Pi Day 2015

L-Dub celebrated our favorite irrational number on Monday. We had two Math professors visit us from the University of Washington to talk with the girls about women in Math and the research that they are engaged in.  

Dr. Tatiana Toro spoke to us about her personal journey into the world of Mathematics, which began with participation in a Math olympiad during her high school years. Dr. Toro encouraged L-Dub girls to follow their hearts when choosing a career, "If you do what you love, the rest will fall into place." 

Dr. Billey

Dr. Billey

Dr. Sara Billey introduced some new ideas in Math that have been inspired by Origami. She demonstrated how paper folding can solve a Mathematical proof and challenged us to search for mathematical knowledge everywhere.

For the rest of the morning, the girls rotated between four activities. They made songs and poems about pi, made a life size pi chain that will live in the Math room, they built life-size domes out of tape and newspaper, and they played capture the pi with hula hoops! After our activities wrapped up, our girls ate their lunch – followed by your sweet and savory pies! Thank you to everyone for sending in such a delicious selection for us all to enjoy.  

 

Reese '17 rocks out 325 digits of Pi!

Our pi day celebrations ended with an all-school presentation of pi songs, pi digit recitation, and some pi-ing of the Math department (and Ms. Hearn!). Congratulations to all of the girls on their hard work memorizing the many digits of pi. Many of our girls memorized over 100 digits this year, and our 2015 pi-day winner is Reese '17 with 325 digits memorized.

– Ms. Nisha

To see all of the Pi Day pictures and videos head on over to SmugMug!

We Are Believers!

Shrek is a well-loved franchise among many in the L-Dub community. And why wouldn't it be?  This story shows us that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that what's on the inside is what counts, that being different is okay, and that with the help of your friends, you can do just about anything. For middle schoolers, these themes are front and center to their everyday lives in and out of school, and I've felt honored to get to explore the idea of inner beauty with the girls these past few months. I'm so proud of the bravery, energy, and honesty each actor brought to this production, and I'm so excited for you to see it. The cast’s inner beauty shines in every scene!

Quite a few thanks are in order: to Colleen West for her endless patience and organization, even when I threw curveballs her way; to Karri Meleo for the gracious use of the karate uniforms and the complete instructions on how to properly care for them; to the eighth grade crew for learning on their feet and doing so with a smile; to Lindsey Mutschler for her amazing musical prowess and her commitment to each and every singer onstage; to Steve Pullman for his behind the scenes sound engineering; to Eva McGough and Patti Hearn for teaching the girls the electric slide, the twist, and the swim at the eleventh hour and with an impressive amount of attitude and pizzazz; to Molly Klema for wrangling the majority of the cast every morning and seeing them safely and happily delivered to the theater; to Jan Frederick for once again making the characters come alive with stunning costumes; and to Jenny Zavatsky for being a constant sounding board, thought partner, and excellent mentor. Lastly, thank you to the entire L-Dub community for carpooling, for bagels, for technical assistance, for front of house duties, and for supporting our young actors. 

 

To see all of the Shrek photos, head on over to Smugmug!


Kids In Medicine Wows 8th Grade

On Monday, the Class of 2015 headed over to Kids In Medicine (KIM) – our partners in O.W.L. – to take part in their new “B3” program (Biotech, Birth & Babies). KIM helps us provide a connection between our girls’ current O.W.L. academic studies and their futures in potential STEAM careers.  

Our students performed medical simulations in obstetrics (delivering a baby) and neonatal care (infant resuscitation). Afterward, they performed the method of DNA fingerprinting in the laboratory to learn how gel electrophoresis can reveal DNA banding patterns to identify heritage (paternity testing for the “baby” that they delivered). 

More from Lael McAuliffe, Director, Education & Curriculum Development...

"The day was based on a fictitious scenario of a modern family to provide a cohesive storyline to tie the fields of science together for the students. In short, our scenario involved a two-mom family who underwent IVF to achieve their dream of parenthood. One mother was the egg donor, while the other mother was the gestational carrier – giving both parents a biological connection to their child. The couple chose an anonymous sperm donor from a bank. However, prior to delivery, the co-parents were informed that the IVF lab may have made an error, and paternity testing should be performed once the baby is delivered. With this information, the students began their four rotations of: 1) delivering a baby, 2) neonatal care and working with moulage, 3) learning to use a micropipette for biotech lab work, and 4) discussing the method of DNA fingerprinting. Following this, the students successfully performed gel electrophoresis to determine the parentage for the “baby”. While running the DNA gels, students also discussed the potential bioethical implications of our scenario.

We are very grateful to the Gossman Center, who provided the Noelle-Simulator, infant simulator, baby warmer and additional equipment. Merllie Flores, a nurse simulation facilitator, and Ben Wilson, an IT technician, were enthusiastic expert educators. They also brought moulage – a media applied to simulate trauma or medical illness. What a great example of art and science coming together for the students to see.    

