BHS film makers screen documentary about Loyal Heights Elementary expansion

Recent Ballard High graduate Jaya Flanary will be screening her documentary entitled “Mega School” on Wednesday, August 24, at 7 p.m. in the Ballard High School Auditorium (1418 NW 65th St).

Flanary, along with Ballard High School student co-producers Sophie DeGreen and Ruby Anderson, created the 30 minute documentary to inform the community about the issues relating to the expansion of Loyal Heights Elementary school.

“Loyal Heights Elementary is being expanded, and construction will start by 2017. The site plan is not fit for the less than 3 acres of land, and the expansion is too big for the student body projection for many years to come,” says Flanary.

According to Flanary, many community members have invested over a year of their time and energy trying to compromise with the district, but the plan is still too large, and is cutting the playground by almost 50%.

Flanary and Anderson both attended Loyal Heights and are very passionate about the issues involved with the expansion.

“My hope for this documentary is not only to create a dialogue in the community in order to change the plan, but also acknowledge the many LHE neighbors who have dedicated so much to this cause. I don’t believe the current plan will create the heartwarming environment I so much enjoyed as a child,” says Flanary.

Locals host rally to protest Loyal Heights Elementary expansion

Loyal Heights Elementary parents and students, along with members of the community, will host a rally to protest the expansion of the school.

The rally will be held this Friday, June 10, at the school (2511 NW 80th St) from 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Many locals have expressed their anger about the planned expansion (see planned area of enrollment expansion on the map below) for the past few months and have now banded together to make a stand.

loyal heights

Rally organizers released the following statement yesterday:

Almost 100% of the community opposes the extent of the planned expansion of this neighborhood school. Many are extremely frustrated by Seattle School District heavy handedness and stone-walling against the community’s input, so we expect a good turnout at the rally.

The Seattle School District is wasting taxpayer dollars by replacing Loyal Heights Elementary with an unnecessarily mega-sized school that will:

  • Cause a construction budget overrun of 50%, to $44M – for an elementary school!
  • Create a building for over 825 students, when 2016-17 enrollment is 411 (shrinking).
  • Create a mega school on the smallest lot in the area.
  • Continue the District’s unauthorized move away from the neighborhood schools.

The Seattle School District has “listened” to community objections over the last two years, but has simply not responded in any real way to the concerns raised.

We are rallying to pressure the School Board to finally lead the District in this matter, and keep them from “running over” our community, other communities in the past, and in the future.

Rally organizers are reminding parents that students must be accompanied at the rally and that it will take place on the sidewalk, not on school property.

Find out more about the rally on the event’s Facebook page.

Loyal Heights Elementary to perform The Wizard of Oz

Loyal Heights Elementary is currently busy preparing for their fifth consecutive musical theatre production, The Wizard of Oz.

The Loyal Heights Theater Arts Group has made a name for itself presenting professional performances that wow local audiences each and every year. This year’s performance is sure to be just as fantastic!


The Wizard of Oz team is comprised of a cast of 141 and stage crew of 16 elementary school aged kids plus over 230 parents, grandparents, and members of our local community.

Volunteers have been assisting with all aspects of the production from original choreography, stage & music direction to custom sets, props and costumes.

“Our production is realized with 100% volunteer time and all proceeds go towards production costs, the goal being to give our kids a positive, relevant introduction to theatre arts, engage our local community, and celebrate our beloved city,” says Loyal Heights Theatre Arts Group Treasurer Carrie Byron.

The Wizard of Oz will be performed at Ballard High School’s Performing Arts Center (1418 NW 65th St) on Saturday, April 23, and Sunday, April 24, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Tickets are $10 each and the show is appropriate for audiences of all ages with a running time of about 80 minutes. Tickets are available online.

Photo courtesy of Loyal Heights Elementary School Theater Arts Group.

Ballard filmmaker releases “tween” documentary


Last June, My Ballard featured a post about local filmmaker and Loyal Heights Elementary parent Terence Brown who was producing a documentary featuring the story of local “tweens”.

Brown has emailed in to report that the documentary, entitled Before, recently had its online premier.

