Schools’ foreign language classes face challenges

August 23, 2011

On almost an annual basis, Tammy Haldeman has had to teach two levels of Japanese language students during the same class period at Skyline High School.

Last school year, she had to pick between teaching a split class of 44 students or make two separate periods out of it. She kept the group together and taught two levels of Japanese, she said, because one class would not be large enough to warrant creating another class period.

She is able to make do, and it ends up working out all right, she said, but the students in those classes lose out on the closer attention they might otherwise receive in a typical language class with one level.

“You’re more like a facilitator of their learning with that,” Haldeman said. “You have to have highly motivated kids in those classes.”

Haldeman’s situation isn’t unique. Teachers and school administrators have to use the resources available. But due to nonexistent class-size-reduction funding and teacher shortages in some languages, foreign language programs in the Issaquah School District are facing similar challenges to arts and other elective programs.

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Past bond ushers in school renovation projects

August 23, 2011

In February 2006, Issaquah School District voters approved a $241.8 million bond issue to fund new construction and renovations around the district.

Maywood Middle School is being expanded and modernized. sky-pix aerial photography

The schools are following the plan laid out to voters with one exception, according to information on the district website.

In early 2007, the district acted to redirect construction dollars originally earmarked to fund construction of a new middle school, the district’s fifth. Because of changed enrollment and other factors, officials decided, rather than build a new school, they would convert the Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus into a full-blown middle school beginning in fall 2010. As a result, the Issaquah and Skyline high school campuses were revamped to include space for new freshmen.

Funded by that 2006 bond issue, here are some of the projects still under way in the district.

“The biggies are all down on the south end this year,” said Sara Niegowski, district executive director of communications.

• Planners slated Maywood Middle School in Renton for a modernization and expansion project. According to the latest construction update from the district this month, Maywood’s old administration/commons area and counseling offices are gone, with construction of replacement facilities under way. Demolition of the parking lots and sidewalks are nearing completion with rebuilding scheduled to have already started. Grading of new parking areas has begun.

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Julius Boehm Pool is closed for maintenance until Aug. 29

August 23, 2011

Find another spot for a summertime dip as the Julius Boehm Pool closes for maintenance.

The aging pool is due to remain closed until Aug. 29.

Swimmers and other pool users should check the municipal website, www.ci.issaquah.wa.us, for the most up-to-date closure and schedule information. Follow the link for “Departments” and “Parks & Recreation” for pool information.

The pool also closes Sept. 4-5 for Labor Day.

King County built the pool in 1972 under the Forward Thrust program — a series of bonds passed in 1968 and 1970 to fund parks, recreation facilities, roads and other infrastructure. The county transferred the pool to the city in 1994.

Prepare for Squak Mountain water shutdowns

August 23, 2011

Some Squak Mountain residents should prepare for water shutdowns soon as crews continue work on water mains.

The project affects about 15 residences along Greenwood Boulevard Southwest and Idylwood Drive Southwest. The shutdown along Idylwood Drive Southwest could occur from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 24, and the cut along Greenwood Boulevard Southwest could occur from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 29.

The city planned similar shutdowns along Ridgewood Place Southwest and Ridgewood Circle Southwest for about 20 homes Aug. 23.

Call the municipal Public Works Engineering Department at 837-3400 to learn more about the shutdowns and the water main project.

Gordo, canine mascot, fetches curious customers for shoe store

August 23, 2011

FootZone’s top sales associate is a 60-pound, 11-inch-tall and 11-inch-wide bulldog named Gordo.

Though he can’t find the perfect pair of running shoes or select the right Issaquah or Skyline high school threads like his fellow associates, he can (and does) bait customers into the store and charm them all the way to the cash register.

Kyle Cross, owner of the Issaquah FootZone, holds the store’s mascot, Gordo, an English bulldog. By Emily Baer

Kyle Cross, owner of FootZone since 1999 — and of 4-year-old Gordo — bought a bulldog puppy simply because he always wanted one. Little did he know that so does half of Issaquah.

“The breed is known for being incredibly friendly,” he said. “He’s got a lot of personality — people call all the time asking if he’s here.”

Cross, who is now known in his store as “Gordo’s dad,” said his pup is an excellent conversation piece. FootZone customers can’t help but give the sturdy bulldog a pat on the head and say something like, “Oh, he’s so cute. You have a nice underbite, don’t you?” as a woman in the store did a few weeks ago. By 3 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, he had already been the subject of three photos that day. And that’s typical, Cross said.

How does Gordo work his charisma, you ask? For starters, he’s naturally very social. As soon as he hears the door beep, he lumbers up to the entering customer for a good pat on the back. He may watch as the customer then gets fitted with shoes, or he may go lie down, albeit with one eye open to make sure he does not miss another incoming customer.

As the shopper makes his or her way over to the cash register, Gordo slowly trots to the blue mat in front of the counter and nuzzles up to the customer’s leg. His purpose is not to help seal a sale though. It is far more critical. His highly important intention is to receive an affectionate scratch behind the ear.

Hearing the command “Stick ‘em up” (if you’re armed with a treat) he sits up on his hind legs and holds his paws out in front of him.

