West Seattle, Washington
Even with school starting remotely for most local students, supplies are still needed, and as we’ve noted before, that means fundraisers are too. The Genesee Hill Elementary PTA invites the community to be part of a tasty fundraiser it’s planning next Wednesday (September 9th):
Join us to eat ice cream at a distance!
Buy an ice cream cone from the Full Tilt Truck while it’s across the street from Genesee Hill. $6 per cone, with part of each sale going to the GHE PTA Supply Drive. All are welcome!
Check out the new GHE swag samples when you stop by!
Wear a mask. Social distancing guidelines will be followed. Vegan option available.
The truck will be at 50th & Dakota, 3-6 pm that day. Looks like ice-cream weather – could be in the 90s!
Three more school-related reminders:
— Genesee Hill School (@GeneseeHill) June 18, 2020
Tonight, Highland Park Elementary is celebrating its 5th graders with a drive-up/walk-up event in front of the school 5-6:30 pm.
It’s become a tradition by which many will remember this pandemic spring – the car “parade” for school staffers and students to see each other even though the campuses have been closed since March. Next West Seattle school planning one, Genesee Hill Elementary, which just sent the map (full-size version is here in PDF) for its Thursday plan:
Thursday, June 18th, at 11 am: Virtual Field Day and Teacher Parade
While students are completing their Field Day activities, the Genesee Hill staff will be having an end-of-the-year parade. Wear your GHES shirt or tie-dye and get ready to make some noise, play, and celebrate all of the hard work put into this school year! The parade will weave through our service area and we encourage families who are outside our service area to join us on GHES’s surrounding sidewalk, using appropriate social-distancing measures. For safety reasons, please remain on sidewalks and yards. We will end the parade with a final victory lap around the surrounding GHES block!
Neighbors are welcome to join us in celebrating our students.
Friday (June 19th) is the last day of the school year, and the day Seattle Public Schools plans to announce its plan for next year.
The West Seattle Turkey is on the move again …
After hanging out a while in North Admiral, today we got three sighting reports from Genesee Hill. The photo above is from Larry; below, from Wendy, who explained, “Pleasantly perched in the upper right of the cherry tree, the famous West Seattle turkey! It’s the most exciting thing to happen to us in a month… ”
And via Twitter:
— Kristin (@kkSeahawks) April 8, 2020
Thanks as always for the photos!
Emily is hoping her son’s stolen baseball gear might turn up somewhere. Her report:
We had our car broken into last night while parked on 54th (off Genesee). Stolen was a pair of sunglasses and a black Northface jacket but the big loss was they stole my 10-year-old son’s baseball bag … If by chance the thief decided to toss the bag and gear, we would love for people to keep eyes open on Genesee while walking and if found, a reward will be given.
We asked Emily for details on the gear in the bag: “The bag was an Easton bag and it in were an Easton Ghost X bat, black batting helmet with a D logo on front, a Wilson size 12 mitt, some accessories and a team hoodie with (surname starting with G) on the back.” Still awaiting the SPD incident number; the temporary number provided with filing was T19003684.
That’s Brenden‘s bike. His wife Jill hopes you’ll be on the lookout for it:
My husband’s Rad power bike was stolen from our double-locked shed in our alley on the night of either 12/10 or 12/11 (44th between Genesee & Dakota). Please let me know if you have seen anything, or might have security cameras near the area. We’re incredibly bummed as it is used for transportation/ commute nearly every day.
It’s been reported to police.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:10 PM TUESDAY: Tonight, Seattle Public Schools teachers voted to authorize a strike if there’s no contract agreement before school starts on September 5th. One local school will be the site of informational picketing the next two days, according to this announcement just out of the WSB inbox:
This evening Seattle Education Association members voted to approve a strike, pending no tentative agreement by September 4th.
Genesee Hill Elementary School educators will be picketing Wednesday and Thursday from 3:30-4:30 outside of our building. We are calling on our district to bring us a fair contract that adequately compensates all educators in a city that has become increasingly expensive, fund full time counselors, nurses and librarians in all our schools and deeply develop our commitment to equity and racial justice, among other essential demands.
