(WSB photo, taken this morning)
Even if you haven’t turned off Fauntleroy Way to see the newly expanded Fairmount Park Elementary School on Findlay, new flashing beacons on Fauntleroy like the one in our top photo are a reminder that the area is about to have a school again. Fairmount Park will officially open two weeks from tomorrow, seven years after its closure. For a sneak peek at the expanded and remodeled school, Joe Wolf shares this Flickr album, including the main entrance along SW Findlay:
The central courtyard:
The auditorium entrance:
A classroom in the new addition:
Also in the addition, a second-floor corridor:
Again, you can see many more photos in Joe’s full album, here. According to the back-to-school letter from principal Julie Breidenbach, the school is starting with at least 340 students.
In addition to the addition of classrooms to bring Fairmount Park Elementary’s capacity up to 500, there also is a new pathway from the school’s north side, along the south side of Fairmount Playfield, to reach the sidewalks on Fauntleroy Way, where there will be a school-bus-loading zone – part of the reason the trees west of the playfield were removed in the past few weeks (as reported here August 1st).
Highland Park Elementary’s neighbors learn of its challenges, offer help with solutions: ‘Tell us what we can do’August 17, 2014 at 9:10 pm | In Highland Park, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 32 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Peter Weiss told HPAC’s May meeting that he wanted to organize a 5K to bring the PTA and the school not just money but awareness. HPES, he explained, is the lowest-performing elementary school in the entire district.
That was jaw-dropping news to many, if not most, in the room. Just supporting an event would not be enough. A community conversation was called for.
The conversation began in earnest this past Tuesday night.
Though most community groups skip midsummer meetings, HPAC and the HPE PTA set a date, issued an invite – and the room was full.
We counted more than 50 people.
At the front of the room, along with Sol Mendez from the HPE PTA and HPAC co-chairs Carolyn and Billy Stauffer, were school and city leaders – among the former, new HPE principal Chris Cronas and the district’s regional executive director of schools Israel Vela; among the latter, Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.
More questions than answers emerged. But it was one of those events where the event itself was the triumph, for starters, rather than any single declaration or promise made.
One month after we reported on an appeal hearing set for aspects of the Genesee Hill Elementary School project, the decision has just been made public: The appeal has been rejected. Appellants included a half-dozen area residents and school-district watchdog Chris Jackins, challenging/questioning project components including the zoning exception for the school’s height, where the bulk of its building will be placed on the site, plans for on-street school-bus loading, and the amount of on-site off-street parking. We were not able to cover the appeal hearing held downtown eight days ago, but its points and the Hearing Examiner’s findings are recapped in the decision document – see it here. Next, we’ll be checking with Seattle Public Schools regarding their timetable for starting work on the new school.
*Alumni Mixer – Friday; August 15th at 7:00 pm*
Maxi’s Lounge at the DoubleTree Hotel
18740 International Blvd; Seattle
*Alumni Spouse/Partner Dinner – Saturday; August 16th at 6:00 pm*
Talarico’s Pizza – West Seattle Junction
4718 California Ave SW
*Family Picnic – Sunday; August 17th at 12:00 noon*
Lincoln Park – Picnic Area near the south parking lot
The new school year is less than four weeks away, and there’s a push to muster support for one local school that needs it more than ever, Highland Park Elementary. If you can help – or want to at least find out how to – you can do that tomorrow night. For the basic story, here’s the invitation that Highland Park Action Committee co-chairs Carolyn and Billy Stauffer wrote to district, city, and other leaders:
(HPAC’s) role is to affect positive change in our neighborhood, and we have historically been active in bringing together a voice for our neighborhood, which has faced many challenges.
We hosted parent Peter Weiss at our May community meeting, who came to speak with us as a member of the Highland Park Elementary PTA. In discussing his ideas with us to organize a 5K as a fundraiser for the school, the community learned about the state of affairs for our local school – Highland Park Elementary is ranked last in the Seattle Public School System.
Some of our members were brought to tears with this news, exhausted by what feels like yet another blind eye turned towards our community from our leaders. We write to you in response to a request that night from the community to get some answers as to why our school is doing so badly and what the plan is for improvement. We have since discussed this idea with the PTA and have formed a partnership in our efforts. We, along with incoming PTA president Sol Mendez, would like to invite you to a meeting to discuss the school, and answer some questions from our community.
