McClure students Emma Smith (from left), Nicole Johnson, Alena Grace, Stephania Florido, Olivia Knoll, Kate Hatlen, Ashely Taherazer and Grace Gresli Photo by Theresa Marzio

McClure students Emma Smith (from left), Nicole Johnson, Alena Grace, Stephania Florido, Olivia Knoll, Kate Hatlen, Ashely Taherazer and Grace Gresli Photo by Theresa Marzio

McClure Middle School, which has been a neighborhood-only school for three years, is celebrating its latest accomplishments with a family celebration and barbecue in the school courtyard and cafeteria (1915 First Ave. W.) on June 6. The community is invited to join the fun.

Grilled hot dogs and sides will be available for $5 per person. The McClure student choir and orchestra will perform, along with a guest performance by the visiting Nairobi Girls Chorale from Kenya.

Student poetry readings and other student talent performances are also on the bill. 

Forming a K-8 program
McClure’s list of accomplishments this year can be attributed to strong collaboration between principal Sarah Pritchett, teachers, staff, students, families and local businesses.

One of McClure’s recent accomplishments includes working with Queen Anne and Magnolia public elementary schools on the formation of a K-8 program. Principals and teachers at McClure and all feeder elementary schools (including Lawton, John Hay, Coe and Queen Anne) are meeting regularly and designing coordinated curriculums.

“Although we are in different physical locations, we can still consider ourselves one K-8 school,” said McClure principal Sarah Pritchett, originator of the program.

In addition, under Pritchett’s leadership, McClure has formed alliances with community stakeholders, including the Ballard High School science and music programs, The Gates Foundation, Seattle Pacific University (SPU), Pacific Science Center and 4Culture, a local community arts organization.

James Johnson, McClure’s math department head, initiated a formal relationship with McClure and SPU’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) departments to help encourage high-level thinking and build strong connections between McClure’s science and math curriculums and real-world applications.

Hands-on students
McClure is also proud to showcase the accomplishments of its students. McClure eighth-grader and Associated Student Body (ASB) president Serena Baserman was recently named a Seattle Public Schools Conservation Champion, with McClure receiving a $400 Conservation Champion Award for a food-waste recycling program she and other sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade ASB students created.

The ASB class meets daily, led by teacher TuesD Chambers.

“Our first year with a full-time ASB student leadership class has been a roaring success and a ton of fun. The kids never stop surprising me with their great ideas and limitless energy” Chambers said.

Chambers also leads another successful student leadership program at McClure, called the WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) program. The WEB leaders are eighth-grade student mentors who create a welcome environment for incoming sixth-graders via regularly scheduled activities.

“Our ASB and WEB students are responsible for all kinds of fantastic student and family events at McClure,” Chambers said. “I am proud to work with such a wonderful group of kids.”

McClure social-studies students, led by teachers Bonnie Powers and Lisa Coacher, have a lot to be proud of too. McClure eighth-grade social-studies classes participated in The Million Bones Project and created bones as symbols to stand with the genocidal victims and survivors of conflict in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
The bones generated money for CARE’s work in these regions and were displayed in Downtown Seattle in April. The handmade bones were then shipped with a million others and will cover the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in June. 

Sixth-grade language arts and social-studies students, led by teacher Tina Anima, received many notable awards this year. Five McClure sixth-graders were named finalists in the statewide Letters about Literature writing contest, in which students wrote letters to authors about books that inspired them.

Sofia Angelov, Tennyson Hawk, and Maddie Musafia-Corwin were among 325 finalists chosen from more than 3,300 entries. Ella Adams won second place/first runner-up in the state, and Alida Underwood won one of 21 honorable mention prizes. Adams and Underwood were honored at an awards ceremony on Friday, May 24, in Olympia, Wash.

In addition, sixth-graders Maggie Garetson and Kiya Smith won the World of the Future poetry contest sponsored by Seattle Arts & Lectures in February, in conjunction with former Vice President Al Gore’s visit to Seattle.

Four sixth-graders — Ella Adams, Juliette Marzio, Lauren McCown and Molly Peters — presented their learning on ancient civilizations at the National Council for the Social Studies in Seattle as part of the “Students Living Social Studies” exhibit in November.

Through McClure’s participation in Writers in the Schools, McClure sixth-grade students Grace Rabbitt Burke and Ivan Lodenfink presented their comic strips at a citywide student reading on Wednesday, May 22, at Seattle’s downtown library.

Anima herself has been invited to present at the National Council for the Social Studies convention in St. Louis in November with her presentation “Rockin’ in the Ancient World: Musical Tours in Middle School,” featuring rap and songs written and performed by herself and McClure students. Hundreds of teachers from across the country will attend this annual convention. 

At the recent Middle School Media Festival in Seattle, a talented group of seventh-graders — Harrison Barnes, Chris Barrett and Austin Davidson — won an audience award, while seventh-graders Bryn Miller and Katie Reeves won an honorable mention for their Operation Respect videos focused on bullying prevention.

In another video contest sponsored by MOHAI (Museum of History & Industry), a team of McClure sixth-graders — Olivia Knoll, Nicole Johnson, Natsumi Baker and Josephine Toy — won Best Group Entry for their video “History is Inspiration.”

All student videos were created in McClure’s Video Production class, led by teacher Cheryl Phillips.

Phillips also leads a popular after-school drama club featuring two full-scale student productions each year, including Fall Dinner Theatre and a spring musical. This year’s spring musical, “Kokonut Kapers,” held at Lincoln High School on May 18, featured 45 McClure sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders performing 11 song and dance numbers.

“Every year we travel with our drama students to Vancouver, B.C., to experience real-world theater. The kids directly apply what they have learned to our own productions, and it all comes full circle,” Phillips said.

Outside organizations are recognizing McClure’s success, as well.

McClure Middle School was recognized as a 2012 School of Distinction Award winner from The Center for Educational Effectiveness — one of only 24 out of more than 450 middle schools in the state to receive this award. McClure also received this award in 2010. 

Outside support
Family involvement has stepped up dramatically this year, noticeably since McClure became a neighborhood-only school.

There has been a major increase in fund-raising contributions compared to prior years. The money raised supports the purchase of library books, the Writers in the Schools program, science curriculum tools, math and reading tutors, the music program, sports equipment and more.

The McClure Mixer annual fund-raiser in March showcased “Raise the Paddle for Technology,” which raised more than $14,000 to provide hard drives and RAM upgrades to classroom teaching stations and other needed teaching tools.

Local businesses are also showing increasing support for McClure. McClure will soon receive a generous computer donation by a local technology company and has received other generous support from local businesses Targy’s, Queen Anne Dispatch, Blue Highway Games, Sip & Ship, Toulouse Petit and The Paragon.

Targy’s owner and longtime Queen Anne resident Dave Svrcek said, “We have supported all the schools in the neighborhood except McClure, until now. We all want an excellent public middle school in Queen Anne — this is our mission. And I encourage other local businesses to also help McClure excel.”

To show your support for McClure, join the year-end celebration on June 6 at the school. Also, donations to McClure PTSA can be made via e-mail to, or visit

CHRIS KARAM is the incoming McClure PTSA co-president for the 2013-14 school year. To comment on this story, write to