Mosaic of Rome – 1,500 Bottle Caps Collected for Art Projects

Last summer, Explorer West students were asked by their art teacher, Sarah, to collect used bottle caps. When school started in September, the number collect FAR exceeded expectations – 1,500 caps!

Her goal was to create some recycled art pieces. The first project  is in process (a Roma map mosaic) and each grade will be making something out of them over the next month. So, thus far, four projects in process/planned. There will still be A LOT left over and the students will continue to make things with them over the next couple of years, until they are used up.

Here are a few images of the work done to date, including:

  • Planning stages, projecting and drawing the map of Rome onto the board.
  • Collecting caps from the big bin (1,500 caps were collected).
  • Gluing the caps on!

We will post final photos of the mosaic when it is completed in a couple of weeks!

IMG_3733 IMG_4116 IMG_4117 IMG_4198 IMG_4215

Parent Education Night – Healthy Communication w/Teens

To follow up our recent parent survey, we have secured a speaker who could provide parents and caregivers with some educational insights on Drug and Alcohol Use in Teens (the highest rated topic).

Explorer West’s Parent Community Network is excited to announce that Dr. Kevin Haggerty from the Social Development Research Group of the University of Washington Department of Social Work will speak to our community on the topic,“Teens, Marijuana, Alcohol, and Reality… Setting the Framework for Healthy Communication.”

Event Details:

Parent Education Night - April 29th at 6:30 PM

Explorer West Middle School, 10015 28th Avenue SW, Seattle, WA 98146

 Focus of the presentation:

  • Find out about the recent research on drugs, alcohol and marijuana use in teens and learn about the impact of alcohol on the teenage brain.
  • Find out what you can do as a parent to prevent the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol by your teenage child.

 About Dr. Haggerty:

For more than 25 years, Dr. Kevin Haggerty and his colleagues at the Social Development Research Group of the University of Washington have been developing methods to organize the scientific knowledge base for prevention so that parents, communities and schools can identify, assess and prioritize approaches that meet their needs. Dr. Haggerty is an international trainer and speaker in the areas of substance abuse and delinquency prevention and has written extensively in the field.

Please invite other parents and adult community members to this event.

Spring Has Sprung – Raising Chicks

Kristin's advisees setting up the brooder

Kristin’s advisees setting up the brooder

Kristin’s advisory added some chicks to the mix this Spring. They got them for several reasons. One was to prompt discussions about our food and where it comes from. It is obvious that eggs come from chickens, but raising chicks also makes the students think about meat and the idea that they get to make choices about the foods they eat. Also, it informs their thinking about healthy food cycles and how the choices they make help define who they are and what they care about.
The students are responsible for the chick’s daily care: fresh water and food, checking on their welfare, changing bedding, etc. The chicks also bring some light into the rains of March and give the advisory members something to care for outside of their adolescent selves. The added bonus is that all Explorer West students get to visit the chicks and hear little chirps during class. Each weekend they go home with a different advisee and they will go home with a family for good at spring break in mid-April.
Week 1: Three of the four chicks the day we brought them "home" - just a few days old.

Week 1: Three of the four chicks the day they came “home” – just a few days old.

Week 1: Students holding the chicks during lunch.

Week 1: Students holding the chicks during lunch.

Week 2: They love to be held and are very relaxed in the students' hands.

Week 2: They love to be held and are very relaxed in the students’ hands.

Week 3: They're getting so big and have lots and lots of feathers coming in.

Week 3: They’re getting so big and have lots and lots of feathers coming in.

Week 3: They're getting so big and have lots and lots of feathers coming in

Week 3: They’re getting so big and have lots and lots of feathers coming in

Falcons Girls Basketball – New Coach

Coach Blair at D1 game.

Coach Blair at D1 game.

As we finish up the Winter 2014 Girls Basketball season this week, we heartily thank Explorer West’s new basketball coach, Blair Pickar, for all of his hard work and dedication. The girls on the D1 and D2 teams both improved their skills and increased their understanding of the game from working with Blair and returning assistant coach (and alum), Will Sears.

