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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Issaquah actor is all business on PBS’s teen money show

July 5, 2011

With a quick flip of the wrist, Austin Siedentopf slammed his wallet shut to extinguish the flames shooting out from his billfold.

Austin Siedentopf (left), Issaquah High School graduate and University of Washington student, stars in a scene from PBS’s ‘Biz Kid$’ with the image of Pat Cashman. Contributed

“Sorry, it’s a bit singed,” the teen actor on the PBS television show “Biz Kid$” — and magician in his spare time — said as he offered up his business card.

A 19-year-old Issaquah native, Siedentopf has been a lead actor on the educational PBS program since he was a ninth-grader at the Pacific Cascade Freshmen Campus. This year, Siedentopf will act in the show’s fifth and final season.

“Biz Kid$” is a fast-paced, quippy, “Bill Nye, the Science Guy”-esque show that aims to teach entrepreneurship and financial literacy to youth.

Each show features a kid entrepreneur and the story behind the success of his or her business. It’s not surprising that the program follows the same basic format as the renowned science show starring Nye. Erren Gotlieb and James Mckenna are the executive producers of both shows.

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Excessive fundraising efforts could lead to ‘compassion fatigue’

May 24, 2011

Every week it feels like there is a new disaster, a new cause or a new something for which someone is fundraising.

By Iman Baghai

It doesn’t take much to see how active our communities are in supporting various causes. Last year in one month at the Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus (now Pacific Cascade Middle School), there were more than five different fundraisers vying for my pocket. At Issaquah High School, there are some weeks during lunch when at least two people are coming to my table asking for money for various causes.

Has all of this fundraising made people immune to bad news and bypass causes that normally would grasp our hearts? Or is it a matter of timing? For example, the Japan earthquake grasped the world’s attention and triggered fundraising campaigns left and right. However, the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history were overlooked in favor of the royal wedding, Osama bin Laden’s death and Donald Trump’s formerly ambitious presidential campaign.

Is it disturbing that our hearts seem to follow the media, though the media does sometime support catastrophes. Because of the Internet, we are becoming more aware of the devastation and needs of the world around us. Granted, as we talk with one another, each issue garners less of our attention as we become immune to new issues and disasters; what was once eye-opening and shocking has become ordinary and dismissive.

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New advisory class fosters school community

September 28, 2010

Lynx Life adviser Caroline Friesen gives McKenzie Bostic a sheet containing her online username and password for accessing her grades. By Laura Geggel

When Pacific Cascade Middle School teacher Caroline Friesen asked which clubs and sports her students had joined, she wasn’t going off-topic in a humanities conversation, and she wasn’t engaging in chitchat between classes. Read more

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Gold Stars

June 29, 2010

Lee Xie

Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus World Studies student Lee Xie received the Global Citizen certificate from the World Affairs Council for her essay about Latin America. Her essay, “Latin America’s Biggest Crisis,” was selected from among submissions from third- through 12th-graders from throughout the nation.

The essay contest is designed to promote discussion among community members about ways individuals can positively contribute to the global community. This year, the essay topic was: “If you were a journalist on an international assignment, where would you like to go, what issue would you cover and why?”

Her mother, teacher Caroline Friesen, Principal Dana Bailey and Superintendent Steve Rasmussen presented Lee with her award in mid-May.

Chloe Chow

Sunny Hills Elementary School student Chloe Chow, 9, was awarded a Paul Robeson Award for her high academics and dedication to ballet.

Chow was nominated through Pacific Northwest Ballet School and Sunny Hills. She was given her award at the 23rd annual ceremony in early May.

There were 750 winners this year. The award is given in honor of Paul Robeson who was lauded in life for his intelligence, work ethic and multiple skills: professional athlete, lawyer, bass-baritone concert singer, stage and film actor, writer and social activist, according to the King County award website.

Girl Scouts from Troop 3802

Liberty High School Girl Scouts from Troop 3802 went on a senior trip to celebrate their Bridging to Adults ceremony, the culmination of the girls’ community service and life lessons learned through Scouts.

The girls went on a cruise to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Mexico to celebrate. It took them three years to raise the $14,000 they needed to go.

Many of their fundraisers were held in conjunction with various community service projects they did. The girls have been in Scouts for many years: Allison Adams, 14 years; Shelby Harding, 13 years; Tori Kraft, 12 years; Callie Weber, 12 years; and Deanna Morse, 7 years.

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Sammamish rebuffs Skyline field plan

June 22, 2010

Jacob Kuper threatened the Issaquah School District might take its ball and go home if it didn’t get the changes it wants to an agreement governing the use of the fields at Skyline High School.

“We could rescind our interlocal agreement and there would be no community hours — not that we want to do that, but legally it is an option,” said Kuper, chief financial officer for the district.

Kuper was quickly shut down by Sammamish City Manager Ben Yazici, who told him he wasn’t going to discuss the threat and he doubted it actually was a legal option.

Kuper later apologized for being “brusque,” as the council also cooled down during a sometimes-heated June 15 meeting.

