Lots of Clapping to do-

KITEGoogle   KITE STEM Individual Winner photo credit: Google

The results are in!  The KITE STEM Challenge awarded over $40,000 to 15 schools in the Lake Washington School District last week that will go towards increasing STEM programming.  Over 3,000 students participated and answered 300,000+ STEM-related questions between April 23rd and May 13th.  Big applause to all of the schools who participated and kudos to Google and the Kirkland Parks Foundation partnering up to offer this educational application wrapped in park-filled fun. Here are the winning schools (way to go Kirkland!)

  • First place high school ($10,000) - Redmond High School
  • Second place high school ($5,000) - Lake Washington High School
  • Third place high school ($3,000) - Tesla STEM High School
  • First place middle school ($6,000) - Kirkland Middle School
  • Second place middle school ($3,000) - Environmental and Adventure School
  • Third place middle school ($2,000) - Redmond Middle School
  • First place elementary schools ($3,000 each) - Kirk Elementary & Thoreau Elementary
  • Second place elementary schools ($1,500 each) - Rose Hill Elementary & Twain Elementary
  • Third place elementary schools ($1,000 each) - Alcott Elementary & Lakeview Elementary
  • Participation prize ($500 each) - Blackwell Elementary, Juanita Elementary & Stella Schola Middle School

LW10artwright photo credit: Sheryl Vincent
In other Kirkland butt-kicking news, the 10U LW baseball team won 1st place in the Art Wright Memorial tournament. Way to go boys!

A 
Clapping is also required for Asuraphong Liengboonlertchai, owner of Simplicity 1-2-3 better known as "A", whose giant smile and kind heart will be missed.  He just sold his business but before you start crying you should know that you will still see him at Hallmark Realty, and that an employee bought his store and will continue to serve our community.  Here is his announcement, which I completely love because you can almost hear his voice as you read it.  I stopped in to give him some extra hugs today because this person is truly a gift to Kirkland- stay tuned for a write up on our conversation from today.

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And....when one of my advertisers is having a party, you need to know.  I clap for free fun. Grab a friend and go little ones!  Neal Smiles Orthodontics is doing their summer celebration on June 27th from 3-5pm with a bouncy house, reptile man, coffee stand and an ice cream truck.  9750 NE 120th Place, Suite 5/6. 425-823-1234

 

 


Google and Kirkland Parks Foundation Team up : the Kite STEM Challenge

KiteSTEMDownload

(photo credit: Chris Neir)

All K-12 Lake Washington School District students are invited to join the Kite STEM Challenge that begins on April 23rd and lasts 3 weeks until May 13th.  Here's a quick acronym review: Kite=Kirkland Interactive Technology and STEM=Science, Technology, Engineering, Math.  And there is CASH PRIZE MONEY on the table to the tune of $40,000 total to go to the winning schools' STEM programming. Thanks to Google and the Kirkland Parks Foundation, kids will be able to able to answer fun and grade appropriate STEM-related questions on an app where they get even more entries in the contest for questions that are answered from within a Kirkland park.  Yes, that's right, get outside with your technology and STEM knowledge (bring your umbrella) - the more questions you answer (even wrong answers are rewarded!) the more entries you submit, the better the chances for your school winning.

OK. Of course you want to do this. How?

  • Register at kitestem.org
  • Students then download the KITE STEM app to their mobile device (app store for iOS and Android)
  • Start answering STEM questions (preferably in a park!) on 4/23

Questions about this outdoor STEM challenge? The Kite STEM press release is here.  Or @KITESTEM on Facebook and Twitter.


Student Safety in Kirkland

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I think it's safe to say we are all thinking of things a little differently, and urgently, after the tragic event at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida two weeks ago.   Dick's Sporting Goods and WalMart are taking matters into their own hands and tightening up the reigns on their gun sales. Kroger just joined in and raised the age limit on their gun sales to 21.  I didn't even know Kroger sold guns?!    So you can run out for milk, bread and a gun all in one stop?   Kinda gives me a stomach ache.  Just today our President decided to surprise us with his newfound support of more stringent gun control laws.  I don't want to get into a political debate here, but at a local level, there was a "Moms Demand Action" meeting in Kirkland on Sunday that was standing room only at Kirkland Middle School (photo) so this is clearly front of mind for many in our community.  And don't mess with the mamas.  