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Boehm’s chapel captures the essence of the Alps

August 23, 2011

Correction: The chapel is a replica of one in Ilse Maria, not St. Moritz. Julius Boehm could not have seen the Swiss village chapel from Vienna, so he built a replica of the small church that he could see from his Issaquah chalet. The Moroder Studios’ “Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples” artwork inside the chapel was carved in Italy, unlike the chapel doors. Kirch’l is German for “little church” or “chapel.” The High Alpine Chapel is also known as the Luis Trenker Kirch’l or Luis Trenker Chapel. In addition, the only chocolates that are “discounted” are pieces considered to be “brokens” or “seconds.”

For their wedding last July, Sara and John Henry Bruner were looking for a small, intimate venue that was in their budget and fit their personalities. He happened upon the High Alpine Chapel online.

Rev. Jeanne Dembeck stands at the top of a stair in the chapel, where newlywed couples may pull a rope to ring the brass bell in the steeple. By Greg Farrar

The unassuming website showed only one photo of the 48-person chapel in Issaquah, so the couple made an appointment to check it out. Sara recalled that her Sammamish-based mother wasn’t convinced a chapel on the grounds of Boehm’s Candies existed.

“So many people don’t know about our chapel,” said the Rev. Jeanne Dembeck as she jiggled open the chapel’s double doors, which were imported from Italy.

The unique European key design is one of Dembeck’s favorite parts of the building. The key itself doesn’t have teeth. It has little hole/nub things randomly placed on the flat part.

Dembeck relies mostly on word of mouth advertising to promote the High Alpine Chapel, although a Seattle-based travel agency does connect it with Japanese couples looking for a unique destination wedding.

“It isn’t really ritzy, but to me it is nice and casual,” Dembeck said.

And though it is just 20 minutes east of Seattle and right off Interstate 90, stepping onto the grounds of Boehm’s feels like entering another world.

On the outside, the nondenominational building is a replica of a 12th century chapel in St. Moritz, Switzerland, which still stands today. But on the inside, “It’s all Julius,” said Mindi Reid, a chief tour guide.

Julius Boehm, the founder of Boehm’s Candies, was born in Vienna and grew up with a view of the St. Moritz chapel from his bedroom window. He added the chapel replica to the grounds of his successful Issaquah candy shop in 1981 to memorialize fallen mountain climbers and to honor his mother.

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Sammamish man overcomes aquaphobia to log fastest local time in triathlon

August 23, 2011

A triathlete removes his cap while sprinting out of the water to start the cycling leg of the 18th annual Beaver Lake Triathlon on Aug. 20. By Christopher Huber

A year ago, Ryan Mongan, 45, of Sammamish, would not have considered competing in the Beaver Lake Triathlon.

He was nowhere close to ready for the quarter-mile swim, he said. Swimming in open water freaked him out. He would panic and start swallowing water.

“Swimming’s my weak spot,” he said. “A year ago, I couldn’t swim.”

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Officers target speeders during recent crackdown

August 23, 2011

Issaquah police officers and law enforcement agencies countywide doled out more than 1,200 speeding tickets during a recent crackdown on lead-footed motorists.

From July 15 to Aug. 7, the Issaquah Police Department and other agencies sent out extra law enforcement patrols to search for speeding drivers.

During the patrols in King County, officers wrote 1,245 speeding tickets. Police also arrested three motorists for driving under the influence, three motorists for felonies and four for aggressive driving violations.

Officers issued 15 cellphone citations, six seatbelt tickets, 15 suspended or revoked license violations, and 50 uninsured motorist violations.

The speeding crackdown included the nearby Bellevue, Newcastle, North Bend, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and Renton police departments.

In addition to the local police agencies, the King County Target Zero Task Force supported the extra patrols, funded by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Pickering Barn volunteer garden showcases drip watering system

August 23, 2011

“We’re not just growing food, we’re trying to educate,” said Faalah Jones, of Seattle Tilth.

Water resources manager for the Cascade Water Alliance, Michael Brent, agreed.

“We’re just trying to show the potential of a few things,” he said.

Manager of the Issaquah Resource Conservation Office, David Fujimoto said much the same.

“It’s kind of a learning garden,” he said.

All three were referring to a large public garden alongside Pickering Barn on 10th Avenue Northwest in Issaquah.

While it is maintained almost exclusively by volunteers, the nonprofit organization Seattle Tilth oversees the garden. The latest project in the garden is a new drip irrigation system being installed by the city and the water alliance, Brent said.

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Issaquah School District may not wait for state to hike science requirements

August 23, 2011

State education officials have backed away from a requirement that all Washington high school students pass a biology proficiency exam in order to graduate.

But just because the state isn’t ready to move forward doesn’t mean the Issaquah School District can’t strengthen its science requirements, including possibly implementing a biology or general science proficiency test of its own.

At least that was the argument from a few Issaquah School Board members during their regular meeting Aug. 9. Board member Brian Deagle in particular said he was not willing to just drop, due to state inaction, the requirement that Issaquah school students prove some baseline scientific knowledge prior to graduation.

“This is an opportunity for our district to lead,” board member Chad Magendanz added.

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