West Seattle, Washington
Right after the ribbon was cut and the doors were opened, a work crew was still handling details on a very important wallhanging inside the new Denny International Middle School – a banner with the slogan, “Expect the best.”
That’s what was on display during what Denny principal Jeff Clark called “a thrilling day” – including his best suit, renowned for its shade of bright blue:
The weather couldn’t have been better – the sun shone bright as Denny/Sealth construction-project manager Robert Evans got help from two students to raise the flags:
(Photo by MIKE SIEGEL/The Seattle Times, used with permission)
Also worth of “best” status – the national-anthem performance by Janelle Maroney:
Janelle is both a Denny alum and Chief Sealth International High School student – perfect symbolism for the fact the two schools are now the first middle/high-school combo in Seattle Public Schools to share a campus. It hasn’t been a universally popular idea along the way; School Board president Steve Sundquist acknowledged the “robust discussion” dating back four-plus years (such as this meeting we covered in June 2007), to the passage of the levy that raised the money for the project.
But it moved ahead, and the new 130,000-square-foot school now prepares to welcome students on Wednesday. With so many involved along the way, the list of those who helped cut the ribbon was long – here are all the sets of scissors set out for them:
Sheree Fantz-Gut from the Denny PTSA and Nadene Paltep, student-body president, led the “call to the ribbon” – summoning the participants – and then, everyone counted down, to the strategic snips:
As the school has been readied for opening this summer (here’s our story on an August tour), the old Denny has been demolished a few blocks away (after one last sentimental journey), and the site has been cleared, to make way for fields, tennis courts, play equipment, and maybe someday an elementary school. But the history embodied by the school’s name remains – and the celebration included Andy Harris, a descendant of the school’s namesake, pioneering Seattle settler David Thomas Denny:
(Denny’s life is detailed here – including reasons for renown beyond being a settler; he even helped Washington women win the right to vote.) After that bow to the past, it was time to look ahead. After going through the co-location-planning process with Sealth’s now-former principal John Boyd, Denny principal Clark has a new partner, Sealth’s interim principal Chris Kinsey, and they’re about to make Seattle Public Schools history:
Give them a few weeks to settle into it, then check out the campus for yourself during Denny’s community open house at 10 am on Saturday, September 24th.
As mentioned briefly earlier, on the eve of the first day of school for Seattle Public Schools, the district’s interim superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield invited media to a briefing/Q & A session – and held it here in West Seattle, at the new Denny International Middle School, just before the dedication celebration.
It wasn’t a case of speech-and-a-few questions, but more like a wide-open 35-minute Q & A; we asked about the elementary-overcrowding issue at some West Seattle schools, and Dr. Enfield acknowledged that remains a problem in several areas around the city, including here. She said she’s hopeful that, even as district and school staff work to deal with short-term issues (with measures such as the portables in place at Lafayette, Schmitz Park, and Gatewood), long-term proposals will come out within a few months. As in, which school/s might reopen? we asked. She wouldn’t get into specifics, though it’s widely expected that Fairmount Park Elementary is first on the list; School Board member Steve Sundquist discussed it at a community Q & A session we covered in June. He has two of those community Q & A’s coming up this month, by the way – 11 am September 10th at High Point Library, and 11 am September 21st at Delridge Library.
P.S. For more coverage of the superintendent’s session today, here’s the roundup from the Save Seattle Schools site, whose Melissa Westbrook was there and asking about many hot topics; here’s a story by Katherine Long of the Seattle Times (WSB partner).
Just received a door-to-door alert that, as its sender notes, could be legitimate, but the hour and the subject seemed odd to her; we also have had one in queue about a magazine seller. Read on for both:
We got the tip from Lita, and made it over for a quick pic before sunset: Just in time for tomorrow’s first day of school, Roxhill Elementary has some fresh paint, thanks to donations including work by West Seattle contractor Al Keim, per both Lita’s note and the big “thank you” sign in front of the school. The overhauled “R” is perhaps the most notable result; it was one year ago that Westwood neighborhood leader Donn Devore worked to organize some rehab for the “R,” but ran into some red tape. (Our story from back then shows the R’s former state of disrepair.)