Our goals for your LWGMS students were: 1) to provide authentic clinical and laboratory experiences, 2) expose your girls to careers in medicine/science that they’d never heard of before, and 3) have the students leave more curious, wanting to pursue any new questions/interests that were raised. In other words – hands-on engagement, STEAM career awareness, and developed curiosity."

Here are some photos from the program...

Following the program, the girls completed a post-field trip evaluation. Here are a few of the things that they had to say:

I loved the clear explanations and hands on experiences.
— Hava
I really liked listening to the babies heart and learning the baby CPR. I would like to either become a teacher, or work with newborns in a hospital or work in a biotech job
— Jordan
I plan to apply to colleges with a strong pre-med programs...
— Alexis

 

Thank you, KIM!

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2015

In recognition Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2015, LWGMS is kicking off an inaugural Alumnae Day of Service. From here on out, each year on this day, L-Dub alumnae will come together to give back to the Seattle community and enjoy some together-again time! 

On Monday, January 19 (MLK Day), 15 members of the alumnae community will be helping our friends at Centerstone (where our sixth grade students spend their service learning time) revamp their food bank. 

We'll be hosting at least two alumnae service events each year from here on out, so we hope that alumnae keep us in mind after you graduate: you can receive high school and/or college service hours for their efforts.

For all others, here is a short list of MLK events going on in and around Seattle. We hope you will use your day off from school to reflect on the importance of the day, to march, or to get your hands dirty helping others.

Seattle Colleges Community Celebration
Time, location: Noon-1:30p. Friday, Jan. 16
Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1634 19th Ave., Seattle
More information

Seattle Parks and Recreation Youth March
Time,location: 11a. Saturday, Jan. 17
Martin Luther King Memorial Park, 2200 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Seattle
More information

Garfield High MLK Day Celebration
Time, location: Workshops, 9a.; rally 10a., march noon Monday, Jan. 19
Garfield High School, 400 23rd Ave., Seattle.
More information

NAAM Open House
Time, location: 11a-5p. Monday, Jan. 19
Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S. Massachusetts St., Seattle.
More information

Health Fair and Celebration of a Dream
Time, location: 11a-3p. Monday, Jan. 19
Crossroads Bellevue, 15600 N.E. Eighth St., Bellevue
More information

Festival of Lights

Festival of Lights was a wonderful celebration of community, voice, and the holiday spirit. Thank you all so much for making the event memorable...for all of us, but especially for the girls.

To see all of the pictures, head on over to Smugmug. (Videos will be posted soon!)

 

Into the Woods

For those of you who have seen a production of Into the Woods, you may notice a few differences. In addition to our classic L-Dub spin, the kids’ version of Into the Woods expresses an attitude of hope that is less apparent in Stephen Sondheim’s original script. Our show, at its heart, is about setting out in the world to follow your dreams without fear. As the fairy tale characters enter the woods to achieve their individual goals, they realize that they need each other in order to accomplish what they desire. This theme is an important one as our girls approach a time in their lives where they think about forging their own paths. I hope they realize, as the characters in Into the Woods do, that with teamwork, perseverance, and just a little magic, anything is possible.

There are so many people to thank. The eighth grade crew was fantastic, and I felt more and more comfortable leaving the show in their capable hands. Every member of the eighth grade in this show brought her own brand of talent, energy, and humor to this production, and I am grateful for all of their hard work. Theresa Falk tirelessly led this cast in vocal warm-ups and theatre games, and she coached many a young actor through a difficult scene. I could not have done this without her unfailing energy and easy smile. Colleen West’s concise organization ensured every child was where she should be at the appointed time and every parent volunteer had an assignment. Jan Frederick once again used her incredible vision and creativity to create beautiful costumes (sometimes more than one!) for each girl, and her commitment and warm sense of humor are appreciated by cast, crew, and director alike. The score for Into the Woods is complex and challenging, but Lindsey Mutschler’s patient vocal coaching and professional, unparalleled accompaniment made it seem easy as pie. Jenny Zavatsky, despite leaving this director with legendary shoes to fill, never failed to respond to late night emails and patiently responded to my constant interruptions and inquiries. Her mentorship, leadership, and behind the scenes organization was integral to the success of this production, and I am completely indebted to her. Lastly, I want to thank all of you for your time moving sets, carpooling girls, donating bagels, and most of all, sharing your girls with us. Thank you for all that you do.

–Chelsea McCollum

To see all of the Into the Woods photos, head on over to Smugmug!

