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

10 local students place on talented youth test

November 9, 2010

Ten students in the Issaquah School District received recognition from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth at an Oct. 9 awards ceremony at Seattle Pacific University.

For the past 30 years, the Center for Talented Youth has conducted national and international talent searches to find the best and brightest students, according to the program website. During the search, students take a test designed for students much older than they are. How the high-performing students score helps the organization identify their gifted academic areas. Read more

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

Volunteers sought for VOICE mentor program

August 24, 2010

Paula Cockerham earned Cs and Ds in her high school classes until her biology teacher pulled her aside and said, “You’re smarter than this.”

Cockerham began spending more time on homework and studying harder, transforming herself into an A student. Now, she works at The Boeing Co. as an environmental chemist.

“It just took having someone tell you, ‘You can do this’, and ‘I believe you can do this,’” she said.

In 2006, Cockerham decided to return the favor to Issaquah’s students. She registered with Volunteers Of Issaquah Changing Education — more commonly known as VOICE — and began mentoring high school students in physical science.

Cockerham is one of VOICE’s 155 mentors, and Director Susan Gierke said she hopes to raise membership to 200 volunteers this year. 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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Gold Stars

June 8, 2010

Soaring stock at Discovery Elementary School

Discovery’s stock market team took second place in the state Council for Economic and Financial Education’s Stock Market Game May 5.

The game started Feb. 22 with more than 2,250 fourth- through 12th-grade kids in 50 schools competing to build the most profitable portfolio. The game asks students to manage and diversify a virtual cash balance of $100,000.

Students researched investments, used global market rates and business trends to trade and learned economic principals in the mean time. Congratulations to Emily Sullivan, Addies Mejia and Nic Paduano and coach Jessica Daley!

Issaquah High School Junior Statesmen of America

Thirty-six of the school’s Junior Statesmen of America club members attended the spring convention April 24-25 at Redmond Town Center, making Issaquah one of the largest chapters in attendance.

The team won nine Best Speaker gavels, three awarded to Austin Siedentopf. Matt Sekijima was elected to be mayor for the Greater Pacific Northwest Region. Mark Vernon was recognized for his work as the head of the Department of Debate Logistics and Liza Romanow was recognized for her work as Pacific Northwest Governor.

Tristan Auclair and Vincent Smith

Instead of hitting the books, Issaquah Valley Elementary School fifth-graders Tristan Auclair and Vincent Smith got down to work.

As custodians for a day, the pair got to hang out with the school’s custodian Dusty Duke. During their adventures, they tested fire alarms, used walkie-talkies, talked to the principal, released students to recess after lunch and learned about transformers. To boot, they received special shirts for their work and a 10-piece McNugget meal from McDonald’s.

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

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