Before delves into the challenges that students face during the transition between elementary and middle school. Brown interviewed about 60 5th graders from Loyal Heights Elementary’s 2014 class to gain their insights and perspectives on this particular time in their lives.

“My goal was to explore and even celebrate this awkward and thankfully fleeting phase of life,” says Brown.

Now that the final video is complete, it is live on a website that Brown and his team have created called The team have created an interactive site where people from all over the world can contribute content and stories about their tween years.

“The documentary is meant to start of conversation more than make a statement. will be a place to collect these stories and content so that experiences of tweens around the world can be heard,” says Brown.

Click here to view the film for free.

Still from film courtesy of Terence Brown.

Group creates petition to save Loyal Heights Elementary playground

As the My Ballard team reported on Februrary 11, a group of parents, friends and neighbors from the Loyal Heights Elementary community have banded together to try and save the fate of the playground on the school grounds.

Loyal Heights Elementary is set to undergo a major expansion starting in 2016 to accommodate the increasing demand of the local growing population. The school is set to expand its current capacity of 450 students to approximately 650-800 students and must rearrange physical attributes of the school in order to do so.

The $37.3 million expansion project is currently underway under the direction of Seattle Public Schools who believe that the project “will address current and projected elementary enrollment growth in northwest Seattle.”

Despite acknowledging the benefits that the expansion will provide the local parents and neighbors have some concerns. “While many of the proposed changes will be of great benefit to our expanding student body, we are concerned that the building plans include a severe reduction in outdoor play space,” writes the local group on their website.

According to the local group, the current proposal is set to cut the outdoor playground space in half, leaving 3000 square meters for outdoor activities. “To put that in perspective, a soccer field is approx. 6000 square meters,” writes the group. Click here to view more details from the previous My Ballard report.

Loyal Heights parent, Katie Kaku, has created a petition for locals to show their support and express their opinions on the issue.

“We the parents, future parents and neighbors of Loyal Heights Elementary School, as well as concerned citizens, protest the proposed elimination of  half of the playground at Loyal Heights Elementary school,” writes Kaku on the petition website.

Click here if you are interested in signing the petition.

Loyal Heights Elementary nominated for landmark status


Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board is set to consider nomination of the Loyal Heights Elementary School (2501 NW 80th St) for landmark status.

The board will deliberate on the decision on Wednesday, February 4, at 3:30 p.m. in the Seattle Municipal Tower (700 5th Ave, 40th Floor, Room 4060).

Locals are invited to attend the meeting and give their opinions on the nomination. Written comments will also be accepted at the mailing address below until  February 3 at 3 p.m.

Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
PO Box 94649
Seattle, WA 98124-4649

A copy of the Landmark Nomination is currently available for public review at Ballard Library (5614 22nd Ave NW) and at the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods office in the Seattle Municipal Tower (700 5th Ave, Suite 1700).

An electronic version is also available online.

Loyal Heights Elementary set to present Alice in Wonderland this weekend

aliceLoyal Heights Elementary is excited to present Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr. this weekend at the Ballard High School Auditorium (1418 NW 65th St). The company has been working on the performance for months are are excited to present it to the local community.

Producer/Choreographer Bret Ashlee Watson reports that the entire student body was invited to audition for the production and all who auditioned were cast in the musical.

Although the script calls for just 24, this production of Alice in Wonderland Jr. boasts a cast of 165 students ages five through eleven years old, involving 45% of the student body.

The production is also supported by a team of 30 student production crew members and over 90 parents, grandparents, faculty, staff, and members of the Ballard community.

These volunteers have collectively given over 600 hours making custom sets, props & costumes and performing other behind the scenes tasks. So, in total, the production has a whopping 191 member company that is extremely excited to share their work with the local community.

alice2Last year Loyal Heights performed Willy Wonka Jr. with a cast of 173, including appearances by extra special VIP staff performers.

The project does not serve as a fundraiser, but alternatively exists to provide students with an intorudction to the theatrical experience both on stage and behind the scenes.

