West Seattle, Washington
Photos by Leda Costa for West Seattle Blog
How often do you get to take a swing at a piñata with the help of a school principal? At Denny International Middle School – at least once a year. That’s Denny principal Jeff Clark in his legendary “Denny Dolphins blue” suit at last Friday night’s Posada Navideña holiday celebration on campus. Along with games and food, music and dance filled the night:
Some of the performers were students, including the Folklorico Club from Chief Sealth International High School next door:
And the Denny/Sealth Mariachi Band, with alumni joining students.
Denny’s Mariachi Club, by the way, starts up again in January, for any interested students. Meantime, the crowd was again delighted by guest stars Banda Vagos:
They’re a popular Seattle group performing the brass-based “banda” style of music:
And once they got going, some Posada-goers just had to dance:
It was a night for memories – Andrea LaVare snapped the Folklorico Club::
Thanks to Denny PTSA co-president Manuela Slye for the lineup on this year’s event, which also included activities including writing thank-you notes for teachers and, for any interested families, a chance to get clothing and supplies courtesy of Communities in Schools:
The Posada is now a longtime Denny holiday tradition – the first one was back in 2010
How can South Seattle College Cooperative Preschools better serve West Seattle families? The nonprofit system that has worked with so many local families is trying to find out through an online survey. They’ve already asked current co-op families but also want to hear from potential and past families – not just their thoughts about preschool options but also about opportunities for parent education, which is a big part of the co-op program. Find the survey here.
A transit alert from South Seattle College (WSB sponsor), taking effect tomorrow:
Starting Wednesday, November 30, King County Metro Routes 125 and 128 will resume service to South Seattle College’s main campus bus stop located to the west of the Robert Smith Building (RSB on the campus map, which you can see here).
The temporary stop located near the Northwest Wine Academy in the north parking lot will no longer be in service.
Construction on campus had led to the change.
In case you missed this the day before Thanksgiving – Seattle Public Schools says the results of October’s survey have been tallied and there’s now a proposed plan for how to change schedules next year. Here’s the district announcement, starting with the backstory:
School Schedule Recommendations for 2017-18
To improve K-12 students’ academic access and achievement, the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) agreed to add 20 minutes of core instructional time to the school day starting in the 2017-18 school year. This action also brings our instructional hours into alignment with other districts in the region.
In addition, SEA and SPS agreed to add teacher collaboration time into the work day to support common planning time and improved student outcomes.
Thank you to the 11,000 plus family members, teachers, principals and community partners who responded to last month’s survey on how to add 20 minutes to the instructional day and provided guidance on when to implement the one hour of teacher collaboration time per week.
Your input and feedback is valued.
Recommendations informed by stakeholders and community engagement: Read More
If you haven’t seen this on the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar already – here’s an invitation for families of students who are headed to high school next year:
Parents of current 8th graders: Are you interested in learning about West Seattle High School and what we can offer your student? You are invited to attend our 8th Grade Information Night on Thursday, December 1st, from 6:30-8:30 pm. The evening will begin in the WSHS theater, where you will hear about course offerings, extracurricular activities and athletics at West Seattle. We will then break for school tours and open Q&A in the Commons. Teachers, administrators, counselors, and coaches will be available to meet with families and answer questions. Light refreshments will be served. We look forward to seeing you on the 1st!
Here’s a chance to include local students in your holiday-season giving:
Chief Sealth International High School is looking for some donations for its Closet which is stocked with school supplies, toiletries, clothing, and a food pantry for students in need. We’re hoping that as you shop the holiday sales, you might consider picking up and donating these items for the Closet:
* Women’s and Men’s underwear — all sizes Small – XXL and preferably boxer briefs for the men
* Women’s and Men’s socks — no-show and crew-style athletic socks, men’s dress socks, as well as fun and just plain everyday socks
* Plain white undershirts — all sizes
We can always use new or gently used:
* T-shirts and long-sleeve t-shirts
* Athletic shorts and pants (these items don’t stay on our shelves long!)
* Warm winter coats
* Men’s suits in black, gray, or dark blue
You can drop by donations at the school’s front office anytime during the week, 8:30 am -4:30 pm. If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Conley at email@example.com.