I have friends that live in both Newtown and Parkland, both sought-after communities that will forever be changed.  Students are scared to go to school.  So of course this gets me thinking, how can we impact the bigger picture?  But also drilling down on the issue, what are we specifically doing here in Kirkland to keep our kids safe?  Our schools have ALICE training for staff and also students where appropriate. Which is good info for reacting to a situation, however,  I'd prefer to insure we are focusing enough efforts on prevention.  Many of our schools actively promote the concept of "see something say something." Our district has a Comprehensive Safety Plan and each school has a building-level plan that aligns to the district plan.  There is also a safety committee that regularly meets with law enforcement, first responders, safety experts, building admin and PTSA parents reps to review and enhance safety protocols. 

But here's the interesting thing that I learned.  Our city has one Kirkland Police SRO (School Resource Officer) assigned to each of our high schools that are 'available to assist' at the middle and elementary schools as needed.  This model is not consistent across the district, rather it depends on the jurisdiction of the school.  For example, Redmond (also in LWSD) has full time SRO's at Redmond HS, Redmond MS and Rose Hill Middle. Bellevue, which is not in our district but another Kirkland neighbor, also has SRO coverage at the high school and middle school level.  Funding and resources are required from both the school district and the jurisdiction to fund these SRO positions. LWSD Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce said they are  currently looking into what would be required to implement standardized SRO support for our schools regardless of jurisdiction. They are working on putting together some upcoming community forums on the topic as well. Mayor Amy Walen responded to my inquiry stating "we are looking at what measures we can take at a local level and what we can do to coordinate with the schools. This is extremely important to all of us and at the top of our minds."

I encourage you to comment below, but let's focus on productive ideas to keep our kids as safe as possible in our schools. What ideas do you have? What have you seen other places? I think having an SRO stationed on site with vehicle presence on property at high school and middle school levels should be a minimum requirement. My sister lives in Texas and every person has to get 'buzzed' in during school hours at their elementary, although their school is much newer than some of ours.  Just for kicks I asked my step-mom (who works for a PD in NJ) what protocol was for their SRO headcount.  They have 2 SRO's in the (1) high school in addition to security staff, 2 in the (1) middle school and 1 in each of the (5) elementary schools.  Wow.   How about more headcount for counselors so that they have time to get to know the kids?  Anonymous reporting mechanism?  (is there an app for that?)  Looking forward to productive conversations on the subject so we can continue to keep our kiddos safe. 

 


Back to School.....Already?

SkiJanis2017<--me in my summertime happy place


The tide has shifted.  You know what I mean.  It's that tingle in the air when you go from being a summertime free-bird to suddenly feeling the undercurrent of excitement and mild anxiety that comes along with a new schoolyear about to start.  I have to say that this may be one of the first summers where I thoroughly enjoyed my kids for the ENTIRE summer.  That sounds weird to say, but truly, they did not make me crazy! Whether it's their ages or the intricate balance of camps, travel and free-time, or the weather, we may never know or witness the formula again, but I am thankful.  Since we can't sign up for another month of summer we march onward with brave faces towards (gulp) high school for the girls and 7th grade for the B man.  

I thought you might like to know some of the things I'm doing/thinking about right now so you can either laugh at me or do them too.

1-Try to ignore the newsfeeds, take 5 deep oxygen-rich breaths, and go seize the last moments of your summer fun.  Forget the dishes, there's time for that later. Check your summer 'to do' list- did you mean to get out there and kayak, hike, wash your car, camp, view a solar eclipse, call you state Senators, take more naps?? Whatever it is...last chance...go!

2-Purge.  I haven't had this urge to clean stuff up and start fresh since I was 7 months pregnant in 2005. Getting the junk out. Instruments we don't use any more? Bye bye. Old furniture, stuffed animals, art supplies, papers, clothes that are too small- be gone! Fortunately some of my mini-me's have joined me in this undertaking, because in some strange way it makes us feel prepared to face the new schoolyear together with a clean slate.

