Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Scenes from Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Ribbon Cutting

I attended the Robert Eagle Staff Middle School ribbon-cutting today and also walked thru Licton Springs K-8 and and Cascadia Elementary.   Bustling and busy were the biwords of the day for these schools.

The Good
There were several attendees of interest including former Board members Peter Maier and Sharon Peaslee along with Director Rick Burke and Director Scott Pinkham and Superintendent Nyland. As well, 46th Reps Gerry Pollet and Javier Valdez were in attendance.  Rep. Valdez spoke about the recent decision on DACA and the need to protect and welcome all children to school.

Principal Marni Campbell welcomed the crowd of parents and students.  The PTA had made up t-shirts for students with the new emblem of RESMS, the Raven.

Entering both RESMS and Cascadia, there is an information board about the history of the land and the programs.  The district invested in interactive boards for a full history of the programs.

The ceremony in naming the school was long but worthy.  Mr. Eagle Staff's brother, Thomas, introduced family members including their mother.  He went on to talk about how passionate his brother was about education and helping children.  He said his tribe, the Lakota, in South Dakota was astonished that a faraway place like Seattle would recognize his brother's efforts in this way and said he wouldn't even try to pronounce the names of the many Native American tribes in the NW.

The ceremony included many supporters and family members of Eagle Staff who were given NW quilts to wrap around themselves.  There was ceremonial smoke and then the unveiling of a great gift to the school - a real eagle staff. 
(My photo does not do it justice - the woman in the lower foreground is Principal Marni Campbell who seemed deeply moved to be part of this induction of the eagle staff to the school community.)

These are very basic looking buildings.  It's a bit startling, after touring Hazel Wolf K-8 last year, to see the difference.  Whereas HW has some areas of interest, indoors and outdoors, the Wilson-Pacific campus (not sure if that's the proper term for the entire campus at that site) has boxy and somewhat dull buildings with not much outside interest beyond the terrific murals that grace it.  I don't really understand the color palette used.

However, if the buildings are solidly built and functional, that's enough for any new school building. 

I note in Cascadia that there are these cute seats, two sizes, that are wobbly and probably are for the wiggly kids.  It also has a teaching kitchen.

The Bad
Once again, I find the finishes in these buildings to be lacking.  Seams not meeting on stairs (with some stairs having some gap areas with small depressions (see the cafeteria) and some staining in various areas. 
And the parking lots.  Those are some small parking spaces and where there was an SUV or mini-van parked, you see the next space empty because larger cars take up too much room.  RESMS' parking lot is a one-way loop so be aware of that.

I suspect that the traffic will be somewhat insane.  My advance is to NOT use the parking lot but park on the street (sorry, neighbors).

Licton Springs seems a bit of an after-thought to RESMS but with very friendly staff.  I notice that the buildings do have separate entrances but I was told that yes, the buildings would have their access on different floors open the whole day.  They will be sharing science labs and gyms. 


Anonymous said...

Let's hope the district provides more than a name on a building to help our Native students and that they teach all students about the true history of the First Nations here in Seattle and their subsequent decimation by white Americans.

It may not be pretty story for either group, but it is history, interpret it, but don't deny it.


Growing City said...

Parking is going to become an increasingly difficult situation. Our schools are growing. Some schools don't have parking lots.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ochre, the Eagle Staff family could not have been happier with how this has all played out and what the district has done to support naming this building but sure, the work never stops.

Anonymous said...

@Ochre- Correction, it was not the "white Americans" (too large a group) who fought the Natives. To be more precise, it was the ethnic English-Americans.
- history

Anonymous said...

What is an ethnic English-American? So there were no territorial grabs from the French or the Spanish?


Anonymous said...

Or Dutch?

Megan Hazen said...

Melissa - I think these schools are beautiful. They have a lot of light and space for learning. The color palette is taken from the nearby springs - green for the plants, and rust colored for the rust coming out of the natural springs. (I will hold my tongue when it comes to Lydig's recent performance.)

Licton Springs K-8 DOES deserve more respect. It should have a sign of its own on the street, it should have bigger billing, it should ALWAYS come first in the campus discussions. There is a new enthusiastic principal, a great community, and a lot of history and soul. The school offers a social justice and integrated arts curriculum, in addition to the native heritage education. It should be one of the flagship schools of the district.

