West Seattle, Washington
Thanks for the tips about the fencing that’s up at Madison Middle School. Construction mobilization is under way for the building addition that will be built over the next year. The school will stay open while it’s being built, but Seattle Public Schools says half the playfield will be off-limits.
The 2-story, 8-classroom, 12,500-square-foot project on the north side of the Madison campus will cost $10 million, funded by a state Distressed Schools Grant. The architects are Studio Meng Strazzara. The contractor is Forma Construction.
The addition is scheduled to be ready for occupancy at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. If you’re wondering about the other big project at Madison – athletic-field renovation with turf and lighting – that’s not happening until next year.
Lots of questions this morning about all the activity at the former Roxhill Elementary campus (29th/Roxbury) – it’s certainly eye-catching if you pass by, as we just did on our way to and from an unrelated event. We stopped for a few photos.
Back when Seattle Public Schools was drawing up the plan for the BEX V levy, there was talk of rebuilding on this site, since the old Roxhill building is so rundown – but it didn’t make the cut. However, the BEX IV levy passed by voters in 2013 did provide money for seismic (earthquake-safety) improvements here.
According to SPS, the work being done this summer will: “Lower the chimney [height], improve shear wall capacity in classrooms, (and) improve roof-to-wall connections in gymnasium, auditorium, and covered play area.” The chimney was the focus of work when we stopped by.
The contractor is MJ Takisaki, which has a contract for just under half a million dollars; the work is scheduled to be complete before the new school year begins in September. Previous seismic work on the 63-year-old building dates back to 2002, according to SPS. Though the Roxhill Elementary program moved to the former EC Hughes campus three years ago, the old Roxhill is not idle – it is home to programs including special education and part of the alternative high school Interagency.
SIDE NOTE: This is just one of several projects happening at local SPS campuses this summer.
If your family includes a baby and/or toddler, the South Seattle College Preschools in West Seattle would love to meet you – virtually – this Wednesday! Here’s the invitation:
SSC Cooperative Preschool and Parent Education Program invites you to learn more about preschool for your toddler and growing your own skills as a parent!
Do you have a little person in your life who will be under two as of 8/31/21? Come find out about our Infant (0-12 months) and Toddler (12-24 months) parent-child cooperative program! You’ll learn about the children’s program, the parent education & coaching component, hear from previous families, and have a chance to ask questions.
Choose from one of two sessions (9:30 or 10:30) for each age band by visiting our Eventbrite page here.
The co-op preschools are at five locations.
Tilden School is celebrating its “past, present, and future” next month and wants to get the invitation out ASAP. Here’s the invitation:
Alums from Tilden School are planning an event to celebrate the past, present, and future of Tilden. Whitney Tjerandsen (beloved director and “rock” for many years — she always said that she could teach a rock to read!) and 4 other beloved teachers/staff are retiring this year. And they are passing the baton to the new director, Sarah Shearer, who is busy getting ready for fall.
Tilden School Celebration
Sunday, August 29, 3-6 pm
Group photo and celebration presentation at 4:30
Hiawatha Park [2700 California SW] — Family-friendly event
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tilden is an independent K-5 school just north of The Junction.
Seattle Lutheran High School has new leadership. Here’s the announcement we received from the school:
Seattle Lutheran High School and Hope Lutheran School are excited to welcome Kristen Okabayashi in her new position as Principal of Schools. Okabayashi received the keys to the building Thursday and is excited about her new role.
“After months of planning and some behind the scenes work on special projects, I am excited to actually be working at the school with the amazing team already in place, from the\ talented faculty to the organized office staff,” said Okabayashi.
She is in her 12th year as principal at Hope Lutheran School and will continue to serve in that role with newly appointed assistant principal Jennifer Neafcy assisting at Hope Lutheran.
Okabayashi holds hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration (Accounting and Finance) from the University of Washington, a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from Seattle Pacific University, and a Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership (K-12) also from Seattle Pacific University.
