitated by Lori Markowitz and Denny staffer Matthew Riippa, and “emphasizes peer mentorship, leadership and compassion.” They explored “issues of student safety” as part of their “acts-of-compassion projects”; part of that involved surveying about 150 eighth graders. More photos to come.
One student suggested to Chief O’Toole that schools should be included in the new SPD Safe Place anti-hate crime campaign; the chief mused aloud that Denny might be a good site to try a pilot version of that.
P.S. Lots of citywide media covered this event, so if you’re seeing TV trucks in the Denny/Sealth area (one person has already called us to ask), that’s what it’s about.
(WSB file photo, teacher Alonzo Ybarra and MCHS High Point students in fall 2012)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Supporters of Middle College High School‘s West Seattle program are fighting to save it, and asking for community support.
We first reported nine days ago that Seattle Public Schools had abruptly announced it would cancel the alternative high-school program’s longtime West Seattle branch, which moved to Neighborhood House’s High Point Center three years ago after more than a decade and a half at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor). The district now says that even after three years, that “was a temporary lease while SPS assessed transition to other Middle College sites.” The three that remain are all in North Seattle.
The district blamed the closure primarily on low enrollment. In response to one of the questions we asked last Friday, asking for elaboration on that, the district responded:
Enrollment projections are generated by Enrollment Services and the second round of projections (for the 2015-16 school year) for all SPS schools are currently being finalized. These projections (went) out to principals on May 29th. High Point ended the 2013-14 school year with 58 students. The 2014-15 projection for High Point was 60 students and they were staffed with 2.2 core teachers. On October 1st, enrollment had dropped to 50 students. In the beginning of February 2015, the enrollment dropped again to 36 students. Enrollment numbers stayed at high 30’s until the High Point staff was told to stop enrolling students.
The district seems to be blaming teachers for the enrollment trouble: “Many students enroll through word of mouth but this year we have had much fewer due to the poor climate at High Point this school year. Teachers have been unhappy with the schedule and have communicated their discontent to students.”
MCHS-HP teacher Alonzo Ybarra, who sent first word of the impending closure, has said that MCHS’s principal Cindy Nash “forcefully imposed an arbitrary schedule that severely diminished our abilities to deliver exciting and creative curriculum and instruction.”
He says the staff has yet to hear directly from her. He is circulating this letter outlining what can be done to show support for MCHS-HP; it was shared with us by a West Seattle resident who received it and asked us to publish it:
On the MCHS blog-format website, Ybarra has published some of the letters of support that have come in so far – you can read them here. One letter is from a former MCHS student who is the parent of a current student; he writes in part, “It makes absolutely no sense shutting this program down. These teachers and this program should be the gold … no, platinum standard for our school district. I’d go as far and say that all Seattle Public High School teachers should job shadow the teachers at Middle College. This program should not be reduced, it should be expanded, and publicly promoted.”
West Seattle’s school-board rep Marty McLaren, though, told WSB she “couldn’t make a strong case against” closing MCHS-HP. Her response to our request for comment last week:
I had been briefed by Alonzo and visited the SSCC site in 2012, and have regularly visited and/or maintained contact since the move to HP, and have advocated for MCHS in the southwest area ever since. There have been various issues in the last two years that have indicated to me that the strength of our program was in question by district. My main way of addressing this has been to make absolutely sure that district leaders were hearing all sides — to facilitate communication. At various points, MCHS staff members maintained that they had not been given adequate chance to meet with leadership; although I couldn’t force meetings, I did make sure, with MCHP staff permission, that their communications were seen by district leadership, and did repeatedly remind our leaders of the value the community places on the program. I think I’ve heard of a recent meeting between MCHP staff and district leaders, but am not sure.
As far as the closure announcement: I learned over a month ago, I think, that staff had been told not to enroll for MCHP for next year. I was told that enrollment had been down, but I don’t have figures. At that time, I pushed with inquiries about the future of the program; there were enough issues that I couldn’t make a strong case against the impending decision to close the site. Staff knows that I am adamant that SPS needs to find a way to serve the kinds of students who have thrived at MCHP.
SIDE NOTE: Some wondered what Neighborhood House plans to do with the space that MCHS-HP has been using. (The district says it was paying $28,000/year to lease the space.) From NH’s David Johnson:
. The “classroom” is really a couple of shared spaces, Middle College successfully used a large partitioned area for their main classroom, and another space, designated as a Teen Center for an office and secondary classroom. Both are in shared hallways, amidst the many offerings from Neighborhood House and other providers.
. SPS leased the space through SHA, which is a traditional and strong partner of NH, both in the operations of the building and in its support of the construction of the building. NH is the owner and leases space to SHA in a long-term relationship, that benefits the entire HP community.
. There are currently no plans as of this date for another tenant or agreement on the uses of those spaces. There are discussions happening with SHA and our other partners about the best uses of these spaces.
. I would also say we were happy to host Middle College, that the students and staff brought a liveliness to our space and community that will be missed.
WHAT’S NEXT? Ybarra says they are asking supporters to turn out at the next School Board meeting, this Wednesday (June 3rd) at district HQ in SODO; public comments start at 5 pm (advance signup is required and starts this morning, as shown on the agenda). That happens to conflict, though, with the MCHS-HP graduation ceremony, 5:30 pm the same night. But, he vows, “we will have a presence” at the board meeting. Meantime, if you have any questions about this for School Board rep McLaren, her last community-conversation meeting of the year – open to any SPS topic – is tonight (Monday, June 1st), 6 pm, at Southwest Branch Library, 35th and Henderson.
If you can spare a few hours on June 12th, you can help with a Highland Park Elementary tradition. From HPE teacher Kevin Schmidt:
Highland Park’s annual field day is June 12th from 8:30-3:00. We are running short on volunteers and are hoping the community could help us out. Volunteers would help run events like shoe kick, Bat Spin and Noodle tag. All stations would be staffed by school personnel with the assistance of volunteers. Volunteers could help in the morning from 8:30-11:30, in the afternoon from 12:00-3:00 or all day. All volunteers must be background-checked and cleared through Seattle Public Schools.
If you’re available/interested, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-252-8240.
Thanks to Michael Katz for the photo and report on these Our Lady of Guadalupe students’ big achievement on Saturday:
The Chess Team from Our Lady of Guadalupe competed in the Chess Wizards tournament held at the downtown headquarters of Facebook. Teams from around the area competed and OLG’s team finished 2nd! The team consisted of Sophie and Matthew Nguyen and Eleanore Katz. Matthew also brought home a First Place trophy in the individual competition.
Thanks to Tom Warnke for the photo and report:
Two losses today in Lacey mean the West Seattle High School softball team’s trip to the state tournament is over; according to the WIAA bracket page, they lost their first game this morning to North Central (from Spokane) 5-1 and then lost this afternoon to Enumclaw, 19-2. Congratulations to the team on a great season that concluded with many honors and achievements, including a second-place finish in the Metro League.
A big party just wrapped up in the Galleria at Denny International Middle School tonight – the annual Multicultural Potluck and Talent Show. Above and in our quick clip below, two of the groups who performed:
As for the potluck, a bountiful dinner for the hundreds in attendance:
That included Denny staff, of course, as well as students and families. Principal Jeff Clark wore his legendary Denny Dolphins-blue suit:
With the principal, Nollen and Hajib. Along with the potluck and performances, tonight’s event also served as a welcome to new Denny families, as the end of the school year approaches – less than three weeks – and thoughts turn to next year.
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