And that invitation is for you too. Come to the Highland Park Improvement Club (12th/Holden) tomorrow night (Tuesday, August 12th), at 7 pm. HPAC says the RSVPs so far include HPES’s new principal Chris Cronas, school-board member Marty McLaren, and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.
ADDED TUESDAY: HPAC co-chair Carolyn Stauffer says the school district’s executive director of schools for this area, Israel Vela, also has RSVP’d.
(Click image to see full-size site plan/design by Johnson Southerland as PDF)
The new playground for Pigeon Point is getting ever closer to reality. Pathfinder K-8 Playground outreach co-chairs Holli Margell and Toni Wells are sharing the following update that includes a chance for you to help out at an upcoming “paint party”:
The Pathfinder Playground Revamp was awarded the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Matching Fund large grant! Thanks to the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods for helping us really get the ball rolling with our new design. Our playground is now 40% funded, and our fundraising team has kicked into gear to help us get the rest of the way there.
August Paint Party:
August 21st, the playground is getting a little facelift in preparation for our new design. With a Capital One $4,000 grant for the school, we are having a work party to do projects all over the school–and the playground is one of them. That means we can get started painting the braided stream and adding new features like a labyrinth and accurate US map. The foursquares, hopscotch, and old marking will be refreshed too.
Are you ready to help us on August 21st? We need 6-8 folks ready to help lead the volunteers for the day, help organize supplies the day before, and a few creatives to help us make stencils to add some critter prints to the playground. Interested? E-mail email@example.com – thank you!
New design (above):
The school district is still working on the feasibility of the fence changes, but we expect that to be part of phase one. If fundraising needs are met, and the bids come in as expected, the equipment and surfacing of the blue areas will also be included in Phase 1, which could start Summer 2015.
The playground is on the north side of the Pathfinder campus at 1901 SW Genesee (map).
Thanks to Chief Sealth International High School assistant principal Cheryl Sullivan for the photo and news: This morning in Yakima at the conference of the Washington Association for Career and Technical Education, Sealth teacher DeAira Handugan (left) “received the WA-ACTE New Teacher of the Year Award. She will represent Washington (and Sealth!) at the regional awards in April, 2015, in Kansas City.” That’s an honor for a teacher in specialties including woodshop, agriculture, auto body, video production, computer, business, and her specialty, Family and Consumer Sciences, for which Handugan also is being honored by the organization today, with the “outstanding service to Family and Consumer Sciences” awards. Congratulations!
SIDE NOTE: While teachers and staff start back sooner, this year’s first day of classes for Seattle Public Schools is four weeks from tomorrow – Wednesday, September 3.
Sanislo Elementary students learn from Readers to Eaters’ Philip Lee that reading is more than food for thoughtJuly 30, 2014 at 9:41 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | No Comments
You never know what, or who, you’ll find in the Sanislo Elementary School library. On Tuesday, students in the summer program found vegetables among their books, as the Readers to Eaters program – whose mission is “to promote food literacy from the ground up” – made a stop, with co-founder/publisher Philip Lee:
Just two days earlier, the Readers to Eaters book “Sylvia’s Spinach“ was featured at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market (where we photographed its author Katherine Pryor). At Sanislo on Tuesday, Lee didn’t just talk about food and reading, but also about publishing (he was a co-founder of Lee and Low):
The students learned that books aren’t just written – they’re published, and there are entirely different jobs involved with that part of the process. We’re told they’ve been working on e-books of their own.
If you’re wondering what students are doing at school when it’s the middle of summer break – Sanislo librarian Craig Seasholes explains that the library “has been hosting students twice a week through July for reading, gardening and Minecrafting their way to a summer of learning.” He says the Seattle Public Library has partnered with them, too.
High-school basketball season is still four months away – here’s the schedule, taking shape – but the West Seattle High School court was busy on Saturday afternoon.
The first annual West Seattle High School Alumni Game was organized as a benefit for the current program. The schedule included a shoot-around and 3-pointer competition; for the main game, players were split between the school’s past and present mascots, Indians (gray T-shirts) and Wildcats (white T-shirts), with 2004 as the dividing line. Missed the game? Look for the second-annual edition next year. And you can support WSHS athletics any time via the WS Booster Club.
Big afternoon of basketball at West Seattle High School on Saturday – and players are welcome as well as spectators. All the info’s on the flyer above, shared by head coach Keffrey Fazio; basics are that the doors open at noon, shoot-around starts at 12:30 pm, 3-pointer-shooting contest at 1 pm, alumni game’s at 2 pm, food/social event at 3:45 pm. $20 fee for players, with proceeds benefiting the WSHS boys-basketball program.