Our staff appreciates all support by family and community members. Please join us, bring your kids, and wear red for ed!
ADDED 9:05 AM WEDNESDAY: Other schools’ teachers are picketing too. This photo was sent from outside West Seattle High School this morning:
We also were messaged about picketing this morning at Madison Middle School and Arbor Heights Elementary. And picketing is planned for an hour at Louisa Boren STEM K-8 starting just before 4 pm. And the district has updated its post on negotiations, noting that talks are scheduled to resume today.
Go out to dinner on Wednesday night, and you can help a community group in its quest to save a scrap of greenspace for community use. Five restaurants – two in Admiral, three in The Junction – are donating part of their proceeds 5-10 pm Wednesday night to “Dine Out for Dakota,” benefiting the Urban Homestead Foundation‘s ongoing campaign to raise money to buy the former Seattle City Light substation site at 50th/Dakota. Participating are:
If you haven’t heard about the project before, the backstory is here.
Mike e-mailed to say he’s called it in, and he advises that people and pets keep their distance. He saw the raccoon, appearing “severely injured” as he described it, on SW Dakota between 47th and 49th SW. Here’s what the Seattle Animal Shelter (aka “animal control”) says about injured/ill wildlife. Other animal-involved situations? Info here.
The “Scenario F” proposal to move part of the Genesee Hill Elementary attendance area into the Lafayette Elementary attendance area got final approval from the School Board last night. After a reader question, we just checked and just confirmed that via the recording of last night’s meeting (you can see the unanimous vote here). Current GH students in the affected area will be “grandfathered” if their families want them to stay at that school. The plan is meant to provide some relief for GH, the district’s most populous elementary and now 50+ students over “seat capacity,” per the district, while Lafayette is 100+ students under capacity. More background is in our report from two weeks ago; before the final scenario was settled on, we covered a briefing at GH last October.
P.S. Incoming kindergarteners’ families are asked to enroll them as soon as possible because schools already are making staffing and other decisions – you can do that now. GHES has two tours scheduled – 9 am January 25th and 9 am February 7th. Principal Gerrit Kischner noted in his enrollment-period announcement, “If you do have an older child currently attending Genesee Hill and you live in the zone that is shifting to Lafayette, you must apply for Genesee Hill during Open Enrollment, which runs for a short period between February 5 and February 16th.” Lafayette’s next kindergarten tour, meantime, is on the school calendar for 2:30 pm February 8th.
“We need a hero to save this land and legacy before it’s lost forever.”
That’s what it’s come down to for the West Seattle volunteers who founded the Urban Homestead Foundation, as they now have less than 8 weeks left to finish raising the money needed for a rare remaining open-space site in West Seattle, right across the street from the area’s most-populous elementary school.
The grass-roots group won a $281,000 matching grant from the King County Conservation Futures Fund, as reported here last June. That was a major achievement. But the key word there is “matching.”
The land at stake, dubbed the Dakota Homestead, is at 50th SW and SW Dakota [map], to purchase the lot, on the corner of SW Dakota and 50th Avenue SW. It’s city-owned – a decommissioned substation – and holds 20 mature trees, six of them with “exceptional” status. The foundation has been working for more than a year and a half to manage the land as a neighborhood preserve and gathering space, a hub for urban gardening and environmental education.
But they have to have the money to buy it by the end of the year. That’s where the hero, or heroes, come in, says foundation board member Phoebe Ingraham: “We are confident a visionary family, an energized community member or local businesses will respond to this call and save the day with a major gift. We need a hero to save this land and legacy before it’s lost forever. It’s the 11th hour on this unique opportunity. This green space represents West Seattle’s past, present, and future.”
The Urban Homestead Foundation has raised money and awareness, and along with securing the grant, they’ve pulled together $30,000 from neighbors. On the same June day that foundation supporters celebrated the big matching-fund grant, for example, a Girl Scout troop stopped by to donate $350:
And now, they need major gifts totaling at least $300,000 before the end-of-year deadline.
