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As spring break ends, 3 updates from Denny International Middle School

Seattle Public Schools reopen tomorrow after spring break. Today, we have three updates from Denny International Middle School, shared by principal Jeff Clark:
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SPRING BREAK ACADEMY: A Denny tradition happened again this year:

At Denny International Middle School, 113 of our scholars volunteered to come to school over break, Monday through Thursday, for additional math, literacy, and science learning time with our great staff! We are super proud of the scholars who attended — great job! After four days of learning, we all enjoyed some time at the Family Fun Center!
A special thank you to our Spring Break Camp team: Mr. King, Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Watts, Mr. Lai, Mr. Moor, Mr. Wecker, both Mr. Nelsons, Ms. Ostroff, Mr. D. Evans, Ms. Hoang, Ms. Escobar, Ms. Nestor, Ms. Moland, Mr. Mosser and all of City Year, and our outreach team led by Ms. Amaral! Go Dolphins!

The week before break was big at Denny, too:

‘WE ALL BELONG’ ANTI-BULLYING WEEK: Special activities were held throughout the week, highlighted by a team-building day on Thursday (April 7th) and an assembly on Friday (April 8th) to celebrate our work at ending all bullying and raising awareness in support of LGBTQ youth.
Thank you to Ms. Thomas, our planning team, City Year, Mr. King, 6th and 7th grade science teachers and 8th grade social studies teachers, and our partners from Camp Long for teaming up to bring a cross-grade team-building day to Denny on Thursday. Our scholars enjoyed the activities focused on cooperation and support of one another!
I would also like to recognize and thank those involved in our assembly on Friday. A big thank you to Ms. Thomas’ girls group and others for sharing insightful information and inspiration to fully eliminate all bullying and to our Gay Straight Alliance and their advisors, Ms. Kugisaki and Mr. Chase, for helping us to shatter stereotypes and ending the Day of Silence, a national event that brings attention to the anti-LGBT bullying, harassment, and silencing that persists across our country. The information shared, singing, poetry, and dancing at the assembly were all inspirational! At Denny International, We All Belong!

And a final note – congratulations to the Denny teams the Novel T’s (6th grade) and the Second-Round Slayers (7th grade) for winning the middle-school Global Reading Challenge!

P.S. We note from our calendar (and the school website) that Denny’s PTSA has its next meeting tomorrow night – 7 pm – join in and help the organization support the school and its students and staff.

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THURSDAY: Education conversation, as prelude to mayor’s summit

April 13, 2016 7:59 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

Neighborhood House‘s High Point Family Resource Center sends a reminder of the “education conversation” tomorrow, the only West Seattle event scheduled as a prelude to Mayor Murray‘s upcoming education summit:

This community meeting is a great opportunity for West Seattle families to engage with the City on a number of school related topics. The meeting will include:

· Mayor Murray Video Introduction

· Community-Led Topics

· Discussion Break-Out Groups

· Interpretation Services

· Light dinner, tea and coffee – catered by Banana Grill

All are welcome, 5-7 pm Thursday, 6400 Sylvan Way SW. (The summit itself is set for Saturday, April 30th, at Garfield Community Center.)

FOLLOWUP: Seattle Lutheran robotics team qualifies for world championships

Earlier this month, we shared the news that the Seattle Lutheran High School robotics team, Team SeaBot, was advancing in regional competition. Now the school sends word they’ve qualified for the first time for the FIRST Robotics World Championships later this month in St. Louis, and are raising money to get there:

The team qualified with a rank of 22 of 158 teams in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. The top 30 teams will represent the Pacific Northwest. The St. Louis competition includes teams from across the U.S. and around the world.

Over 400,000 elementary, middle and high-school students are involved in FIRST Robotics activities nationally. For students, FIRST Robotics combines the excitement of athletics with the rigors of technology, math and science resulting in a team of students who learn important skills: STEM skills; branding/marketing their team; teamwork and communication; building and programing; and real-world engineering skills. Students make professional connections with adults who are led by volunteer mentors who give time and talent teaching students valuable skills.

