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West Seattle schools: Holy Rosary chooses Anna Horton as next principal

Holy Rosary School will have a new principal for next school year – and she’s already a Holy Rosary parent. The school has just announced Anna Horton as its next leader:

Holy Rosary School is pleased to announce the appointment of Anna Horton to the position of principal, effective July 1, 2016. Ms. Horton succeeds Mr. George Hofbauer, who will retire in June after serving with distinction as teacher and principal for 45 years in the Archdiocese of Seattle.

After an extensive search both locally and nationally, Ms. Horton was the unanimous choice of the Principal Search Team. She brings many gifts and talents to the Holy Rosary School community. Her background in science education will help her integrate STEM into all areas of the school.

The announcement continues:

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Students campaign to keep wood-shop class from chopping block

(WSB photos)

In the photo are Elliott, Jennifer, Diana, and Jennifer. They are Chief Sealth International High School seniors, and they have spent the past few days collecting hundreds of signatures in support of the school’s wood-shop class, which they say they have learned is in danger of being cut.

The school’s budget and staffing decisions for next year will be made soon, and while no decisions have been finalized yet, the students want to make sure the class is kept; they contacted us to let us know about the petition drive, and met us in the rain, off-campus, after school on Wednesday afternoon.

Wood shop, they explained, is the last shop class at Sealth. Teacher Nan Johnson is an inspiration, they told us, mentoring students, giving them the chance to express their creativity while mastering real-world skills during the wood-shop work – calculating measurements, using tools, overseeing projects. Elliott showed us a pen that students often make:


(The pens were also featured in this story from our archives.) She said she’s been building a chicken coop, too.

All of the students who spoke with us said it would be a mistake to remove this class from the curriculum – and remember, they’re seniors, so they’re campaigning on behalf of students coming up behind their class. What they’re seeking now is community support. They’re continuing to circulate paper petitions for signatures at school; as of today, we’re told, they had collected more than 400 signatures. They also have an online campaign going, with almost 200 names and a space for community comments – find it here. The final decision is expected next Wednesday; we’ll be following up.

SOFTBALL STARTS! Jamboree on Saturday

March 10, 2016 9:02 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

High-school softball season starts with a big event this Saturday (March 12th) at Southwest Athletic Complex – a jamboree, with fifteen 2-inning games running 9 am to 4 pm, on the upper and lower fields, and you can stop by to watch any or all for free! Participating teams include all three local high schools (host Chief Sealth International as well as West Seattle and Seattle Lutheran), nearby Kennedy, and six others. Here’s the schedule, as shared by tournament director Mike Depew:

The lower field is at 2700 SW Trenton; the upper field is at 2900 SW Cloverdale.

P.S. West Seattle resident and Seattle ASA/USA Umpire in Chief Kayleen Dunson will be at the lower field all day, watching NEW umpires who have just completed training work some of their first games. “This is my absolute favorite part of this job,” Dunson said. “Feeling the excitement (and nervousness) from these new umpires as they step onto the field the first time.” She adds that they are always looking for new umpires and have a “Crash Course” training session that begins March 29, so if you’re interested in learning about becoming an umpire stop by and chat with Kayleen, or send her an an email at umpkayleen@outlook.com.


Genesee Hill Elementary School: New campus to carry name of its predecessor

FullSizeRender (85)
(WSB photo, taken this afternoon, looking at northwest side of new school)

4:34 PM: Schmitz Park Elementary principal Gerrit Kischner will be principal of Genesee Hill Elementary as of this September. That’s the name chosen, Kischner announced this afternoon, for the new school that’s being built for his students and staff, on the site of a school that carried that same name, Genesee Hill Elementary. He says the ribboncutting is set for 1 pm September 6th. The Schmitz family name will stay with the current Schmitz Park building, he says; we’re checking with the district on the current plan for its future use (once described as potentially an early-learning center, but it’s been a while since we’ve heard that mentioned). Meantime, Kischner says students in the new building will have a special way to learn about their school’s history: “We are writing a historical plaque that will be in the new building tracing this joint history.” Funding for the new school is from the BEX IV levy.