I hope that the board continues to pressure the district into treating Licton Springs k-8 as such.

Anonymous said...

"it should ALWAYS come first in the campus discussions" Why?


Anonymous said...

Actually it was the Spanish then the Mexicans then the Union army. You know the army who fought against slavery then went on to kill native Americans.


Anonymous said...

"Ochre, the Eagle Staff family could not have been happier with how this has all played out and what the district has done to support naming this building but sure, the work never stops."

Someday the work will indeed stop. The day that the histories are told and everything has been reperated and wrongs have been righted, grievances heard, reconciliation achieved.

I think the work was finished long, long ago for white men of the Christian religion. Their rights are secure.

As for the Native people, the SpEd students, the poor students, the students of color and the female students, their dreams are considered "work to be Done."

Langston Hughes said it well:

"What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode? "


Anonymous said...

Caveat-Just to insert that countries that we now think of as belonging to Europe had boundaries that shifted etc. Some people considered "white" in the US now were under colonial rule for centuries.

Here is one example, sicily one of the most colonized places from everyone due to geographic location of the Island. Italy unified in 1860 and it was not without resistance. The mafia originated due to local people trying to control their own government and assert control due to centuries of foreign dictators from Arab countries, Spain, Greece, Britain etc. Many poor Italian immigrants to the US (from Sicily) came from centuries of brutal historical oppression and colonialism. There was brutal slavery of children used for sulphur mining(called carusi) as late as the early 20th century. In fact Booker T Washington visited Sicily in 1910 and wrote:
“The Negro is not the man farthest down. The condition of the coloured farmer in the most backward parts of the Southern States of America, even where he has the least education and the least encouragement, is incomparably better than the condition and opportunities of the agricultural population in Sicily.”
― Booker T. Washington, The Man Farthest Down: A Record of Observation and Study in Europe

Megan Hazen said...

MJ -

Licton Springs K-8 should always come first in campus discussions for a few reasons.

1. The campus is built on the Licton Springs area, which is of important historical and spiritual value to the native population. It is necessary for us to recognize that history, and it is necessary for us to provide culturally appropriate education for our native families. A long history of neglect (or worse) of this population means we should be working double time to give them a safe and consistent space. This is that space.

2. The k-8 program has been through a number of changes, always dictated by the upper management of the district, but not by the community at the school. It is currently coming off a couple of moves that have resulted in having a rather fragile program. However, the school has the potential to provide a flagship program in social justice education, integrated arts, and native culture. It is already providing this programming, as well as serving students who may not succeed in their neighborhood schools.

However, without putting the needs of Licton Springs K-8 first, it will be squeezed out by the behemoth middle school in the same building. It is already getting less space than the population would ideally use, and second billing (= second choice) on most decisions.

3. From a sheer numbers game, the sizes of the schools on campus are Eagle Staff, Cascadia, and then Licton Springs. Licton Springs also has the highest poverty and minority rate. Without an effort to emphasize the importance of this little school, it will naturally lose ground to the greater numbers of the other schools. Speaking of it first will provide a more equal footing.

Short answer - with a little love and care Licton Springs can be the type of school cities over the nation aspire to have, but it can't do it while fighting for recognition in its own building.

Anonymous said...

A quick wikipedia search finds Washington's quote and context.

Around the beginning of the 20th century there was a class of abandoned and orphaned children known as Carusu. They were enslaved to work in sulphur mines.

"From this slavery there is no hope of freedom, because neither the parents nor the child will ever have sufficient money to repay the original loan. [...]
The cruelties to which the child slaves have been subjected, as related by those who have studied them, are as bad as anything that was ever reported of the cruelties of Negro slavery. These boy slaves were frequently beaten and pinched, in order to wring from their overburdened bodies the last drop of strength they had in them. When beatings did not suffice, it was the custom to singe the calves of their legs with lanterns to put them again on their feet. If they sought to escape from this slavery in flight, they were captured and beaten, sometimes even killed."