Team SeaBot is one of the oldest continually active teams in Washington State. Each year, in January, the team creates a brand new robot to meet required needs of the year’s competition. Team SeaBot has enjoyed great success in the past and has won several awards; this is the first time they have qualified for the FIRST Robotics World Championship.

SeaBot Robotic Team needs to raise $15,000 to get to the World Championships in St. Louis. If you’d like to help with a donation, please go here. We are excited for this opportunity and grateful for the support of our community.

Chief Sealth IHS students, teacher taking wood-shop class fight to School Board tomorrow

The students fighting to save the wood-shop class at Chief Sealth International High School are taking it to the School Board meeting tomorrow. We’ve heard conflicting reports of the class’s status since last we checked in with various involved parties; the students we first told you about on March 10th told us they planned to speak to the School Board, and tomorrow’s updated agenda shows they’ve secured spots in the public-comment period, which is prescheduled with advance signups. The public-comment list also includes wood-shop teacher Nan Johnson. The program itself is not on the agenda, but its fate is part of an ongoing budgeting process that eventually gets back to the district level. The public-comment period starts at 5:30 pm tomorrow (Wednesday, April 6th) at district HQ in SODO (3rd and Lander).

CONGRATULATIONS! Seattle Lutheran robotics team to championships

It’s National Robotics Week – and one of our area’s student teams has big news: The Seattle Lutheran High School robotics team has qualified for the district championships in Portland. SLHS sends word that Team SeaBot qualified by ranking 46th of 158 teams in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. 64 teams will compete at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland tomorrow through Saturday; the field will be reduced to 30 qualifying for the international FIRST (Robotics) Championship in St. Louis, April 27-30.

The St. Louis competition includes teams from across the U.S. and around the world. (Thanks to Jeannie Flohr at SLHS for the update and photos!)

With state funding restored, charter operator ‘still working toward opening’ in West Seattle

(WSB file photo – future Summit Atlas site @ 35th/Roxbury)

“We are committed to opening Summit Atlas – our West Seattle school.”

That’s what charter-school operator Summit Public Schools‘ regional officer Jen Wickens told WSB when we checked in after news that Governor Inslee would not veto the bill that created a new public-funding source for charters to replace what they lost when the State Supreme Court ruled the original voter-approved plan was unconstitutional.

While the governor said he wouldn’t veto the charter-funding bill, he also said he wouldn’t sign it – the first time a bill has been allowed to become law that way in our state in more than 30 years, according to the Tacoma News-Tribune.

Summit opened two schools, in Seattle’s International District and in Tacoma, last fall. It originally planned to open Summit Atlas in fall of this year at the former Freedom Church site (35th/Roxbury) with one middle- and one high-school grade, eventually building to a full middle/high school campus. But amid the funding uncertainty, California-headquartered Summit announced in December that it would delay the West Seattle plan (first reported here in January 2015) until fall 2017. And Wickens confirms that Summit is “still working toward opening the school” on that timeline. The city continues to review its permit applications to remodel the former church (and before that, supermarket) building, purchased last summer by Washington Charter School Development for $4.75 million.

The bill, SB 6194, officially became law today; read the full text of the final version here. All three of West Seattle’s state legislators – 34th District State Sen. Sharon Nelson and State Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon – voted against it.

Denny students’ work showcased at STEM Fair

April 1, 2016 8:55 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle schools | Westwood


Packed house tonight in the Galleria for the Denny International Middle School STEM Fair. Thanks to Denny principal Jeff Clark for photos:

Thank you to all of our families who came out to celebrate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at our Annual STEM Fair!


It was great to a have a packed house to see the amazing projects made by our scholars. Congratulations to all of the Dolphin scientists on a job well done. We are proud of you!


A huge thank you to our awesome science teaching team: Mr. Evans, Ms. Choi, Ms. Sanchez, Mr. Shigenaka, Ms. Rody, Mr. Nelson, and Ms. Kelleher! Go Dolphins!