As a coach, Blair believes that basketball lessons contain underlying life lessons as well – because basketball is more than just “putting a ball in a hoop.” The fundamental principals of the game mirror those in life: awareness, unselfishness, decision-making, balance, perspective, the motion and transfer of energy. He teaches to play the right way: with respect for the game, respect for the process and respect for your opponents. It’s not just what you do, but how you do it.

Coach Sears keeping an eye on the game.

Coach Sears keeping an eye on the game.

Blair is native of Los Angeles who relocated to Seattle a few years ago. He has played basketball all his life, but is also a natural coach and teacher of the game. Blair’s other passion is music. He is a musician/song writer who played in many bands while in LA, but is now a professional music composer who works on commercials with an ultimate goal of scoring films.

High-fives all around.

High-fives all around.

Welcome to the Explorer West community, Blair! Go Falcons!

D2 coaching moment.

D2 coaching moment.

Sideline discussions with team members.

Sideline discussions with team members.

“Reach Your Peak” Auction – Invites Coming Soon



Invitations for Explorer West Middle School’s annual auction will be arriving in mailboxes in early March. The auction will be held at the Hall at Fauntleroy on April 4th at 5:30pm.

The auction is our biggest fundraiser of the year and provides the funds necessary to provide an extraordinary and balanced education beyond the basics offered at many middle schools. This year’s theme Reach Your Peak emphasizes encouraging our students as learners to reach their own potential.

Procurement efforts are in full swing and we appreciate the community’s support in collecting items and services (note the procurement deadlines is coming up this Friday – February 28th). There are also still volunteer slots to fill before, during and after the event. Visit the auction page on our website for more information. Please contact Debbie Ehri at: with any questions about the event or items to donate.

Thank you for your support and see you on April 4th!



Look out for the invitations for Explorer West’s annual auction in early March.  will be on Friday, April 4 at the Hall at Fauntleroy.  

9131 California Ave SW

Doors open at 5:30 PM. 

Please contact Debbie Ehri if you would like to 


Documentary Film Screening – Tickets Now Available


What does life hold for youth who grow up behind bars?
What opportunities do they have to leave prison behind?

 ”Minor Differences” Documentary Film Screening
March 20, 2014, 7:00pm, Explorer West Middle School

Explorer West’s Parent Community Network is hosting a screening of this poignant documentary about juvenile offenders in maximum security lock-up and their lives 18 years later. There will be a post-screening Q&A session with Explorer West parent and producer of Minor Differences, Caroline Cumming, and three of the men from the documentary. Last month, the film won “Best Documentary” at the Spokane International Film Festival.

The director, producer and three of the men profiled in "Minor Differences."

The director, producer and three of the men profiled in “Minor Differences.”

This event is open to the broader community, so please invite family and friends to attend the screening and participate in the discussion. Tickets are available on-line through via Brown Paper Tickets.

The film is recommended for middle school aged students and older. To find out more about this important film, check out the Minor Differences website.

EW Parents’ Book Series Debuts As TV Show

Today marks the U.S. debut of a new television series, “Ella the Elephant” on Disney Channel and Disney Jr. This  charming and whimsical animated preschool show is based on the award-winning Ella the Elegant Elephant book series created and illustrated by Carmela D’Amico and Steve D’Amico who are the parents of 8th grader, Olivia. The series is also running in multiple other countries across the globe.

In the first book, Ella gets bullied by her peers and works hard to embody the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In three further books, Ella must learn self-reliance, responsibility, and that blessings sometimes come in disguise. The original creators worked with a talented team of illustrators and writers when translating the books to television, so that the episodes maintain the integrity of the characters and overall message.

Check out the “Ella the Elephant” television series, view the trailer.

To learn more about the series and schedule from the production company, visit DHX Media.