Andie Merlino will continue the hard work she has been doing at SLHS as interim principal and will serve this next year as the part-time assistant principal. Merlino will directly oversee the teachers, curriculum and academics at SLHS, and looks forward to strengthening the overall educational programs over coming weeks and months. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Whitman College, a Master’s degree in Math Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Washington, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Seattle University and has worked in education for over 35 years as a math teacher and dean of students.
“I look forward to working more closely with Kristen next year. She and I have a very similar approach to education, and I value her leadership experience and dedication to the students, parents and staff. She’ll be a great addition to our community,” commented Merlino.
Okabayashi and Merlino are already working on finalizing the fall schedule, adding a few additional classes to the course catalog, hiring staff and planning for students to attend fully in-person in the fall. “Our staff is really looking forward to welcoming all our students back into the building and bringing back many of the activities, sports and clubs that make Seattle Lutheran a great school. Our school has a lot of room to grow and we look forward to opening our doors to more students and their families,” said Okabayashi.
This coincides with the start of an agreement announced early this year for the two schools to be managed together.
On wheels and/or on foot, Class of 2021 graduates got to celebrate tonight at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) on Puget Ridge. School faculty and photo-op stops lined the southwest corner of campus.
SSC President Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap and Seattle Colleges District leadership were there for the photos and cheering.
SSC called this the “Unstoppable Graduation Celebration,” in honor of the perseverance this year’s nearly 500 graduates showed in finishing their programs and earning a degree or certificate despite the many life changes brought on by the pandemic.
South Seattle College’s announcement noted 487 awards this year, including:
313 associate transfer degrees that enable graduates to transfer to four-year colleges and universities in Washington and beyond to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
61 career training associate of science degrees and certificates that prepare graduates to enter the workforce immediately.
72 high-school diplomas or equivalents, allowing graduates to take a significant step toward future education and employment opportunities.
41 bachelor of applied science degrees, taking graduates’ careers to the next level and increasing their earning potential.
The school estimates about 150 of its new grads joined in tonight’s celebration.
Another West Seattle celebration today for a departing longtime principal – Gerrit Kischner, leaving Genesee Hill Elementary after 13 school years. After the last day of school, he was the guest of honor at a rooftop reception hosted by Kevin Broveleit of West Seattle Realty (WSB sponsor) atop Element 42, the Admiral building that’s home to WSR. Surrounded by Genesee Hill PTA leaders past and present, Kischner was presented with the plan for a tribute funded by community donations – a “buddy bench“:
Organizers hope the bench will be installed at the school by fall. Kischner will be well into his new role as principal of Thornton Creek Elementary by then.
He told those gathered this afternoon that it had been a “huge honor and privilege” to watch their kids grow. Before opening the newly built Genesee Hill in 2016, the school was Schmitz Park Elementary, and members of the Schmitz family were at today’s celebration to join in the tribute:
Dietrich Schmitz and Vicki Schmitz Block recalled the first-day-of-school flag ceremonies at the old school (which will be in use as an elementary school next year as temporary home to West Seattle Elementary, while its High Point building is expanded). Meantime, at Genesee Hill, assistant principal Liz Dunn has been chosen as Kischner’s successor.
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.
5:55 PM: An investigation is under way after a Gatewood Elementary student reportedly encountered an intruder in a school bathroom. The child was not harmed, their parent tells us. Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Tim Robinson says the intruder, described as a man, was gone by the time school-security and police officers arrived. There’s no further information yet about how he got into the school.
ADDED 9:28 AM THURSDAY: Thanks to the parents who have just forwarded the letter sent to families this morning by principal Kyna Hogg:
I want to make you all aware of a situation that happened yesterday at Gatewood’s campus.
Yesterday, a person who is not a part of the Gatewood school community came onto our campus. Our Custodial Engineer saw the person in the bathroom, asked them to leave, and they complied. I reported the incident to Seattle Public Schools Safety and Security and – out of an abundance of caution – also to the Police, both of whom came to campus to ensure the area was cleared and safe. Seattle Public Schools’ Safety and Security will be on campus for our last two days of school (today and tomorrow) as an added safety precaution.
