West Seattle, Washington
Last week, signage and caution tape went up around a play structure at Alki Playground, one day after readers told us the structure had been fenced off without explanation. When we inquired with Seattle Parks , they said only that the closure followed a “recent play-area safety check.” On followup, they’ve offered a bit more of an explanation:
The safety inspection revealed a major structural issue with the wood decking. This play structure is long overdue for replacement. We plan to remove the wooden structure prior to this school year. We are working with Seattle Public Schools on a replacement plan.
The playground is a Seattle ParksAlki Elementary, which is scheduled close in one year for a reconstruction project.
When the addition that’s under construction at West Seattle Elementary in High Point was first planned, Seattle Public Schools said it would be built without having to temporarily relocate the school. Then that changed, and the district decided to relocate WSES for the 2021-2022 school year, to the former Schmitz Park Elementary campus in west Admiral. With less than a month to go until the 2022-2023 school year begins, we asked the district about the project’s status, and learned that WSES will now spend a second school year at Schmitz Park. District spokesperson Tina Christiansen says the project was delayed about three months by the concrete strike. It’s expected to be complete this winter, but the school won’t move back until the following fall, Christiansen says, because, “The school leadership decided the school community would be better served by waiting until fall to move in rather than moving mid-year.” Plus: “The added time is allowing for replacement of the glazing in the existing building, which wasn’t originally planned.” She says the WSES community has been aware of all this since spring but they hadn’t planned a wider community announcement until later this summer. The $28 million project will add 12 classrooms to WSES.
(Teachers Holly Bennett & Sarah Longino, photographed by Judy Pickens)
By Judy Pickens
Special to West Seattle Blog
Fauntleroy Church, United Church of Christ, has welcomed Hazelwood Preschool as a partner in its building.
As COVID shutdowns continued, the church reached the difficult decision in 2020 to close its Little Pilgrim School, which had served West Seattle families since 1952. Now Hazelwood will again fill the church’s lower level with the energy of young children.
“We had several programs consider our space,” said the Rev. Karyn Frazier, associate pastor. “Hazelwood offers the child-centered and inclusive values that matter to us.”
The school focuses on helping young children develop awareness of themselves, others, and the environment around them. Teachers have set up their classrooms with materials and activities that reflect the school’s welcome of every family’s make-up, culture, and economic status.
“As a non-profit preschool, we are committed to raising the funds necessary to enable us to offer scholarships to families in need,” said Executive Director Jessica Beckwith. “Our commitment to these families extends to offering them supportive resources until their kids finish high school.” She also plans to host free parenting classes for enrolled families and open them to the public on a donation basis.
Hazelwood is now enrolling children 2 years to first grade in five-day camps through the summer. Fall enrollment for ages 2 to 5 is also open, with the option of half or full days, three or five days per week. Details are at hazelwoodseattle.org.
Here’s plenty of advance notice for one volunteering opportunity coming up at a local school:
Have you been wondering how you can give back to the West Seattle community? Have you ever considered becoming a Roots of Empathy Instructor? Arbor Heights Elementary is in need of volunteers who are willing to train as Roots of Empathy Instructors in the coming school year. Applications are currently being accepted and training dates are scheduled for October 18-20, 2022.
What is Roots of Empathy? Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom program that fosters empathy in children, now entering its 15th year of partnership with elementary schools in the Seattle area. Arbor Heights has participated in Roots of Empathy since 2013 and they are looking for a few more people who are willing to give time to children and watch them evolve over the school year as they watch “their” baby grow.
Want to see what Roots of Empathy looks like? Click to view a recent BBC World Hacks feature on the Roots of Empathy program. You can learn more about what being an Instructor means here.
Please reach out to Suz Fix, local Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in joining Roots of Empathy in changing the world, child by child.
If your family will have a kindergartener starting school this fall, this might be of interest, as announced by Holy Rosary Catholic School (WSB sponsor) in The Junction:
Holy Rosary School has a few rare Kindergarten openings for the 2022/23 school year. If you are interested in igniting your student’s spirit and mind, please contact email@example.com for a tour.
• Students engaged by enthusiastic teachers with hand-on curricula designed to spark creativity and encourage critical thinking.
• 8:30 am – 3:00 pm school day for K-8th grade
• Before & After School Care available
• STEM+ program
• 2 classes per grade
• Kindergarteners have 8th grade buddies
• MAPS testing – RIT scores are consistently higher than local & national averages for Catholic & non-Catholic schools
The Seattle Colleges commencement ceremony last night at T-Mobile Park celebrated 3,200 graduates from around the system, including 878 who earned a degree or certificate from South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) – here’s how that breaks down, according to SSC:
*397 graduates earned associate transfer degrees that enable them to transfer to four-year colleges and universities in Washington and beyond to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
*337 graduates earned career training associate of science degrees and certificates that prepare them to enter the workforce immediately.
