Recent local blog posts

Psycho Mama Art Opening with Emma Kohlmann and Sonya Sombreuil Cohen

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 5:00pm

Sunday, August 17th, 8pm opening.

Emma Kohlmann
Sonya Sombreuil Cohen

With a conceptual DJ set by Alex Coxen.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Olympia Hardcore Fest

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Sat, 08/09/2014 - 4:00pm

Saturday, August 9th & Sunday, August 10th- varied locations. Save the dates- more info coming soon.

Tercer Mundo (Monterrey, MX) Best 7″ of 2013
Ooze (Chicago/NW Indiana) American Hardcore
Nudes (Seattle, WA) Filthy Hardcore Punk, US Tour Return Show
Gag (Olympia, WA) Kings of Rock
Bad Blood (Olympia/Chicago) Members of GAG, Raw Nerve, Strangers
Vexx (Olympia, WA) Too Talented For This Fest
Snob (Vancouver, BC) Better Than You
G Spot (Fountain Valley, CA) Snotty and Fast, Think Gang Green
Big Zit (NW Indiana) Best Band In America
Dirty Work (Kansas City, MO) Punk Done Proper
Beta Boys (Kansas City, MO) More Kansas City Insanity
Bricklayer (Seattle/Olympia, WA) New Grimace
Provos (San Francisco, CA) Franciscan Soldiers
Convict (Olympia, WA) Raw, 80s, Pissed Off, Ol’ School, Crucial Response
A Priori (Oakland, CA) Kiss Your Posteriori Goodbye
Burial Suit (Olympia, WA) Birthday Suit Rockers
PMS 84 (Portland, OR) Lace Up Your Boots
Turtle Neck (Olympia, WA) High Voltage Rock N Roll
Mercenaries (Olympia, WA) Oly’s Answer to early 80s Ohio
Nerv (Iowa City) On Tour and Ready to Rock
US Disorder (Olympia, WA) New Hardcore Punk

Facebook invite and more info:


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

CABANA + Dorotheo + Francisco & Madero

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 5:00pm

Friday, August 8th, 8pm. More info soon!

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Violent Vickie // Garlicman & Chikn // Vibrissae // Nightspac3

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Thu, 08/07/2014 - 5:00pm

Thursday, August 7th, 8pm. More info soon!

Categories: Arts & Entertainment


Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Sat, 08/02/2014 - 5:00pm

Saturday, August 2nd, 8pm

CONVICT – loud fast bitchin’

Heatwarmer – sonic wizards from Seattle playing shred heavy synth rock dance jams and electric clarinet

GURAM GURAM – Duran Duran covers played backwards and half speed on the harp

And local support from our friendsWHELP


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Yonatan Gat (ex-MONOTONIX) + Calvin Johnson + Arrington de Dionyso

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Fri, 08/01/2014 - 5:00pm

Friday, August 1st, 8pm

YONATAN GAT (ex-Monotonix)
w/ local support from CALVIN JOHNSON

A masterful guitarist, Gat recently won Village Voice’s “Best Guitarist of 2013″. His power trio is experienced on the floor inside the audience, tearing through “a wholly fresh fusion of psychedelic sounds and rhythms from around the globe, with nods to free jazz and served with an unabashed punk spirit”. Gat’s genre-bending and border shattering (quite literally) guitar assumes simultaneous lead and rhythm duties blending punk rock with Middle Eastern styles, backed by Gal Lazer’s hard-hitting African-influenced grooves and Sergio Sayeg’s (of Brazilian psychedelic rockers Garotas Suecas) melodic anchor.

“Monotonix guitar virtuoso Yonatan Gat has reinvented himself as a world-music riff maven” – Time Out New York

“Tropical psych-pop shredding” – Orlando Weekly

“Kaleidoscopic” – SPIN

“Gat’s Jimi-Hendrix-meets-Godzilla guitar tone is the instrument by which the band brings the arena-rock experience within your immediate reach and, because of the energy level relative to the scale, makes it more explosive and cathartic than anything you could ever see on a bigger stage” – NY Press

“While Monotonix exploits every cubic inch of a venue with vigor, Gat seems to want to scour every corner of the world, with equal intensity” – Chattanooga Pulse

Facebook invite!


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Stephen Steinbrink + Whales Whailing + Johanna Warren

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 5:00pm

STEPHEN STEINBRINK … OLY contemporary yet nostalgic alt-pop

WHALES WHAILING … PDX devotional psych-folk GROUP

JOHANNA WARREN … PDX psych-folk SOLO/acoustic

Facebook invite


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Mere Mention Comedy Show- July edition

Northern - Olympia All Ages Project - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 4:30pm

Mere Mention Comedy show- Sunday, July 27, 7:30pm

GUYS, It’s back! Mere Mention, Northern’s beloved but little seen comedy show, the Buzzcocks of comedy shows, is back! And this month is going to be stellar!