VIDEO: Multicultural Night @ Chief Sealth IHS

The Japanese Club was onstage in the Galleria when we walked into Chief Sealth International High School‘s annual Multicultural Night, midway through a lineup of performances that had begun with the resurgent Mariachi program. While dancing and music continued, schoolmates, families, and other community members continued to mingle:


For some, it was a photo-op occasion:


Back onstage, Charlie Loper from the Sealth GSA presented a spoken-word performance – we caught part on video:

The Asian Culture Association followed:


Here’s a video excerpt:

The Sealth BSU had T-shirts to sell:


And the performances closed with a breakdancing quartet:

The party didn’t break up immediately. On the sidelines near the stage, a public invitation to prom, with signs, drew cheers and applause. The Galleria continued to pulse with energy as we headed toward the door, back out into the warm spring evening. Thanks to Sealth activities director Sarah Martin for the invitation, and to the students for sharing their talent and passion.

Seattle Public Schools bell-time changes: New family survey

With school start-and-end times – officially known as bell times – changing next year at many Seattle Public Schools, the district says it knows the change “has presented some significant logistical, scheduling, and programmatic challenges, and appreciate the feedback from schools, families and community members on the impact.” So it’s asking families to take a survey focused on how the changes will affect “Nutrition Services (Breakfast and Lunch), Before and After School Programs, and Athletics.” Find the survey here, in six languages. (And if you haven’t checked your school’s bell times, find them here.)

West Seattle schools: 11th grader serves as ‘principal for the day’ at Sealth

March 27, 2016 4:42 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle schools

(Tuesday’s principal-for-the-day Alyssa Ruiz and principal Aida Fraser-Hammer)

One of the more unusual prizes donated for Chief Sealth International High School‘s recent auction was the chance to be “principal for a day.” This past week, a Sealth junior claimed the prize. The story and photos are from Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer:

On Tuesday 3/22/2016, Chief Sealth International High School had a new principal at its helm. She is 11th grader Alyssa Ruiz who was principal for the day. Principal Fraser-Hammer’s job was auctioned off at the PTSA Passport to Excellence Dinner and Auction. The successful bidder for this item donated it to Sealth’s LINK Crew, a leadership group for 11th and 12th graders.

Alyssa spent her day as Principal visiting classrooms, talking to teachers, counselors and students about the educational process. She also supervised the lunchroom and halls during passing periods. Her most memorable experience as principal was attending the Race and Equity meeting which started at 7:00AM. She was amazed that teachers and administrators actually got together to talk about how to address issues of school climate and equitable access to all. Alyssa ended her day as Principal at an Open House for the Academies of Finance and Hospitality & Tourism which ended at 7:30. This was indeed a long day for Alyssa but she is happy to have spent the day in the role as Principal at Chief Sealth International High School.

‘It takes all of us to make a change’: First-ever Equity Day at WSHS

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“It takes all of us to make a change.”

So declared a student toward the start of the all-school assembly that concluded today’s first-ever Equity Day at West Seattle High School.

The assembly’s guest speaker, Erin Jones – a longtime educator who is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction – told the tale of her rise from an orphanage to education executive, saying your beginnings don’t have to define your endings.

She spoke of her own beginnings, born to a black man and white woman who she said was told she could not keep her baby. Members of her adoptive family referred to her with the “N” word, she said, speaking of, at age 35, confronting and forgiving her grandmother for using that word instead of Jones’s name. There is a difference between racism and ignorance, Jones said, saying her grandmother was guilty of the latter.

She spoke of growing up in The Netherlands, where her father moved the family when she was 5, and attending a school that was visited by royalty and VIPs, and deciding she wanted to change the world, and started to learn languages to make that happen. “I don’t care where you started, your beginning doesn’t have to define your ending. If you’re a refugee, maybe even homeless, or living with three families in one small apartment … that doesn’t have to define you.” Nor does a disability, she said, talking about her three grown children, one on the autism spectrum, another with dysgraphia, all high achievers.

