Liberty High School to host garage sale April 23

April 19, 2011

Liberty High School’s first garage sale is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 23 in its main gym.

The garage sale is in honor of Maple Hills Elementary School teacher Steve Birdsall who died of multiple system atrophy in February. All proceeds will benefit Shy-Drager, an organization that offers support to families affected by the disease.

Donate gently used clothing, home furnishings, luggage, electronics, computer equipment, child supplies and sports equipment for the sale. Students from the school’s Associated Student Body will collect donations at the school from 2:30-3:30 p.m. through April 20 in the upper gym.

School officials ask that parents drop off donations with a student present.

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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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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 prepare for children of Passage Point residents

February 22, 2011

With the YWCA’s Passage Point scheduled to open in June, its neighbors in the southern part of the Issaquah School District are working to learn as much as they can about the facility before its inaugural day.

About 10 people came to the YWCA Passage Point Community Open House Feb. 9 at Maple Hills Elementary School, some carrying lists of questions they could ask YWCA representatives, King County project managers and school district administrators.

YWCA Case Manager Miesha Phillips (left) answers questions from Deena Rataezyk, Debra Hawkins and Joanna Hodgson at the Passage Point community open house. By Laura Geggel

Passage Point allows the YWCA to provide housing for men and women recently released from incarceration who wish to reunite with their children. The residents of Passage Point will have access to housing, employment and counseling services.

“It’s going to be geared toward a certain population that wants to change,” YWCA Case Manager Miesha Phillips said.

She and other administrators answered questions about Passage Point’s rules and services.

Deena Rataezyk learned that any Passage Point residents who register to volunteer with the district will have to go through a standard Washington State Patrol background check.

Nick LaCaze asked if teachers were ready to teach children living at Passage Point, given that some of them might need extra support at school, and Rataezyk asked if the schools would have additional mental health resources.

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Steve Birdsall, beloved Maple Hills Elementary School teacher, dies

February 22, 2011

Maple Hills Elementary School teacher Steve Birdsall, known for his Hawaiian shirts and hiking, died Feb. 18 after an illness. He was 52.

“In his 23 years in the Issaquah School District, Mr. Birdsall touched the lives of countless students, parents and staff members,” Maple Hills Principal Monique Beane wrote in an e-mail to parents the day he died.

Steve Birdsall, Maple Hills Elementary fifth-grade teacher, in June 2010 prepared for medical leave after a 23-year career in the Issaquah School District — 22 of those years spent at Maple Hills. By Greg Farrar

Birdsall took a medical leave in 2010 after the disease he and his doctors were fighting — multiple system atrophy — took its toll on his body.

Multiple system atrophy is a rare condition with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. MSA patients have widespread damage to a part of the nervous system that controls important functions, including heart rate, blood pressure and sweating.

In an interview with The Issaquah Press in June, Birdsall said he participated in clinical studies for the disease in hopes that a better treatment would be available to future MSA patients.

Beane recalled how Birdsall introduced himself and continued working despite his illness when she started working at Maple Hills in 2007.

“He was good to me, as a first year principal,” she said. “He was honest. He would send me e-mails if I made a good decision and send me e-mails if he thought I needed to think about something. He helped me grow as a professional.”

Birdsall was married to Polly Vaughn and had two teenage children, Madison and Kellen Birdsall.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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Steve Birdsall, former Maple Hills Elementary School teacher, dies

February 18, 2011

NEW — 5:30 p.m. Feb. 18, 2011

Former Maple Hills Elementary School teacher Steve Birdsall, known for his Hawaiian shirts and hiking, died Friday after an illness.

“In his 23 years in the Issaquah School District, Mr. Birdsall touched the lives of countless students, parents and staff members,” Maple Hills Principal Monique Beane wrote in an e-mail to parents.

Birdsall took a medical leave in 2010 after the disease he and his doctors were fighting — multiple system atrophy — took its toll on his body.

Multiple system atrophy is a rare condition with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. In addition, MSA patients have widespread damage to a part of the nervous system that controls important functions, including heart rate, blood pressure and sweating.

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YWCA hosts Passage Point open house

February 1, 2011

In preparation for the opening of the Passage Point housing project this summer, the YWCA is holding a community open house from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 9 at Maple Hills Elementary School, 15644 204th Ave. S.E., Renton.

Passage Point allows the YWCA to provide housing for men and women recently released from incarceration or hospitalization who wish to reunite with their children. The residents of Passage Point will have access to housing, employment and counseling services.

The open house will feature YWCA staff knowledgeable about Passage Point, employment, mental health services, children’s services and Family Village Issaquah, a YWCA permanent housing facility opening this fall.

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Issaquah teachers earn national certification

January 11, 2011

After hundreds of hours of self-reflection, videotaping their classes and studying for subject tests, 31 teachers in the Issaquah School District have earned their National Board Certification.

This brings the total number of district board certified teachers to 81. Read more

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Maple Hills, Sunset elementary schools plan to install new heaters

December 14, 2010

Two Issaquah School District schools are slated to receive new heaters this winter break: Maple Hills and Sunset elementary schools.

Maple Hills’ heaters are as old as the school, which was built in unincorporated King County near Renton in 1969. All of the heaters are gas operated, and earlier this year, staff and students reported smelling gas in the 300 wing and music room, according to an e-mail from Maple Hills Principal Monique Beane.

The district’s capital projects and facilities services worked together to locate a heater with a crack in it, district Chief of Finance and Operations Jake Kuper said.

The leak “wasn’t a lot of gas, but it doesn’t take a lot of gas to have a smell,” Kuper said. Read more

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Shooting temporarily shuts down Maple Hills Elementary School camp

October 8, 2010

NEW — 1:45 p.m. Oct. 8, 2010

Maple Hills Elementary School’s fifth-grade students stayed indoors Friday morning at the request of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. The fifth-graders were staying at Camp Coleman in Longbranch, located south of Bremerton, Thursday and Friday for the annual fifth-grade outdoor science camp.

A shooting happened about five miles away from the camp the Thursday evening. The suspects fled in the opposite direction of the camp, but, “it’s good they were made aware of it and paid attention to it,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ed Troyer said.

As a precaution, the sheriff’s office asked the camp director to move all activities indoors while authorities assessed the situation. Before noon, campers were allowed to resume their normal, outdoor activities.

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