More than 200 parents attended the Issaquah School District’s first ever “Introduction to the American School System” family information night. The event, led by a group of parents, sought to inform families from diverse cultural backgrounds about how schools “work” in Issaquah and how our system may differ from that in other countries. Interpreters interpreted as parent leaders from India, Columbia, Mexico, Denmark, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, and Korea offered their experiences and perspectives about navigating an unfamiliar school environment. Specific information on everything from communicating with teachers and principals to volunteering in schools and navigating graduation requirements was given both orally and in handouts translated into several languages. The handouts can be found on the district website here: http://www.issaquah.wednet.edu/family/new-to-the-issaquah-school-district
District administrators and counselors were also on hand to help answer questions and to meet and greet families. As the families entered, they were given a red dot sticker to place on a world map to signify their home country. People marveled at how many countries were represented in the room. Free child care was offered along with snacks for both the kids and adults. Many people stayed late as parents enjoyed getting to know one another making new connections and new friends. The Family Partnership Team plans to hold similar events in the future and invites any interested moms and dads in the District to join them. If you are interested in being part of the ISD’s cultural family partnership team, please contact Rosann Rankin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Briarwood Elementary School students eagerly swarmed the stage as they browsed tables upon tables of gently used books. Each student carried a bag and excitedly added new titles to their book collection. Some students pondered titles and read a few pages before picking books, while other students chose books based on their covers or genre. One of the PTSA book swap parents shared, “This is an annual tradition at Briarwood. It’s a great way for our students to recycle their books and find new favorites to enjoy.”
On the day of the book swap, students brought gently used books they no longer read or wanted from home and swapped them for books brought in by other students. The book swap was a book-for-book trade. For example, students who brought in six books could choose six different books to take home. The book swap is one of the many ways Briarwood encourages their students to read.
With pencils in hand and paper in front of them, author and illustrator Erik Brooks led kindergarten students at Maple Hills Elementary School in a guided outline drawing of an alligator. “Draw an upside-down U here. Now go out to the edge of your paper, but not all the way, and draw a smaller upside-down u there…” Once the outline was complete, kindergarteners were encouraged to finish their character with details that would tell a story.
"Details make the story," explained Erik. “Why is my alligator carrying ice cream? Why is there a banana peel on the ground in front of him? Will he trip on the banana peel? Will he be sad? These are all things the illustration tells us and gives us clues as to how the story will unfold.” Once Erik had finished his alligator, he joined students on the floor and learned what details they had drawn for their alligators and how it would affect their stories.
"Everybody's looks different and every alligator tells its own story," shared Librarian Christina Stempson.
After drawing with the kindergarten classes, Erik met with second graders. His lesson elaborated on the drawing exercise he had done with the kindergarten classes. Together, Erik and students brainstormed story ideas. From these ideas, students crafted sentences and then illustrated their sentence, adding further detail that led to further written description and elaboration of their stories.
Along with practicing writing and illustrating, students asked Erik questions about why he became an author and illustrator, the book binding process, and what being an author entailed.
"I started writing when I was in school, much like you," shared Erik. "I published my first book when I was 27 and have been writing professionally ever since." Originally Erik thought he wanted to be an illustrator and then decided to turn his illustrations into stories because he realized he had stories to tell through his characters. “Once you come up with characters, it inspires you to write your own stories,” shared Erik. “You get to communicate new emotions and adventures.”
Many students wondered why Erik’s main characters are usually animals. To these questions Erik shared, "I write about animals because I think they're amazing. Polar bears live in such frigid elements and wolverines are so tough. They're just fascinating. I also use animals, because some young children find it easier to read stories about animals, especially if the story is sad. With animals, young readers can relate but don't feel too sad.”
While writing and illustrating together, Erik shared, “I have a sketchbook and try to draw almost every day. That way I can improve my skills and stories.” Students were surprised to learn that Erik is constantly learning and that learning doesn’t stop after school.
Along with the kindergarten and second grade classes, Erik met with all grade levels during his two day visit to Maple Hills Elementary School. Each grade level received a tailored writing and illustrating exercise after a school-wide presentation about Erik’s books and his writing and illustrating process.
The Issaquah School District is delighted to announce that the Issaquah School Board has been named 2015 School Board of the Year by the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA). The award was announced during the WSSDA annual conference held in Bellevue on Friday, November 20. The Issaquah, University Place, and West Valley school boards were honored as school Boards of the Year for success in increasing graduation rates, reducing achievement gaps, and using data to develop solutions and monitor results.
The room was deathly quiet as Lieutenants Ryan Anderson and Pete Wilson waited; sophomore students sat in front of them in a small auditorium at Skyline High School looking over laminated photos. “I don’t show you these photos to make you feel sick or scare you,” shared Lieutenant Ryan of Eastside Fire and Rescue. “I share these photos because I’m tired of responding to auto collisions of teenagers that could have been prevented if they had thought again before getting behind the wheel of a car. These are real life situations that we’ve had to respond to. Yes, they’re graphic, but they’re real. Nothing like the Hollywood stuff you see on TV.”
The focus of Ryan and Pete’s presentation was distracted driving. Whether it is from texting, drinking, or drugs, they asked students to think again before getting behind the wheel of a car. “We speak to the sophomore classes because they’re just starting to get their permits and learn to drive,” shared Ryan. “We want them to understand the responsibility they have been given.”
During the first half of their presentation Lieutenant Ryan shared collision statistics with students to help them better understand the bad habits young drivers can get into and how to help prevent them. “Some of the top reasons teenagers gave for not wearing their seatbelt, included ‘I’ll wrinkle my clothes,’ ‘I’m just driving around the corner,’ and ‘I might drive into a lake,’” shared Ryan. He then surveyed the class to see who planned on driving into a lake and joked that it would be one very expensive way to wash your car. While Ryan joked with students to lighten the mood, he was very serious about the importance of wearing a seatbelt.
“This program started in 1999 because of students in this area,” shared Pete Wilson. “I remember when the fire department brought a car from a teenage wreck to my school and set it out for a week as a reminder. That driver had been a friend of mine and I had been at the party he had attended. No one thought to ask if he had been ok to drive home that night. This is why we ask you to think again. Your life- your friend’s life- might depend on it.”
After sharing how the poor decisions of teenage drivers had affected his life, Pete reviewed the legal limit of intoxication with students. Together they figured out how many drinks it would take a 150 pound male and a 125 pound female before they had reached the legal limit. They also reviewed how long it would take for the two models to process the amount of alcohol it would take them to reach the legal limit. Students were surprised to learn that women take longer to process alcohol than men and that the only way to get alcohol out of your system is time.
Towards the end of the presentation, students, Aiden and Emma volunteered for a simulation. Together they pretended to be on a date that was crashed by friends, turned into a party, and to which the police were called. During the simulation, Aiden fled the party after the police were called and crashed his car. From stomach pumps to leg splints, and breathing apparatuses to large needles, Ryan and Pete demonstrated all of the medical instruments that they would most likely have to use if responding to an alcohol related collision such as the one Aiden would have been in.
“This isn’t everyday or every car collision that we see,” ended Ryan, “but this happens all too often. Please think again before making a decision that could end your life.”
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