Life is not easy, Jones said – “it’s not about the barriers, but what you’re going to” do about them. “Make your community the best place it can be – that’s what equity is all about.” And, she exhorted the students to “find something to live for … that you care enough to die for.”

Before her speech, the first part of the assembly, on an abbreviated school day, taught a lesson about diversity and cooperation via a “wheelbarrow” race.

That followed a morning of workshops that replaced regularly scheduled classes. Equity Day was organized by the WSHS Diversity Club and ASB, with the theme “Raising Awareness, Inspiring Action,” and the hashtag #StayWoke. The equity issues raised in the workshops ranged far and wide, including race, gender, sexual identity, income, and more.”

The list of workshops:

Microaggressions: Power, Privilege and Everyday Life
What is equity anyway?
Why Awareness is Important
Understanding LGBTQ Equity
Equity in Government
Racial Equity in Seattle
Income Equity
Criminal Justice Equity
Performing Arts Equity
Religious Equity and Anti-Muslim Stereotypes:
Equity in Sports
Physical Activities and Individuals with Disabilities- Universal Approach for ALL to PLAY:
Equity and Homelessness
Racial Equity
Equity in Education
Environmental Equity
Gender Equity

Workshops had both student leaders and community leaders, including King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, Seattle School Board director Dr. Stephan Blanford, state Corrections Department executive Dr. Donta Harper,

The co-presenting organizations wrote that its goal was to support the school’s mission “Every Student Achieving, Everyone Accountable” by “making everyone accountable for equity at WSHS and to make every student comfortable in order to allow for every student to achieve.”

VIDEO: Scenes from Madison Middle School’s Jumpin’ Jive Swing Dance & Auction

Madison Jumpin’ Jive Swing Dance & Auction 2016 from Captive Eye Media on Vimeo.

What’s cool at school? That seems to be our theme this afternoon – and we’re glad to be able to share this too: Highlights from Friday night’s Madison Middle School Jumpin’ Jive Swing Dance and Auction. Enjoy the music of Madison musicians (who shared the bill with the West Seattle Big Band), thanks to Edgar Riebe of West Seattle-headquartered Captive Eye Media.

Mariachi on the rise at Chief Sealth IHS as musicians return from regional festival


Students in the resurgent mariachi program at Chief Sealth International High School have new inspiration after a big festival trip. The story and photos are shared by Sealth teacher Noah Zeichner:

On Friday, 12 students from Chief Sealth’s mariachi program participated in the 18th annual Mariachi Northwest Festival in Wenatchee.

They spent the day in workshops, learning from members of Mariachi Divas, a Grammy-winning all-female mariachi group from Los Angeles.

In the evening, they attended a gala concert. Mariachi Huenachi, Wenatchee High School’s award-winning mariachi group, performed with Mariachi Divas, Bailadores de Bronce (Seattle’s premier Mexican folkloric dance group), and trick ropers Los Hermanos Escamilla. The trip was supported by El Centro de la Raza, who provided transportation to Wenatchee and meals during the festival.

Chief Sealth’s mariachi program began nearly 20 years ago and was incorporated into the music department in the early 2000s. The mariachi class disappeared from 2011-2014 due to budget cuts, but as a result of student organizing and community support, it returned last year. There are currently about 20 students in the mariachi class.

Mariachi serves as a cultural bridge to school for many Latino students, but the group welcomes students from all backgrounds. Mariachi is also an academic intervention and leadership development program. Wenatchee High School has documented the success of their mariachi program, celebrating a 100% graduation rate (only 40% of the students in the program graduated ten years ago). To learn more about Wenatchee’s program, watch this recent 25-minute TVW documentary.

In the coming weeks, with the support of the Creative Advantage fund, after-school mariachi programs will start at both Denny IMS and Chief Sealth IHS. The program also hopes to expand in future years to feeder elementary schools with the goal of exposing students to mariachi music at a younger age.