6:08 PM: The principal’s announcement in this week’s school newsletter, sent out this afternoon, also notes that more than half the respondents in last year’s survey wanted this name. The mascot will remain the fox, however. The newsletter also notes that the new school currently is projected to open with about 663 students, 19 more than this year’s Schmitz Park enrollment; it’s being built to ~650 capacity. And one more note since our first report – SPS says the future use of the current Schmitz Park building has not yet been decided.

Communication concerns at centerstage in Chief Sealth IHS – Denny IMS student-safety meeting

(Slide shown toward start of meeting)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

One big word surfaced over and over again during last night’s meeting about student safety at Chief Sealth International High School and Denny International Middle School:


Even more than what’s happened and what’s been done about it, the concerns focused on getting information about incidents – long before the classic “letter sent home at day’s end.”

Administrators acknowledged “lessons learned,” particularly in the case of January’s threats/rumors/social-media situation, as parents detailed the frustration and fear of knowing that rumors of violence were circulating but not getting any messages from the school, reassuring or otherwise.

Here’s how the meeting unfolded:

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YOU CAN HELP: Fairmount Park Elementary’s online auction

March 10, 2016 5:57 am
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

It’s peak season for school fundraisers – and here’s one in which you can participate at any time around the clock for two more days:

Fairmount Park Elementary School is having an online auction to benefit the school. Auction items include amazing local experiences like vacation weekends, local restaurants, and kids’ camps. Assorted themed baskets as well as classroom artwork are also being sold. Please check it out! All profits go to the school and will help provide for a school counselor and extracurricular activities.

We just checked – 144 items to browse! Just go here.

Explorer West Middle School student’s prize-winning play to be performed at ACT

(Explorer West photo: From left, Camille Johnson, David Orace Kelly, Sarah Jenner)

Again this year, an Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) student has won the grand prize in a local theater competition, and will have her play performed by ACT – with the first performance tomorrow night. From EWMS:

The 14th annual festival of award-winning new work from ACT’s 2015 Young Playwrights Program (YPP) has chosen eight talented writers ages 13-18 to join with a professional team of local directors and actors to bring their new plays to life in staged readings.

For the fifth year in a row, Explorer West participated in Seattle’s ACT Theatre’s Young Playwrights Program. Middle and high school students submitted one-act plays, each with the hope that his or her play would be chosen to be produced by ACT Theatre.

There are three categories of awards: Honorable Mention; a play produced by a small theatre company; and the top prize – eight plays selected to be produced and performed by ACT Theatre. In the past four years, four Explorer West Middle School students have been selected for this top honor.

This year Explorer West Middle School placed very well again. Dillon Charles and Denisse Aguilar each received an Honorable Mention for their plays “Kidnapped” and “The Life of Erina” respectively. Camille Johnson’s play “Into the Book” will be produced by Rain City Productions.

Explorer West 7th grader Sarah Jenner’s play “Kidnapped on the SS Star Cruiser” was one of the eight grand prize winners. Her play will be produced and published in a play anthology by ACT, during this year’s ACT Young Playwrights Festival in Seattle.

Sarah Jenner’s play will be presented on Thursday, March 10, at 7:30 pm and Saturday, March 12, at 4:00 pm.

Tickets are $5/$10 and available online here.

Also, EWMS Drama Teacher David Orace Kelly was chosen as Teacher of the Year for ACT’s Young Playwrights Program, recognizing his work both in the program and with the YPP staff to help align and develop playwriting curriculum standards (for both middle and high school) with the Common Core State Standards, The National Theatre Arts Standards, and the Washington State Theatre Arts Standards.

The performances are at ACT Theatre downtown, 700 Union Street.

UPDATE: Letters sent to families after Denny IMS incident today

(UPDATED 4:36 PM with new version of letter, via Denny’s principal)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:23 PM: Thanks to the Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School parents who shared a note that has been e-mailed to families about an incident that brought police to Denny this morning – hours before tonight’s student-safety meeting at Sealth:

Today, it was reported to administration that a Denny parent had made concerning comments to a scholar who was not his own child at school.

As a precaution, the Seattle Police Department was contacted. The Police came to school, interviewed those involved and documented the incident. The Seattle Police Department released the parent and we have had a normal school day.

As always, safety is our top priority. We will continue to communicate with you on a regular basis. Thank you for all of your ongoing support.