"In addition to the boys, transporting the ore, the work is also done by men who commenced life in the mines as carusi, and who, as the result of having for years carried ore upon their shoulders, present a large hump on their back upon which the ore rests, a deflected spine, deformed lower extremities, and a distorted chest."

These children were slaves and sure enough their offspring became white people when they came to the US and received all the privilege that entails, while black Americans are still suffering from white supremacy.

I think Booker T. Washington would be very critical of our district's efforts to help the descendants of American slavery.

Salish C

Anonymous said...

"These children were slaves and sure enough their offspring became white people when they came to the US and received all the privilege that entails, while black Americans are still suffering from white supremacy. " Pure BS!

Have any other fire to stoke?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Let's not get off topic, folks.

Anonymous said...

"These children were slaves and sure enough their offspring became white people when they came to the US and received all the privilege that entails, while black Americans are still suffering from white supremacy."

Sorry Salish, that is not true. If you study the history of the Carusi you will learn that that majority did not escape their situation. In addition, when these people emmigrated to the US they also faced discrimination ex Jim Crow laws in the south. The kids (children of laborers) were overhwelmingly put in special ed classes in NYC. In fact it is why special education was created kin NY. Not to negate that descendants do now have "white privilege". But that is not the only privilege people carry, some have educational privilege and others generational wealth. It took generations for many of these descendants to reach the middle class in the US.

In addition, the rest of the population (not just Carusi) suffered for centuries due to foreign domination & colonialism. Unemployment in Sicily is still highest in Europe at 30%. Spend some time and learn more about the people who emmigrated to the US. White people in the US also include descendants of Armenian immigrants who faced genocide, Jews who faced the holocaust etc. In addition, many other Europeans were oppressed in their homelands. This "all white people" bashing has got to stop & people need to learn more about others and their histories.

Anonymous said...

Link history of special education, IQ tests & Italian Immigrants in NY:

Anonymous said...

@ ochre, you said:

I think the work was finished long, long ago for white men of the Christian religion. Their rights are secure. As for the Native people, the SpEd students, the poor students, the students of color and the female students, their dreams are considered "work to be Done."

Just to point out, there are white male Christians who don't have it all, you know.... White males, in and out of SPS, who are poor, or SpEd, or gay, etc. This really isn't about white-maleness, so no need to try to make it so. And my atheist son probably doesn't appreciate being lumped in your group, either, but as a white male who doesn't project a non-Christian religious affiliation he's usually wrongly assumed to be Christian.

2many assumptions

Anonymous said...

@ Megan Hazen, I appreciate your passion for Licton Springs K-8, but I find your argument for why it should "always come first" not all that convincing.

Yes, it's an important cultural and historical site. That's why the school was named for it, and that's why it's a native-focused school. But that doesn't mean it's more important than the school that many more other students attend on that same site.

Yes, there's are space issues. Guaranteeing sufficient space for LS is important, and they should be able to keep all the space the are currently allocated if enrollment levels are in line with expectations. But if enrollment is low, and if we need that space for other SPS students, why shouldn't they lose space down the road? If they continue to need the space they have, however, they should not be squeezed out--because they need the space they have. But if they don't need it and others do... But back to your original comment, ensuring LS has it's basic space needs met is not the same as it needing to always be referred to first in any discussion.

Finally, the order in which we refer to schools should not be based on perceived "importance." Discussions are often done by grade level, with elementary coming first. We also often refer to neighborhood schools before option schools. Sometimes we refer to things by size, or alphabetically. It all depends on the context, and no one order is always appropriate. It's not intended as a slight to any school to not be mentioned before another, it's just the way it is. But maybe the LS and RESMS principals can work together to agree on an approach that helps highlight that they are two independent schools, both equally important for their own reasons and to their own constituents? This is probably favorable to projecting an image that one school should get special treatment.

2many assumptions

Anonymous said...

I completely reject one groups claim to Licton springs. Having lived near the park for over 40 years l know there was never a effort by natives to care for the park or the springs. The orginal WP school wasnt buildt by Seattle or SPS but shorline SD. Natives were disinterested in the site. All this naming the school after a person without any regional tribalism is peculiar to say the least. It can't be legal for the district to take our tax dollars earmarked for all students and them to use it for a native american school. This a really

Slippery slope

Anonymous said...


