Friday, April 20, 2018

Tacoma Symphony

We had the opportunity to go see the Tacoma Symphony preform a show at the beautiful Pantages Theater. The students were enamored with the ceilings in the theater. They had the unique experience of sitting in the box seats and overlooked the orchestra as they played. The students moved and grooved to the music, sang along to some of the songs, and learned about one more organization in the Tacoma community.

Monday, March 19, 2018

YWCA Visit

We went to visit two great non-profits last Thursday. The first was the YWCA, a place that helps women and children who are victims of domestic violence. We got a tour of the main building, which houses offices and classrooms and has lawyers on staff to help those in need. The murals in the classroom hallways are vivid and 3-dimensional and were a highlight for the students. They heard about how supporters of the YWCA could purchase an animal on the wall, and "How much did that animal cost?" was a frequent question as we toured. Time and attention were taken to make sure the space was inviting. The students also heard about the apartments just down the street that house clients who need a place to stay until they can find a place to live. There are bars on the windows to protect the people living there, but again, care was taken to make them look like art. The students were amazed at the care and detail that went into the artwork on these, and one students marveled at the attention that went into letting the people living there know that they were important and that life is beautiful.

We also got to go out on the balcony to see one of the best views in Tacoma! 

One of the highlights of our visit to the YWCA was hearing about the new building that they are planning to build on their current parking lot. They have raised about 10 million dollars already and are just about to begin a campaign to raise another $10 million. We heard about what needs to be done to raise that money, inspiring one student to choose the YWCA as the non-profit he wants to help.

We also had a great visit to the Tacoma Rescue Mission, a group of homeless shelter for men, women and children, and people with disabilities. We went to the men's shelter, which is the main campus. Here we were given a tour of the building, got to see the donations center, and heard stories about people who were helped by the shelter. One of the big take-aways for the students was that homeless people aren't just people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol,  but are often people just like them who have other circumstances that contribute to their inability to pay rent. It definitely inspired empathy in the students. 

Next up, the students will be filming the interviews with their non-profit of choice, and the community service projects will begin. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Washington State Capitol

February 8th was Gifted Ed day at the Washington State Capitol. It was great to participate in the discussions about how and why to talk to the legislature to ask that all students get screened for giftedness. We had a good discussion about whether having all students screened in the public school would be a good thing or a bad thing for Seabury. The boys had good observations about how this would help our school, in that more people would be labeled and know to look for a school like us! We wore green scarves all day to show we were there for Gifted Ed day and saw some really great things.

There are 42 steps up to the capitol building. Why? Because Washington was the 42nd state in the US.

The presentation was in the Columbia room. This room has a domed ceiling, and we heard that if you whisper on one side, someone on the other will be able to hear you. Unfortunately, we didn't get the chance to try since the room was pretty full of people. 

Here we are in the gallery of the House of Representatives. We got to see them vote on a number of bills, including a few about education. There are 98 representatives in the Washington State government, two from each district. 

We also watched some votes in the Senate too. There, each person was called individually and answered yea or nay. In the House, however, they used a board seen in the background here. Each person submitted their vote on a machine at their desk and it came up automatically. The boys figured that it was easier to take an oral vote in the Senate since there are only 49 people. They also conjectured that since the Lieutenant Governor who presides over the Senate is blind, it is better to vote orally.

While waiting for our tour to start, we went outside to see a rally for early childhood education happening on the steps of the capitol. While he was hard to see, we did hear Governor Jay Inslee speak!

The metal doors on the capitol are very impressive and show many aspects of life in our state. 

This GIANT chandelier hanging from the rotunda can hold a Mini Cooper car!

Finally, the boys were able to relax on this furniture that is original (although has been recovered) to the capitol. This was in the ballroom where the Governor's Ball still takes place!

We had a great time seeing how bills are passed. Did you know that only bills that are guaranteed to pass are actually voted on? One of our representatives met with us lunch and told us that! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Museum of Glass

We had a great visit to the Museum of Glass on Thursday. This is an important part of the Tacoma community. The boys enjoyed watching the guest artist blow Humpty Dumpty and attach his arms and legs to the egg shaped body. We also checked out the exhibits and made and submitted entries for the Kids Design Glass program.

Monday, December 4, 2017

County Council

We had a wonderful visit with County Councilmember Connie Ladenburg last week. She allowed the boys to sit on the dais that the council uses and to experiment with the microphone system.

The boys each got their own microphone and when they wanted to answer or ask a question or comment on something Councilmember Ladenburg said, they had to push a button for permission to speak. Once they were acknowledged by the chair, the microphone was turned on and they were able to share. They had to start their statements with "Thank you Councilmember Ladenburg."
The boys really enjoyed seeing how it worked.

They reviewed the branches of government and heard about the differences between the county and city governments. They were able to share their visions for Pierce County's future and hear what the county is doing to help make those visions a reality.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pierce County Auditor and City Officials Meeting

We had a very busy week last week. We first went to the Pierce County Auditor's office to see how ballots are counted. The boys learned that there is a machine that cuts the envelopes open, but then people actually check the signatures and remove the ballots (then mix them up so that it is impossible to see who submitted the ballot) by hand before they are scanned by a recently purchased computer system. We got to see the secure location where the ballots are stored and how ballots are corrected if there is a mistake on them. The computer system that reads the ballots compiles the information on their server, which has only internal wiring and no wifi and cannot be hacked. On election day at 8 pm (and only then) will the ballots quickly get tallied from the server. The whole process is quite fascinating!

After lunch, we went to the Tacoma Municipal Building to meet with a variety of division heads with the city. City Manager Elizabeth Pauli (who the boys have been begging to meet for weeks!) started off the meeting by welcoming us to the conference. We also heard from fire and police, the heads of public works and waste management, representatives from neighborhood and community services, the city planner, and the economic development director. The boys especially enjoyed hearing about how the city decides where things can be located and how Tacoma attracts businesses to the city. It was a very formal presentation, with us sitting on one side of the conference tables and the officials sitting on the other!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Center for Urban Waters and City Maps

The boys have had a great time these last few weeks. They visited one of the mayoral candidates in his campaign office and got a tour of all that goes into running a campaign. They also went to the Center for Urban Waters to hear about sustainability and the things the city does to support clean up of the Puget Sound.

Probably in their view, however, the best part has been creating their own county. They spent time drawing and coloring a map of their country and will create a brochure for it during upcoming classes.

Transioca: The citizens of this country have the freedom to:
  • say their point
  • have voting rights
  • all sexes have the same rights
  • have opinion and freedom
  • do what they want
This country has peace and harmony, protects its people, makes sure it's fair, and has a bright future. 

Calvania: The Citizens of Calvania have the freedom to:
  • leave to come in
  • make good choices
  • choose jobs
  • freedom
  • not break the law
  • perfectionism
The government is preparing to defend the country against: kale and vegetables.

Justice League and Avengers States: The Citizens of JLAAS have the freedom to:
  • eat anything
  • drive
  • choose things
  • love superheros
  • read
The citizens are only wealthy and have a holiday called Bacon.