West Seattle back-to-school: Westside School celebrates start of final EC Hughes year, before ‘Heading Home’September 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 1 Comment
(WSB photos by Patrick Sand. Above, the start of today’s assembly)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
This morning’s back-to-school celebration/assembly at Westside School (WSB sponsor) was the last one at the former EC Hughes Elementary.
Next year, after five years at the leased Seattle Public Schools-owned campus in Sunrise Heights, Westside is expecting to start the year in a “home of their own” for the very first time – the former Hillcrest Presbyterian Church site that they’ve purchased and are renovating in Arbor Heights.
The project is on schedule, Westside’s head of school Kate Mulligan told us during an end-of-summer conversation about that and other reasons this is an especially exciting year for the independent PreK-8 school.
Thanks to Fiona for the tip: Demolition has begun at the other new-elementary-school site in West Seattle, on Genesee Hill. No backhoe-biting-into-building activity yet, as of our visit – as you can see in the photo, some bricks have been removed from the front of the school along SW Genesee, and we noted backhoes on the back side (north). This is the future home of the program currently at Schmitz Park Elementary; Seattle Public Schools has said that building will become an “early-learning center” once the new elementary opens. According to this history page from the district website, Genesee Hill Elementary was open 1948-1988 before its first closure; the building was reopened in 1994 for the alternative school that became Pathfinder K-8, which was housed there until GH was closed one final time in 2009.
For a few often-rowdy hours on the first morning of the new school year Wednesday, Chief Sealth International High School‘s Class of 2018 had the school to themselves.
Well – except for the upperclassmen volunteers and staffers leading them through those hours via the nationally renowned transition/mentoring program Link Crew.
This is Sealth’s third year with the mentoring program (we reported on student leaders’ preparation the first year, in 2012) meant to get freshmen off to a successful start. It mixes inspiration with goofy icebreakers – like this relay involving hugs and balloons:
On the inspirational side, Luke Azinger told the new arrivals that there are three types of people – those who make things happen, those who watch things happen (both of whom, he stressed, were important in their own ways) and – those who wonder, “What happened?”
In this case, what happened is … they all woke up one day and found themselves in high school. (It was a later wakeup, with Sealth’s bell time later this year, 8:40 am.) But this is one way to start off in a team mode, instead of wandering the halls feeling alone.
Link Crew goes beyond the first-day activities; on Friday, for example, freshmen and their mentors have a barbecue planned and then the first football game of the year (across the street at Southwest Athletic Complex).
P.S. Thanks to student leader Lincoln Vuong for inviting us to visit! He’s pictured below with a faculty Link Crew leader, Kim Dinh:
Lincoln was so organized, he first messaged us two months ago! Other program leaders include assistant principal Andra Maughan as well as Sarah Martin and Carrie Syvertsen, plus Azinger, who emceed the warmup activities happening while we were there at the start of the day. After that, the freshmen were to break up into crews of a dozen or so, with two student leaders for each, finishing the morning with a school tour and wrapup assembly before classes started for the entire school in the afternoon.
Another special back-to-school event to announce! From the Highland Park Elementary PTA, via Holly:
HPE will be hosting its annual back to school BBQ on Friday, September 5th. The BBQ is scheduled from 5:30 – 7:00 on the school grounds.
This is an annual tradition at HPE, and provides the students and their families an opportunity to gather as a community, share their visions for the school year, and celebrate the beginning of another school year. Hot dogs and refreshments will be provided. The PTA will be on hand, as well as teachers and administrators.
Special event, accomplishment, request, etc. from/at YOUR school? Let us know!
The program now housed at SPES is scheduled to move into the new GH school in 2016; the district’s most-recent announced plan for the current SPES building is to use it as an early-learning center. Thanks to Sean O’Connor for these photos from this morning! (Watch for a few other “first day of school” stories here, later today and tonight.)
“It’s amazing!” That’s what we heard one new Fairmount Park Elementary student exclaim while walking the school’s halls after this afternoon’s standing-room-only ribboncutting event celebrating the school’s expansion and reopening after a seven-year closure. You might have gotten a sense of that amazement, checking out some of the features shown in our walkthrough story earlier today. But it’s the school’s community – with more than 380 students expected tomorrow, 40 or so above the most-recent estimate we had – that is most astounding. Principal Julie Breidenbach pointed out it was a leap of faith for many families who already had started their children’s elementary years elsewhere, and that it’s more than double what the district expected the school to re-start with:
She was joined onstage by dignitaries including the district’s new acting Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland, and West Seattle’s School Board rep Marty McLaren:
Even West Seattle’s highest-ranking elected official, King County Executive Dow Constantine, was there, and he shared reminiscences including his memories of some involvement with Fairmount Park’s first phase of life, as well as some thoughts as a new dad who’ll be taking his daughter to her first day of school in a few years.
So much work has gone into “breathing life into the new building,” pointed out interim PTA president Hillary Shaw:
Those weren’t even all the speeches – but we have to get to the main event: The ribboncutting itself, which came after words of acknowledgment from principal Breidenbach and district construction-projects manager Jeanette Imanishi.
