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.

Rites of Passage 2014

Congratulations to the Class of 2015 on their Rites of Passage success. We are so excited for these girls to be our school leaders next year.

Find more images from the Rites of Passage Dinner here.

STEAM Fair!

The Eleventh Annual LWGMS STEAM Fair was held on Thursday, April 10, and it was wonderful! Each 8th grade student researched, planned, and implemented her own project with great attention to detail and diligence. This year, the 16 projects were designed to answer scientific questions such as "does studying with music playing increase or decrease your ability to concentrate,"  and two were engineering projects, designed to create a solutions to identified problems. The areas of science of this year's projects are: psychology/sociology, microbiology, food science/chemistry, astronomy/physics, computer science, and environmental science/chemistry. 

To see more photos, head to Smugmug.

Mulan!

For many years, I have listened to L-Dub girls sing (as loudly as possible) the trademark song from Mulan, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” Its irony has been a source of pride as the girls belt out the chorus while pantomiming martial arts moves. I was excited to finally bring that song to the stage and continue our proud tradition of “fighting like a girl.” While we struggled with Disney’s sexism and racism (again!), the theme of a young woman as a warrior was perfect for our young L-Dub warriors, as they had to attack a difficult musical score and learn some challenging dances, quick costume changes, and complex fight choreography. Like Mulan herself, the entire cast and crew showed strength in mind, body, and voice in every phase of the production from long rehearsals to last minute changes to the script. I was so proud to see the girls rise to the challenge, and I saw no need to make a man out of any of them – they all fight like girls!

As usual, many thanks are in order. The nine eighth graders on the crew brought artistic talent, organization, and energy to the show. It was with confidence that I turned the show over to the eighth graders who designed the lighting, painted the sets, made the costumes, and wrangled the Huns, soldiers, and dressmakers. Daisy Zajonc P'14 brought her inimitable musical direction and even brought her own brilliant percussionist, Joe Zajonc P'14, to add so much more to the music. With the coaching of the talented Jenn Brandon P'15, the girls' voices rose to new heights. The costume design and production is the vision of Jan Frederick P'09, '14 and her endless closet full of fabric, knick-knacks, and notions. The art department loaned us Ms. Lindsey, whose skills added to the magical look of our sets, props, and costumes. Ms. Chelsea stepped in to lead the girls in some crucial character development and some charming choreography. We all know that Ms. Eva P'16 brings her clipboard and her organization system to the 42 girls in this production, but what we didn’t know was that Ms. Eva can get 42 girls to do the hustle!  Finally, I am indebted to the commitment and energy of Ms. Kirsten: she is responsible for the glorious sets as she worked out every detail of the flats, led the artistic team in creating the cherry trees, and gave attention to each blooming flower.

- Ms. Jenny

See all of the Mulan photos here.

FLEx Week Fun!

FLEx Week is one of our favorite parts of the term. While half of our girls are at the theater preparing for the play, the other is at school, hard at work on STEAM projects. This term we decided to focus the girls’ projects around aviation and women in STEAM.

To start us off with a bang, we began the week with an incredible field trip to the Museum of Flight. The girls loved it! During our tour the girls had the opportunity to not only learn about all the skills necessary for flight, but to actually put those skills to work in their very own flight simulators. We spent the rest of the day exploring exhibits, climbing through planes of all shapes and sizes, and watching our own private planetarium show. We are all hoping we get to go back soon. Special thanks to Señorita Jacquie and her family for connecting us with the museum!

The rest of the week was spent hard at work on Design Thinking projects, robotics, and film making. By the end of the week we were all happily exhausted. On Friday, as a special treat, the girls were introduced to Erika Wagner, a true woman in STEAM with a PhD in Bioastronautics. Talk about an inspiration! See Dr. Wagner's amazing bio here.

As their final FLEx Week activity, the girls were asked to showcase their work to the Mulan cast and crew, as well as a few family and community members. The films, prototypes, and robotics courses were presented with huge smiles and lots of applause. After watching all the girls’ grit and gumption throughout the week, we can definitely say that here at L-Dub, we love STEAM! 

Women's History Month/FLEX Week

If you walk down the main hallway of tall, red lockers at Lake Washington Girls Middle School, you may notice that each one has a silver nameplate at its top. These nameplates do not refer to the students whose belongings reside within the lockers. Instead, every locker bears the name of an inspirational woman – such as Ida B. Wells, Rachel Carson, and Elizabeth Blackwell – who reminds our girls of the qualities that reside within each one of them: intelligence, strength, courage, passion, compassion, and the capacity to become anything they dare to dream. As our students grow into young women strong in mind, body, and voice, we make it a point to surround them – quite literally – with strong female role models and change-makers. We lovingly refer to these women as Locker Ladies, a title that is a true badge of honor at LWGMS.

