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Westside celebrates 35 years of leaders

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Westside School founders, Docia Reed and Claudia Ross-Weston, and Board President Conrad Wesselhoeft

Last Thursday, Westside School kicked off it’s 35th Anniversary celebrations by inviting former Westside leaders to the school. From having three founders, Docia Reed, Melodie Rodgers and Claudia in our permanent home, to Westside Board Members of 15, 10, 5 years ago come together, it was truly a celebration of who we are, where we’re from, and what our future holds.

Understanding and honoring our roots feels especially important at this moment, as we are thinking about both the excellence of our program and the long-term vibrancy of the school. We look forward to continuing these celebrations in the upcoming months.

Hanna reflects on ten years at Westside School

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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 education at Westside School when I was three years old. At that time, Westside was still sharing space with Explorer West, and the pre-school was in a portable. My teacher was the sweet, caring, Nancy. I remember everything clearly. My first day at Westside School surpassed my expectations. I was so nervous, but as soon as I walked in, I knew I did not have to be scared. The environment was filled with laughter, and I was so excited to finally have a cubby. There were so many cool toys! I have been at Westside for over ten years. It’s all I have ever known, and I am still not quite ready to leave. I will always smile when I think of my experiences here.

Shared by Hanna, Class of 2017

Share your story with us. It just might be featured here!

35 Years of Westside Stories…Carmen, Class of 2017

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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 since pre-kindergarten. At the time, our building was at Explorer West. I have been a part of Westside for several of our building moves; the first one at Explorer West, the second was at E.C. Hughes, and now this one. One of my favorite parts of going to school here is the student-faculty ratio. Since the classes are approximately 20 students, we get the opportunity to have one- on-one time with a teacher. Another benefit of this is the faculty really know you as a person and get to understand your learning style quickly. I’m glad my parents enrolled me at Westside School early on, because I’ve known the people in my grade for close to a decade. Westside gives students the chance to bond with teachers and classmates. Since our school moved to its permanent home, the building is brand new. The classrooms are airy, and I love being to work in an open environment. The student-faculty ratio, close bonds with classmates, and our wonderful building are what I like most about Westside School. 

Shared by Carmen, Class of 2017

Share your story with us. It just might be featured here!

Eighth grade students take part in Ellis Island station simulation

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In connection to the eighth grade unit on Ellis Island and immigration, students took part in an Ellis Island Station simulation today that spanned all three floors of the building. Dressed to represent the characters they have been studying who traveled from all over Eastern Europe in 1910 and armed with baggage and passports, students made their way through seven different simulation stations including taking part in medical and legal inspections, dealing with detainment officers, and pleading with the Special Board of Inquiries when detained as to why they should be allowed to continue their way to America. Some lucky few made their way to the money exchange areas to trade in their home country’s currency for American dollars and continued on to purchase train tickets to make way to their final destinations. It was definitely a memorable day for these eighth grade travelers, and we are grateful to the many parent volunteers who helped make it successful!

The Class of 2016….a little like ‘French Tea’

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On the evening of Thursday, June 9, Westside School gathered in our beautiful theater to celebrate and honor the eighth grade students – our Class of 2016.

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With decorations from our sixth grade class, beautiful flower arrangements, and hundreds of well-wishers the twenty-two graduates officially became the first class to graduate from Westside School’s permanent home.

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This year’s graduation speaker, Susannah Muench, reflected upon the 180 days a year, five days a week, 90 minutes a day she has spent with the students over the last two years, noting “if you add that up it is 16,200 min or 270 hours. If you know anything about this class, that is a lot of time.”

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This class has a very special place in my heart. They have taught me a lot. First and foremost they have taught me to laugh, to laugh at myself, to laugh at them and to not take things so seriously.

When I was little my favorite dinner my mother made my sister and me was something called French Tea. As I got older I realized French Tea was actually little bits of everything we had in the fridge, but put together and arranged neatly on a plate, which made it different and special.   

The Class of 2016 is a lot like French Tea. They are an eclectic assortment of personalities and traits, but each student is unique and when you put them all together they really are an amazing class to teach.  

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Connor is full of surprises, from his beautiful voice to his creative writing. Don’t count him out.

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Karl is all about perseverance and dedication, just look at all his ski racing medals. When he puts his mind to something, you know he will make it happen.