The community supporters include Gerrit Kischner, principal of Genesee Hill Elementary across the street. He sees the site as “a natural classroom. Right now, much of the space is closed up and cut off from the community. Urban Homestead Foundation wants to do better for students and neighbors. I urge local families, individuals and businesses to consider their deep ties to this area, learn about the vision, and to step forward. It would be an incredible legacy to capture this moment in time and preserve the Homestead for future generations.” He’s one of the people you’ll hear from in this video about the site:
Donations are tax-deductible; information about how to give is here. December 31st is the deadline.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Boundary changes are being considered for those two schools to take some pressure off GHES, West Seattle’s most-populous elementary, already 10 percent above capacity just one year after opening.
The changes – if any – would take effect next fall, starting in the 2018-2019 year, and could affect some current GH students, depending on what kind of “grandfathering” – if any – the district decides to allow.
All this was discussed at GHES this morning, as principal Gerrit Kischner and district officials led an early-stage briefing for families during a “coffee with the principal” event in the lunchroom.
GH opened in fall 2016, built for a capacity of 650 students, after the program’s years with a village of portables at Schmitz Park Elementary, but it’s already stuffed with more than 710. “We’ve continued to grow and grow even though our boundaries have shrunk,” Kischner noted.
He was joined at the meeting by Lafayette principal Cindy Chaput and, from district HQ, associate superintendent Dr. Flip Herndon and enrollment planning director Ashley Davies.
“We’re already over the capacity of the building” and “there’s no additional space,” Davies began. She showed a slide with Genesee Hill’s “right-size capacity” and current over-enrollment, while Lafayette is underenrolled – “right-size” at 550, currently at 394. (The calculations for “right size” do include Lafayette’s current portables, Davies said in response to a question. Some of those portables are used only part time, principal Chaput said, adding that “we have four empty classrooms” right now and she saw no problem with adding more students – right now.)
If nothing changes, Genesee Hill would grow to 807 by 2021 while Lafayette would still have room, at 437.
So the district reviewed five “potential scenarios” as Davies described them to try to balance things. They’re looking more seriously at three of them, and those are what were shown. Read More
As you can see, they knew what to do – and got the all-clear to emerge after 60 seconds:
Genesee Hill – which, at just one year old, has plenty of upgraded seismic-safety features – was by no means the only school participating today, but Seattle Public Schools chose it as the school to host interested media, like us. It also became a teaching occasion:
Those students were showing classmates a map with a closer look at the Pacific Rim’s “Ring of Fire” quake-fault-and-volcano zone. Some learned about emergency supplies by tasting them:
(The review: A bit sweet. Turned out it contained some coconut water.) Students were also asked to tell their neighbors one thing they would do in case of an emergency:
P.S. One important extra lesson for West Seattleites – separate from today’s official event but something you need to know – your nearest Emergency Communication Hub!
The Urban Homestead Foundation, raising money to buy the former City Light substation property on Genesee Hill, is sending out a last call for tickets to this Saturday’s pig-roast fundraising dinner. UHF’s Katie Stemp says it’s happening at the site, 50th/Dakota, 5-9 pm Saturday (September 16th): “Tickets are $75 and include a sit-down dinner, a drink, live music and dancing, and outdoor games! It’s going to be a blast and hopefully raise a lot of money to match the King Conservation Futures Fund grant we received! If there are local businesses that would like to be promoted by helping sponsor part of the event, they can contact Becca Bay at email@example.com.” (We reported on the grant back in June.) You can buy your ticket(s) online right now – if you can’t commit until the last minute, Katie says they expect “a limited amount” available at the event.
(WSB video: Urban Homestead Foundation vp Kristen Corning Bedford announcing grant news)
Leaders and supporters of the Urban Homestead Foundation‘s vision for the ex-substation on Genesee Hill had big news to celebrate today. As you can hear in our video clip above, they’ve been recommended to receive a King County Conservation Futures $281,000 matching-fund grant that would get them to half of what they need to buy the land and transform it into a community learning and gathering place and urban-agriculture demonstration zone.
