West Seattle, Washington
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has become MLK Day of Service for many, and in West Seattle, that included several environmental-restoration/cleanup projects today. We stopped by the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association Nature Team work site in Pigeon Point Park, part of the West Duwamish Greenbelt urban forest, adjacent to Pathfinder K-8.
This is a labor-intensive, long-running project to give the life-sustaining forest some help by beating back invasive plants. Removing blackberry growth was a focus for the nearly 30 volunteers who turned out today. In the spring, work parties will focus on planting – but at this time of year, the ground has to be cleared and readied to receive those new plants. DNDA has frequent volunteer opportunities for this area and other parts of the West Duwamish Greenbelt – check them out, and sign up if you’re interested, by going here.
Earlier this week, we reported on a burglary at Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point – someone broke into the school music room during winter break. Today, Pathfinder parent Lisa Stencel emailed us to say they’re looking for instrument donations so the students can keep making music: “Most of the instruments were taken, so we are hoping that our West Seattle community can help us out. If anyone has any instruments that are not being used, we would gladly take them.” We asked if any specific types were most needed; her reply, “It was mostly wind and horn instruments, but we’ll take anything.” Donations can be picked up if necessary. If you have an instrument to offer – and/or questions – email Lisa at lisastencel (at) gmail.com.
4:08 PM: We’ve received two notes about this: Though today’s Pathfinder K-8 COVID-19 vaccination pop-up clinic was described on the district website as “full,” we’re told hundreds of doses for 5-to-11-year-olds are available to walkups until 6 pm. The school is on Pigeon Point qt 1901 SW Genesee.
4:15 PM: The district confirms this. But they have 5:30 pm as an end time, while the clinic was originally listed as lasting until 6 pm. (Added: A school employee tells us 6 pm is correct.)
ORIGINAL FRIDAY NIGHT REPORT: Thanks to the Pathfinder K-8 community members who forwarded this letter emailed tonight by the school’s principal, Dr. Britney Holmes:
Dear Pathfinder Families and Staff,
I’m writing to inform you about an incident that occurred today at our school.
This morning about 8:50 a.m. a staff member discovered a noose attached to a tree on our campus. They immediately notified me. I took photos to document the item, and then had the custodian remove it. Discovery and removal took place during student arrival time. We don’t know how many students may have seen it.
We immediately contacted SPS Safety and Security department. We have also made a report to the Seattle Police Department. The incident is still under investigation.
Our school administrative team will be meeting with the central office coordinated school health team to determine next steps in providing supports to our school community. In the meantime, employees can receive free, confidential short-term counseling from the SPS Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The number for EAP is 877-313-4455. Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is committed to ensuring students have safe and welcoming environments for learning.
Neither SPS nor our school will tolerate any symbols of hatred, oppression, or violence. As a community, we are working to be anti-racist. We will continue to build anti-racist systems in our school. We will continue to lift up our families and communities of color and keep them involved in our process.
I hope you can find comfort and joy with family and friends this weekend.
We have no additional information but will be following up with the district and police.
ADDED MONDAY MORNING: This is the only statement from the district so far, via spokesperson Tim Robinson: “A noose was discovered on Friday and the district is offering supports to staff and students. Additional information has come in and, working with the school principal, the district is continuing to investigate in order to gain as much information as possible regarding the use and occurrence of this abhorrent symbol.”
ADDED WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Multiple readers have forwarded us an email that Dr. Holmes sent tonight. It begins:
I’m writing today to provide an update about the recent incident that occurred at our school.
As you know, a noose was found attached to a tree on our campus last Friday. Immediately, this incident was reported to Seattle Public Schools Safety and Security and the Seattle Police Department.
Since the opening of the investigation, a member of the Pathfinder community has come forward to identify the person responsible. That information has been shared appropriately with law enforcement and SPS leaders in order to bring appropriate resolution to the matter. The case remains under investigation by SPD.
Although responsibility has been admitted, I want to emphasize that this does not mitigate the gravity of the incident and its deep impact on those members of our community. Collectively, we must acknowledge that the symbolism used in this incident, regardless of intent, invoked anger and fear in many people, particularly our BIPOC families and staff.
As a result, my immediate hope and goal is to bring our Pathfinder family together to begin the healing process with the following opportunities for understanding and conversation.
The principal then lists three times next week for the school and Pigeon Point community to have that conversation, in “affinity spaces” for white participants at one and BIPOC participants at the other, and a third event for all.
Thanks to Pete for sending the photo! The northeast West Seattle neighborhood of Pigeon Point has been seasonally renamed.
