This Week at Westside: May 22-26

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With less than two weeks left in the school year, student’s are working hard on their final projects and presentations for EOL, Spring Flings or Showcases, and also getting out to enjoy the sunshine! Here are a few snapshots from around our community this week.

To see more of what the students have been working on, come check out these events:

Tuesday, May 30
5:30-6:15 p.m. Seventh and Eighth Grade Exhibition of Learning (EOL)
6:30-7:30 p.m. Middle School Showcase

Wednesday, May 31
8:15-9:00a.m. Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Coffee in the Gallery
9:00-9:30a.m. Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Spring Fling Performance

Thursday, June 1. 
6:30-7:30pm. Lower School Spring Fling Performance


A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small

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This year’s spring musical was Seussical Jr. All of the students involved worked very hard to put on multiple incredible performances and they truly shined on stage and behind the scenes. Here is what some of the teachers who worked with them on this production had to say.

“As with Dr. Seuss books, Seussical is a fantastical and sometimes chaotic musical.  The students needed an enormous amount of concentration and energy to keep all of those moving parts in order and to tell the story of Horton and the Whos.  In both performances, never was a line dropped or an entrance missed.  To a member, the cast was performing in unison to deliver a message of belonging.  I am so proud of what they accomplished.” –Bryan, Performing Arts Teacher


“The students in Tech Theater worked tirelessly on Seussical to create a student-led production. Students in Technical Theater sewed costumes, touched up backdrops, and built props up until the curtain rose. Students created whimsical hair and makeup looks for each character and lights and sound added to the atmosphere and drama. Stage managers organized their peers backstage and ensured that every scene went off without a hitch. Each student should be extremely proud of their ability to stage a full musical production!”
Anna, Interim Visual Arts Instructor

Introducing London, the Westside Wolf

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Welcome to the newest member of the Westside family: London, the Westside Wolf!

London is currently a resident of Wolf Haven International, a Washington-based rehabilitation center working towards the conservation and protection of wolves and their habitats. Westside School began sponsoring London this spring, after the middle school Social Justice flex class held a bake sale to raise money for and promote awareness of the organization.

This is not the first time the Social Justice flex has stepped up to support causes they believe in. When the class started in January, students spent time researching current events, issues they cared about, and ways they could make a positive change in the world. A February roll back on protections for transgender students prompted our class to research support services for transgender youth in Seattle. We were inspired by the work of the Lambert House, and held our first “Food for Though” bake sale in March. The students baked rainbow themed goodies topped with inspirational, motivational, and educational notes. The result was amazing! We raised over $400 for this local institution, and spread a message of acceptance and love (with a little bit of sugar) in the process.

The Social Justice class ended in early March, but the students have continued meeting weekly to discuss how they can continue to make an impact in this community, and the world. After reading about the recent “War on Wolves Act'”, students decided to host another bake sale, this time to support Wolf Haven.

We are so proud of the work and dedication of this group, and we hope London can serve as inspiration to the rest of the Westside community to promote positive engagement!

London’s photo and biography will be on display at the front desk soon.
-Colleen and Kendra

Westside Parent Throws Mariner’s First Pitch!

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Fred Northup is not only a parent of a pre-kindergartener and first grade student here at Westside School, but he’s also a local auctioneer and emcee.  If you’ve attended a Westside auction in the past three years, it’s likely you’ve seen Fred livening up the evening as our excellent auctioneer.  Fred recently had the opportunity to throw the first pitch at a Mariners game vs. the Athletics. Here’s what he had to say about his experience.

I emceed the 2017 BECU company meeting, and afterwards the CEO said, “That was great! As a thank you, would you like to throw out a first pitch?”


I was lucky enough to have many friends who have done it before, from politicians to Chefs to rock stars! So I got a lot of great coaching in advance. The main thing I learned was that 60′ 6″ is a lot farther than it looks.


I chose to throw it out from the mound, got it to the plate, and the M’s won! It was nerve-wracking, but having Ashley and the kids on the field with me was so fun. Now I can check it off my bucket list!


Parenting with Gender Identity in Mind: A Parent Education Opportunity

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All of us parenting children have stories to share about our children and the many ways they express gender from an early age. The idea shapes and colors many of our experiences — the ratio in a classroom, the clothes we wear, the messages we want our kids to hear and embrace.