March is Women's History Month, and this year's theme is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment”. Yesterday, our students kicked off day one of FLEx Week at the Museum of Flight, celebrating Women in Aviation.  

And here's to our Locker Lady, Amelia Earhart...

Amelia Earhart

American aviation pioneer and author

Born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897 Amelia Mary Earhart had no idea that she was going to become the first woman pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. “By the time I had gotten two or three hundred feet off the ground I knew I had to fly.” Amelia said this on December 28, 1920 when she was in an airplane for the first time with her dad and pilot Frank Hawks. 

As a child and adult Amelia was daring; her parents did not raise their two children to be "nice little girls," and Amelia and her sister were thought of as tomboys. Not normal for the times, Amelia aspired to a future career; she kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about successful women in male-oriented fields, including film, law, advertising, management, and engineering.

After her first plane ride in 1920, Amelia got to work saving money for flying lessons in California. On May 15,1923 Amelia Earhart was the 16th woman in the world to get her air license. According to the Boston Globe Amelia Earhart was on of the best women pilots in the world. When she was 30 she was asked to fly across the Atlantic accompanying pilot Wilmer Stultz and co-pilot/mechanic Louis Gordon, really as a passenger, but she was allowed to keep the flight log. When she landed she told the reporter, "Stultz did all the flying—had to. I was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes." She added, "...maybe someday I'll try it alone." Lo behold a few years later, at the age of 34, on May 20, 1932 Amelia became first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic and for her bravery was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress, the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French Government and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society from President Herbert Hoover. 

Between 1930–1935, Earhart had set seven women's speed and distance records, became good friends with Eleanor Roosevelt – the two shared interests and passions, especially women's causes – but her eyes were on a new "prize...one flight which I most wanted to attempt – a circumnavigation of the globe as near its waistline as could be." She attempted this flight two times – the first time was successful because of mechanical failures and though she flew a lot farther the second time – 22,000 of the 29,000 miles – she disappeared without a trace. Amelia was a brave women and a mentor to all girls.

Margaret ’13

"Good things grow from horse manure"

Sam Mitsui brought an uncomfortable, but very important, part of United States history alive when he came to speak to our eighth grade class at Lake Washington Girls Middle School last week. Anytime someone can speak from personal experience, history becomes more meaningful and more relevant. We were lucky that Mr. Mitsui, a second generation Japanese American, a Nisei, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest during World War II, could do that for our class. 

Mr. Mitsui relayed his life experiences as a young boy in Skykomish WA, doing well in school with lots of friends, playing on the school basketball team, and proudly identifying as a citizen of the United States. Those are things we can all relate to, but that is where the similarities stopped. Once the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, his life changed as did the lives of 120,000 Nisei and Issei living on the West Coast. In that instant, they became pariahs in their communities, even though they had done nothing wrong. The war hysteria coupled with racism and fear caused many of their friends to turn their backs on the Japanese Americans. Mr. Mitsui remembers just one person in his community who publicly stood up for him. His basketball coach. 

When President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, the Japanese community’s fate was sealed. All Nisei and Issei were sent to one of ten concentration camps scattered throughout the western United States. Mr. Mitsui was sent with his family to Tule Lake in Northern California. He told us a little of what life was like in the camp: grim, with very intense weather. It was either very cold or very hot, and extremely boring. Some of the families had to go to temporary camps and sleep in horse stalls. He also told a story of a son telling his father that the stalls weren’t clean and smelled of horse manure. His father told him, “Remember, son, a lot of good things grow from horse manure.” Which as it turns out, was eventually true.

The Nisei decided that the only way out of the camps was to prove their loyalty to the United States. So, they offered to serve in the US Army. Finally in 1943 they were permitted to serve. Nearly 5000 Nisei from Hawaii and from the camps volunteered to serve in the 442nd regiment. And they became the most decorated regiment in history. In addition, 6000 Nisei served in the secret Military Intelligence service, and were credited with shortening the length of war by two years! 

