Community Service Day

Earlier this month, our entire school participated in our annual community service day. It was a wonderful opportunity to make an impact and connect with various community members – plus, we were lucky to work outside and enjoy some glorious warm, sunny weather. Here are some of the community groups and activities that we worked with this year:

Clearing out invasive plants.

Clearing out invasive plants.

6th GRADE:

SEOLA PARK with Roxhill Elementary students

7th GRADE:




8th GRADE:


Local P-Patch clean up.

Local P-Patch clean up.


Canvassing for 8th Grade Sustainability Project


Canvassing on Alki.


Explorer West Earns a First Place Finish – 2015 Environmental Issues Slam!

Presenting team members, current students and alumni with our Environmental Slam coach, Tim Owens.

Presenting team members, current students and alumni with our Environmental Slam coach, Tim Owens.

For the second time in three years, an Explorer West team took first place at the region-wide Environmental Issues Slam sponsored by the Washington Foundation for the Environment. This year two teams represented Explorer West took on both middle school and high school teams from the Bush School, Seattle Academy, Vashon Island High School, the Seattle Waldorf School, McClure Middle School, the Lake Washington Girls’ Middle School, and the West Sound Academy.

As a change for this year’s competition, two separate awards were given for the fifth annual Environmental Issues Slam: an audience popular vote winner and a winner awarded from a 3-person panel of experts in the field of environmental sustainability.

Jena, Ellie, and Anastasia gave an excellent and comedic presentation on the problem of cruise ship pollution in our nearby waterways. The team adapted well to the absence of key member, Siri, who was unable to make the Slam.

Makenzie, Lewis, and Clara impressed the crowd with an investigative presentation on the need for compost and recycling services at Crytstal Mountain Ski Resort. This was Makenzie’s third year participating in the Environmental Issues Slam.

Our "Students for Sustainable Slopes" team wins the Judges Award.

Our “Students for Sustainable Slopes” team wins the Judges Award.

In the end it was the group calling themselves “Students for Sustainable Slopes” taking the top prize – the “Judge’s Choice” award. The group was awarded five tickets on a Puget Sound cruise through Sound Experience as well as $750 which they intend to donate to the National Ski Areas Association’s Sustainable Slopes program in order to urge Crystal Mountain to begin actually composting and recycling.

McClure Middle School, with its first entrance into the Slam, won the popular audience vote with a compelling presentation on ways each of us can reduce our carbon footprint.

We would like to give a special thank you to all who came out to support these two groups’ hard work as well as all of the other fantastic student-created presentations on our regions pressing environmental needs. Three Explorer West alumni joined the event, expressing a strong desire to compete in next year’s Slam from their prospective high schools. All three of these former EW students participated in past slams, and two of them were part of the team that won the Slam in 2013.

One-Act Play Festival – Tickets Available

001Our annual One-Act Play Festival is coming up in mid-April. All plays are written, directed and produced by Explorer West Students.

Six, 15 minutes plays in one evening.
April 8th & 9th, at 7pm

Tickets can be purchased by going to: Brown Paper Tickets

All sales support the Drama Program, production costs, and the partnership with ACT Theatre’s Young Playwright Program.

Wednesday, April 8, Features Students from Sections 6A, 7A, and 8A

Thursday, April 9, Features Students from Sections 6B, 7B, and 8B

Both Evenings Include These Plays Written by 7th Graders:
Evil Author
Cousin Catastrophe
The Different World
Museum Mystery
Sir William and the Quest for the Holy Dinner Set

Tickets are limited. Get your tickets early.

EW Hosts Space Exploration Presentation- April 22

Final Web Space Lecture

Join us for a great adventure!

Join us for an exciting evening of space discoveries geared towards igniting the curiosity and imagination of our next generation of explorers! Dr. Hobbs, a NASA/JPL Space Ambassador, will discuss comets, dwarf planets and the Mars Rover and how missions to these new frontiers will impact life on earth, now and far into the future.

Realizing that our children’s reality will include space as a domain of industry and employment in their lifetimes, this presentation is aimed to ignite the curiosity and imagination of the next generation of explorers. Dr. Hobbs is committed to sharing the wonders of nature in a scientific context to inspire life long learning. He has given more than 200 presentations in K-12 classrooms, community centers and professional associations. We are proud and excited to have him share his passion with the Explorer West and West Seattle community.

This FREE event for the community goes from 6:30-8:00 on April 22 at Explorer West Middle School. Light refreshments and door prizes are provided!

Please RSVP at .

Thank you to our sponsors:
NASA/JPL and Dr. Ron Hobbs
Curious Kids Stuff
Museum of Flight 
Seattle App Academy
Cupcake Royal
Metropolitan Market
Mighty O Donuts
Connect Printing


And a special thanks to our parent volunteers Darci Kurzawa, Scott Jones, Scott Harbine, Damon Graves and Gino Larsen-Giacalone for all their help in making this event happen!

State Geographic Bee – Student Competes on Friday

Tim Owens, History, and Devin.

Tim Owens, History teacher, and Devin.

We are proud to announce that Devin Graves of Explorer West Middle School will head to Tacoma this Friday (March 27th) to compete in the Washington State National Geographic Bee. Devin edged out over eighty other students to be crowned the school champion in February. He tested high enough on a written exam to qualify for the state contest. He has been studying hard ever since qualifying in order to prepare for the state-wide Bee. This is the third year in a row that Explorer West has sent a student to the state championship.

