New Course For Seattle Schools -- At Ceremony, Stanford Promises Progress

It was a poetic occasion: The old and new superintendents of Seattle Public Schools stopping by the woods on a sunny morning to take part in a changing of the guard, then taking a shaded path through Cleveland Memorial Forest to observe a group of students roughing it at a survival camp.

The rededication ceremony for the 131-acre forest was to be the last public appearance for outgoing Superintendent William Kendrick. Today, John Stanford takes the helm.

Stanford drew upon the words of poet Robert Frost to say the district is at a crossroads.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference," he recited from "The Road Not Taken."

Stanford told those gathered yesterday at the Issaquah-area forest that he intended to take the 46,000-student school district down a path of progress and increased opportunity for students.

Kendrick, who has served as superintendent for nine years, said he plans to take a break from working but wants to remain involved in some aspect of education in the Northwest.

Kendrick said he was proud of the school-community partnerships such as the one that made the re-dedication of the 52-year-old educational forest possible.

King County, the city of Seattle and the Department of Agriculture each provided $50,000 to help upgrade facilities on the site, but more money and supplies are needed to get the forest ready for expanded use, officials say.

The forest-improvement campaign began with a phone call two years ago from City Councilwoman Sue Donaldson to School Board member Linda Harris. Both were looking for ways to involve inner-city kids in positive activities. That's when they took up board member Ellen Roe's idea of turning the Cleveland forest into a learning center.

The forest, a memorial to Cleveland students killed in World War II, was purchased by the 1943-44 graduating classes at Cleveland.

This week, 35 students from 18 Seattle-area schools have been participating in a summer "survival camp" led by Garfield High School science teacher Tom Hudson.

As students Nichole Dimmer, a Franklin High School junior; Erin Williams, a Cleveland freshman, and Kimberly Jones, a Cleveland sophomore, trekked past stands of alders, cedars and hemlocks, they discussed such topics as where to find mushrooms that glow in the dark and how to use a slug to soothe a skin rash.

"You get to learn a lot of stuff" in the forest, Dimmer said, including how to climb trees the way loggers do and how to survive four days in the woods.

Hudson, who's brought students here for the past eight years, said the school district has a real asset in the forest and should take greater advantage of it.

"We go back to the classroom and we look at each other differently after a weekend in the woods," he said.

To contribute to the Cleveland Memorial Forest restoration project or to get more information, contact Hudson at Garfield High School, 281-6040, or 400 23rd Ave., Seattle, WA, 98122.