WA measles outbreak risks Vashon health
By Mari Kanagy, Co-Content Editor
Vashon is well-known for its high population of unvaccinated residents and anti-vaxxers. Now, much of the community feels threatened due to the recent measles outbreak in Washington State, concentrated in Clark County. The first case was reported in early February. Seventy-one cases have since been reported — 70 in Clark County and one reported case in King County. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee declared the outbreak a public health emergency in January.
Currently, measles is largely absent in King County and completely clear from Vashon. However, the risk for the disease’s introduction to the island is certainly not out of the question, according to school nurse Sarah Day.
“The risk is always very real because you can bring it back from just a plane ride away. We had eliminated measles from the United States — all the cases have been tracked to people coming back from overseas,” Day said.
Measles can be more dangerous and spreadable than other viruses due to its highly contagious nature.
“You can catch the virus from someone who had left the room two hours ago,” Day said.
The disease was previously eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, meaning it was not present in the country for a 12-month period. However, outbreaks have become increasingly more common in recent years. In 2014, a record of 667 cases was recorded in the U.S.
“We have measles exposures more and more frequently, unfortunately,” Day said. “This is all due to not vaccinating, because [the vaccine] is a highly effective vaccination.”
The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is required for attendance at the school, unless a child is given an exemption for receiving the vaccine. Exemptions can be granted through the state for “personal/philosophical, religious or medical reasons,” according to the Washington State Department of Health... Read More
Record snowfall affects school
By Savannah Butcher, Reporter, & Isabelle Spence, Co-Content Editor On Monday, Feb. 4, the first flakes of what would soon become a record-setting snowstorm began to fall. After the air cleared days later, Vashonites were left with icy roads and limited mobility, during which a state of emergency was declared statewide. The snow affected all aspects of Vashon life and had a particularly large impact on the school district.
According to Robert Larsen, the Assistant Chief of Operations at Vashon Island Fire and Rescue (VIFR), the biggest challenge during the storm was transportation.
“We had trouble getting to places; we had trouble getting out of places. It took a lot longer to do anything,” Larsen said... Read More
Senior Center supports elders, improves lives
Eleanor Yarkin, Reporter
From serving hot lunches to taking group trips to Costco, the Vashon Senior Center provides a vital network of services to the island’s senior residents in an organization designed to keep Vashon’s elderly community happy and healthy.
The Vashon Senior Center (VSC) is located on Bank Road, next to the fire station, providing an easily accessible and central location. Senior citizens regularly attend classes and events, socialize, run errands, or get assistance from VSC staff and volunteers.
“[VSC] is a hybrid of a community center and a social services agency,” VSC executive director Catherine Swearingen said. “We offer fun classes, interesting lectures, [and] get people moving.”
VSC members are overwhelmingly appreciative of the group’s services.
“I do appreciate the very wide range of diversity that they offer,” VSC member Colleen Brooks said. “There’s really something there for everyone with a very wide range of ages.”
Included in the variety of services are instructional courses on topics that seniors typically struggle with, such as smartphone use and coping with low vision... Read More
Wild Mermaid cafe creates quaint, cozy ambiance on water’s edge
By Elizabeth Lande, Copy Editor
As soon as my feet cross the threshold of the north end’s waterfront gem, The Wild Mermaid, I’m swept away into a world of laid-back ambiance, local company, and exquisite food. I fall in love instantly, and if you never see me again, it’s because I’m still there.
I’m greeted just inside the door of the restaurant, occupying the former La Playa building, by Wild Mermaid and Snapdragon owner Megan Hastings, who has graciously allowed me to sample the future menu. She first leads me on a small tour of the cafe, showing off the beautiful space.
The ceiling is open, with exposed wood beams that match the floor’s dark, wide boards. Rustic glass cases display the day’s fresh-baked goods, and the wall behind them is adorned in a variety of framed artwork. It has an almost antique thrift-shop feel and perfectly reflects the homespun community atmosphere...Read More
Sister Circle Support group empowers young women
Aidan Janssen, Reporter & Designer
In a time of high levels of stress, many look to friends and family for guidance. However, not everyone has that opportunity, so some look to their community.
Sister Circle is a club designed to offer mutual support to the young women that comprise it. The program began in January and is run by art teacher Kristen Dallum and Neighborcare clinic manager Stephanie Keller.
Dallum first got the idea to create Sister Circle from yearbook teacher Nicky Wilks’s all-male support club, Journeymen.