Congratulations and best of luck to Devin!

Environmental Slam – April 21

Save the Date

5th Annual Environmental Issues Slam

April 21st, 6:30-8:30pm, Miller Community Center

The Washington Foundation for the Environment (WFFE) is sponsoring the slam again this year. This is the third year that Explorer West students have participated. This year two of our student teams will be competing against teams from seven other local middle and high schools.

The teams plus friends and teachers who came to support in 2014!

The teams plus friends and teachers who came to support in 2014!

We need to pack the house – the audience will decide one of the winners. Please come out and support our two powerful teams speaking on the topics of:

Students for Sustainable Slopes

Cruise Ship Pollution Solution

Thank you for your support!

“Power the Future” – EW Auction

EWMS-2015-Auction-LogoOur biggest parent-only community event and fundraiser is coming up in a few short weeks! The generous event attendees provide the funds necessary to provide an extraordinary and balanced education beyond the basics offered at many middle schools.The  “Power the Future” Explorer West Annual Auction will be held on Friday, March 20, 2015 at the Hall at Fauntleroy. If you received an invitation, please RSVP by March 4th. For more information, visit our event page. Thank you to the auction committee for all of their hard work. See you on March 20th!

Debate Season Ends With Top Participation

Most of the team gathered on break.

Most of the team gathered on break.

The Explorer West Debate Team faced stiff competition last Saturday at the Bush School. One of our teams; Jena, Makenzie, and Elsa; finished their three debates with three victories, narrowly being edged out of the final debate. This was by far the largest league debate tournament in the past two years that Explorer West has been debating and even featured a top debate team from southern California.

Friend gather post-debate!

Friend gather post-debate!




Our seven participating teams were one of the largest contingents of the schools participating and represented almost 25% of our total school population, which definitely puts Explorer West apart from the other schools. Additionally, nine of our twenty-one debaters are current sixth and seventh graders. Their experience and expertise will undoubtedly take our debate program even further next year.

We would also like to thank the adults who graciously came out to serve as judges for the debate. Amy French, Stacia Jenkins, Sabrina Kovacs-Storlie, Thomas Terance, Jennifer Cecil, and Phil Giammarino gave up a considerable portion of their Saturday to help make this event happen. Tim also recruited another WFFE board member, Heidi Siegelbaum, to serve as a seventh judge. Additionally, former debater and EW alum Addie Weeks came out to assist in judging and timekeeping.

Great work debaters! Here’s to another successful EW debate season!

2015 School-Wide Environmental Issues Slam

“No Ocean, No Us” presenters.

“No Ocean, No Us” presenters.

Four teams and a solo performance did an amazing job at last week’s school-wide Environmental Issues Slam. After learning about several important local environmental issues, students and staff selected their two favorite performances. It was a very close race with three of the five teams nearly tied for first place. When it was all said and done, one team emerged victorious and secured a spot representing Explorer West at the region-wide Environmental Issues Slam in April.

“Skiers for Sustainable Slopes”  - won the school-wide competition.

“Skiers for Sustainable Slopes” – won the school-wide competition

Our topics were the following:

  • “No Ocean, No Us”
  • “Skiers for Sustainable Slopes”
  • “Cruise Ship Pollution Solution”
  • “Picking Up the Trash”
  • “Wrong Bin, Wrongdoing”


“Cruise Ship Pollution Solution” team

“Cruise Ship Pollution Solution” team

Picking up a strong third place was Will with his original rap. Second place went to our four seventh grade students who educated us on the sustainability of the cruise ship business – Siri, Ellie, Jena and Anastasia. And first place went to students who focused on the sustainability of a local ski resort – Makenzie, Lewis, and Clara.

Our first place team will move on to the region-wide slam, and there’s a chance we’ll be asked to provide a second team as well.

Well done Explorer West!

Students Recognized in Young Playwrights Program

We are so proud of the 7th grade class of students who have all worked with a professional playwright via the ACT Theatre’s Young Playwrights Program (YPP) to create original plays over the past several weeks. On December 8th, all of the schools participating in the program were invited to come to a night of celebration where they announced plays that had been chosen to be read or produced by local theatre groups. It was very exciting to have three Explorer West student plays chosen:

Excited to get her name called.


  • Captured by Karen Casillas-Tapia will be an ACT Theatre 2015 YPP Festival play.
  • The Tree Huggers by Siri Greene will be having a reading at Live Girls.
  • What They Always Needed by June Oto will be having a reading at 12th Night Productions.
David recognized as a teacher in the program.

David recognized as a teacher in the program.

Three other students were recognized with “honorable mentions” for their plays – one of which was read by live actors at the event. Many of the 7th grade students and their families attended along with our drama teacher, David Kelly, and Head of School, Evan Hundley.

More info about The Young Playwrights Program:

Playwright instructor proud of her students.

Playwright instructor proud of her students.

The Young Playwrights Program (YPP), ACT’s flagship education program, sends professional playwright teaching artists into area schools for 10 weeks to teach the basics of playwriting to Puget Sound-area students. ACT’s YPP equips participants with tools for creative self-expression, endowing them with self-confidence and the sense that their ideas—about themselves, their world, and the challenges they face—matter, and their voices will be heard.

Thanks to all of the families who attended the celebration!

Thanks to all of the families who attended the celebration!