Issaquah schools face end of Salmon in the Classroom

January 4, 2011

State program is a casualty of deep budget cuts

The salmon — or, more specifically, delicate salmon eggs no larger than a pencil eraser — return to a Clark Elementary School classroom each year.

But fourth- and fifth-grade teacher Liza Rickey could face a change in the curriculum soon as the state Salmon in the Classroom program ends.

In the program, students raise salmon, learn about water quality and salmon habitat, and discover the relationship between Issaquah Creek and Puget Sound.

State legislators eliminated dollars for the program in a round of budget cuts during a Dec. 11 special session. The program is a casualty of cuts as state leaders face a $4 billion budget hole. Read more

Who’s News

October 19, 2010

Church group honored in D.C.

Good Samaritan Episcopal Church of Sammamish traveled to Washington, D.C., where eight of their acolytes, their vicar, the Rev. Dr. Suzi Robertson and other sponsors attended the 31st National Acolyte Festival.

Good Samaritan was recognized by the bishop of Washington, D.C., as having traveled the farthest distance to attend the annual festival. While in D.C., church members also toured monuments and government buildings.

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Girl Scouts host open houses

September 7, 2010

Local Girl Scout troops are hosting informational meetings or open houses. Learn more by calling 641-1126. Middle and high school troops are welcoming new girls as well. All events are from 7-8 p.m.

Information meetings (all take place in school multipurpose rooms)

-Newcastle Elementary — Sept. 23

-Clark and Issaquah Valley elementary — Sept. 27, Clark multipurpose room

-Apollo Elementary — Sept. 28

-Cougar Ridge and Sunset elementary — Sept. 29, Cougar Ridge multipurpose room

-Briarwood and Maple Hills elementary — Sept. 30, Briarwood multipurpose room Read more

Ideas sprout at ‘green’ schools

August 17, 2010

For many students heading back to school this year, green is the new black.

From the clothes and appliances they buy to the way they conserve energy and recycle waste, green students are infusing their lives with an environmental perspective.

But even students with the greenest of intentions need guidance, and many got it from King County’s Green Schools program. Out of Issaquah’s 25 schools, 10 have participated in the program: Cascade Ridge, Challenger, Clark, Discovery, Endeavour and Newcastle elementary schools, Beaver Lake, Maywood and Pine Lake middle schools and Liberty High School.

Jack Sansing (left) and Katie and Noah Springborn directed their classmates to use the correct bins after lunch as members of Cascade Ridge Elementary's 2009 Green Team. By Christopher Huber

King County Green School began as a pilot program in 2002 and opened to K-12 public and private schools in 2003, Project Manager Dale Alekel said.

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Leap of faith

June 29, 2010

Mountain bikers knew if they built a course, others would come

Dan Veitch, of Klahanie, gets a little closer to heaven as he takes a jump at one of the new BMX trails built at Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park. By Greg Farrar

Klahanie resident Dan Veitch has a new place to practice his faith. You’ll just have to excuse the fact his altar tends to get a little muddy; for the congregation Veitch belongs to receives its sermon atop a BMX bike. And his chapel is the new mountain bike trails built at Duthie Hill Park.

“It’s like our church,” Veitch said. “On Sundays, you’ll see a bunch of guys getting their religion.”

So, it was only appropriate one of the flock of true believers headed the construction. Project manager Mike Westra, a self-described former tech nerd, said the Duthie Hill trail was built by bikers for bikers, through the help of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

The park debuted to a grand dedication ceremony May 22, featuring jumping demonstrations and more than 20 vendors offering gear, much of it best suited for the BMX course.

Westra said over the years, no one had built trails designed specifically for mountain biking.

“We’ve actually been kicked off a lot of hiking trails, from Cascade to Tiger mountains,” he admitted.

Read more

Pack 679 Cub Scouts’ project restocks hospital bookshelves

June 15, 2010

Being a big sister or big brother is great, but it can be hard when a new sibling requires care at the University of Washington Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Cub Scouts, with their den mother Jenny Schaffer (left) give several of their nearly 300 books to Brett Ristine, of Olympia (right), on May 26, to give his 4-year-old son Brody, whose new sister Delaney was born prematurely to mother Apryl Delaney. By Greg Farrar

“They need to wear masks, hats and gloves while they are here in the rooms,” said Carri Gest, a nurse in the unit. “When their mom is spending quality time with the new baby, often for more than two hours, it can be hard for the siblings. Especially when they’re young and have short attention spans.”

To help ease the long, quiet hours spent visiting, the neonatal unit has a bookshelf of reading material for every age. But in the past year, the collection had really dwindled.

So, when her son’s Cub Scout Pack, Den 2 of Pack No. 679, needed to do a community service project, Gest suggested the boys help other children by collecting books for the unit.

During their book drive, the boys, first-graders from Cascade Ridge Elementary and St. Joseph’s Catholic schools, managed to collect nearly 300 books to restock the bookshelves. They donated them to families at the unit May 26.

“We collected the books for children, because they didn’t have any books,” said Tiger Cub Zach Schaffer. “So, now they can read.” Read more

Heather Gillette elected Washington State PTA Region 2 director

June 1, 2010

Heather Gillette, of Sammamish, was recently elected as Washington State PTA Region 2 director for a two-year term, beginning June 1.

Heather Gillette

Region 2 includes all PTAs and PTSAs in the Bellevue, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Riverview and Snoqualmie Valley school districts.

As region director, Gillette will head up a service delivery team that will be responsible for organizing training and support activities for all PTAs and PTSAs in the region. She will also serve on the association’s governing board of directors.