The grant recommendation was announced during a block-party potluck at the site. They’re also celebrating gifts of all sizes – earlier in the day, Girl Scout Troop 44428 stopped by with a $350 donation:
While the grant recommendation is big news, the group is racing the clock, as they were given until the end of this year to raise the money they need before City Light sells the site on the open market; the utility is in the process of getting a new appraisal (the previous one put the site’s value at $530,000). Later this summer, UHF plans a Farm Dinner fundraiser at the site, 5 pm August 13th – more details to come but you can save the date now.
BACKSTORY: The site at 50th and Dakota, just north of Genesee Hill Elementary, is one of the six former substations in West Seattle that Seattle City Light declared were no longer needed, putting into motion a process to sell or otherwise dispose of them. Three of them – on Pigeon Point, in south Highland Park, and in Fauntleroy – have been or are being sold for housing; one in north Highland Park is proposed for mixed-use rezoning at the community’s request; and then there’s the one becoming the Delridge Wetlands Project. The UHF plan is described in detail in the application for the just-announced grant.
Just announced by Seattle Public Schools: After the school year ends, Gatewood Elementary principal Constance Aleman will be moving across the peninsula to take the newly created position of assistant principal at West Seattle’s most populous elementary school, Genesee Hill. She has been principal at Gatewood for four years. Letters have gone out to both schools’ communities – here’s what Aleman said in her announcement:
It is with mixed emotions I am writing to inform you this will be my last year at Gatewood Elementary School.
After four amazing years and careful consideration, I have decided it is the right time for me to pursue a new leadership opportunity. I have accepted a role at Genesee Hill Elementary; I am excited to stay within the West Seattle community and to work more closely in the areas of Special Education, social-emotional learning, and family engagement. As difficult as this is for me, I feel confident I am leaving this school in great shape and ready to continue the amazing work of providing academic excellence for each student.
While seeking new opportunities brings some excitement, I want you to know this was not an easy decision for me. I’m indebted to so many incredible friends and colleagues who have made my experience here a lifelong memory. At Gatewood there are positive, innovative, and hardworking staff, and a supportive and positive group of families. I cherish the brilliant, caring, and committed students. It has been an honor serving all of you the past four years. As much as I will miss this community, I will cherish the memories and reflect fondly upon them as I move forward in both my professional and personal life.
As we wrap up the year, I am hopeful you continue on the path we have laid together. Together we have worked toward the mission of fostering a school climate of compassion, academic excellence, problem solving, creativity, and cultural awareness. It inspires me to see the school, families, and the community working together for the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development of each student. This mission lives with you. Your relentless commitment, drive, and compassion for our students will ensure that our mission of excellence continues on!
I will finish out the school year at Gatewood and my first day with Genesee Hill will be July 1. The formal search process for hiring a new principal is underway as we look forward to the next school year. The process will include an opportunity for Gatewood staff and the community to provide input. Executive Director of Schools, Helen Joung, will communicate updates to the staff and community.
Thank you all for your kindness and support. I have appreciated it more than you can imagine. And thank you all for your continued commitment and dedication to our school, staff and students. It is because of you that I know Gatewood will continue to be the very best school ever!
Constance Aleman, Principal
Gatewood Elementary School
You can read the message sent by Genesee Hill principal Gerrit Kischner to his community here.
Congratulations to the lone West Seattle team to make it into the finals of this year’s Seattle Public Library Global Reading Challenge – the Literature Lions from Genesee Hill Elementary! The finals are at the Central Library downtown, one week from tonight, Tuesday, March 21st. The LLs’ semi-final-winning session was one week ago, but we’ve been waiting for the official list of citywide finalists from SPL following the eight rounds of semi-finals, and just got it:
Reading Rock Star Pandas
Readers and Roarers
Who Are We Again?
