West Seattle, Washington
For thousands of West Seattle families, today’s biggest news is the start of the new school year. The traditional red-carpet welcome for students at West Seattle Elementary in High Point was paired today with a ribbon-cutting for the school’s newly complete expansion/renovation. Last month, we took you on a photo tour of the school. Now, principal Pamela McCowan-Conyers (above right), her staff, and their students are all back, after two years in temporary quarters at the former Schmitz Park Elementary (a “long ride” from High Point, the principal acknowledged). McCowan-Conyers hailed the project as “sorely needed” while offering a profuse round of gratitude for everyone involved, before leading the ribboncutting:
Among the dignitaries was district superintendent Dr. Brent Jones, who also enthused about the project, funded by the BEX V levy, passed by voters in 2019.
Once the ribbon was down, students headed for the entrance, under the new canopy, and were greeted by school staffers with high-fives and big smiles.
Shoutout to WSE staffer Akim Finch, who DJ’d the event, including a brisk early round of Earth Wind & Fire classics (“September” was especially appropriate):
The expansion added 12 classrooms, giving the school a capacity of more than 500 students; currently it’s around 400, assistant principal Ritchie Garcia told us when we toured for last month’s report. The school – which serves a community with a large immigrant population – is designed to support families as well as students, with areas where parents can access resources such as a job board.
P.S. With the reopening, West Seattle Elementary’s address has returned to 6760 34th SW – readers have noted that Google is still listing it with the Schmitz Park address, which is now the temporary home of Alki Elementary.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two weeks from tomorrow, West Seattle Elementary School students and staff will have classes at their 6760 34th SW home campus for the first time in more than two years.
While WSES spent those two years in temporary quarters at the former Schmitz Park Elementary, their school underwent big changes – an addition and renovations. We requested a tour so we could show you those changes before the school year. Shown below are our tour guides last Friday afternoon:
From left are assistant principal Ritchie Garcia, Miller Hayashi Architects principal Laura Maman and project manager Pearlene Cheah, and Seattle Public Schools‘ project manager David L. Jackson. We photographed them beneath what might be the most distinctive feature of the expansion-and-renovation project – shown atop this story – a new entrance canopy that is visible from the streets west and east of the school and from the neighborhood to its north.
We started our tour at the front entrance, which is now a secure space with separate doors for the office and the hallway.
That’s “Coach Al” and his 10-to-11-year-olds’ volleyball team from last year. He asked us to share this announcement that registration is open for this year:
Sign-ups are now open for 10–11-year-old volleyball players at High Point Community Center:
Come have some fun while learning the awesome game of volleyball in a fun, supportive, and encouraging environment by a coach who’s passionate about the game!
Open to 10–11-year-olds regardless of experience level who want to learn the sport and improve their skills while building team camaraderie and competing against other centers throughout the city, culminating in an ‘All-City Jamboree’ in November.
High Point Community Center (6920 34th Ave SW) is now open for registration for play beginning the first week of September.
There are only 12 spots available on the roster so get your child(ren) signed-up right away.
Registration and more information can be had by calling 206-684-7422.
The concert has several connections to Saturday’s parade – for one, the parade sponsors the concert (which was long part of the now-defunct summer-long Hi-Yu Festival). For two, WS Big Band director Jim Edwards (above left) is a longtime parade coordinator – these days with more of an emeritus role, while coordination is led by his daughter Michelle Edwards, a WSBB musician too:
Post-pandemic, the concert has had a new venue, High Point Commons Park, where the WSBB presented its program tonight.
The organization is more than a quarter-century old, with a mission of supporting students – donating its time and earnings to support school-music programs.
P.S. As for the parade – our previews of what and who you’ll see start tomorrow!
