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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Hamilton students struck in crosswalk

December 1st, 2010 by master

Update: Principal Carter said that one student was struck and one was brushed by the vehicle.

We got word yesterday from area parents that either one or two Hamilton Middle School students were hit by a vehicle at Wallingford Ave. N. and N. 43rd St. and that they’d be okay. The incident occurred at about 7:45 a.m.

Hamilton principal Chris Carter shared this information and some good advice this morning:

I can say that all students involved are OK. The dark and gloomy weather played a part in that the driver just did not see the student(s) in the crosswalk. Fortunately, the driver was going slow. Again, the students are doing fine with no significant injuries other than bumps and bruises.

It is always important for drivers to be aware and drive slowly and for students to me mindful of their surroundings at all times.

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Scenes and news from the season's first snow day

November 22nd, 2010 by master

9:00 p.m.: More people out tonight than we might have expected. The bars are doing good business and people inside seem cheerful. We saw people “skating” on the icy streets and children on sleds. The main streets (N. 45th, Meridian Ave., Wallingford Ave.) are sheets of ice (see pictures below), and every gust of wind whips snow off the roofs and onto the street.

An icy Wallingford street tonight. Note the bicyclist in the background.

Panorama of Wallingford Ave. and N. 45th St. tonight. Click for larger version.

8:20 p.m.: From Seattle Public Schools:

Due to weather conditions, all Seattle Public Schools and facilities will be closed Tuesday, Nov. 23. This means there is no school for students or staff and all activities will be canceled. The central office at John Stanford Center will also be closed.

5:45 p.m.: Roads have stayed fairly clear in Wallingford today (if slow on N. 45th), but downtown and the highways are another story. Click on the SDOT cameras to see why you should just stay home if you’re there already.

We’ve added some pictures of snowy fun in Wallingford parks.

Here’s a panorama of Wallingford from UW Tower that Jeffrey Linn created. Click for larger version.

11:45 a.m.: Woodland Park Zoo will close at 3:00 p.m. today. That earlier accident on the Aurora Bridge has been cleared.

9:30 a.m.: All southbound lane and two northbound lanes blocked on Aurora Bridge.

9:15 a.m.: Looking for a couple snow essentials? Stone Way Hardware has snow shovels, Tweedy and Popp has four snow shovels and some saucers available. Bartell’s has snow shovels and sleds available, but not in large quantities.

The Wallingford Boys & Girls Club is closed today. Boys and girls around the neighborhood are enjoying a snow day, though. Angele sent this picture of her kids and their “snow baby”:

8:20 a.m.: Snow’s coming down harder now and starting to turn icy where it’s packed down on the streets and sidewalks. Drive and walk carefully.

N. 50th and Meridian at 8:00 a.m.:

7:30 a.m.: The morning has begun with a dusting of snow on the ground and light but steady flakes falling.

Buses are on snow routes. We saw a 26 (with tire chains) running down N. 45th St. this morning. Check for your route here. If you use the app One Bus Away, it will not have accurate information for snow routes.

Here’s the corner of N. 45th and Wallingford Ave. this morning:

Middle schools and high schools will dismiss at 12:35 p.m. today, based on forecasts for heavier snow this afternoon and falling temperatures.

We’ll continue to update this page throughout the day.

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Search for a home based on neighborhood schools

November 15th, 2010 by master

This story has been updated since it was first published.

In fall 2009, Seattle Public Schools unveiled a new student assignment plan that uses home addresses to assign students to neighborhood schools. Some of the boundaries are straightforward; others do unexpected jigs and jags that require an accurate map.

Most home shoppers with kids pay close attention to which schools serve which neighborhoods, but some listings don’t have accurate information or leave it to the buyer to investigate. Recently we heard from McKenna Hughes of Estately, who told us of a new feature on the site: Estately has plotted some local school attendance zones on a real estate map.

Want to make sure your new home is the John Stanford International School attendance area (pictured here)? Check here.

Prefer a more traditional elementary school? Check out the McDonald School area here.

Looking at homes on the Wallingford-Fremont border between Stone Way and Aurora? Have an advanced learner who qualifies for the Spectrum program? Don’t care for John Stanford International School’s language-immersion program? Take a look at BF Day Elementary just over Aurora.

Love the gleaming newly renovated Hamilton Middle School? Here’s the map of its attendance area.

From Estately’s blog:

We are creating a new way for parents and parents-to-be to find a home: Estately Smart Schools. For parents who’d like their children to attend a certain school, Estately Smart Schools will help search only the homes for sale in any school’s area.

We think this is a dramatic improvement in the way people find a home. Until today, parents had to do an awkward multi-website + IRL (In Real Life) dance wherein they looked at homes, then had look at obscure school district maps and/or find someone who knows to ask, then go back and eliminate the homes that serve the wrong school, then look at a new batch of homes that fit within the bounds as they remembered them. Phew! All in all, it was a time-consuming and crummy way to make decisions.

Now you can pick the school or schools you want your child to attend, type the name into Estately (we’ll help you spell it correctly with auto-complete) and we will show you every home for sale in that school’s area.

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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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Seattle Public Schools early enrollment begins

October 4th, 2010 by master

If you’ve got a student who will enter kindergarten in the 2011-2012 school year, or who will be new to Seattle Public Schools, early enrollment begins this evening. To answer questions and help parents with the process, enrollment specialists from Seattle Public Schools will be at the Ballard Library (5614 22nd Ave NW) tonight, Monday, Oct. 4th from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

From Seattle Public Schools:

Early enrollment allows families to avoid long lines during the busy spring and summer enrollment periods. While early enrollment does not impact where a student is assigned to school – under the new student assignment plan, assignment is based on the student’s home address – it is offered as a convenience to families, enabling them to get the enrollment paperwork completed ahead of time.

In addition, families who have students enrolling early – as well as existing students – will receive their school assignment notification in early 2011, prior to the Open Enrollment period in the spring. Students may apply to attend a different school of their choice during Open Enrollment.

For more information on open enrollment, click here (.pdf).

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Celebrate and tour Hamilton School Saturday

October 1st, 2010 by master

Tomorrow morning from 10 a.m. to noon, the newly remodeled and expanded Hamilton Middle School will be open for a community celebration. Head over there to tour the building and see, among other features, the new library, gym and commons. At 11:00 you can buy a scoop from Molly Moon’s ice cream truck.

For more information, visit the Hamilton School site.

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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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