Leschi Boom Readers
To compete in the GRC, described as a “Battle of the Books” for fourth- and fifth-graders, they read books from a specified list (here are this year’s books) and answer questions about them. After on-campus and regional competition, the finalists emerge. Here’s the list of all schools citywide that participated in the GRC this year. If you want to go cheer for Genesee Hill in the finals, it’s open to spectators, no admission charge, 7 pm next Tuesday; the downtown library is at 1000 4th Ave.
Major milestone for the Urban Homestead Foundation, community volunteers pursuing a dream for the former City Light substation on Genesee Hill. And you have three chances in the next eight days to stop by, find out more, and have fun, starting tomorrow morning.
First, the milestone: Katie Stemp from the UHF says the organization has finally been granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status “after a year of working on the application and waiting to hear from the IRS! Now we are qualified to apply for several more grants than before! It’s a big step and we are very excited!”
Now, the backstory, since we haven’t mentioned the UHF in a while (here’s what we wrote about it last year) – it’s a community effort that first needs to raise money to buy the vacant city-owned land across from Genesee Hill Elementary, a former Seattle City Light substation, to turn it “into a valuable community asset for West Seattle and beyond.”
Next, the events
Tomorrow (Wednesday) morning and March 7th, you’ll see a coffee cart at the site, where you’re invited to enjoy a cup of coffee (donated by Admiral Bird tomorrow, C & P Coffee Company [WSB sponsor] on March 7th) and find out more about getting involved with the project, including “a sneak peek at the future and hopeful home of the Dakota Homestead – a place for the community to gather, learn, play and grow together!” Look for the canopy at the corner of SW Dakota and 50th SW. Coffee’s free; donations will be accepted.
And next Sunday – March 5th – the Urban Homestead Foundation is hosting a Block Party on SW Dakota between 49th and 50th SW, 2-3:30 pm, “bringing neighbors together to celebrate the potential of what this vacant piece of land could be for our community. All are welcome! We’ve gotten a street permit along Dakota and we’re working on getting donated food and beer.”
Aside from events, the UHF team is working not only to seek grants but also to “connect with people from the area who are interested in helping fund or connect funders to the project, who are excited about positively impacting thousands of students through workshops that teach life skills (kitchen skills, growing food, finance, etiquette, etc.) and the opportunity to create a model, organic food garden for the community that all can enjoy. When we, as a community of invested adults, are able to influence youth in a positive way that builds self-confidence and resiliency, it changes the path their lives take and impacts the people they come into contact with. The ripple effect of helping youth is exponential and we want to bring that positive guidance into their lives.”
If you can’t make it to any of the events, connect with the UHF via its website.
You don’t expect to hear “Happy Birthday” at the dedication of a new school. If you were at this afternoon’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Genesee Hill Elementary, that’s exactly what you heard, at the behest of School Board rep Leslie Harris, in honor of principal Gerrit Kischner and some of the students who joined in the ceremony.
School Board rep Leslie Harris leads crowd in Happy B'day for principal, some students. Her daughter (contd).., pic.twitter.com/XVRVCNnRhY
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 6, 2016
Kischner joked that the new school is a “91,000-square-foot birthday present.” His parents were there to help celebrate.
For Harris, there also was a personal connection, as her daughter attended Pathfinder K-8 in the old Genesee Hill Elementary on the same site.
The principal, staff, and students moved from Schmitz Park Elementary, which they had long since outgrown (as proven by a plethora of portables there), but the ties to the Schmitz family, who gave the SPES site to the district long ago, remain strong. At today’s GHES ceremony, family representative Vicki Schmitz Block was given the last flag to fly over SPE before the end of last school year:
(As announced last week, SPE will not be vacant – it will host after-school programs for about 100 students.)
The GH ceremony was outdoors, while the Arbor Heights Elementary dedication two hours earlier was indoors, but both were followed by tours (here’s our original look inside GH) and both shared several dignitaries who took to the podium, including third-year Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland, who declared, “These really are awesome schools.”
(Both GH and AH were funded by the BEX IV levy passed by Seattle voters three and a half years ago.) Again, tomorrow’s the first day of school; GH is opening with about 700 students, already past official capacity, but it’s been configured so that portables will not be needed.
