Welcome Students, Welcome New Teachers!

Hello Hillsiders!

You may have noticed that we have a few new teachers this year. We’ve asked each of them to introduce themselves with a paragraph or two about their lives.  Read up – there may be a test later.

Here you go –  in alphabetical order:

Merideth Block – Grades 5/6 Supervising Teacher, Humanities

Merideth Block has been teaching forever.  She began her work interning in the

Merideth and Erik in Japan

classroom at a YWCA domestic violence shelter during her undergraduate program at Earlham College.  After a few years as a psychiatric social worker, she moved to Japan with her husband Erik to teach English.  She then moved to Monterey, California where she began teaching in her first 7th grade classroom and received her Masters in Education from Chapman University.  After another stint in Japan she worked at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto, CA, Spring Street International School in Friday Harbor, WA before being welcomed to Hillside.  These were in middle school Humanities programs.

As well as teacher, Merideth is also a student.  She studies the fiddle, theater (acting, directing, and scenic design and painting), draws, reads tons, and practices Vipassana meditation.

Merideth as the Deaf Mute in “Madwoman of Chaillot”

For fun outside the classroom, Merideth swing dances “East Coast” with her husband.  She is an avid knitter, doing mostly stranded colorwork and fair isle.  She travels as much as possible and loves hiking in both urban and rural environments.  She has two cats, one beta fish, a parakeet named Bob, and shares a dog with her mother in Spokane.  She bakes a lot but hates cooking.  Her dearest desires are to drive a reasonably priced car on Top Gear (UK, thank-you) and to be a companion to Doctor Who.

Monique Catino – French II

Monique and her two Charlies

Jain Young-Pak – Intermediate Math, Algebra I & II, PE

Hi, my name is Jain Pak. I am a graduate student at the University of Washington obtaining my master’s degree in secondary math education. I am very excited to start my teaching career at Hillside.

Jain with her family

I lived in South Korea for about 11 years and moved to Washington State during high school. My favorite food is korean food, especially kimchi. I must have it with everything I eat! I don’t think I can live without it :)

I absolutely love the outdoors. I like to play basketball, go out for hikes, bike rides, and just be outside. I love to be with my family and friends. I love love traveling around all different countries and eating food from many countries. I have traveled all around Asia and Europe. My next trips are South America and Africa.

Jain picnicking and playing volley ball in Denver

I am pretty outgoing once I get used to my surroundings and I love meeting new kinds of people.

And one of my favorite quotations is:

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan

Ashley Thirkill-Mackelprang – Spanish

I am a great example of how much speaking Spanish can open up the world to great

Ashley in San Cristobal

interaction and learning opportunities. Most of my travel has involved research, teaching or study around peace and conflict. I backpacked through Central America with my husband and lived with local families as I researched war and recovery in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. This is where most of the pictures I sent you come from — the one with the kids is in a market in the Guatemalan highlands called Solola’. Another is at ancient Mayan Tikal ruins that were uncovered in the northeastern Guatemalan jungle.

Ashley with kids in Solola’

I’ve organized service learning projects in Nicaragua and Guatemala that provided students with opportunities to plan, serve and learn side-by-side with locals as they carried out teaching, ecotourism, social work and medical projects. In 2006, I explored southern Mexico with my husband as I carried out research in Oaxaca and Chiapas. We enjoy visiting ancient ruins in our travels and were excited to visit tombs, palaces and pyramids at Palenque, Mitla and Aztec ruins near Mexico City. Most recently, I carried out my own doctoral research in Colombia in the Candelaria area of Bogota and other outlying regions. I enjoyed working with scholars from a peace and conflict think tank, Universidad de Los Andes and various government and nongovernmental agencies.Other areas I have traveled include East Africa, Europe (while I was carrying out fi

eld research for my UK University of Cambridge studies) and Asia.

