Did you know? Archive

From FHHS to the moon!

Looking at the eclipses of the moon at FHHS!

Looking at the eclipses of the moon at FHHS!

Looking at the eclipses of the moon at FHHS!

I wanted to share these pictures with the School Foundation.  They bought this wonderful astronomy model for the eighth grade science curriculum at the end of last year, and this year we are using it!  It is really great!  

These students are looking at why we get eclipses of the moon.  Thank you!

Jenny Wilson, FHHS

San Juans STEM Center: an update


Instructors thoroughly went through Dr. Bruce Nyden’s Tesla with three classes of students.

This update was prepared for SJPSF by Derek Smith

The San Juan Island School District’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program is wrapping up its 2015-16 academic year. We’re already planning for the coming years after many successes from the K-12 students, including teams competing in the state-wide Orca Bowl at UW and others demonstrating their underwater vehicles at FHL’s annual Open House.

Formal classes offered in the first year have included: Materials Engineering using 3D printers and industry-standard Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) software; Robotics using Vex, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), and quadcopters to cover land, air, and sea; Digital Photography using DSLR still and video cameras as well as Photoshop and FinalCut Pro editing software; Video Game Design and Programming using Unity platform to create novel games, and Automotive Foundations spanning generations of 1960s, 70s, and 80s combustible engines to hybrid vehicles and even the all-electric Tesla and Nissan Leaf.

The high school students enrolled in these courses have been exposed to high-level academic concepts and principles and participated in engaging and innovative experiential learning opportunities.

Although the STEM Center was designed to facilitate regular school day classes for Friday Harbor High School (FHHS) students across all grades, we strive to engage K-12 students in all San Juan Island schools in after-school programs and independent study opportunities every day. FHHS students recently competed for the 16th year in the regional National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) competition held at the Aquatic and Fishery Science department at the University of Washington. The Navigator Class ROV team competed in the regional Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) competition in May, led by two-time MATE champion and Spring Street International School student Matthew McElrath.

We’ve also formed an independent mobile application coding team and are preparing to build our first District app across all mobile operating platforms. Friday Harbor Elementary and Middle School students are currently involved in after-school Robotics Club, Arduino programming, and designing and building ROVs and competing in the MATE competition in the Scout Class. They’ve even partnered with Switch Vehicles in California to build a full-size, street legal, all-electric vehicle with 25 middle school students, the island’s first electric vehicle design and build team, including students from Paideia Classical School.

The passing of the recent island levy also means we’ve already started planning the new Elementary School STEM Center, a sister facility to the current STEM facility at Friday Harbor High School. The addition of this amazing resource will lead to our vision of true K-12 vertical alignment across all disciplines.

In addition to offering the same courses for the coming 2016-17 academic year, we’re also excited to add a Marine Biology course which will build the foundation for an after-school Scientific Diving Course in partnership with Friday Harbor Laboratories and the Diving Safety Program at the University of Washington, an Aquaculture course highlighting oyster cultures in partnership with the Westcott Bay Shellfish Company, and a Renewable Resources course including alternative energy design and production and the latest in wearable technologies.

It’s a very exciting time for our island K-12 students! If you’d like to get involved, feel free to drop by the STEM Center anytime!

SJPS Foundation receives $25,000 STEM Grant

ig_Honeywells-001The San Juan Public Schools Foundation has received a substantial grant for equipment, curriculum and professional development for the new STEM Building at FHHS. The grant comes from The Honeywell Charitable Fund of The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region in Virginia. Dave and Nancy Honeywell, directors of the Fund and residents of San Juan Island, came from the Fredericksburg area of Virginia.

SJPSF Treasurer Jim Skoog and past President Nancy Young wrote the grant for consideration by the Honeywells and their Community Foundation. Working closely with SJISD Superintendent Danna Diaz, FHHS/FHMS Principal Fred Woods as well as District staff, a list of important equipment needs as well as some new curriculum were developed and incorporated into the grant.

The STEM facility opened its doors in March 2015, with the first STEM classes already underway – a video game design and coding class that will pave the way for intermediate and advanced coding and design classes to include mobile app development across multiple platforms and devices. Frameworks were developed for submission to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for a new series of STEM classes that have begun this Fall Semester.