FuerzaBots Gearing Up

For its second year, LWGMS has been offering a robotics and programming club – FuerzaBots! Guided by Director of Technology, Ms. Cristina and Math and Science teacher, Ms. Christine, the FuerzaBots team has been busy preparing for the FIRST® (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO® League (FLL®) Robotics Challenge. Each year, FIRST® releases a new challenge that engages teams in hands-on robotics design and scientific research. The theme for the challenge is different each year, allowing teams to learn about a variety of subjects. This year, teams will apply research and robotics to explore the future of learning with the 2014 FLL® "Learning Unleashed" challenge. To successfully complete the challenge, teams of young people must build and program a LEGO MINDSTORMS® robot to complete missions on a thematic playing surface and conduct research to discover and redesign how we gather knowledge and skills in the 21st century. This is Lake Washington Girls Middle School's second year participating in the event.

The FuerzaBots, comprised of sixth grade students Sophie, Emiko, Harriet, and Charlotte, seventh grade students Maya, Mena, Eleanor R., and Julia, and eighth grade students Hava and Mackenzie, have been tackling this year's Challenge as a unit. Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the FLL® Core Values. Teams of up to ten kids (on the competition floor), with one adult coach, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game) and developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by FLL®’s Core Values – that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork. 

The theme for this year’s competition is Learning Unleashed. For the "project" part of the challenge, teams were tasked to develop an innovative solution to teach middle school students how to set privacy settings on social media and protect themselves against third party websites. The FuerzaBots – using the process of Design Thinking – researched privacy settings by reading articles, interviewed internet privacy experts, and even created a fake Facebook account to better understand privacy settings and how to best protect ourselves online. The FuerzaBots decided the best way to teach others would be to make a public service announcement that middle school students could share with one another at school or on TV. The FuerzaBots are preparing a presentation of their solution to share with the judges at this weekend's tournament.

The FuerzaBots have also been working diligently on the Robot Challenge for which, over three months, they designed, built, and programed four robots, one of which will tackle as many obstacles representing education and technology as possible in 2.5 minutes. The FuerzaBots dove into programing the "brick" – the brains – of the robot, and they quickly learned how the sensors work, and in what situations they would be used. They also mastered how the motors work to make the robot go forward, backward, and to turn, as well as how to make the robots pick items up and move levers. As of today the FuerzaBot's robots can complete six of the ten course obstacles.

The  FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) Robotics Regional Tournament is today, Saturday, December 6, at Ballard High School in Seattle. During the tournament, teams have three rounds on the competition tables to get the best score possible. When not competing with their robots, teams give their research presentations, and are interviewed about the technical design of their robots and how they work as teams. Regional qualifiers may advance to the championship event in January. The winners of the Champion's Award, the most prestigious award, may be eligible to participate in a variety of post-season tournament opportunities both domestic and abroad. This, their first year, our FuerzaBots, whose motto is "Code Like a Girl," (#codelikeagirl) are excited to be participating in the tournament and will be focusing on getting as far as they can and learning from the mistakes they make along the way.

Keep up with the FuerzaBots today on Instagram!

GO, FUERZABOTS!

 

 

More about FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®)

 FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®)  is a robotic competition developed for middle school students. The FLL® theme is different each year and is drawn from real events in society. 

There are three primary activities: 

  1. Build and program a small robot to accomplish challenges, 
  2. Investigate a research topic then prepare a presentation and 
  3. Build a team around the FLL® Core Values. All of these activities culminate in a competition with other teams at a regional tournament

The Lego Robot
Robot challenges are the most visible aspect of the competition. Robots are built and programmed to perform different tasks on a 4'x8' printed vinyl playing mat. The robot interacts with specialized LEGO parts that represent the tasks. Each year the playing mat and LEGO parts change to support the annual theme. The basic robot parts and competition table are reusable every year. The mat and challenge parts are NOT reused but are great for off-season games and practice.

Research Project
An equally important aspect of the competition is the research topic. Like the robotic challenges, the research topic has some connection with the overall FLL® theme. Students are given basic guidance then encouraged to create a solution for the research challenge. They research the topic, propose a solution, then develop a presentation that summarizes and defends their conclusions.

Regional Tournament
Everything comes together at a Regional Tournament. The team meets with judges three times: for a technical review of their robot, to present their research, and to demonstrate how the team learned Core Values. All teams are assessed on Core Values behavior throughout the competition. Each team also attempts the robots challenge tasks at least three times on the competition tables.

The Regional Tournament provides an exciting opportunity for teams to learn from each other and share their excitement rather than a "winner takes all" competition. Teams advance to the Semifinal events and then to a Washington State Championship based on overall performance at the competition.

Washington State hosts regional competitions that feed into several Semifinal events and then a State Championship event.

FLL® WORLD CLASS
Missions Include:
■ Push a lever to open a door to learning
■ Complete a sports-based task
■ Move an idea outside the box
■ Rotate models to adapt
■ Load a model with knowledge and skill loops
■ Reverse engineer a unique structure

FLL® teams will:
■ Choose a topic they are passionate about and have always wanted to learn.
■ Create an innovative solution that improves the learning experience.
■ Share their solutions with others.
■ Build, test, and program an autonomous robot using a LEGO MINDSTORMS® set to solve missions on an obstacle course.