You might have seen in the West Seattle Blog a report that a child encountered this person; I want to clarify that this information is not correct. Gatewood Elementary School does not currently serve any students in-person on Wednesday, and none of the students that are a part of the privately run childcare on campus encountered the person, either.
10 AM: The district has since forwarded us this letter as well. We have a message out to the original person who contacted us yesterday as mentioned above, but have not received a reply.
On this final week of school, another West Seattle school is getting ready to say goodbye to its longtime principal, and planning a tribute. The Genesee Hill Elementary PTA is inviting community participation beynd current students/families. Here’s their message:
As announced in April of this year, our longtime Principal and friend Gerrit Kischner will be stepping down as the Principal of Genesee Hill Elementary. The current Assistant Principal, Liz Dunn, will replace Gerrit starting in the fall of 2021, keeping Genesee Hill and our community in very good hands.
Gerrit has been a tireless leader and advocate for our children and schools since his arrival at Schmitz Park in 2008. To celebrate and honor Gerrit’s many contributions to our West Seattle community, a group of current and former PTA leaders and other community members are organizing a fundraiser and commemorative gift for Gerrit.
The PTA volunteers involved in this effort are finalizing the exact gift to honor Gerrit, but we anticipate it will be a visual reminder of his years of work to support our children and our community that will be located on our around the Genesee Hill Elementary grounds. Wouldn’t it be lovely to sit with your child and reflect upon their years in elementary school on a peaceful bench? It’s just one of a few ideas we have, and we’ll update everyone on our progress.
Your child’s classroom may be organizing a gift or other activity to honor Gerrit, and you are welcome and encouraged to support those efforts. The PTA leaders and other volunteers have come together to celebrate Gerrit on behalf of our entire West Seattle community.
Our fundraising goal for this effort is $5,000, which will fund this commemorative gift and support the work of the Genesee Hill PTA.
Any unspent donations will go to benefit the current and future students at Genesee Hill. The past year has been very challenging for our children and the Genesee Hill Elementary community, and your gift in honor of Gerrit’s contributions and your support of our PTA are appreciated.
Please use this link to make an online contribution to our gift to Gerrit Kischner.
It’s the last week of school, and the Alki Elementary PTA is finishing the year with one final fundraiser in partnership with more than two dozen local businesses:
ALKI LOVES LOCAL marks Alki Elementary PTA’s final and MOST EXCITING community-building fundraising effort for the 20/21 school year!
We are proud to partner with 25 incredible small businesses to bring you our very own community coupon book! Each ALKI LOVES LOCAL coupon book includes coupons for West Seattle local businesses as well as a Pike Place Market Mini Book.
This next time period is a time of recovery for our local business community. Alki Elementary has put together a community coupon book to encourage families to get out and shop local as we begin to reengage in-person and continue to support our local businesses as they rebuild. Coupon Books are available for purchase until June 17th
The books include 32 offers, plus two tickets for a bonus prize drawing. You can see the list of participating businesses, and prizes, at the same site you can buy your coupon book(s) – go here.
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!
Along with saying goodbye to the Class of 2021, West Seattle High School is also saying goodbye to its longrunning roof project. Seattle Public Schools says the two-year project is concluding this month. And it’s more than repair and replacement – it includes a bit of historical restoration too. The photos and explanation are from the district announcement:
As part of the project, the school is once again crowned by a spire atop the main cupola. The historic spire was installed when the school was constructed in 1918 but disappeared sometime after a roof repair project in the 1980s.
The Stemper Architecture website shows how the new spire was designed, made, and installed.
The district replaced part of the clay tile roof on the school’s 1918 wing, an official city landmark, in 2017. That work, the district says, “identified further issues with the landmark clay tile roof and the need to replace the existing thermal polyolefin roofing system as it had reached the end of its service life.” The resulting work also included sections of seam metal roofing over other parts of the school. This photo shows the multiple roofing types:
Plus, the district says, its project “addressed some deficiencies in the school’s design, including leaking concrete masonry walls covered with a new wall panel system, and a leaking seismic expansion joint which was replaced with a waterproof, continuous seismic expansion joint system.” Read more about the work on the SPS website.