P.S. Thanks to everyone who’s sent tips and/or photos of Halloween-season decorations so far, after our invitation! Watch for a gallery/list page soon.
That’s the aerial view of a – distanced! – neighborhood celebration this past weekend on Pigeon Point. Robert Shampain sent the video, report, and photos:
On Sunday, August 22, The Pigeon Point Neighborhood of West Seattle (just south of our Once-and-Future West Seattle Bridge) hosted the “Pigeon Point Back-Together-In-Person Get-together” near Pathfinder K-8 School. It was sponsored by a Small Sparks Grant from the Department of Neighborhoods, along with several local businesses, and it was a huge success!
Over 200 people attended during the afternoon, and enjoyed free tacos from West Seattle’s own El Chapulin Oaxaqueño taco truck along with lots of other food and drink, wonderful music by 5 local resident professionals (Brian Cutler, Nick Droz, Scott Herman, Ellaina Lewis, and Gabi Montoya), and presentations by the Duwamish Tribe’s Ken Workman, the new Pathfinder K-8 Principal and Vice Principal, the “Ridge-to- River” and West Duwamish Greenbelt trails project, PREP (Puget Ridge Edible Park), and DNDA (Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association).
There were a lot of kids-and-family events, like “Nature Art” with the Nature Consortium’s Jules Hepp and Jen Paur of “Tiny Science,” who brought all sorts of wonderful insects and information on bugs to share. Cindi Barker from the West Seattle Emergency Hubs had an information booth, as did the West Seattle SkyLink project, who had asked to attend. It really was an amazing afternoon. And best of all, neighbors all pitched in to clean up so well at the end, you couldn’t even tell how much fun had been had!
What a way to celebrate turning 70! At right in our photo is Lou Cutler, the retired PE teacher who is also a longtime Make-A-Wish volunteer raising money for MAW every year with a walkathon at his old school, Pathfinder K-8. Two weeks ago, Lou spent two days walking laps there with students in a pandemic-modified version of his annual fundraiser; the laps totaled a half-marathon, 13+ miles, and today he’s replicating that, with a 13+-mile walk around West Seattle with friends, family, and supporters. We photographed them leaving the Pathfinder campus on Pigeon Point just after 10 am; Lou said the plan was to head northwest to Alki, then south to Beach Drive and Lincoln Park, looping back northeast to finish back at Pathfinder. He says he’s not worried about the heat – “We’ve got water!” He’s also hoping to return to his classic “Laps With Lou” format next year – one day of lapping the school track with one lap for every year of his age, so that’s 71 laps next year. P.S. You can support the Make-A-Wish kids that Lou’s long supported by donating here.
ADDED: Afterward, Lou told us via email, “It took us a little longer than I planned, but we finally made it back to Pathfinder about 7 hours after we left, though we had lots of fun stops along the way and were not in a rush to finish.” His fundraising for this year is getting closer to the goal, too, and he’s still welcoming more donations, to make more kids’ wishes come true.
Balloons and banners were displayed in abundance this afternoon as Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point had a farewell parade at the end of the final school day of the year. Stars of the show – two high-profile departees, principal David Dockendorf:
And assistant principal Lisa Clayton:
Dockendorf is retiring after 23 school years at the helm of Pathfinder. He told us he’s planning a trip to Mexico – and after that, he’ll figure out what else is next.
Clayton has spent 25 of the past 27 years at Pathfinder, assistant principal for the past decade. She will hold that role at Genesee Hill Elementary starting this fall.
Today’s parade also honored the rest of Pathfinder’s staff – lots of gratitude in evidence with everyone who drove by. Pathfinder’s new principal, as announced back in April, will be Dr. Britney Holmes.
The community is invited to help Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point say goodbye to its longtime principal and assistant principal, in two ways this week. The announcement is from Holly Rikhof:
Please help the Pathfinder K-8 School Community celebrate the legacy of our beloved Principal David Dockendorf and Assistant Principal Lisa Clayton, as we wish them well after 48 combined years of vision, leadership, and endless dedication to our school!
David Dockendorf joined Pathfinder in 1999 as the school’s third principal. Over the course of 23 years, he has guided the school through huge change and growth, while ensuring that Pathfinder remains true to its roots. He has hired all but one of the current staff at the school and has helped shape thousands of student’s love of learning over more than two decades of leadership. He has created a culture of community partnering for student success where teachers, staff, and parents come together. We will forever remember his chaperoning sold out school sleepovers and the auction performances that both brought the community together and supported our students. He is retiring at the end of the year after nearly four decades in public education.