 

 

Mesopotamia Real Estate Ads

During the seventh grade study of ancient civilizations, students learned about how the people of ancient Mesopotamia faced challenges. Mesopotamians had to come up with solutions to solve geographic challenges they faced, and they transformed Neolithic farming villages into complex Sumerian city-states. After learning about these ancient Sumerian city-states, the girls created "real estate" ads to convince people to move to their chosen city-state. They researched solutions that Sumerians came up with to solve problems they faced, such as developing irrigation systems and canals to control water flow, constructing walls to keep out opposing communities, and domesticating animals in order to provide a stable food supply. The girls worked enthusiastically to create stunning hand-lettered and illustrated real estate ads, re-imagining ancient Sumer in a new light! 

A Day of Service

Today, Ms. Klema and a group of about 20 LWGMS students, faculty, and families are spending time with our friends and neighbors at the Immaculate Conception Church (adjacent to the school) preparing Thanksgiving meals for about 500 "senior citizens and shut-ins in our neighborhood". Immaculate Conception Church parishioners donated the food and money to support the effort, and today the volunteers are peeling, chopping, smushing, mixing, packing, and stuffing all of the delicious food. Tomorrow, on Thanksgiving morning, some of our students and families are coming back to help with delivery. Today is not a school day. It is a day of service. Thank you to our participants for their help, and caring for our community.

Peaceful Protests

Sixth grade Humanities principally focuses on how individuals and groups affect the greater community and the world. Topics covered include families, communities, Latin America, the Holocaust, The Civil Rights Movement, and American cultural diversity.

The girls recently studied the United Farmworkers Movement, peaceful protest, and tolerance and created some signs about their own passions and concerns. They're kind of amazing. What would your personal protest sign look like?

A True L-Dub Fiesta!

Last night we celebrated all-things-Latin and the Dia de los Muertos with the entire community and we had a blast. R&R groups collectively made an exquisite altar honoring nine of our beloved Locker Ladies gone by; the Class of 2017 prepared and presented Amigas projects – projects all about specific South and Central American and Caribbean countries – to our guests who traveled from room to room with a pasaporte; members of the Class of 2015 put on live-theatre Telenovelas, written, directed, and acted by the girls themselves; the Ms. Heather's dance class shared one of their numbers with the crowd; each class sang songs we all clapped and danced to; and the 7th and 8th graders recited the Chicafesto, a new Festival tradition. Thank you to Señorita Jacquie and Señora Charito for planning a wonderful celebration, and to our many volunteers, cooks, and bakers for making the evening so smooth and sweet.

Head on over to Smugmug to see all of the photos from the party.

LWGMS Hits the Seattle Interactive Conference!

On October 15, Ms. Hearn will be presenting The Making of a School at the Seattle Interactive Conference. SIC 2014 will be examining the evolving landscape of Seattle pioneer-ism by turning to those with firsthand experience redefining the industry. They are the Makers; thought-leaders who synthesize creative inspiration with the next big idea, and companies that successfully cultivate innovation and then translate it into something meaningful. 

Most schools say they want their students to succeed. As the head of Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Ms. Hearn begins many back-to-school talks by telling parents she wants their girls to fail. Ms. Hearn will talk to the conference-goers about the need for and the beginnings of LWGMS, and then she'll turn it over to a panel of seventh and eighth grade students who will discuss their experience in a school that embraces failure and cultivates creative confidence. LWGMS girls are rewriting the popular narrative that adolescence is a time when girls lose confidence, lose interest in STEM subjects, and engage in negative peer relationships.

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Patti Hearn is the Head of School at Lake Washington Girls Middle School in Seattle, a school committed to offering girls the opportunity to become competent risk takers and courageous mistake makers. About seventeen years ago, Ms. Hearn began working with a group of parents to open the first middle school for girls in the Northwest. Since then, she has been sharing her expertise in humanities, drama, martial arts, and curriculum development. She has also “taught”  lots of things in which she is not an expert, because she believes that teachers who are excited to learn alongside their students are the best role models. Today, LWGMS is an inspiring hub of creativity, design, inquiry, presentation, performance, analysis, messiness, and resilience, with 100 students, a few hundred alumnae, a dozen teacher role models, a leading-edge STEAM program, and lots of joy.

Ms. Hearn has spoken at educational conferences that include the National Association of Independent Schools and the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. She has a Master’s degree in Education from Antioch and a Bachelor’s from Rutgers University. She has also broken a concrete block with her elbow, married the same architect twice, and produced two cuddly yet independent children. Sometimes, she reads the whole book before her book club meeting.