Thanks to the WSB’er (sorry, we didn’t recognize the number!) who messaged us (206-293-6302 any time) with the sunset photo – vivid orange, in no small part because of the smoke from the still-burning “Big Hump” fire in the Olympic National Forest. Here’s the latest, from the Kitsap Sun; the most recent estimated size remains at 150 acres, and firefighters are having a tough time with it. It was just three acres when the smoke became noticeable all over this side of the Sound (here’s our story from last Sunday). Authorities say an abandoned campfire sparked it. 8:36 PM NOTE: Mystery solved – the photo is from Debra Herbst (thanks!).
The second the ribbon was cut – kids swarmed the new play structures at Lafayette Elementary in the Admiral District, the culmination of many long months of fundraising and other hard work. Here’s a wider view, tweeted by @alexpietsch:
The party continues till 7, including a free barbecue courtesy of the Junction QFC:
The Toucans are playing steel-drum music, perfect on this almost-tropical late-summer night. Words of acknowledgement and celebration were offered by Deborah Hazlegrove and Holly Grambihler, co-chairs of the Play It Forward Project, which matched a $100,000 city grant with money, labor, and materials:
The playground isn’t all that’s new about Lafayette when school starts tomorrow – there’s a brand-new principal, Jo Lute-Ervin:
We’ve just spotted previous principal Virginia Turner, here to celebrate as well – “I worked hard on this for years!” she told someone who came over to say hi – as are School Board members Steve Sundquist, Harium Martin-Morris, and Peter Maier, as well as West Seattle’s executive director of schools, Aurora Lora. And Zach Scott from Seattle Sounders FC is signing autographs.
And there was homegrown entertainment – the Lafayette Popcorns jump-ropers!
This was phase 2 of the longrunning playground makeover … and yes, somewhere down the road, there is a phase 3 (“the back forty,” it was described tonight) … but first, time to enjoy. And to play.
(Photo courtesy Cori Roed)
Since our late-arriving summer shows no sign of letting up – people with dogs will want to know about this: Cori sends word that the Arbor Heights Swim and Tennis Club (11003 31st SW) is opening its pool for the second annual water-polo team fundraiser “Dog Days at the Arb.” 5-7 pm next Monday-Friday (Sept. 12-16) and noon-2 pm next Saturday (Sept. 17), you are welcome to bring your dog for a swim. No people in the pool – this comes after it’s been closed for the year – just dogs (but owners have to be there to keep an eye on them). Suggested donation $10/dog; money raised goes to buying new caps for the AH water-polo team. There are other caveats, too – all listed on the official flyer.
At the Denny International Middle School dedication (more coverage to come), we caught up with the new interim principal of Chief Sealth International High School next door, Chris Kinsey. It’s been only a month since he was announced as successor to longtime Sealth principal John Boyd, who is now working as an executive director in Highline Public Schools to the south. Kinsey’s work is cut out for him: He tells WSB that as of today, Chief Sealth is expecting 1,286 students tomorrow, up more than 200 from the start of last year, and the 9th-grade wait list, second longest in the district, is at 87, close to where it’s been all summer. He hopes to shake the hand of each and every one of them as they arrive at school tomorrow morning, and then, he says, he and his administrative team plan to visit each and every classroom before the week is over. P.S. Sealth community members are invited to hear more from the new principal at the first PTSA meeting of the year, 7 pm September 27.
For the second consecutive year, West Seattle is in the Seattle Public Schools spotlight on the day before the new school year. At left, that’s interim superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield, presenting a citywide back-to-school briefing to the media right now at the new Denny International Middle School, which she will help dedicate next hour. (Last year, her predecessor was here on the same day to help dedicate the renovated Chief Sealth International High School next door.) We’ll have coverage of both events later, including video of Dr. Enfield’s briefing in its entirety.
