Grant helps Discovery Elementary School repurpose space into popular reading room

November 15, 2011

If it weren’t for the “Marvin Redpost” series, a bunch of fourth-grade boys at Discovery Elementary School might not be so into reading this school year.

And if it weren’t for a staff member’s vision and nearly $30,000 from the PTA, the school might not even have that book series by Louis Sachar in its selection. Discovery opened its new literacy room this fall. It’s a “re-purposed” former art room and storage space that now offers nearly 1,000 different book sets at varying reading levels for the entire school population. The point is to expand options for teachers as they work with students, each of whom has a different focus or need in their reading development, teachers and staff members said. The school is on the leading edge of the Issaquah School District’s efforts to overhaul its reading curriculum.

“Now it’s become more purposeful,” said Chelsea Dziedzic, literacy support coach for Discovery and Challenger elementary schools. “Discovery and district teachers realized one-size-fits-all does not work and doesn’t foster a love of reading.”

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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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Skyline’s class of 2001 plans school’s first 10-year reunion

September 13, 2011

In any number of ways, the class of 2001 was a special one for Skyline High School.

In terms of sports accomplishments, Spartans of that vintage helped win the girls state softball championship in 1999. The football team took the state title in 2000 and just missed doing it again the following year.

Still, probably most importantly, the graduates represented the first class to attend Skyline for all four of their years in high school.

“I think it’s worth remembering, worth commemorating,” said Kim Best, a member of the class of ’01 and one of the principal organizers of the school’s first 10-year reunion.

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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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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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Gold Star

May 31, 2011

Challenger students raise $1,309 in relief funds for Japan

Challenger Elementary School students

Challenger Elementary School students leant a hand and raised some dough for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.

The Student Council collected $1,309 for UNICEF, while hundreds of students wrote encouraging notes on paper hands during school April 22. The notes will be sent to children in Japan as part of the school’s Give a Helping Hand campaign for Japan.

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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Change is coming soon to many schools

March 22, 2011

Carpenter Alfredo Arreola vacuums dust as he grinds and finishes concrete steps in the seating area of Issaquah High School’s new Performing Arts Center. By Greg Farrar

The voter-approved $241.8 million construction bond from 2006 is in full swing, sending two-story buildings high into the sky and installing sewer systems deep into the ground.

Several schools across the Issaquah School District are receiving money for construction updates or remodels. Four projects are slated to begin construction June 20, after school gets out:

• Briarwood Elementary School will get a new building, slated for completion in fall 2012.

• Liberty High School will undergo a partial modernization and expansion, with most areas complete by August 2012, and final completion by spring 2013.

• Maywood Middle School will be modernized and expanded with new classrooms and science labs with completion in August 2012.

• Challenger Elementary School will be modernized with a relocated central office, improved heating and air controls and separate bus and car traffic areas.

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Students save with pocket change

February 1, 2011

Endeavour Elementary School third-grader Zoe Czaja gives her deposit to her mom Teresa Czaja while third-grader Zander Schock forks over his money to his mom Alison Schock. By Laura Geggel

Whether depositing four quarters or a $30 check, Endeavour Elementary School students are saving for their futures through school banking. Read more

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