Beaver Lake Middle School principal takes helm at Liberty High School

June 5, 2012

Josh Almy doesn’t have to go far to find the inspiration of leadership in the classroom.

Josh Almy

With his wife, sister and mother all serving as teachers during their lifetimes, the newly appointed principal of Liberty High School said education is all around him.

The 39-year-old father of three said he’s looking forward to hitting the ground running, with plans to meet and learn from Liberty parents, students, teachers and staff members in the coming weeks.

“I’m ready to jump in with two feet and get to know people and figure out how I can support people,” he said. “A principal needs to be focused on staff, learn how to be supporting kids and be a good listener.”

Almy is no stranger to the Issaquah School District, having served as the principal at Beaver Lake Middle School for the past eight years.

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Preliminary timeline is in place for school, fields construction

May 15, 2012

Issaquah School District officials are wasting no time when it comes to putting their recently approved $219 million bond into action.

The school board reviewed a preliminary schedule of projects and timeline for school construction and other district upgrades at its May 9 meeting. Some projects could begin as soon as July and other smaller projects extend through the end of 2019.

“Somebody has to be first and somebody has to be last,” said Jacob Kuper, chief operations officer for the district.

Phase 2 construction of Liberty High School and Phase 2 at Maywood Middle School are first in line with finishes projected by the end of 2013. At the caboose of the tentative timeline of the larger projects is the reconstruction of Sunny Hills Elementary School, which wouldn’t finish until December 2018.

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Issaquah PTSA honors outstanding volunteers at Golden Acorn Awards

April 3, 2012

The primary decorations were orange construction cones and yellow caution tape. Winners were described in terms keeping with that theme, such as construction tools or architects. One winner from the Issaquah School District PTSA Council was described as “the construction glue” that holds the council together.

Gathered in the commons of Pacific Cascade Middle School, the Issaquah PTSA Council held its annual Golden Acorn Awards ceremony March 27.

Not counting the several winners from the districtwide PTSA council, the night honored approximately 75 winners from 23 PTSA units, said Becky Lawrence, vice-president of elementary schools for the PTSA council. A committee of PTSA leaders from each school picked the winners from their individual schools, Lawrence added. As you might expect, criteria included what PTSA members have done for their schools, but also the district and their involvement in the community as a whole.

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Press Editorial

March 27, 2012

Controversial bond deserves a yes vote

W  e wish the Issaquah School District had been more conservative in its request to fund the long list of items on the April 17 construction bond, but we get why it did so.

With another school bond ending its 20 years of tax collections, this is a good time to get a lot of catch-up work done on our school facilities, while still giving taxpayers a couple hundred dollars’ reduction in property taxes next year (an estimated $215 drop on a $500,000 assessed valuation home.)

Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, the group pushing a yes vote, say this is the biggest campaign it has ever mounted. It’s no wonder. With so many questions and a $219 million price tag, the proposed bond has raised a lot of eyebrows.

There are a lot of questions voters are asking, as we did. Do the middle schools really need artificial-turf fields? Does it really make sense to tear down Clark Elementary School? Does Tiger Mountain Community High School, population 80, really need to be relocated at a cost of $4 million? Isn’t $75,000 for clocks at Beaver Lake Middle School rather excessive? And so on.

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Smaller maintenance projects form big part of school bond

March 20, 2012

As voters get closer to deciding whether to OK a $219 million bond issue to benefit the Issaquah School District, big projects such as the rebuilding of the so-called corridor schools are getting plenty of attention.

The corridor schools are Issaquah Middle, Clark Elementary and Tiger Mountain High schools, all which will end up largely rebuilt and in new locations if the bond sale is approved.

Still, a significant portion of the proceeds from the bond sale would go toward more seemingly mundane items, such as rebuilding playfields and replacing fire alarm panels. The proposed project list includes dozens of maintenance and upkeep items at schools around the district.

“We have an obligation to protect roughly $1.2 billion in assets,” Jake Kuper, district chief of finances and operations, said referring to the estimated value of the district’s 28 total buildings, including 24 schools.

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Beaver Lake continues more than a decade of aid for South Africa

March 6, 2012

The Zulu greeting “sawubona” means “I see you.” The proper response is “ngikhona,” or “I am here.”

A Zulu folk saying clarifies the meaning behind the greeting, explaining that a person is a person because of other people.

Students, staff and community members gathered early the morning of March 2 at Beaver Lake Middle School to launch an effort to further strengthen the ties between two seemingly disparate groups of people.

For the eighth year in a row, under the guidance of teacher Curtis Betzler, the school will collect items for children in the South African province of KwaZulu Natal.

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Finding Kind campaign puts spotlight on girl-on-girl bullying

January 17, 2012

Molly Thompson (left) and Lauren Parsekian, documentary filmmakers with the Kind Campaign, will be speaking with local high school students. Contributed

There is no doubt that bullying in schools is a hot topic right now. There is a decided difference, however, in how girls bully each other as compared to boys, said Page Meyer, assistant principal at Beaver Lake Middle School.

Meyer was one of the driving forces behind bringing an independent documentary concerning girl-on-girl bullying to the Issaquah School District.

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Teen Poetry

October 11, 2011

Beaver Lake Middle School annually holds a poetry slam, and students in Karen Bach’s humanities class did exceptional work on the topic “My Life as a Teenager,” with the help of a visiting professional poet. The poems provide a unique insight into the adolescent world of middle school.

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District students score above state average on Washington math tests

September 27, 2011

As Issaquah School District students headed back to class Aug. 30, state education officials were releasing the first results of a newly required math test.

The state also put out final numbers on which schools were able, or not able, to meet annual improvement goals set out by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Last spring, Washington students in algebra and geometry classes took a state test immediately at the end of their course work. The system is known as “end of course,” or “EOC” testing. It replaced the standardized math test students formerly took near the end of the school year.

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Union calls for action on school crowding

September 13, 2011

After passing their latest district spending plan, Issaquah school officials quickly stated that despite funding cuts and the overall economic downturn, local class sizes had remained the same.

“We were able to retain our class sizes from the prior year’s budget cycle,” said Jake Kuper, Issaquah School District chief of finance and operations.

That may be true, according to Phyllis Runyon, president of the Issaquah Education Association, the local teachers union.

But Runyon also said teachers still are struggling with oversized classes throughout the district. She added there are at least a few overloaded classes in every building and also talked about class size problems at specific schools and in specific grade levels.

For example, there are about 36 science and language arts-social studies classes overloaded at Beaver Middle Lake Middle School, Runyon said. She also talked about crowded conditions in secondary music classes.

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