West Seattle, Washington
At Pathfinder K-8 on Pigeon Point, Laps With Lou 2022 is on! For almost two decades, now-retired PE teacher Lou Cutler has raised money for Make-A-Wish by doing a lap for every year of the age he’ll be when his birthday arrives later in June. Students join him throughout the day. This morning, before taking to the field, Lou spoke to the school via the PA system:
This year he’ll be turning 71, so he plans that many laps – plus one for a bonus, to bring the total distance to 12 miles. Students have been going out to the field in groups, starting with photos.
Lou’s been a Make-A-Wish volunteer even longer than he’s been leading this annual fundraiser – for more than a quarter-century!. You can support his quest to grant more wishes by donating here.
ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: He did it again! Thanks to the Pathfinder parent who sent photos from the end of today’s laps:
For almost two decades, Lou Cutler has raised money to help grant kids’ wishes via a unique birthday-celebration run at Pathfinder K-8, where he taught PE before retiring. Most years, it was a giant group run throughout the day, with students joining Lou as he took one lap around the school field for every year he was celebrating. Then came the pandemic; in 2020, schools were closed, so Lou did a “lap” around the peninsula instead; last year, students joined him in small groups over two days. This year, when Lou takes to the Pathfinder field on Friday (June 3rd) in celebration of his upcoming 71st birthday, it’ll be a little more like the events of years past. He explained to us via email:
This year, rather having me communicating with everyone with a megaphone on the field, I will address the school from the office at 9:00 and then grade bands will come out in staggered time frames every 15 minute or so and I will take pictures with each class before they go on the field. All classes will stay out until the entire school is on the field at the same time and I believe everyone will stay on the field for 15 minutes or so and from that point some classes may go in while those who want to see how many laps they can run, will stay out and run to their heart’s content.
Make-A-Wish alumni are invited to join in the festivities, as are MAW staff and volunteers and Pathfinder parents, so I hope we have a tremendous turnout for the day.
As for me, I will be 71 on June 25th, so this year I will walk and run, though mostly walk, 71 laps, 11.8 miles, and add on a bonus lap to make it a full 12 miles because I love round numbers.
Over the previous 18 years we have raised $86,000 for MAW and as always, my hope is that we can raise as much money as possible, as I have seen the power of a wish in the boosting of spirits and hopes for wish kids and families over my 26+ years as a MAW volunteer!
You can support Lou’s Make-A-Wish quest by donating here.
Thanks to the parents who let us know about Pathfinder K-8 students’ walkout/demonstration today. Students left the Pigeon Point campus around 11:30 am and walked to the pedestrian/bicycle overpass at Delridge/Oregon for sign-waving.
The banner in the foreground was the work of someone else (we saw it there a few hours earlier) but gun violence is one of the two issues about which the Pathfinder students were demonstrating, along with reproductive rights:
This was one of many walkouts across the country today.
… a new reminder of where you are, when you’re at 21st/Andover. The photo was sent by longtime Pigeon Point community advocate Pete Spalding. It’s just uphill from where Pigeon Point has sported many signs over the years, like the one in this story.
Pathfinder K-8 Welcomes Everybody to the Great Return community event on May 21st from 3-8 pm at Pathfinder K-8!
When: 5/21 3-8 pm
Where: Pathfinder K-8, 1901 SW Genesee
What: Free fun! Silent auction, music, games, food & open play
Who: Open to all! Pathfinder & West Seattle community
Goal is to raise $45K through a Direct Give Ask approach with complimentary fun! Live music, entertainment, excellent auction gifts, games & fun!
Donation not required, but if you choose to, you can do it online any time between now and Saturday, even funding specific programs.
Another stolen car to look for – this one belongs to Nate:
I wanted to get the word out that my beloved 1999 Honda CR-V was stolen from our driveway in Pigeon Point at 5:55 this morning. The license plate is 487-KCX and it has a UW and University of Oregon sticker on the upper right corner of the back window, and a green King County Search and Rescue sticker in the upper left corner of the back window. It also has a black Yakima roof rack and an aftermarket spare-tire cover. The suspects pulled up in 2 vehicles, one silver SUV and what appears to be a green sedan. (5:55 am image:)
Please contact Nate at 425-638-2326 if found.
SUNDAY MORNING: Nate emailed to say his car’s been found, in Highland Park.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Tonight, the Community Advisory Group for Sound Transit‘s West Seattle extension meets online for a “deep dive” into the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which is up for public comment until April 28th.
Last night, another neighborhood group met with ST to get answers to questions about the DEIS, which analyzes the proposed routing and station-location alternatives that are under consideration. The Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council has a unique perspective – to get across the Duwamish River and to a North Delridge station, the line may have to cut into the north end of their neighborhood. Just south of where, for example – as discussed in informal pre-meeting chatter – a dozen or more Great Blue Herons are back in their nests.
PPNC’s Pete Spalding – who’s also a member of the Community Advisory Group – facilitated. In introductions at the start of the meeting, some attendees mentioned having received the “we might need your property” letters from ST; others had not.
The meeting began with a project recap from ST’s West Seattle point person Jason Hampton, as had other meetings. We’ve covered it before – and the presenter was asked to cut the generic stuff short anyway – so we’ll focus this report mostly on unique Q&A. Of most interest to this group were the three studied alternatives for getting light rail across the river via a new bridge – either south of the existing motorized-vehicle bridge, or north of it.
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? email@example.com – 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.”