It’s move-in week for Shiloh Henderson and her teacher colleagues at brand-new Genesee Hill Elementary, where the September 6th dedication day is now less than four weeks away. The new school housing what had been the Schmitz Park Elementary program could have more than 700 students by the time classes start on September 7th, principal Gerrit Kischner tells WSB.
History will be honored at that spot in the spacious entrance area – the bricks are from the old Genesee Hill school, demolished to make way for this one, and the squares will hold tiles from Schmitz Park. A plaque here will honor the history of what led to the new campus, which, we noticed while visiting, is full of light:
That’s the library, where books from Schmitz Park were awaiting unpacking, with additions on the way. Also in the library: Read More
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.
(WSB photo of under-construction school, earlier this month)
The construction of both new West Seattle elementary campuses – for Schmitz Park at Genesee Hill (above) and Arbor Heights – is on schedule for their planned openings this fall, Seattle Public Schools tells us. And if you will have a kindergartener going into Schmitz Park this fall, principal Gerrit Kischner invites you to their upcoming tours – 9 am tomorrow (Tuesday, January 26th) and Wednesday, February 10th:
We are still hosting tours this year because we want families to start getting excited about our program. Next year, it will be the same great teachers and the same great community in a brand new, beautiful space! We will showcase our five Kindergarten classrooms, give parents an opportunity to observe upper-grade classrooms as well, and share pictures and ideas for how our program will maximize the advantages of our new space. Whether families choose to tour or not, please remember that Kindergarten registration is now open for attendance-area schools, and the sooner families register their youngsters, the better we will be equipped to plan for their coming!
Kischner adds that the new school’s name hasn’t been finalized yet but so far they’re calling it “Schmitz Park at Genesee Hill.” But be sure you go to the CURRENT campus for the upcoming tours – 50th SW/SW Spokane.
(Image captured this morning from construction-site webcam)
Remember the call for suggestions about what to call the new school being built on Genesee Hil, for the program currently housed (and overflowing) at Schmitz Park Elementary? A letter has just gone out listing four finalists, and launching a vote. The finalists are:
*Genesee Hill Elementary School: Genesee Hill is the name of the original building, which opened in 1949.
*Genesee-Schmitz Elementary School: Genesee-Schmitz recognizes the shared identity and history of the neighborhood and the two schools.
*Dietrich Schmitz Elementary School: Dietrich Schmitz was the longest-serving member of the Seattle School Board in history, serving 32 years and multiple times as President.
*Thelma DeWitty Elementary School: Thelma DeWitty was the first African-American teacher in Seattle, working first in West Seattle at the Cooper School.
The four potential names are not the only points of interest in the letter from Schmitz Park principal Gerrit Kischner. It’s been pointed out that the new school, with capacity around 650, might be not be big enough to hold SPE’s continuing-to-swell population, and Kischner’s letter includes this mention of one way that might be addressed:
… Please note that while we would like to move forward to finalize the naming of the new building, we are also continuing to watch enrollment numbers that could affect the long-term plans for both our current and future school sites.
The Building Leadership Team made a point of requesting that we ensure that the Schmitz Family legacy, which has inspired Schmitz Park Elementary School to be a flagship elementary program in the Seattle School District, will continue to be recognized and honored. If enrollment trends continue to the point that our program could be needed to operate at both sites, we will recommend to the Superintendent that the new building be opened as Schmitz Park School at Genesee Hill.
Regardless, we will not change the name of the school building we currently occupy, which is officially named by the School Board as “Schmitz Park School.” This is a promise made by the District to the Schmitz Family, who donated the land for the Schmitz Park Preserve and school site. Important Schmitz Park traditions and our fox mascot and logo will continue at the new building. …
We’re following up with the district regarding the “both sites” possibility; meantime, you can read the entire letter here.
Now, back to the name poll: Make your choice online here; if you’d like to vote another way, the letter mentions you can postal-mail or drop off your choice to/at SPES (5000 SW Spokane, Seattle 98116). Deadline is April 26th – one week from this Sunday.