3-Also a very important not-to-be-missed event would be a "Back to School Mom's Day."  Sounds official, right?  Schedule one.  This gem happens when the kids are in school and the moms get together to re-connect (PC:dads you can come too) over mimosas, share summertime stories and get in some good belly laughs.   You have to start the year off right, and it takes a village to get this parenting s*%t done.

4-Back to school supplies.  There is some special timing to this, as many of you expert parents may know.  My kids are very adamant about accomplishing this chore 'before the good stuff is gone.'  They find joy in selecting these items in person because online will not give them the  full 3D experience of hand-picking their favorite colors and patterns.  Here's our conundrum: In high school we have discovered there is no supply list given online ahead of time, like there was in middle school.  Teachers will tell them what is required during the first week of school, which by this time, is when all the 'good' stuff is gone. TRAGEDY. 

I do, however, have some tips for you as you begin your back to school shopping. Have you ever picked up your student's backpack? Soooo HEAVY?! I often wonder if my kids could get weekend jobs as sherpas.   Kirkland Middle school learned at their Backpack Awareness Day last year that 92% of their students were carrying a backpack that is more than 10-15% of their own bodyweight, (which is the recommended max by the American Occupational Therapy Association). My 13 year old daughter's backpack was about 17 pounds, and I assure you she is not 170.  So, one way to help with this problem is to guide your kids toward selecting light weigh supplies like the ones in my tip sheet here.  Some local physical therapists and chiropractors have great insights  on how to select and pack a backpack properly. And don't forget to set aside a certain time each week for your student to get in the routine of cleaning out their pack. 

Enough of that- go joy the last moments of summer. They'll be gone before we know it.

 

 


The Final Countdown to Summer

All3NealSmiles<--too cool for school (and yes, that is a vest in June)


It's the last week of school for Lake Washington School District, and at my house, you can certainly feel the excitement in the air.  Parents, try not to have a panic attack (and keep the wine on the ready). Every day my kids come home telling me they had a carnival or are signing yearbooks or going on a picnic or watching a movie.  They are officially CHECKED OUT.  And so am I. But I was pretty excited to notice a little side benefit of this week.  It appears that my house has been cleaned- yet it has not!  It's just the fact that my kids' text books are gone from the counter and the reams of paper that clutter my kitchen island and dining table have been recycled.  Backpacks are back to being an acceptable weight and nestle neatly into mudroom cubbies where before they did not fit.

I thought it would be fun to pepper my kids with some questions about the end of the school-year.  This not only serves the purpose of my entertainment, it was also a way to let their anxious smiles unfold into the open.  These would likely be way funnier if we asked little kids instead of snarky teenagers, but here goes:

Are you glad it's the last week of school? Why/why not? 

B-Yes, there won't be as much stress

R-Yes b/c I can be free. But I will miss my teachers and algebra  (<---this can't be my child??)

S- Yes & No.  No homework/freetime/good weather, but I won't get to see my teachers.

What is top on your list to accomplish this summer?

B- Get stronger.

R-Be prepared for high school and make $1000 so I can buy a car. And I want to walk big dogs.

S-Run every day and be more active  (um...hello, you do 7.5 hours of gymnastics a week??!)

What is the worst memory from middle school this year?

B-I got in trouble for fast-walking.  I wasn't even running.  (I'll betcha $10  he was running)

R-Nothing. I've been a good kid.

S-I ate at the cafeteria! And one time I got in trouble for putting a tissue in the wrong trash can.

When is the awesome weather coming?

B-this weekend

R-never? ugh. July 16 is my guess

S- this weekend

Do you have any advice for teachers for next year?

B- Be kind.

R-When someone asks a question, answer it. Don't repeat it or re-phrase it or get mad.

S-Please at least pretend you like your job    (snarky, told ya..)

What time will you wake up this summer and what's the first thing you plan to do?

