News Blog for Seattle's Wallingford Neighborhood


McDonald parents survey: Which languages for immersion?

January 19th, 2011 by master

Last week McDonald Elementary School‘s current and future families learned some surprising news: Not only had the school been selected as the next International School with language immersion (modeled on Wallingford’s popular John Stanford International School), but language immersion would likely begin in fall 2011.

At last week’s meeting, questions arose about the choices of Spanish and Japanese as the immersion languages. These align with John Stanford and Hamilton Middle School, where McDonald students would go, but international schools in South Seattle and West Seattle teach Spanish and Mandarin.

The McDonald PTA would like to gauge interest in the three languages, plus other curriculum decisions that could be made before a program is in place.

From the McDonald PTA:

On Thursday we were told our community will have some opportunities to shape the International model at McDonald — that we do not need to be a carbon copy of John Stanford. We can build upon our strengths and benefit from John Stanford’s experience too.

The first step is to know where our community stands. Please take 3 minutes to answer this confidential survey about what you’d like to see at McDonald next year.

Take The Survey Now

The PTA asks that interested parents fill out the short survey by end of day tomorrow (Thursday, January 20).

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Language immersion in 2011 for McDonald School?

January 14th, 2011 by master

Last night about 100 parents met with the McDonald Elementary School principal and Seattle Public Schools representatives to learn more about plans to create an international, language-immersion program at Wallingford’s newest school.

When the decision to make McDonald an international school was announced last month, fall 2012 was the target date to begin language immersion for kindergarteners. McDonald principal Cheryl Grinager surprised  parents last night with the news that the goal now is for language immersion to begin in two tracks — Spanish and Japanese — for kindergarten and first grade students in fall 2011. Other aspects of international education would be added the next year.

The future home of McDonald International Elementary School, at N. 54th and Latona. It will open in fall 2012; students are currently at Lincoln High School (Interlake and N. 44th).

Grinager said this speedier schedule was possible because McDonald could collaborate with nearby John Stanford International School. Tours of JSIS with Grinager and JSIS principal Kelly Aramaki have been scheduled for prospective McDonald parents on March 2 and March 16 at 9:30 a.m.

Seattle Public Schools Manager of International Programs Karen Kodama, who was the founding principal when JSIS became the city’s first international school, gave a lengthy presentation about international schools that included information similar to the background on this .pdf document.

Kodama also showed expansions plans for international schools throughout Seattle. There are now 6 such schools, and her plan is to create 12 in three sectors of the city (North, South and West Seattle). South and West Seattle international schools offer Mandarin and Spanish; North Seattle international schools will continue to offer Japanese and Spanish.

Bree Dusseault, a Seattle Public Schools executive director, told the group that she was 99 percent sure that McDonald would be approved as an international school. At a work session on Jan. 12, the board recommended reducing the number of new international schools in this year’s budget from three to one; Dusseault and Kodama both said they think McDonald will be that school.

The school board is scheduled to finalize its decisions in mid-February. Open enrollment for Seattle Public Schools is March 15-March 31, 2011.

Some parents were concerned that their children might not be a good fit for language immersion, wherein students learn math and science in Spanish or Japanese. Kodama said that it’s appropriate for most children, but that there would be an alternate school available to families who opted out of McDonald. Grinager told us this morning that B.F. Day Elementary would be the alternative school, as it is for JSIS.

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McDonald Elementary will be international school

December 17th, 2010 by master

When the Seattle Public School District announced in fall 2009 that it would reopen McDonald Elementary as a neighborhood school, many parents in the attendance area lobbied for it to be a language-immersion international school, like the popular John Stanford International School.

The future home of McDonald International Elementary School, at N. 54th and Latona. It will open in fall 2012; students are currently at Lincoln High School (Interlake and N. 44th).

Those parents would seem to have gotten their wish, though details won’t be available until a community meeting on January 13, 2011.

Principal Cheryl Grinager wrote on the school website:

On Wednesday, December 15, Superintendent Dr. Goodloe-Johnson announced program placements for upcoming school year/s to the Seattle School Board. At that time, it was announced that McDonald School was selected as the new elementary International School. Implementation is contingent on funding and would not start before September 2012.

