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Cheney Free Press
Cheney , Washington
January 2, 2014     Cheney Free Press
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January 2, 2014

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r • EDUCATION P n 2 Thursday, January 2, 2014 _age  : : .... 'Lead,00 Contribute, Respect, Play, Courage, Learn' Cheney School District expands to eight school buildings with opening of Phil Snowdon Elementary BY JOHN McCALLUM Editor Ask Phil Snowdon Elementary School principal Shawna Fraser or any of her staff members what is the most common phrase used by people viewing the new school for the first time, and to a person that answer is just three words. "It's so beautifuL" Fraser said while conducting another tour Aug. 14. Cheney's newest and eighth school building opens its doors for real when students arrive for classes Sept. 4. At just over $13.35 million in construc- tion costs alone, not to mention outfitting it with new furniture, cafeteria and other equipment, computers, books and more, Snowdon Elementary represents the last new building constructed as a result of a $79 million bond passed by voters in 2010. That bond money went to funding the district's two new middle schools, Cheney and Westwood, but it helped the district to receive state matching money, which went to building Snowdon, with construction beginning July 2012. The district hired Fraser last year after teaching and serving as principal assistant at Cooper Elemen- tary in Spokane District 81. Her role was twofold: provide administrative support for Windsor and Sunset elementary schools while also working on the planning and outfitting of Snowdon. The latter involved work in everything from plan- ning for and hiring of staff, picking out furniture to selecting a mascot - Cougars edged Bobcats. The former helped Fraser get introduced not only to future staff members, but also future students at Snowdon. "It was a really great decision the district made to hire someone in advance," Fraser said. "It was a gift to have that year." Snowdon Elementary will open with around 400 students attending, about 275 transferring from Windsor and 125 from Sunset. Most of Snowdon's teachers are transfers from other district schools, with about half coming from Windsor, Fraser said. As classes were collapsed at Windsor and Sunset, teachers were given options to transfer, with se- niority being the deciding factor among multiple applicants. "By the time you get everybody in you have about 35 certificated and classified staff," Fraser said. Photo by John McCallum/Graphic courtesy of Cheney School District Named after former superintendent Dr. Phil Snowdon, Cheney's newest elementary school pulls students from Windsor and Sunset, easing overcrowding at both elementaries and allowing room for growth, After a vote of students and staff, Snowdon adopted the "Cougars" as their mascot which, combined with the Windsor Wildcat located east a couple of miles down Hallett Road has led some staff members to dub the area "cat row." one preschool, three each kindergar- ten, first and second grades, two third :::::::::i'i  i'::::: :::i=:::iZgrades, one third/fourth combina- and two each fourth and fifth r.L : grades. There will be three resource teachers, school counselor Kim Lefler hired from Deer Park and secretary Holly Rasmussen coming over from Cheney High. Physically, Snowdon Elementary has many of the same features that were incorporated into the two middle schools. Each classroom is equipped with "smarthoards," as is the library, and projection systems, energy saving lighting control systems and 3-4 computers. There is also a separate computer lab with 28 PCs and two mobile PC sets. There are four learning "pods," two in each wing. The pods are quiet areas where students can read or which teachers can use for more focused instruction. The preschool and kindergarten rooms each have their own restroom facilities, and their play- ground equipment is located in a central courtyard. There are two resource rooms in each wing and two workrooms per wing, enabling teachers to stay nearer their classes rather than always having to go to the central workroom or teacher's lounge in the administration area. There are two empty classrooms in the third-fifth grade wing to accommodate growth, as well as ad- ditional playground equipment and basketball courts outside for the older students. The gym has a similar Snowdon's classes breakdown by grade level to floor, sound and projection systems as the middle Students build a better robot at MLHS BY JAMES EIK Staff Reporter Some of the robotics club members and men- tor Dennis Schweikhardt watch their robot take a test run around the high school shop. The competitive spirit is heating up for the robotics club at Medical Lake High School. Students in the dub are building a robot to compete in the FIRST Robotics com- petition April 3 at Eastern Washington University. Their task is to build a robot that can perform one of two tasks. This year, students' robots can either throw a Frisbee through different slots or climb a pyramid made of PVC pipes. Their creation can receive extra points if it can perforrn both tasks. Each year is never the same, with a different task being unveiled annually. Medical Lake's club is split into two depart- ments: the hands-on and the business side of things. While some students are more technologically ad- ept, others have design and marketing skills that help promote the club both in and outside of the school. "We're building a team that's building a robot," Ken Guidry said. "Building a robot is almost a distrac- tion." Guidry is a computer programmer at EWU and Medical Lake resident who has two of his six children still attending Medical Lake High School. He ap- proached the school about helping with a robotics dub the same time as they received funding for it. A $1.3 million three-year De- partment of Defense grant the district received last year is providing funding for the club right now, in addition to other Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering (STEM) programs in the district. "FIRST Robotics is ex- cellent. It gives kids a great opportunity to work with real technology," Guidry said. The first year for any organization tends to have its bumps along the road, so Guidry is one of the many professionals lend- ing expertise to help guide students along their jour- ney. Another community member with program- ming expertise, Dennis Schweikhardt, has helped throughout the process. There are requirements that students must meet when building the robot, induding some price con- tTol measures, limiting the amount of money teams can spen t per part and on the robot as a whole. How may we serve you? We are available 24/7 for: • Meal prep, light housekeeping • Grocery shopping, errands • Personal Care • Medication Reminders • Companionship • Transportation There are : 20Ia  basic pro-  gramming  : ':structures available !to start the project, but students and their mentors must work to make it per- form as they wish. High school teachers Bernie Polikowsky and Ryan Burtrhett have been the driving force behind the club, working right along students during the dub's meeting times of Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, as well as Saturday sessions. "Getting the robot to climb is going to be the big challenge," Polikowsky said. Students on the busi- ness portion of the club were drawn there from a variety of strengths: design, marketing, experience with Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) and other personal inter- ests. Deadlines for shirts, competition paperwork and other elements are part of the business challenges the club faces. Around four or five of the club's members are freshmen. Having a large military student popula- tion like the one at Medical Lake can cause some dif- ficulty, as some students relocate during the year, moving with their faro- fly to a new assignment. It creates a challenge to have a cohesive group remain intact from that first year all the way through their senior year. "Hopefully we can hang on to some of them," Polikowsky said. Sponsors will provide the bulk of funding for the club once the grant money ends. That's when the stu- dents' talents will be put to a real test. The skills learned dur- ing the numerous club See Robots page 3 Catch a rising star! STCU honors Senior, Andrew Graham for outstanding academic effort Federally insured by 'CbA HOME CARE We Prooide Family Peace of Mind! schools, as well as features that help deaden noise. There is a project room that comes equipped with refrigerator, dishwasher, oveh as well as classroom equipment where classes can come and essentially "make a mess" doing science. The room will also double as a com- munity meeting room and the location for Cheney Parks and Recreation's after school ECHO program. 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