B-10:30 or 11.  Beach with my friends.

R-9:30. Sleep in or waterski   (these two things do not happen on the same day, obviously)

S-8:30 and I have no idea.

 

Here's to a safe and happy summer!

 

 


Back to School: Backpack Safety

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Have you met my adorable sherpas? Here they are. Otherwise known as (a couple of..) my children.  Look more closely at their backpacks and you'll discover why  I call this my 'good twin/bad twin' photo.  One has her pack properly loaded and wears it tightly to her back with the bottom a few inches above her hips and her chest strap fastened.  The other is hinged forward at the waist to compensate for her sagging backpack that is not being worn properly.  She's laughing now but won't be once she begins her 1.5 mile walk to her middle school where there are no lockers. These girls will walk around like this all day long.  

Backpackkidheavyimage
Summer is almost over and the school bell is ready to ring again.  This changing of the season is sad for some parents and highly anticipated by others, but whichever camp you fall into, I want you to be an informed parent.   Unfortunately, it's not unusual for these little nuggets of ours to carry 16-20 pound loads on their backs, which is over 20% of their body weight.  The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the American  Physical Therapy Association (APTA) both recommend that a student's backpack should not exceed 10-15% of their bodyweight.  Oh....snap! So what do we do?  How do we save our children from the suffering of back, neck and knee pain and injuries while their fragile adolescent musculoskeletal systems are  trying to grow at rapid-fire speeds?  There is no magical solution, but here are some helpful tips:

 Buy a Backpack that Fits and wear it properly

  • It is like buying shoes (well maybe not as much fun?!)-- they fit people differently, be sure to try it on (and load them w/your stuff and feel for comfort/fit)
  • Straps adjust tightly enough that pack doesn't slouch off the back
  • Padding on the back of the pack
  • Pack does fall below hips, shouldn't be more than 2 inches below waist
  • Thick straps that don't cut into/compress nerves at the shoulders
  • chest/hip strap help alleviate weight from the back  
  • Make sure the pack itself isn't too heavy
  • You don't want it bigger than needed- kids will fill as much space as you give them
  • Never wear it one shoulder

How to Pack it Light

  • Heaviest items, like a laptop, go up against the back
  • Use lightweight plastic file folders instead of binders
  • Don't fill your water bottle until you get to school
  • Lunchboxes and the icepacks to keep them cold can get heavy, choose lightweight otpions or buy lunch
  • Leave your laptop chargers at home
  • You should never be carrying textbooks back and forth.  Unless your mom drives carpool in a horse and carriage. Get an extra copy of books to keep at home.
  • Leave more materials in the classroom instead of carrying back and forth...you may have to ask!
  • Minimize duplication of paper/technology
  • Only bring what you NEED..ie 3 Number 2 pencils instead of 14 in every color of the rainbow
  • Cleanout your backpack at the end of each week

If backpack weight is a prevalent issue at your school that is concerning to parents, consider hosting a National School Backpack Awareness Day.  Yes, this really is a thing.  Talking about it with your student really helps them be aware of what they are carrying and how it impacts the weight on their back.  Here's to a great 2016-17 schoolyear! 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 


Use Your Noodle

VoteLWSD2016
Don't forget to send in your ballot by Tuesday 4/26.  Every vote counts!  My kid is one of those in an overcrowded portable at Peter Kirk that is 90 degrees inside in September. Some great learning happens in there but I'm pretty sure I could sneeze and blow a wall over.  So now you know how I am voting.  Use your noodle so these kids can use theirs (without sitting on top of each other).

SampanNoodle
And in other noodle news...this sign went up today for Sampan Noodle, Homemade Organic Ramen Noodle Soup, 110 Central Way in Wyraqocha's old space. 

This has nothing to do with noodles at all:  Kirkland American Little League wants you to save the date and help them celebrate their  65th anniversary on 4/30 at Everest Fields from 11-4. Everyone is welcome to join in the party! Think carnival style-- tricycle races, dunk tanks, free hot dogs, obstacle course, face painting. 