Lisa Clayton started at Pathfinder in 1994 – Pathfinder’s third year. During her 25 years at the school, she has held a range of positions – librarian, kindergarten teacher, head teacher, and after a brief posting elsewhere, has been the Assistant Principal since 2011. We will miss her hard work and presence at the school, but wish her well in all future endeavors! She is leaving to become the Assistant Principal at Genesee Hill Elementary next year.
David and Lisa’s success has been rooted in a shared vision and dedication to teaching the whole child and providing each student with a rich academic experience. Pathfinder’s expeditionary learning model and commitment to outdoor education have been hallmarks of their tenure. The school added a middle school in 1998, and Lisa and David have been instrumental in growing the program into a dynamic K-8 model that has a waitlist for every grade and retains their own from kindergarten through to eighth grade. We are so grateful for the thriving school community that David and Lisa are leaving behind!
If you would like to share your congratulations and well wishes with David and/or Lisa, there will be a mailbox posted the last week of school, June 13-18, in front of the Pathfinder building (1901 SW Genesee St, Seattle) to collect cards and gifts from the community. It will be checked daily, and the contents will be presented to David and Lisa in memory boxes on June 18th.
In addition, at 2 pm on June 18th, the school will host a drive-by parade. All of the teachers and David and Lisa will be on hand, so come cheer from your vehicle for a memorable send-off!
Different plan, same goal as Lou Cutler returned to Pathfinder K-8 – where he taught PE for many years – this morning to start the annual tradition of doing laps on the field, accompanied by students and staff, to raise money for Make-A-Wish.
Pre-pandemic, hundreds would join him on the field at the beginning and end of the one-day fundraiser – in which Lou would run/walk one lap for every year of the age he turns in late June. Last year, since nobody was at the school, Lou walked one big “lap” around the peninsula with friends. This year, at Pathfinder, small groups are joining him for two laps at a time, a total of 70 laps split between today and Thursday.
While Lou’s been doing this for almost two decades, he’s been a Make-A-Wish volunteer even longer, and before today’s first lap, he told the students about Avery, who’s about to have a bone-marrow transplant, and hopes to go to Disneyland – her “wish” – afterward. He’s inviting the students to write messages for her. You can help him raise money to make wishes come true by donating here.
It’s been a June tradition for almost two decades – now-retired Pathfinder K-8 PE teacher Lou Cutler raising money for Make-A-Wish by running/walking around the school’s field, one lap for every year of the age he’ll be on his late-June birthday. Last year, with campuses closed for the pandemic, Lou instead walked “one big lap” around West Seattle with a few supporters. This year, students are back at Pathfinder, so Lou will be back, but in a modified manner – laps on two days, June 8th and June 10th. Lou says this is the plan:
To avoid having multiple classes on the field at one time, the solution was to have me walk two laps with one classroom at a time and rotate in new classrooms every 15 minutes. Since each classroom is divided into morning and afternoon sessions, there would be 35 different groups coming to walk two laps each with me, which amazingly would be 70 laps, my upcoming age.
The days of the walk will be June 8th and June 10th and we will start at 8 AM.
I will end up doing the equivalent of a half marathon over these two days, as I will walk extra laps with teachers to reach 13.1 miles … I will complete the marathon walk on my official 70th birthday on Friday, June 25th. I will start at Pathfinder and depart at 10 AM and be joined by MAW volunteers and staff and any friends who want to come along for a great walk and cause.
This will be the 18th year of the MAW event, and thus far, we have raised $81,228 and naturally would love to raise the total significantly this year.
Lou’s also made a priceless contribution to Make-A-Wish with a quarter-century of volunteer work. You can donate/pledge right now by going here.
This year, supporters of Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point “have reinvented our annual fundraising auction … This year is virtual and we have over 100+ items open to the community to bid & purchase!” Bidding started this morning and continues through Saturday (when the fundraising culminates in an online event at 5:30 pm, but you can bid without attending). Go here to get started;
you can see the auction items here – gift certificates, gift baskets, more. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org – the bidding continues until 11:59 pm Saturday.
Thanks for the tips. After we published news earlier of the principal change at Genesee Hill Elementary and the next principal announced for Chief Sealth IHS, we learned of another West Seattle school with a change at the top announced today: Longtime principal David Dockendorf is leaving Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point. Here’s what district superintendent Denise Juneau sent to the Pathfinder community:
I am pleased to announce Dr. Britney Holmes as the next principal of Pathfinder K-8. Dr. Holmes will be replacing Principal David Dockendorf, who is retiring at the end of the 2020-21 school year.