Thank you! We’re grateful to our generous West Seattle community for its support of our students.
Sealth is at 2600 SW Thistle; the main entrance is up the stairs across the driveway from the northwest end of the parking lot.
Thanks to Holy Rosary Preschool teacher Tauna Evans for the photo from the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive: “This is our Pre-K class posing after sorting and counting the collected food.” Final tally: 110 cans!
P.S. Looking for ways to give this season? The list of donation drives in the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide keeps growing. If you have one to which the public can contribute, please let us know so we can add it – firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you!
1:29 PM: Faculty members at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) and other schools in the Seattle Colleges District are rallying today on the eve of mediation in their contract talks. Main sticking point is money – the faculty have received only what their union calls “sporadic and small” cost-of-living increases in recent years.
We asked faculty member Tish Lopez to summarize what faculty members are seeking:
Lopez also says, “Currently, our salary is so low that most faculty cannot afford to pay rent for a typical one bedroom apartment in West Seattle,” adding that administrative salaries have grown while faculty salaries have not, and that they hope this walkout as well as similar actions at Seattle Central and North Seattle Colleges “will help to move administration to reconsider the asks from the union and that continued denial to do so” will be seen “as an attack on the quality of education provided and insulting to those who provide it.”
In a prepared statement, a district spokesperson acknowledges that the pay isn’t what it should be, and says the problem is that:
Community colleges in Seattle, Olympia, and the Tri-Cities all receive the same base funding per student. The funding formula does not account for our region’s high operating costs or the differences in cost of living. This is having a direct effect on the student experience and limits our ability to adjust wages. Our employees are doing similar work as other state employees across the state, yet they are denied an opportunity to have the same quality of life. A regional pay structure, like those instituted for the highway patrol and Washington State Department of Transportation, could provide the necessary relief. In essence, we believe that a state system that funds colleges at the same amount is inadequate for high-cost urban areas, such as Seattle.
The two sides have been talking for more than half a year; Seattle Colleges says its most recent offer includes “increases of at least 11.1 percent for full-time faculty and 7.8 percent for part-time faculty over the three years of the contract (July 2016 through June 2019).”
8:01 PM: Commenters describing themselves as faculty members take issue with the district statement about what it’s offering, as quoted above. Here’s the district statement, along with a statement we received from a faculty/union rep who e-mailed us about today’s rally, from which we also quoted:
It is truly the end of an era at West Seattle High School, as longtime head football coach Tom Burggraff retires. Thanks to assistant coach Jeff Ursino for sharing the story:
After a career of service spanning back 26 years, Tom Burggraff has announced his retirement
as Head Football Coach at WSHS. Coach first made his announcement to his team in the WSHS locker room following the team’s season-ending playoff loss in Regionals.
Coach Burggraff began his coaching career as an assistant with the State Champion Ingraham Rams in 1988. In 1992 Tom took over a WSHS (Indians) football team that had only one winning record in modern memory, and hadn’t seen anything resembling a playoff or title game since the 1960s. It took two years to get the first win, but his teams slowly improved their records to eventually build a perpetually competitive team, including a 7-2 team in 1999, and culminating in the 2006 team that was the first (and still only) WSHS football team to make it to the State Playoff 16-team bracket (with a victory over Eastside Catholic and an 8-win season).
Tom stepped aside after 2007, leaving behind a well-coached and athletic core of players who had much success over the next 3 years under coach Davis Lura (2008-2010). Tom was quickly drawn back into coaching by Bob Dowding at Seattle Lutheran (Bob had coached under Tom at WSHS before SLHS added a football program). In 2012-13, Bob was done coaching at SLHS, and the WSHS program had begun to flounder. With his son coming in as a Class of 2017 Freshman, Tom again took over a building project at WSHS in 2013.
It took two years of very hard work to rebuild a complete coaching staff, but by 2015 WSHS boasted a mix of old and new faces with well over 100 years of experience, and even in the face of a competitive division saw the team rebound to a 5-5 record, and a return of the Huling Bowl Trophy to WSHS.