I have a well-rounded education that includes the study of Economics and Political
Science (honors) at University of Utah and University of Cambridge. I have a minor in Spanish and Psychology and utilized my Spanish while working on service learning and community development projects locally and abroad during my undergrad years. I was in student government and served as the diversity board chair, where I promoted awareness about learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD and other visible and invisible disabilities that students face. Afterwards, I enjoyed working experience at international development firms and the US Agency for International Development (Africa Burea) in Washington D.C..  I also worked at the National Press Building in DC and wrote PSAs for the Red Hispana, a Spanish speaking nonprofit that researches and broadcasts radio stories relevant to the Spanish speaking population in the United States. Finally, I came to Seattle 7 years ago for graduate study at the University of Washington — two Masters (International/Latin American Studies  and Political Science) and a 2-year graduate certificate in Social Science and Statistics). My theses and doctoral work were on Latin American and East African peace and conflict subjects. During my time at the UW, I also developed a UW peace and conflict studies course and taught many Japanese and Korean students coming to the University of Washington specifically for the program.

I’m a student of the world and love learning languages for the unique opportunity it gives you to understand other cultures, perspectives, and ways of living. I have been very fortunate to have traveled the globe through research or study, and often funded through scholarships, grants or fellowships. As a first-generation college student, I’ve learned skills in resourcefulness that have allowed me to find opportunities to continue learning, traveling and forming friends and family across the globe. I hope to share not only the Spanish language, but this resourcefulness with my stu
dents so that every student may enjoy the vibrant world that awaits them.

Summer is almost over but the memories of Summer Camp remain……

The Hillside campus was abuzz with activity this summer. From cooking to improv with stops along the way for writing, basket making, marbling, pinhole cameras, forest exploration and mosaics (just to name a few), there was plenty to do.
And here’s the proof!

Mafia Pose

You won’t want to miss out on the fun next year!

Email Monique to make sure you hear about the plans for next summer.

Flora Whiting shines in YTN’s revival of “The Who’s Tommy!”

The classrooms at Hillside may be quiet but our Hillside Thespians are still “trodding the boards!”

Come enjoy a rollicking night of musical theatre and support fellow Hillside thespian, Flora Whiting in Youth Theatre Northwest’s production of The Who’s Tommy.

This is not your parents’ Tommy. Brian Whiting reports ” it’s cleaned up, comprehensible and full of heart and affirmation.” You are guaranteed to leave the theatre humming Pete Townshend’s award winning tunes.

In fact, I dare you to watch the following YouTube video without breaking into a smile and reliving a few fond memories.

There are only a few more performances left. The show runs through July 31st with performances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7 pm and Sunday at 2pm. For more information and to buy tickets, contact the Youth Theatre Northwest at 206.232.4145 ext 109 or go online.

Introducing Our 2011 Graduates!

It is with great pride that we announce the graduation of our eight seniors: Halla Anne Benet-Stone, Alexander Miles Harper, Andrew Richard Haupt, Jacob Sheldon Hunter, Nathan Sheldon Hunter, Anika Britt Lavine, Amy Elizabeth Spens, and Alexander Kenneth Webb.

We are delighted with our Senior Class’ accomplishments.

All of our graduates will be attending a four-year college in the fall and all have received academic scholarship monetary awards from the colleges they will be attending.


Halla will be attending Evergreen State College and received Evergreen’s Academic Achievement Scholarship.




Miles will be attending Evergreen State College in Olympia and received Evergreen’s Academic Achievement Scholarship.


Drew will be attending Evergreen State College in Olympia and received Evergreen’s Academic Achievement Scholarship.




Jacob, a National Merit Commended Scholar, will be attending Whitworth College in Spokane. He received Whitworth’s ‘Mind and Hearts’ scholarship, and was awarded their ‘Math Talent’ scholarship award. He is the recipient of the Washington State’s Academic Honors Award, which places him in the top 10% of all high school students in Washington State.



Nathan, a National Merit Commended Scholar, will also be attending Whitworth College. He received Whitworth’s ‘Mind and Hearts’ scholarship, and was awarded Whitworth’s ‘Physics Talent’ scholarship. He is the recipient of the Washington State’s Academic Honors Award.


 Anika will be attending Occidental College in Los Angeles where she was awarded their ‘Honors Scholarship’. She received Washington State’s Academic Honors award.