Dr. Holmes was selected through a rigorous process which included multiple interviews with central office staff, including school-based interview teams, and was interviewed and selected by Superintendent Juneau based on her demonstrated experience building coalitions among multiple stakeholder groups, championing a vision of anti-racist practice and social justice in schools, and maintaining systems to provide and maintain high levels of academic rigor.
Dr. Holmes’ most recent experience at Hazel Wolf K-8 aligns with the school’s stakeholders’ vision and commitment to championing and acting on a vision of equity and cultivating instructional expertise. Dr. Holmes will begin as principal starting July 1, 2021.
Please join me in thanking Principal Dockendorf for his service to Pathfinder, and welcoming Principal Holmes.
Dockendorf is West Seattle’s longest-serving principal – the Pathfinder website says he’s led the school since 1999. Dr. Holmes is currently assistant principal at Hazel Wolf, which is in northeast Seattle.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Seattle Public Schools – like most public entities – is facing a big budget shortfall.
Potentially, $48 million.
Cuts and changes won’t be finalized until summer, but one proposed cut would have a big effect on 15 schools, including two in West Seattle: A proposal to cut yellow-bus service for most “option schools,” including Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point and Louisa Boren STEM K-8 in Delridge. Parents at both schools are organizing opposition.
First, here’s the slide shown at a School Board budget work session last week (see the full agenda packet here):
Thanks to Pete for the tip. Seattle Public Utilities has been notifying residents of Pigeon Point and Puget Ridge about a planned water outage for about 6 hours next Tuesday night, December 8th, 6 pm until midnight or so. The SPU outage map – which displays planned outages as well as emergencies – shows 200+ homes will be affected, but has no details of the reason for the outage. We asked SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register, who replied: “Seattle Public Utilities water crews will be installing a 12” isolation valve on a nearby water main. This work requires a temporary water outage for some customers in the area. Isolation valves allow smaller sections of a water main to be shut down (impacting fewer customers) when repairs and maintenance are needed in the future. They also provide an additional safety measure should an emergency water main shutdown need to occur.”
Speaking of voting – here’s an upcoming local event aimed at supporting it:
Support voter empowerment while enjoying an evening of music.
The Pigeon Point Antiracism Project presents
Music to Power Democracy
A virtual concert and fundraiser for the Black Voters Matter Fund
Thursday, October 22, 2020, 8 pm
With soprano Ellaina Lewis (known for her roles in such productions as Bellini’s La Sonnambula and Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha), Erika Lundahl (singer-songwriter featuring poetic lyrics for “resilient hearts and resonant bodies”), and Brian Cutler (veteran songwriter drawing on an electic mix of genres).
To attend, please make a donation to the Black Voters Matter Fund. Then send an electronic receipt from your donation to email@example.com, and we will provide details for attending the event on Zoom.
The Black Voters Matter Fund fights voter suppression and supports civic engagement and political power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities. They’ve been working tirelessly to get out the vote and also donating food, helping people fill out the census, distributing masks, and offering relief to hurricane survivors. Recently, they’ve been organizing voter drives by bus tour through swing states.
The Pigeon Point Antiracism Project is a grassroots group based in West Seattle’s Pigeon Point neighborhood and organizing actions to support equality.
We invite you to imagine your donation in hypothetical bus miles from destinations BVM is visiting.
A $10 minimum suggested donation gets you an evening of music (and could power a get-out-the-vote bus across, for instance, Houston).
$25, music, and a bus from Pensacola halfway to Panama City, Florida.
$50, music, Gainesville all the way to Tallahassee.
$100, music, Jacksonville, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia.
You can find out more about the Black Voters Matter Fund by going here.
These are three recent views of the same wall in Pigeon Point:
Katie sent the photos, explaining:
My neighbors and I have been painting and maintaining a Black Lives Matter mural on our property at the corner of SW Andover and 23rd Ave in Pigeon Point that has been defaced 3 times in the past month. I saw that West Seattle Blog has covered this type of vandalism at other locations in West Seattle, so I wanted to add our experience to the record. We are setting up surveillance measures and will continue to restore the mural after each vandalism attempt, but I just wanted to let our community know that this is a consistent and seemingly widespread problem in West Seattle.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“The need for T-5 is as relevant as ever,” Port Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck declared while presenting the annual “State of the Port” speech to the Chamber – usually given at an outdoor lunch at Jack Block Park, but presented online this year due to COVID-19.