(WSB Tuesday photo of awaiting-demolition Arbor Heights Elementary)
Three years ago, demolition of the old Denny International Middle School was well under way within a month of the end of the school year. This year, though a month has passed since the last class at Arbor Heights Elementary School, the backhoes aren’t even onsite yet. That’s because the permits haven’t been finalized, since another appeal is awaiting a hearing.
This is separate from the appeal that was argued and rejected in May, challenging the decision that a full environmental review wasn’t needed. This time, the appeal is for the land-use permit itself, and the fact that the demolition permit was approved in the same action. In all, the appeal statement by four area residents and district watchdog Chris Jackins – see it here – lists eight points.
Though a September 15th hearing date was announced by the appeal notice that appeared in this week’s first Land Use Information Bulletin, the city Hearing Examiner’s files now have it scheduled for August 11th. The move was at the request of the district, according to a letter in the online case files, which quotes district staff as saying the extra month would add $70,000 to the project cost.
SPS spokesperson Tom Redman confirms to WSB that appeals for both the Arbor Heights and Genesee Hill projects (the latter has a hearing August 5th, as reported here July 14th) are now pushing back the timeline: “Limited construction activities can be performed on-site, but the bulk of the work cannot commence at either site until we have received MUP [master use permit] approval from the City of Seattle.” He said the district doesn’t know yet if the opening of either new school will be delayed as a result. The new Arbor Heights is scheduled to open in two years, the new Genesee Hill in a year and a half.
P.S. Appeal hearings are open to the public, though only for observation, not for participation/comment. Next month’s August 5th Genesee Hill hearing and August 11th Arbor Heights hearing are both scheduled to start 9 am on those dates in the city Hearing Examiner’s headquarters on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown.
With two-year superintendent José Banda officially getting the Sacramento job this week, the Seattle Public Schools Board did not waste any time announcing an interim superintendent to succeed him. They’ve just chosen Dr. Larry Nyland, much-acclaimed in his nine years as Marysville superintendent, which ended with his retirement last year, during which time he was chosen as state Superintendent of the Year and was a finalist for the corresponding national honor. His long career also includes leadership of the Pasco School District, interim leadership of Shoreline schools, and six years as Chief Academic Officer/Human Resources Director in Highline Public Schools south of Seattle. His Seattle roots run deep; he is a 1966 graduate of Roosevelt High School. He’s expected to start work August 1st, and the board promises information soon on how it will search for a permanent superintendent.
Today’s Land Use Information Bulletin from the city brings the formal notice of an appeal hearing for the new school to be built on the five-years-closed Genesee Hill Elementary site. The appellants, including district watchdog Chris Jackins and more than half a dozen local residents, are not challenging the entire project; they object to aspects including the zoning exception for the school’s height, where the bulk of its building will be placed on the site, plans for on-street school-bus loading, and the amount of parking (71 spaces might not be enough, they say). The appeal hearing is set for 9 am August 5th in the Hearing Examiner‘s chambers on the 40th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown; it’s open to the public (for observation but not comment). Some preparation work already has been done on the site, but demolition is still to come.
We’re often asked, “When’s the next benefit car wash?” This weekend’s answer – Sunday (July 13th)! 10 am-2 pm at West Seattle Autoworks (WSB sponsor), the West Seattle High School softball team will wash cars, by donation, to help pay for a trip next year to play in France, according to WSHS athletic director Trevor Leopold (who shared the photo – and who was honored as All-Metro Softball Coach of the Year this past spring). WS Autoworks is at 35th/Webster.
Big milestone reunion this year! We were asked to share this reminder:
The West Seattle High School Class of 1974 40th Reunion is July 19th from 6:30 to 11:30 PM at The Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California Ave SW. All tickets must be purchased by this Friday, July 11th. None will be sold at the door. To register, go to WSHS1974.com. PayPal and credit card accepted.
If that’s your reunion – have a great time!
Local public-school enrollment continues to rise, and even new construction/expansion isn’t taking all the pressure off some campuses. Latest evidence: Today, a portable classroom is arriving at West Seattle Elementary in High Point, according to Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Tom Redman. He says it’s a “single-classroom portable -to be used as a homeroom.” According to district numbers featured here last month, WSE expects 443 students this fall, up about twenty from last year.