These classes include: Materials Engineering, using 3D printers and other computer-controlled manufacturing techniques; Robotics Foundations, including designing and building aerial drones and remotely-operated underwater vehicles; Automotive Foundations, a course providing insights into classic combustion engines through to hybrid and electric vehicle design; Digital Photography, using everything from iPhone cameras to professional DSLRs; Social Media Marketing, to highlight personal and organizational branding of the amazing opportunities the STEM program will create.

The STEM program promises to be a wonderful creative laboratory where the students can bring their wildest dreams to life and help provide solutions to our local, regional, and national communities.

With these funds the Public Schools Foundation will help keep our elementary, middle and high schools in the upper echelon of the state rankings. We have been granting to the San Juan Island School District for twenty years with more grants to come as our educators find there are many needs beyond existing funding by State and Federal sources. Some examples of recent Public Schools Foundation grants include support for math, social studies and art programs.

Purchasing textbooks, supplies and other crucial educational materials are what your donations make possible. You will hear about some of these success stories at the annual Knowledge Bowl to be held early next year. Please come and help us all celebrate excellence in the classroom here on San Juan Island.

Thank you, from FHES!

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We just got this note from the elementary school, and a cool video to go with it – check it out!

I wanted to provide your dedicated team an opportunity to see all of the appreciation video created by the FHES students and staff; not because of the creation, but because of what SJPSF has created with your generous support.

Our students are so fortunate to be recipients of your generosity…thank you.

This is a link to the video. You will need to be logged in to a google drive account to access it.
Click here for the link!

All Good Things,

Debbie Taylor
6th Grade Science and Math Teacher
Friday Harbor Elementary

STEM: Helping women move ahead

Giving island girls a chance to get ahead - the FHHS STEM program!

Giving island girls a chance to get ahead – the FHHS STEM program!

Besides the obvious, the FHHS STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) program plays an important part in giving women on the island a better chance to succeed in fields often dominated by men. Here’s more from Tae Yoo & the Huffington Post:


Tae Yoo, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Cisco

It’s a startling pair of statistics: When women are able to earn an income, they typically reinvest 90 percent of it back into their families and communities. And, for every year a girl stays in school, her future earnings will increase exponentially.

These numbers, from the World Bank and the Council on Foreign Relations, respectively, highlight a simple, common-sense truth: The more time a girl spends in the classroom, the higher the return on investment for her time, and the beneficiaries are stronger families and communities.

Over the past two decades we’ve seen significant progress made in promoting girls’ education around the world. Thanks to ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, among other actions, there is a greater understanding among developed and developing countries that women play a vital role in society and the economy, and that role is significantly enhanced when they are educated. And, the longer a girl stays in school, the greater the impact. The Council on Foreign Relations finds that “one additional year of primary education alone can increase a girl’s future wages by 10 to 20 percent, while an extra year of secondary school adds another 15 to 25 percent.”

There are still millions of girls and women — especially in developing countries — who don’t have the information, resources or skills they need to be part of the global economy. Keeping them out of the educational loop — for social, cultural, or economic reasons — means that half the population can’t contribute to their community’s economic growth.

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Hitting the high notes…


Guthrie (left), Grace & Nelson hit all the right notes at the Festival!

In February the Friday Harbor High School Jazz Band participated in the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho. Both the Friday Harbor High School full jazz band and a six-member jazz combo performed for adjudication. 130 schools attended the 4-day event. Over two thousand students participated and 200 soloists were recognized.

Among those recognized were three Friday Harbor High School soloists who were awarded “Noteworthy Recognition” designations by the judges: Guthrie Burnett-Tison, for his flute solo in Chick Corea’s Spain; Grace Willows, for her clarinet solo in Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man; and Nelson Wynn, for his guitar solo in Spyro Gyra’s Catching the Sun.

“Our band students handled themselves with professionalism and total enthusiasm;” said Sarah Bost, FHHS Band Director, “I’m so proud, I could burst!”

Check out this link for more information on the Festival http://www.uidaho.edu/jazzfest

Where does the money go?

Screen shot 2014-09-15 at 3.57.37 AMLast year, the Foundation dispersed a little over $104,000 to programs throughout the school district. Wondering where the money was allocated? Here’s a rundown of the Foundation’s efforts to improve the District’s offerings for our students. (Click here for the PDF!)

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