The letter is signed by Denny principal Jeff Clark and Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer. We checked with the district to find out more; spokesperson Stacy Howard explains that the reported comments were construed as potentially hostile, and came at morning dropoff time, after the parent’s child apparently pointed out and said something about a previous interaction with the other child.

P.S. Tonight’s 7 pm meeting in the school library, as mentioned again here last night, is meant to address issues of student safety off-campus as well as at school, and members of the community are welcome as well as students and families from Sealth and Denny.

ADDED 4:36 PM: Denny principal Clark says this letter is now being sent – it includes additional details:

Today at school we have had some conflict between two 7th grade scholars.  As a part of this it was reported to administration that a Denny parent had made concerning comments to a scholar who was not his own child at school.  As a pre-caution, the Seattle Police Department was contacted.  The Police came to school, interviewed those involved and documented the incident.  The Seattle Police Department released the parent.  Despite a pro-active intervention to help solve the conflict, the two scholars got into a physical altercation.  One of them received medical attention.  Multiple steps will be in place to help these two scholars to resolve this conflict and develop the skills to solve problems peacefully.

As always, safety is our top priority. We will continue to communicate with you on a regular basis. Thank you for all of your ongoing support.

Fire call at Gatewood Elementary


A little extra playground time for students at Gatewood Elementary this morning – they were out of the building while Seattle Fire crews checked out what turned out to be smoke from a burned-out fluorescent light fixture. (We mentioned the response in our morning traffic watch before going to the school to find out more.) Firefighters tell us there was no damage and no injuries, and they were getting ready to leave as of a few minutes ago.

STUDENT SAFETY: Wednesday night meeting @ Chief Sealth IHS

March 8, 2016 9:32 pm
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 |   Safety | West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

One more reminder – tomorrow (Wednesday) night, students, families, staff, and neighbors of Chief Sealth International High School and Denny International Middle School (and anyone else interested) are invited to come talk about keeping students safe, in the community as well as on campus. It’s happening at 7 pm in the library at CSIHS (2600 SW Thistle) and will include reps from Seattle Police, Seattle Public Schools, and other community-service providers. School administration and the Sealth PTSA are hosting the meeting and hoping to see you there.

West Seattle HS Big Band Dinner ‘great success’


Thanks to Steve White, president of the West Seattle High School Music Boosters, for photos from last night’s Big Band Dinner Dance at WSHS. He reports, “The event was a great success, and we had to bring out extra tables in order to accommodate everyone!”


They even had a group from nearby Brookdale-Admiral Heights. Performing for eventgoers, the WSHS Jazz Ensemble (below) and West Seattle Big Band.


Steve adds, “Special thanks to Laura Martin for her tireless efforts in planning the event,” a fundraiser for WSHS’s growing music program, led by Ethan Thomas.

Students from Japan visiting Chief Sealth International HS


Featured in that photo is a group that traveled here from southern Japan and ia in the middle of an 11-day visit to Chief Sealth International High School. Our report from CSIHS, which also provided the photo, explains:

Through March 11, 15 students and one teacher from Ritsumeikan Moriyama High School in Shiga prefecture, Japan are visiting Chief Sealth International High School. Each student is staying with a Sealth family and shadowing a Sealth student. During their stay, the visiting students are also preparing presentations to give to local offices of corporations such as Weyerhaeuser, DoubleTree Inn, and Yamato Logistics. If you’d like to know more, please contact Sealth’s Japanese teacher Joshua Hansell – jjhansell (at) seattleschools (dot) org.

According to the English-language pages of their website, the visitors’ school offers “international education,” as does Sealth.

‘Student Safety: What You All Need to Know’ – Special Sealth/Denny meeting next week

March 3, 2016 1:56 pm
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 |   Safety | West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

Speaking of school safety – from the WSB inbox:

Chief Sealth International High School and the CSIHS PTSA are hosting a community meeting Wednesday, March 9 at 7 pm in the library of the high school.

The topic of the meeting is “Student Safety: What you all need to know.” Representatives from Seattle Public Schools, the Seattle Police Department, and other community service providers will provide information about how students, families and neighbors can be involved in supporting student safety on campus and in the community. All CSIHS and Denny International Middle School students, families, staff and neighbors are invited and encouraged to attend.

