Spurred by Skyline threat, absences jump 70 percent at Issaquah schools

September 20, 2012

NEW — 6:15 p.m. Sept. 20, 2012

Student attendance in the Issaquah School District tumbled Thursday, and absences spiked by 70 percent, as police investigated a shooting threat against Skyline High School.

District administrators decided late Wednesday to close Skyline on Thursday and keep other campuses open. Staffers and students at other schools felt the ripples early.

Districtwide, absences increased at 18 of 25 schools Thursday, although not every instance is attributable to the Skyline threat.

Officials counted 1,158 students absent Thursday, up from 680 a week earlier, Sept. 13, according to a comparison of attendance data. The district serves about 17,000 students from Preston to Newcastle, and from Sammamish to Renton.

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Issaquah School District receives state energy grants

June 12, 2012

The Issaquah School District has been awarded energy grants totaling $120,084, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“In addition to helping create jobs, it will help the district move forward with work that will reduce energy consumption and improve the learning and working environments,” Capital Projects Director Steve Crawford said in a statement. “The annual savings from this grant combined with our 2011 grant work will save the district a little over $200,000 a year in operational costs … especially significant as it is a reduction in general fund operational costs, which compete with classroom funding.”

The grants are intended to produce long-term energy and operational savings for the district, improve the indoor environmental qualities of schools and help stimulate construction-industry jobs. The energy projects use utility incentives, energy savings, local money and grant funds to make improvements that may otherwise not be affordable. The OSPI awarded $5.9 million in energy grants to 14 school districts throughout the state.

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Secrets lie at the heart of the Porters’ 50-year marriage

May 29, 2012

Beverly and Jack Porter in 2011

Keeping secrets is part of what has kept Jack and Beverly Porter together for 50 years.

During the Sammamish couple’s half-century marriage, Jack spent 12 years as a contractor for the CIA. The pair faced the challenge of keeping Jack’s career identity secret from their five children and friends. In those 12 years, no one knew except for Beverly. The couple explained that sharing the secret made them stronger.

“We were in it together,” Beverly said.

The Porters are about to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Looking back, they attribute the longevity of their relationship to their children, their faith and a pair of other important factors.

“There are two ingredients,” Jack said about his martial success, “patience and a sense of humor.”

The couple met in October 1961. Jack, then a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin, was working as a sales representative for the American Can Co. He was transferred to Seattle, where he met Beverly, a North Dakota native who had recently moved to the Lake Hills area of Bellevue with her family.

One year later, on June 2, 1962, the couple was married at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Bellevue.

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Pine Lake Middle School welcomes new principal

May 29, 2012

Pine Lake Middle School will soon welcome a new principal. Beginning July 1, Michelle Caponigro will take over for retiring Principal Roy Adler. Caponigro has served as the school’s assistant principal for the past seven years.

“Parents and staff want a principal leader who is compassionate and personable and able to seamlessly continue the culture of excellent student achievement, collaboration, professional development and instructional leadership that has always been a hallmark of Pine Lake Middle School,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen wrote in an announcement to the community May 22. “We have found that leader in Michelle Caponigro.”

Adler, who is on medical leave, announced his plans to retire earlier this month. Since then, he has continued working with staff and Caponigro by phone. In a letter to families, Adler said his retirement will allow him to focus on his family and recovery. This year marks Adler’s 41st year in public education; 11 of those years have been at Pine Lake.

“Pine Lake is a school I couldn’t just walk away from. Something life changing had to happen to facilitate that,” he wrote. “No educator could ask for more than to serve this community. It has been a privilege, not a job.”

Preliminary timeline is in place for school, fields construction

May 15, 2012

Issaquah School District officials are wasting no time when it comes to putting their recently approved $219 million bond into action.

The school board reviewed a preliminary schedule of projects and timeline for school construction and other district upgrades at its May 9 meeting. Some projects could begin as soon as July and other smaller projects extend through the end of 2019.

“Somebody has to be first and somebody has to be last,” said Jacob Kuper, chief operations officer for the district.

Phase 2 construction of Liberty High School and Phase 2 at Maywood Middle School are first in line with finishes projected by the end of 2013. At the caboose of the tentative timeline of the larger projects is the reconstruction of Sunny Hills Elementary School, which wouldn’t finish until December 2018.

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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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School leaders prepare for potential problems as food allergies rise

February 14, 2012

Students gather for lunch last week in the cafeteria of Issaquah Middle School. If a student has a food allergy, he or she can be put at an isolated table. By Tom Corrigan

There is absolutely no doubt that instances of food allergies have increased, said physician and allergist Marlene Peng, of Minor and James Medical in Seattle.

“No one knows quite why,” added Peng, though she did say there are several theories.

The issue of food allergies hit home in the Issaquah School District last month when an Issaquah High School student suffered what was described as a severe reaction to kiwi. From the school’s point of view, that specific issue is moot, as the student withdrew from local schools Jan. 26. Withdrawal forms do not require a reason for leaving the school and no reason was given in this instance, Sara Niegowski, district executive director of communications, said in response to a public records request.

In the past, officials have said the district had a personalized health plan in place to deal with the student’s allergy. Creation of a unique health plan is one of several standardized steps the district takes when notified of any student health issue, including allergies, said Jan Stromgren, a registered nurse serving Pine Lake Middle School, who is also the nursing team leader for the district.

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Local students cast ballots in statewide mock election

November 15, 2011

Though most students in primary and secondary schools do not meet the minimum voting age, the under-18 crowd still participated in the November election — sort of.

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed invited students in kindergarten to 12th grade to participate in the 2011 State Mock Election, a state-sponsored educational effort designed to establish voter participation later in life.

In the Issaquah School District, classes at Sunset and Sunny Hills elementary schools, Pine Lake Middle School and Issaquah High School joined the mock election. The librarian at Sunset Elementary even handed out “I Voted” stickers to students.

Older students voted for the same statewide measures as adults in the real election. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade received more age-appropriate measures.

Issaquah School District students endorsed the liquor privatization measure, Initiative 1183, 58 percent to 42 percent. Local students also backed the tolling measure, Initiative 1125, 60 percent to 40 percent, and the long-term care measure, Initiative 1163, 71 percent to 29 percent.

Statewide, 13,901 students participated in the process.

Issaquah School District students join statewide mock election

November 3, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 3, 2011

Though most students in primary and secondary schools do not meet the minimum voting age, the under-18 crowd can still participate in the November election — sort of.

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed invited students in kindergarten to 12th grade to participate in the 2011 State Mock Election, a state-sponsored educational effort designed to establish voter participation later in life.

In the Issaquah School District, classes at Sunset and Sunny Hills elementary schools, Pine Lake Middle School and Issaquah High School joined the mock election. The librarian at Sunset Elementary even has a roll of “I Voted” stickers to hand out to students.

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Student stars in county’s ‘Let’s Do This!’ health campaign

September 20, 2011

Hillary Dominguez, 12, of Sammamish, poses near the ‘Let's Do This!’ campaign billboard on East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. By Greg Farrar

“When she was really little,” Frances Clairmont said of daughter Hillary Dominguez, “she used to point at the TV and say, ‘I’m going to do that.’”

Clairmont said that at first, she and the rest of her family really weren’t sure if Hillary was hoping to be a doctor, a model or whatever other profession was being portrayed on the screen.

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