Update: Seattle Public Schools might be changing superintendents again: José Banda ‘finalist’ for Sacramento jobJune 20, 2014 at 11:06 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 29 Comments
11:06 AM: Bombshell from Seattle Public Schools on the first day of summer break – the district might be looking for a new superintendent. After two years, José Banda announced he is a finalist for the same job in Sacramento. That district has fewer students than Seattle – 43,000, according to its website. He and school board president Sharon Peaslee have sent letters to the community here via e-mail in the past half-hour; Peaslee’s letter says Banda has family ties in California. Both will be meeting the media for a 1 pm briefing today. Banda’s most recent public West Seattle visit was last Saturday night, at the Chief Sealth International High School commencement ceremony (WSB photo at right).
He became superintendent one year after the board fired the late Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson; Susan Enfield, who was interim superintendent for that year, is now superintendent of Highline Public Schools south of Seattle. Goodloe-Johnson was Seattle superintendent for four years, succeeding Raj Manhas, who also held the job for four years.
ADDED 11:43 AM: According to the Sacramento Bee, Banda is not “a” finalist for the job there, but “the” finalist. And as usual when it comes to Seattle Public Schools news, there’s more background, discussion, and context in coverage at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com. Here’s Peaslee’s letter:
Here in the wee hours of the first full day of summer vacation for thousands of local kids, we have one more scene from the last day of classes, ever, at the “Original Arbor Heights,” as dubbed by our trusty parent correspondent. Also nicknamed, that’s “The Famous Mr. Wilkie” in the crosswalk, last one to enlist the crossing guards’ assistance before the soon-to-be-demolished old school went out of service. Reports our correspondent:
(He is) the heart and soul of The Original Arbor Heights Elementary school. Did you know that he went to kindergarten in the same Room 4 in which he has been teaching? Yup. Known to many, loved by all.
AH will share Boren with STEM for the next two years, while its brand-new school is built on this same campus.
Even as the school year ends today, planning is under way for the next one starting in September – and that’s what this call for volunteers is all about: Girls on the Run is on its way to Highland Park Elementary for 2014-2015.
HPE is starting Girls on the Run at our school starting in the fall. Girls on the Run is an after-school program that uses the power of running to give girls the tools to celebrate their bodies, honor their voices, recognize their gifts, and activate their power!
The program is open to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade girls. Both girls from HPE and from the surrounding community who do not have GOTR at their home school are encouraged to join. We are looking for volunteers to coach our girls. The commitment would be one or two times a week Starting September 29th and running through December 8th. Minimum age is 16. If interested please contact Holly Briscoe, the site liaison for HPE. firstname.lastname@example.org
(Photo courtesy SSC)
This year’s biggest West Seattle graduation happened at Benaroya Hall downtown, where more than 800 graduates received degrees and certificates last night from Puget Ridge-headquartered South Seattle College (WSB sponsor). The announcement from SSC quotes president Gary Oertli as saying, “From academics to professional-technical, our student-oriented staff strives to help our students reach their professional dreams. And to our graduates, 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.” Derrick Coleman from the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks delivered the commencement address: “There’s only one voice that matters. Listen to what is inside you. You call your own plays. Use your own God-given talent to overcome any obstacles. How hard you work will determine how far you go.” SSC says the graduates ranged in age from 17 to 68, with achievements including “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 skillsets.”
Thanks to our Arbor Heights Elementary parent correspondent for sharing that photo from today’s 5th-grade graduation ceremony. The final graduate of the last 5th-grade class at “Original Arbor Heights,” as our tipster dubs it, was Max Zuber. The building is scheduled for demolition in late summer or fall, as per the construction schedule laid out at a community meeting two weeks ago. Tomorrow is the last day of classes there, as is the case all around the Seattle Public Schools district.
(Cart awaiting missing book; photos courtesy Cheryl Sullivan)
Tomorrow is the last day of classes for Seattle Public Schools – and among the loose ends to be tied up before that last bell sounds, administrators are trying to get students to bring back school-owned materials. At Chief Sealth International High School, assistant principal Cheryl Sullivan says, “We currently have more than $47,000 in lost/ outstanding books and fines that we are desperately trying to recoup. That includes almost 400 math books alone.” And yes, there’s a price for not returning something – she explains:
Current and former students of Chief Sealth International High School are being requested to bring and return all library and/or textbooks to the school this week. Our current 5th period classes are having a bit of a friendly competition to see who can clear their accounts fastest. As a reminder to families, students will be unable to participate in athletics, overnight field trips, dances, and other extra-curricular activities in the 14-15 school year if they have overdue/lost books and/or fines on their student account. Questions regarding individual student accounts may be directed to Cheryl Sullivan, Assistant Principal, at 206-252-8708 or by e-mail to email@example.com.