In 2017, our language and our understanding of gender is shifting, becoming broader and more inclusive. Still, stereotypes persist throughout media and in the ways we talk with one another. It’s increasingly important that we make time to work with students to look critically at those messages and talk about gender in a healthy and open manner.

Indeed, the National Association of School Psychologists identifies “healthy conversations about gender and identity” as a key characteristic of effective schools.

That’s why we are excited to host gender and diversity expert, Rosetta Lee, to Westside on Tuesday, May 23. Rosetta will be speaking broadly about raising students in today’s climate, and how to support a broadly inclusive environment around gender and identity. She’ll be working with faculty in the afternoon, looking at elements of school culture and curriculum. In the evening she’ll be talking with parents about media, message and identity. In talking about the evening, Rosetta said, “There will be something in the conversation for every parent prekindergarten  through eighth grade. We are all raising kids in today’s world, with today’s message, and we have to work together to create the kind of environment we want for our kids.”

I hope you can join us on the 23rd.

-Ted Kalmus, Head of School

RSVP is required for this event and childcare is available. Please RSVP here.

Open Hearts and Open Minds: A Nicaragua Spring Break Trip Recap

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Mary Kratz, Sarah Path and thirteen 7th and 8th grade girls traveled to Nicaragua over spring break and have some incredible stories to share!

We traveled with a company called Global Works who organized a custom trip for us focused on cultural exchange and service learning.  We enjoyed a bit of sight-seeing, but spent most of our time interacting and learning from Nicaraguans about their country and culture-we had to use a lot of Spanish!  In Managua, the capital city, we toured the chureca and learned from a community organizer, named Yamileth Perez, about the struggle to move families off of the city landfill where families had been living, scrounging scraps of metal to sell and scraps of food to eat.  We toured the neighborhood with Yamileth, heard lots of stories of resilience and grassroots organizing and visited their community center called Podcasts for Peace.  At the community center, we learned about the programs they offer in healthcare, youth programming and the arts.  In addition, they make podcasts to tell and share the stories of members of their community and other marginalized groups in Managua.  While at the community center we got to meet a lot of the volunteers, hear some of their podcasts and videos and play games and read books with neighborhood children.

Next, we traveled northeast to San Ramon, a rural mountainous region of Nicaragua, where we met and worked with four women’s collectives who make and sell artisan crafts.  One group made jewelry from seeds, one made beads and jewelry from recycled rolled paper, one made stationary items like journals and cards from recycled paper, and the other group were weavers who used a loom and traditional weaving techniques.  With each of the women’s groups that we worked with, we got to learn about their artistic process and work alongside the women in their workshops making arts and crafts.  We also conducted interviews to learn more about how their groups started, what their goals are and the challenges they have faced.  We are currently working to turn our interviews into biographies about all of the women’s collectives in Spanish and English.  These will be posted on a tourism website for the region to try and help publicize the women’s work and bring them more business.

In addition, we had a lot of other incredible experiences including a bread making workshop, a visit to a cacao factory, a boat ride through the isletas of Lake Nicaragua, a tour of Granada and we swam in a volcanic crater!  Hard to believe all of this happened in a week!  The students brought to Nicaragua their curiosity, their full attention, respect, maturity, fun, open hearts and open minds.  On the last night, we reflected about what the students had taken and learned from Nicaragua.  The two biggest takeaways were 1) an awarenessand gratitude about our privilege, such as educational opportunities and access to clean water and healthy food and 2) the notion that money does not equal happiness, since we met many people in Nicaragua who told us and showed us that though they may be poor in money, they are rich in love and happiness.

The Class of 2017 culminates Westside years with final Outdoor Ed trip

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The Class of 2017 had a fun and successful final Westside School Outdoor Education trip! Students did a great job of helping to make the trip happen – starting with the planning process at school, and culminating with cooking meals, setting up camp and engaging in activities and discussions throughout the week.

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The first destination was the Hummocks Loop Trail, where students saw firsthand the recovery of the Toutle River valley since the 1980 eruption, and enjoyed beautiful views of Mt. St. Helens. While it was raining throughout the hike, everyone still enjoyed beautiful scenery, and appreciated the group of students who taught the rest of the group about the origin of the Hummocks.

There was time for great reflection, games and community time, as well as traditional s’mores around the campfire!