3:58 PM: Thanks to Christy for the tip and photo. The High Point and Southwest libraries closed at 2 pm and will be closed all weekend because of what the door sign describes as “a pest issue requiring chemical treatment.” Book drops are closed too. We have an inquiry out to Seattle Public Library headquarters in hopes of finding out more. Back in May, another reader tip led to this report about a similar situation stemming from a bedbug problem at the HP branch.
5:04 PM: As a reader comments below, Delridge is now closed too, and that’s reflected in the reply we just received from SPL spokesperson Laura Gentry:
We have temporarily closed the Delridge, High Point and Southwest branches due to bedbug sightings by staff at these three locations in the last 24 hours.
We are taking aggressive steps to remediate the issue; and unfortunately, that means keeping the branches closed throughout the weekend. These branches are scheduled to receive treatment early Monday morning, so we are keeping them and their book drops closed until that has occurred and they are cleared for re-entry (about two hours following application).
We are very sorry for the inconvenience this causes our patrons in the Southwest Region of the city, but it is important we act quickly to limit the impacts of this issue by immediately closing these locations, applying treatment, and discarding impacted materials.
We thank our eagle-eyed staff who quickly alert us to anything that might negatively impact patrons, staff, or Library spaces!
They’re not sure yet what time the branches will reopen Monday – likely by early afternoon – we’ll update when we have word.
ADDED SUNDAY: SPL says all three will reopen Monday at noon.
Ethan sent the photo and report:
There was a fire at Walt Hundley Playfield this evening, almost certainly caused by fireworks. Saw your coverage of the fire by the pond down the street and figured you should know about this one too.
So far, the Real-Time 911 log for today has, citywide, 22 “brush fire” notations, 6 “rubbish fire” notations, 5 “bark fire” notations, and 2 “dumpster fire” notations. Seattle residential fires believed to have been caused by people using fireworks include the one last night in Arbor Heights as well as one Sunday in the Olympic Hills neighborhood.
3:25 PM: Another brush-fire response – and this time it’s big enough that Seattle Fire has just upgraded it to “brush fire major.” It was described as at least 30 feet by 40 feet, in the 5900 block of High Point Drive. It’s near the pond, firefighters are telling dispatch.
3:30 PM: Added the photo above, from Erik O, who says this was sparked by “a large firework.”
3:34 PM: They’re getting a handle on it, so dismissing some of the response. Side note – we covered a similar fire in this spot, this time of year, eight years ago.
3:45 PM: If you’re in the area and noticing a helicopter, that’s just the helicopter that local TV stations share.
4:45 PM: The fire is extinguished but burned perilously close to homes, as photos shared by commenters show. (And the one added above, from Tori.) We’re there checking into the aftermath too.
4:58 PM: The charred slope is extensive – that’s the best we could do to show how extensive.
Back in April 2020, SDOT announced West Seattle’s first “Stay Healthy Street,” in High Point and vicinity. Now it’s planning to downsize. Here’s the announcement sent this afternoon, with word of a chance to talk with SDOT about it next week:
Over the last year we’ve been doing additional reviews and updating our Healthy Streets across Seattle based on community use trends and public feedback. For the High Point Healthy Street, we plan to remove the Healthy Street designation for some of the route while making another section permanent.
Permanent: Segment A – on 34th Ave SW, between SW Holden St and SW Graham St – is proposed to become a permanent Healthy Street. We plan to install permanent signage with a concrete block base and new painted curb space around it at each intersection. There is an option to replace the concrete base with a planter barrel if a neighbor wants to maintain it. Our Healthy Streets webpage has more information about adopting a planter.
Removal: We will be removing Segments B, C, and D and returning them back to a Neighborhood Greenway.
Segment B – SW Graham St, between 34th Ave SW and High Point Dr SW
Segment C – High Point Dr SW, between SW Graham St and Sylvan Way SW
Segment D – SW Holly St, between 34th Ave SW and 31 Ave SW
Please see the map (above) for your reference on the segments.
Join us June 27 for an Open House. We will have light refreshments to share and staff will be available to listen to your feedback regarding this update.