Optimally, families will find these items and get them back by the end of school tomorrow. If you turn something up over the course of the summer, Sullivan says she’s planning to spend a day or two at Westwood in mid-August to collect items. Here are some of the notices up about who owes what:
But even if your student goes to another school, taking one more look around for anything to return will doubtlessly be appreciated; we suspect Sullivan’s sentiment applies elsewhere: “As everyone knows, we don’t have much by way of materials budgets any longer; any books located and returned would be much appreciated.”
One more round of graduation congratulations tonight: A commencement ceremony at The Hall at Fauntleroy celebrated the 14-member Class of 2014 from Middle College High School‘s High Point Center campus, a Seattle Public Schools program also known as the School for Social Justice and Community Engagement.
Congratulations to the graduates, in alphabetical order:
Congratulations also to their administration, faculty, and staff, led by MCHS principal Cindy Nash, at right below with West Seattle’s school-board rep Marty McLaren:
MCHS’s location at High Point Center facilitates environmental education and volunteering, including participation in Keep High Point Green, featured here earlier this year.
(Click image for larger view)
What you see above is a major step in volunteers’ quest to get a better playground for Pathfinder K-8 and its Pigeon Point neighbors (along with anyone else in West Seattle who’ll want to come play there): The design by Johnson Southerland debuted at a meeting Monday night. It’s the result of a community-participatory process, and dozens of people were there to get a look:
The meeting also was an ice-cream social, popular with the youngest participants as well as the parent volunteers.
Next step for the playground committee and its helpers – fundraising to get the playground built!
It could cost up to $100,000; grant money (beyond what was obtained to make the design happen) is being sought to cover at least part of that, with more fundraising details to come. It’s hoped that ground can be broken next year. Watch pathfinderplayground14.wordpress.com for more on the design and the project!
It was cap, gown, and umbrella time, with showers arriving for the Chief Sealth International High School Class of 2014 commencement at Southwest Athletic Complex tonight. 268 graduating seniors, according to the program:
Since the spectator area at SWAC has an overhang, families and friends could cheer and wave signs without getting rained on:
Featured student speakers were Alison Nichols (below) and Miguel Castillo:
This was the first Sealth graduation for principal Aida Fraser-Hammer, who’s been running the school since last summer – she is second from left below, with (L to R) executive director of schools Israel Vela, school-board rep Marty McLaren, and district superintendent José Banda:
Chief Sealth Band musicians who played during the ceremony also entertained those on hand just before it – that’s Spencer Duncan singing, and Marcus Pimpleton directing:
ADDED EARLY SUNDAY: The entire opening procession, with faculty and then graduates:
Congratulations to all!
(Photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand unless otherwise credited)
Commencements always mean a lot to principals – but this afternoon’s graduation ceremony for the West Seattle High School Class of 2014 had extra meaning for principal Ruth Medsker, who pointed out that they arrived at WSHS in fall of 2010, just as she had. She is second from left in the next photo, with (L-R) assistant principal Mike Kelly, West Seattle’s school-board rep Marty McLaren, WS executive director of schools Israel Vela, and assistant principal Michelle Peterson:
The program lists 192 graduates.
(Photo by Greg Slader)
Hundreds of proud relatives and friends were there to cheer them on:
Giving the valediction, Megan Antalan, class president and one of 25 National Honor Society-member grads this year:
ADDED EARLY SUNDAY: Our video of the procession with all the grads walking in:
Congratulations to all!
The big moment is almost here: The Pathfinder K-8 PTA invites you to be there Monday night as its playground design is revealed:
Pathfinder K-8 and our neighbors are very excited about next Monday’s unveiling of the playground design that was created through a community process funded through a Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple Grant. The design took pieces from three distinct concepts and integrated comments from many. Once this playground concept is built, it will truly be a resource for not only our school, but a destination for all of West Seattle. To that end, everyone is welcome to join the design unveiling on Monday, June 16th at 5:30 at Pathfinder K-8 School in the Pigeon Point neighborhood. Ice cream social to follow immediately! For project details, please visit our blog (here).
Pathfinder is at 1901 SW Genesee.
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