Middle School

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

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!

Seventh grade spends week rafting, hiking, and growing

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The class of 2018 rafted for two days and hiked 7.8 miles along the Clackamas River on a five day trip at Milo McIver State Park in Estacada, OR. One of the main focuses of the trip was communication and cooperation; students worked together through team building activities and learning to raft together. Each evening students met by the campfire to review and reflect upon their day and acknowledge each other. The week culminated in a day long rafting experience with class three and four rapids with names such as Hole in the Wall, Box of Fluffy Kittens, and Toilet Bowl. All in all, the trip was an amazing experience for all involved! The seventh grade class was able to mature and grow, and they are now ready to step into the role of being the leaders of Westside School Middle School.

Sixth grade soaks up the sun in Vantage

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The sixth grade traveled to Vantage in central Washington for a week of camping, climbing, hiking and studying of geology. The students had the opportunity to visit Dry Falls as well as Lake Lenore Caves.

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Students climbed a variety of routes on basalt rock formations in Vantage and had the opportunity to rappel as a final culminating challenge.

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Each evening the trail groups would meet to reflect on and savor their new experiences. The educational focus of the trip was studying the mega floods of the ice ages that carved the landscape during several catastrophic flood events.

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Student spent the week looking for evidence of the floods, such as hanging valleys and erratic boulders.

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Everyone on the trip returned to Westside sun kissed, full of energy and new memories and feeling closer as a community.