CSIHS is at 2600 SW Thistle.

UPDATE: 3 schools take precautions because of possible gun sighting near one

1:23 PM: Seattle Public Schools confirms that West Seattle Elementary is in lockdown and Gatewood and Sanislo Elementaries are in “shelter in place” because of the same incident: A WSES student reported possibly seeing someone drive by holding a gun. The gun was not reported to be pointed at anyone, and was not fired, but just to be on the safe side, the schools have taken precautions. SPS says police are checking around the area.

1:30 PM: SPS spokesperson Luke Duecy says all three schools are back to normal. Nothing found by SPS as far as we have heard.

7:05 PM: Thanks to Katia for uploading (in her comment below) a photo of the letter sent home by WSES principal Vicki Sacco. The text:

Today at approximately 1:00 p.m. three students reported an issue of concern while they were on the school playground. They observed a car drive past the school and the driver showed them that he had a gun. The adults in charge immediately brought all students inside the building and the school went into a lockdown.

Within minutes the police department and school security arrived. They gathered information and thoroughly checked the school building and campus to ensure that everyone was safe. As an adde d measure the police and district security will be a presence at dismissal time this afternoon.

GOOD LUCK! Seattle Lutheran state-tournament sendoff

(WSB photo)

The Seattle Lutheran High School boys’ basketball team plays its first state-tournament game tomorrow in Spokane. This past hour, a regular all-school gathering in the SLHS gym ended with a special sendoff for the Saints.

Their first game is against the Almira-Coulee-Hartline Warriors at 2 pm Thursday.

TOMORROW: WSHS African American Family Night Dinner and Resource Fair

March 1, 2016 7:07 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

Big event at West Seattle High School tomorrow night! We were asked to help with one last round of getting the word out:

When: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Where: The Library

Who: African American families and students

What: This night is an opportunity to access the resources that were requested at the Fall African American Family Night and build relationships. It will also be a night to provide the school with further feedback.

Resource Fair:
College Resources
School Resources
Community Resources

Enjoy a meal with WSHS staff and African American students and families in order to build relationships

Opportunity for Feedback:
What could WSHS be doing to make school great for your student and family

We want to partner with our African American students and families on how to better serve you. You asked for access to more resources.

Questions: Please contact Rebecka McKinney at 206-252-8833 or ramckinney@seattleschools.org if you have any questions about this event.

Thank you! We’re excited to see you on March 2nd.

Preschooler in the house? Application time for city program

The city-funded Seattle Preschool Program is open to 3- and 4-year-olds from families of all incomes, and it’s accepting applications right now. Two of its locations are in West Seattle. Here’s the announcement:

We have added even more classrooms, and it’s time for families to apply.

The preschool application period is now open for children 3 or 4 years old who live in Seattle. Our first selection process will take place Friday, March 11.

Families can apply one of three ways:

*Online at seattle.gov/education. The application is available in English, Spanish, Somali, Amharic, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

*In-person at Seattle libraries, Seattle Community Centers, or Seattle Preschool Program sites.

*Over the phone by calling 206-386-1050

Visit our website for information about our preschool sites and where sites are located.

The West Seattle locations are in North Delridge and Highland Park. Questions? preschool@seattle.gov or that same phone number mentioned above – 206-386-1050.

VIDEO: 777 engine lands at South Seattle College, courtesy of Boeing

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)

The megaship wasn’t the only human-made marvel drawing attention in West Seattle today. It was photo-op time at the Aviation Maintenance Tech building of South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) this afternoon, as the college celebrated a big donation from Boeing – a Pratt and Whitney 777 engine (previewed here last Friday). SSC president Gary Oertli said the gift was a big reminder of the many partnerships that help fuel the school’s success:

On behalf of Boeing – which had never before donated an engine to a college – Robert Thayer from the propulsion unit spoke.


He had some warm words for SSC welding students who were there; they fixed the stand on which the donated engine sits.


After an hour-long open house, the celebration moved next door to another of SSC’s crown jewels, the Northwest Wine Academy. The Aviation Maintenance Tech program now has more than a dozen aircraft and 70 engines utilized for hands-on teaching of the 175 students served by the program each year, pursuing educational pathways from an Associate of Applied Science to an Aviation Powerplant Mechanic Certificate.

