Math club keeps Pine Lake Middle School students engaged

December 16, 2014

The stereotypical math classroom evokes images of students taking dreary quizzes with bored or frustrated looks on their faces.

By Neil Pierson Pine Lake Middle School math club students Ananta Ranganathan and Daniel Hong (from left) work on team-based tests during a Dec. 9 club meeting. The academic club has 73 students enrolled this year.

By Neil Pierson
Pine Lake Middle School math club students Ananta Ranganathan and Daniel Hong (from left) work on team-based tests during a Dec. 9 club meeting. The academic club has 73 students enrolled this year.

Walk into the multipurpose room at Pine Lake Middle School on a December afternoon, however, and the picture changes drastically. Students are cheerfully sharing problem-solving techniques and appear to be learning at an exponential rate.

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Eastlake grad flies with Navy patrol squadron ‘War Eagles’

December 16, 2014

A 2005 Eastlake High School graduate and Seattle native is serving with Patrol Squadron Sixteen, also known as the “War Eagles.”

By Navy Office of Community Outreach Lt. j.g. Kyle Atakturk, a 2005 graduate of Eastlake High School, is serving with the U.S. Navy’s “War Eagles” squadron and is piloting some of the newest maritime patrol aircraft in the military.

By Navy Office of Community Outreach
Lt. j.g. Kyle Atakturk, a 2005 graduate of Eastlake High School, is serving with the U.S. Navy’s “War Eagles” squadron and is piloting some of the newest maritime patrol aircraft in the military.

Lt. j.g. Kyle Atakturk is a pilot with VP-16, a Jacksonville-based squadron that operates the Navy’s newly designed maritime patrol aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon.

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Shining stars: Girl Scouts earn prestigious honor

November 11, 2014

Less than 6 percent of all Girl Scout troops earn a Silver Award for outstanding community service, but one of those troops resides in Sammamish.

By Neil Pierson Girl Scout Troop 43734 in Sammamish recently earned a Silver Award, the highest honor for a troop of middle-school students. Pictured in the front row are, from left, Taylor Mallalieu, Catherine Goto, Taylor DeRouen, Leeza Polyakova and Erin Kim. In the back row are Emma Wells, Brooke Stuart, Liz Tacchetti and Grace Kirby.

By Neil Pierson
Girl Scout Troop 43734 in Sammamish recently earned a Silver Award, the highest honor for a troop of middle-school students. Pictured in the front row are, from left, Taylor Mallalieu, Catherine Goto, Taylor DeRouen, Leeza Polyakova and Erin Kim. In the back row are Emma Wells, Brooke Stuart, Liz Tacchetti and Grace Kirby.

Troop 43734, a group of Sammamish residents who attend Inglewood Middle School, Eastside Catholic School and Bear Creek School in Redmond, recently earned the Silver Award after a long process of planning and activities.

The final piece to earning the award came this fall when the girls visited Carson Elementary School and spoke to second- through fourth-grade classes.

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KJ Eames goes through hell and back to write first novel

November 4, 2014

It wasn’t all sunshine and daisies for KJ Eames in her first attempt to become a published author, and she’s starkly honest about what truly drove her down that path.

Contributed KJ Eames, a 2012 graduate of Eastlake High School, recently published her first novel, “The Hellstrider Cycle: Diviner,” the first of a planned four-book series.

Contributed
KJ Eames, a 2012 graduate of Eastlake High School, recently published her first novel, “The Hellstrider Cycle: Diviner,” the first of a planned four-book series.

Eames, 21, graduated from Eastlake High School in 2012, in the midst of what she calls “an emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship.” It took her another year to physically remove herself from the situation, and the better part of the past year was spent in psychological recovery, a process that included the penning of her first novel, “The Hellstrider Cycle: Diviner.”

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Skyline senior attains high honor with Scout troop

October 28, 2014

Most boys who enter the world of Scouting will make a lot of fond memories and learn many valuable lessons, but fewer than one in 10 will accomplish what Jonathan Chriest is doing this weekend.

By Neil Pierson Skyline High School senior Jonathan Chriest will join an elite club Nov. 2 when he earns his Eagle Scout rank. Only about 5 percent of Boy Scouts earn the Eagle rank.

By Neil Pierson
Skyline High School senior Jonathan Chriest will join an elite club Nov. 2 when he earns his Eagle Scout rank. Only about 5 percent of Boy Scouts earn the Eagle rank.

At a Nov. 2 Court of Honor ceremony at The Plateau Club, the Skyline High School senior will receive his Eagle Scout rank from the Boy Scouts of America.

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Siblings think Halloween is right time to be charitable

October 21, 2014

When 11-year-old Ajay Gupta visited Carson Elementary School earlier this month to talk about his fundraiser for UNICEF, he turned some heads and got fellow students thinking about a bigger picture.

Contributed From left, siblings Ajay and Reva Gupta have been busy taking care of their local charity effort through Trick or Treat for UNICEF. Their goal for this year is to raise $2,500, which will pay for clean water and other needs for children in Third-World countries.