This 2016 season saw the 2A WSHS team play through the SPS divisions at 5-1 and into the 3A playoffs matched up against the reigning State Champions, Eastside Catholic. The 2016 team finished with a 6-4 record, with each of those losses against teams ranked in the top-10 in state.
Tom is stepping aside after the 2016 season, after a coaching tenure of uncommon duration in Seattle Public Schools. The program will miss his ability to prepare teams to deliver their best possible performance, as well as his willingness to manage the extra challenges that come along with coaching in SPS. Tom also had a long tenure as a Head Track Coach at WSHS, including the team that finished second in State in 2008.
The 2016 football team graduates several key players with the class of 2017. This is the school’s 100th graduating class, and Coach Burggraff has worked at the school for over a quarter of that century. He will continue to teach Social Studies at the school. There is a good core of returning players, and the WSHS tradition will surely live on under the next head coach. The school has not announced when that selection process will begin.
Changes are proposed for the Seattle Public Schools Assignment Plan starting next year, and the first of five briefings around the city is set for next Monday (November 21) at Chief Sealth International High School. The district announcement says that “the plan for 2017-2018 continues most of the assignment rules in effect during 2016-2017.” Three items on the list of proposed changes are outside West Seattle, but these others might be of interest:
Modifying Highly Capable Cohort pathways;
Adding Chief Sealth as the southeast dual language immersion pathway high school;
Removing conflicting assignment guarantees for new-to-the-district 6th-8th grade students;
Moving the date when waitlists are dissolved from August 15 to August 31; and
Updating school and program names and locations.
The School Board Operations Committee is supposed to get the first full look at the proposal this Thursday; the agenda is not on the district website yet, so we’re checking to see when it will be. Monday’s community meeting is at 6:30 pm in the library at CSIHS (2600 SW Thistle).
2:05 PM: It began with the preannounced 1:30 walkout – which we’ve been covering on Twitter – then two gatherings on the south side of Thistle, and now hundreds of students who left school in a pre-announced protest of last week’s election results have marched east on Thistle toward Delridge, with police ahead and behind them.
March heading east on Thistle pic.twitter.com/Tr1Vt1cNQB
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) November 14, 2016
2:08 PM: They headed southbound on Delridge, and now have turned west onto Trenton, according to WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand, who is walking alongside the crowd.
2:22 PM: Still westbound on Trenton, past Westwood Village.
(added) The signs below represent the biggest concern we heard from talking to groups of students in the crowd – that immigrant relatives and friends would be forced to leave the country.
We’re also hearing scattered reports of protesters in other parts of West Seattle – a group south of Admiral, a group near Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in North Delridge.
2:34 PM This had wrapped up with students returning to the Sealth/Denny campus. Denny is now out for the day; Sealth’s final bell is 3:15 pm. And yes, that’s a TV helicopter, though there’s not much to see.
2:55 PM: Thanks to those who forwarded a note sent to Madison families saying about 50 walked out. A group walked out at Pathfinder K-8 too (thanks to Lisa for the note). And Justin tweeted this from Jefferson Square:
— Justin Rush (@justin_devs) November 14, 2016
As far as we know, all the walkouts/protests in West Seattle are over now.
4:23 PM: More photos added inline above.
4:40 PM: We just checked with Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Luke Duecy regarding district policy for today’s walkouts. As was the case with last week’s West Seattle HS walkout, he says, “When a student leaves school without permission, the district considers that an unexcused absence. Students may not get the chance to make-up work missed. That decision on whether to allow a student to make-up work is up to an individual schools’ principal.” The district estimates that 5,000 students in all walked out of 20 middle and high schools, including Sealth and Denny, today. Also:
Seattle Public Schools is steadfast in our support for all students. While the protests are not sanctioned by the district, SPS students do have the right to peacefully demonstrate and express their personal views.
Any time a student leaves school without permission the district considers it an unexcused absence.
Staff are not taking part in the student-organized demonstrations. Some staff could observe students during their protest for safety and security reasons.
As a district we are responding to the requests and needs of our community and many schools are developing lessons and activities to have appropriate, post-election conversations in school buildings.
