Inaugural bus ride-along gets kindergartners ready for school

August 14, 2012

Issaquah School District kindergarten students and their parents line up to board a school bus Aug. 8 at Issaquah High School to become familiar with part of their new school experience. By Lillian O’Rorke

Standing in line next to a row of big yellow school buses, a flock of incoming kindergartners squirmed and jibber-jabbered as they awaited their maiden voyage.

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Schools, Issaquah School District win Earth Heroes at School Awards

May 8, 2012

Renee De Tolla, Ashley Hirst and Leslie Lederman (from left), of Grand Ridge Elementary School, pose with King County Executive Dow Constantine at April 26’s Earth Heroes award ceremony. By Ned Ahrens/King County Department of Transportation

The Issaquah School District’s green side was on display recently when it received several environmental honors from King County Executive Dow Constantine.

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Issaquah PTSA honors outstanding volunteers at Golden Acorn Awards

April 3, 2012

The primary decorations were orange construction cones and yellow caution tape. Winners were described in terms keeping with that theme, such as construction tools or architects. One winner from the Issaquah School District PTSA Council was described as “the construction glue” that holds the council together.

Gathered in the commons of Pacific Cascade Middle School, the Issaquah PTSA Council held its annual Golden Acorn Awards ceremony March 27.

Not counting the several winners from the districtwide PTSA council, the night honored approximately 75 winners from 23 PTSA units, said Becky Lawrence, vice-president of elementary schools for the PTSA council. A committee of PTSA leaders from each school picked the winners from their individual schools, Lawrence added. As you might expect, criteria included what PTSA members have done for their schools, but also the district and their involvement in the community as a whole.

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Newcastle Elementary School organizes inaugural geography bee

January 31, 2012

Winner Colby Vuong has chance to enter state competition

Colby Vuong, a Newcastle Elementary School fifth-grade student, waits to reveal his answer to a written question during the final round of the school’s Jan. 13 National Geographic Bee. By Christina Lords

Just slightly and not at all.

That’s how much runner-up Bridget Ury and first-place winner Colby Vuong said they studied for Newcastle Elementary School’s National Geographic Bee — which concluded in a showdown of 14 contestants vying for the top spot in front of their instructors, classmates and family members.

Newcastle Mayor Rich Crispo and Deputy Mayor Lisa Jensen served as official judges at the Jan. 13 event.

Each fourth- and fifth-grade class held a geography bee of its own — sending two representatives of each class to go head to head with their peers for the school’s National Geography Bee.

“These questions were a lot harder than the ones in class,” Ury said. “Then we had multiple choice answers of A, B, C, D … here you just pretty much had to know them.”

Because Newcastle Elementary’s bee is a part of the National Geographic Bee, Vuong will have the opportunity to take a written test to qualify for the state bee.

Vuong and Ury, both residents of Newcastle, represented the top-two qualifiers from Mariel Hanna’s fifth-grade class.

The other 12 participants were Olivia Lesnik, Andre Wax, Brooke Ury, Dillon Gyotoku, Joey Eigo, Trisha Jaggi, Tristan Brecht, Jacob Robblee, David Heyward, Toshin Rao, Tommy Todderud and Nathan Jackson.

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Liberty High School junior spearheads letter campaign for soldiers overseas

January 3, 2012

Liberty High School student Stacey Hurwitz poses with a few of the letters she gathered to send to members of the United States military stationed overseas. Contributed

Liberty High School junior Stacey Hurwitz, 16, has no relatives serving in the military.

Still, she noticed some things regarding United States soldiers that bothered her. She saw news stories about high unemployment rates among former soldiers. She read a story about high suicide rates among military personnel over the holidays. In the end, she wanted to do something about what she saw and heard.

“I decided I could probably do something to help them,” Stacey said, adding she became determined to do something more personal than donate money.

“She’s a humble girl but she’s definitely a go-getter,” mom Barbra Hurwitz said.