When 2017 USA needs a "Sicilian Lives Matter" movement, your apparent need to falsely equivocate contemporary demands for justice will have some substance.
There's no need for an "Irish Lives Matter" either, since they also partook
of the advantages of being white in American within a few generations.

In the meantime, 450 years of Black slavery and Native American genocide have produced a continued need to qualify as legally "protected" classes for these populations. Sicilians...NOT.

Sorry, but Sicilians are no longer being discriminated against in this country, and your false equivocation is a denial of the intense oppression that these protected classes continue to suffer on a daily basis.

I'm just funny that way, I guess, but I'm not buying your victim trip. It is actually absurd. This is a country of immigrants. The majority of people reading this blog are one or two generations removed from poverty/low incomes and didn't inherit "generational wealth" either. Get

Over Yourself

Anonymous said...

@ Over yourself-- My point is that people, including yourself apparently, make assumptions about "white people" and their histories when actually they know little to nothing about them. You are not taught this information in the US public schools. You are also naive if you think that families with these histories have not been affected for generations. This is not far back, only a generation or two.
-Get over yourself

Melissa Westbrook said...

But if enrollment is low, and if we need that space for other SPS students, why shouldn't they lose space down the road?"

First, they didn't even give LS the room they need. I looked at the space and while it's nice and new, it's also not good. The library is practically in a hall, they share science space with RESMS, their entire humanities class is one room with 48 students and two teachers crammed in -I could go on. The district has systematically tried to get rid of this school in various ways and then cries about its underenrollment.

Slippery Slope, you said:

All this naming the school after a person without any regional tribalism is peculiar to say the least. It can't be legal for the district to take our tax dollars earmarked for all students and them to use it for a native american school."

First of all, Mr. Eagle Staff was a dedicated educator especially for Native American students who were born in this area. That's why the school is named after him. Many schools are named for people who didn't even live here.

Second, it IS legal for the district to rebuild and reopen a school, continuing its focus on Native American history and name it after a dedicated Native American educator. You may not like that but it doesn't make it illegal. It is not a school for any specific group of students and it was clear from the ribbon-cutting crowd that it will be a diverse population.

Anonymous said...

@Over yourself- Learning about the histories of as many diverse people of all races as we can should be the goal. It helps bring us together, bridge shared understanding between human beings. Too often dominant histories are the only ones shared. We are a country who has received immigrants from all over the world. The only way to learn about people's histories is to actively seek it out or listen. In addition, in relation to your comment to be clear Sicilians experienced colonialism from foreign dictators for centuries over and over. The language and culture reflect all these cultures. In fact it has been referred to the most colonized place ever due to its strategic location.

Anonymous said...

What is a "social justice education" a guarantee of unemployment?

Seriously stick to the basics and the rest will work itself out.

Also, with all the weed in Seattle I doubt these kids are going anywhere.


Anonymous said...

Why can't these students attend a regular school? Why do they need a native American focused school? I don't see the point of having a native school in the middle of Seattle. The African American academy was a colossal failure, what's different about Licton springs?

How does the curriculum differ from a regular K-8 ? why can't the natives studies be part of the general ed curriculum at all schools. Is SPS busing students from outside the attendance area for Linton Springs.

I'm also skeptical of these claims about Licton Spring historical significance.


Carol Simmons said...

Dear Melissa,

Thank you. I must remain confident that the Seattle School Board will rectify the lack of instructional space at Licton Springs School. It is imperative that the School District does not contribute to the failure of Native education again.

To "My 2 cents." You are mistaken.
The African American Academy was successful for African American students and many others. As the Indian Heritage School was allowed to fail so was the African American Academy.

You ask "why can't the natives studies be part of the general ed curriculum at all schools." Please visit all schools and study the curriculum, and while doing so pay close attention to the classroom discussions about Native peoples, their history, their treatment and their education.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reality, your comments are not useful. Also weed is not legal for kids so it's unclear what you mean.

Anonymous said...

There's much talk of spirits in native culture and if teaching of native spirit worship is allowed in SPS then shouldn't the study of the holy spirit? I remember learning about the atrocities committed by the union army against the natives. It was not white washed in anyway. Are you saying the history has been modified in a way to blame the natives? I don't agree if that is what you mean by "pay attention".