By Manoj Gupta
From left, siblings Ajay and Reva Gupta have been busy taking care of their local charity effort through Trick or Treat for UNICEF. Their goal for this year is to raise $2,500, which will pay for clean water and other needs for children in Third-World countries.

Gupta spoke to five classes at Carson on “Popcorn Friday,” when students are invited to purchase bags of popcorn for 50 cents each. But Gupta’s message about giving clean water to children in Third-World countries got through.

“I reminded them that those kids, their only water source may be contaminated, or they might not even have a water source,” he said. “And one of the children … they took their popcorn money and put it in the box that I gave to the class for them to donate in.”

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Carson Elementary School program aims to bring more dads to class

October 14, 2014

Statistics show that only one-fourth of the nation’s classroom teachers are men, and that figure drops to about 16 percent in elementary schools.

By Neil Pierson Jim Gallagher and his daughter Sammy, a second-grade student at Carson Elementary School, share some bonding time during the school’s Watch D.O.G.S. kickoff night Oct. 2. Watch D.O.G.S. is designed to spur fathers’ involvement in their children’s schools.

By Neil Pierson
Jim Gallagher and his daughter Sammy, a second-grade student at Carson Elementary School, share some bonding time during the school’s Watch D.O.G.S. kickoff night Oct. 2. Watch D.O.G.S. is designed to spur fathers’ involvement in their children’s schools.

Schools have had to get creative in order to increase the number of male role models in their classrooms and on their playgrounds. At Carson Elementary School, parents and teachers have banded together to start a Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program, aimed at increasing male volunteerism.

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Couple pours lots of love into their tasty brews

April 15, 2014

John Julum has been producing beer at home for about 20 years, but the past 18 months have been an entirely new experience for tapping his creativity.

Julum and his wife, Michele, operate Big Block Brewery, the only licensed brewery in the city of Sammamish. It’s considered a nanobrewery because of its 15-keg-per-week capacity, but the Julums have achieved an undeniable small-circle success.

Their neighbors helped them purchase a larger conditioning tank, John said, “because we couldn’t make enough beer to make them happy.”

Photo by Neil Pierson John and Michele Julum own Big Block Brewery, the only licensed brewery in Sammamish, and have grown their operation to produce up to 15 kegs per week.

Photo by Neil Pierson
John and Michele Julum own Big Block Brewery, the only licensed brewery in Sammamish, and have grown their operation to produce up to 15 kegs per week.

The brewery takes up most of the Julums’ two-car garage, although the business’s namesake, a 1967 Ford Galaxie with a big-block engine, occupies the rest of the space. The Julums have 11 beers on tap, and distribute them solely to invited guests in growlers and kegs. They’re not licensed to sell by the pint.

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Desire, precision lead Eastlake dancers to the top once again

April 15, 2014

It’s nothing new for the Eastlake High School dance team to impress the judges at the state championships, but this year, the dancers were a bit stunned with the quality of their own performance.

Eastlake entered the March 28-29 state championships at the Yakima Valley SunDome expecting to perform well because of its detailed preparation. With so many quality Class 4A teams to compete against, though, coaches Corrine Cope and Catherine Dubois-Boutet said they weren’t necessarily looking to take first place in any category.

But Eastlake did exactly that, making some team history in the process. The squad repeated as dance division champions – the fourth straight year the program has won a state title in at least one category – and finished second in both pom and the highly-competitive kick division.

Contributed photo by Leslie Keck The Eastlake High School dance team had some historic achievements to end the 2013-14 season at the SunDome in Yakima, winning a fourth straight state championship and receiving three superior ratings. 

Contributed photo by Leslie Keck
The Eastlake High School dance team had some historic achievements to end the 2013-14 season at the SunDome in Yakima, winning a fourth straight state championship and receiving three superior ratings.

The 32-member squad not only outshone most of its opponents, it recorded some remarkably high scores. Eastlake’s point totals in dance (275.5), kick (275.4) and pom (274.6) earned superior ratings, meaning they eclipsed 90 on a 100-point judging scale. Only one other 4A team, Moses Lake, earned three superior scores, and it was the first time the Eastlake program had done it at state.

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Christensen writes equine tales from personal experiences

January 7, 2014

After a 35-year career as a horse trainer, Anne C. Christensen is now immersed in an activity that’s worlds away.

Christensen, a Northwest native who moved to Sammamish two years ago, began writing full-time six years ago as A.C. Christensen. She’s published three autobiographical fiction books since then – two of them rooted in her personal experiences with horse culture.

In “Patrick the Naughty Pony,” the first of what Christensen hopes will be a 12-part series called “Over the Rails Pony Tales,” she writes about her adventurous childhood on Mercer Island.

Anne C. Christensen

Anne C. Christensen

Her parents bought her a circus pony, an animal that wasn’t naturally meant for riding or showing, but through determination and repetition, she developed a new friend. And that helped Christensen make her own friends through a local saddle club.

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