Amy, a National Merit Scholar, will be attending Bowdoin College. She is the recipient of the University Women’s Club Scholarship in addition to scholarships from the College Board and Bowdoin College. She was awarded Washington State’s Academic Honors Award.




Alex will be attending Evergreen State College in Olympia and received Evergreen’s Academic Achievement Scholarship.




We are honored to have had the opportunity to lay the groundwork for our students’ academic careers, and look forward to hearing of their future accomplishments.   The world needs their many gifts, and it is with full hearts that we send them onward!

Hillside’s Stage Shines with As You Like It – June 16 -18

We’ve set the Hillside production of AS YOU LIKE IT in the proximate 30s. The action in the original careens between a French city and the pastoral forest of Arden.  In our production, the city is an eastern U.S. metropolis, and our countryside exists somewhere in pastoral Appalachia.  In this world, between mobsters and moonshiners, we find our banished lovers searching for love and restoration.

Rosalind, considered by scholar Harold Bloom to be among Shakespeare’s greatest and most fully realized female characters, leads us on a delightful gender-bending romp through a pastoral setting in which love can’t help but blossom with the coming Spring.

You will definitely want to join us for the fun.  Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.

And don’t forget to go to get your show memorabilia and other Hillside goodies at our very own Hillside Shop! All proceeds go to support Hillside programs.

Hippies, crazy hats and ties…oh my

The week of April 25th through 29th featured the first annual Spirit Week at Hillside.  On Monday,  students came to school in their pajamas with their favorite stuffed animals in tow.   Tuesday, the classrooms were filled with hippies and various clashing shades of tie-dye.  Crazy hair and crazy hats abounded on Wednesday.   Thursday,  seemed almost “normal” until you realized that everyone was only wearing black or white.  The week ended with formal Friday, and students looked very sophisticated in dresses, shirts and ties. This week of fun, led up to the first annual club-style dance in Hillside history and it was a great success.

On Friday, the school was completely transformed into a night club,  complete with twinkling string lights and a black light dance floor.   Black light reactive décor was hung all over the ceiling and walls.   All of the work to decorate,  organize and advertise this event was  accomplished by the Dance Committee: Ari Schrier, Alden Littlefield, Charlie Catino, Amy Spens, Carter (Andreas) Wyatt, Corinna Nelson, Silke Vandenbossche,  Danielle Parter, Audrey and Riley Miller under the direction of Sherrie Littlefield and Monique Catino.

The dancing started at 7:30 pm,  with a retrospective of songs through the decades starting with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry in the 50’s to  The Beatles, Beach Boys, and the Who in the 60’s.
The 70’s featured a few classic disco tunes by the Bee Gees and of course the YMCA by the Village People which segued into the 80’s with Michael Jackson:  Beat It,  Thriller. Rounding out the decade iconic 80’s new wave:  Safety Dance, Walk like an Egyptian and the B-52’s Love Shack blasted.  The 90’s decade featured U-2,  Jett, Green Day and the dance ended with the 21st century pulsing strains of dance club hits by Lady Gaga, Daft Punk, Katy Perry, Usher and more.  The students decked themselves out in white and wore glow stick bangles in almost every combination imaginable.  It was “glow-rific”!

Many thanks to all those students who brought potluck snacks and drinks and showed their community spirit by dancing the night away.  Additional thanks and kudos to the dancing, dance chaperones:  Luke and Laura Colasurdo,  Amy and Brian Stotts, David and Sherrie Littlefield.

Matt Coopersmith – Man of action and now a black belt!

A week ago tomorrow, Matt Coopersmith was awarded his back belt in Taekwondo by Master Lee.

Matt with Master Lee

Matt studies Taekwondo at Lee’s Martial Arts in Newcastle.  He started in kindergarten and is…”really happy and proud to receive my black belt after working towards it for so long.”   To advance to a black belt requires both the mastery of technique and deep concentration to focus one’s power. It is truly an impressive achievement!

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art. Wikipedia says that “[i]n Korean, tae (태, 跆) means “to strike or break with foot”; kwon (권, 拳) means “to strike or break with fist”; and do (도, 道) means “way”, “method”, or “art”. Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the art of the foot and fist” or “the art of kicking and punching.” Since 2000, Taekwondo and Judo are the only two Asian martial arts that are included in the Olympic games.