The fourth and final commencement ceremony for the four high schools in West Seattle was a double farewell. Tonight at Memorial Stadium downtown, Chief Sealth International High School said goodbye not only to its 249 2021 graduates, but also to principal Aida Fraser-Hammer, who’s retiring after 8 years at CSIHS.
“I’m graduating with you,” she declared, while saluting a long list of individual grads and groups for achievements including academics – 68 National Honor Society members and 27 International Baccalaureate diploma recipients – and athletics, music, languages, even cooking. She praised programs and classes from Proyecto Saber and šəqačib to Mock Trial. The student speaker was Khalia Tenari:
She noted the historic events the class had experienced – not just “the two-week break that turned into a year” – but also the fight for racial and gender equity, and more. “Who would have thought our lives would turn into a rollercoaster of historic moments?” On a more personal note, she urged all her classmates to keep a strong sense of self-worth, to “know that the world would be a little dimmer without you in it.” And there were heartfelt words from the staff speaker, teacher Gentle Tassione:
She spoke of a big life change after 16 years teaching at a school in a town where she’d long lived. “Say yes – say yes to change, say yes to something new. … Ask yourself the question, ‘What do I really want?’ … Whatever you love, keep saying it out loud … and when those doors fly open for you, go through them.”
Their departing principal affirmed hope for their future; “We are Seahawks, we are made to soar high.”\
That customized cap said it all at the West Seattle High School Class of 2021‘s commencement ceremony, this morning at Memorial Stadium downtown. The distanced seating on the field was another reminder of everything that’s happened as the pandemic raged in both their junior and senior years:
But while there was a moment of silence for COVID-19 victims, and other ceremony modifications – no music except for recordings of the National and Black National Anthems – the mood was as joyful as a graduation should be – listen to the cheers during the opening processional:
This was the ceremony that almost didn’t happen – earlier in the year, the district was leaning toward a second year of virtual graduations – but that drew a community outcry. Among the leaders of the campaign for in-person graduates, WSHS’s student-body president Ella Richardson, who spoke at today’s ceremony:
She noted that this was the first time she was able to address her classmates, and also said their WSHS years were about much more than the pandemic. They took action on many issues. And she expressed gratitude to the “small army” who got the 279-strong class to this point: “Support is a mystical and beautiful thing.” Among those who provided it, teacher Tom Burggraff, chosen by the students as the ceremony’s staff speaker:
He also had words of thanks, humorously expressing appreciation for the students who helped him through technology issues, and told the class he had an acronym for them – STUDs – “strive, think, understand, do.” The ceremony lasted just under an hour, with the traditional cap toss near its end:
Another memorable moment – principal Brian Vance led the grads, staff, and families in a “spelldown,” first of the year since they hadn’t been together for all-class gatherings – “W-E-S-T-S-I-D-E.”
West Seattle’s second 2021 graduation filled the gym at Seattle Lutheran High School last night. The Saints’ Class of ’21 numbered 27.
Student speakers included valedictorian Tad Eisenberg, above, and salutatorian Carsen Broga, below:
Also speaking, class president Melina Menashe, seen below accepting an award from Denis Shapiro of the Kiwanis Club of West Seattle:
One major theme at this and other 2021 graduations … making up for time lost to the pandemic. P.S. The ceremony was livestreamed and you can see the archived video here.
The first of this week’s four graduation ceremonies for West Seattle high schools happened last night in the Brockey Center at South Seattle College.
In our video are the first-ever high-school graduates from Summit Atlas, West Seattle’s first and only charter school, which opened four years ago and has been adding grades each year until reaching a full complement of 6th through 12th grade classes this year. The “founders’ class” numbered 33 graduates. Five Class of 2021 students spoke – Zahria Perry, Zakariya Osman, Esther Mumbi, Anishta Rojini Kathireson, and Jackson Alvis, with whom we spoke before the ceremony:
Jackson is one of the 30 grads that the school says are headed for college. The ceremony also featured keynote speaker Toyia T. Taylor, the award-winning educator/advocate who chaired the 2020 Seattle Children’s March.