The community fields at Skyline are used by about a half-dozen school sports teams in the fall and spring seasons. The district owns the land.

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Freshmen musicians start their own chamber orchestra

June 22, 2010

Members of a youth chamber orchestra, formed by Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus students, practice June 18. Contributed

Last December, Nirupama Suneel needed to come up with a way to fulfill her community service hours for school. The Pacific Cascade freshman from Sammamish had been heavily involved in music as a pianist and violinist, and she wanted to further pursue her passion with her friends while serving the community.

So, she decided to start her own chamber orchestra in January. The orchestra performed its first concert June 20 at the Aegis Inn, in Redmond.

“When she told us, I thought it was a nice surprise,” said Amy Yang, an orchestra member.

Members of the group, consisting of violinists, pianists, vocalists, flautists and percussionists, have worked an average of five hours per week since then to notate, re-arrange and practice various classic songs from the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, as well as some Disney favorites, with the purpose of entertaining people at senior centers.

“I’ve always been interested in a chamber orchestra,” Nirupama said. “With so many of my friends deeply passionate about music, I thought it would be a great idea to form an orchestra group in order to entertain audiences, showcase our talent and apply our musical education to serve the community.” Read more

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Gold Stars

June 15, 2010

Loose Change to Loosen Chains

Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus and Pine Lake Middle School students raised more than $33,500 for International Justice Mission through the annual Loose Change to Loosen Chains fundraiser in May.

IHS sports medicine class

Issaquah High School’s sports medicine class bandaged and bound up the competition at the Sports Medicine Competition and Symposium.

Of more than 50 teams and 600 competitors from across the nation, Issaquah took third place at the April 24 symposium held at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound. It is the sixth year the team has been ranked among the Top 5 teams in the nation.

Congratulations to the scoring team members — Hillary Dixon, Ayala Goldstein, Malorie Kerouac, Carter Mitchell, Brianna Fowler-Linder, Jordan Schroeder, Jack Chase and Mikenzie Vows.

IHS DECA international

Issaquah High School’s Blair Drangsholt, Andrew Park, Davis Leigh and Eric Yu are international champions.

The foursome competed in DECA’s Quiz Bowl during the International Career Development Conference April 23-28 in Louisville, Ky. They are the first Washington team in DECA’s history to win the international title.

They were among 15,000 students from around the world to compete at the conference, the third year in a row Issaquah has represented the state. They beat a highly competitive team from Ontario, Canada, in the final round, 30-24.

Halina Moran and Lauren Flynn also represented the school, competing in the Chapter Awards Project. They placed fifth in their event, another first for the school.

District gets classroom grant

The state’s Recreation and Conservation Office through the Department of Natural Resources awarded the Issaquah School District with an Invasive Species Council Awards Grant for classroom education May 18.

The $12,000 grant, given in partnership with the Pacific Education Institute, will help teach students about invasive species, the harm they cause and how to prevent their spread. The institute will also develop policies for science programs to discourage the use of invasive plants and animals in the classroom.

Gold Stars highlights accomplishments — big or small — by Issaquah students. Send a few sentences and the student’s name, age, grade, school, good deed and a photograph, if possible, to

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Walking for a cure

June 8, 2010

Relay for Life tops $225,000 goal

Above, more than 800 people, on 83 different teams, showed up to walk around the clock and raise money for cancer research at Issaquah’s Relay for Life event June 5 and 6 at Skyline High School. Photos By Chantelle Lusebrink

This year, 813 people ran, walked and wheeled in support of finding a cure for cancer at the annual Issaquah Relay for Life June 5 and 6.

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Gold Stars

June 1, 2010

Catie Raissipour and Jessi Wanamaker

Catie Raissipour, at right, and Jessi Wanamaker, two freshman at the Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus showed support for others by participating in this year’s Day of Silence April 16.

The two made short-sleeved shirts to show their support and sported them around campus.

The Day of Silence is a national day promoting tolerance for and recognizing the equality of students who have various sexual orientations. The day focuses on ending lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.

Cascade Ridge Elementary School Math Team

Proving they have the numbers to do what it takes, Cascade Ridge Elementary School Math Olympiad teammates raked in the honors at the state Math Olympiad competition May 1.

Congratulations to Annie Xia, Katey Jansma, Devyn Pong, Michelle Laqab, Andy Schwartz and Lisette Jones for winning ribbons of excellence in the problem-solving category and Kunal Gupta, Jill Streamer and Rithvik Nallapareddy for winning a medal of superiority in problem solving.

The teams were also awarded ribbons of excellence for algebraic sense, probability and statistics, geometric sense, measurement and number sense and for short-answer problem solving. The teams were given outstanding marks for the algebra and problem solving categories.

Melissa Myers coached the team with help from volunteer Rajeev Goel.

Gold Stars highlights accomplishments — big or small — by Issaquah students. Send a few sentences and the student’s name, age, grade, school, good deed and a photograph, if possible, to

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