When: Tuesday, June 27, between 5:30 pm-7 pm
Where: High Point Neighborhood House, 6400 Sylvan Way SW, Room 207
They’re also asking your opinion on what type of permanent signage a Healthy Street should get – this SDOT photo shows the two “main options,” planter or signpost:
More info on the options is here. Meantime, we’ll be following up with SDOT Monday on whether other Healthy Streets are in for changes.
That’s the start of the largest of five events comprising Loop the ‘Lupe today at Walt Hundley Playfield in High Point, steps away from Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose social-service community work benefits from its proceeds. Those runners were off on the Family Wave of Loop the ‘Lupe’s 5K obstacle course; below, the smaller group for this year’s new addition, an Elite Wave with two extra obstacles for those seeking even more of a challenge – a barrel crawl and teeter-totters:
The other events were the 5K Fun Run, Senior Saunter, and Youth Dash – but since Loop the ‘Lupe is the only local 5K offering obstacles, they’re the main attraction:
Organizer Brian Callanan said registration passed 700 people, the biggest Loop the ‘Lupe in its seven-year history. Lots of community business participation, too, such as Hannah from HIIT Lab leading the pre-race warmup:
West Seattle School of Rock provided student musicians to keep the event rocking:
High Point Commons Park and Lanham Place to its west [map] are a hive of activity for this afternoon’s West Seattle Bee Festival. At the WS Bee Garden, north end of the park, Puget Sound Beekeepers are selling honey and answering lots of questions.
The entertainment is in keeping with the theme – Ella Bella Bee and the Pollinators performed in the first hour.
Not far from the Amphitheater, toward the south end of Lanham, we found Chance (below) and Blue, Seattle Police horses (based in West Seattle, on the southwest side of Westcrest Park):
Other city departments and services are there too – including the Seattle Public Library Bookmobile:
You can find out about local nonprofits, too – among those with booths/tables are the West Seattle Food Bank, West Seattle Cooperative Preschools, and Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (whose work includes lots of nature stewardship). The festival continues until 3 pm.
Jana emailed us wondering if we knew anything about a “pest” problem that she said had closed the book drop at High Point Library for a while, and led to an early closure of the entire branch on Tuesday. So we asked Seattle Public Library for details. Here’s what we heard back from SPL spokesperson Laura Gentry:
Staff at the High Point Branch discovered a bed bug issue two weeks ago in the book drop and around the computer area, which they believe (but is hard to confirm) to be an isolated situation involving a single patron. Staff locked the book drops, quarantined computers, discarded or quarantined impacted materials as appropriate, sanitized book bins, cleaned the impacted computer area, and have been in conversation with the patron.
After containment and cleaning, staff have not seen additional bedbugs for over a week. The book drop has reopened.
The Library conducted a chemical treatment of the branch on Tuesday evening as a precautionary measure. It is considered safe to enter the treated space two hours after chemical treatment, but we let the branch sit overnight as another extra precaution. The pest control company we are working with will return at the end of the month to examine the branch and ensure the issue is fully resolved.
The Library has an integrated pest management program to prevent and contain bed bugs and other pests we might encounter in or around our facilities. Elements of the program include education, good housekeeping, regular inspections, professional custodial practices and immediate response to sightings. These efforts play a vital role in reducing the chance of a major infestation.
Thanks for the question from your reader.
Don’t know much about bed bugs? Read this.
Another look ahead to one of this weekend’s big events – the West Seattle Bee Festival returns to High Point on Saturday (May 20th)! As previewed here in April, it’s happening in and around High Point Commons Park/Amphitheater and the Bee Garden [map], with components including:
Buzz Run – 9:30 am: A casual run/walk for youth, starting at the Bee Garden.
Community Cleanup – 10:30 am-noon: Part of One Seattle Day of Service; stop by the volunteer tent to pick up a picker and trash bag to help.
