Scenes from Ballard High’s sizzling jazz performance at Lincoln Center

Updated: The Ballard High School jazz band won several section and individual awards including the outstanding trombone section, outstanding trumpet section and Kate Webster (above) won for outstanding reed player. Ballard did not place in the top three bands overall (Dillard Center for the Arts took the crown), but a very strong showing nonetheless.

Roosevelt High School, the other Seattle school invited to the prestigious competition, won an honorable mention for the band overall.

Earlier: The Ballard High School jazz band played a remarkable set this morning at the Essentially Ellington competition at Lincoln Center in NYC.

“It was so much fun, we loved it, so much energy,” said Katie Webster, who plays alto sax (above).

Led by Michael James, Ballard is competing against 14 other high schools in the prestigious national competition. The top three bands will be announced at 1 p.m. our time (live stream), and the winner will be announced later today (we’ll update this post).

Here are a few photos from the set, taken from the live stream (the performance is not yet available online for replay):

Ballard High School goes into lockdown

Updated: Just after 2 this afternoon, Ballard High School went into lockdown. Police said a suspected residential burglar had been chased in the direction of campus, and the school went into lockdown as a precaution. About an hour later, the lockdown was lifted.

In a letter to parents, Principal Kevin Wyncoop said video cameras showed the suspect “did run through our building and was in our school for approximately one minute before immediately exiting.” The SPD investigation into the burglary case is ongoing.

Here were our updates as the story happened:

6:15 p.m. Principal Kevin Wyncoop responded to questions about why the school didn’t notify students what was happening at the time: “We don’t want to make PA announcements during a lockdown, as that would tell the suspect what was happening. Twitter and our website were updated to allow teachers, students and our community to get info.”

3:04 p.m. Seattle Schools: “Ballard High School has transitioned from lock down to shelter in place, with school functions returned to normal. Outer doors will remain locked. Seattle Police Department will continue to monitor.”

3 p.m. Principal Kevin Wynkoop: “Lockdown is over. Switched to Shelter in place. Verified that the suspect left the building.”

2:56 p.m. Our staff member source at the school says the lockdown is over, but they’re still “sheltering in place.” All kids are safe.

2:54 p.m. Seattle Police: “Officers were investigating an attempted burglary at a nearby residence when the suspect was chased off and ran toward the school. Out of an abundance of caution, the school went into lock down while office search the campus.”

Seattle Schools: “Ballard High School is currently in lock-down due to a neighborhood incident. @SeattlePD has responded and are currently onsite. So as not to interfere with police actions, parents/guardians are asked to stand by. We will continue to update.”

2:50 p.m. No word on what incident triggered the lockdown. Some scuttlebutt on a possible robbery nearby. No official word from SPD as of yet.

2:35 p.m. We’re hearing from a staff member on site that the lockdown was triggered by a suspect who may have ran on campus. Heavily-armed police officers on scene.

2:30 p.m. BHS Principal Kevin Wyncoop confirms BHS is in lockdown due to an incident that’s happening nearby in the neighborhood. “This is not an active shooting situation,” he says.

2:25 p.m. Ballard High is in lockdown, according to several students on Twitter as well as a staff member on site.

Ballard High jazz band arrives in NYC for prestigious competition

In February we reported that Ballard High School’s jazz band is one of only 15 schools in the country to make the cut to compete in the Essentially Ellington Festival at Lincoln Center.

The band just arrived in New York (above) for the competition on Friday and Saturday. Each band will perform before a distinguished panel of judges — including Wynton Marsalis — which will be live-streamed online here.

Ballard is scheduled to perform between 10-11:30 a.m. our time on Saturday. Then at 1 p.m. PT, judges will announce the top three bands. Later that night, the winner will be announced.

The BHS jazz band has had a busy year. In March it was one 13 high school bands selected to play at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey, CA. Then later that month, BHS was one of five Western Washington high school jazz bands selected to perform in Starbucks’ 23rd annual Hot Java Cool Jazz event at the Paramount Theater for a sold-out performance.  

We’ll let you know how the band does in NYC. Go BHS!

(Photo from the Ballard Performing Arts Twitter account).

Ballard goes to Hollywood

Ballard certainly hasn’t “gone Hollywood,” but students from the award-winning Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program flew to Hollywood for several days to visit college film and television programs and learn about the business.

Fortunately that’s not the plane they took (above in the background), but a disastrous scene at the Universal Studios backlot. They also visited Warner Bros. and watched a multi-camera shoot of “Mom” with Allison Janey, and they chatted with writer/producer Jason Cahill (Writers Guild of America award winner for The Sopranos).

The trip included visits to Chapman University, Emerson College, Loyola Marymount University and USC – all colleges ranked among the best film schools in the country.  

One of the highlights was meeting up with alumni from BHS’ filmmaking program: writer Brendan McCarthy (BHS ’04, NYU ’07) who was nominated this year for a Writers’ Guild of America award for his work on Grace and Frankie; production manager Mixtli Zavaleta (BHS ’07, UW-Seattle ’11); and writer/director Jesse Harris (BHS ’04) who has a second feature film, Borrego, currently in development.

“It is exciting to teach a program long enough to see graduates gain traction in their careers,” explains Matt Lawrence, who heads up the BHS filmmaking program.

Ballard High students designing a ‘social robot’

This coming Saturday, Ballard High School and six other Western Washington schools will present their prototypes for “social robots” that help teens deal with anxiety.