*100 graduates earned high school diplomas or equivalents, allowing them to take a significant step toward future education and employment opportunities.
*44 graduates earned bachelors of applied science degrees, taking their careers to the next level and increasing their earning potential.
“To the South Seattle College graduating class of 2022 and all of our graduates across Seattle Colleges, you are simply amazing,” SSC president Dr. Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap, is quoted as saying at the ceremony. “When I think back over the past two plus years and all of the challenges you have tackled to reach this historic milestone … challenges in the classroom (or learning remotely from home), in your personal and work lives, in our society at large, so many things – big and small – that tried to tear you away from your goal. Well, you never lost that focus, and you have made clear to everyone in this stadium, in this world, that astounding resiliency and determination are at your very core.” Summer quarter begins at SSC on Monday (June 27th).
(WSB file photo)
Friday was the last day of school for most local students who weren’t already out for summer – and for some educators, it was the last day of their classroom career. Among them: Craig Parsley, a founding teacher at Louisa Boren STEM K-8, who spent the past 10 school years there – from its start – after a long run at Schmitz Park Elementary. He sent us this announcement:
(Friday), I retired from Louisa Boren STEM K-8. It was a good run and I really appreciate our West Seattle Community’s support of STEM education.
Many parents have asked what is next for Mr. Parsley.
I plan on supporting STEM Schools in Seattle and across the state in developing Project-Based Learning Programs that are cost effective and Standards-Based. If my time at Louisa Boren STEM K-8 has taught me one thing, it’s that STEM education is not merely a pedagogical decision, it’s a investment in our country’s future. I want our education decision-makers to know that STEM is not a financial burden…it’s a commitment to inspiring innovation, craft, invention, and optimism.
I’m very proud of all the engineers, architects, astrophysicists, bioengineers, civil and electrical engineers our program has inspired, some entering college and a few soon to graduate from these programs. Perhaps, we really did make a difference.
Last year we reported on an award given to Parsley for what the STEM PTA described as his “life-changing” work.
You can’t change the past. But you can certainly try to right its wrongs, to work for a better future.
That’s the idea behind the West Seattle Public School Equity Fund, founded by (L-R above) Andrea Dimond, Kristen Corning Bedford, and Shannon Woodard. We talked with them last night at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, during a celebration of the WSPSEF’s first year.
For starters, it’s about “fundshifting” – equitably distributing community contributions so that the richer schools don’t keep getting richer while the not-so-well-off schools keep scraping.
Where the past comes in is what the founders discovered when they examined the area’s “redlining” map from the 1930s (see it here) – what are now Title I schools, with the highest percentage of students from low-income families, are in the “redlined” areas. So the historical inequities continue self-perpetuating. The WSPSEF founders hope to disrupt that, in the interest of weaving together all of West Seattle’s neighborhoods and school communities, to support the entire peninsula as one community.
During this school year – with classes ending today – they’ve already raised $20,000, and will be “fundshifting” that to five elementary schools – Concord International, Highland Park, Roxhill, Sanislo, and West Seattle.
For year two and beyond, they hope to get more participation, and also to broaden the scope beyond money. The initial collaborations, they say, have already started to break down the silos of individual schools’ support communities, to discover synergies and shared challenges. In all, they want to “advocate for all students” in West Seattle.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED: If you’re a member of a West Seattle elementary or K-8 school community that’s not already involved with the WSPSEF, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or talk with your school PTA/PTSA. If you would simply like to donate, you can send a check to the West Seattle Public School Equity Fund via its fiscal sponsor, DNDA (4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle 98106).
One more honor for the West Seattle High School baseball team, which finished the year as #4 in the state and champions of the Metro League. One of WSHS’s highest-profile alums, King County Executive Dow Constantine, has declared tomorrow “West Seattle High School Baseball Day.”
See the full proclamation here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Early design concepts for “the new Alki” (Elementary) made their public debut at an online community meeting last night.
The school is being rebuilt with $67 million from the 2019 BEX V levy; the existing gymnasium and adjacent community center will remain. Construction is expected to start in about a year and will last two years.
The meeting began with greetings from Seattle Public Schools‘ project manager Brian Fabella, a West Seattle resident, and Mason Skeffington, Alki Elementary’s principal, who acknowledged the School Design Advisory Team‘s work in the planning process over recent months. Architects from Mahlum also were there, as was a rep from Cornerstone General Contractors, the Bothell-based firm that will build the school.
