Education opportunities grow in student gardens

August 23, 2011

Sunny Hills Elementary School first-grader Digant Dash (left) plants flower bulbs in the school’s first-grade garden with fourth-graders Derek Chao and Spencer Bernsten. By Jane Ulrich

Inch by inch, row by row, students are planting lettuce, herbs and broccoli in their school gardens.

This fall, teachers are transforming gardens into outdoor classrooms as students pick up trowels and learn about drip irrigation systems.

Dozens of schools incorporate gardening into their curriculum or have gardening clubs, including Apollo, Cascade Ridge, Challenger, Clark, Creekside, Discovery, Endeavour, Grand Ridge, Issaquah Valley, Maple Hills and Sunny Hills elementary schools; Issaquah and Pine Lake middle schools; and Liberty and Tiger Mountain Community high schools.

“I think the outdoors is just a natural place that kids want to be,” Sunny Hills fourth-grade teacher Jane Ulrich said.

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Gold Star

June 14, 2011

Cascade Ridge students pack 5,456 meals

Cascade Ridge Elementary School students

By working with the nonprofit organization Children of the Nations, 110 fifth-grade students at Cascade Ridge Elementary School packed 5,456 meals for children overseas April 19.

Each meal included a dehydrated vegetable mix, a vegetarian flavoring with added vitamins and minerals, and rice and lentils.

The meals will go to Sierra Leone, Malawi, Haiti or the Dominican Republic.

For the third year, Cascade Ridge fifth-graders learned about common foods eaten in other countries, such as lentils and rice. Students also did household chores to raise money for the nonprofit, bringing in $1,360 that will help transport the food.

Sammamish exempts schools from storm water fees

June 7, 2011

In return, students must learn about storm water issues

Sammamish will continue to exempt local school districts from storm-water fees in exchange for those districts’ continued promise to teach their students about storm water issues.

The Sammamish City Council recently re-examined the situation following news that two Issaquah School District schools — Skyline High and Cascade Ridge Elementary — had inadvertently been charged the fees in 2009 and 2010 and were refusing to pay.

City staff members blamed an accounting snafu by King County, which collects storm water fees and sends that money back to the city for use in building and maintaining ditches, culverts and other infrastructure that collects and distributes water off the plateau following storms.

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Bears awaken from hibernation

May 17, 2011

Wildlife experts advise caution as local sightings increase

Bears take refuge in a Sammamish Plateau tree during a May sighting. By Bent Wiencke

State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents responded to a bear in a home last week, after a surprised Issaquah woman discovered the animal pawing around inside a locked garage.

The incident underscored the need for education about black bears as the close encounters between humans and bears start for the year.

State wildlife officials and organizations remind residents in Issaquah and other communities near bear habitat to take precautions as soon as possible to limit the potential for dangerous encounters.

Bear Awareness Week is observed in Washington through May 21.

The incident relating to the bear in the garage is the latest sighting in recent weeks as bears started to emerge from hibernation early last month.

Issaquah School District administrators spotted bears near several campuses in April and May, including Cascade Ridge, Clark and Newcastle elementary schools. Police received a call about a bear at the downtown Issaquah Salmon Hatchery in late April.

Residents have reported frequent sightings in neighborhoods throughout the city. In the latest example, Issaquah police officers received a call at 11:43 a.m. May 10 about a bear inside a garage in a tree-lined neighborhood near the Sammamish Family YMCA, not far from Providence Point.

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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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Sammamish proposal could hit Issaquah School District

May 15, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 15, 2011

An apparent accounting glitch by King County led to two Issaquah School District schools being charged $115,000 worth of storm water fees from which they were supposed to be exempt.

On Monday, Sammamish City Council members will consider waiving the back charges, which were levied by the county on behalf of the city against Skyline High School and Cascade Ridge Elementary in 2009 and last year.

At a May 10 study session, the council appeared supportive of waiving the old fees. However, they were split on whether or not the city should continue to waive stormwater fees for schools, which contain large amounts of the impervious surface, such as paved areas, that create storm water headaches.

“It appears that a majority of communities in this part of the county are collecting fees (from public schools),” Deputy Mayor Tom Odell, who mentioned that he was not opposed to collecting the outstanding fees, said at the session. “We have identified the need for additional (storm water system development). Schools have a lot of impervious surfaces.”

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Cascade Ridge student’s design could adorn ketchup packets

April 6, 2011

NEW — 3 p.m. April 6, 2011

Jeremy Kim's Heinz Ketchup packet design

Cascade Ridge Elementary School student Jeremy Kim’s artwork might become a common site on restaurant tables and in the condiment aisle at grocery stores.

The third-grader is a finalist in the national Heinz Ketchup Creativity Contest — a chance for students in first through 12th grades to redesign the venerable Heinz Ketchup packaging.

People can vote for the design through Monday.

The top three entries in each grade appear online. The public then selects 12 winners, and Heinz picks the grand prize winner from the dozen.

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Science fair offers lessons about earth, space

April 5, 2011

Vikram Chennai shows different fabric combinations in a science experiment to find out what would keep astronauts warmer. He won a best-in-classroom ribbon at Cascade Ridge Elementary School’s science fair. By Greg Farrar

For Cascade Ridge Elementary School’s annual science fair, fifth-grader Vikram Chennai wanted to know what materials would work best for an astronaut suit.

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Top volunteers honored at Golden Acorn Awards

April 5, 2011

For every strong school, there are strong volunteers who organize cultural fairs, chaperone field trips, coordinate family fun nights, photocopy assignments and hold bank days for student deposits.

The Issaquah PTSA Council awarded 73 volunteers from 23 schools with Golden Acorn Awards at the 2011 Recognizing Our All-Stars reception March 29.

Boy Scout Troop Pack 636 started the function with a flag salute, and Issaquah PTSA Council President Janine Kotan welcomed the crowd.

The ceremony had a sports theme, with presenters dressed in their favorite sports garb and giving speeches about how volunteers had wowed their fans and hit home runs for their schools.

Jennifer Good, a parent volunteer at Challenger Elementary School, said she began volunteering to meet people and promote education. She organized an ice cream social at the beginning of the year, while Ruth Steck, another parent volunteer, regularly snaps photos of students for the Challenger yearbook.

Both women said they appreciated the Golden Acorn Awards, though, “You don’t do it to be recognized,” Good said.

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County honors Issaquah district schools as Earth Heroes

March 30, 2011

NEW — 12:15 p.m. March 30, 2011

King County is honoring Grand Ridge Elementary School — plus teachers, a student, and a staff member from across the Issaquah School District — as Earth Heroes at School.

The annual honor highlights schools and people for contributions to environmental protection and student environmental education. The county Department of Natural Resources and Parks’ Solid Waste Division announced the 2011 honorees Wednesday.

“Winners of the Earth Heroes at School awards are a diverse group who share the common goal of making our world a better place,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “It is an honor to recognize their achievements in environmental education, waste reduction, energy conservation and other positive efforts.”

Grand Ridge Elementary recorded a 35-percent recycling rate last year.

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