Grant awards support local projects

November 29, 2011

The Issaquah Community Network recently awarded eight grants totaling $7,000 and, according to the network, those grants are aimed at supporting local school activities and efforts to promote healthy youth and strong families.

Awards were made at the regular meeting of the Issaquah Community Network board Nov. 7.

“We were pleased to receive grant applications from a mix of previous grantees and new applicants,” said Judy Brewer, board chairwoman.

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Bugs and plants create excitement about fourth-grade science

November 1, 2011

Rachel Lee (left), Caleb McDonald, Hailey Warren and Brian Chan (hidden, right), four of Grand Ridge Elementary School teacher Becky Rappin’s fourth-grade students, make observations on their terrarium after placing isopods — common pill bugs —in the soil. By Greg Farrar

When Becky Rappin asks who might want to help transport crickets, there is no shortage of volunteers. Hands go up all around Rappin’s fourth-grade classroom at Grand Ridge Elementary School.

The crickets are just one element in the students’ study of ecosystems, that study being part of the new science curriculum implemented this year at elementary schools throughout the Issaquah School District.

“There’s a lot of excitement about this program,” Rappin said. “There is just so much hands on, it gets kids thinking and observing.”

Parent volunteer Lisa Porter said students put together from scratch the terrariums and aquariums lined up at the back of Rappin’s classroom. The first step was washing out the plastic bottles that are the basic components.

With the cone-shaped top half of the bottles removed, the bottoms of bottles were filled with dirt, and students planted alfalfa, rye and mustard plants. There are also leaves scattered in the makeshift terrariums.

On this day, for the first time, students will be adding live insects — isopods or potato bugs and the already mentioned crickets — to the terrariums. Also made out of the bottom half of bottles, small aquariums already have residents including plants, pond snails and mosquito fish or guppies.

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Teachers eager to implement adopted science curriculum

November 1, 2011

Steve Rasmussen

The mad scientists have returned to their classrooms and some are completing observations of crickets, pill bugs and other creatures and plant life.

“Kids don’t just learn science, they do science,” said Joanne Griesemer, a curriculum specialist for the Issaquah School District.

Griesemer was referring to the district’s new science curriculum and said she has been happily busy over the past few months helping implement that curriculum.

During the past spring and summer, the Issaquah Schools Foundation, in partnership with the local PTSA, put on various fundraisers and took in roughly $438,000 toward replacing the district’s kindergarten through fifth-grade science materials. The fundraisers included having students dressed as mad scientists soliciting donations at various locations.

District officials pledged to match the foundation’s efforts with $700,000. The end result was the purchase of $1.1 million in new science materials. That includes everything from textbooks and workbooks to models, measuring instruments and so on. Every elementary school in the district has gotten at least some of those items.

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Grand Ridge students are on the fence about art

October 18, 2011

Third-graders Sophia Jones (left) and Petek Mertan help put together the newest creation to adorn a fence surrounding the school garden at Grand Ridge Elementary School. By Tom Corrigan

The day was overcast and windy, a pretty typical fall day in Issaquah.

But since there was no rain, when they came out for recess, some of the youngsters at Grand Ridge Elementary School in the Issaquah Highlands were nevertheless asked to help out in the school’s community garden.

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Family Village causes no concerns among Issaquah school officials

September 20, 2011

Occupants were expected to move in en masse in late June and managers expected most residents to occupy the new $53 million YWCA Family Village at Issaquah in the Issaquah Highlands by late August.

Designed to be affordable housing, Family Village is expected to attract its fair share of, well, families, including school-age children. Still, Issaquah School District officials say they are ready for what they expect to be a modest influx of new students.

Family Village consists of 146 units of affordable housing, said Cathy MacCaul, director of community affairs for the local YWCA.

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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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Woman robbed, stabbed in Issaquah Highlands

August 9, 2011

Police said a man stabbed and robbed a 36-year-old woman early Aug. 8 in a typically quiet apartment complex in the Issaquah Highlands.

The incident occurred at about 12:15 a.m. in the 1700 block of 16th Lane Northeast in a parking lot at The Highlands at Wynhaven, a complex next to Grand Ridge Elementary School.

The woman said a man approached her as she returned to the apartment after parking her car. Investigators said he then punched and stabbed her, stole her purse and fled.

The woman described her attacker as a stocky white or Hispanic man dressed in dark clothing and a dark-colored baseball-type cap. She last saw him running east as he fled.

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Highlands Day to celebrate Swedish/Issaquah

July 5, 2011

On its 10th anniversary, the Issaquah Highlands Council will host its annual Highlands Day on July 9, in conjunction with the grand opening celebration of Issaquah’s new Swedish Medical Center campus.

“This year will be the biggest Highlands Day ever,” said, Christy Garrard special events planner for the council. “We’re expecting over 10,000 people during the seven-hour event.”

This year, Highlands Day will carry a healthy living theme and will take place on the site of the new hospital.

More than 50 booths will represent sports, fitness and nutrition experts, local businesses and local nonprofit agencies. The booths will offer free carnival games and crafts, free samples and free answers to fitness and sports-related questions.

“Over 20 booths are just fitness professionals and nutrition experts.” Garrard said.

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Supporters meet fundraising goal for science curriculum

June 21, 2011

After 47 days of fundraising at McDonald’s and Zeeks Pizza, and in various school parking lots, the Issaquah Schools Foundation and the Issaquah PTSA Council have raised enough money for a new elementary school science curriculum this fall.

The current elementary school science curriculum, last updated in 2003, does not meet state standards.

The fundraising campaign began April 29, the day after the foundation’s annual luncheon. There, foundation community representative Leigh Stokes explained that the district had initially set money aside for the curriculum update, but after the Legislature cut $1.45 million from the district’s budget midyear, the district could no longer afford the curriculum update on its own.

The district committed $700,000 to the elementary school science update, and the foundation and PTSAs partnered to raise the remaining $500,000.

Recently, district administrators negotiated with the curricula vendors and bargained for a better price. Originally, the update was supposed to cost $1.2 million, but after the negotiation, the price tag dropped to $1.1 million. The district is also saving money by developing a specific curriculum of its own, which has a price tag of $50,000.

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Creekside, Grand Ridge students create city of the future

June 14, 2011

Students work on their Polyhedraville futuristic city project. Fourth-graders from the SAGE programs at Creekside and Grand Ridge elementary schools spent the school year creating the city. By Ron Ciraulo

The day after Ron Ciraulo’s fourth-graders presented their futuristic city project to city leaders, Kameron Gurol, Sammamish’s director of community development, personally commended the teacher for the students’ high-quality work.

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