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CRIME BLOTTER | Two women get groped; suspect charged in fatal marijuana deal [3]

VOL. 15, NO. 44



division of Sound Publishing

OPINION | Roegner: 2013 election predictions [6] Q&A with Mr. Federal Way: Will you please run for school board? [7] FOR COMMUTERS | More parking spaces are now available near transit center [5] ELECTION 2013 | Fact checking claims by Federal Way’s mayoral candidates [8]

SPORTS | TJ grad Lamar Neagle is named CALENDAR | Holiday bazaars, Relay for Life FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2013 | 75¢ Sounders Humanitarian of the Year [20] kickoff, Federal Way Symphony [18-19]

Parents to FWPS: System is wrong By GREG ALLMAIN

Another year, another round of confusion and displeasure about Federal Way Public Schools’ standards based grading (SBG) system. The first rumblings about this year’s iteration of SBG came at the Oct. 15 school board meeting, with parent Michael Scuderi pointing out that part of the SBG grading algorithm, known as the Power Law, caused a weird skewing of grades. At the Oct. 25 school board meeting, a number of parents and one student voiced their concerns about SBG and its effect on students, parents and teachers. Carrie Newcombe, a parent, said the district’s constant tinkering with the grading system over the past few years has really shortchanged the district’s consumers: students and parents. “I cannot express enough my frustration and disappointment in this new grading system, [ more PARENTS, page 14 ]

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Public forums The district is hosting forums at Federal Way middle schools for parents to learn more about the new grade book and how grades are calculated. Upcoming forums at local middle schools include: • Kilo: 6 p.m. Nov. 20 • Lakota: 6 p.m. Nov. 21 • Sacajawea: 6 p.m. Nov. 25 • The school board will host a study session at 5 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Educational Service Center, 33330 8th Ave. S.

School district defends grading By GREG ALLMAIN

The controversial standards based grading (SBG) system is back on the radar in Federal Way. As rumblings started spreading throughout the various school communities about more hiccups with SBG, the district had Decatur principal Dave Brower give a presentation at the Oct. 29 school board meeting on what

the grading system is — and how the district believes it should work. “We have to talk about grades as communication,” Brower said. “The purpose of grades is to communicate a student’s current level of progress…. And so the focus has to be on the learning they need. What they need to learn, know and do to be able to be successful.” The initial motivation for replacing the traditional grading system

with SBG was to improve the district’s graduation rate, which currently hovers just above 70 percent. SBG went into effect in the fall of 2011, and sparked a public debate over its strengths and shortcomings. In addition, some teachers have had a difficult time explaining the grading system to parents and students who don’t understand it. According to Brower and the district, SBG allows for a more precise level of [ more GRADING, page 14 ]

Brain tumor doesn’t stop a dream Decatur High School student Dom Cooks scores a touchdown By CASEY OLSON

Dominique Cooks is the epitome of perseverance. The 18-year-old Decatur High School student was a stud, 220-pound defensive lineman for the Gators’ football team and the definition of a “power guard” on the basketball court. To illustrate how talented he was on the gridiron, Decatur head coach Leon Hatch made the rare call to have Cooks play on the line as a ninth-grader during the 2010 football season and start all year as a sophomore. The future was more than bright for Cooks. “Football was going to be the sport for me,” Cooks said. “I did my thing out there. I like the aggressiveness of the sport. I always worked hard.” But life hit Cooks like a bonecrushing tackle during the spring of 2012. That’s when doctors discovered a malignant, inoperable brain tumor. The diagnosis has obviously changed Cooks’ perspective on life, as well as sports. Since being diagnosed, Cooks has battled the brain tumor for the last year and a half with the same perseverance that he used in sports. The left side of his body is now pretty much useless and he spends a lot of his time in a wheelchair.

Decatur High School senior Dom Cooks celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the Oct. 25 homecoming football game against Auburn Mountainview. Cooks was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in April 2012. CASEY OLSON, Federal Way Mirror “At the beginning of the school year, doctors told me that I had three to six months to live,” Cooks said. “But nobody is going to tell me stuff like that. Before I got this tumor, I was going to the NBA or the NFL. That’s still what I’m going to do. Can’t nobody tell me any different. I’m definitely going to beat this. I’m kinda self-motivated like that.”

“You only hear about stuff like this,” said Decatur C-team basketball coach and Decatur grad Collin Sawyer. “But it’s happening to Dom. He is just such a neat kid. He is really amazing. I don’t know how many kids would be this excited for life.” While playing pickup basketball at Decatur during the spring of his sophomore year, Cooks was strug-

gling and didn’t have his normal “lift” on his jump shot. “I didn’t know what was going on and I even got my shot blocked by some scrub,” Cooks said with a smile. “Coach Sawyer was just watching me play and he saw that I couldn’t catch the ball with my left hand. It was bending in all the time. So one day before practice, [ more COOKS, page 30 ]

Federal Way Mirror, November 01, 2013  
Federal Way Mirror, November 01, 2013  

November 01, 2013 edition of the Federal Way Mirror