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Kieran’s quiet on the outside but always scheming up something in his head, whether it’s helping out others or thinking of ways to revolutionize the system.

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What I appreciate about Ben, other than his amazing intellect, is his dry sense of humor and those rare moments when he breaks out into a smile. I look forward to seeing his inventions.

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Kovit is solid gold, funny, smart, and astute. You can always rely on him to make it real.  

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Jordan has the biggest heart, she feels so deeply and has more empathy and compassion than anyone I know.  

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Olivia really is a lot like Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz), she is good natured and kind but feisty too. She is going to make the world a better place.  

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Angie is wise beyond her years. She has a quiet grace, yet don’t cross her because she is one tough cookie.

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Will is not afraid to speak his mind, he has a razor sharp wit that flies under the radar. He is a leader in the making.

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If you have ever seen Jac around young kids you know he has a heart of gold and the ability to put everyone at ease. He’s also a famous cook, just check him out on YouTube.

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Jamie is an inspiration; she has had a hard road this year but her strength and courage are a lesson to us all.

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What I admire most about Nate is his passion, for  drumming, for shoes, for fashion and also for standing up for what he believes in and for what’s right.

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Justin is a bundle of energy, drives you crazy and makes you laugh at the same time.  He doesn’t believe it but I will miss him too next year.

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Juliet is good at everything from writing to basketball. She is humble almost to a fault, but if I was ever stranded on a desert island I would want her on my team.

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Riley came to Westside School two years ago looking like a deer in headlights, but he has grown leaps and bounds. He is a solid student and a fine young man.

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Helen is kind to everyone, yet a perfectionist to herself. I love reading anything she writes, she will be as famous as Bethany Mota one day.  

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Callum is a rock. He is one of those quiet leaders, who seems to be good at everything and other students naturally respect and look up to.  

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Everyone knows Sarah is a beautiful dancer, but she is so much more. Thoughtful, kind, smart, but not afraid to throw on a tutu and get a little crazy.

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Levi is as feisty as they come; you never quite know what to expect but he makes it real and speaks the truth.   

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Isaac was new to us this year, but his quiet, solid presence and gentle smile was a wonderful addition to our class.

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Henry is so much more than a superstar athlete. He doesn’t always like to show it but he is an amazing writer and a compassionate friend. And he has the best last name ever.

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Bianca epitomizes the saying don’t judge a book by its cover. She might be petite in size but she is a powerhouse, not only for her black belt in karate but ability to be completely herself.

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Life is a series of steps forwards and sometimes backwards, and don’t let anyone tell you different.  

When you get to high school and even beyond there will be people, teachers, friends maybe even family who will question what you believe in and who you are or want to be.

My challenge to you is to take risks and question everything and everyone.

Question what your teachers tell you, question what your friends  think is cool,  question what others tell you is important, question The Feed.

Find your own path, be willing to believe in yourself and take risks to stand up for it

Remember Westside School and the teachers and friends who gave you the confidence to be true to yourself no matter what.

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Graduates, we wish you nothing but great success and happiness. The door is open anytime, and we sincerely hope you’ll visit often.

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Congratulations!

Fourth grade ventures to the Washington State History Museum

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Westside School fourth grade students spent the day in Tacoma at the Washington State History Museum as part of their study of Washington State History and Geography. The students participated in the History Lab portion of the Museum which guided them through a study of the Mt. St. Helens eruption in May 1980 as well as a scavenger hunt of Washington State history.
Before driving home, both classes walked across the bridge from the Washington State History Museum to the Chihuly Museum where they saw the amazing glass creations that are part of the art installation on the bridge as well as having an opportunity to get the wiggles out before the long drive home.

Celebrating the Class of 2015…a historical trip across the water

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This past week, the Westside School eighth grade class traveled to Bainbridge Island to visit the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum and the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. Students had the opportunity to speak with various docents that were either interned at the camps or had friends that had been interned at the camps. The docents first took students through the Historical Museum and discussed important points on internment and their points of view on the situation. After this, each student was given a name tag of a Japanese American who was interned. The task was to research that person and write the most interesting thing the student learned about them on the back of the card. After learning about their particular person, the docents and students then met at the Japanese Exclusion Memorial where they walked the wall and found the name they had been given.To conclude the field trip, the docents shared stories of memories they had about the relocation or life in the camp. It was an amazing experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity for our graduates!