Movin’ On Up: Graduation 2014

graduation 1It was a sweet send off for the class of 2014 as Austin, Owen and Andrew move on to 7th grade. Families and staff gathered at Tumwater Historical Park for a day of games, celebration and a graduation ceremony for the three Phoenix Rising 6th graders, along with 5th grader Allie, who will not be returning next year. The energy was upbeat and relaxed as students, parents and team members enjoyed fun games, fond memories and a successful summer send-off.

“What struck me as so amazing was to think back to who all of these students were at the start of the year,” says Executive Director Aaron Rodriguez. “Their ability to reflect and articulate the goals they’ve achieved and obstacles they’ve overcome shows a tremendous awareness of who they are and who they are still capable of becoming. I can’t fully describe the excitement I have for our school, its purpose and its lasting impact.” Thank you to everyone who has contributed in any way – volunteering, monthly giving, in-kind donations, and more – to making this year happen. Between all of us, including our staff, parents and especially the students themselves, we did it! View Photos

Auction 2014 Sets New High

auction 2014 (1)Was it the Seahawks tickets that sent the 3rd annual Phoenix Rising School auction over the top? Or was it perhaps the ‘Dessert Dash’, which saw auction guests scurrying up the aisles to grab their bidded-upon dessert of choice before someone else could get there? Then again the final item of the night, a three night stay at Whistler Four Seasons Residential, went for $16,000. Whatever the case, this year’s sold out event on June 7th was a joyful community celebration that brought in over $120,000.

“I couldn’t be happier with the result,” says auction chair Heidi Smith. “So many people came together to make this happen and all of the guests seemed happy to be there and to support us in whatever way they could.” Nearly two hundred people attended the event, which took place at a new venue, the Campbell and Campbell Building in Tenino. “We got a lot of comments on the building,” says Heidi. “It worked very well for our needs.”

Before the auction even began, almost $55,000 had been donated by several supporters who were unable to attend.* Things only went up from there. “The greatest accomplishment beyond the total amount we raised was the energy of the evening and palpable sense of community,” says Executive Director Aaron Rodriguez. Between the comic talents of emcee Jamie Honey and the persuasive enthusiasm of auctioneer Cindy Schorno, the crowd enjoyed a high-octane evening. Once the auction itself was over, many guests remained to mingle and assist in the clean up process. “A huge thank you to everyone involved,” says Heidi. “We couldn’t have done this without you.” View Photos

*Anyone else who was unable to attend but still wishes to contribute can contact our office at 360-446-1500.

Help Send Noah to Uganda! (and back)

noah raviNoah and Wayne Medrud are at it again. The Phoenix Rising alumnus and his father, who traveled to India in January to help conduct trainings in sanitation and biosand water filter construction, are now heading to Uganda and Burundi. They have been invited to help conduct a training in Gulu, Northern Uganda for 60 community leaders and to set up an ongoing strategic plan. “We’ll spend part of our time investigating the possibility of drilling 60 or more wells using an alternative bore hole drilling technique dating back 5000 years to China,” says Wayne. “The costs of these wells are but a small fraction of what the large NGOs pay American contractors for wells that have a life expectancy of 2-4 years.”  They will also participate in large and small rainwater catchment systems being installed.
Ways to get Involved: 

  • They will show a water video along with a slide show of their trip to India and sharing their hopes of accomplishment in Africa on Friday May 23rd at the Triad Theater- tonight at 7:00 p.m..
  • They will also be selling raffle tickets there and drawing to be at a concert on the lawn at The Phoenix Rising School Saturday, May 24th  from 2:00 pm into the evening. They’ll have live bands, and expect to have food service as well. This could be a nice Memorial Day weekend outing for the family.
  • You can also send tax deductible donations to Friendly Water for the World, 1717 18th Court NE Olympia Wa. 98506 or on their website at with a notation (Uganda trip)


Workshops Prep Students With Skills for Life

tahsis with computerDo the skills gained in Friday workshops translate to everyday life? Just ask Azura, a fifth grader participating in pottery and lamp-making. “Yes,” she says. “I can make my own pottery. And I can wire a lamp.” Our final round of workshops at Phoenix Rising includes such diverse offerings as Advanced Electronics, Old Time Medicine Show Theater, Jewelry Making, Photography and Video Editing, plus games, pottery and lamp-making. Every six to eight weeks, a new round begins and students gain more opportunities to learn practical, relevant and hands-on skills through two ninety-minute sessions with four options in each one.

Workshops do more than just break up the routine of regular school days; since students choose topics that interest them most, they tend to be engaged and active participants. “I’m learning how to take better pictures and capture moments,” says Andrew, a sixth grade student in Photography and Video Editing. “I’m going to make a photo montage with a program called Animoto.” Miriya, a third grader, says, “In the afternoon I’m learning how to do jewelry. Last week I did earrings and I’ve done bracelets and necklaces. Each week we learn something new. It’s just fun.”

For staff, workshops provide an opportunity to share skills they may not be able to use in the day to day classroom. Kindergarten teacher Audrey Goodwin Arpin, for example, was an acrobat with Cirque du Soleil before becoming an educator. One of her workshops is Acrogym. Melody Rae, who spent years on stages around the country and was featured in films and television, leads singing and story theater workshops when she’s not teaching first and second grade. “For these workshops to be dynamic and engaging we have to rely on the experiences and passions of our individual team members. It’s fun for those of us who offer a workshop to engage students in areas that we are personally interested in,” says Executive Director Aaron Rodriguez. As a result, the students describe workshop days as ‘awesome’. View Photos

Volunteer Needs – Auction 2014

Volunteer Needs – Auction 2014