Back on Monday, we published information that West Seattle High School‘s athletics program wanted to be sure students have before school ends – including summer dates for registration, tryouts, and practices. Today we have the same info for Chief Sealth International High School students planning on fall-sports participation – see it here. This is for those planning to participate in cross country, golf, football, slow-pitch softball, volleyball, and/or girls soccer and swimming/diving.
The last week of school closes the book in many ways. Among them: Educators’ retirements. Michelle Green Arnson sent this word of a momentous departure from the Gatewood Elementary community:
As this school year comes to a close, beloved kindergarten teacher Nancy Carney will be retiring after 32 years at Gatewood Elementary. Mrs. Carney is a true institution, having worked with five different principals, three decades’ of colleagues, and countless young students. Her warmth and enthusiasm has made her classroom a welcoming space for learning and growth for so many children, while her boundless energy and seemingly limitless patience has astonished and inspired a new crop of parents every year. Mrs. Carney will be missed more than she can know!
If you would like to join Room 4 and the broader Gatewood community in wishing Mrs. Carney a very happy retirement, you can post messages, memories, and photos here: kudoboard.com/boards/4Mr9nfx4
The class motto for West Seattle High School‘s newest grads was “We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust our sails.” Fitting, then, that their ceremony happened on a breezy night at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex. Even principal Brian Vance noted the “June-uary” weather. But the joy of the night kept the shivers at bay, for spectators as well as grads:
ASB president Samuel Lewis spoke of the “unusual journey” he and his classmates had taken, particularly through the pandemic years, which brought “intentional and accidental” growth:
Staff speaker Kim Depew told her graduating students that she “got an education from YOU,” while marveling at their kindness and tenacity, and voicing confidence that their generation’s promise means “things are going to be all right”:
Exemplifying that hope, Cosmo Davis‘s “lessons of life” speech included his exhortation for classmates that “we have to fight to improve things … “we’re the future, not the adults; we need to start changing the world”:
The 250-plus graduates will do that in different places and different ways:
Some might even do it through music – this jazz performance was a highlight:
It was a summer-themed song, but the grads had a few last tasks before the first summer of the rest of their lives could begin. After their principal offered a few words of advice – including “perseverance” and “fail forward” – School Board director Leslie Harris declared “You are graduates!”
“Class of 2022, you made it!” That’s how Chief Sealth International High School principal Ray Morales greeted his first graduating class tonight at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex. He acknowledged what the 230+ seniors had experienced, with the pandemic dominating more than half their time in high school. But no one dwelled on that. Student speaker Joselyn Panganiban quoted the school’s namesake, Chief Seattle: “Take nothing but memories and leave nothing but footprints.”
Staff speaker Matthew Baudhuin speculated that students chose him for his “dad jokes” – and told a few – while also sharing words of inspiration, advising the grads to “go forth and be awesome.”
This was the shortest of the night’s two ceremonies at NCSWAC, but it included unique elements, starting with a land acknowledgment followed by a Native song:
As the graduates walked up for their individual moments of acknowledgment, many of their caps told stories, in some cases what’s next for the grads:
And in some cases, words of wisdom:
Whatever was or wasn’t on them, many of those caps went toward the sky after the tassel turn led by Jessica Hong:
School Board director Leslie Harris, asked by principal Morales if she would accept the class, declared, “Indeed I do!” Morales, meantime, was congratulated on his first year by also-first-year Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones:
In less than an hour, the ceremony concluded, with proud family and friends ready to greet the grads:
As noted, it’s the last week of classes for most local students. If your household includes a West Seattle High School student who’s planning on sports involvement this fall, you need to know what’s happening before school starts, with registration, tryouts, and practices starting in August. Fall sports include golf for both girls and boys; cross-country for both girls and boys; soccer, swimming/diving, and volleyball for girls; and football for boys. All the info you need is in this document sent by WSHS athletic director Corey Sorenson.
Every graduation ceremony is a momentous occasion in the graduates’ personal histories. Last night’s Seattle Lutheran High School Class of 2022 graduation was also a historic occasion for the school – its 42nd graduation ceremony is its last. SLHS announced in April that the school – West Seattle’s only parochial high school – will close after this school year. Despite that, the ceremony was not a requiem; it was as celebratory as a graduation should be.
That’s Devin Christie, valedictorian and recipient of the Faculty Scholarship Award and Math Award. She observed in her speech that “our class has changed a lot, and the world has changed a lot.” Also speaking was salutatorian and Leadership Award winner Bella Nowicki, who sounded a humorous note in her speech, detailing how each of her 17 classmates might behave if faced with a zombie apocalypse.
She noted that the pandemic had posed challenges not unlike what that mythical event might bring. After speeches and awards, it was diploma time, with exuberance from some grads, including TaiAmari English:
As each of the 18 graduates was announced, their future plans were too. Most were going to college – one as far away as Hawaii – several as close as Western Washington University in Bellingham and South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) here in West Seattle. Two are joining the U.S. Marine Corps.
