New Residents of Westside

Next time you are on campus, please take a minute to stop by the lunchroom and meet our new residents. Our 1st and 2nd graders have set up a water tank where they are keeping coho salmon eggs ahead of their release in the spring.

For long-time Westside teacher, Laura Holmes, this is the 10th year that she has brought such a meaningful project to her students.

For the months that the salmon eggs are here, our students monitor their health at each life cycle stage. They are currently eyed eggs and they need cold, clean, clear, bubbly water. Students work on maintaining their high water quality, filtration, and aeration. When they become alevin there is no need to feed them and so the students turn to focusing on maintaining the water quality. Once their yolk sac is absorbed then they start to feed them starting with fish flakes and then on to blood worms.

This spring, the classes will release the young salmon into Fauntleroy Creek. The hope is that they stay and grow there for a couple of years and then head out to the ocean.

According to Laura, "This project teaches students about being stewards of our environment. They learn about the importance of the fish to the region historically and currently. Salmon are an important part of our ecosystem and we are constantly learning new science and data behind the preservation of salmon, from dam removal to the importance of salmon to our orca whale population."

Just as our 6th graders are currently engaged in an integrated project on consumerism that involves weaving skills learned in math, science, language arts, and social studies, the 1st grade salmon project integrates many aspects of our curriculum. 1st graders are observing and writing in science journals, writing fiction and poetry about the salmon, and learning about the Pacific Northwest in both language arts and social studies.

It is fabulous that our students participate in this real world learning that is hands-on, multi-disciplinary, and so engaging.

Steve de Beer
Head of School