Regarding staff “observ(ation),” we saw both Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer and Denny principal Jeff Clark on the sidewalk along Thistle, as well as assistant principals and at least one school security official who was telling students from the start of the walkout that they had to do it off school property (unlike some smaller demonstrations we covered earlier in the year which happened on the plaza by Sealth’s entrance).
Received tonight from the Chief Sealth International High School Black Student Union:
The Chief Sealth International High School Black Student Union will be participating in a schoolwide walkout and rally outside of Chief Sealth Intl. High School on Monday, November 14, 2016 @ 1:30 PM. In this rally, we want to show that our students are here for each other and that we won’t back down. We are proud of our school’s diversity, no matter who’s elected into office or what they may say.
After the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, there has been a heightened fear among Students of Color, Immigrant Students, Muslim Students, Female Students, and more. The examples of hate crimes and discrimination all over the country has our students afraid for their future and the future of their friends and family.
We say “heightened” because the struggle for Students of Color, Immigrant Students, Muslim Students, and Female Students is not new. It has been ongoing, and we come together today to show that we will have each other’s backs as we enter this new era.
We will not be afraid. We know that when we stand together, we are strong. We know that when we stand together, the racism, islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, homophobia, and misogyny that Donald Trump stoked during his campaign will not find a voice in our community. We know that when we all stand together those that have been empowered by this election to express racism, islamophobia, homophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, and misogyny will recognize that those ideas have no home here.
In this walkout, students at Sealth and the Sealth Student Cultural Coalition, which includes members from the Black Student Union (BSU), Muslim Student Union, (MSU), Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano Latino de Aztlán (MECHLA), Asian Culture Association (ACA), and the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) will be coming together. We hope to show the rest of the world that we stand in solidarity with each other. We invite cultural organizations from other schools to do the same.
This walkout and rally will be NON-VIOLENT. We will not welcome violent actions.
Back on Wednesday, you might recall, about 200 students from West Seattle High School walked out for a post-election protest march from Admiral to The Junction and back to school.
Meantime, this isn’t the first action this year in which the Sealth BSU has been involved – we covered their pre-football-game protest in September, as well as their Black Lives Matter At School rally three weeks ago. Last December, the group organized an anti-Islamophobia demonstration.
10:23 AM: About 200 students from West Seattle High School have walked out of their classes and are headed south on California SW toward The Junction.
(Added: Reader video from Molly – profane language alert)
It’s been described to us as a reaction to last night’s election results.
10:50 AM: The group has reached The Junction. A TV helicopter has picked up on this so if you are hearing/seeing a helicopter, that is what is going on.
11:15 AM: Sorry about the site slowness – this has caused a huge traffic surge.
The group rallied at the Jefferson Square corner plaza (photos above and below) and then headed back to WSHS, where we’re told they’ll be talking with principal Ruth Medsker.
What participants were telling us is, what happened last night does not represent the future that they want, the America that they believe they belong to and belong in, and they will work to embody the values they want to see represented.
Organizer Max Lemke (photo below) told his classmates that they need to be better people, so that there is hope for their future. Love will trump hate, he told them.
(added) One woman passing by, describing herself as a “proud grandma,” high-fived some of the students:
11:48 AM: At the school, the principal took the students into the theater so they would have a place to talk. She said she understood they were angry and wanted to express it. Media were not allowed in.
ADDED 5:11 PM: Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Luke Duecy says, “During today’s student protest march at WSHS, students who walked out of school were marked absent and will need to make up any work missed. No students will be disciplined. Instead, staff talked with students about their desire to express themselves and they supported students’ emotional needs. No teachers walked with students. Two vice principals did for safety and security reasons. Some parents also joined.”
While it is not directly related to the WSHS protest, we also are including a statement Seattle Public Schools has issued in the election’s aftermath:
Seattle Public Schools serves a rich and diverse school community. Our students speak 143 languages/dialects and come from 147 countries. Media coverage of the candidates’ positions on immigration, ethnicity, gender, and religion permeated our students’ lives over the last year. Even our youngest students were aware of the polarizing rhetoric. Today, we have heard directly from families who are feeling anxious and concerned.
