The timing couldn’t have been worse.
Two days before a gunman killed 20 students and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school, the Highline School Board held a work/study session to review a new security plan that could include disarming school security officers.
At the study session and the following regular meeting, security officers say a few board members gave the impression that they discounted the danger that security officers face in Highline schools. Board president Angelica Alvarez implied there is a connection between armed security guards and the number of student suspensions and expulsions.
The officers’ union, Teamsters Local 763, has filed an unfair labor practice claim against the district stemming from a subsequent meeting with assistant superintendent Susan Smith Leland. The union said she threatened security officers over their testimony before the school board.
District spokesperson Catherine Carbone Rogers said Leland’s intent was to request respectful behavior. Rogers noted the district doesn’t challenge the right of employees to present their opinions to the school board.
During December students at Beverly Park Elementary hit the running course to continue the healthy practices that keep students fit and maintain Beverly Park’s status as a US Healthier Silver School.
Students completed 31,588 laps, or just over 3,500 miles, during the annual Jiggle Bell Jog. The event set a new record for the number of student participants and the most miles run by a single student. The grand prize runner completed 375 laps, or 41 miles, in two weeks. The top kindergarten student ran 149 laps, or 16.5 miles.
Students ran laps during recess, earning one jingle bell for each five laps completed. The number and size of the jingle bells increased as the number of laps accumulated. In addition to grade level prizes, the overall winner earned the largest Jingle Bell Ball and their name was added to the Jingle Bell trophy.
Highline High School (HHS) staff and students have traditionally been generous in giving to others in need. During this holiday season, the school initiated Winter Wishes, a program that directs generosity to the needs of students at the school. Nearly 200 wishes were granted out of the more than 400 wishes made.
More than 50 percent of students at HHS qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch, so Winter Wishes organizers were motivated by the desire to help fellow classmates and brighten their holiday season.
Each HHS student was invited to make a wish for themselves, or for someone else. An overwhelming number of students made wishes for others who were in need, but might not ask for help.
Wishes granted included HHS spirit wear, ASB cards, clothing and food gift cards, school supplies, sporting goods, a sewing machine, a piano, and a laptop.
Winter Wishes was the idea of Associated Student Body President Sierra Flanagan, and the program was planned and implemented by the leadership class and school activities coordinator.
King County is looking for more Earth Heroes like Sandy Zimmermann, a student at Highline Big Picture High School in Burien, who initiated a trash audit that led to her role in expanding the school’s recycling program.
She also organized a pep rally to motivate students to properly recycle, and coordinated the necessary support from the school district, facility staff and teachers.
For those efforts, Sandy was named an Earth Hero in School last year.
King County wants to honor the very best students, teachers, staff, school volunteers, programs and even entire schools that are contributing to student environmental education and environmental protection, through the County’s Earth Heroes at School awards program.
Nominations for the 2013 Earth Heroes at School are due Feb. 23. Winners will be honored at an event featuring King County Executive Dow Constantine on April 25, during the County’s annual Earth Week celebration.
Recycling, restoring habitat, composting lunchroom waste and growing pesticide-free gardens are among the many types of award-winning projects carried out by students, teachers and staff in King County schools.
Staff at the Academy for Citizenship and Empowerment (ACE) continue to demonstrate generosity and caring for their students and families that extends well beyond the classroom.
This holiday season 13 ACE families received personalized holiday wishes, along with a $150 Safeway Gift Card.
More than 80 percent of students at ACE qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch, one of the highest percentages in the district.
With many families struggling to make ends meet, ACE staff wanted to support students by providing something tangible to help with the cost of holiday meals.
For the past seven years, the team has provided grocery store gift cards to some of the schools’ neediest families. Shauna Pierson, counselor at ACE, coordinates the program.
This year the need has been the greatest across the seven years of gift-card giving. “Staff have been beyond generous,” said Janae’ Landis, ACE Principal. “This year more than $1,900.00 was donated by staff members at our school. A member of our team delivered the gift cards to the families just before Christmas.
Highline Public Schools press release:
Lyn Nelthropp, a music instructor at Global Connections High School, has been selected as a Symetra Hero in the Classroom.
