Explorer West Clinic Prepares Students for Final Debate Competition

Explorer West 7th Grader Kyle Hole

Explorer West 7th grade debater Kyle has confident “body language” which includes a smile!

On Saturday, January 23rd, fifteen Explorer West Middle School students and ten students from area schools – Bush, Overlake, Evergreen, Seattle Country Day, and Soundview – met at Explorer West to prepare for the final debate competition of the school year.

Coaches from the Climb the Mountain Debate Foundation led the lively debate clinic, where students discussed topics ranging from police body cameras to STEM education. “The clinic was so informative. I grew as a debater and as a thinker,” said Elsa, a 7th grader at Explorer West. “I hope I can attend another clinic like this one!”

Students learned strategies making rebuttal arguments, effective note-taking and weighing out all the impacts in a debate.
From left to right, 6th graders James Cecil, Sam McGee, and Andreas Derickson

Explorer West 6th graders debaters James, Sam, and Andreas give the clinic a thumbs up.

“The students who attended the clinic should be commended. They gave up half their weekend to improve their critical thinking, research and public speaking skills,” said Jon Howland, Explorer West math teacher and debate coach. “It is amazing to work at a school where students are fired up about becoming better citizens.”


Explorer West 8th graders Siri and Anastasia and 7th grader Elsa polished up their debating skills.

EW Alumni “Change The World” Project Attracts and Motivates Seattle Parks Department

Exciting news! One of last year’s “Change the World Project” proposals may be put into action. A play-area renovation in West Seattle may ultimately be even more inclusive than envisioned, thanks to advocacy by four local EW alumni, based on work they did in their final year at Explorer West Middle School

Explorer West alumni , Cyrus Storlie, Makenzie White and Tess Wassermann met with Seattle Parks Officials to discuss plans for Lincoln Park's "inclusive" playground as a result of their "Change The World" project.

Explorer West alumni Cyrus Storlie, Makenzie White and Tess Wassermann met with Seattle Parks officials to discuss plans for Lincoln Park’s “inclusive” playground.

2015 Explorer West graduates Makenzie White, Cyrus Storlie, Tess Wassermann and Ellen Applewhite, under the guidance of History teacher Tim Owens, completed their 8th grade project “Change The World” with hopes that their proposal would see the light of day.

It has.

The Seattle Parks Department, intrigued by the classmates’ plans, met twice with the team over the past year to discuss improvements to West Seattle’s Lincoln Park. Their vision was to initiate the discussion, and ultimately the creation, of an area in the playground to include improved accessibility for special needs children. It would incorporate features that can be enjoyed by children of all ability levels, including those with physical and/or developmental challenges.

Reporter Tracy Record, of the West Seattle Blog, covered the meeting. You can read her article here: Former Explorer West Middle School classmates’ project synergizing with Lincoln Park plan

“The kids rocked the Seattle Parks meeting and were treated as experts in parks for kids with disabilities,” said . “We are so proud of them!”


Explorer West Students Lead a Successful Food Drive for the White Center Food Bank

For the third consecutive year, students at Explorer West Middle School planned and executed a school-wide food drive to support the White Center Food Bank in our community.

Math and Advisory Teacher, Jon Howland, loading the White Center Food Bank van with his Advisory students.

Math and Advisory Teacher, Jon Howland, loading the White Center Food Bank van with his Advisory students.

This annual food drive started during the 2013-2014 school year during Advisory. This multi-grade class meets twice each week, focusing on student leadership and community service and acting as a hub for the students during their middle school education. Jasmine Alvarado-Salinas, who was an eighth grader at the time, proposed the idea to her classmates and the event was launched!

From beginning to end, this food drive is powered by the students. Students communicate with the operations manager at the food bank, craft messages for the school bulletin, make posters with all the important details, collect, stage, and sort donations, and give weekly status updates during school assemblies. The final step is loading all the donations into the White Center Food Bank van. The success of the food drive is owed to the dedication and hard work of students at Explorer West.

Since 2013, Explorer West families have donated nearly two tons of food! This year’s food drive was the most successful yet, with 1784 pound of food donated. On average, that’s nearly 20 pounds of food per family.

It is heart-warming to think of all the families the White Center Food Bank can help feed thanks to the Explorer West food drive. It’s inspiring to think of how the annual food drive will continue to grow in the years to come. Thank you to all the families who contributed to this student led project and our neighbors in White Center.