Use code SPKLWGRL100 for $100 off tickets! And if you're there, be sure to visit LWGMS's STEAM Booth! Ms. Cristina, Ms. Caitlin, Ms. Chelsea, and some students will be there guiding conference-goers through some cool L-Dub STEAM projects using LittleBits...banana pianos, anyone?!

Fall Field Trips: 7th Grade Service Learning

This week is Fall Field Trip week at L-Dub. Every fall the entire student body heads off campus with faculty members and hits the road, somewhere where they will stretch, learn, grow, and most likely even feel uncomfortable. For sixth grade students, this is their first chance to work on their LWGMS resilience. For seventh and eighth grade students, they are expanding on their foundations, pushing their boundaries, and coming back together as a group.

The 7th grade Service-Learning-themed trip is intended to help the girls and their teachers understand issues facing currently homeless and hungry populations, to humanize members of our community for whom this is a reality, to learn about organizations that are serving currently homeless populations, and to teach ways of advocating and acting toward change.

To prepare for their experience the girls underwent Companionship Training with Kae Eaton, Companionship Coordinator and Spiritual Director from the Mental Health Chaplaincy.

The group also spent time – in class and at home – with the following resources:

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On the first day of their journeys, the girls heard from speakers from Real Change and FareStart, and then they set out on public transportation, bags on their backs, to the following locations to offer their help and support: At Union Gospel Mission Hope Place, a group of girls helped out at the Children's Activity Center and served dinner; at Mary's Place the group offered their services to the Kid's Club and brought and served dinner to the guests at Bianca's Place, emergency family night shelter and home to 40 moms, dads, and kids; a third group brought collected donations of food and supplies to and spent time with the residents of Tent City 3, and then headed to Teen Feed to serve and share a meal with the kids there. The final group went to Jubilee Women's Center to spend some time with the residents and help prepare gift bags and birthday card for them. 

The 7th graders also collected food and supply donations for Tent City 3.

The 7th graders also collected food and supply donations for Tent City 3.

Everything worked out well last night. The Lake Washington Girls Middle Schoolers came ready to work.

The Middle Schoolers were so “into it.” I taught some of them to use the dishwasher and it seemed they could hardly believe that someone would let them operate the machinery. They really liked operating it! Every one of the students was willing to do whatever needed to be done. Of course, with middle schoolers, one does have to give a lot of instructions. (E.g., they poured the milk but I later noticed that they had only filled the cups half full.)

Thanks for putting the whole event together. Donna and I have nothing but praise for the Middle Schoolers. They clearly wanted to serve and stayed on task the entire time. Donna and I were both very impressed with their “work ethic.”
— Steve Layman, SPU Professor and Teen Feed Volunteer

All of the groups then walked or took public transportation to Epiphany Parish to spend the night in their shelter. The Parish has a strong relationship with Teen Feed and also watches out for the homeless in countless ways, particularly in helping people find places to stay overnight. Epiphany hosts Operation Nightwatch, a shelter for a small group of currently homeless men every Friday night. The girls learned about this operation and slept on the same floor the men share on Friday nights.

Today the girls met with Chaplain Eaton to debrief, process, reflect, and discuss what they learned, feel, and intend to do from here. Later today they are making their way on foot and via public transportation to Camp Long in West Seattle where they will spend some time as a group making a plan for their next steps in their Service Learning journey.

On September 23 a group of students will be giving a presentation about their classes' experience to our Board of Trustees at their annual retreat. The Board is committed to using the information our students bring to them to inform their strategic planning decisions in all aspects of the operation of the school.

Off to a great start!

It has been a busy, exciting, and wonderful week so far. The girls and their teachers are settling into their schedules (and room changes!), R&R groups have come together and even chosen their mascots (stay tuned for logo reveals in a few weeks!), FareStart lunch has exceeded everyone's expectations, and the girls are...well, they're awesome. Here are 40 of the 106 first day photos of our 2014/2015 student body. Each one of these young women is strong in mind, body, and voice, and we can't wait to see (and tell you) where their journeys take them!

Head on over to Smugmug to see all 106.

Summer STEAM Camps

Our summer STEAM camps have started off with a bang. This week, our current student camp has begun working on a project building Cornhole game boards. As an introduction to the game, the girls had a mini tournament where they each took turns tossing their team's bean bags. Afterwards, the girls were faced with the challenge of measuring the dimensions of the boards and figuring out all the materials that would be needed to build their own games. 

Our second day of camp started off with a field trip to buy our supplies. We visited Blackstock Lumber, a local, family-owned lumber company. Here the girls had the opportunity to watch as their custom Cornhole boards were sized and cut to the girls' specifications. The girls participated in a tour of the lumber yard and watched demonstrations of many of the old mill working machines, including one from the 1940's. Afterwards, we loaded up the bus and headed to the fabric store for our bean bag materials.

