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March 19, 2014



Solar power project gives students real-world work By Neil Pierson

Photo by Neil Pierson

From left, STEM School students Aaron Johnston, Kanaad Deodhar, Lynsey Liu and Pavan Kumar talk during a March 12 presentation about the sustainable, solar-powered house they created.

Options growing for readers through neighborhood libraries By Neil Pierson

Little Free Libraries

When Ann Backman retired last May from a 30-year nursing career at Seattle Children’s Hospital, she was looking for something to do in her spare time. An idea came to Backman while she was thumbing through a University of Wisconsin alumni magazine. She read about the Little Free Library project, which originated in Wisconsin in 2009, and figured it would be fun to start her own location. Backman, who has lived in Sammamish since 1991, asked her husband, John, to build the LFL as a birthday and Mothers Day present, and it officially opened March 10 at 2701 226th Ave. S.E. as the city’s fourth official LFL. The concept is a simple one – anyone is allowed to take or give a book, free of charge, to the libraries, which are generally mailbox-sized and located on private residential proper-

There are dozens of Little Free Library locations in the Puget Sound region, and four of them are in Sammamish: u 20537 N.E. 27th Place u N.E. 18th Street u 23630 N.E. Seventh Court u 2701 226th Ave. S.E. ties. Stewards like Backman are encouraged to maintain the libraries and keep them fully stocked, and items often include bookplates for reader comments. Backman’s home may prove to be an advantageous location, sitting just a block from Pine Lake Park, in a neighborhood that is filled with families. “There’s a lot of back-and-forth runners, walkers, parents with strollers coming and going to the park,” Backman noted. The LFL concept has grown exponentially over the past five years, with an estimated 10,000-

12,000 locations worldwide and thousands more in the planning stages. Anyone can become a steward by building their own library or purchasing a kit through the LFL website, www.littlefreelibrary. org. The site also provides maintenance and operations tips, and a place for stewards to register their libraries on a map. Backman’s library has a few dozen books of various genres, and she’s in the process of drumming up support from her neighbors. While researching the project, she learned that a busy LFL can often go through 100 books a month. Her family members, which include two children who graduate from Skyline High School, See LIBRARY, Page 7 Photo by Neil Pierson

Ann Backman, who has lived in Sammamish since 1991, opened the city’s fourth official Little Free Library last week.

Five months ago, students at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math School embarked upon a project that, initially, was puzzling and overwhelming. Last week, however, the students at the Lake Washington School District choice school sounded like seasoned electrical engineers pitching a professional product to a potential client. Six Sammamish residents were among the roughly 15 STEM students who were part of an internship opportunity with Genie, a Redmond-based company that produces various mechanical and electrical items for the construction industry. The students split up into four teams and worked for months on designing a solar-powered light tower, a tool that’s already widely used at construction sites worldwide. They had the help of several Genie engineers, who set parameters for the project like a budget, size specifications and illumination requirements. Aaron Johnston, of Sammamish, and his fellow students on “Team Scintillation”

were asked to design a light tower that could fully recharge on weekends, using an external power source. Among the many other requirements, the tower had to be able to hold a charge during winter months at a latitude of 45 degrees north – roughly the same latitude as Seattle. “When we were asked, basically, to design this from the ground up … we found ourselves completely lost,” Johnston explained. “Once we sort of brainstormed a little bit, we started to get some ideas together. “But I think getting started and figuring out how we were going to go forward was the hardest part. And then afterward, we realized that’s exactly what you would do in the professional field.” Team Scintillation wound up designing a tower that ran on eight lead-acid batteries that weighted 69 pounds each, six light-emitting diode (LED) panels, and three 24-volt solar panels. The students figured out a fourth solar panel would be 96 percent useless, so it was removed to reduce costs. See STEM, Page 7




March 19, 2014


Eastlake fastpitch hungry to improve By Neil Pierson

Photo by Neil Pierson

Eastlake Wolves third baseman Corina Jones works on infield defense during a March 11 practice. Jones is one of several returning players expected to help Eastlake compete for a conference title.

