Last week the fifth grade students braved the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula on a coastal adventure. Students set up base camp at a beautiful recreation area near Port Angeles and groups took turns backpacking for one night in Olympic National Park. They explored tide pools, the Elwha River, and several coastal ecosystems. Students saw deer, bald eagles, seals, and salamanders.
They smelled skunk cabbage and tasted salal leaves, touched whale bones and witnessed the effects of dam removal. Students reflected nightly in their journals where they also completed mind and event maps, collaborative poems, and letters of gratitude and appreciation.
Upon returning to the classroom, they were ready to share stories and discover how each person experienced the trip in their own distinct way.
Everyone is so happy to be home, showered and dry, but it was a wonderful experience camping on the beautiful coast!
In anticipation of our 35th Celebration, we’ve asked some of our eighth grade students to share their Westside Story. Westside School is what it is today because of 35 years of stories. We’d love to hear yours.
A favorite part of my Westside School experience has been being able to go on the annual fall and spring Outdoor Education trips. Although, in the moment, I thought the fifth and sixth grade trips were not fun, I look back on all the memories and friendships I made on those trips. In seventh and eighth grade, I began to appreciate the trips more than I did when I was younger. I began to realize how grateful I am to be able to go to a school that gives students like me the opportunity to go on these trips.
Shared by Kate, Class of 2017
I have been at Westside School for nine years. During that time we have changed buildings twice, just as frequently as I have learned from my mistakes. During that time I have developed a lasting relationship with my planner, just as I have with countless classmates. Over the years a number of lessons have been taught to me by many amazing teachers, who were just as influential to me as the leaders that have been here while I have. During these past nine years I have gained essential and extremely beneficial life skills that will take me through high school. Thank you, Westside School, you have made me a much more grateful, articulate, and (typically) understanding person.
Shared by Sophia, Class of 2017
Share your story with us. It just might be featured here!
With the goal of bringing all Middle School students, grades fifth through eighth, together this afternoon Kendra’s advisory created The Amazing Race! Students were assigned to groups that allowed them the chance to interact with grade levels they might not always see each day.
With activities like the Caterpillar Game, Tarp Challenge, and Hula Hoop Challenge students were given the opportunity to solve problems, cheer each other on, and get creative on this sunny Friday!
Annual giving promotes a strong culture of gratitude with thousands of hours spent by students on community service each year.
Promoting a culture of gratitude and giving back is an essential part of Westside School’s learning experience. Each year students in every grade participate in meaningful and important service projects in the community, expanding their knowledge, citizenship, and leadership in the world around them. These experiences are integrated into Westside School’s academic curriculum, which gives students opportunities to use newly-acquired academic skills and knowledge in real-life situations in their own communities and extends learning beyond the classroom. Ultimately, service learning helps foster the development of a sense of caring for others.
In the Lower School, service is a community effort that varies year to year. Whether students are running canned food drives, gathering supplies for families in need, or visiting the local retirement community, our students are making an impact – and feeling proud of their accomplishments.
First grade students began visiting the residents of Day Star Retirement Home last year. They will continue this year with four to six trips in the spring, where students will sing songs and mingle with the residents. In preparation for their trips, students learn appropriate songs, discuss how to introduce themselves, how to converse with adults in a respectful way, and how to present in front of an authentic audience. Last year our first grade class helped celebrate two 100 year old’s birthdays! The visits are powerful and emotional. The resulting friendships are beneficial to both students and residents. First grade loves their Day Star friends!
To gain further pride and understanding in their work, Middle School students participate service learning throughout the year. Not only are they weeding and planting at nearby forests, stocking shelves at food banks, or gathering supplies for teens in need at Youth Care, they are expanding their worldview and gaining necessary knowledge about the impact of their contributions.
In 2016, the fifth grade class participated in the service component of their Service Learning Project for four months in the spring. In line with their curriculum for those months, students worked to restore a local forest by removing invasive plants and preparing the green space to plant natives later that spring. Through the work of this significant project, the students learned how people, even kids, go about making positive change in their community.
The fifth grade class traveled across the Olympic Peninsula, visiting and learning about ecology, history, and Native American Culture during the Middle School Outdoor Education spring trip.
The group studied the Elwha River, the removal of its dams, and the impacts it had on the people and the environment.
They also headed to Neah Bay to begin coastal ecology and Makah tribal history studies. The group also had the chance to experience a coastal wilderness and amazing tide pooling on the class’s first overnight backpacking trip!
The fifth grade class started the service component of their Service Learning Project last Tuesday. Students began restoring a local forest by removing invasive plants and getting the green space ready to plant natives in the spring. Through this project, the students are learning how people, even kids, go about making positive change in the world around them.