Please join us for a COMMUNITY MEETING on Thursday, January 13, 2011 for more information.
Our meeting will be held in the Lincoln Library from 6:00-7:30PM. Karen Kodama, SPS Manager of the International Schools Program, will make a presentation outlining what this program may look like at McDonald. Our Executive Director, Bree Dusseault, will also attend to provide background information regarding the decision-making process and what this means for McDonald. Please plan to join us!

When Hamilton Middle School was renovated, it was intended to house students from two international elementary schools. At a Dec. 2 McDonald PTA meeting, Principal Grinager revealed that McDonald — along with B.F. Day, Laurelhurst, and West Woodland — was under consideration to be the second international elementary school to feed into Hamilton International Middle School. This possibility had seemed dead as recently as mid-November because of school district budget cuts.

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Wallingford school walkathon seeks sponsors

October 20th, 2010 by master

Did you know there’s a new elementary school in Wallingford? In September, McDonald Elementary School opened with just 60 students in the Lincoln High School building (4400 Interlake Ave. N.), where it will be housed for two years while the permanent building at N. 54th and Latona is renovated.

The school is holding its first and most important fundraiser this Friday, Oct. 22 — a walkathon to raise money to hire teachers assistants.

McDonald parent Jen Longtin told us that they’re particularly interested in attracting sponsorship from local businesses. Some of the benefits are listed on the McDonald PTA website. All contributions are tax deductible.

In addition to parents and teachers, Katie Follett and other members of the UW track team will cheer on students at the event. Follett held the world record for the 1500 M while at the UW, and is now training for the Olympics.

You can find much more information about the walkathon and McDonald School on the PTA website.

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Open enrollment numbers for Wallingford schools

May 5th, 2010 by master

With a new student assignment plan taking effect this year in the Seattle Public Schools and a new elementary school opening in Wallingford, there’s been a lot of uncertainty among parents about how all these changes will work.

Yesterday the Seattle Public Schools posted open enrollment numbers for all the city’s public schools, based on the enrollment process earlier this year, that provide a somewhat clearer picture of the road ahead.

The McDonald Elementary School, which was opened along with Sand Point and Queen Anne elementary schools to accommodate an increased number of students in the north end, has enrollment estimates significantly lower than were projected in February. At that time, Principal Cheryl Grinager told a gathering of parents at a McDonald meet and greet that she planned open the school with four kindergarten classes because enrollment was estimated at 92 students. The numbers released yesterday show that 52 kindergarteners are expected to start at McDonald in the fall.

The upper grades at McDonald show even steeper declines from earlier projections: five first-graders, six second-graders, one third-grader, two fourth-graders and zero fifth-graders are forecast to enroll this fall.

What impact will these lower numbers have on McDonald? Grinager told us this morning that there will be staff hiring reductions based on the lower enrollment numbers, and that those numbers will continue to change over the summer. “We are currently looking at two kindergarten classes and an undetermined number of classes in grades 1-5,” she said. “All classes and staffing are subject to adjustments based on enrollment changes.”

Sarah Koch, a McDonald parent who is on the design team for the school, told us that she didn’t find the low numbers surprising, plus she said she knows of some students in the upper grades who haven’t yet registered. Koch says she’s excited for the older students to get some individualized instruction. “In a public school with strapped funds, it’s pretty exciting to have small class sizes,” she said.

Sand Point and Queen Anne Elementary Schools have similar differences between their projected numbers and open enrollment data.

John Stanford International School has a lengthy wait list, as it has in past years.

Hamilton Middle School also has a wait list, despite enrolling fewer students than in recent years. The incoming 6th grade class will be smaller than the 7th and 8th grade classes, Principal Chris Carter explained, because of the new assignment plan. The school used to have an all-city draw, and now its boundaries are confined to the attendance area for five elementary schools (including McDonald, from which Hamilton will get no incoming students) and North End APP (advanced learning program) students.