Teachers and staffers spoke too, including the high school’s executive director Dan Effland. Along with diplomas, the graduates received parting mementos such as a founders-class commemorative painting of orcas (the school’s mascot):
This milestone for the school comes 6 1/2 years after we broke the news that a charter school was taking over what had been a church and former supermarket at 35th/Roxbury. Summit Atlas opened in fall of 2017 as the second of California-based Summit‘s two Seattle schools.
The boys’ soccer teams at Chief Sealth International High School and West Seattle High School have both done well this pandemic-abbreviated season. So a lot was on the line in their rematch at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex today, one week after Sealth defeated West Seattle 3-2. But today – the Wildcats took the win, 1-0
Another note – as the last home game of the year for the Seahawks, this was Senior Night for Sealth.
(Both schools’ graduations are this Saturday, at Memorial Stadium downtown.)
Thanks to Laura James for the report and photo:
After dominating the Metro League for the past two months, the incredible Chief Sealth girls’ wrestling team put an exclamation point at the end of their season with a resounding team win at the Metro championship tournament last weekend! We also honored our awesome seniors from the girls’ and boys’ teams: Hazel Dahlquist, Mariajose Estrada, Michael Laudermilk, Erick Mejia, Owen Murray, María Pérez, Khalia Tenari, Renaeh Ureste, and Dominic Novito (who joined us this season from West Seattle High School).
Next up: the boys’ Metro tournament on Friday at Ingraham High School. Both teams are led by Head Coach Maurice Dolberry and Assistant Coaches Daron Camacho, Sergio Lopez, and Joey Richards.
A little more than a week left in the school year, and we have two notes about Lafayette Elementary:
DONUT FUNDRAISER: The PTA is again selling Krispy Kreme “Digital Dozens,” this week only, redeemable for a dozen original glazed donuts. The fundraising sale is all online, except the part where you pick up the donuts. Orders are being taken here through 5 pm next Tuesday (June 15th). The nearest Krispy Kreme is in SODO, but you also can get a Digital Dozen certificate for family/friends in other areas who might be fans.
SUMMERTIME PLAYDATES: Also from the Lafayette PTA:
WELCOME, KINDERGARTEN FAMILIES! Kindergarten Play Dates are a great way for families and their little lafayette leopards to-be to meet other little leopards joining our school community – come make new friends or re-connect with old ones. Mark your calendars, if you are around, join us for these PTA hosted play dates at the Hiawatha Community Center playground:
If you know a new incoming family, welcome them to our community and pass this information on!
(Got news from YOUR school? email@example.com – thank you!)
Two big events this week at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex (2801 SW Thistle): The Metro League track and field championships are planned at the stadium Wednesday and Friday afternoons/evenings (June 9th and 11th). 16 schools are scheduled to participate; the schedule for Wednesday’s events is here. (Thanks to meets announcer David Feinberg for the tip.)
As reported here last week, four West Seattle high schools have graduation ceremonies this week. Attendance is limited and general-public spectators won’t be accommodated, but you can watch three schools’ graduations live online:
FRIDAY: West Seattle’s only private high school, Seattle Lutheran HS, celebrates its grads with a ceremony on campus at 7:30 pm Friday (June 11th). It wil be streamed here via Vimeo (as will an Agape service at 7:30 Thursday night)
SATURDAY: West Seattle High School (11 am) and Chief Sealth International High School (5 pm) both have ceremonies at Memorial Stadium downtown on Saturday (June 12th). Seattle Public Schools is hosting most commencements there this year and says the stadium ceremonies will be livestreamed on the SPS YouTube channel.
Seattle Public Schools‘ last day of the year is June 18th, a week from Friday. The following Monday (June 21st), summer meal programs start up, and four sites are planned to operate in West Seattle, 11 am-1 pm Mondays through Fridays (except July 2nd and 5th):
Arbor Heights Elementary (3701 SW 104th)
Denny International Middle School (2601 SW Kenyon)
Highland Park Elementary (1012 SW Trenton)
Roxhill Elementary (7740 34th SW)
They’ll offer sack breakfasts and lunches, as well as reheatable meals, to all students/families – more info (and menus) can be found here.