Prepare to Vote on April 26th

Did you get a chance to attend Screenagers the other night? I thought it was interesting and informative with a splash of humor while being easy to relate to... and also troubling.  What did we learn? Kids spend too much time on screens when their precious brains are growing which impacts things like their grades and social development.  Some kids even become addicted.  I mean for REAL addicted where they can't make themselves stop. There is even a rehab center in WA State. The film discussed having a contract with your kids and also making technology and its boundaries an ongoing conversation in the household. And while we are on the subject of students that require the ability to focus and give their undivided attention, it turns out they need our attention on the upcoming bond measure. Here's the deal... 

 

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You will have an opportunity to vote on an upcoming bond for Lake Washington Schools on April 26.   No matter which way you vote, it is important for Kirkland residents to make their voices heard. 
 
Lake Washington School district has grown from the 6th to the 4th largest school district in the state in the last year alone.  The district has seen 7 years of growth, adding 625 students per year for the past five years.  That is the equivalent of a large elementary school worth of students every year, without classroom space to support them.  By September of next year the district will be using over 160 portables to educate students.  Portables are not a great long term solution, in that they do not address strain on infrastructure and shared spaces such as hallways, bathrooms, and lunchrooms. 

Overcrowded  <-- is this what OUR classes will look like soon??

 
A citizen-based, 63-member Long Term Facility Task Force spend nearly a year analyzing the facility's short and long term needs, looking at the most cost efficient building practices, and prioritizing projects.  They developed a recommendation to bring a bond to the public that if passed, would fund the most immediate, high priority overcrowding needs without raising the current tax rate.  This would be achieved by retiring the current bond, using cost-effective construction design principles, and by utilizing state construction assistance.   The need is critical, and without securing funding, the task force recommends additional portables, additional redistricting, and eventually year-round schools to accommodate growth. 
 
If you would like more information, you can check out this handy FAQ .  Lots of great info/specifics in here:  http://vote4lwsdkids.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/LWCLC-FAQ.pdf
 


Back to School: Let's Get Organized!

 

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This is a guest post by my friend Lynette Apley, Kirkland resident and one of the most organized people I know.  Our kids went to preschool together long ago and we planned a little auction where she was the brains behind the operation and I just stood still with my jaw open and watched in amazement of her.  Super efficient lady.  So with the start of school and the chaos that ensues around this busy time of year, I thought of Lynette, who is now a Professional Organizer for Simply Placed, and how she could share some of her organizing gems with us, the  mere mortals of Kirkland that are barely holding it together.....thank you Lynette.....


This year, instead of waiting for school to get too far underway before you get your act together and get organized, why not be proactive and organize now so that you never get behind and buried in the flurry of permission slips, homework and lunch boxes.

Check out these six "back to school" tips to get you and your kids organized now for a hassle free school year.

 #1 Set Up a Routine Now

Kids understand organization - that's how schools work.  They have particular spots in the classroom for all of their stuff...and you can do the same thing at home.   Hooks by the door for backpacks, jackets and lunch bags give your kids a defined place for these things. A bin or shelf or even mat for shoes nearby helps too.  After homework is done in the afternoon, have your child repack their backpack so there's no morning scramble.

#2 Create a Homework Station

The best way to encourage is to create an area dedicated to it. Whether it's the kitchen table or the coffee table, wherever your child works best, make this the homework station. Then place a rolling cart or bins or caddy nearby and stock with supplies. Pens, pencils, markers, paper, calculator and everything else should be within reach so your child can stay seated and focused. Consistency is key and having an assigned place for homework makes it easier to encourage good homework and study habits.

#3 Set up a Calendar System

The busier your family is, the more important it is to have a good calendar system . Post a large wall calendar (a small one with little space to write in each box one won't do) and color code entries by family members. Include school events, tests, project due dates, extracurricular activities, doctor appointments, field trips, etc.   Then once a week (Sunday is a good day),review the week with the family and transfer events to your smart phone as necessary.  Try syncing devices so you're all on the same page.   Cozi is a free app that allows multiple people to share a calendar so you can enter it once and mom, dad, kid and grandparents can all see the entries, get alerts and access information.

