Issaquah Schools Foundation to screen ‘Race to Nowhere’

October 15, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Oct. 15, 2012

The public can attend the education documentary “Race to Nowhere” at the Issaquah High School Performing Arts Center on Tuesday.

“Race to Nowhere” is the initial entry in the Issaquah Schools Foundation’s 2012-13 Community Conversations series. The film starts at 7 p.m. at the high school theater, 700 Second Ave. S.E.

Filmmaker Vicki Abeles turned a lens on the achievement-obssessed culture and pressure to perform in America’s schools, and explores the price students pay for the ensuing “race to nowhere.” Attendees can also share reactions to the film during a post-screening discussion.

Admission to the event is free, but organizers ask for attendees to bring a goodwill donation of a box of NutriGrain bars in support of the Issaquah Schools Foundation’s Basic Students Needs Fund.

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Issaquah History Museums dishes up historic desserts for 40th anniversary

October 9, 2012

To celebrate a major milestone, Issaquah History Museums organizers ordered cake — enough cake to stock a bakery.

The museums, founded in 1972 as the Issaquah Historical Society, marks 40 years Oct. 13 and to celebrate, staffers enlisted organizations and volunteers to create the cakes, but rather than the from-the-box Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines confections, bakers agreed to follow recipes lifted from Issaquah’s past.

The community celebration offers participants a chance to sample the cakes, learn about the museums’ history, dance and listen to local musicians perform. Bakers agreed to make a pair of cakes — a cake for eating at the event and another cake for a silent auction.

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PSAT is available in Issaquah schools

October 9, 2012

The Issaquah School District will administer the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test to all sophomores and juniors as part of the official school day Oct. 17.

Registration is $14 and can be paid through each high school’s online payment system.

Scholarships to cover the cost of the exam are available thanks to support from the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

Under Initiative 1240, local charter school is unlikely

September 25, 2012

On Nov. 6, people across the state will cast their vote whether to allow charter schools in Washington, and locals stand on both sides of the argument.

Supporters say the schools could pursue innovative educational techniques, free from most state regulation and without unionized teachers.

Opponents say charter schools have insufficient oversight and would drain money from traditional public schools.

“We have great schools, we have great teachers,” said Jodi Mull, an Issaquah High School parent who said she had no problem gathering signatures to get Initiative 1240 on the ballot. “Maybe it’s not going to help me in my community, but it will help others.”

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Press Editorial

September 25, 2012

No need here for charter schools

Once again, Washington voters are being asked whether charter schools should be allowed here, as they are in 41 other states.

From some perspectives, a charter school run by a nonprofit organization with a goal of better education might make sense. But from the Issaquah perspective, charter schools are not needed. Test scores are among the highest in the state and 21 Issaquah School District students were recently named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

Supporters see charter schools as an alternative to a system seen as failing. The Issaquah district already strives to offer innovative curriculum for those students who need and desire more challenging classes. Witness the International Baccalaureate program at Skyline High School, the science-technology program for third graders, the Night Academy for students needing to make up failed high school classes and the Humanities Plus program for highly capable middle school students.

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Elementary schools roll out new reading curriculum

August 21, 2012

Children will have the opportunity to sink their teeth into about 600 new books per Issaquah School District elementary school in the coming school year as district officials set their sights on rolling out a new reading curriculum for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The new curriculum is made up of three integral parts: a new book room for each school, a new phonics program and a new reading comprehension component to the program.

“We have a number of goals with this, including increasing reading achievement,” said Emilie Hard, executive director of teaching and learning services for the district. “Our scores are very good in Issaquah, but we know we can be even better. We’re lifelong learners … we want to keep moving forward every year.”

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Press Editorial

August 21, 2012

Children win when community unites

There is nothing like a good challenge, especially in the name of a good cause. Issaquah’s two leading service clubs — Rotary and Kiwanis — challenged each other to see who would donate the most for the purchase of computer flash drives for students in need.

The club challenge was just a small part of a wonderful outpouring of support to fill 1,000 backpacks for kids registered with the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

Numerous groups got together to coordinate the drive. The PTSA Council and Issaquah Education Association kicked things off by gathering donations of gift cards that could be used to purchase school supplies.

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Welcome back from Issaquah Schools Foundation

August 21, 2012

Filling in the gaps where state funding ends

So many things are right about Issaquah schools: bright kids, supportive families, inspiring teachers and strong administrators. While Issaquah schools deliver quality education, deficient state funding limits educational opportunities for our students.

We are all familiar with the school funding figures. Issaquah is 277th out of 295 school districts in per-pupil funding in a state that falls 44th in education support. We must ask ourselves, “How can we secure the resources to ensure all students have the tools they need to be successful in school, college and career?” There are two answers. Wait for a legislative fix or empower ourselves to make a change.

The Issaquah Schools Foundation is dedicated to the latter. Our mission is to raise funds to help all students achieve the promise of their academic potential. Each year, we work in partnership with the Issaquah School District to assess our students’ greatest needs. We then collaborate with the community to generate resources to fund strategic programs and initiatives that will advance academic achievement, support struggling students, promote professional development and connect students to their futures.

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Summer school program preps young minds for kindergarten

July 24, 2012

Allison Rupert, Issaquah Valley Elementary School teacher, reads to a summer kindergarten prep class July 18. By Lillian Tucker

Several miniature hands shot up into the air as Allison Rupert read aloud, “On the first day of school I wondered, ‘What will I do today?’”

While most of the classrooms at Issaquah Valley Elementary School are quiet, Rupert and fellow teacher Jane Brammer are instructing a four-week pilot kindergarten readiness program through Aug. 3.

“A lot of them have never been to school. But the first day they were on board,” Rupert said. “Seeing the progress in just two weeks, they are going to be so ready in September. They will have confidence and it won’t be a scary place.”

Paid for by an $18,000 Academic Enrichment Grant from the Issaquah Schools Foundation, the Pre-K Summer School is a free program for children entering kindergarten who have not been to preschool, have English as a second language or have attended preschool but need extra attention.

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Issaquah Schools Foundation donates $42,500 for after-school help

July 24, 2012

After-school homework programs got a big boost July 11 when the Issaquah School Board approved a $42,500 gift from the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

The money has been earmarked to support three programs, including $7,500 for Middle School After School Homework; $12,500 for High School After School Homework; and $22,500 for the mentor program Volunteers of Issaquah Changing Education, more commonly known as VOICE.

On the middle school level, the after school program allows for school libraries to stay open in the afternoon so students can access computers, the Internet and get help with homework. On the high school level, different days of the weeks are reserved for extra help for different subjects like math and foreign languages. The mentor program serves about 300 students from across the district who could use one-on-one assistance.

“It’s an extraordinary program,” foundation Executive Director Robin Callahan said. “I know that the district has really come to rely on the VOICE mentor program as one of their strategies.”

The mentors are all volunteers while the district and the schools foundation partner together to pay for program directors and school coordinators. The latest injection of $22,500 covers about half of the total cost of the program.

“There is nothing that the foundation does alone,” Callahan said. “It involves collaboration with the district, collaboration with volunteers and collaboration with donors. We are a conduit by which members of the community can donate resources and time to have an extraordinary effect on student learning and students’ ability to achieve their full potential.”

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