Bee Festival – Noon-3 pm: Activities, games, performances, and chances to learn about bees (with participants including the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association). Highlights include Ella Bella Bee at the Amphitheater at noon, beehive demonstration at the Bee Garden at 1 pm, and Soul Line Dancing at 2 pm. More than a dozen community organizations will be there to meet you, too.
This is all family-friendly and free!
Another date for your spring calendar: The West Seattle Bee Festival is returning this year as a full-fledged community celebration, on Saturday, May 20th, in and around High Point Commons Park/Amphitheater and the Bee Garden [map]. Here’s what you’ll find that day, as announced by organizers:
The Bee Festival is back and everyone is invited! The fun starts at 9:30 AM and will last until 3:00 PM on Saturday, May 20th so make sure to put this on your calendar! Below are some of the exciting programs and activities already planned with more to come! Be sure to grab a brochure at our information booth on Lanham Place near Graham Street during the festivities for more information!
Buzz Run – 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM. The trail will start at the Bee Garden and will loop you around the hill to the finish hive. A special prize if you’re the first person to make your way back! If you joined us last year for the run, that pesky Bee Gnome trapped some of our bee friends in jars again and we need to save them! Along the running route, there will be jars filled with bees hidden in Commons Park for you to save. The person that saves the most bees and returns them back to the hive gets a special prize. If you find the Bee Gnome and bring it back to the hive, you will also get a special prize!
Community Clean Up – 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM. We partnered with Seattle One Day of Service to provide the best volunteering opportunities for you here at High Point! We’ll be cleaning up the community one block at a time, but you are also invited to help if you don’t want to register! Stop by the volunteer tent to pick up a picker and trash bag and help our community be squeaky clean. If you do register with Seattle One Day of Service, you’ll get a nifty T-Shirt provided from the city. More information on registration coming soon.
Bee Festival – 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Ella Bella Bee will do a performance at the amphitheater and will be on stilts to pass out seeds during the day. Seattle Rec’N’The Streets and UPower will take over Commons park for activities and yard games along with 20 other organizations from Seattle talking about environmental and bee-focused information. Want to see a fire truck up close? Fire Station 37 will attend the Bee Festival for you to ask questions! Puget Sound Beekeepers Association will be on site with their honey near the Bee Garden!
Here’s some backstory on the West Seattle Bee Garden, founded 10 years ago.
Nos Nos Coffee House at 35th/Graham in High Point is expanding hours. Proprietor Khalid Agour wants you to know that the shop is now open weekdays 7 am to 5 pm and weekends 8 am to 5 pm – closing three hours later than they had previously. Nos Nos has been open on the ground floor of Upton Flats since late 2019.
Two West Seattle Crime Watch notes:
HIGH POINT SEARCH WARRANT: Thanks for the tips/questions. Multiple law-enforcement agencies – including Seattle Police, King County Sheriff’s Office, and ATF – are at a residence near 32nd/Holly. (The photo above shows some of their vehicles staged nearby.) All they’ll say so far is that it’s a warrant service, and that includes a warrant to search the residence. In the meantime, SW Holly is blocked in the immediate vicinity. We’ll be following up.
STOLEN CAR FOUND AT SCHOOL: A reader emailed around 7:30 this morning to report that at Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point, “There are belongings scattered all over the school parking lot, and a car has crashed through the fence right where the downed tree was.” By the time we got over to look around 8:45 am, the scene was clear, but we got a bit of followup information – the car found there was a Hyundai stolen in Pierce County. No arrests reported; the car was unoccupied when police arrived.