“Our two main goals for this project are to provide all interested Loyal Heights students a positive, relevant introduction to theatre arts, and to encourage and support family participation,” says Producer/Choreographer Bret Ashlee Watson.

Watson produced the previous two productions at Loyal Heights, Seussical Jr. in 2012 and Willy Wonka Jr. in 2013, and believes that students gain so much from being involved in each production. “In addition to music, dance, and acting training that culminates in an authentic theatrical experience, our cast and crew learn teamwork, responsibility, and patience; positive character attributes that will help them throughout their lives,” says Watson.

alice3Volunteers and parents are in agreement with Watson about why the project is beneficial to the school community. “I love seeing the kids be a part of something bigger than what they could be on their own. Over the course of a few weeks, they develop a large family that supports, encourages, and celebrates each participant and their unique talents. says parent Rebecca Madonna. “I have watched them discover of a facet of themselves I never would have otherwise seen,” she continues.

Loyal Heights students have clearly gained so much from the rehearsal process in addition to the excitement of the upcoming performances this weekend. “My favorite part about rehearsals is being able to become a whole different person that is completely opposite from me. I also love getting taught how to be a better actress each day,” says Jillian N., who plays The Queen of Hearts.

The students are thrilled to share their favorite parts of the show with the local community this weekend. “My favorite part of the show is being with my co-kitties, Kjersten W. and Ella T, because they are so loving and supporting. I feel like they’re family,” says Isa C-M., who plays one of the Cheshire Cats. Asher W., The March Hare, says that his favorite part is “the Tea Party because its really fun and exciting!”

Alice in Wonderland will be performed this Saturday, March 29, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Sunday, March 30, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Tickets are now on sale and cost $10 per person, children under 2 years are free.

Tickets will only be sold online and can be purchased here.

All proceeds from ticket sales go towards covering the cost of sets, props and costumes which have been designed and created for the production.

Photos courtesy of Loyal Heights Elementary.

Ballard girl wins for 3-minute claymation

Loyal Heights Elementary student, Ellie Dynes is one of 11 winners of the 2011 Seattle Times / Seattle International Film Festival “3 Minute Masterpiece contest.” Times editors and SIFF staffers watched nearly 100 productions before narrowing down to the winning selections.

Dynes piece is a claymation short called “Piggiepalooza.” Here is a little about the film:

Five guinea pigs compete in a talent show in this Claymation short by Loyal Heights Elementary School student Ellie Dynes. Who wins? You have to watch to find out, but here’s a hint: “I wanted to make an underdog story,” said Dynes. She and her mother’s friend, Stacey Ringo, painstakingly moved the characters no more than a centimeter or so between every shot; the film consists of 356 shots overall. Dynes has this tip for budding Claymation artists: “You want your characters to have flat bottoms, because otherwise you have to move their legs in every shot, and that’s a lot of work.”

All the winning entries can be seen here. They’ll also be shown on the big screen at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at SIFF Cinema at Seattle Center, when the grand-prize winner will be announced. The screening is free, but tickets are required: 206-324-9996.

Loyal Heights Elementary honored for overall excellence

Loyal Heights Elementary is one of ten schools in the Seattle School District honored this morning for winning the statewide Washington Achievement Award for overall excellence. The schools were selected based on their statewide assessment data for the three previous years. Loyal Heights won the same award in 2009.

Other Seattle schools honored at a ceremony at Lincoln High School in Tacoma this morning were:

• Catharine Blaine K-8
• Bryant Elementary
• Concord International School
• Frantz Coe Elementary
• John Hay Elementary
• McGilvra Elementary
• Mercer Middle School
• Montlake Elementary
• Schmitz Park Elementary

Three other Seattle schools were recognized in language arts, math, and extended graduation rate.

Neighborhood schools score high marks

When Seattle Public Schools released a new ranking of all schools in the district this morning, two of the top 12 ended up being right here in the neighborhood.  Loyal Heights Elementary and North Beach Elementary both received the highest ranking of 5.  That ranking means a high number of students pass state tests and that their test scores are improving. The rankings also reflect how students, staff, and family members feel about the school’s atmosphere. You can take a closer look at the rankings here.