Holiday Greetings BITTERSWEET DEPARTURE Popular physician takes a break to take care of herself. Page 5 drawn by Island students See Pages 12, 13 BEACHCOMBER VASHON-MAURY ISLAND WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2012 Vol. 57, No. 52 www.vashonbeachcomber.com 75¢ A shared passion takes photographers far School district officials rethink class schedules Islanders’ photos appear in hundreds of calendars a year By NATALIE JOHNSON Staff Writer By NATALIE JOHNSON Staff Writer Picture it: A whitewashed lighthouse perched on a rocky bluff in Maine is set off by a brilliant pink and purple sunset. Palm trees in Bora Bora sway in the sun over a blue, ripply sea and beneath a sky dotted with fluffy white clouds. Washington’s own Mount Rainier stands snowpeaked and shining above a wide field of shockingly colorful wildflowers. Most people in America have probably seen at least one of Mary Liz Austin or Terry Donnelly’s breathtaking photographs. Many have even hung the couple’s work in their own homes — though perhaps for only a month. The talented Vashon pair have not only developed a knack for capturing great scenes, but over time have built a large arsenal of timeless landscape photographs — stunning pictures that appear Lawrence Huggins Photo Mary Liz Austin and Terry Donnelly pose in their office, where they keep 20 cabinets full of film negatives. in hundreds of wall calendars each year. Their shots have also graced the covers of magazines from National Geographic to Country Magazine, adorned office walls all over the world, been broken into pieces as puzzles and filled the pages of six of their own large, glossy coffee-table books. “I would call them modern masters,” said Rick Dahms, a friend of the couple who is also a photographer. “They’re the top echelon, especially in what they do.” SEE PHOTOGRAPHERS, 18 Last week many Island parents and students received emails from the Vashon School District, asking them to give their thoughts on the middle school and high school’s class schedules. For the first time in more than a dozen years, the school district is taking a serious look at Vashon High School’s class schedule, a study that may well result in a change from the current trimester system and changes at the middle school as well. “It’s been a long time since the high school looked at its schedule,” said Stephanie Spencer, vice principal at VHS. “There’s been little things along the way, but not a major study of the five-period trimester.” Spencer, along with McMurray Principal Greg Allison, now heads a 14-person schedule committee that convened this fall and has been tackling the in-depth study. In recent years, Spencer said, she and other staff have heard increasing concerns about the high school’s current class schedule, one where students have three trimesters and take five classes at a time. Some core classes are only assigned for two of three trimesters in a year, creating what some consider to be gaps in instruction. The gaps, some say, can become problematic, especially in skills-based classes such as SEE SCHOOLS, 13 Cleaning up Quartermaster Harbor State works to remove hazardous junk By NATALIE JOHNSON Staff Writer On Friday during a break between rain showers, Lisa Randlette stepped out of a small boat and onto an enormous wooden structure floating in Quartermaster Harbor. “Be careful, it’s really slippery,” said Randlette, a rain gear-clad planner with the state Department of Natural Resources’ Aquatic Resources Division. She and Rolin Christopherson, another DNR official, were at Dockton that day to put a third and final bright-pink notice on an old net pen — a 120-foot-long docklike structure crisscrossed with walkways. Both Randlette and Christopherson said itis the largest abandoned structure they’ve ever dealt with. Two earlier notices on the net pen produced no response, and as early as next month, the state will remove the net pen, part of its wide-ranging effort to clean up Quartermaster Harbor and bring order to the many boats and buoys moored there. It has already removed two abandoned boats and one sunken vessel through a similar process. “This is one piece of the puzzle to clean up the harbor,” Randlette said. The large net pen was put in the harbor about 20 years ago, and some Dockton residents say they think an old Island family once used it to rear salmon in large nets strung between the walkways. Those who put it there, they say, are likely long gone. In recent years, boaters who used the aging net pen as an makeshift dock to tie their vessels to have taken steps to maintain the structure. Cables have been strung to hold the pieces together, lights have been SEE HARBOR, 19 Natalie Johnson/Staff Photo Lisa Randlette, with the state Department of Natural Resources, posts a final notice on a large, abandoned net pen at Doctkon.