It’s all part of the Social Robot Design Challenge at the University of Washington.

“Social robots are different from a robot you might find in a factory,” explains the UW project site. “The purpose of a social robot is to be a companion, provide support, or gather information from people and their environments. While researchers are studying social robots with children, adults, and seniors, no one has looked closely at teens and social robots. We are trying to change that!”

The Ballard team (in the photo above) is designing a “cute, dog-like” social robot — because what’s a better companion than a dog?

The Social Robot Design Challenge is free and open to the public. It will take place on Saturday, March 24, from 3-5 p.m. in the Husky Union Building on the UW Seattle Campus.

(Photo from @projectemar on Twitter)

Ballard chamber orchestra wins first runner-up at national competition

The Ballard High School chamber orchestra, directed by Brittany Newell, placed first runner-up today at the National Orchestra Cup in New York City.

And the orchestra’s viola section took the award for the best string section.

The Orchestra Cup is an annual competition at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center to crown the top high school orchestra in the nation. Only 10 schools were selected to attend, and it was the first time Ballard High has been invited to the event.

Congratulations BHS!

Briefs: Banned from the gym, Night Out, no parking, Gather Kitchen and more

A few quick news updates from Ballard and Fremont…

BANNED FROM THE GYM – The NW Fitness Project (pictured above at the corner of N 36th St. and Greenwood Ave. in Fremont) has banned a known white nationalist leader from attending the gym. The owner says he’s received some threatening messages — as well as lots of 5-star reviews — after the Stranger ran the story.

BALLARD NIGHT OUT – The monthly neighborhood art event is tonight (Thursday) from 6-9 p.m. Here’s a list of participating venues and artists.

DROP-IN TOWN HALL – Rep. Noel Frame and Rep. Gael Tarleton will hold a “drop-in town hall” this Sunday at Flying Bike Coop (8570 Greenwood Ave N) from 4 to 7 p.m. “We’ll keep it informal and in small-group conversation,” Frame said. “Drop by anytime in the 3 hour window that works for you! We look forward to hearing from you!”

PHINNEY NO PARKING – A new 57-unit development on Greenwood Ave. N does not plan to offer parking, which prompted an appeal from Phinney residents who said it doesn’t meet the “frequent transit” rule because buses didn’t arrive as often as scheduled. The city does not agree.

HOP IDOL – Attention homebrewers: the deadline to enter Reuben’s Brews’ annual “Hop Idol” contest is tomorrow (Friday). Good luck!

GATHER KITCHEN – The Seattle Times reviews Gather Kitchen in Ballard and gives it “hits and misses” — after the reviewer visited three times.

BALLARD HIGH MUSIC – The choral director of Ballard High, Courtney Rowley, will receive the prestigious “Outstanding Educator” award from the Elliott Bay Music Educator Association at the Washington Music Educators Association conference on Saturday. Congrats Courtney!

BALLARD CIVIC ORCHESTRASeattle Weekly profiles Paula Madrigal, who leads the Ballard Civic Orchestra and the Young String Project.

See news? Let us know at If you have a community event, submit it here.

Ballard gymnastics team competing in state championship in Tacoma

Update: Ballard came in fourth place in the team score, and Ballard freshman Lianne Kistler finished fourth in the all-around competition. Here’s a Seattle Times story on the event.

Earlier: At the district meet at Sammamish High School last weekend, the Ballard High gymnastics team put up its highest score in school history and the third highest in the state. That performance qualified the team for a trip to the state championship.

Today they headed down to the Tacoma Dome for two days of team and individual competition at the WIAA state tournament.

Well done BHS, and best of luck!

(Photo from @BallardGymnastics on Instagram)

Ballard High jazz band to play in prestigious competition on Broadway

One of only 15 schools to make the cut, Ballard High School’s jazz band has been selected to compete in the Essentially Ellington Festival at Lincoln Center on Broadway in New York City.

The finalists were selected from a pool of over 109 high school bands that submitted a recording to the judges. The BHS band will receive an in-school workshop “led by a professional musician” before heading to NYC on May 10-12 to perform before Wynton Marsalis and a panel of judges.

But that’s not all the BHS jazz band is doing — and they need your help.

On March 30th, they’ll be performing at the 23rd Annual Hot Java Cool Jazz event at the Paramount. It’s a fundraiser for the Ballard High music program, and the Starbucks at the corner of 22nd and Market starts selling tickets tomorrow (Friday).

Then in April, the band is headed to the Monterey “Next Generation” Jazz Festival.

“To participate in both of these festivals (in NYC and Monterey) is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, but we can’t do it without your help!” said Evan Fekete, a sophomore who plays trumpet in the band.

Besides the tickets at the Central Ballard Starbucks, the band is working on other fundraising efforts to come.

Ballard High cheerleaders qualify for the final round of the national championship

Updated: The team posted on Instagram that they finished 13th in the nation. Well done BHS!

Here’s 30 seconds or so from the competition:

Earlier: Not only did the Ballard High School cheerleading team qualify to compete in the national championship in Orlando this weekend, they sailed through the preliminary round… and the semi-finals… all the way to the final championship round.

Wow. They’ll hit the floor at 1:20 p.m. our time for the finals tomorrow (Sunday), which may be broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2 (if not, will be streaming for paid subscribers.)

We’ll keep you updated. Go BHS!

(Photo from the @BallardCheer Instagram account)