For a proud program that captured a state title only six seasons ago, the 2013 campaign was a big disappointment for the Eastlake Wolves fastpitch team. Eastlake managed nine wins, but was only 4-10 in Class 4A KingCo Conference play, and missed the playoffs entirely. However, the Wolves have reasons to believe those memories could soon evaporate. Eastlake returns eight players from last season’s roster, and while fourth-year coach Rob Zahn expects to start only two seniors, the squad shouldn’t suffer as many growing pains as it did in 2013. Zahn added a link to the 2008 state championship team in assistant coach Stephanie Fox, a pitcher who played collegiately at Western Washington and assisted last season at Lake Washington

High. The coaches have plenty of returning veterans to work with, including junior pitcher Mikel Charles, senior shortstop Elizabeth Tracy, and an outfield grouping of Naomi Rodriguez, Abby Goux and Olivia Palenscar. Charles could get some help in the circle from two varsity newcomers – sophomore Julie Graf and junior Izzy Tihista – but she’s put in the kind of offseason work that could make her a breakout star. “I’m excited to see what’s to come for her,” said Palenscar, a junior who will share captain’s duties with Charles. “I’m excited to have her back in the outfield, and everybody is going to have her back this year.” Zahn isn’t concerned about offense, but winning will require better defense – specifically, See FASTPITCH, Page 9

Spartans soccer plugs in new pieces By Neil Pierson

It might not be realistic for the Skyline High School boys soccer team to repeat its success of 2013, when the program went undefeated in conference play for the first time. After all, the Spartans will have to find replacements for several key seniors who graduated, including starting center backs Ryan Shim and Chris Sorenson, and all-state central midfielder Kaleb Strawn. Head coach Don Braman acknowledges the challenge of finding new stars, but thinks the pieces are in place for similar levels of success. “There’s a lot of work to do in terms of being able to understand how to play together,” Braman said, “and that’s where we’re going to be putting our energy, but we’re in a good place to get rolling.” A new winning formula starts between the goalposts, where the Spartans lost Ben Morgan and Zachary Anselmi, who combined for six shutouts last season. Senior Jack O’Keefe, junior Bryce Escobar and sophomore Alex Appel are competing for the starting goalkeeper assignment. In front of them, senior Jake Therrien is the only returning defender with varsity experience. But newcomers Nick

Christoforou, Fed Rubiolo and Nick Morgan appear to be capable, Therrien said. “Our back line is pretty goodsized guys, so we’re not worried about that,” Therrien said. The top returning scorer is senior Jason Twaddle (seven goals, three assists), who expects to once again provide hold-up play and distribute the ball to other attackers. “As long as we work together, we’ll be able to score – not just me but others,” Twaddle said. Braman is looking to newcomer Nihar Baxi, a senior, to provide goals, and the midfield also has several threats, including senior Armeen Badri. Badri, Twaddle and Therrien play year-round with an Eastside FC select squad, and having experience playing with and against each other in club soccer should help the Spartans. “A lot of our seniors graduated,” Badri noted, “but one good thing was we had a lot of sophomores and juniors starting last year, so a lot of those starting spots are still the same guys playing.” Eastlake’s speed, versatility could stymie opponents Longtime Eastlake head coach Adam Gervis is tight-lipped about the roles for his players heading

into the new season. Of the 17 boys on the roster, most can play anywhere he needs them to. The Wolves have only three players returning from last year’s lineup that finished 6-6-3 overall and missed the KingCo playoffs. That trio – senior defender Caleb Olson, junior defender Zach Howard and junior goalkeeper Jack Hornsby – will have big roles to play, but they figure to get help from a completely overhauled roster. “Last year we kind of had one big, standout player, Madison Heck,” Olson explained. “This year, I think we’re going to be able to work together a lot better because we don’t have one person we’re always looking to get it to.” Eastlake’s defensive group also includes Cameron Lerner, Robert Franklin and Kris Rudella. The midfield is young and features four sophomores along with juniors Justin Johnson, Nicholas Ruppe and Diego Lopez. Up front, Olson said he likes what he sees from junior Connor Finley and senior Kekoa Knief. Scott Quinn and Omar Luqman, a pair of seniors, could also factor into the forward rotation. There’s a great deal of speed on the roster, Gervis said, and Eastlake could parlay that into See SOCCER, Page 9

Photo by Neil Pierson

Eastlake High School soccer players practice their dribbling skills on March 11. The Wolves are hoping their speed and versatility translate to a winning season in the KingCo Conference.