More than 450 musicians from around the region were part of the festival.

FOLLOWUP: Wood-shop class has reprieve for now, students say

You might recall our story one week ago about Chief Sealth International High School students circulating petitions to get support for keeping CSIHS’s wood-shop class. The spokesperson for the group, Jennifer [at right in our photo], sent an update today, saying the program has a reprieve for now: “Yesterday the teachers voted not to approve the budget that eliminated wood shop. If the district says that the school has to take the budget, then they could still eliminate wood shop.” We’re following up further to try to find out more about what happens next, and when.

CONGRATULATIONS! Seattle Lutheran HS SeaBot Robotic Team success

Thanks to Jeannette Wartelle for the update on Seattle Lutheran High School‘s Robotics team:

What happens when you combine creativity, computer programming, robotic building, teamwork and humor? Team SeaBot!!

The SLHS SeaBot Robotic Team enjoyed great success last weekend, earning 11th place out of 38 teams in the qualifying meet; they were also named the 8th Alliance Team Captain. Neither have been achieved before in the team’s history. Next meet is this weekend in Ellensburg.

Go, Team SeaBot!!

Another letter home: Trespassing arrest at Boren campus

Two more schools’ parents are getting a letter home this afternoon. This is about an incident this afternoon at the Boren Building campus, home to STEM K-8 and temporary home to Arbor Heights Elementary.

To STEM K-8 and Arbor Heights’ Families,

I am writing to let STEM and Arbor Heights’ families know that this afternoon at approximately 2:15 pm a young man entered the main doors without checking in. He was immediately noticed and because he did not have school business was politely asked to leave school property. He left the building but would not leave school grounds.

Seattle Police and SPS security were notified and the young man was arrested for trespassing. At no point were any threats directed towards SPS staff, students, or property. Some students observed the arrest during afternoon recess.

Thanks for regularly checking in and wearing visitor badges when you visit our schools. It creates a safe environment where exceptions are immediately noticed.

Benjamin Ostrom, Principal
Louisa Boren STEM K-8

Thanks to STEM parents for letting us know.

Dance and dine to help Madison MS music

March 15, 2016 9:09 am
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 |   How to help | West Seattle news | West Seattle schools | WS culture/arts

If you missed the recent Big Band Dinner Dance at West Seattle High School – or if you were there and want to experience another night like that – you’ll want to be in the Madison Middle School Commons this Friday, 6-9 pm, for the Jumpin’ Jive Swing Dance and Auction. The West Seattle Big Band – featured in the clip above (courtesy of WSBB director Jim Edwards) from the WSHS event a week and a half ago – will perform, as will Madison’s own Senior Orchestra, Senior Band, and Jazz Band. All ages are invited for music, food, dancing (including lessons!), and auction bidding that will harmonize as the Madison music department’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Ticket information’s here.

VIDEO: Three local schools in St. Patrick’s Day Parade downtown

1:35 PM: The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is just wrapping up downtown – and the three local school bands that marched in it turned out to be the only school bands in the parade. First, Chief Sealth International High School:


(Added: Video)

Then Denny International Middle School:


(Added: Video)

And West Seattle High School:


(Added: Video)

One more West Seattle sight – the Seattle Police Mounted Patrol, which is based next to Westcrest Park in Highland Park:

The parade began with sights and sounds best known for summertime parades, the SPD Motorcycle Drill Team


… and the Seafair Pirates, whose first two cannon blasts are on our short Twitter video:

This year’s Grand Marshal was SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole.


(Added above: Photo with, from left, Chief O’Toole, husband Dan, local journalist Casey McNerthney, and retiring Congressmember Jim McDermott.)

5:35 PM: Updated with video of all three marching bands. Yet to come: Photos to replace the early ones we added from our as-it-happened tweeting.

9:22 PM: Photos added, as well as substituted for the bands’ Twitter images that we had originally included.

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:

Read More

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.

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