“One of my goals for next year is to increase the visibility of the services available through the Region 2 team to all local units,” Gillette said. “When local units understand the benefits of using the resources and region training available to them, it helps increase their confidence. This will also help build strong leaders and a strong and diverse organization, which can then more effectively and efficiently serve the needs of the students.”

Gillette has been actively involved in a number of PTAs, including serving as secretary of Carl Sandburg Elementary PTSA; executive vice president, president and vice president of communications of Cascade Ridge Elementary PTSA; co-president and secretary of Beaver Lake Middle PTSA; and co-president and vice president of membership of Skyline High PTSA.

At the council level, she served as president, co-president, and vice president of Issaquah PTSA Council. At the Washington state PTA level, she served on the Region 2 service delivery team, participated in a number of state level committees and presented classes at Region 2 conferences.

In addition to her volunteer service in PTA, Gillette has served the Issaquah School District in a number of volunteer capacities. She also has served as a soccer team manager and coach.

County honors Earth Heroes

June 1, 2010

Saving the planet one apple core, one plastic bag or one light switch at a time are this year’s King County Earth Heroes. The annual awards were given to one Issaquah School District teacher and three district schools. The individual winner was Meagan Elliot, a counselor at Pine Lake Middle School. Cascade Ridge Elementary School, Maywood Middle School and Pine Lake received schoolwide awards.

Jack Sansing (left) and Katie and Noah Springborn stand behind food-recycling bins. They were Cascade Ridge Elementary Green Team members who directed their classmates to use the correct bins after lunch. By Christopher Huber

County officials awarded nearly two-dozen individuals, groups and schools with the award. Each recipient created or maintained programs that significantly improve the health of the environment through recycling or conserving natural resources or energy, or by educating students.

Elliot earned recognition after working with teachers, students and custodians to implement Pine Lake’s food-scrap recycling program. Her efforts, with inspired initiative from students, she said, helped reduce the amount of trash collected daily from 15 bags to five bags, a 66 percent reduction.

Elliot also headed the implementation of a zero-waste locker clean-out program. Students push a cart through the hallways, collecting notebooks, coats and any other discarded school supplies. Whereas students used to throw usable materials away, most of them now help re-use items, Elliot said.

The motto is “don’t throw it away if it’s not garbage,” she said. “I just see people being more mindful about stuff.”

Students help Elliot further the cause with posters, and creating and showing an educational video in classrooms.

Elliot said she hopes to start a greenhouse and gardening project on the Pine Lake campus — maybe even with chickens.

Since 2005, Cascade Ridge students have been hard at work recycling, but this year, the school’s Green Team helped better educate students regarding what could and couldn’t be recycled by clearly labeling bins in the cafeteria for food scrap recycling.

As a result, students and faculty increased their recycling rate this year to 58 percent and decreased their garbage costs by 35 percent. They also eliminated the use of straws and polystyrene trays. Read more

Gold Stars

June 1, 2010

Catie Raissipour and Jessi Wanamaker

Catie Raissipour, at right, and Jessi Wanamaker, two freshman at the Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus showed support for others by participating in this year’s Day of Silence April 16.

The two made short-sleeved shirts to show their support and sported them around campus.

The Day of Silence is a national day promoting tolerance for and recognizing the equality of students who have various sexual orientations. The day focuses on ending lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.

Cascade Ridge Elementary School Math Team

Proving they have the numbers to do what it takes, Cascade Ridge Elementary School Math Olympiad teammates raked in the honors at the state Math Olympiad competition May 1.

Congratulations to Annie Xia, Katey Jansma, Devyn Pong, Michelle Laqab, Andy Schwartz and Lisette Jones for winning ribbons of excellence in the problem-solving category and Kunal Gupta, Jill Streamer and Rithvik Nallapareddy for winning a medal of superiority in problem solving.

The teams were also awarded ribbons of excellence for algebraic sense, probability and statistics, geometric sense, measurement and number sense and for short-answer problem solving. The teams were given outstanding marks for the algebra and problem solving categories.

Melissa Myers coached the team with help from volunteer Rajeev Goel.

Gold Stars highlights accomplishments — big or small — by Issaquah students. Send a few sentences and the student’s name, age, grade, school, good deed and a photograph, if possible, to

Cascade Ridge Elementary School gets new principal

May 25, 2010

Issaquah School District officials announced May 6 that they had hired a new principal for Cascade Ridge Elementary School.

Natalie Fowler, a program assistant for Cougar Ridge and Newcastle elementary schools, will begin in July. She is also a teacher for the gifted program at Apollo Elementary School.

Cascade Ridge Principal Colleen Shields announced her resignation earlier this spring after her husband was relocated to California.

Fowler has worked in the district for six years. She came to the district after relocating from the Austin, Texas, area, where she worked as a teacher for two years.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in textiles and apparel from the University of Texas at Austin, and holds a post-baccalaureate degree in education from there as well.

In her six years with the district, Fowler went back to school to earn her master’s degree in education and educational leadership certification from City University in 2009.

Superintendent Steve Rasmussen wrote in a letter to the community that it was clear from community survey responses that the next Cascade Ridge principal should be a person who builds relationships through honesty, openness and approachability. The next principal also needed to remain committed to helping every student succeed while retaining a unique sense of community, he wrote.

“It’s a tall order — justifiably so — and I believe I have found a match in Principal Fowler,” Rasmussen said. “For the past six years, Principal Fowler has shown tremendous instructional leadership in the Issaquah School District.”

Shields will help Fowler transition into her new role at Cascade Ridge in the coming months.

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