Rejoice for Village Theatre’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ reboot

May 17, 2011

The tale, so familiar to believers and nonbelievers alike, is upended as soon as “Jesus Christ Superstar” opens.

Michael K. Lee (center) performs as Jesus alongside the apostles in Village Theatre’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

The apostles scale a chain-link fence and enter a fascist alternate reality steeped in modern dress and slang.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” is more Lady Gaga’s “Judas” than Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” in Village Theatre’s just-opened production. The monumental rock opera runs through July 3 and closes the theater’s 2010-11 season.

In the Issaquah playhouse’s rendition, the greatest story ever told trades robes and sandals for bandanas and drainpipe jeans, and from performance to performance, trades actors in the lead roles.

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School survey shows less smoking, more bullying

May 17, 2011

Issaquah School District students are showing some promising — and some not so promising — trends on the 2010 Healthy Youth Survey.

The district has given the survey every other October to Washington students in grades six, eight, 10 and 12, since 2004. The survey asks students to answer more than 100 questions about their lives, including their physical and emotional health, community and school climate, and the health risks they take.

In the past, district students have not answered questions about sexual health and experiences. At the May 11 Issaquah School Board meeting, board members promised to look into the matter this fall for the 2012 survey.

Each survey has a 3 percent margin of error, meaning any percentage change less than 3 percent is not significant. After analyzing the results, the district, state and nonprofit organizations will use the data to start conversations and programs helping youths. The Issaquah Community Network plans to use the data to apply for a federal grant that would help students live healthy lives in the community, network Executive Director Barbara de Michele said.

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Extra seat belt patrols will hit local roadways soon

May 17, 2011

Issaquah police officers remind drivers and passengers to buckle up — or face a $124 ticket.

Motorists can expect to see law enforcement officers patrolling city and King County roadways to search for unbuckled and improperly buckled drivers and passengers from May 23 to June 5.

Officials recorded 2,866 deaths and 13,749 serious injuries in motor vehicle collisions statewide between 2005-09. The medical costs from vehicle collisions amount to more than $276 million per year in Washington.

Experts said wearing a seat belt decreases the chance of dying or sustaining serious injuries in a collision by about 70 percent.

“Law enforcement officers would rather have motorists buckle up than write a seat belt infraction,” Lowell Porter, Washington Traffic Safety Commission director, said in a press release. “The evidence is clear that seat belts save lives. By increasing seat belt use, Washington continues to reduce the costs incurred by those who don’t buckle up.”

In addition to the Issaquah Police Department, Washington State Patrol troopers and the King County Target Zero Task Force plan to participate in the extra patrols.

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Local athletes enjoy a big day at the KingCo track championships

May 17, 2011

Kasen Williams, Skyline High School senior, makes his winning triple-jump leap of 45 feet, 5 1/2 inches, during the KingCo track and field championships May 13 at Juanita High School. By Greg Farrar

It was by all means a championship day for several local athletes.

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Issaquah, Sammamish councils will meet with school board

May 17, 2011

Join City Council and Issaquah School Board members as the groups gather for a joint meeting May 26.

The groups plan to meet at 6 p.m. at the Issaquah School District Administration Building, 565 N.W. Holly St.

The meeting is a casual meet-and-greet, and allows members to discuss matters of mutual interest. No action is to be taken at the joint meeting.

Sammamish City Council members meet the school board in the same location at 5:30 p.m. May 25. The meeting precedes a 7 p.m. school board meeting.

The school board and city councils usually meet annually.

Some issues could re-emerge as the Issaquah City Council and school board meet. Sharing facilities and transportation upgrades related to school construction along Second Avenue Southeast often crop up in joint discussions.

Issaquah and school district leaders met in October 2008. The planned Issaquah High School reconstruction dominated the discussion. The state-of-the-art high school campus is now nearing completion.

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Video class teaches next generation of directors

May 17, 2011

Roll out the red carpet, hit the spotlights and flash the cameras, because students at Newcastle Elementary School have footage in the can.

Dylan Strode (center) takes charge as a videographer and Holly Rice (right) directs a scene while recreating Mo Williams’ book ‘Knuffle Bunny Too.’ By Tim Pfarr

Five years ago, the school launched its Video Production Club. It has since become one of the most popular groups on campus. More than 50 students applied for the 25 spots in the club this year to learn the basics of filmmaking, from storyboarding to completion.

The projects help the students work better in teams, learn how to tell stories in creative ways, acquire new skills and identify their own strengths within the medium, said MJ Keller, fourth-grade teacher and club leader.

The club is offered to fourth- and fifth-graders twice a year, with weekly meetings before school. Each session, students complete a film between five and 20 minutes long, and they use their final meeting to roll out a red carpet — literally — and screen their work for parents.

This spring’s session includes 16 students, who split into small groups to create films under the guidance of a teacher.

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Take a volunteer vacation for ‘a cheap week in the woods’

May 17, 2011

As more people plan their vacations closer to home, the Washington Trails Association has been flooded with requests to participate in its Volunteer Vacations program, a series of weeklong service trips where people of all ages and abilities work together to repair hiking trails across the state.

