Awesome Tears: Week One for New Families

new studentsOn her son’s first day of pre-school, Karen K. was a bit apprehensive. At his last school, “It took him a month to adjust,” she says. So she let the staff know that if he was having a hard time, they should call her. Accordingly, Administrator Jessica Caldwell checked in with Gus after half an hour in his new class. “How’s it going?” she asked. “Awesome!” he responded. “I already forgot about my mom.” It could be worse. When fellow pr-K parent Aria came to pick up her four-year old son Ricky after day one, “He cried,” she says. “He didn’t want to come home.”

In fact, our nine new students seem to be adjusting remarkably well, especially considering that some of them are getting used to a whole new schedule. “We’ve had a few trying mornings,” says Adriana, whose daughter Sienna is in the first grade. “It’s been a huge change because she’s never gone to school every day of the week. But once she gets there, she loves it. She’s in heaven.” Welcome to all of our new parents and students: Ryan, Karen and Gus; Aria, Ricky and Ricky Jr. ; Eileen, Matthew and Miles; Renee, Ari and grandmother Linda; Kai, Cozette and Harmony; Oivind, Kirstie and Pearl; Megan, Josh and Alice; Scott, Rebecca and Jake ; T.J., Adriana and Sienna; and Raiya, sister of Phoenix Rising students Tyler and Brooklyn Allen and daughter of Kristina and Tim. We are so happy you’re here!
View Photos from Our First Full Week

Flying Classmate Delights Students

white lightningStudents were surprised this week to discover that the latest addition to the 5th and 6th grade class is a cockatoo named White Lightning. He belongs to facilitator Sophie Sykes and already knows how to say  his own name and sing “Happy Birthday”. “He’s amazing,”says Akasha. “He’s a really special type of bird.”  “He’s a really cool class pet,” Sydney adds, while Pyrenees maintains,  “He’s very snuggly.”  The class already has plans to teach him all of their names and how to say “Good morning  __________.”

Students benefit in multiple ways from classroom pets, including*: 

  • Observing and caring for an animal instills a sense of responsibility and respect for life.
  • A pet brings increased sensitivity and awareness of the feelings and needs of others—both animals and humans.
  • Kids learn that all living things need more than just food and water for survival.
  • Students will see directly how their behavior and actions affect others.
  • Studies show that the presence of animals tends to lessen tension in the classroom.

View Photos of White Lightning and other Week One Adventures

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)