DINNER DANCE! West Seattle Big Band + WSHS students’ music and food this Friday

That’s a taste of what you’ll be able to listen and dance to this Friday night (March 4th) at the fourth annual Big Band Dinner Dance presented by the West Seattle High School Music Program. Along with the WSHS Jazz Ensemble, the West Seattle Big Band will play – that’s who’s in the clip, performing “Mack the Knife” during a recent event (thanks to WSBB director Jim Edwards for sharing the video – the WSBB is all about helping local students). Dinner will be prepared and served by WSHS’s culinary program ProStart. Here’s how the night will go:

Dinner served 6-7 pm
Group lessons in basic swing dancing steps 6:30-7 pm
WSHS Jazz Band perform 7-7:30 pm
Door prizes and raffle prize drawings at 7:30 pm
West Seattle Big Band perform 7:30-9 pm

Buy your ticket in advance for $15 – that includes dinner and a door-prize ticket – or $17 at the door. E-mail westseattlehsmusic@gmail.com – or ask any WSHS music student you might happen to know!

P.S. As asked in a comment – yes, it’s at the school (3000 California SW); here’s our calendar listing.

Aviation-education history arrives at South Seattle College

(Photo courtesy South Seattle College)

The Aviation Maintenance Technology program at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) has been groundbreaking in a variety of ways. Now, a new one: It’s the only school in our state with a 777 engine. Boeing has donated a Pratt and Whitney 777 engine to the program, and you’re invited to see it during an open house Monday afternoon (February 29th) at SSC’s main campus on Puget Ridge. SSC says this is the first engine that Boeing ever has donated to a college, and it means the AMT program now has 13 aircraft and 70 engines. Program alumni and SSC president Gary Oertli will be there for Monday’s event, with tours of the aviation-program facility 1-2 pm and a reception at the Northwest Wine Academy next door, 2-3 pm. (The Aviation building is AMT on this campus map.)

UPDATE: 4 chickenpox cases at 1 local school

11:11 AM: New information today about cases of chickenpox reported at Arbor Heights Elementary School. Letters sent to families at AHES and at co-housed Louisa Boren K-8 STEM said five cases had been verified at AHES, but today Seattle Public Schools tells WSB the number is actually four.

The letter sent to families said that the cases appear to have stemmed from exposure “around February 11th” and notes that, “Chickenpox is usually not a serious illness, but it can be severe when complicated by bacterial skin infections and is especially acute for children and adults with compromised immune systems (for example, from cancer chemotherapy, high-dose steroid therapy for asthma or HIV). Adolescents, adults, the elderly, and pregnant women are more at risk for complications from chicken pox.” The district says the four cases include one vaccinated child and three unvaccinated children; 90 percent of AHES students are vaccinated, according to the letter from principal Christy Collins.

The letter advises:

Children 12 months of age and older, adolescents, and adults who have not had chicken pox disease and have not received chicken pox vaccine should contact their health care provider to get immunized as soon as possible. Those with compromised immune systems should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss the best ways to protect themselves from chicken pox.

The King County Public Health website shares this general information about the disease. We asked KCPH spokesperson James Apa for any information available about current trends; he says that individual cases are “not reportable” so they don’t have trend information. He does say the last chickenpox-related death in the county was in 2011.

ADDED 2:42 PM: More from Apa at KCPH: Four cases is considered a “cluster”; while he cautions that his agency might not always hear about clusters, they have heard about one other so far this year – a preschool – and also, three other reports of 1 or 2 cases of chickenpox in schools or daycares around King County.

West Seattle schools: Global Reading Challenge!

February 24, 2016 2:12 pm
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 |   West Seattle books | West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

GRC 2016 Winners Collage

Thanks to Elise Olson for sharing the photo collage from Global Reading Challenge competition at Arbor Heights Elementary, one of a dozen West Seattle schools on the list of this year’s participants. The Exploding Platypi won the AH in-school challenge with a perfect score of 120 and move on to the semifinals downtown on March 8th. GRC is described by the Seattle Public Library as a “battle of the books” competition for 4th and 5th graders; here are the books they’re reading this year. The teams that emerge from the semi-finals citywide will compete in the finals at the downtown library on March 22nd.

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