Carter cautioned that until school opens in fall, he won’t know final enrollment numbers, which is true every year. “Every principal at every school goes through this — you don’t know who’s going to be there till the kids walk through the door,” he said.

Speaking of the new assignment plan, Carter said, “This is uncharted territory for most schools; we’re just flowing with the water at this point.”

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McDonald School PTA seeks leaders, members

May 4th, 2010 by master

It’s hard to believe that in a mere four months, McDonald Elementary School will open its door neighborhood students. The PTA is forming, and the steering committee seeks parents from the school’s attendance area (which includes parts of Wallingford, Green Lake, the U District and Ravenna) to lead the charge.

Until May 10, the committee is accepting applications for several board positions, and on June 7 the first PTA meeting will convene at the Lincoln High School library. Read on for much more information about the McDonald School PTA from the steering committee.

Now that McDonald Elementary is on its way to becoming a vital member of Seattle Public Schools, our community is forming a PTA for both families with children attending in the fall of 2010, and those with children enrolling at a future date. We are seeking volunteers from within our community to lead our PTA for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year. This is your chance to be part of creating a vibrant school and community for our McDonald Elementary children and families. We have a lot of guidance to help us through this process. Don’t let your lack of previous PTA experience discourage you from participating. If you are committed to creating a strong PTA for our children’s school, and have skills and experience to contribute, we need you!

PTA Board Application
Please contact Libby Chapman ( to apply for a board position.

PTA meeting June 7
Our first PTA meeting will be held Monday June 7, at 7:00 in the Lincoln School Library. Details of this meeting will be sent via a separate email. During this first charter meeting, those present will vote on the proposed PTA Board member slate presented by the McDonald Elementary PTA Steering and Nominating Committees. We are encouraging all those assigned to McDonald Elementary to attend this first PTA charter meeting, even if your child will not be enrolling for several years or you are unsure if your child will be attending McDonald Elementary.

PTA Board Positions
The charge of the Nominating Committee is to recognize, recruit and nominate the most qualified candidates available to serve as the McDonald PTA’s leadership. We will give careful consideration to the requirements and scope of the offices to be filled as well as to the qualifications and abilities needed to fill them, and match these to the members. Potential nominees should have a child who will attend McDonald Elementary in 2010 (with exception of the Preschool Liaison) and be enthusiastic and supportive of the McDonald Elementary PTA.

The following is the list of the (7) PTA board positions we are seeking applicants for and a brief description:

Executive Officers (to be elected June 7)

Must be nominated and elected by general membership for each term.

**President – Manages overall objectives and strategies of the PTA. Presides at all PTA meetings and functions. Oversees all PTA business and represents McDonald PTA in events and issues concerning students, parents, school and the community. Communicates with and works with teachers, principal, and staff to ensure that the PTA best meets students’ needs. Initiates and coordinates programs and fundraising to help meet those needs. Maintains President’s notebook and keeps detailed procedural records of all events and projects that she/he oversees. Ensures that other officers and chairpersons maintain complete notebooks.

**Vice President – Assists the President in all of the above and fills in for him/her, when necessary. Troubleshoots projects that need extra follow-through (e.g., commercial fundraising projects). Takes over projects of her/his personal interest. To promote leadership continuity, the VP would ideally assume (or should intend to assume) the role of President in subsequent term.

**Treasurer – Works with the President to create the PTA budget, prepare the annual tax return, inform committees of budgeted funds, pay bills and reimbursements and oversee ongoing PTA finances to ensure adherence to approved budget. Maintains all accounts and records, provides monthly financial reports and projections at PTA meetings and files all tax forms.

**Secretary and Membership Coordinator – Keeps written records of general PTA meetings and PTA board meetings in the form of minutes. Forwards to President for review, and then submits minutes for inclusion on website and on bulletin boards. Makes copies of the minutes for the next PTA meeting so they can be approved by the membership. Coordinates PTA membership program, collects dues and keeps an ongoing list of current PTA members.

Board Positions (to be elected June 7 and Fall as indicated):

**Communications Manager – (Elected June 7) Oversees the creation of a communications strategy for the PTA , which likely will include a website and/or online newsletter about events and issues concerning McDonald community.