Finally in 1988, forty-six years later, the story about the value of horse manure began to ring true when President Reagan signed a letter of apology for putting our American citizens, 120,000 Nisei and Issei into internment camps. In 2000, a National Japanese American Monument was dedicated in Washington D.C., in 2001 the Federal Courthouse was named in honor of a Nisei veteran, and in 2002 the Medical/Dental Center in Fort Lewis was named in honor of another Nisei veteran. Mr. Mitsui talked about how “we had come full circle” when the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association invited the Nisei Veterans Committee to attend their Memorial Service in 2003. He was hesitant to attend, but was amazed and relieved to be welcomed with open arms.  

Because Mr. Mitsui shared his personal experiences with us, we now have an even deeper understanding of what Japanese and Japanese-Americans experienced. The conviction that states the importance of never disrespecting a person for the color of her skin, religion, or sexual orientation was branded even more deeply into our minds and hearts. Like he reminded us, everyone is human and just wants to love and be loved.

Thank you, Mr. Mitsui.

--MengMeng '14

Totally Like Whatever You Know

Taylor Mali's, Totally Like Whatever You Know, is almost an L-Dub student mantra. The piece has been performed at our annual Festival of Lights Poetry Night for ten of 16 years, and this year the girls delivered: three SIXTH grade students performed it, and nailed it. These representatives of the Class of 2016 say it all...they are a group of girls with conviction, strength, and strong voices indeed.

FLEx Week: Bike Works

This year during LWGMS's second of three FLEx Weeks (for more information, see our Curriculum Guide, p. 42.), our girls spent each morning working on Design Thinking projects focused on alternative transportation. As a part of this project, we wanted to get the girls out of school and into our community, giving back and getting some real world experience at the same time. Our friends at Bike Works offered to have the girls come by to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of being a biker in the Seattle area, and to let us offer a helping hand repairing some of the donated bikes.The girls had the opportunity to learn the skills and techniques for fixing a flat tire, and helped the staff repair over 20 flats. We had a wonderful time with the Bike Works crew and we hope to visit them again soon.

Peter Pan!

LWGMS's production of Peter Pan was filled with firsts: the first Fall musical, the first play with only half the school, and the first Disney-based musical. As part of the first Fall musical at LWGMS, the girls jumped right in to the rehearsal process bringing creativity, enthusiasm, and talent. With lots going on at L-Dub during the Fall, the cast and crew of Peter Pan showed resilience with their flexibility and willingness. We all had to adjust to the idea that half the school was not part of the production, but regardless of who was "officially" part of Peter Pan, every student, teacher, staff member, and parent contributed to making this production possible. A special thanks to everyone who helped with sets, costumes, props, load-in, load-out, driving, singing, and dancing. This production was, as always, a true community event. It took a village to get girls to fly.

As we began working with Disney's Peter Pan, we came across some explicit and implicit sexism and racism in the script, something we could not live with in our production. So, we used Design Thinking to answer the question "How might we address the racism and sexism in our script?" The girls readily engaged in the process and came up with some inspired ideas to give our production a new twist on an old story. L-Dub's Peter Pan is not your grandmother's Peter Pan. We hope you enjoyed our punk rock fairies, the introduction of some Greek Gods and Goddesses, and the homage to Seattle's beloved Seahawks. 

Finally, many thanks are in order. The nine eighth grade students on the crew are truly invaluable -- they took charge of Peter Pan, from wrangling the Lost Boys and sewing beautiful costumes to designing the lights and running the entire show. The musical direction from Daisy Zajonc P'14 was brilliant. She could play any song we came up with, and most importantly, she inspired and led our gifted student musicians. Once again, the costume design and production fell under the artistic vision and talent of Jan Frederick P'09, '14, a woman who brings so much more than a serger to the production. We needed some added creativity from the Art and STEAM departments, and they delivered Nana the dog and Hook's dreaded Crocodile with the help of Ms. Chelsea and Ms. Caitlin; Ms. Lindsey's creativity brought our sets to life. While not a job that brings glory and applause, Ms. Eva's organization skills were indispensable as we shuttled, fed, and cared for 41 girls during our week at Broadway Performance Hall. We are indebted to and awed by the work of Señorita Jacquie. Having not yet worked on a theatrical production in her career, she gave the girls her complete attention and energy every week, from helping paint the sets to listening to girls practice lines. In the end, we discovered her true gift for choreography when Señorita took charge of the Fairies, Pirates, Lost Boys, Mermaids, and Greek Gods and made the dancing come alive. And finally, thank you to our fearless leader, Ms. Jenny. She brought out the best of everyone around her and helped make the production - indeed, all of our productions - so special.

Thank you also to Steven Brown P'15 for opening the doors to Eltana for our girls each morning before their walk to Broadway Performance Hall.

See all of the Peter Pan photos here.

Congrats, girls!