Maria Goodloe-Johnson the black female superintendence forced the closure of the African American Academy Seventh-grade math test scores at the K-8 school are the lowest in the district. Enrollment has declined, from a peak of 508 students six years ago to 339 today. When the district chose someone from outside Seattle to take over as principal this fall, the school’s backers protested the decision, a controversy that threatens to drain more students from the school’s half-full building on South Beacon Hill.

I said, Hey whats going on!

One person failure should others learning experience. No more race based institutions please.


Anonymous said...

The road to hell is paved by good intentions...

African American Academy became a feifdom of ill-informed longtimers who were hell-bent on putting "being in control" ahead of everything else. Their claim-to-fame was that they slightly "outperformed" the other equally dismal scores for Black students in the district.

The brand new building with culturally inspired flourishes was breathtaking and a well-deserved environment for the students ("open to all" made it legal, Btw). The politics and power tripping of the entrenched "leaders" brought it down--and not soon enough. It took a Black superintendent to keep the powers-that-be from using the race card. Delete that! They used it anyway--even with MGJ as the supe who was able to finally call them out. (I'm not an MGJ fan--just giving credit where it's due).

Mrs. Simmons, sometimes rose glasses are great and sometimes they're not. "The Academy" is an example of the latter.

As Megan Hazen eloquently explained, Native American students in Seattle deserve to be placed at the front of the line at Robert Eagle Staff (I think the extra effort to say his name is a good first step) and for ONCE in Seattle. That doesn't mean stepping on the feet of other students or disadvantaging them in any way. Sometimes, thinking about a profoundly oppressed group of fellow citizens on their very (historically speaking) recent home turf is good for everyone.

Try it sometime. Mrs. Simmons has been doing it for eons.

Over Yourself

p.s. Be careful about wasting your good energy and power on this blog, Ms. Hazen. You will be met with the intense backlash and fury of the privileged. "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."--Frederick Douglass

Melissa Westbrook said...

"There's much talk of spirits in native culture and if teaching of native spirit worship is allowed in SPS then shouldn't the study of the holy spirit?"

You can study religion in context. So sure, you can say that some religions believe in different kinds of spirits including the holy spirit. Stories are stories.

"Enrollment has declined, from a peak of 508 students six years ago to 339 today."

AAA is closed and has been for awhile. There is no "enrollment."

Over There (one of your many tags for the same person), I think much of what you say about AAA is probably true. Your tone, however, leaves a lot to be desired. I wish the in-fighting over AAA had not happened but it did and left the school floundering.

Anonymous said...

That was a quote from the ST. I should have made that clear. I know the AAA is gone that's part of the "colossal failure".

I find that the open to all line is simply cover for what the activist want, their own school. As a senior I took a minorities study class, to me it was a bash the whites class. I can't imagine what it would be like to attend a school where the entire premises of the school would lean anti-white race. I hope that's not the case for Licton Springs. Given it's Seattle I fear that's going to be difficult.


Melissa Westbrook said...

That's just silly. Having a non-Western Civilization focus doesn't mean it's anti-white. Don't look for trouble where there is none.

Anonymous said...

@MW have you attended one of these types of schools or even one class? Well I have and I'm pointing out that there is a lot of white and Mexican bashing that goes on. If you're one of the non native person's in the class I don't see how you can't help but feel attacked. Most of the non native students ancestors were not even in American during the 1850 - 1910 period.

Like someone pointed out, the union army after dispatching with the slave owning southerners headed west and killed natives for cash and sport. Now lets start removing the monuments to the great Indian fighters.

Crazy Horse

Megan Hazen said...

Someone asked about Social Justice education - I don't know what it always means, but at Licton Springs K-8 it means that the primary levels place some emphasis on social-emotional skills, and in the middle school it means that the students spend a lot of time reading, and digesting, contemporary literature and history that represents our diverse community. They also have some emphasis on service for the middle school, with the students choosing from month to month where their efforts will be spent.

While we may think that STEM is the end-all-be-all of education, allowing students to experience what amounts to liberal arts with a focus on current events will produce students with the critical thinking skills to make true contributions to society, whether they make those contributions in a technical field, or a non-technical field. Good social justice programming gives the students this experience as one facet of a program that also gives them ample opportunity in STEM topics.

