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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King County honors 11 ‘green’ Issaquah district schools

June 16, 2011

NEW — 3 p.m. June 16, 2011

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

In total, the 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.

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Supporters meet fundraising goal for science curriculum

June 14, 2011

Kasten Donahoe and Abigail Serna participate in the effort to raise money for updated science curriculum. By Lynn Juniel

NEW — 3:45 p.m. June 14, 2011

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

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

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Bears awaken from hibernation

May 17, 2011

Wildlife experts advise caution as local sightings increase

Bears take refuge in a Sammamish Plateau tree during a May sighting. By Bent Wiencke

State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents responded to a bear in a home last week, after a surprised Issaquah woman discovered the animal pawing around inside a locked garage.

The incident underscored the need for education about black bears as the close encounters between humans and bears start for the year.

State wildlife officials and organizations remind residents in Issaquah and other communities near bear habitat to take precautions as soon as possible to limit the potential for dangerous encounters.

Bear Awareness Week is observed in Washington through May 21.

The incident relating to the bear in the garage is the latest sighting in recent weeks as bears started to emerge from hibernation early last month.

Issaquah School District administrators spotted bears near several campuses in April and May, including Cascade Ridge, Clark and Newcastle elementary schools. Police received a call about a bear at the downtown Issaquah Salmon Hatchery in late April.

Residents have reported frequent sightings in neighborhoods throughout the city. In the latest example, Issaquah police officers received a call at 11:43 a.m. May 10 about a bear inside a garage in a tree-lined neighborhood near the Sammamish Family YMCA, not far from Providence Point.

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Video class teaches next generation of directors

May 17, 2011

Roll out the red carpet, hit the spotlights and flash the cameras, because students at Newcastle Elementary School have footage in the can.

Dylan Strode (center) takes charge as a videographer and Holly Rice (right) directs a scene while recreating Mo Williams’ book ‘Knuffle Bunny Too.’ By Tim Pfarr

Five years ago, the school launched its Video Production Club. It has since become one of the most popular groups on campus. More than 50 students applied for the 25 spots in the club this year to learn the basics of filmmaking, from storyboarding to completion.

The projects help the students work better in teams, learn how to tell stories in creative ways, acquire new skills and identify their own strengths within the medium, said MJ Keller, fourth-grade teacher and club leader.

The club is offered to fourth- and fifth-graders twice a year, with weekly meetings before school. Each session, students complete a film between five and 20 minutes long, and they use their final meeting to roll out a red carpet — literally — and screen their work for parents.

This spring’s session includes 16 students, who split into small groups to create films under the guidance of a teacher.

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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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Off the Press

March 8, 2011

As a journalist, I’ve covered fatal accidents, murder plots and bizarre incidents involving women jumping naked through living room windows. These stories always catch me off guard, but a room of 11-year-olds recently caught me more off-guard than ever.

Tim Pfarr Press reporter

As part of Newcastle Elementary School’s literacy celebration the first week of March, I volunteered to read aloud to the school’s fifth-graders. After reading, I talked about my job and answered questions from the students.

“Do you do more interviews on the phone or in person?” one girl asked.

Very good question, I told her. Definitely on the phone.

“Have you ever interviewed Tim Lincecum?”

Not yet, but I’d love to, I said.

Then, the weird questions came.

“Who do you like more, the New York Knicks or the Orlando Magic? Who do you like more, the Orlando Magic or the Miami Heat? Do you like Duke University?”

What?!?

“Knicks? Magic? Yes?” I said.

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Literacy campaign draws children’s author

March 1, 2011

Seattle-based author children’s author Keith Baker treats Newcastle Elementary School’s fifth-graders to a drawing workshop Feb. 17. By Tim Pfarr

There was no place he could hide.

Around each corner, students greeted him with excitement. Whenever he stopped moving, a line would form of students who wanted to say hello, get autographs and share their own story ideas.

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Issaquah elementary schools earn King County eco honor

January 25, 2011

Creekside, Grand Ridge recognized for recycling

Milk carton, paper and bottle recycling? Check.

Composting? Capri Sun recycling? Check and check again.

Madelyn Fernstrom (left) and Jarrod Morgan, students in Sanjana Pathak’s fourth-grade class at Grand Ridge Elementary School, dump a classroom tub of mixed paper into a barrel for recycling. By Leslie Lederman

King County Green Schools Program honored Issaquah’s Creekside and Grand Ridge elementary schools in January for their resource conservation, recycling included.

Creekside and Grand Ridge were two of eight schools honored countywide.

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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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