Cascade View Elementary school: A look into year two

Last year, everyone was the "new kid" at Cascade View Elementary School (CVES) in Snoqualmie. Now in its second year of operation, students and staff seem to have found their groove.

"Last year was about opening up a brand-new school," said CVES Principal Tim Nootenboom. "This year, we were able to hit the ground running."

When CVES opened in fall 2005 on Snoqualmie Ridge as the newest school in the Snoqualmie Valley School District, preparations had been made, but no one was quite sure what to expect, Nootenboom explained.

"There was a lot of uncertainty on our part because we had to make plans that were hypotheticals and we had parents that were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the school. But this year, people were just so settled in," Nootenboom said.

Overall, Nootenboom said that the 2005-2006 school year was successful. "For the first year at Cascade View, you weren't scared to be here because all the new students were new," said fifth-grader Katelyn Hoydal.

For fifth-grader Kylie McLaughlin, about the only thing that she had an issue with last year was the lack of a playground. With financial support from the likes of the new school's PTSA, one has since been installed.

This has made fifth-grade student Kyle Kennedy happy, too. Not because he uses the equipment so much as because last year, he and his friends had a hard time playing football on the neighboring school field because everyone else had to play there, too.

"The field is so much clearer now," Kennedy said.

Nootenboom said there were no big issues last year, just areas for continual growth. One alteration for this year, though, has been a better-developed focus on "transitional times" for when students arrive and leave school grounds, since so many students commute via means other than the school buses.

"[The school] just seems a little bit more organized this year," said fifth-grader Tanner Mills, who lives near the school. "This year, it just seems like everything is more in place and they know what to do a little better," he said.

The school has also developed its in- and after-school programs, Nootenboom said, noting that though many were in place last year, this year has afforded additional focus on perfecting them. Such programs include student council, student welcoming committee, peer mediators, safety patrol, birthday book club and more, as well as a tuition-based after-school program.

"Last year was kind of about building it," Nootenboom said. "Now we know where we're going with it."

The main concern for this year was how to accommodate the student-population growth that CVES experienced between year one and year two, Nootenboom said. About 534 students were enrolled at CVES last year (with many coming from Snoqualmie Elementary School). This year, the population has increased to about 750. The school has hired nine new teachers and added portable classrooms to accommodate the growth.

"What we're really concerned with is what's that going to look like with more kids?" Nootenboom said. "All in all, it's been really smooth."

The parent and PTSA support, as well as students and staff enthusiasm, has contributed to that transitional ease and sense of community at CVES.

"I think our parental involvement is really an asset," Nootenboom said.

The school's first big fundraiser last year, an auction, raised about $60,000. This was enough to cover much of the need for fundraising this year, too.

Volunteer hours put in by parents and community members last year was enough to equate to five, 40-hour-a-week jobs, Nootenboom said.

"We want parents to feel connected, we want staff to feel connected, we want students to feel connected," he said. "We are working hard to build partnerships."

Feedback has been crucial, too, Nootenboom noted. Last year a survey was sent out to parents, the results of which are now being processed for use by staff.

CVES has had the unique opportunity to develop its own culture over the past year, Nootenboom added.

With students entering the school from other places in the district, as well as from other states and countries, the school has had the fortune to take on a "culmination of everyone's identity," he said. In doing so, CVES has been able to establish its own.

"[As a new school] we get to establish things from the ground up," Nootenboom said. "We get to start our own traditions and that's really exciting. But, you want to get it right. You want to get the right culture started. This is the community that's going to help with that."

CVES will host a "Family Fun Night" Oct. 20 at the school. This community event will feature games, dancing and more. For more information, call Cascade View Elementary School at (425) 831-4100. The school is located at 34816 S.E. Ridge St., Snoqualmie.

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