**Preschool Liaison – (Elected June 7) Serves as a representative and voice for parents of children entering McDonald in subsequent years.

**Co-Volunteer Coordinators- (One to be elected June 7; one to be elected in the Fall) Recruits parent help as necessary for PTA functions throughout the year. Recruits and manages Room Parents from every classroom and acts as liaison between classroom teachers and room parents.

**Fundraising – (Elected in the Fall) Coordinates all PTA-sponsored fundraising programs throughout the year. Helps with budget planning for the upcoming school year, noting how fundraising can fit with overall goals. Maintains record of current fundraising opportunities. May have some grant-writing expertise or work in conjunction with grant-writer(s) to help achieve PTA’s fundraising goals.

**Legislative Liaison – (Elected in the Fall) Stays abreast of national, state, and local PTA legislative concerns, reporting them to the Board and general membership at meetings and via the newsletter and informational flyers.

**Teacher Representative – (Elected in the Fall) – Acts as a liaison and communication link between the PTA Board and the faculty.

This is an exciting time for our quickly forming McDonald Elementary School community. Your involvement and participation is encouraged, even if you are unsure where you fit into the McDonald Elementary experience. Please come to the June 7 meeting, and consider getting involved.

The McDonald Elementary School PTA Steering Committee
Brooke Anderson
Kristi Brumbaugh
Molly Capron
Libby Chapman
Carolyn Cunningham
Cat Howell
Susan Jackson
Sarah Koch
Lauren McGuire
Sara Roberts
Jennifer Sill
Nytasha Sowers

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In McDonald School area? Sign up for PTA!

April 13th, 2010 by master

As McDonald Elementary School gears up to open this fall, local parents are getting out the word about ways that families in the school’s attendance area can get involved before the door even open.

Sarah Koch, who’s on the Design Team for the school and will have two children start at McDonald in the fall, filled us in on the most immediate needs and opportunities.

McDonald Elementary School will be housed at Lincoln High School for the next two years while the permanent building at N. 54th St. and Latona is being remodeled.

First, the PTA is forming. “This is an unusual situation where we’re coming together as parents and starting the PTA before the doors open,” Koch said. In particular, she called on parents who will have children at McDonald next year: “We’ll really need kindergarten parents to step up and be leaders,” she said. She also stressed, though, that this is a great time for parents of younger children to start participating as well.

A group of 18 parents met last week and came up with five PTA committees that need members now:

1) Steering Committee (maximum commitment of 3 months to help file McDonald’s PTA application with the state, write bylaws, form a nominating committee for potential board members and organize our first charter meeting). This committee is holding its first meeting this Thursday evening at 7:00 pm.
2) After-School Enrichment Activities
3) Grounds Beautification
4) Fundraising & “Resources” Drive
5) Summer Play Dates & Opening Day Celebration

If you’re interested and willing to serve on one of the above committees, please email me at sarahekoch@gmail. com. If you’d like to join the PTA and haven’t yet signed up at one of the McDonald events, please email Libby Chapman at libby.chapman@

Parents are also welcome to participate in the teacher hiring process for McDonald teachers, as long as they’ve had the Seattle Public Schools’ one-hour training session. Koch shared details about this:

If you are interested in serving on an upcoming interview team, but have not yet been trained, please plan to attend the Site-Based Interview Training session on April 15 from 6:00 to 7:00 (JSCEE, Auditorium).  Please be aware that all persons involved in the screening and interviewing must have attended this training.  To register, email Regina Redmond at or call 206-283-8443.  To ensure space for everyone, pre-registration is required.

Hiring committees will be formed the week of May 3-7.  If there are more than eight volunteers, participants will be selected by lottery.  Please email Cheryl Grinager, principal of McDonald Elementary, by Friday April 30, 2010, if you would like to serve on these committees and have taken (or will take) the training before May 14.  You may reach Cheryl Grinager at

The Seattle Public Schools haven’t opened a school in decades, so even in a time of budget cuts, “there are all kind of exciting things happening because we’re a new school,” Koch said.

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