One of those few allusions to the school’s impending closure came in the closing prayer from Oskar Schoening of the SLHS Student Council, giving thanks for 44 years:
West Seattle has two more graduation ceremonies ahead – Monday night, the commencement ceremonies for both Chief Sealth IHS (5 pm) and West Seattle HS (8 pm) are scheduled at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex. (Our coverage of the Summit Atlas graduation is here.)
West Seattle’s only charter school, Summit Atlas in Arbor Heights, has graduated its second class of 12th-graders. A ceremony last night at South Seattle College‘s Brockey Center celebrated the 33 members of the Summit Atlas Class of 2022. Student speakers included Maka Yusuf, Steisy Leon, and Wilder Roff:
The class’s mentors, Sr. Perez and Ms. Smith, presented diplomas:
And Grupo Folklorico Citlali, featuring Class of 2022 member Angelina Gonzalez, performed:
Summit Atlas’s high-school executive director is Dan Effland:
Outside Madison Middle School, it’ll be a temporary donut shop for a while tomorrow – the Madison PTSA is again selling Krispy Kreme donuts as a fundraiser. They’ll be sold by the dozen between 8:15 am and 9 am, and again 3:45 pm-4:30 pm on Friday (June 10th), $15/dozen, cash preferred. The school is at 3429 45th SW.
The report and photos are from Chief Sealth International High School athletic director Coach Ernest Policarpio:
Every Seattle Public School each year nominates 6 Seniors for their hard work in the classroom and on the athletic field! Congratulations to our 2022 Metro Senior Scholar Athlete Award Winners! It’s a Great day to be a SEAHAWK!!!
Award-winners from Left to right in Group Picture above [with CSIHS principal Ray Morales]:
Sophia Hyde, Volleyball, Basketball, and Track
Taien Jackson, Basketball
Jerome Schroeder, Soccer
Ethan Heathershaw, Football, Ultimate Frisbee, and Wrestling
Natalia Tabile, Slowpitch, Volleyball, and Fastpitch
In photo below:
Clarissa Morninggun, Slowpitch, Basketball, Fastpitch
It’s time for the Class of 2022 to say goodbye to high school. Here are the ceremonies scheduled over the next week in West Seattle:
SEATTLE LUTHERAN HS: This shuttering school’s last-ever graduating class will get their sendoff in the SLHS gym at 7:30 pm Friday (June 10th).
CHIEF SEALTH INTERNATIONAL HS: 5 pm Monday (June 13th) at Nino Cantu Southwest Athletic Complex.
WEST SEATTLE HS: 8 pm Monday, also at NCSWAC.
With a big turnout at the most-recent local COVID-vaccination pop-up clinic for Seattle Public Schools students, families, and staff, two more have been scheduled this month: 3-6 pm Wednesday, June 15th, at the Louisa Boren STEM K-8 gym (5950 Delridge Way SW), with preregistration available here, and 10 am-1 pm Saturday, June 18th, in the Madison Middle School commons (3429 45th SW), preregistration available here. Safeway Pharmacy is the medical provider for both clinics, at which both boosters and initial-series shots will be available.
Summer adventure is ahead for 40 West Seattle High School students, as part of a district-leading program – here’s the announcement:
We have the excellent news to announce that more students than ever from West Seattle High School will be studying abroad this summer. We are the top school in the district and one of the top schools in the nation with CIEE! This summer, 40 students from WSHS will be departing the country for 3-4 weeks to study abroad as part of the CIEE Global Navigator Program. They will be studying a wide variety of subjects during their experience, including language, environmental science, arts, business, leadership, and international relations. Students will be traveling to 11 different countries including Mexico, Spain, France, Costa Rica, Argentina, Portugal, UK, Ireland, Morocco, Dominican Republic, and the Netherlands. This year, students earned over $66,000 in scholarships toward their journeys. This program is coordinated by French teacher Meghan Schumacher.
For most of last night’s school concert at Louisa Boren STEM K-8, the program went along fairly traditional lines. Elementary instrumental-music students began the night:
Introductory Band followed:
The Intermediate Band‘s part of the program included Ukraine’s anthem:
But the closing act turned the tables. For most of the night, parents had comprised the audience, proudly cheering on the students. Then suddenly – parents took the stage!
The tipster told us, “The band teacher, Mx. Sonja Borsman, put this together with 2 rehearsals. As far as we know, this is not a common thing. Several of the parents have been or are currently in bands, and others haven’t played since they were in high school.” Here’s what they called themselves:
This was kept as a total surprise up till showtime.