#4 Stock Up on Supplies

Nothing can ruin an evening faster than being told there's a project due tomorrow and your kid needs poster board or construction paper. When school supplies go on sale, stock up on poster board and tri-folds (store these large items flat under a bed or sofa until needed), construction paper, glitter, markers, stencils, glue sticks and all other project essentials. Combined with the calendar system (when is that report due?!), projects shouldn't take you by surprise.

#5 Create a Paper Management System

Although it's tempting, you shouldn't keep every single paper your child accumulates. Hang on to just a couple a week - great drawings, funny writing assignments, or projects that they put lots of thought, effort and personalization into, and toss the rest. Really, it's ok.   Dedicate a small box or bin on a shelf for keepsake papers.  Anything from a large pizza box to an archival canvas box works.   For paper that needs to be signed and sent back (with or without money), complete immediately and send back the next day so there's no chance they'll get lost.  (Remember the "if you can do it in 60 sec, do it NOW " rule!)  At year end, go back through the year's papers, pull out what's golden and let the rest go (there will be more next year!). Store what you keep in a box or slide into sleeve protectors in a binder and shelve it.  Label by year and child's name.

#6 Teach your child how to use an academic planner

Don't have them rely on memory!  We all forget dates when things are due, and activities we have planned.  And although a notebook might be tempting, just writing things down doesn't help your child see how assignments fit into the big picture....That book report is due the morning after a big football game?  Better plan ahead! Have your child use a planner to keep track of when homework is due and what their weekly schedule is so they can plan for both schoolwork AND activities.

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 For more information, check out our blog on Organizing for School Success!

Organized Systems and Productive Habits that Work www.itssimplyplaced.com


Crowd Rallies for Education Funding at Marina Park

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There was an enormous crowd of hundreds of supporters in Marina Park today all wearing red and carrying signs that said, "On Strike Against Legislature, Stop Blaming Teachers, Start Funding Schools."  Today was an organized one-day walk out for the Lake Washington Education Association, which is the organization of professionals and union that represents teachers in our district.  They are the 11th teachers union to have a one-day strike over funding for smaller K-12 class sizes and professional pay and benefits for educators.   And there will be more protests around the state as they urge the Legislature to adhere to their constitutional mandate to fully fund public education.

The message was announced to all of the families in Lake WA School District on 4/23 that there would be no school today, Weds 5/6.  This is when I told my kids it's a "Go to Work with Daddy Day!!!"  Genius, I know. Here is a copy of Superintendent Traci Pierce's note that we all received:

Dear Lake Washington School District Families:

The Lake Washington Education Association (LWEA) voted to join in a statewide action against the legislature to protest the lack of education funding in our state.  The LWEA is the organization of professionals and union that represents teachers  in our district. This protest involves a one-day walkout. Eleven districts to the north of us have or will also experience one-day walkouts. At least 15 other local teachers associations in the Puget Sound area have authorized votes by their full membership this week.

LWEA has selected May 6 as the day for their one-day walkout. Therefore, there will be no school for students on May 6 as teachers will not be at work on that day. LWEA worked closely with the district to schedule this action on a day that would minimize disruption for students and parents to the greatest extent possible. The district has been working to determine how to handle activities and events scheduled for May 6 that would be difficult to reschedule. For example, Advanced Placement tests scheduled for that day will be held as planned. Previously scheduled interscholastic competitions will also take place.

While there is now no school for students on May 6, the school day will have to be made up, just as we would make up a snow day or other unforeseen calendar change. The make-up day will be added to the end of the school year. This means June 16 will become a full school day and our last day of school will now be a half day on June 17. There will be no change in graduation dates or the last day of school for seniors. A revised school year calendar will be shared with families.

 It is important for families to know that this LWEA action is not directed at the Lake Washington School District or the Lake Washington communities. We share the LWEA’s concern that the legislature should fully fund basic education. We also understand and appreciate the disruption that this change in schedule may cause for families.

 Sincerely,

 Dr. Traci Pierce

 Superintendent