The election outcome doesn’t change or influence the district’s direction, priorities, mission, or values. Seattle Public Schools continues to remain dedicated to providing positive school climates that promote student learning and development.
We are committed to building school communities where all students, families and staff are safe, respected and engaged. We will not tolerate bullying, intimidation or any other actions that sustain and advance prejudice and bigotry. Our commitment to the wellbeing of each and every student is stronger than ever.
Turns out Mayor Ed Murray made a second stop in West Seattle on Thursday. The report and photo are from David Perrine:
Mayor Ed Murray came to the Chief Sealth International High School neighborhood to award a Neighborhood Street Fund grant for pedestrian corridor improvements. The two designated corridors, located between the Sealth/Denny schools area and Westwood Village, will turn the current rough trails into safe improved walkways for the benefit of students and the general public. The mayor first became aware of the issue during his “Find It Fix It” Walk last July. and with engineering plans in hand pledged $466,000 for the project, which will be completed in 2018.
The mayor met with a delegation of Chief Sealth students in the Academy of Finance program, their program teacher and director Gary Perkins, and vice principal Clint Sallee, with other community stakeholders.
Kristin Arvidson and Lynn Ogdon-Perrine, Sealth PTSA officers, accepted the check on behalf of their group and others.
Also, a huge shout out to Eric Iwamoto, parent of a former Chief Sealth student, for spearheading the proposal for safer pathways for students of Sealth.
Iwamoto, co-chair of the Southwest District Council and the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, pursued the funding through the Neighborhood Street Fund process, and a citywide advisory group chose it as one of two West Seattle projects the city will fund, along with Harbor/Avalon/Manning improvements, as first reported here two weeks ago. Details of the Sealth-vicinity project are here.
Back in August, we published an invitation for you to get involved with Gatewood Elementary‘s quest for a “green schoolyard.” It’s moving ahead, despite a recent setback, and your involvement is still heartily welcomed, says Sandy Lennon:
We’ve posted the final permaculture design proposal for a Gatewood learning garden/outdoor classroom (here). Take a look! We are currently soliciting feedback on the design from our school staff, community, and the school district.
· If you’re interested in the Gatewood project, or generally interested in green schoolyards, learning gardens, or permaculture in schools, you can sign up to follow our conversation at: gatewoodgreenschoolyard.org
· We learned recently that we were unfortunately not awarded a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant for green playground design work in this round of funding. We will be meeting this week on Thursday, November 3, 5:00-6:30 pm in the school library, to de-brief on City feedback, review the 2006 Gatewood conceptual master plan, discuss our current vision and possible staging of work, and determine next steps for both the playground and garden. Our principal, PTA leadership, and a representative from the school district will be participating. Gatewood families and interested neighbors are encouraged to join us.
Gatewood Elementary is at 4320 SW Myrtle.
Here’s a ray of hope in the midst of what has been a disheartening election season, with six days to go until the vote-counting begins: Future voters learning that they have more choices that it seems, despite hearing so much this time around about only two parties and two candidates.
That’s what students at Chief Sealth International High School were learning as they voted in a mock election on Tuesday, according to senior Lilian Soto, assisting social-studies teacher Noah Zeichner with the project:
Results are expected on Friday afternoon.
P.S. Also related to the election, Zeichner told us, a group of 12th-grade students are working on a “virtual-reality documentary” finding out how their schoolmates feel about the presidential contest.
Education has long been one of U.S. Senator Patty Murray‘s passions, as detailed on her official website – before her 24 years in the U.S. Senate, she was a preschool teacher, school-board member, and PTA president. Today, she visited Chief Sealth International High School to get a firsthand look at a tech-education program that is getting new support from education legislation she co-authored, the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The program, Technology Education and Literacy in School (TEALS), teaches computer science, with community partnership; we mentioned it a year and a half ago during a search for volunteers to help get it going at Sealth, where it’s in its second year.
Sen. Murray said she was pleased to see so many young women – about half the students – in the class. TEALS was founded by Microsoft employee Kevin Wang, who was there too (at left in photo below); his business card includes the title “Ringleader.”
P.S. In another Sealth classroom this morning, students were voting in a mock election – we checked that out too while at CSIHS and will publish that story later today.
