2012 Garden d’ Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden opens Nov. 24

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society Garden d’ Lights features over a half million lights which transform the Bellevue Botanical Garden into a blossoming winter wonderland.

The show runs Saturday, November 24 – Monday, December 31.

Visit, to:

• Purchase your ticket. Admission is $5 per person; children 10 and under are free.

• Get all event and parking details.

• Find out how to visit the show for free.

Inspired by plants found in Northwest gardens, hundreds of volunteers work year round to bundle strings of lights into three dimensional flowers, shrubs, and vines.  In addition to artistic interpretation of plants, the volunteer team has created charming animal characters.

Charlotte the spider remains a favorite and will be back in her web near the Ground Cover Garden.

During the first three weeks of November, these creations are “planted” in the Botanical Garden. Then, with the flip of a switch on November 24, this unique holiday garden blooms every evening from 5 to 10 p.m. (last entry at 9:30 p.m.) through December 31.

The Trillium shop will be open from 5 to 9:30 p.m., and Mondays and Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m. for daylight shoppers and to purchase tickets.

The shop is brimming

with gift items, holiday ornaments and decor—a spectacular shop to match the spectacular

garden setting.

Local dancers to perform in PNB’s ‘Nutcracker’

  • Written by Deborah Stone
PNB Hayden 2
Photo courtesy of PNB. Rose Hayden (right, front)
It’s “Nutcracker” season at Pacific Northwest Ballet and among the many children dancing in the beloved Stowell/Sendak holiday production are six students from Woodinville.

They include Ashleigh Steedman, Cameron Schmitter, Faye and Rose Hayden, Riley Hoopes and Sarah Brooks.

Fourth grader Ashleigh Steedman, who attends Bellevue Christian School, will be performing the role of “small servant” in her first appearance in the production.

The 9-year-old began dancing when she was five and is currently in level two at PNB’s school.

She has seen the “Nutcracker” several times in the past and is thrilled to be among the cast and not the audience this year.

“I was so excited when I heard I got the part,” says Ashleigh. “I love dancing in front of people and can’t wait to have my friends come and watch me on the big stage. I’m also excited about the costumes.”

The young girl loves to dance, adding, “It’s really fun and I love the music and my teachers are so nice.”

PNB Steedman
Photo courtsy of PNB. Ashleigh Steedman
If she gets nervous before a performance, Ashleigh explains that she will just smile and try to keep calm.

When the local student isn’t attending ballet classes, she enjoys drawing and riding her horse Apollo.

Dance, however, is her passion and she hopes to become a professional ballerina one day.

Beer Creek Elementary fifth grader, Cameron Schmitter, is a veteran “Nutcracker” performer.

This marks the 10-year-old’s fourth consecutive year in the show and he will be dancing the role of “Party Boy.”

When he heard he had been chosen to dance in the show once again, Cameron was initially disappointed due to his role.

“I had been a soldier last year and it was really fun, so I hoped I would get to do it this year, too,” he explains. “But then I learned I would be on the stage for a longer time as ‘Party Boy’ so that’s good.”

Cameron has been dancing since he was four and particularly enjoys opportunities to perform.

Seeing PNB’s “Nutcracker” production as a very young child prompted him to begin studying ballet.

He currently takes classes three times a week. “My challenge is my flexibility,” he admits, “so I really have to work at it. I’m also working on learning double pirouettes which are hard to do.”

PNB Brookes
Photo courtesy of PNB. Sarah Brooks
Cameron, like Ashleigh, wants to become a professional dancer, too.

“My goal is to get in with a good company,” he adds. “And then when I retire, I still want to be involved with dance somehow.”

In addition to ballet, the local boy is involved in numerous activities including soccer, gymnastics, piano, figure skating and Taekwondo.

“I don’t have free time,” he comments. “I’m very busy.”

As for the other local students, sisters Faye and Rose Hayden will dance the roles of “Artillery” and “Party Girl” respectively, while Riley Hoopes will perform as “Infantry” and Sarah Brooks as “Small Servant.”

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” returns to Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall for 30 performances December 7-29.

For ticket information: (206) 441-2424 or

A place to be horse crazy!

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

NWNHC Kids ClubBeginning December 1, the Northwest Natural Horsemanship Center (NWNHC) at Patterson Creek Farm in Fall City will be launching its new Kids Club which has been designed as a comprehensive horse education program for students who already have their foundational horsemanship skills and want to expand their knowledge of everything horsey.

The club will meet every other Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the farm.

Girls and boys, ages 8 and up are invited to join. Membership fees allow club members to benefit from group lessons, education, field trips, guest speakers and access to the NWNHC reading and video library.

Free auditing of NWNHC events and club-sponsored play days are also included.

Members will learn about horsemanship, horse care, feeding and careers.

Plus, they get to spend some fun time with other horse-crazy kids.

The highlight of the year will be competing as a team in the Natural Horsemanship Games and Extreme Cowboy Race.

More information about the club and the Northwest Natural Horsemanship Center is available at:

Helping horses in a bazaar way

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Just north of Monroe, safely tucked away from the road, is a horse haven with rolling pastures, trees, green grass, fresh water, shelter and a unique set of volunteers dedicated to helping horses.  This is where Northwest Equine Stewardship Center (NWESC) is located.

Founded in 2008, Northwest Equine Stewardship Center works together with local equine rescue organizations to help neglected and abused horses get the care they need and find forever homes. Their focus is on the professional level rehabilitation (veterinary, farrier, training, etc.) of rescue horses and they rely on the dedicated work of local horse rescue organizations to take on the long term responsibility of horses in need and to find forever homes once they have been rehabilitated.