Volunteers clear windfall from the Chelan Lakeshore Trail using crosscut saws as part of the Volunteer Vacations program. By William Jahncke

“It’s a cheap week in the woods,” said Lisa Black, a chief leader of the Volunteer Vacations program.

For slightly more than $200, the eight-day, outdoor vacation is a steal, balancing trail work with campsite camaraderie and sweat with well-cooked meals.

The volunteers themselves, fewer than 12 per trip in accordance with wilderness regulations, rotate cooking meals and help along the trail in accordance with their individual capabilities. Tasks range from cutting back overgrown bushes to rebuilding washed-out bridges, and all work is done by hand; no power tools are allowed on the trips into the 4 million acres of nationally protected Washington wilderness.

“It’s daunting for people. They’re often afraid to come out,” Black said.

But she insisted there is always work for every ability. While the average age of volunteers is about 40, men and women in their 70s and 80s come out every year to give back to the trails they love.

“The real draw of the weeklong program is to see actual results from your work,” Black said.

Service projects like rerouting a washed-out trail or cutting steps are an accomplishment to feel proud of.

“It’s the getting tired part, the sweat and the dirt that make sitting down for a dinner with everyone so worth it,” Black said.

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Art project lays roadmap to career options

May 17, 2011

Benjamin Eskonazi, a third-grader at Cougar Ridge Elementary School, weaves an upholstery for a chair made out of paper with art show coordinator Sari Israel. By Laura Geggel

Drawings of girls at the beach, apples half in shadow and rainbows stretching over green fields decorated the annual art show at Cougar Ridge Elementary School on May 5.

About 100 students participated in the show, and they came with their families and friends, completing a scavenger hunt about the show and answering questions, such as finding a painted mermaid and naming the type of paint art teacher Cyndi Moring used in her piece.

Students also dove into hands-on projects. They folded origami cranes for Japan and folded long strips of paper together into mat, creating a colorful upholstery for a chair Moring has since stationed in the art room.

“It looks really cool,” Moring said. “The kids really love it and they can’t believe they can sit on it.”

Fifth-grader Katherine Lin painted a watercolor picture of an autumn branch with red, yellow and orange leaves.

“I like autumn. It’s my favorite season, because it’s really pretty outside and it’s still warm out,” Lin said. “And we’re not bored all of the time because we have school.”

Her classmate, fifth-grader Sam Lee, drew an abstract post-modern piece with charcoal and pastels. He draws “because I want to do auto mechanics and design. My mom said if I wanted to do that, I should start drawing now.”

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Rubik’s Cube whiz boasts fastest hands in the land

May 17, 2011

Student looks to break world record

Like any elite athlete, Kevin Hays trains constantly — sometimes three hours per day. Turning and twisting, his hands are a blur of motion as he works to solve a Rubik’s Cube.

Kevin Hays competes at the 2010 Vancouver Open Rubik’s Cube comptition. By Donna Hays

Hays, a 17-year-old Liberty High School student, is a national champion Rubik’s Cube player. His goal is to set a world record.

“When I started (in middle school), it was because it was a cool, iconic thing to be able to solve a Rubik’s Cube,” Hays said. “As I got into it, I realized that I was actually good.”

Nicknamed “cubing,” solving Rubik’s Cubes has become a competitive sport with 19 categories of play, including blindfolded cubing. Hays began competing professionally two years ago. His specialty is the six-by-six cube event for which he won the 2010 national title. In March, he was heart-wrenchingly close to breaking the world record — two minutes and five seconds — during Vancouver, British Columbia’s Big Cube event.

“I was so close,” Hays said. “I was on the last four moves and had plenty of time. Then the entire right side of the cube fell apart.”

David Adams, Hays’ childhood friend and a fellow Liberty High student, is also an accomplished cuber. He has no doubt that Hays will eventually hold the world record.

“Kevin is so fast that it’s unbelievable,” said Adams, 16. “He’s so good that he never pauses to look at the cube. His hands are constantly in motion.”

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Parent launches websites for schools

May 17, 2011

Paperwork aside, getting a Parent-Teacher-Student Association up and running at a school can be tough work — work that just got a little easier thanks to Rajeev Goel.

Rajeev Goel

Goel, the Cascade Ridge Elementary School PTA webmaster, has created a template for PTSA websites that can be individualized around the world. Using his company, Our School Pages, Goel plans to sell the websites for $120 per year, a fee that will cover the labor, server, storage and processing fees.

This is not the first school website created by Goel, a former Microsoft software developer. In 2009, he launched Our Science Fair, a site helping schools organize and launch science fairs. As of this spring, about 40 schools nationwide were using Our Science Fair to coordinate their events.

Goel launched the Cascade Ridge PTSA website in August, working out the kinks and adding new features throughout the year. After polishing his final product, he began selling the Our School Pages template website on April 29, allowing any school in the world a chance to purchase it and make it its own.

At the annual Washington PTA convention April 29 to May 1, 60 schools decided to try the website for a free, 30-day trial.

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