Though they are still a few years away from voting, some West Seattle High School students are having their voices heard this election year.
They’re participating in a nationwide project called Letters to the Next President. Each student is writing a letter to tell the next president about the most important social issue s/he should address.
WSHS teachers Kira Hopkins and Nicholas Rose decided to have their classes participate. The benefits are many, Rose told us – for one, the students, though too young to vote, “want to be heard.” Also, this project is honing skills from argumentative writing to research. That’s also what Hopkins told us in her original invitation to us to cover the project: “As a teacher, I’m excited about this project because students are practicing research and argument skills to become informed voters for the next generation. My students are excited about it because they get to write about an issue that matters to them and get involved.”
We visited the WSHS Library last week while some of Rose’s 9th-graders were working on their letters. We talked with two of them on video:
Karen wants the next President to focus on teen homelessness:
Morgan, meantime, is writing to the next President about health-care spending:
We asked Rose about other topics that students have chosen for their letters; immigration and police-related issues are popular, he told us.
The students’ final drafts are due this week. Their letters eventually will be uploaded to the Letters to the Next President website, which already is featuring more than 3,400 letters.
Photos by Leda Costa for West Seattle Blog
While putting together this year’s WSB West Seattle Halloween (etc.) Guide, we’ve noticed more community Dia de los Muertos events than previous years … and we were invited to visit Thursday night’s big party at Highland Park Elementary. And along with food, games, and crafts, participants got to learn about this way of honoring the dead – above, HPE dad Miguel Gudino explains the altar he set up. Traditionally, you put fresh flowers, candles, and your loved one’s favorite foods on an altar like this, and on November 1st, all of these items are taken to the grave.
It’s a celebratory time. And so the HPES event offered fun activities including facepainting – which drew a line:
That’s fourth-grader AJ. Ahead, 10 more photos: Read More
Thanks to Vy Duong for the photo! Perfect day for the Lafayette Elementary Walk-a-Thon, and here’s the cheery crowd of participants afterward. This year’s theme: “Super Silly Fun Land.”
(This is one of our area’s many school fundraisers organized by PTAs/PTSAs – if your school has one coming up and you welcome wider community support, please let us know so we can include it in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar – email@example.com – we include PTA/PTSA meetings in the calendar when we get word of them, too – thank you!)
Photos by Leda Costa for West Seattle Blog
Neighboring Chief Sealth International High School and Denny International Middle School have the largest Native population of any school in Seattle Public Schools, according to Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer, who hosted the schools’ first Indigenous Peoples’ Day assembly today.
Leda Costa was there for WSB – more of her photos, ahead: Read More
Two major events at City Hall last night. While we were covering a Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda “focus group” meeting talking about proposed rezoning (story to come), the City Council was listening to public comment about the budget. Among those commenting: A South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) contingent there to ask the city to contribute to expansion of the 13th Year Promise scholarship program. SSC communications director Ty Swenson shares the photo and report:
It was democracy in action at a Seattle City Council public hearing at City Hall as South Seattle College students, faculty, and leadership spoke to the council about the impact of our college’s 13th Year Promise Scholarship, and encouraged passage of a proposal to expand the program to three more high schools.
Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell has submitted a budget proposal that would expand the 13th Year Promise Scholarship to additional high schools over 2017 and 2018 with city support.
Currently offered to all Rainier Beach, Chief Sealth International, and Cleveland high school graduating seniors, the 13th Year Promise Scholarship provides one year of tuition-free college at South along with support services. It has increased access to higher education for area youth, particularly those from underrepresented groups including first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color. The program began in 2008, and to this point has been funded by donations to the college’s foundation.
Speaking on behalf of the proposal to city council were South Seattle College President Gary Oertli, South Foundation Chair (and West Seattle resident) Catherine Arnold, Mathematics Instructor Heidi Lyman, and students Ken Bert and Blanca Olivera, both attending college through the 13th Year Promise Scholarship.
The potential expansion schools include West Seattle High School. The program expanded to Chief Sealth in 2011; CSIHS was the second school, and Rainier Beach was added in 2014.