Since it was founded, NWESC had helped hundreds of horses, in conjunction with local rescue agencies, to recover from neglect and abuse. However, their efforts with this specialized rehabilitation come at a price.  On average, it costs NWESC approximately $20-$35 per day to care for one horse’s most basic needs.

Add a severely neglected or abused horse and that cost only covers a portion of the equation.

“Once a horse is rehabilitated, the work begins with local rescue organizations to continue the care and training of the horse while providing it a safe haven until it can find a forever home.” stated Dr. Hannah Mueller, a board director for NWESC. “It can take several months to years to find the appropriate home for some of these horses, and that monetary cost adds up.”

At an average monthly cost of $400-$700 which does NOT include feed or training, the costs do indeed add up in a hurry.

While a portion of the yearly costs are funded through adoption fees, mini-fundraisers, grants and horse sponsorships, most of the expenses are left unaccounted for.

It is for those unfunded expenses that NWESC is hosting their second annual holiday bazaar.

The bazaar, to be held on Saturday, December 1, will include a hot lunch and refreshments, shopping, raffles, photos with Santa (the mini-horse), a cake walk and lots of fun! The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be held at NWESC (9812 215th Ave SE, Snohomish). All proceeds will benefit the 501(c)(3) organization.

In addition to shopping, you can help sponsor a rescue horse through NWESC’s “Giving Tree.”

Items of need will adorn a tree as decorative ornaments. You can sponsor a horse, a specific item or a service by simply picking your ornament and donating the corresponding cost.

Tax deductible monetary donations are also welcome.

“These donations, in whatever form, will make it possible for NWESC to continue our mission in helping horses in need,” said Dr. Hannah Mueller.

For more information, visit

WEB eases transition between elementary and junior high

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Leota 7th grade students on the first day of school with their 9th grade WEB leaders.The leaders wear bright yellow shirts so the 7th graders can easily find a WEB leader as a trusted person who can help them. Courtesy photo.
Making the transition from elementary to junior high or middle school is often a challenge for students.

All of a sudden, they move from a smaller building, where they know most if not all of their peers and typically have one teacher for the majority of their subjects, to a much bigger campus with a larger student body and a slate of new teachers.

Everything is different and the security and comfort level they had in the more intimate elementary school setting is gone.

Adapting to the changes and acquiring a sense of belonging in this new arena takes time.

To help students with this process, junior highs in Northshore are using WEB, Where Every Student Belongs.

“It’s a national program designed to transition students to junior high or middle school,” explains Obadiah Dunham, principal at Leota. “We chose it because we were looking for a more comprehensive transition program for our seventh graders. All the middle level schools I have worked in have had the WEB program, so I knew how effective it was.” He adds, “It is important to have a clear transition plan for students as they change school levels.

“In the past Leota has had a very effective orientation program for the first day of school. However, the WEB program is more comprehensive because it extends past the first day of school.”

WEB has been in existence for 16 years and to date, over 1,000 schools in 33 states have implemented the program.

Built on the belief that students can help students succeed, the program trains upper level mentors from the school to be WEB leaders.

These individuals serve as role models who assist and facilitate the younger students’ success.

They also take the lead in creating a caring and positive school climate.

The program provides the structure for the younger students to receive support and guidance from the leaders who have all been through the challenges that middle school and junior high present and understand that the changes can sometimes be overwhelming.

More and more studies show that if students have a positive experience their first year in middle school or junior high, their chances of success increase dramatically.

“The more connected and engaged they are, the more successful their education experience will be,” comments Ryan Adams, math teacher at Leota and co-coordinator of the school’s WEB program.

“If they feel a part of the school, they will be more successful learners.” He adds, “The program has also shown that disciplinary problems decrease, as well as absenteeism.”

Adams notes that through WEB, students learn that people at school care about them and their success.

Resources will always be available to them as they confront new challenges, and they won’t be alone in the process.

At Leota, there are 52 WEB leaders, all ninth graders who were selected based on several criteria.

“We had 80 applications,” says Adams. “Each student had to complete a one-page write up explaining why they wanted to be a WEB leader and then they also had to create a one minute teaching video. They could teach anything they wanted, but the idea was to show that they could use clear instructions, be engaging and display a positive attitude.”

Adams adds that those chosen represent a cross-section of Leota’s students, adding, “We wanted to get kids from different backgrounds and not just those involved in ASB.”

The leaders underwent training in June and in August in order to prepare for their roles.

Everything starts on the first day of school when seventh graders and WEB leaders are the only students present. There’s an assembly followed by small group sessions with activities to break the ice and explain the essence of the school’s culture and code of behavior.

The leaders help the younger students set goals with each other and begin the all-important connection process.

“The messages presented come from the older students, which makes these messages more powerful,” says Adams. “The other thing that’s important is that by the end of that first day, each student has at least two new friends  — his/her small group pair of WEB leaders.”

During the school year, WEB-related activities occur on a monthly basis, alternating between a social/recreation activity and an individual contact.

The latter involves one-to- one contact between WEB leaders and students in their group.

“The idea is for the leaders to initiate contact with individual students and check in with them to see how they’re doing,” explains Adams. “It’s a good way for them to touch base on a personal level and show support for the student.”

Though this is Leota’s first year using WEB, Adams has already seen its effects.

He notes that from the first day, he observed difference in his seventh grade kids.

He says, “In the past, it would usually take several weeks for them to feel comfortable in their new surroundings, but I could see that they were much more at ease this year. They were willing to engage more with each other in class and working in groups was much easier for them from the beginning. I sensed that they felt more comfortable all around.” He adds, “It’s great when you can start out this way because the sooner kids feel connected with their school, the more interested and motivated they will be in their success.”