-- Back to the question of why Licton Springs should come first

I understand what you are saying - Eagle Staff and Cascadia also merit focus, effort, and support. They are each unique schools, and important to their populations. The thing is, it is so easy to marginalize a small school on the same site, so we need to work harder to make sure that this doesn't happen.

(Notes from this year - A sign telling people where to enter LSK8 was late in coming, and there still isn't one by the road. Most campus wide access programs are headed by Eagle Staff, and can ignore the needs of the young chidren arriving on campus with them, or the other children arriving an hour earlier just down the block. In many meetings I've attended, including one with the three principals of the schools present, discussions referred to 'two schools', or 'the middle school'. etc. etc.

LSK8 does NOT have the room that it needs. There is a great interest in the school because of the aforementioned strengths, and it is already bursting at the seams. The classrooms are crammed in around what was deemed necessary for the middle school. Right now the school is around 30% native students - the staff is working hard to be respectful of the diverse population including the native students, AND those who are non-native. The school needs the room to thrive, not just subsist. In order to have that room it needs to be a part of the conversation, all the time, not just a fraction of the time.

RPM said...


Weren't they offered their own building and said no? I'm not trying to argue, but I think the late claim to the site is a stretch. I too lived near the school for a decade before it was even mentioned that it would be rebuilt. There was never any native interest that I noticed, and I went to the duck pond daily. Again, this isn't meant to be an argument, just a thought to back up the above comments disagreeing with your thought that LS K8 should come first. It seems to me that two schools on the outs with SPS merged to gain viability. It hasn't always been a school dedicated to serving native students. I remember the days when it was AS1 at Pinehurst. This doesn't mean these kids and this program don't deserve the utmost respect and support, but I think the claims to the site are a bit stretched. I also think they should have taken the other building to secure their future (if my memory is correct on that).

This is all from someone who knows nothing other than the small amount I've observed.

Anonymous said...

I agree--Cedar Park would have been a more secure and stable location, with the number of actual room they wanted. Not sure why they didn't jump on that other than the inconvenience of that far NNE location.

What Where

Anonymous said...

Native groups are notorious for being hard to work with. A non native is very seldom allowed to control native direction or decisions.

Crazy Horse

Anonymous said...

Well this discussion completely degenerated with the 5:37 PM post. A post with no sense of irony or history. I suspect indigenous groups all over the world would love, love to have control of their own "direction or decisions". If they did, history and their life would be far different than what it is today.


Anonymous said...

@ Megan Hazen, maybe someone needs to keep repeating the refrain "one site, two buildings, three schools" or something to help remind people. It's complicated over there, and not easy to intuitively see from the outside. It's not intended as a slight, I don't think. And a reference to "the middle school" might actually be a reference to the middle school, not the middle school building that also includes a k-8.

You said LS k-8 is already bursting at the seams. Is RESMS also full, or projected to soon be? We have capacity crunches in many areas, I understand that LS wants/needs more space, but what do you propose? My. Hildten have attended other overcrowded schools where classes were held in hallways, computer labs were dismantled for classroom space, etc. Not having enough space is a shame, but is not unique.

As for curriculum, don't most middle school humanities courses also require reading that reflects our diverse history, addresses current events, and require some volunteer work or community participation? LS may be more intentional and/or better at it, I dint know. But it might not be all that different. It would be an interesting exercise to do a side-by-side, detailed comparison of what's covered and required in LA/SS at both schools in grades 6 through 8 this year to help illustrate the differences. Maybe it would be a good recruiting tool and more stiludents would choose LS over RESMS and the school could expand a bit.

2many assumptions

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

There was never any native interest that I noticed, and I went to the duck pond daily.

I would have thought the murals would be that "native interest." That they were not there every day protesting doesn't mean there wasn't caring or interest.

"A non native is very seldom allowed to control native direction or decisions."

Wow. Well, first, how have they been treated throughout the history of this country? You might understand their position. Second, while their was input on the school from the Native American community, the district did make all the final choices.

Crazy Horse, go away. I find your comments unhelpful and just plain wrong.