Community

The Amazing Race at Westside!

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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.

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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!

Lukas and Masha express gratitude for the welcoming community at Westside as new students

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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.

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I began my time at Westside School at twelve years of age. During this, the school was beginning in a new location. My favorite part of Westside is the friendly student population. A favorite memory of mine at Westside School is the ‘Mercado’ project from seventh grade, as there were several different ideas for topics for the project.

Shared by Lukas, Class of 2017

One of the most memorable times I can think of at Westside is making pyramids with friends at recess in third or fourth grade. I remember this because that day I really felt like I connected with the people I was with, and was enjoying myself and developing friendships with new people. Another memory is the first day I came to Westside School. I was in Jill’s second grade class. When I came in, the teacher introduced me to the class, and gave me a worksheet to work on that my mom helped me with; I didn’t completely understand, and was very nervous and confused. She also asked the same of my fellow newbie, Talia, and I was happy to see I wasn’t alone. All the kids were very nice and welcoming, but I still didn’t feel like this was the right place for me, until one student started talking to me, and making this feel like the school for me, and made me feel welcome.

Shared by Masha, Class of 2017

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Eighth grade student Jonathan reflects on a positive Middle School experience at Westside

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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.

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I have been at Westside School for four years, starting in fifth grade. That may not seem like much, but I have matured a lot as a person at Westside over those four years. I was new from my local public school at the time. I was confused. Now I feel like a part of the community that has been here for as long as anybody. This may come from the many people who joined in the coming years, but I can remember at the beginning of my time here I already knew some of the people here, and I felt like part of the community from the beginning. This is one of the most meaningful things I think of when I think of my fifth grade year, how everybody accepted me into the community.

Shared by Jonathan, Class of 2017

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35 Years of Westside Stories…a look back at river rafting, teacher relationships, and a community of friends

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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.

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My favorite part of Westside School since coming here in seventh grade are the trips. During the spring of our seventh grade year, we went river rafting. For me, that was my first time going rafting, and I was definitely nervous. During the first time in the river our raft group had lots of fun. On the raft there were people I hadn’t really hung out with during the school year. While on the raft, we went through some rapids that were pretty scary, but we worked together to get through them. At one point during our rafting we created a story where we had one person ride in the front of the boat and we re-created George Washington crossing the Delaware. Our story brought everyone on the raft closer. It wasn’t just the story that brought us together, though, at one point we started singing, and if I remember correctly it was the song, “Watch Me”, a popular dance during that time. We sang as we worked together to move our raft, and being the ones in the front while racing another raft made us work even harder. At the end of the day I think we all got closer to each other than we were before. Maybe we didn’t become close friends, but we did become closer classmates. That day I felt glad to have come to Westside and experience that bond.

Shared by a member of the Class of 2017

I began my time at Westside School when I was ten years old. At that time, it was a very different place and it has been interesting to see it change and evolve into the school it is today. I feel as though every camping trip has brought new experiences and skills to the class, and I have loved my time here. I found the community was very friendly and supportive when I arrived as a new student. It was more academically challenging compared to my old school and this pushed me into working harder. I am thankful to have been able to attend Westside School for almost five years.

Shared by Emma, Class of 2017

I have been at Westside School  for nine years. During that time, I have met so many people. One thing I like is how everyone knows each other. Some people I have known for almost ten years, so it will be hard to leave everyone when I graduate. I also like how well the teachers know us. It helps to know the teachers well because they can tell you specifically what you should do. I am happy with the community at Westside School, and I will be sad to leave it.

Shared by a member of the Class of 2017

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35 Years of Westside Stories…Clayton recalls ten years of Spirit

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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.

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Claudia, Stuart, Margie, Laura, Josh, Linda, Jillian, Michael, Jason, Darwin. Ten years, ten teachers. At four years old, I joined the Westside School community in pre-kindergarten, and I don’t remember much of anything from back then. There is one thing I do remember all the way through those ten years, and that is Westside School Spirit Wear & Pizza Day. I remember eating pizza all the way back to the portable outside the building that is now inhabited by Explorer West. My mom was the room parent back then so she was always in charge of ordering and bringing the pizza in. I remember she would bring my little brother in to meet everybody and all my friends would fawn over him, and I would get so mad because I wasn’t the center of attention, but looking back, those are some of my fondest memories. Westside School Spirit Wear & Pizza Day is the thing that has never changed, and it is a good representation of my time at Westside School!

Shared by Clayton, Class of 2017

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Giving back in honor of MLK Day

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With an upcoming day off, why not make it a day on!

Spend the day honoring Martin Luther King Jr. by participating in a community service project. By lending a hand, you’ll help spread his legacy of compassion and service to the whole community.

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Here are some suggestions of kid-friendly service projects going on in the Seattle area with links to websites that have more information about project details and registration.

1. City Year is organizing a service day at MLK Elementary School. In just one day, you will make MLK Elementary School a more vibrant and engaging learning environment where students can truly thrive. Service projects include painting educational murals, hands-on beautification projects, and participating in social justice conversations. Click here to learn more.

2. Nature Consortium is hosting an eco-work party in the Duwamish Greenbelt. You and your fellow volunteers will participate in fun, hands-on conservation work led by Nature Consortium staff. Restoration work includes removing invasive plants, planting native species, and mulching new plantings. Work parties are often accompanied by live musicians, bringing the arts and nature together for our enjoyment! Click here to learn more.

3. United Way is partnering with many organizations to lead a wide variety of community service projects in neighborhoods all over King county. Click here to learn more.

4. Help create a healthy forest at Cheasty greenspace. Join EarthCorps and the Green Seattle Partnership as they continue working in this 43 acre green space. MLK Day of Service participants should expect to learn a brief history of Cheasty Greenspace and an overview of Seattle’s urban forests and participate in forest restoration work. Click here to learn more.

Civil Discourse

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Rabbi Aaron Meyer and Westside School Interim Head Ted Kalmus

Fifty people gathered in Westside School’s theater on the Monday before Thanksgiving to talk about Civil Discourse and how we talk to children following a complicated, adversarial, and sometimes unkind election cycle. Thanks to all who participated in the evening.

Last night’s conversation felt particularly important. To me it served an important need we have as community – to share space and co-engage the complexity of the world our kids our in, think together about how we process confusing information or adversity, and what kind of language to use with our children.

The discussion between Ted and Aaron gave important words to feelings that people were having. Perhaps even more importantly, the breakout conversations gave people the opportunity to connect both personally and as parents.

One message that was striking was the conversation about what kids need in the future workforce. Research shows that building emotional intelligence and empathy is increasingly important, and connection to family through storytelling is a prime indicator of both social and professional success.

– Sydney Calvo, parent of fourth grade student Sally

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One of the things that really struck me last night is there is a big variance among us in terms of our comfort with talking with each other and our kids about our experiences, especially when they are uncomfortable or even unattractive. So, many of us are exploring how to do that now. Maybe that’s because of our distance or our privilege or the directness of impact, but whatever the cause we need to find ways to connect.

There was good discussion about what are “developmentally appropriate” ways to talk with our kids and how that maps out in terms of messaging and even action.

What are the ways we might actually put ourselves into Civil Discourse? Certainly we surround ourselves with common thinking, but how do we actually engage a broader diversity of people and thought with the intent to understand and not just the desire to change their minds.

I am struck by how many of us just want to tell our kids “it is okay.” Our goal should never be just to assure our kids but to help them be part of the struggle to make it true. Everyone has something they can do, which ultimately is a more empowering message than “it’s okay.”

– Rene Hawkes, parent of fourth grade student Donovan and seventh grade student Sophia