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?”


“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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Newcastle family wins Hallmark Halloween card competition

October 26, 2010

Tina Palmer’s photo from Halloween 2008 of her daughter Kate, left, and son Jack, right, won Hallmark’s Scare Up Some Fun competition this year. By Tina Palmer

Being a parent can be hard, as any mother or father will tell you. Newcastle resident Tina Palmer got a reminder of that Oct. 31, 2008, when she had her then-3-year-old son Jack and 1-year-old daughter Kate put on their costumes and sit next to each other on the front porch for a photo.

It didn’t go so well, and Kate began to yell. As she screamed, Jack covered his ears.

“I was like, ‘Come on, guys. Can’t you just sit normal for a second?’” Palmer said.

She captured a photo mid-scream, and entered the photo with a caption to Hallmark’s Scare Up Some Fun competition this year, which invited customers to create their own Halloween cards with an offer to print the best entries.

Hallmark chose Palmer’s card to be one of 23 customer-created cards sold online and 16 sold in stores across the country.

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Girl Scouts host open houses

September 7, 2010

Local Girl Scout troops are hosting informational meetings or open houses. Learn more by calling 641-1126. Middle and high school troops are welcoming new girls as well. All events are from 7-8 p.m.

Information meetings (all take place in school multipurpose rooms)

-Newcastle Elementary — Sept. 23

-Clark and Issaquah Valley elementary — Sept. 27, Clark multipurpose room

-Apollo Elementary — Sept. 28

-Cougar Ridge and Sunset elementary — Sept. 29, Cougar Ridge multipurpose room

-Briarwood and Maple Hills elementary — Sept. 30, Briarwood multipurpose room Read more

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Creekside Elementary welcomes students with natural setting, high-tech touches

August 17, 2010

Robin Earl, Creekside Elementary School principal, stands in a balcony hallway overlooking the library core. Large windows bring the outdoor beauty inside. By Christopher Huber

To the tune of hammering and buzzing saws on a hot day at the end of July, Principal Robin Earl walked through the crowded hallways of her new school.

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Ideas sprout at ‘green’ schools

August 17, 2010

For many students heading back to school this year, green is the new black.

From the clothes and appliances they buy to the way they conserve energy and recycle waste, green students are infusing their lives with an environmental perspective.

But even students with the greenest of intentions need guidance, and many got it from King County’s Green Schools program. Out of Issaquah’s 25 schools, 10 have participated in the program: Cascade Ridge, Challenger, Clark, Discovery, Endeavour and Newcastle elementary schools, Beaver Lake, Maywood and Pine Lake middle schools and Liberty High School.

Jack Sansing (left) and Katie and Noah Springborn directed their classmates to use the correct bins after lunch as members of Cascade Ridge Elementary's 2009 Green Team. By Christopher Huber

King County Green School began as a pilot program in 2002 and opened to K-12 public and private schools in 2003, Project Manager Dale Alekel said.

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