After lunch, the girls received a lesson in shop safety and each had the opportunity to use our STEAM miter saw. It's clear our girls LOVE working in our shop and can't wait to use the rest of our tools. Stay tuned to see our final products. 

Graduation 2014

The Class of 2014 – the last LWGMS class of 18 students – graduated on June 17 in the company of approximately 200 friends, family, and mentors. The ceremony was a wonderful end to the girls' time at L-Dub...of course, each student spoke. Ms. Eva delivered the faculty address, and there weren't too many dry eyes in the house. Good luck, ladies! You are indeed strong in mind, body, and voice!

Ms Eva's Speech

What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you don’t feel eleven at all. You feel like you’re still ten. And you are—underneath the year that makes you eleven.

Like some days you might say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama’s lap because you’re scared, and that’s the part of you that’s five. And maybe one day when you’re all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you’re three, and that’s okay. That’s what I tell Mama when she’s sad and needs to cry. Maybe she’s feeling three.

Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That’s how being eleven years old is.

Sandra Cisneros is writing about turning eleven, but I think that’s how graduating from middle school may be too. I think you may not feel quite like a graduate--yet. You may not feel like a high schooler—yet. Part of you will always be the sixth grader who was scared to go on that trip to Yakima. Part of you will always be that seventh grader who cried during the night hike. You are still the girl who forgot her lines in Willy Wonka or the girl who failed that math test because she forgot to study. Each of you is the person you are because you have experienced all that you have—you are the same girl, just with more layers, just with more rings.

And tonight, I want to encourage you to celebrate that. I want you to remember all that you have experienced—the successes and the failures—because your identity today was forged from the metal of those challenges and accomplishments.

Don’t misunderstand me—I don’t want you to live in the past. But I do want you to live with it. There is no question that your futures are bright and all of us are here tonight to affirm that. But remember where you came from, and honor the memory of the girl who has struggled and shined in the years that led you here, to this graduation ceremony.

I was tempted to read from your writer’s notebooks tonight. Tempted to share excerpts from your personal essays and memoirs and the GEMs that have adorned the walls for the last three years. You know I love to share your writing with others–and make you share it too–you know how I love to see your parents cry (so I’m not the only one)–but mostly I wanted to share those to remind you of your capacity for reflection and insight. I wanted to remind you that you know how to make meaning in your writing, and, in so doing, you know how to make meaning of your lives.

You have searched for your truths and found them in surprising places: in the bunk bed Mari bravely and defiantly descended when she was seven, in the tortuous Stehekin hike  Grace endured in 100-degree weather, trying desperately to channel Charlie Bucket’s positivity, in Lucy’s high green-belt test and the martial art tenets that continue to inspire her to love and accept herself, in the third-grade geometry lesson that allowed Emmy to find her inner Hermione Granger. Meaning was discovered in Mengmeng’s triumphant bicycle ride and the wasps that swarmed her in second grade, in Ruby’s visit to the 9/11 memorial site where she finally understood her mom’s wisdom that small gestures do not go unrecognized, and in those Nanjing University classrooms where Maya Noble proved to herself that she was “good enough.”

A former L-Dub student recently shared an essay with me by Joan Didion, in which she explored her own reasons for keeping a writer’s notebook. She wrote:

Perhaps it is difficult to see the value in having one's self back in that kind of mood, but I do see it; I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.

I like that idea of keeping “on nodding terms” with the people we once were. Sometimes, looking back helps us move forward, helps us be who we want to be and not simply who we accidentally become. I don’t know if you will continue keeping a writer’s notebook, but I hope you will always live in a way that honors your experiences, that you remember and reflect. As you know, you will not necessarily recognize the significance of those events as you live them; you know that those epiphanies often come much later. I’m sure that Sophia did not recognize her burgeoning feminism the very moment that boy offered to kick for her in that elementary school kickball game; nor did Alma realize how giving up soft drinks would bring her as close to God as it did. And as much as Mia has always loved and admired her big brother, she may not have realized just how much she relied on him until he went off to college.

The girls you once were are not far away from the young women you’ve become. Some days you will cry like you’re three or whine like you’re six or talk incessantly during a Monday morning meeting when you’ve been asked repeatedly to be quiet… (that was the eighth grader in you). And you may not want to be that girl again, but you might be, and that’s okay. You were your better selves too. Your smarter selves, your more compassionate selves, your braver selves.

