Issaquah schools get creative to bolster ‘culture of kindness’ ideals

August 26, 2014

Kym Clayton has a child who struggles with social skills and speech delays, and in her quest to find help, she stumbled across an idea from a suburban school in Pennsylvania.

By Neil Pierson In June, Sunny Hills Elementary School received its new Buddy Bench, a place for students to confront their emotions and make new friends. Pictured in the front row are Sunny Hills student Evan Baker, and Beaver Lake students Alejandro Calderon and Jade Griffiths. In the back row are Beaver Lake teacher Patrick Ford, Sunny Hills Principal Leslie Lederman and Sunny Hills PTSA President Kym Clayton.

By Neil Pierson
In June, Sunny Hills Elementary School received its new Buddy Bench, a place for students to confront their emotions and make new friends. Pictured in the front row are Sunny Hills student Evan Baker, and Beaver Lake students Alejandro Calderon and Jade Griffiths. In the back row are Beaver Lake teacher Patrick Ford, Sunny Hills Principal Leslie Lederman and Sunny Hills PTSA President Kym Clayton.

Christian Bucks, a student at Roundtown Elementary School in York, Pa., invented a simple but effective way of helping children who were feeling sad or lonely. His Buddy Bench concept — a bench where kids can sit when they’re in need of a friend — has spread like wildfire in less than a year, reaching schools around the world.

Clayton believed the Buddy Bench might be a useful tool at Sunny Hills Elementary School, where she was PTSA president during the 2013-14 school year.

But simply going to a local hardware store and building a bench wasn’t what she had in mind.

“I think it would be really neat to be full circle, that kids are building this bench for other kids,” she explained. Read more

Reclaiming ‘May Madness’ for caring

May 27, 2014

Madeline Wells Issaquah         High School

Madeline Wells
Issaquah
High School

After last year’s fiasco with the infamous “May Madness” competition, Issaquah High School is responding by reclaiming the name.

This year, May has been dedicated to a series of service projects and events geared toward creating a more caring and unified student body.

“Our hope for ‘May Madness’ was to create a new perspective for the student body,” said Amanda Levenson, a student involved in Associated Student Body. “We wanted students to look around, see how other people are hurting, and understand each other better and how they should interact.”

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Let’s Talk About It — Bullying over the Internet is easier than in person

May 27, 2014

Jacob Brunette Issaqauh         High School

Jacob Brunette
Issaqauh
High School

Students at Issaquah High School pride themselves on their kindness and the inclusive atmosphere of their school. Yet, in the few instances where IHS makes the national news, it always seems to be for something that totally contradicts that positive self-image: Racist tweets directed toward students at Garfield High School or the sexist “May Madness” competition are the two major examples that come to mind.

And while Issaquah certainly has the most prominent profile in that regard, neither Skyline, Liberty, nor Eastside Catholic is free of bullying either. The question is, how can schools that pride themselves on being friendly, welcoming places still be host to such negative behavior?

A major explanation comes in the rise of social media. While the stereotypical view of bullying is that of bullies beating up kids for lunch money, in reality, that hasn’t been accurate for a long time.

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Old year brought new problems

December 31, 2013

Top news stories of the year

Many new things happened in Issaquah this past year and not all of them were greeted warmly.

While most people saw new parks and a new mayor as positive changes for the city, contention rose around new technology, new development standards, new fish ladders, new plastic bag ordinances and a newly legalized drug.

Much of what happened in 2013 spells more growth for Issaquah in the years to come and even more changes ahead. The year 2014 can learn much from the lessons taught by this past year of transformation.

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May Madness contest upsets Issaquah High

May 14, 2013

Among some students at Issaquah High School, a dubious contest known as May Madness has popped up in recent years almost as predictably as final exams.

But because the object of the underground competition is to determine the best-looking, or “hottest,” girls in school, administrators, teachers and many students are eager to stamp it out.

Anonymous promoters of May Madness at Issaquah High have once again posted on a Facebook page 64 yearbook-style photos of girls for one-on-one matchups in brackets patterned after sports tournaments. A girl’s name can be entered in or withheld from the contest without her permission.

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