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MOHAI honors Newcastle Elementary School’s Liza Rickey as Teacher of the Year

November 29, 2011

Newcastle Elementary instructor Liza Rickey, recently named the MOHAI Teacher of the Year for 2011, presides over her fourth grade class, leading them through a math lesson. Photos By Tom Corrigan

Newcastle Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Liza Rickey leaves no doubt that part of her teaching philosophy is to challenge her students as much as possible. Read more

Off the Press

November 8, 2011

Christina Lords Press reporter

Lessons in life taught by Mrs. Tinnea

I can’t shake the joy in Katie Tinnea’s voice.

She’s just concluded another successful day with her class full of 6- and 7-year-old first-graders at Newcastle Elementary School.

She sounds bright — smart, yes, but more than that. It’s like she exudes happiness —sunshine, even — over the phone as I make my way through another damp, dreary Issaquah day at the office.

Katie tells me that aside from her self-described No. 1 job of being the best mother she can be to her 14-month-old daughter Kennedy and loving wife to her husband Ryan, the 29-year-old Sammamish resident and Newcastle teacher is living with stage IV colon cancer — the most advanced form of the disease.

Stage IV means her colon cancer has been carried through her lymph system to distant parts of her body, including additional tumors in her liver and spots on her lungs.

Stage IV means she’ll be on routine maintenance chemotherapy, a treatment once every other week, for the rest of her life.

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Past bond ushers in school renovation projects

August 23, 2011

In February 2006, Issaquah School District voters approved a $241.8 million bond issue to fund new construction and renovations around the district.

Maywood Middle School is being expanded and modernized. sky-pix aerial photography

The schools are following the plan laid out to voters with one exception, according to information on the district website.

In early 2007, the district acted to redirect construction dollars originally earmarked to fund construction of a new middle school, the district’s fifth. Because of changed enrollment and other factors, officials decided, rather than build a new school, they would convert the Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus into a full-blown middle school beginning in fall 2010. As a result, the Issaquah and Skyline high school campuses were revamped to include space for new freshmen.

Funded by that 2006 bond issue, here are some of the projects still under way in the district.

“The biggies are all down on the south end this year,” said Sara Niegowski, district executive director of communications.

• Planners slated Maywood Middle School in Renton for a modernization and expansion project. According to the latest construction update from the district this month, Maywood’s old administration/commons area and counseling offices are gone, with construction of replacement facilities under way. Demolition of the parking lots and sidewalks are nearing completion with rebuilding scheduled to have already started. Grading of new parking areas has begun.

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Group fishes for revival of Salmon in the Classroom program

August 9, 2011

Liza Rickey (left), Clark Elementary School teacher, with fifth-graders including Aria Soeprono and Rebecca Ellis, watch as their coho fry swim away. By Greg Farrar

Like the miniscule fish reared in the program, Salmon in the Classroom could return.

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King County honors 11 Issaquah district ‘green’ schools

June 28, 2011

Thanks to the “green” conservation work of staff members and students, the King County Green Schools Program is honoring 11 schools in the Issaquah School District.

In total, King County will honor 77 schools across the country, including the 11 schools in Issaquah.

The three-level Green Schools Program provides hands-on assistance, recycling containers and signs, and website tools to schools. In addition to the Green Schools Program, King County provides an elementary school assembly program, classroom workshops and support for student green teams.

The program has saved schools and the district money from successful waste reduction and recycling programs, and reducing energy and water use.

Seven schools in the district have achieved Level One status, including Apollo, Cougar Ridge, Issaquah Valley, Sunny Hills and Sunset elementary schools; Pacific Cascade Middle School; and Issaquah High School. Level One schools focus on waste reduction and recycling.

Two schools in the district achieved Level Two, including Creekside and Newcastle elementary schools, after students and teachers targeted energy conservation.

The other two schools — Issaquah Middle School and Liberty High School — completed Level Three after students and teachers worked on water conservation.

“Thanks to support from King County Green Schools and city of Issaquah, the students and staff at these 11 schools understand why conservation is important and are doing a great job conserving natural resources and dollars,” John Macartney, the district’s resource conservation manager, said in a news release.

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