For the second time today, we’re inviting you to look ahead to June – this time it’s because registration is open for Loop the ‘Lupe 2023, coming up June 3, with new features this year:
We’re BACK with Loop The ‘Lupe, Seattle’s best 5K obstacle course fun run! This event will take place at Walt Hundley Playfield in West Seattle on Saturday, June 3rd. Here’s what’s in store for 2023:
NEW!!! ELITE WAVE: We’ve heard from racers that they’re looking for an extra challenge, and we’ve got it for you! We’re starting the Loop the ‘Lupe this year with an “Elite Wave” for racers 16 years old and up to increase the level of competition. We’re also ADDING TWO OBSTACLES just for this wave, creating a total of nine obstacles per lap!
NEW!!! FAMILY WAVE: So, you’re ready for the ninja challenges (wall-climbing, mud-crawling, all your favorites), but not ready to run with the elites? The 7-obstacle Family Wave is all you! NEW OBSTACLE: We’ve replaced our balance beams with a NEW balancing obstacle and we’re ready to go!
YOUR FAVORITES ARE BACK: We’ll have the 5K run/walk, the Senior Saunter walk (100% flat, no obstacles), and the Youth Dash (a 1K loop with 7 obstacles & adult supervision).
YOU CAN SUPPORT A GOOD CAUSE: This event is one of the major fundraisers for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church each year. As you may have seen in recent news coverage, the need for churches like OLG are great, and your registration and donations support important social outreach work — meals for shut-ins, homeless services, and help with migrant communities, too. So, join us for the Loop, and have some fun while raising much-needed funds for those in need!
VIRTUAL RACING: Not feeling up to a trip to the park? No problem! Register to get a race t-shirt, contact us at email@example.com, and record a video of yourself on your own crazy home obstacle course, then post it to our on our Facebook page! Prizes for the top entrants!
ALL PARTICIPANTS: The Loop’s live music, food, and beer garden are back, too, this summer, with a new layout for post-race relaxation at the park!
There’s an advantage to signing up early – prices go up in a few weeks. Registration starts here.
Julia Douthwaite Viglione, a local educator/writer whose community involvement includes leading the monthly Classic Novels (And Movies) Book Club, is offering a free writing workshop for kids/tweens starting one week from today:
Write YOUR Story
Ages 8 – 12
Thursdays, February 2, 2023 – May 4, 2023
4:30 – 5:30 pm
High Point Community Center
6920 34th SW
Free writing workshop! As a peer group, you’ll evaluate 3 existing stories selecting one plotline as the basis for a brand new story. The group will then create a brand new story, and illustrate it before it is sent to print. For the second part of the program students will be working on their very own story with support and guidance from professional writers. The program ends with a celebration—a chance for each participant to share an excerpt from their work and play some games. Each participant will receive a spiral bound, color copy of the group book. Each registrant must be committed to attend all 12 sessions for the program to work. Enrollment required. To enroll, call 206-684-7422.
Here’s a flyer for the workshop.
Last week, we told you about our area’s newest Parent Teacher Organization, Friends of West Seattle Elementary. Today, they’re announcing the launch of their first-ever fundraising campaign, and explaining why they’re turning to the peninsula-wide community for help:
The newly established Parent Teacher Organization at West Seattle Elementary (WSE), Friends of West Seattle Elementary (FOWSE), is excited to announce the launch of its inaugural fundraiser! The group of parents, staff and teachers aim to raise $50,000 by March 1st, 2023, to support WSE students in their academic success.
WSE is a community school in the truest sense. Over 80% of our students live in low-income housing within a half-mile of the school and over 83% qualify to receive free or reduced cost lunch. Many of our families are former refugees and have experienced generational trauma and hardships that have created barriers to equitable access to services, including education, yet academic success is highly valued. Access to educational enrichments have proven to be difficult to attain for families of poverty due to parents working atypical hours, language barriers and the lack of understanding of the American educational systems.
To reach our lofty goal in under three months, we are turning to community members and business owners for support. Donations are tax-deductible and will be used to:
(1) Fund additional teachers for future school years – to keep class sizes small when district budget cuts occur. For example, this school year, WSE has some classrooms with over 26 students due to fewer teachers being allocated by the district as a result of district-wide enrollment declines.