Congratulations to Carmela and Steve for having the opportunity to share the Ella story with more children around the globe through this exciting television series.



“Class Dismissed” Filmed at Explorer West

Shooting a classroom scene with the female lead "Katy".

Shooting a classroom scene with the female lead “Katy” and her classmates.

A  short film entitled “Class Dismissed” was filmed at Explorer West on February 10th and 11th. The film’s production team held auditions within the school community over the last couple of weeks and many students and teachers were cast as the leads and ensemble actors.

The film itself is a short love story about a young boy mustering the courage to ask his dream girl out to the school dance. Since it is a silent film based around an original score, there is no dialogue in the piece with the story being completely told through the actors’ expressions and the music. Sammy Applegate wrote the music as her thesis to earn a Master of Music in Film Composition from the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program/Seattle Film Institute. She created a thesis of “film music” (but without a film), which was recorded with a 45 piece orchestra at Studio X.  She is thrilled to finally share this musical piece through “Class Dismissed.”

"Kevin" (male lead) taking props and next steps from the director.

“Kevin” (male lead) taking props and next steps from the director.

Mighty Tripod Productions  is the production company working on the film and the Director/Composer is Sammy Applegate. They are planning on completing it this spring and will submit it to Seattle Shorts Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival and other national and local short festivals.

The students spent several hours on set after busy days at school, but fully enjoyed the opportunity to participate in making a film and acting in front of a camera. Thank you to the production team for choosing to work with Explorer West Middle School!

Director in action in classroom scene.

Director in action in classroom scene.

Filming the dance scene in the corner of the gym.

Filming the dance scene in the corner of the gym.

It's a wrap - cast and crew of "Class Dismissed".

It’s a wrap – cast and crew of “Class Dismissed”.

Explorer West Debate Team Places 2nd

February 2014 Debate Team - places 2nd!

February 2014 Debate Team – places 2nd!

In its inaugural year of joining the Pacific Northwest Middle School Debate League, Explorer West Middle School placed second in the third and final round of debates held at University Prep this past Saturday. Five, 3-person teams debated three topics against teams from University Prep, The Bush School, The Open Window School, Eastside Prep, The Seattle Country Day School, The Overlake School, and The Soundview School.

Since November, debaters have known of the five possible topics that could be chosen for the debates. Two of the debates on Saturday were drawn from these topics. One additional debate was a surprise idiom, and teams were given only thirty minutes of preparation time.

Explorer West was awarded 2nd Place!

Explorer West was awarded 2nd Place!

Topics debated were the following:

  • Grades are an effective means for measuring students’ learning.
  • A pathway to citizenship should be made available to all non-citizens currently residing in the U.S.
  • If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. (impromptu idiom, no advance preparation).

    A quick break during debate prep time.

    A quick break during debate prep time.

Collectively, the teams won 60% of their debates, improving dramatically over the course of the three debate season. Two of the teams even won all three of their debates.

The lead faculty and students are very pleased with the high level of  interest in the team and how much they advanced during this first season.

Thank you for participating and we look forward to next year!

Debate Team-15 Students Strong in Tournament

The debate team was comprised of 15 students on 5 teams.

The debate team was comprised of 15 students on 5 teams.

Fifteen Explorer West debaters (a sixth of our school) worked hard in preparation for their second debate tournament held at Seattle Country Day School this last Saturday.  In a series of three debates, four of our five teams each had a win. The debated topics were:

Voting should be compulsory in modern democracies.

Haste makes waste (impromptu – surprise topic with 30 minutes of preparation time)

Personal electronic devices do more harm than good in social interactions.

 Our teams are now diligently preparing for their final debate on Saturday, February 1st held at University Prep. A special shout-out goes to the six Explorer West family members who all gave up a significant part of their weekend to help out as debate judges and timekeepers.  Thank you!

We will again need judges and timekeepers to join us at the University Prep tournament.  If you’re interested, let Tim or David know!