During his test Matt broke three boards at once and if you wonder how that is done, just look at this amazing video. 



Kathy Fruge-Brown to show at Whidbey Island Gallery

Lake Sammamish Idyll | 42″ x 252″ | vitreous enamel on seven steel panels

Fresh off the installation of Lake Sammamish Idyll in the library at Ardmore Public School in Bellevue, Kathy will be showing work next month at the Rob Schouten Gallery on Whidbey Island.

Floating Logs, Lake Sammamish | oil on canvas | 22″ x 28″

From Kathy’s artist statement she tells us: “I am a painter and printmaker with a long-standing interest in landscape. The river and forest surrounding my Pacific Northwest studio are a constant source of imagery and spiritual nourishment to me, and for the last several years have been the major subject of my work. My landscape paintings are all done
outdoors from life, usually in oil on canvas, though I often do smaller pieces in oil on paper.”

Cedar Stump with Hemlocks | oil on canvas | 28″ x 22″

The show which will run from June 3 through June 29, will feature her oils on canvas as well as her work in vitreous enamel on steel.

For more of Kathy’s work go to her website.

The artist’s reception is June 3rd from 5 to 8pm.
Rob Schouten Gallery
Whidbey Island
765 Wonn Rd #C-103
Greenbank, WA  98253

Corinna Nelson Soars to New Heights!

On Saturday, June 4th, you will find Corinna Nelson with the other members of the Youth Fly Team under the flying trapeze tent. The show begins at 7 pm at SANCA, the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts in Georgetown.

Corinna just before she got caught!

In between all her commitments, she answered a few questions for us.

What is your favorite maneuver that you will be performing?
My favorite maneuver that I will perform is a back-end bird’s nest.

What is the hardest maneuver you do and why?
The hardest maneuver I do is the swing, because even if I get it really, really good, it will always need work.

And how many years have you been doing the flying trapeze and would you recommend it to others?
I have been doing flying trapeze for one and a half years and I would totally recommend it to others because it is really fun.  Just remember not to look down!

To learn more about the show go the SANCA website

And to see some of her feats of daring watch this video taken by her father, James Nelson.

Corinna- Flying Trapeze Performance 12-2010 at SANCA-Seattle

Amy Spens teaches us how to win awards: Get dirty!

On Tuesday, May 17 at the Chamber’s 32nd Annual Awards luncheon Amy Spens will be receiving a Community Award for Environmental Excellence from the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.  The award, which is normally given to an adult, recognizes her work for and commitment to the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.

Amy and Friends at a Mountain to Sound Event

So how does a high school senior win such an award?  It is probably best to let Amy tell you in her own words. “Most of my outdoor volunteer work has happened with the Mountains to Sound Greenway. When I was little I was one of those kids you can’t keep clean. I’d ruin one pair of jeans in the dirt, then change into a fresh pair and roll into a mud puddle. Needless to say my mom was not pleased (and now I understand why!)”

Amy hiking on Granite Mountain

“Nowadays, I still love playing in the dirt, and volunteering with the Greenway gives me plenty of opportunities to work with my hands, teach others, and yes, get dirty. After almost 3 years I’ve accumulated over 400 volunteer hours, led multiple Summer Camps for kids from 11-18, and spoken in front of the director of the National Forest Service to convince him of the Greenway’s importance as a National Heritage site (the speech was also for the “America’s Great Outdoors Act”.)”

“Additionally, I just found out that I’ve been chosen from almost 800 applicants to receive a Teens in Public Service internship for the summer. Teens in Public Service partners with local non-profits to provide students ages 13 to 19 with minimum-wage summer jobs in a variety of categories: seniors homes, conservation groups, and summer-school tutoring programs; all receive TIPS interns to work 20-30 hours a week, for 6-8 weeks. I’ll be working with the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society on grounds maintenance, plant collection/documentation/mapping, volunteer event coordination, and public event organization. I’m very excited to be working outside in the sunshine all summer!”

And just in case you were wondering, yes, this is the same Amy Spens who is a National Merit Finalist this year.

Guess getting dirty pays off.