You are the  Rae who can  show up at school with her pants on backwards and laugh about it, the Izzy who continually trips over her own feet but doesn’t really care because she always finds her footing eventually--and in cute shoes too, the Jumping Josephine who will always wear ponytails and old Converse and laugh as loud as she likes because --why not?. Azura will always be the girl who danced foolishly but fearlessly with her Monkey troupe during field day in 6th grade--and won, and Sadie the girl who enthusiastically donned a clam hat and rapped about ocean acidification in front of strangers, or Maya Lazo who proudly picked THE MOST green beans on Senor Alvarez’ farm. Helen is the same person who sang Girl on Fire at the top of her lungs around the fire pit where her daisy chain fed the flames, and Savita, the girl who dug deep for the courage to ROAR at Poetry Night. You are those girls. Take those selves with you too.

So when you open your eyes tomorrow morning after the tears and the hugs and the laughter and the festivities of tonight, and everything’s just like yesterday, when you wake up and still feel like an 8th grader only you’re really not anymore, don’t be disappointed. Be grateful. For the future that will arrive sooner than you expect, and the past that is over all too soon. Like that tree trunk, those rings remain, and you will grow new ones. And for that evolution, you can be grateful.

I cannot in good conscience end this speech without paying homage to a phenomenal woman whose wisdom and grace will outlive all of us. While Maya Angelou offered us countless gems of inspiration and sage advice, I found something that made me think of all of you and how much you enrich the lives of all of us:

When we find someone who is brave, fun, intelligent, and loving, we have to thank the universe.

On behalf of the L-Dub faculty and staff, I thank the universe for all of you. Congratulations, and good luck.

–Ms. Eva

Our Graduates:

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Bottom, L to R: Ruby, The Northwest School; Mia, Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart; Mengmeng, Lakeside School; Savita, The Northwest School; Maya, The Northwest School; Isabel, Garfield High School; Sophia, Garfield High School; Maya, Ingraham High School; Azura, The Nova Project. Top, L to R: Josephine, Garfield High School; Alma, Aviation High School; Helen, The Northwest School; Rae, The Northwest School; Mari, Holy Names Academy; Emmy, Holy Names Academy; Sadie, Seattle Preparatory School; Grace, Franklin High School; Luci, The Nova Project.

Head on over to Smugmug to see all of the graduation photos.

"L-Dub has taught me that being shy and getting the answer wrong will not end the world and that furthermore, there is no concrete definition of a L-Dub girl. She is not just the funny girl, or the model student, because that’s not how personalities work. She could be both those things if she wanted. An L-Dub girl is strong in mind, body, and voice in her own unique way. And that is what makes this school so beautiful and hard to leave. But I think I’m ready to say goodbye, and leave as not the funny girl or the model student, but as myself only: strong in mind, body, and voice in my own quirky, unique way. And I cannot thank L-Dub enough for that."

–Azura

"Finally, thank you to my parents for enrolling me in this school, because if you hadn’t, I would not be here right now. Instead, I would be at Washington Middle School, lost among a thousand other people. If I hadn’t gone to L- Dub, I would never have had the courage to spontaneously break into song at the top of my lungs without feeling awkward about it or to tell a class of 34 sixth graders (and four seventh graders) what it’s like to have autism. My journey began with you, and for that, I am eternally grateful."

–Helen

"L-Dub taught me how to try new things that push me out of my comfort zone. Starting in 6th grade with Fiddler on the Roof and singing for the first time in front of a huge crowd. Me singing. All the way to becoming a high green belt in Karate. Since the first day of school, this community has pushed me to take risks, with the amigas boards until today, sharing my speech with all of you.

But I am not going to be sad. I am going to listen to my favorite poet, Dr. Seuss who says, “don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened.” And he’s right."

–Maya

Another Wonderful Arts Festival

Last night the L-Dub community came together to celebrate the arts of 2013/2014. It was a wonderful celebration of creativity: on the page, in song, and in dance. Thank you to Ms. Lindsey, Ms. Chelsea, dance teacher Ms. Heather, and Glee Club mentors Mr. Orlando and Ms. Gienapp for their wonderful curating of the event, and to our expressive, impressive, and passionate girls for their hard and inspiring work.

And thank you to Ms. Rooks for her many years of service to the LWGMS community. We love you and will miss you!

Check out all of the Arts Festival photos on Smugmug.

LWGMS WINNERS OF WSHERC's 2014 HOLOCAUST WRITING, ART, & DIGITAL MEDIA CONTEST

This year the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center (WSHERC) reviewed approximately 700 entries for the 2014 Jacob Friedman Writing, Art, and Digital Media Contest from students, grades 5-12, representing 64 classrooms from schools in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. 

This year the focus was on children, rescue, resistance, liberation, and refugees.

A panel of judges – educators, artists, and writers of various faiths and backgrounds – reviewed the entries. They looked for creativity, thoughtfulness, an understanding of the theme, as well as evidence of students relating their piece to a specific Holocaust testimony, text, or event. Judges wanted to know how Holocaust stories and events effect students personally, and how these students might change the way they react to future injustice.

