Supporting the “Back to the Stage” Letter

Hello everyone! It’s Diego, the intern, writing this one. Vivian has consistently held that community input and collaboration are integral to her campaign. Accordingly, Vivian has graciously asked me (a Roosevelt Highschool Alumni) to talk about the campaign’s position on the “Back to the Stage!” letter sent to SPS. 

Context for those unaware: Roosevelt Highschool’s performing arts programs have not been allowed to conduct in-person performances due to the pandemic and have sent a letter to SPS asking for this to be changed. SPS is reviewing the ban on in-person performances, which is set to end on October 31st. You can find a link to the letter itself at the bottom of this post.

Roosevelt has an incredible performing arts program, and to see it unfairly stifled is genuinely upsetting. Roosevelt’s theatre department provided me with a great community that formed me more as a person than almost any other class. Theatre wasn’t just a fanciful extra-curricular; it taught me about working hard, it taught me about teamwork, it taught me about dedication, responsibility, and accountability. The memories of the long hours we put in preparing for brilliant performances after school are some of my best. While I did not pursue theatre in college, I have friends who attended prestigious universities and conservatory programs (USC and Carnegie Mellon, to name a couple). Roosevelt’s art programs are stellar and worth investing in.

While I can’t speak for the Orchestra, Choir, Jazz, or Band from personal experience, I know from friends that their experiences are similar. While we must be safe (masks, proof of vaccination, social distancing, we all know the drill by now), I do not see a reason to continue a unilateral ban on in-person performances. Theatres, bands, choirs, and all manner of other performance-based entertainment venues are being allowed to open up around the city, county, and state. Why shouldn’t Roosevelt?

The campaign supports ending the ban on in-person performances, consistent with Vivian’s position that safe in-person education is best for our students. We hope SPS understands our position, and we hope to see our talented students take to the stage again soon.

Link to the letter

Link to Roosevelt Orchestra’s Facebook post about the situation

KCYD Endorsement

I am pleased to announce that the King County Young Democrats have endorsed me! It is an honor to know that the newer generation- some of whom may still be SPS students- trust me with improving Seattle Public Schools. They asked candidates to answer the following prompt in a video:
We at King County Young Democrats believe that young people and their issues have been ignored and pushed aside in politics. What have you done to advance youth issues in King County?

And I sent in this video. As a side note, I’d like to thank the Young Democrats for their request to provide captions or a transcript. As someone who is hard of hearing, I am personally grateful that they made this request of all candidate submissions.

 

Introducing: Diego Batres

Hello all! My name is Diego Batres, and I am the newest addition to Vivian’s Campaign! I’m helping manage the social media accounts and various other odds and ends. I’m a Washingtonian born and raised, and I am currently attending Seattle University for a double major in English and Political Science.

I’m super excited to be involved in this campaign and to (hopefully) make a difference in our local politics. I attended Roosevelt High School, so while I don’t have direct experience with School District 4, I have attended Seattle Public Schools. Those experiences are part of why I have chosen to work with Vivian. In particular, her position on mental health services as essential is absolutely correct and sorely needed, especially in our high schools. It is clear to me that she really cares about Seattle Public Schools and its families, and while I can’t vote for her, I encourage everyone who can to do so. I look forward to seeing how the primary shakes down, and if we make it through, you may see some personal anecdotes about my experiences with SPS in the future.

Remember, the primary ends on August 3rd! Make sure to vote!

Capital Projects

I recently visited West Woodland Elementary to take a picture that I posted to Facebook a couple of days ago. However, due to the nature of Facebook and the length of posts, I couldn’t explain in detail the importance of Capital Projects. I will do so now.

Seattle is a growing city, and just about daily we are welcoming new families with children who will attend Seattle Public Schools. I recently also visited Adams Elementary to film this video, and I saw there that we are already failing to keep up with our growing population. Portables, temporary classrooms placed outside of the main building, are not a long-term solution. They are inferior to normal classrooms in most aspects, often lacking either heating or AC (or both), can be cramped, and allow more opportunity for students to become distracted.

The portables are representative of a larger issue. We are also falling behind in transportation services, many of our schools’ technology labs are growing increasingly outdated, and we need to hire more staff for the increasingly large student body.

I support greater funding to meet our growing needs, including upgrading our school buildings and ensuring that our schools have the infrastructure to support our students. That means up-to-date technology, appropriate staffing levels, and ensuring that every student has a seat in the classroom.

West Woodland Elementary is currently finishing its own Capital Project to add some classrooms, parking, and gym room! This is exactly the kind of project that will allow us to adjust to the growing needs of our students and families.

 

Disabilities: A Personal Story

“We have to harvest and cultivate our own stories not just to feel valid but to feel rejoiced.”

 

July is Disability Pride Month, observed since 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990, barring discrimination against people with disabilities. It is not about awareness, but rather celebration.

 

A public school teacher, Mrs. Leonard, identified my hearing loss. I remember her kneeling down, holding my hand and telling me, “Your hearing loss does not have to stop you from anything.” Over the last 33 years from that moment, I have learned to advocate for the support I need to be the student, employee, community member, and individual I want to be. To be my full self. 

 

My daughter Elise also has a hearing loss disability. When we told her the results of her hearing screening, she cried and asked, “Why does all the bad things have to happen to me?” I knelt down, held her hand, and told her the same message Mrs. Leonard told me. And I told her how my disability is something I am proud of, it has shaped me to be the person that I am.

 

I am running for school board to show Elise that a disability is to be celebrated. I am running for school board to advocate for the support that all of Seattle Public School’s 8000+ special education students need to “cultivate their own stories.”

Illustration by Lisa Quine