Queen Anne Elementary School principal Janine Roy and her staff are ready to move out of their temporary location at John Marshall High School and into their home at 411 Boston St. once more space for students is created.

“We are getting an addition built,” Roy said. “Queen Anne Elementary is actually in two buildings, a 1906 building and, separated by a small soccer field, a 1922 building. It was decided several years ago that we were growing, we are really popular, so we are getting eight new classrooms and a new gym. An expanded cafeteria and some new office areas, too.”

Queen Anne is Roy’s “dream school,” and is the preferred school for many students in the district. It is one of Seattle Public Schools’ seven option schools. Option schools are still public and receive money from taxpayers.

The addition being constructed at Queen Anne Elementary was funded by the Building Excellence IV Capital Levy, passed by voters in 2013.

The best part of being in their permanent home will be the continuation of the school’s new Maker Space and use of Project-Based Learning.

Students from all grades sold handmade goods, crafts and more to parents and friends on Dec. 13, to support the Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle Humane Society and Queen Anne Elementary’s new Maker Space, where all the goods were created.

“In Maker Space our goal is to basically use the tools that we have available to create a better community for our families, our school community or the world,” Maker Space teacher Kristin Teske said. “So everything they create in the Maker Space is about helping.”

Students raised just less than $2,000, which will be split between the hospital, humane society and Maker Space supplies.

The new addition at Queen Anne Elementary includes a designated Maker Space. This is the first year of the program, and another market will be open to the public in June.

Maker Space is the newest program in the school, which adopted Project-Based Learning less than two years ago.

Project-Based Learning is a way for students to tackle real-world problems by using their everyday lessons. Each grade is given a question at the beginning of the year they need to answer, with possible solutions to be found through their history, art, science and math lessons. The questions range in difficulty.

This year the school’s kindergarteners were asked, “What’s in my heart?” and the school’s fifth-graders were challenged with the question, “How does human migration impact the world?”

“One class of fifth-graders were looking at how human migration affects the world,” Roy said. “And one student came up with the idea for a toy drive for refugee children who had been taken at the border. When the class contacted an organization, with help from their teacher, the organization was not recommending toys, but they were recommending clothes because children were being released to places, which the children didn’t have appropriate clothes for. So the students are holding a winter clothing drive.”

The clothing drive began this month, and anyone who wishes to donate children’s winter clothes can bring them to Queen Anne Elementary school offices.

Students in Lorin Belcher’s third-grade class have been coming up with creative ways to help local Native American students and groups after learning Washington history. The third grade-question this year is, “What kind of problems do people who live in the Pacific Northwest face?”

“We lived as Native Americans in the early 1800s for a couple of weeks,” Belcher said. “We talked about natural resources, what life was like and just different scenarios where the natives faced problems and had to come up with solutions, such as the settlers coming, new diseases being introduced and when natural resources were taken away.”

Belcher said her students shocked her with the connections they made with the past and present.

“The kids noticed natural resources are being exploited today like they were then,” she said. “And a few kids highlight a connection to the environment and pollution today. So some kids projects were presentations on hybrid cars versus gas-powered cars. Diseases were another one that I didn’t even think of. We talked about how small pox was a big problem (in the past) and they made the connection to diseases today and how there is a vaccination controversy.”

An issue of importance to one of Belcher’s students, Isabella Gladum, is the possible dismantling of Licton Springs K-8 School, which focuses on Native traditions.

“I want to learn why they have to move Licton Springs and not another school,” Gladum said. “I guess the school district thinks they should move.”

Licton Springs is one of Seattle Public School’s few K-8 option schools. The school district is considering dismantling the school due to low enrollment at Licton Springs and issues with overcrowding at a nearby middle school, Robert Eagle Staff.

Licton Springs opened in fall 2018 in what was meant to be its permanent home on sacred Duwamish land.  It was the merger of two previous schools, which focused on Native American culture and education. The students were moved multiple times before being placed in the North Seattle location.

Gladum and her classmates Lilly Scott and Tatum Verhasselt learned about when Native American children were forced to go to “white school,” where they were separated from their parents and taught English and forced to conform to settler culture.

“Native Americans are being treated unfairly, and I just wish we could go back into time and fix that problem, because they got moved from another land and they got separated from their kids,” Verhasselt said.

Gladum thinks there is a simple solution to all of this.

“My solution is to move them here (John Marshall High School) and then they can build a permanent home for them,” she said.

Molly Meck, a first-grade master teacher at Queen Anne, is one of the founding teachers of Project-Based Learning. Her students have spent the first half of the school year building their utopian city.

“We made several math lessons out of that, where supplies cost pennies, nickels and dimes,” Meck said. “We really try to tie it all together. Part of Project-Based Learning is really not the end product but about the learning that happens along the way. Putting students together in a group and figuring out how you talk, share and reflect on work, and to go back and make it better.”

Meck believes her students are learning more and are driven to continue projects and their education. For these reasons, Meck and Roy think more schools are looking at embracing the Project-Based Learning method.

“It is so more on hand, so much more student-driven, and if it’s student driven, then students are learning more,” Meck said. “They make a lot of choices of what they think is important, and I get to be a learner with them. There is so much choice in Project-Based Learning. My students were designing a city they want to live in. They identified how traffic is a problem, pollution is a problem, and that a city is a system where we all work together. Project-Based Learning has changed my teaching life.”