All Lake Washington Girls Middle School sixth grade students entered the contest, and we are proud of each and every one of them for their thoughtful compassion and empathy.

Six members of the Class of 2016 placed in this year's contest:

WRITING – 5TH/6TH GRADE

1st Place: Mena, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Lindsey Mutschler. "Hope. There was a reason that this word was scarce during the Holocaust. There just wasn't enough. People in the Holocaust suffered unmentionable horrors, horrors that left many scarred and hopeless, with good reason." READ MORE

3rd Place: Mara, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Chelsea McCollum.  "When someone says the name, 'Hannah Senesh,' what words come up when I think of her? For a start, she was brave, courageous, loyal, and confident. She was a Hungarian Jew that parachuted into enemy country during the Holocaust to help Jewish communities." READ MORE

ART – 5TH/6TH GRADE

3rd Place (TIE): Maya, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Lindsey Mutschler. Artist's Statement: The Anonymous Girl Diarist from the Lodz Ghetto was a young girl who lived in the Ludz Ghetto. She wrote in her diary every day for months. Her words were inspiring and really showed life in the holocaust in a beautiful, poetic way. For the contest, I wrote a poem in the shape of this girl. The poem tells of the girl’s words and their impact on me and my perception of the Holocaust. Surrounding her, there is barbed wire is made up of her quotes. I chose her because her words really changed my perception of the Holocaust: that girl could easily have been me.

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Honorable Mention: Rachel, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Lindsey Mutschler. Artist's Statement:  My art piece is of a bird cage with the names of the groups of people who were targeted in the Holocaust leaving the cage. The bird cage is black to represent the darkness of their world during the Holocaust, and also to represent being locked up and not able to escape. I chose to have the words colorful because it shows the diversity of the people and how they can’t just be a Jew or a Gypsy because that was how the Nazis saw them. I chose to do this art piece because it shows the victims growing and keeping hope even after the war.

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Honorable Mention: Stella, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Lindsey Mutschler. Artist's Statement: My art piece is a mix between markers and collage. My art piece represents Kindertransport. The scene in my art piece is of some kids from Kindertransport on a boat going back home. I did silhouettes instead of detailed drawings because a lot of the kids when they came back their attitudes and expressions had changed because during the war they had to grow up fast and be able to take care of themselves and many others. The Star of David is there to represent that they’re Jewish. I wanted to do a symbol for Kindertransport because I am a kid and I wanted to learn more while I was making this art piece.

DIGITAL MEDIA – 5TH-12TH GRADE

2nd Place: Julia, Grade 6, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle. Teacher: Chelsea McCollum.  "Brundibar"

Those who entered the contest were asked to address its theme by creating a piece about a real person, event or story that inspired them. 

It is through the study of the Holocaust that our students and community learn about human behavior, social responsibility, moral courage, the importance of speaking out against intolerance, and the difference just one person can make.

Julia, Mena, Mara, Maya, Stella, Rachel, and the other winners will be presented with prizes and recognition for winning entries at an awards ceremony in Seattle on June 11.

8th Grade Play Glory

When each year’s eighth grade, after much research and discussion, chooses the plays they want to perform for their big middle school drama finale, we don’t know what themes will emerge as most salient. I always find myself pondering – during the explorations of character, fits of giggles, loud and raucous singing, and moments of frustration that happen during the rehearsal process – what those themes that speak to the actors will be. While much of the fun of the eighth grade show is being silly and playing over-the-top characters, I also think that a function of this swan song is to use the art of drama to work through some questions, anticipate the next step, and face some fears. 

This year, the eighth grade chose two one-acts with some pretty strong feminist themes (although it may be hard, dear audience, to find those themes in all the farce.) In the first play, Juliet takes over Shakespeare’s story of Romeo and Juliet, creating more parts for women and challenging the misogyny of Shakespeare’s time. Although Shakespeare might have been reluctant to admit it, Juliet actually is a strong character. The second play tells the story of a high school’s attempt to cast a musical without enough boys to play the parts written for boys – something that we at LWGMS don’t find a challenge at all. It’s also a story about young people dealing with not getting everything they want and, for some, getting responsibilities and pressure they don’t think they can handle. And there is where that eighth grade moment of working through questions and fears comes in. Not every cast or crew member got what she wanted in this show: Not enough songs. Too many songs. Not enough lines. Too many lines. Too much dancing. Oh, no – that dress! I can’t wear that dress! Please don’t make me wear a mustache! And yet, in the end, it’s telling the story – and more importantly, the camaraderie built while creating the show – that matters. What fun it has been telling this story with the talented and creative Class of 2014!

The cast was full of talent and full of ideas, and the crew on this show was as well! They collaborated to design a beautiful show, from props to sets to costumes to lighting to sound. 

Thank you to you all,
Ms. Hearn 

To see all of the play photos, head over to Smugmug.