Nelthropp was nominated for the honor by a former student.
“Ms. Nelthropp cares deeply about her students and their education. When you see her teach, her love of music is obvious. She is the kind of person you can speak to, no matter what age or band you are in, but something about her also always demands a level of respect,” said Briana Glover, a former student. “Ms. Nelthropp expects a lot of her students — practice, focused participation in and out of the classroom, and a healthy love of music.
“She requires things that other band teachers don't, such as mandatory participation in solo or ensemble contests. However, she also attends everything she expects her students to attend. She dedicates as much effort — and often more — as all of the students and parents involved in the band.”
Under Nelthropp’s direction, the Global Connections High School Wind Ensemble received national recognition.
Highline Public Schools set a goal to save $300,000 on utility costs during the 2011-2012 school year.
Thanks to staff and student efforts, savings, at $367,000, exceeded the goal. The amount saved represents 7 percent of the district’s total 2011-2012 combined utility budget for natural gas, electricity, water, sewer, surface water, irrigation, garbage, and recycling.
An agreement with Puget Sound Energy that supports the district’s Resource Conservation Program also resulted in an additional incentive payment of $28,000 for reduced energy use.
Highline Public Schools’ Resource Conservation Manager, Pandora Touart focuses on better management of more than 300 utility accounts and usage monitoring, as well as supporting an array of action steps taken by staff and students on a day-to-day basis.
Many schools took responsibility to reduce energy use. At Shorewood Elementary School, staff received regular updates about progress towards energy use goals, energy-saving checklists were posted in every classroom, and students monitored outside doors to ensure they were not left open at recess or lunchtime.
As a longtime local resident, voter, and taxpayer, I was delighted to hear the news that a local coalition of South King County school districts --including Highline -- has won full funding in a bid for Race to the Top federal grant money. This is fantastic for Highline students, and other students throughout South King County.
I understand that the money will be used to promote the district’s work in STEM--science, technology, engineering and math education--and I know it will be well and wisely spent.
But I'd also like to take this opportunity to reflect that the arts and humanities, too, are part of the mandated core curriculum and I hope they won't get overlooked in the enthusiasm for all things STEM.
Instruction in arts and history helps young people understand and navigate the differences in cultural perspectives. It also helps students master positive forms of expression and learn how to collaborate.
I urge Superintendent Enfield and the Highline School Board to do their utmost to ensure that students are given equitable access to and sequential instruction in these vital areas as well.
The 2012 Bittner Flute has been awarded to Catalina Corvalan Frugone, a 9th grader at Global Connections High School and the daughter of Alfredo Corvalan and Karen Frugone in SeaTac. The award recognizes exceptional talent in a young flute player and was presented at the Rotary Club of Des Moines.
The Bittner Flute is a sterling silver Gemeinhardt instrument donated to the Highline Music4Life™ program by Nancy Bittner of Seattle’s University Sunrise Rotary Club.
The recipient is selected annually by secondary school music teachers in Highline Public Schools on the basis of talent and long-term interest in studying music.
Catalina is a member of in the Global Connections Band. She will have use of the Bittner Flute for the 2012-13 school year.
It will be re-acquired by Highline Music4Life next spring for any repairs and other maintenance that are needed over the summer.
Highline music teachers will select the next year’s recipient next fall.
Catalina will be eligible to compete for it again at that time as long as she is enrolled in Highline Public Schools.
The Environmental Science Center (ESC) will be reaching students and families through out-of-school science education thanks to a $10,000 grant from Google.
Google awarded ESC this grant to provide after-school, school-break, and summer programs at schools, low-income apartment complexes, and community centers in South King County.
“We strive to close the academic achievement gap that often exists for low-income students who do not have equal access to enrichment programs to enhance their learning,” says Caroline Bobanick, Executive Director of the Environmental Science Center.
For these out-of-school programs, ESC works with several social service organizations to engage their students and families including New Futures, Community Schools Collaboration, Neighborhood House, and Para los Niños.
The city of Burien also works with ESC to provide STEM education at programs such as Gym Jams and Camp Craz.