McDonald Elementary

Former and Future site of McDonald Elementary

This is the final installment in our series of neighborhood schools.  Here’s a look at Wallingford’s newly-reopened school, McDonald Elementary. 

Please take note: The McDonald Elementary PTA and the District are seeking feedback from families who do not want to attend McDonald this fall because of the language immersion program.  A meeting with Seattle School Board Director Sherry Carr and Bree Dusseault, Executive Director for NW schools for SPS, has been scheduled for April 4, 2011 from 6:30-7:30 in the library at Lincoln. (4400 Interlake Avenue N.)  This meeting is an opportunity to present concerns and potential solutions to district personnel.  Please try to make this meeting if you are, or are considering, not attending McDonald due to the immersion decision. The district needs to see just how many families are affected by this decision.

The families of McDonald Elementary have been given the rare opportunity to reopen a school starting from scratch, and, you know, I have to hand it to them for embracing this opportunity with the tremendous amount of energy and motivation they have. It’s the reason why McDonald became the newest language immersion elementary school in the North end, and why the school has an on-site childcare program for before and after school.  The PTA also has a good relationship with Principal Cheryl Grinager, who came over from Green Lake Elementary School to helm McDonald.

McDonald’s language immersion program begins this Fall with incoming kindergartners and first graders (language immersion will not be available to those in second grade and higher next year, though in subsequent years, language will increase by one level).  It is “absolutely in conjunction with John Stanford“, according to Principal Grinager, in that the two languages being offered are Japanese and Spanish.  Parents will receive elective forms in the mail sometime in May, and children who are native speakers of either Japanese or Spanish will receive first preference.  After that, it’ll be a lottery.  Children will learn half the day in English, switch midday, and then spend the latter half in the language classroom (or vice versa).

Seattle Public Schools has a projected enrollment this Fall of 133 students:  75 kindergartners, 35 first graders, 9 second graders, 8 third graders, 5 fourth graders, and one fifth grader, so there will be combined class levels for grades 2-3 and grades 4-5.  All of the classrooms will be looping, which means that children in kindergarten will have the same teacher in first grade.  Second graders will loop with their teachers in third grade, and fourth graders will loop with fifth grade teachers. For the kids in older grades, the PTA and Principal Grinager are looking into incorporating some sort of language component, though it will not be immersion.

McDonald is currently located in the Lincoln High School site (4400 Interlake Avenue N.) and, up until the end of this school year, shares the space with Queen Anne Elementary.  McDonald’s original location (over on NE 54th and Latona) is under renovation through 2012.  Prior to the school opening last Fall, parent volunteers painted several of the classrooms at Lincoln, and added some colorful murals on the walls in the hallway and the cafeteria, which brightened up the interim site.

McDonald currently shares its PE teacher with Queen Anne and so they’ll be hiring a replacement for the 2011-12 school year.  Currently, all students have PE five days a week for 30 minutes a day.  The PTA has formed an Arts and Music subcommittee to start a standard Art curriculum, and an Art Docent program with the Seattle Art Museum.  They are also looking into starting a music program and hire a music teacher for students to have music class every other week.

Principal Grinager and PTA President Sarah Koch both encourage incoming parents to join the PTA, as they continue to shape the school’s enrichment activities.  Currently, morning and after school programs include Sponge Spanish, and Drama Club, to name a few, and they’re in need of event and fundraising helpers, room parents, an art/music chair to help the committee start the art docent program, and volunteers to help with communications.

Kids Co. is McDonald’s before and after school childcare program, managed under the stewardship of LaFawnda Williams.  There is room for up to 30 kids in the space and packets are available now for the summer day camp from June 22-September 1 (and you can opt in for one week or multiple weeks), and enrollment is on a first come, first served basis.  Parents of current kindergartners enjoyed the summer program last year as it served as a nice transition to school.  Contact LaFawnda at: [email protected] or call: 206-633-0333 for more information.

  1. bb said,

    I just want to point out that there are many families in the McDonald area that did not enroll their Kindergarteners in McDonald last year, with the thought that they would wait until the school was in the McDonald building before enrolling.

    IF YOU HAVE A KID CURRENTLY ENROLLED IN KINDERGARTEN and you want him or her to attend McDonald in 2012-13, YOU MUST ENROLL THIS YEAR (unless you are a native speaker of Japanese or Spanish or think it is highly likely that your child will pass the language test.)

    If you wait till next year, your child will have to pass a Japanese or Spanish language test to enroll at McDonald in 2nd grade. If your child can’t pass, they will not be allowed to attend.

    I’ve talked to more than one family in the McDonald area that would be impacted by this and was not aware of it.

    Not sure if you Wallyhood editors can find a way to more prominantly communicate this to parents, but I’d love it if you’d do a special post about this.

    Fri, April 1 at 1:11 pm
  2. Margaret said,

    Thanks for bringing up this point, as it was never raised during the school tour. I’ve contacted McDonald Elementary for more information and will add to the post as soon as I hear back.

    Fri, April 1 at 2:12 pm
  3. Carolyn said,

    Yes, same as with John Stanford, in language immersion schools if a child wants to enroll 2nd grade or older they have to pass the language fluency test.

    Fri, April 1 at 8:36 pm
  4. RJS said,

    Japanese? Seems to me Chinese and Spanish are the two most useful languages for students in the 21st century.

    Sat, April 2 at 8:44 am
  5. Carolyn said,

    RJS – agreed but McDonald has to follow JSIS languages as part of the reason for SPS declaring McDonald a language immersion school is that JSIS kids needed a second school feeding into Hamilton with same languages, to keep language immersion going in middle school.

    Sat, April 2 at 11:54 am
  6. Andy said,

    @Carolyn, @RJS – Agreed regarding Japanese vs. Mandarin.

    Instead of doubling down on the commitment to Japanese and Spanish, perhaps now would be the right time to reevaluate the choice of languages.

    The Stanford web site mentions that the choice of languages follows a survey of families and business leaders, without saying when it was conducted (must have been before 2000?). I wonder if the results would be different if the survey were conducted today.

    I would be pretty keen to send my kid to Stanford if they offered Mandarin. As it is, I’m doubtful even though we live within a short walk :-(.

    Sun, April 3 at 5:14 pm
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