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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Adventures await at school district’s summer camp

May 3, 2011

From archeological digs to building a garden, rope courses to hiking, adventure awaits Issaquah campers this summer.

Club Connection, for kindergarten through fifth grades, is held at four locations, including Apollo, Discovery, Endeavour and Sunset elementary schools. !MPACT, for grades six through eight, is held at Beaver Lake and Pacific Cascade middle schools.

Issaquah School District Day Camps are from June 20 to Aug. 19. The camps cost $40 per day, with a three-day minimum per week. All camps provide multiple field trips, on-site learning activities, simple and extensive crafts, cooperative games, physical challenges, team-building exercises and access to enrichment specialists from various fields.

Registration ends May 6. Download a form at http://connect.issaquah.wednet.edu. Go to “District,” at the top menu and click on “Before and After School Enrichment.”

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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Poet plans show at Discovery Elementary

April 5, 2011

Children’s poet Kenn Nesbitt will give a free show at 6:30 p.m. April 14 at Discovery Elementary School, 2300 228th Ave. S.E. Nesbitt will provide a family evening of poetry, jokes and fun.

Students get in battle of words at Global Reading Challenge

March 15, 2011

They had read the books over and over. They had quizzed each other. They had triumphed at their schools’ Global Reading Challenge, landing them a spot at the Issaquah School District’s competition at the Issaquah Library.

A group of elementary school students convenes, deciding what to write for their response to a question at the King County Library System Global Reading Challenge. By Laura Geggel

In a room overflowing with about 60 parents, teachers and friends, 42 fourth- and fifth-grade students sat raptly listening as librarians quizzed them about books.

Parent Toni Nankova said her daughter Daniela Nankova absorbed the books like a sponge does water.

“After she was done reading, she would say, “Mom, this book is really good. You have to read it,” Toni Nankova said. “And then she would quiz me on it. If I got it wrong, she’d say, ‘You have to go back and read it.’”

Students began preparing for the challenge in October. Each group had seven people and 10 books to read, with some students reading a few books and others reading the whole stack.

First, they competed against other groups at their school. The winning teams from Creekside, Discovery, Grand Ridge, Issaquah Valley, Maple Hills and Sunset elementary schools trooped to the Issaquah Library on March 2 to duke it out with their friends and rivals.

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Schools learned lessons from Nisqually earthquake

February 22, 2011

Kathy Connally remembers sitting at her classroom desk, looking out the window at the students playing during recess, when the earth started shaking 10 years ago.

Her Discovery Elementary School second-grade students were in music class with a teacher who was eighth months pregnant.

“My first through was, ‘Oh my gosh, my kids are out in a portable at music where there are no desks,’” Connally said.

Issaquah High School students waited for more than an hour on the school's football field Feb. 28, 2001, after the Nisqually earthquake. File

She took cover under her desk, and then ran to the portable, where “My students were all safe and sound. They had stopped, dropped and covered.”

The entire school headed away from the building toward the field, where teachers released students if their parents had come to collect them, and then released the rest at the regular bell time.

“One of my students came back and said, ‘Was that a drill or was that for real?’” Connally said.

At Liberty High School, the earthquake happened during lunch, when some upperclassmen were off campus eating at restaurants. After the quake, students reported to their first period class on football field where teaches took attendance.

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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

Discovery’s K-Kids craft smiles for South American students

February 1, 2011

Visitors had to be careful not to step on any teeth as they stepped into Lori Moorman’s kindergarten class Jan. 19. They didn’t find any real teeth on the floor, but many of the about 50 students in the Discovery Elementary School K-Kids club spent time after school on projects that included drawing posters with big smiles on them.

Students from kindergarten through fifth grade buzzed around the room, stringing beads, composing pages for booklets, and drawing signs and posters for the club’s service project. One of six or so projects the club conducts throughout the year, this one benefited Sammamish-based nonprofit organizations International Smile Power and Kids Without Borders.

“The most rewarding thing you can do is have kids that want to give back to the community,” said Janna Redman, fifth-grade teacher and K-Kids staff adviser.

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Discovery Elementary students finish marathon in months

November 30, 2010

Discovery Elementary School students Kiley Prutzman (left) and Anjai Bhuthpur run laps around the school baseball diamond during lunch recess. By Katie McDorman

A total of 30 students laced their shoes, stretched their legs and — during a two-month period — ran a marathon.

Discovery Elementary School first-grade teacher Reyna Yamamoto started the running club in late September, teaching her students how to warm up and cheering them on as they ran laps around the school’s baseball diamonds during lunch recess and early morning Thursday practices.

Just as in walkathon, students carried cards marking their progress. Every six laps around the diamonds equals one mile, and the students tried to run at least three miles per week, gaining endurance and confidence for the Nov. 27 Seattle Marathon.

For those who had accrued enough miles, the 1.2-mile Seattle Children’s Kids Marathon pushed the Discovery students to reach the 26.2-mile mark. Read more

Sammamish portrait artist paints powerful, political

November 23, 2010

Sammamish artist Michele Rushworth recently completed a commissioned portrait of Melissa Essary, dean of the Campbell University Law School in Raleigh, N.C. By Christopher Huber

Upon entering Michele Rushworth’s humble second-story, in-home art studio near Discovery Elementary School, one might not gather that she paints portraits of the rich and famous.

You might gather that she has a steady flow of work to do by the empty golden frames dangling from large hooks on the wall. Or by the small sketch paintings lying on the table. But for Rushworth, business is booming. She has an up to two-year waiting list of well-to-do families, heads of state and pro athletes to have their lifelike portraits painted. She also paints landscapes and portraits of children.

Rushworth was recently chosen to paint outgoing Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons’ official portrait. The work, scheduled to be delivered by Dec. 17, will hang in the state’s capitol along with her portrait of former Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Rushworth will be paid $17,500 for the painting and the frame, and $2,500 for travel expenses. She was chosen after a monthslong selection process, involving 43 other artists from across the country, said Teresa Moiola, public information officer with the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs. Read more

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