The event even had dessert – ice cream, served in the cafeteria/auditorium – and then it was off to look around:
Students and families got to meet teachers, too:
All the while, finishing touches were continuing – we spotted this worker painting lines on the north playground:
Tomorrow morning, it’s the real deal – time for school, again, at Fairmount Park. (And remember, that also means a school speed zone on Fauntleroy Way for the first time since 2007.) P.S. Other schools have changes too, including bell times, and we’ll be looking at those in a story later tonight.
West Seattle back-to-school: Ribboncutting this afternoon at Fairmount Park Elementary; take a closer look nowSeptember 2, 2014 at 10:30 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 14 Comments
(Renovated hallway in original FPES building. WSB photos by Tracy Record)
In about four hours, on the day before classes begin for 2014-2015, Seattle Public Schools‘ new acting superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland will be in West Seattle. He’ll join in a ribboncutting ceremony at newly expanded/renovated Fairmount Park Elementary School (3800 SW Findlay; map), reopening after a seven-year closure. We showed you photos of the completed overhaul two weeks ago (thanks again, Joe!). Then last week, we had the chance for a guided walkthrough with SPS construction-project manager Jeanette Imanishi (whom we last met for a walkthrough at the renovated Boren Building two years ago, before K-5 STEM opened there). Both the old building and the new wing to its east are full of light and color, whether you look up at the colored glass letting light into a stairwell:
Or across the courtyard, at new tile accents outside (replacing old panels that contained asbestos, which was removed from other features of the old building too, including its floors):
Or down, at the refinished gym floor, where equipment awaits the students:
The gym also sports a water-bottle filler:
Updated technology touches are everywhere – note these outlets dangling from the ceiling:
That’s the first “Ice Bucket Challenge” clip called to our attention by a local school. This one features the staff of Holy Rosary School and the parish’s pastor, Father John Madigan. HR principal George Hofbauer starts with challenges to other local Catholic schools, and Fr. Madigan adds a challenge to Seattle’s Archbishop Peter Sartain. (In case you’ve missed it somehow, the IBC has been making the rounds for weeks to raise awareness and money for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.) P.S. First day of school at HRS is next Tuesday.
Thanks to Scott for the top photo and the tip that building demolition has begun at Arbor Heights Elementary, a milestone for the project to replace the dilapidated old buildings with a brand-new school. We went over and got there just in time to photograph the backhoe doing a little more work on the north side of the southern building before parking for the day:
As reported here on August 20th, the city Hearing Examiner rejected an appeal of the demolition-permit granting. Another appeal was rejected in May; that one involved the ruling that the project didn’t need a full environmental review. Following that first decision, a meeting was held to update the community on the construction plan (WSB coverage here). The timetable shared at that meeting called for demolition to begin in August, which now, technically, it has; it also noted that there would be a pause from November to February, when the second phase of the project would begin, by which time the district would decide if the school would be built to hold up to 500 students, or up to 650. The new school is supposed to open in two years; in the meantime, AHES is sharing the Boren building in North Delridge with the school permanently housed there, K-5 STEM.
Can you spare an hour a week – a small amount of time that can make a big difference? Invest in Youth is signing up volunteers now:
Your investment of one hour a week can lead to a lifetime of dividends for a child…
Invest in Youth is a Seattle-based non-profit organization that provides free tutoring to local elementary students across the city, including two West Seattle elementary schools (Roxhill and the new Fairmount Park). Our program is unique in that we don’t charge families or schools to provide our quality tutoring services. We are able to do this because of the support of our volunteers who commit to tutoring a 3rd through 5th grade student once a week. Will you join us this fall?
The program is pretty straightforward:
10:50 PM UPDATE: WSHS (3000 California SW) was just pronounced an official “false alarm.” At Madison (3429 45th SW) they’re still doublechecking to be sure nothing’s awry.
We’re continuing to spotlight local back-to-school events as the start of the new school year (one week from today, September 3rd, for Seattle Public Schools) nears. Here’s an announcement for Roxhill Elementary students, family, and staff:
Roxhill Elementary’s Back to School BBQ is being held tomorrow, Thursday the 28th, from 6 pm- 8 pm. Food will be provided, so bring the whole family and come on down to meet your teacher this year! Free school supplies will be handed out while supplies last – so get there early!
Lots to see just off-campus, too, including more pedestrian improvements on 30th SW.
P.S. Thanks yet again to everyone sharing school news/announcements – e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (the further in advance, the better)!
West Seattle back-to-school: Why you’ll see yellow buses on the roads and in the lots the next two daysAugust 26, 2014 at 12:28 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools, West Seattle traffic alerts | 1 Comment
Though Seattle Public Schools‘ first day of classes is still eight days away, you’ll see yellow school buses on the roads the next two days. Here’s the heads-up from driver Al:
Tomorrow and Thursday school bus drivers will be doing ‘dry runs’ of their routes, which means as early as 6 am, hundreds of school buses will be out-and-about following the directions given to us by the District to find and check out our pick-up and drop-off locations, as well as looking for any route-problems we may encounter on the streets.
