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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Press Editorial

October 11, 2011

Complex school bond will challenge voters

The Issaquah School Board has postponed the vote for a school bond from February until April, at the request of the campaign committee. It was the right decision. It will take every minute from now until April to convince voters that this $219 million bond should be approved — or not.

Heading the list of controversies will be the $82 million to rebuild Clark Elementary and Issaquah Middle schools so the two student populations can then switch places. At the same time, Tiger Mountain Community High School, home to about 100 students, will also be relocated — another $3.9 million.

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Potential $227 million bond issue draws questions from school board

September 6, 2011

Equity and getting the best construction return for the district’s dollars seemed to be the underlying issues as the Issaquah School Board continued to debate a potential $227 million capital improvement bond issue voters might decide in February.

The board has a little less than a month to decide on the bond question prior to a Sept. 28 deadline. Toward the end of the discussion at the board’s Aug. 31 meeting, board President Jan Woldseth Colbrese said officials may schedule some extra talks in addition to those planned for the regularly scheduled September board sessions. One topic might be questions about whether officials have set their improvement sights too high.

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Education opportunities grow in student gardens

August 23, 2011

Sunny Hills Elementary School first-grader Digant Dash (left) plants flower bulbs in the school’s first-grade garden with fourth-graders Derek Chao and Spencer Bernsten. By Jane Ulrich

Inch by inch, row by row, students are planting lettuce, herbs and broccoli in their school gardens.

This fall, teachers are transforming gardens into outdoor classrooms as students pick up trowels and learn about drip irrigation systems.

Dozens of schools incorporate gardening into their curriculum or have gardening clubs, including Apollo, Cascade Ridge, Challenger, Clark, Creekside, Discovery, Endeavour, Grand Ridge, Issaquah Valley, Maple Hills and Sunny Hills elementary schools; Issaquah and Pine Lake middle schools; and Liberty and Tiger Mountain Community high schools.

“I think the outdoors is just a natural place that kids want to be,” Sunny Hills fourth-grade teacher Jane Ulrich said.

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Issaquah School District to request bond in February

June 28, 2011

The Issaquah School Board has agreed to put a bond before voters Feb. 14.

Board members are still reviewing the contents and cost of the bond, but agreed to decide on both by late September, giving community supporters four months to campaign.

A bond is a property tax that pays for school construction and repairs. Money from bonds cannot be used for teacher salaries or for classroom supplies.

The last bond put before voters — a $241.87 million bond in February 2006 — passed with about 68 percent of the vote. All bonds need at least 60 percent approval to pass.

Some of the larger projects on the 2006 bond included the rebuilding of Issaquah High and Briarwood Elementary schools; the expansion of Skyline High School; the addition of Creekside Elementary School; and remodels at Maywood Middle and Liberty High schools.

District administrators had originally planned to ask voters for a bond in 2010, but decided to wait until 2012 because of the recession.

The proposed 2012 bond has projects for all of the district’s 24 schools, but the list has yet to be finalized.

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Issaquah hams to practice emergency communication

June 21, 2011

Two Issaquah amateur radio operator groups invite the public to view a mock communication emergency the weekend of June 25 and 26.

Operators from the Issaquah Amateur Radio Club will broadcast from 9 a.m. June 25 to 11 a.m. June 26 at Sunny Hills Elementary School, 3200 Issaquah-Pine Lake Road S.E., Sammamish.

The Issaquah Communication Support Team’s event is from 1 p.m. June 25 to noon June 26 at Hans Jensen Youth Camp, across the street from the Lake Sammamish Boat Ramp.

Members will set up field radio communication stations, get on the air and contact hundreds of other operators in the United States and Canada as part of their participation in the American Radio Relay League’s annual Field Day.

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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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Issaquah School District considers $228 million bond

May 24, 2011

Though far from complete, the 2012 Issaquah School District bond has something for all of the district’s 24 schools, making the work-in-process price $228.6 million.

The proposal also includes remodeled or expanded schools for Apollo, Clark, Issaquah Valley and Sunny Hills elementary schools, Issaquah Middle School, and Liberty and Tiger Mountain Community high schools.

The bond proposal suggests the district tear down Tiger Mountain and Clark, and move the students to a remodeled building where Issaquah Middle School is now. The two schools would be close, but not connected, Associate Superintendent Ron Thiele said, with the Tiger move costing about $3.9 million and the Clark move costing about $19.5 million.

In the meantime, the district would build a new, two-story Issaquah Middle School where Clark and Tiger are now; that would cost about $62.5 million.

“This is the biggest project on the bond,” Thiele said.

The proposed bond also shows several trends — switches from carpet to rubber flooring, three new artificial-turf fields and two rain shields for outdoor play areas.

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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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Art study takes students from illusions to surrealism

January 18, 2011

Sunny Hills Elementary School fourth-grader Hal Mady (front) and Averie Hasselbalch view perspective paintings during the school’s art walk Jan. 11. By Christopher Huber

Art Walk chairwoman Monica Rockwell waited for Sunny Hills Elementary School fourth-graders to enter her makeshift art gallery with excitement in her eyes.

Rockwell was waiting to share her passion for the arts with the eager students on the second of the school’s two-day Art Walk event Jan. 11. The Sunny Hills PTA sponsors six Art Walks throughout the year, and an all-school art fair every other year.

“The third-, fourth- and fifth-graders are really receptive when it comes to art,” Rockwell said before teacher Jane Ulrich’s fourth-graders entered the conference room-turned gallery. Read more

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