“When I first moved to the island, I met Nicky Wilks … and connected with him during teacher trainings, and he was telling me about the work that Journeymen was doing,” Dallum said...Read More
Scholarship Foundation recognizes Paul Colwell in creating new scholarship
By Clara Atwell, Editor-in-Chief
Each year, seniors work to complete personalized scholarship notebooks for the Vashon Community Scholarship Foundation (VCSF), showcasing themselves through collages, a personal essay, letters of recommendation, and their high school transcript. These notebooks are a unique opportunity provided by the community and give seniors a guaranteed scholarship upon completion. Since 1986, the VCSF has provided over $2 million in scholarships for graduating seniors looking to further their education after high school.
“We just feel so strongly that [there is nothing] better than supporting our young people with their education and hopes and dreams, and celebrating them as individuals,” VCSF board member Shirley Ferris said.
Many of these scholarships are established by local businesses...Read More
McCleary decision has complex history, unclear future
By Elizabeth Lande, Copy Editor
School funding has long been a topic of debate among families, educational staff, and lawmakers across the country, both on a national and local level. Twelve years ago, the situation in Washington burst to the forefront of state politics.
In 2007, two Washington families and the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools sued the state on the grounds that it was failing to fully fund a uniform system of education.
The plaintiffs argued that the state’s then-current policy of partial financial support was in violation of state law under article IX, section 1 of the Washington State Constitution, which states that “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”
Of particular importance in the case was the debate over allowance for the use of property tax levies, which had been employed extensively as compensation for low funding on a district basis. The plaintiffs argued that the levies favored rich districts, as wealthy families could afford to pay higher taxes, thus improving the education for their own district, while poorer districts could not...Read More
Grade inflation sets students up for an uncertain future
By the Editorial Board
Today, teens in America face an ever-growing wave of problems. From rising depression rates to the constant political unrest, modern generations are growing up with a completely different set of issues from their parents. As a result of these broader issues, the American education system is evolving for the worse. Classrooms are being affected by a multitude of outside factors, leading to the prevalence of grade inflation and lack of accountability.
Overall, grades are improving, but it’s not because current high schoolers are smarter or teachers are discernibly better than in previous generations. Instead, the external pressure from parents and the constant stresses of college acceptance compel teachers to give better and better grades.
In today’s classrooms, it is commonplace for the majority of students to earn an A. In our editorial board’s experience, many students comments that school is too easy, and that they are not being academically challenged. However, this wasn’t always the case.
According to the Washington Post, C’s used to make up a quarter of all school grades. Indeed, a C used to be considered an average grade. D’s and F’s were also a regular part of the grading system. However...Read More
Parsing the Green New Deal
Lewis Kanagy, Online Editor
In early February, the increasingly popular Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released her plan for what is called the Green New Deal (GND). This plan lays out a number of lofty goals centered around cutting U.S. carbon emissions.
The GND was presented as a plan to move toward green energy usage. However, it also includes a number of items that have little to do with clean energy and a lot to do with restructuring the U.S. economy. These financial proposals are what I take issue with.
The GND is less of a plan and more a list of extremely optimistic goals with minimal explanation as to how they will be achieved.
One of the most surprising things I read on the GND’s FAQ sheet — released on Thursday, Feb. 7 by — was the claim...Read More
Proposed gun control fails to stop mass shootings
By Joseph LaVigueur, Reporter
In November of last year, a sweeping gun control initiative called Washington Initiative Measure No. 1639 was passed. This has since led Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his office to push for more gun control legislation. Their proposals include a ban on magazines over a 10-round capacity and another to ban “assault weapons” entirely.
The problem with these proposals is that they are ineffective, do nothing to address the actual issues at hand, and are blatant infringements of the Second Amendment.
Violent crime is falling — down 32 percent from 1998 to 2017, according to the FBI. The idea that there is a new epidemic of violence that requires legislation to ...Read More
Senior Kanagy and wrestling coaches rewarded for their hard work
By Hannah Spranger, Reporter
This year, the wrestling team advanced to the postseason with a record number of wrestlers competing in the regional competition. While they faced tough opposition in the state tournament, the team worked to a 17th place finish.
Standouts from the season were head coach Anders Blomgren, assistant coach Per-Lars Blomgren, and Lewis Kanagy, a senior wrestler. All were recognized by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) for their dedication and excellence.
Kanagy’s hard work and perseverance were acknowledged this year when he was named one of the WIAA’s Athletes of the Week, but his journey with high school wrestling began three years ago when he joined the team as a sophomore.
