UPDATE 4/22/16 10:00 AM: CHS stopped by to get some pictures of the action Friday morning. Good luck, 5th graders. And, yes, we are all 5th graders! Solidarity.
From Christine Stepherson — Mother of 5th Grader at Stevens Elementary
STUDENTS CAMP-IN ON SCHOOL LAWN TO PROTEST CANCELLATION OF CHERISHED 5TH GRADE CAMP
SEATTLE – Fifth grade students at Stevens Elementary are gaining valuable lessons this week about accountability, using your voice and civil disobedience. In response to cancellation of their camp-out, they will be “camping-in” – setting up tents across the school lawn and boycotting the first hour of school with picket signs to protest the principal and Seattle Public Schools unilateral decision to cancel their trip for a procedural error made by Stevens’ administration.
WHO 5TH Grade Students of Stevens Elementary School and their parents
WHAT Student “camp-in” protest and boycott of first period. 30+ students of Stevens Elementary, with their parents, will set up tents across the school lawn, complete with homemade picket signs to bring attention to the lack of accountability at their school. Students and parents will be available for interviews on site.
WHERE Stevens Elementary
1242 18th Ave E
WHEN Friday, April 22, 2016
8 – 9:30 a.m.
WHY: In their final year of elementary school, these students have been denied the annual rite of passage that upper classmates have enjoyed for years. For many Seattle Public Elementary students, the 5th grade camp is the much awaited reward and privilege that culminates in their final year before graduation. For some students it is the first time they have been exposed to camping, nature and science in action. Instead they and their parents received abrupt notice this week from the formerly absent Principal Kelly Archer cancelling the scheduled and promised camp:
“I’ve been looking forward to camp all year as the last experience with kids I’ve been in school with since kindergarten,” said Sofia Sevenko, an 11 –year old 5th grader at Stevens. “We don’t understand how this could be taken away two weeks before we’re headed to camp.”
“I am really bummed they cancelled camp. Every 5th grade gets to go and ever since kindergarten we thought we were going too,” said Antonio Costa an 11-year-old Stevens’ student since kindergarten. “All the kids have gotten together and we’re protesting at recess every day but we still haven’t heard from the principal exactly why it was cancelled. I don’t understand why they just can’t say.”
This poor communication and lack of accountability is just one incident in a 6-year cycle of mismanagement at the school that has resulted in urgent parent communication to the district, legal recourse over special education and heightened dissatisfaction with the school by teachers and families.
“The letter said it was because of school staff missing deadlines. We have been teaching these kids about timeliness and responsibility, not to mention accountability — and they’re told their camp was cancelled for a dropped ball?” said parent of 5thgrader Traci Paniora. “I know how hard I have been trying to instill these ideals into my son’s responsibility vernacular. What kind of example is this administration setting?”
*Principal Archer was on medical leave for the last three months after several years of parents calling for her resignation and lawsuits filed over mishandling of special education dollars. The cancellation of camp is the first communication the Stevens community received that she had returned to the school on Monday, April 18.