If you want more information on how to support the White Center Food Bank, please contact their operations manager, Audrey Zemke, at  or visit their website: whitecenterfoodbank.org/

Join us at our Open House this Saturday from 10-11:30 am

Explorer West invites you to join us for our Open House
this Saturday, November 14th at 10:00 am

An Independent Middle School in West Seattle for students in grades 6-8077

Explorer West redefines the middle school experience by offering rigorous academics and a diverse range of enrichment programs in a small, vibrant learning environment. Our award-winning sustainability and outdoor education programs inspire young people to positively impact their environment and community. Graduates become leaders who flourish, both academically and socially, at the high schools of their choice.

Discover How We Are Different at our Open Houses

Open Houses are the best opportunities for families to learn about our school before applying for admission. During the Open Houses, families explore classrooms, talk to our faculty and staff, and engage with our parents and students. Open Houses are suited for families with students in 4th-7th grade, but all are welcome! We recommend all families attend an Open House. School visits are reserved for families who are applying for the 2016-17 school year.

Explorer West Open House Dates
Saturday, November 14th, 10:00-11:30 am
Thursday, December 10th, 6:30-8:00 pm

Click here to RSVP for the event!

Community Parent Education Night at Explorer West

Brain for press_darkerWe are excited to welcome Shannon Salverda of Chatterbox Learning to Explorer West to present strategies for families and students to experience growth, confidence and maturity in school and their daily lives. The presentation will on Tuesday, October 20th, from 6:30-8:30 pm.

Her presentation is titled: “Start with What Works: Executive Skills and Strategies for Families”. This presentation is designed to give families new ways to help your student learn to plan ahead, solve problems independently, get organized, resist impulses, stay focused, learn from their mistakes.

Shannon Salverda has been a practicing speech and language therapist and learning specialist for over 10 years in the Seattle area.  She is the founder of Chatterbox Learning, a private practice dedicated to helping children, and their families who have learning, reading/writing
challenges or challenges with organization, experience growth and confidence for greater mastery and maturity at school and in their daily lives.

This event is free and open to all families!

Location: Explorer West Middle School
10015 28th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98146

Date: October 20, 2015
6:30– 7:00- Reception
7:00- 8:30- Presentation

The event is free and is open to everyone in the community. Please let us know that you are joining us by RSVPing here.


Student Written Movie Brings Important Message to Spring Arts Night Crowd at Explorer West

Explorer West, this past school year, was home to a professional film; written by and featuring students of Explorer West, Cyberbully  premiered at our Spring arts night this past May. Written by Explorer West student Giovana  F., the plot of Cyberbully revolves around Valeria, a cyberbullied teen that stands up for herself by getting help from her mom and the school principal. The film was well received at the end of the night.

This project grew from the 7th grade plays written as a part of Drama class and in collaboration with ACT Theatre Young Playwrights Program. Cyberbully was submitted to, Mighty Tripod Productions, a local film company with the mission to empower emerging artists. Angela DiMarco, the Director of the film worked with David Kelly, Explorer West Drama Teacher, to cast and produce the film. Approximately 25% of all students at Explorer West, two of the teachers, and even our Head of School,  Mr. Hundley,  were featured in the film as either central characters or ensemble parts.

Elsa K., one of the students in the film said, “after completing this project, I made friends with people who were in the film with me. One of the people I worked with in the film was someone who I didn’t really talk to, but after the film, we talked more and more and eventually became close friends.”

The film itself delivers a great message from a relatable view. Bullies are the one with the problem. This film has the potential to change lives. Students that are bullied can know that there are people out there who can help them.

The Explorer West Drama Department continues to engage the arts community for collaborative projects, such as this one, that give students professional arts experiences.

Blog post by Elsa K., Student, and David Orace Kelly, Explorer West Drama Teacher

Explorer West 2015 Open House Dates

Explorer West will hold three open houses this fall for families who are interested in learning more about the school for their child. Families who are interested in applying for the 2016-17 school year for 6th, 7th or 8th grade are strongly encouraged to attend one of the events to get an overview of the programs and learn more about the school. Individual student and family visits begin in October and are reserved for families who are applying to the school (please see or admissions page for details).

If you are a prospective family with a student in 4th or 5th grade, Open Houses are the best way for you to learn about the school and discover if you would like to apply for 6th grade.

In addition, we will be at three fairs this Summer and Fall to share our programs with the community. Please come and visit us and learn more!

2015 Open House Dates:

Thursday, October 15th- 6-8:30 pm
Saturday, November 14th- 10-11:30 am
Thursday, December 10th- 6:30-8 pm

Other School Events:

July 10th-12th- The West Seattle Street Fair
October 14th- Independent School Fair For Students of Color, Rainier Community Center
November 5th- Seattle Independent School Fair- Northgate Community Center


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.