Also happening during these two days are meetings at various schools between staff and the drivers, so some schools will see a number of buses parked in their load zones for a while.
This will likely happen for most of the day both days, and we thank you ahead of time for the public’s patience and understanding.
And thanks again to everybody sharing back-to-school news – email@example.com – same address for announcements and info once schools are open again, too!
Another announcement just in for a back-to-school event – this one’s tomorrow!
West Seattle High School is having its Freshman Family Night from 5:30-7:30 Wednesday, August 27: Student panel, curriculum information, building tours, meet key WSHS staff members, and purchase WSHS Spirit Gear.
Back-to-school event we haven’t mentioned yet for YOUR school? Please send info – thanks!
Another back-to-school event announcement to share:
The Pathfinder Back-to-School BBQ is August 28 from 5-7 pm. The PTSA invites the Pathfinder K-8 school community and Pigeon Point neighbors to celebrate the new playground paint and kick-off our 2014-2015 school year. Food and drink provided. Details about this and other events can be found at our new PTSA website. pathfinderk8ptsa.org
P.S. Thanks to ALL the parents, PTA leaders, volunteers, staffers (and sometimes students) who share announcements/news here so we can help get the word out too – here’s how
We’re continuing to publish local back-to-school events as we get word of them. Today, from the Lafayette Elementary PTA:
On Tuesday, September 2nd from 5-7 pm, the Lafayette PTA is sponsoring a “Back to School BBQ” on the Lafayette playground. There will be free food and drinks with some great music. Come and meet new friends and reconnect with Lafayette families you have missed over the summer!
P.S. Thanks yet again in advance to the parents, PTA leaders, volunteers, staffers (and sometimes students!) who share big news here so we can help get the word out too – here’s how
More pre-back-to-school events – this time, for K-5 STEM families, two invites:
K-5 STEM PTA would like to invite all students, parents and guardians of K-5 STEM to our 3rd Annual Back to School Bash taking place on Saturday, August 23rd from 4 pm – 7 pm at Lincoln Park’s NORTH END. We will be in Shelter 5 & picnic tables 60-84. Please bring a potluck food to share, drinks, plates, and utensils for just your family. STEM PTA will be providing hot dogs, veggie dogs, buns & condiments.
During the BBQ there will also be a Uniform Swap: Please bring gently used, clean uniform / spirit wear clothing- all extra clothing will go to the Uniform Closet.
New Student OPEN HOUSE
Please join STEM staff, teachers and PTA for a staggered OPEN HOUSE on Thursday, August 28th to welcome incoming Kindergarten and new STEM students. Come meet your teachers, tour the school and see your classrooms. Class lists will also be posted in the hallway for viewing at 4pm.
Open House Times:
1st-5th Grades: 4-5 pm
K Students: 5-6:30 pm
K-5 STEM will be sharing the Boren campus at 5950 Delridge Way SW with Arbor Heights Elementary these next two years, while the new AHES is built.
P.S. Thanks yet again in advance to the parents, PTA leaders, volunteers, staffers (and sometimes students!) who share big news here so we can help get the word out too – here’s how.
(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
As the new playground for Pathfinder K-8 and its Pigeon Point neighbors gets closer to reality, today’s the “paint party” announced in the most recent project update. Until mid-afternoon, more than 100 visiting volunteers are at the school to help the PF community, courtesy of a grant from Capital One. Their projects include, above, the “braided river” that’s part of the new-playground plan; below, a map:
Even curbs are getting TLC:
More photos later! P.S. Here’s the full-size design rendering for the new playground.
Not to rush the end of your summer, but Seattle Public Schools‘ first day is now less than two weeks away, and some schools have get-ready-for-the-new-year events even sooner. Like this announcement we just received:
Gatewood Elementary would like to get the word out that this year the K-5 Meet & Greet, Volunteer Fair and Ice Cream Social will be combined on Thursday, August 28th, with a staggered start.
We hope you can join us! This will give your child an opportunity to find out your child’s class assignment, meet their new teacher, interact with new friends and take a small tour of the school and classroom.
K-1 @ 5:30 to 6:15 pm
2-3 @ 6:00 to 6:45 pm
4-5 @ 6:30 to 7:15 pm
Thanks again in advance to the parents, PTA leaders, volunteers, staffers (and sometimes even students!) who share big news here so we can help get the word out too – here’s how.
(WSB July photo of awaiting-demolition Arbor Heights Elementary)
The decision is now published for the second appeal related to the Arbor Heights Elementary rebuild, which has had key elements on hold pending the hearing and ruling. City Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner has rejected the appeal by affirming the city decision to allow demolition of the old AHES. Here’s her ruling (PDF), or read it embedded below:
(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 | 35 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 firstname.lastname@example.org – 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.
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