(2) Host engagement activities – to enable the PTO to create shared, meaningful experiences, like pizza parties, spirit days, and staff appreciation events for students, staff and their families that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
(3) Provide classroom supplies and cover field trip costs – to support, encourage and equip teachers on the front-lines delivering an invaluable education to underserved populations.
Please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to support West Seattle Elementary students and staff. Any contribution helps ensure students, regardless of race, background, socioeconomic status, receive the best education possible.
You can make a donation online via this link.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
If you or someone you know could use a free class to improve English-language skills, Neighborhood House‘s Katie Lewis wants you to know it’s time to register for the one they’re offering starting in January:
Ready to Work is a free ESL class with a focus on job skills. Students must live in Seattle and be 18+. Computers are provided. Sign-ups close on December 20th, as we will be offering English assessments on December 20th and 21st at the Neighborhood House office. Students may complete this interest form or contact me to sign up. email@example.com
The first of this weekend’s three holiday tree-lighting events in West Seattle happened on the north side of Neighborhood House High Point this evening – the second annual Fruit Tree Lighting. High Point community builder Ella McRae led a cheery countdown:
The tree lighting followed an afternoon festival that celebrated both the arrival of winter and High Point’s new community-designed salmon street murals.
Those are some of the founding members of the new PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) launched for West Seattle Elementary. Elle sent the photo and report:
West Seattle Elementary is excited to announce the launch of its Parent Teacher Organization (PTO): Friends of West Seattle Elementary (also known as FOWSE).
Readers may be surprised to hear that unlike every other public elementary school in West Seattle, West Seattle Elementary did not have an established PTO until the 2022-23 school year. In partnership with the Alliance for Education, a non-profit that supports excellence in education by advancing educational justice and racial equity for students in Seattle Public Schools, and West Seattle Public Schools Equity Fund, WSE has been building the groundwork to establish and govern such a group for several years.
FOWSE aims to support WSE students in their academic success by building a strong community between teachers, staff and families, and providing additional resources through fundraising efforts and volunteers to help close the achievement gap. WSE Principal Pam McCowan-Conyers said, “Establishing a PTO at West Seattle Elementary is a pivotal step to creating an equitable learning environment where parents, teachers and staff partner on how best to serve the unique needs of our students”. The group had its inaugural meeting on November 7th and interested community members and/or parents are invited to attend their next meeting January 9th @ 5 PM at High Point Community Center.
If you’re a parent at the school or community member interested in getting involved with the PTO or simply learning more, visit the PTO website, make a donation here (select ‘Friends of West Seattle Elementary – 23602‘ under group dropdown) or send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
West Seattle Elementary is in its second year at the former Schmitz Park Elementary while an addition is built at its permanent High Point campus.
If you’re a parent at the school or community member interested in getting involved with the PTO or simply learning more, visit the PTO website, make a donation here (select ‘Friends of West Seattle Elementary – 23602’ under group drop down) or send them an email at email@example.com for more information.
The report and photo were sent by Coach Al:
Congratulations to the High Point “Hurricanes,” who won 1st place in today’s ‘City Wide Volleyball Jamboree’ held at Miller Community Center, making this coach extremely proud!!
After going undefeated during the season (4-0), today they beat Delridge and Loyal Heights community centers, and then again played Delridge in the playoffs, winning the first & third games to bring home the Gold.
Delridge CC took home the Silver, so West Seattle volleyball was well represented!
As previewed in our traffic alerts the past few mornings, SDOT was out today painting community-designed salmon in the street in High Point. The decorative fish are planned for two “Healthy Street” sections of 31st SW and SW Graham. We went over late today to see what had been completed in the first round of work.
The fish we found are on 31st south of Graham, so it looks like they’ll be working on Graham tomorrow (Sunday, November 13), starting as early as 6 am.
The project is explained here.