His senior year, Kanagy placed second in multiple tournaments and achieved first place in the league competition. He advanced to state and attended the Mat Classic XXXI at the Tacoma Dome with several of his teammates the weekend of Feb. 15 through Feb. 16. Kanagy did not place at state, but his advancement through the district competition ended his high school wrestling career on a high note...Read More
Crew wins bronze in New Zealand
By Katherine Poston, Reporter & Designer
The Burton Beach Rowing Club returned home from New Zealand on Monday, Feb. 25 after winning bronze in the New Zealand Rowing Nationals. Six members of the team volunteered to travel and compete in this international competition: sophomore Roslyn Bellscheidt, juniors Kate Kelly and Olivia White, and seniors Mabel Moses and Ruta Milewski. They were joined by Annie Wright sophomore Ava Lorentzen, who both lives and rows on Vashon.
The team flew into Auckland, New Zealand, accompanied by coach Richard Parr, who previously coached two New Zealand crew clubs: Canterbury and Otago Regional Rowing.
“I think it definitely was a bonding experience, because [we spent] two weeks with the same girls sharing the same experience[s] — climbing up a mountain, doing one of the most difficult hikes of our life, and then going and competing and doing really well. I think it strengthened us as a team,” Bellscheidt said. “It made us learn more about each other. It made us understand each other a lot more.”...Read More
Farmify app promises to help Vashon farmers thrive
By Eric Ormseth, Reporter
Farming has long been an important part of Vashon’s culture, and the local industry continues to grow as a source of food for island residents. For decades, the local market for fresh, direct-to-consumer food has stayed largely the same. However, with the continued growth of technology, the process is likely to experience major changes.
Former Vashon Island Farmers’ Market manager Caleb Johns is working full time to change the way the market for locally grown food works on Vashon with a new app called “Farmify.” His goal is to transform the landscape of farming on Vashon... Read More
Service-minded students travel to Costa Rica
By Klara Plenk, Reporter
Over mid-winter break, a group of nine students and Spanish teacher Sarah Powell traveled to Costa Rica. The trip’s main focus was to immerse the group in the local culture and help a small community through various service projects.
The trip required hard work, but the students said they still enjoyed themselves, doing numerous activities and exploring the country while gaining valuable experiences along the way.
“[The trip] really inspired me to want to do something and to … make a change,” sophomore Bella Mediavilla said.
On Monday, Feb. 21, the group flew into San José and were led by a guide from ...Read More
Arts & Entertainment
Kiss the Joy as It Flies, a new one-of-a-kind play
By Garrett Mueller, Business Editor
This weekend, anchovies, a talking crow, an old nun, and more characters will jump into life from the pages and mind of writer and visionary Brian Doyle.
Vashon Center for the Arts is hosting this newly-finished production: “Kiss the Joy as It Flies: The Wit and Wisdom of Brian Doyle.”
Doyle, the recently deceased editor of the “Portland Magazine,” was an award-winning author known for his essays, poems, and books. The production is focused on his writings and observations.
The project has been in development for just over two years now. Stage adapters Gerry and Mike Feinstein heard a reading of Brian Doyle’s essays on YouTube and were moved to share a similar experience with the island.
“[Doyle] often described the essay as closest to the human voice, but the experience of hearing rather than reading them was a delight and pleasure we had not anticipated,” Gerry Feinstein said. “It was then that we began to dream of a way to bring this experience to Vashon.”...Read More
Drama Dock presents an all-female ‘Odd Couple’
By Catherine Brown, Reporter
Drama Dock recently presented on an all-female version of “The Odd Couple” -- which has been a television show, Tony award-winning play, and movie -- putting their own spin on the well-known story originally written by Neil Simon.
The premise of the original show revolved around two men who share an apartment with comedic situations ensuing thanks to their clashing attitudes. Drama Dock’s production is premised on a group of female friends who get together for a game night of Trivial Pursuit.
The show was updated by Simon himself, almost 30 years ago, according to the Beachcomber.
The cast of characters include Dedra Dakota as Florence Unger and Bonny Moss as Sylvie, with Chai Ste. Marie, Cate O’Kane as Olive, Thea Vernoy, Sue DeNies, James Norton and Russell Baker playing supporting roles.
The central theme of this version is focused on girls coming together to support each other and the deep connections women build with their friends throughout the face of drama, personality crisis, and the mundane struggles of daily life...Read More
This month, you should focus on calming yourself and letting your friends know how much you care about them. Watch out for those who try to tear you down, intentionally or not.
Realize that there is no shame in being wrong and arguing respectfully. When your point is disproven, recognize that you have learned and are growing as a person.
You give to others quite often, so try being as generous to yourself. As an energetic person, invest some of that energy into your own life.