The PPNC also met online. T-5’s project manager Emma Del Vento told the group that the project’s first-phase construction schedule is running behind.
Before the school year ended Friday, one more farewell “paade” – this time, at Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point.
Thanks to administration secretary Barb Mote for sharing the photos!
One Pathfinder year-end tradition is yet to come – retired PE teacher Lou Cutler‘s annual Make-A-Wish fundraiser. While he and the students weren’t able to run around the school track as usual – one lap for every year of his age (69 this year!) – Lou plans a fundraising walk in West Seattle next week – more on that later this weekend.
Just south of the now-empty West Seattle high bridge sits Pigeon Point. That’s where, this morning, dozens of Pigeon Pointers of all ages showed up for a neighborhood march to affirm that Black Lives Matter.
As reported here on Friday, this is also a response to the defacing and removal of a support banner that had been hung in the neighborhood.
P.S. This was the first of two West Seattle events announced for today – the next is at 2 pm at High Point Community Center, with an announced plan to march to Delridge Community Center.
4:32 PM: That photo was sent by Christine on Pigeon Point, who first emailed us this morning to report, “Someone in our neighborhood keeps defacing the BLM sign that was hung on the Andover stairs. I realize the stairs are maintained by the city but the sign was put up as a show of support for people of color in our community. There are mixed families in this neighborhood.” Most recently, she said, someone tried to erase the word “Black” from the banner by covering it with a cloth patch lettered “All.” And after she emailed us this morning, she emailed again to add, “The sign was just torn down by a man, according to another neighbor.” We checked on our way back from the Junction demonstration; nothing left behind but faded chalk lettering that also declares, Black Lives Matter.
8:30 PM: Update from Christine: “We are working on a permanent sign solution. In the meantime, a march is planned in the neighborhood at 11 am on Sunday beginning at 20th and Charlestown. Neighbors are donating to BLM organizations and causes for every time the sign is defaced or stolen. Some companies are matching donations so it’s adding up.”
While SDOT decides whether/how to replace the closed-since-March West Seattle Bridge, it’s also working on how to move people off/onto the peninsula in the meantime. Last night’s Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council meeting revealed that effort now has a name.
“Reconnect West Seattle” debuted as PPNC got a bridge briefing from SDOT’s project leader Heather Marx (who repeated her commitment to brief anyone any time anywhere). Some of it recapped what’s been reported to date:
Marx noted again that the big decision – is the bridge fixable or not? – is getting closer. But in the meantime, with the “stay-home order” over and gradual “reopening” under way, it’s time to shine the spotlight on traffic “mitigation.” So that’s where “Reconnect West Seattle” comes in, both as a peninsula-wide plan “with ambitious mode-split targets” and as a collection of neighborhood-specific strategies – which, as we’ve reported before, will focus on four areas:
“Community priorities are going to need to inform all those plans” – in other words, the prioritization process that we’ve also noted previously:
Your chance to weigh in should happen before long – here’s the timeline:
In subsequent discussion, Marx mentioned one other timeline point: We should hear by the end of the month about some changes in low-bridge access, as has been hinted.
Q&A: Are the cracks still growing? Yes, but “the bridge is not in imminent risk of failure.” That said, it’s not stable enough to, for example, carry emergency traffic. (Yes, vehicles are on it – the SDOT crews doing work such as inspections.)
Is the low bridge compromised? No – the recent closures were to repair and upgrade its communication technology, not for mechanical/structural problems.
Is SDOT going to take a serious look at the “immersed-tube tunnel” proposal? Yes, said Marx, the tunnel idea is “very much in play,” and n fact the Request for Qualifications for a potential bridge-replacement design team has been amended to reflect that. “We will absolutely investigate the tunnel as an option.”
So what’s next?
West Marginal Way improvements will largely be for freight, she said. The signal work is to continue expanding what can be adjusted in real time, remotely, from SDOT HQ. And the two advisory groups are beginning their work – the Technical Advisory Panel has its first meeting today, and the Community Task Force has its first meeting tomorrow.
(PPNC also got an update on Terminal 5, with Port of Seattle reps – we’ll write that up separately.)
Thanks to Jack for tweeting the photo. The 19th SW/SW Charlestown stairway (map) is taped off after an overnight crash. We heard a collision call there in the very early morning hours but no details; Pigeon Point resident Pete tells us the driver “missed the dead-end sgns and headed down the stairs toward Marginal Way; police had to have a tow truck pull it back up the stairs.” It’s been reported to SDOT for repairs.