ADDED 2:18 PM: The big moment, as the ribbon was cut – that’s Denny principal Jeff Clark in his famous bright-blue suit:
Full story to come, separately – including an appearance by a descendant of the school’s namesake, David T. Denny, the first member of the Denny Party to arrive in what is now Seattle.
(Click for larger image)
Monday happened to be the Port of Seattle‘s 100th birthday. With port operations along eastern West Seattle, from the Duwamish to Elliott Bay, it’s easy to get to the point where you seldom give cargo ships a second look. But this view of an outbound ship, the dry-bulk carrier Diamond Harbour, caught West Seattle photographer Bill Bacon‘s eye:
I was on my way home yesterday evening, Labor Day – 2011, and had to stop at the swing bridge to witness this container ship coming down the river near the entrance to Elliott Bay. I think this is the tightest squeeze I’ve seen here as the ship is maneuvered through and between the BNSF railroad’s river crossing bridge. Of course there were tugs fore and aft ferrying the ship along downstream. Of course these ships go up and down the Duwamish River all the time. It’s the 1st time I’ve seen one, though, so close. I had to take the photo.
According to MarineTraffic.com – with ship info here, including its current track – it’s headed for Longview, on the Columbia River.
Look what we found on the city Traffic Cameras list – an actual Alaskan Way Viaduct traffic camera. It’s since been added to the WSB Traffic page (tidied that up a bit this weekend – fixed some broken links, enlarged the “live” images, added a few other new, relevant ones too). The Viaduct is actually on the preview list today, too:
SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM REOPENS: The week-plus budget-cut-plus-holiday closure is over as of today.
BACK TO SCHOOL: Many of West Seattle’s independent schools start the new year today – and one public school; full list here.
DEDICATING THE NEW DENNY: Ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for new Denny International Middle School building, north side of the now-shared Denny/Sealth campus, with guests including Seattle Public Schools‘ interim superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield, 1 pm (details here).
ROTARY GETS VIADUCT UPDATE: Rotary Club of West Seattle weekly luncheon meeting features Seattle Times (WSB partner) transportation reporter Mike Lindblom discussing the Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct/tunnel project, noon at Salty’s on Alki.
FIRST TUESDAY TUNE-UP: Salty’s on Alki launches the “First Tuesday Tune-Up” series — a cocktail fundraiser to benefit a local nonprofit, hosted by Victor Janusz, no cover, raffle prizes, tonight featuring ArtsWest Playhouse, on the eve of its new season, which opens with “Amy’s View.” 4:30-7:30 pm.
OPEN MIKE AT SKYLARK: Skylark Café and Club is adding a second open mike night on Tuesdays! (Wednesdays have been packed full of acts for months now.) It’s slightly different … hosted by Tekla & Brian of local band Blvd Park and will be acoustic-only. Poetry and comedy are encouraged, as well as all types of acoustic music, all ages 7-9 pm, then 21+ after 9 pm as usual.
TRY IT FOR $2: Seattle Parks and Recreation‘s “Try It for $2” Program (WSB sponsor) starts its September 2011 run today: Attend a program or class session once for $2 at one of the city’s many community centers. If you like it, register for the remainder of the class for a prorated amount. If you’re new to a water-fitness program, try one session for $2. Current participants get in FREE if they bring a new participant More info at tryitfor2.com.
As school revs up, so does the quest for after-school activities. Here’s one coming up this fall, called to your attention by Carol at Southwest Teen Life Center – creative and free: The ACT Theater playwriting class, October 11-December 8, 3-4:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the TLC, 2801 SW Thistle. It’s described this way:
The Young Playwrights Program is a professional playwright/teaching program that teaches the basics of playwriting. Each student playwright completes a 10- to 45-minute original play by the end of the session. Students will have the opportunity to learn the art and craft of theater and be introduced to the basic knowledge and elements of how to write dialogue, create characters, and use action to create an entertaining, theatrical piece. Following the class, selected plays may be showcased through staged readings at the ACT Theater. Earn Community Service Learning hours for school. Receive free tickets to plays at the Langston Hughes Performing Art Center and the ACT Theater by enrolling.
You can find out more, and/or register, by calling 206-684-4115.