We are proud to be welcoming Ryan Kruse, Nathaniel Wolf, Taylor Rae Sikorski, and Sam Miller to our stage. Each have been killing it at the local comedy rooms and I am excited to see their feature sets. I will be hosting and I’m going to work really hard to be funny, but also charming, but also grateful to have you there.

We are also happy to have, as sort of the 5th act of the night, SUMMER ITSELF. Shining in through the windows, making our comedy show seem like some Emersonian speech on the grass.

So bring some sod to sit on and a jar of sun tea to drink, and enjoy some of the finest comedy Olympia has to offer!

Facebook invite


Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Listen to the Elephant!

K Records - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 4:23pm
The Pink Elephant’s Gravecast has been rockin’ for a couple of weeks now, with Calvin Johnson sharing all of the latest cultural artifacts that are uniquely K. The response has been fabulous. Thanks for listening! The above “thumbs up” comes our way courtesy of listeners Dylan McDonagh and Richard Davis of Seattle, Washington. The below […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Pink Elephant’s Gravecast 005

K Records - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 3:23pm
The Pink Elephant’s Graveyard is where we store all the cultural artifacts which are uniquely K. Host Calvin Johnson (The Hive Dwellers) and Ian Vanek interviews Peter David Connolly of the Mona Reels (see above photog), Olympia’s long-running purveyors of pop perfection. Peter shares music from previous incarnations of the band and a few samples […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Lovers without Borders at What-the-Heck

K Records - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 1:51pm
This is Lovers without Borders caught live at the What-the-Heck festival in Anacortes, Washington, July, 2011. Karl Blau sings and plays the sax, Allen Peril plays electric guitar and Jessica Bonin is on drums. Their new Volume in our International Pop Underground series, Detective [IPU142], is a four song EP recorded at Dub Narcotic Studio […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Party at Percival – Third Annual Olympia Brew Fest

Thurston Talk - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 12:00pm



By Kate Scriven

oly brew festThe Olympia Brew Fest returns to the shores of Budd Inlet on August 2 for what promises to be another terrific party.  For the past two years, the fledgling festival has grown in size and popularity with over 2,500 people attending last year.  This year promises to be bigger and better, both in size of venue and variety of offerings for those attending.

The brain child of local businessman Mike Mahron, the Olympia Brew Fest began in 2012 as a way to celebrate Olympia’s brewing heritage, showcase the best regional craft brewers, and have fun at one of the most beautiful outdoor venues around – the Olympia Port Plaza.  “I’ve been to a lot of brew fests,” share Mahron, “and I haven’t seen a better location than this one.”

This year, festival-goers can look forward to the beautiful Budd Inlet view being even more appealing now that the Port of Olympia cranes have come down and the event will expand towards the dock area.  “Last year it got a little crowded at the peak of the event,” explains Mahron.  “We want people to have plenty of room, so we are expanding the footprint of the event space along with putting a cap on number of tickets sold.”  And with a sell-out crowd predicted, now is the time to purchase tickets online.

oly brew festAlong with the increased venue size, the festival has streamlined entry with bar-coded tickets, allowing for quick admittance.  Once inside, you’ll enjoy the same great quality beer, food and live music as in the past along with a few new faces.

In response to requests for gluten-free options, the Brew Fest has invited three area cider makers including local favorite Whitewood Cider.  The number of breweries is up as well with 30+ options to choose from.

“This year I attended the BC Beer Awards and The Great Canadian Beer Festival,” says Mahron.  “I had hoped to include more Canadian brewers in our event this year, but crossing the border with beer is apparently a little tricky.”  He did however secure Central City Brewers from Surrey, B.C. as an international guest along with several new Oregon and breweries and even one from California.

oly brew festMahron is dedicated to including and supporting the local craft brewers here in Olympia and the event boasts four local breweries and one cidery including Top Rung Brewing, Whitewood Cider Company, Kastellan Brauerei, Fish Brewing and downtown new-comer Three Magnets Brewing Co.  While still keeping the local brewer focus, Mahron sees the event growing in the coming years to include the entire region.  “It would be ideal to have brewers representing Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and maybe even California.  It would be a true Pacific Northwest Brew Fest,” he shares.

Casey Sobol, Operations Manager at Top Rung Brewing shares, “This is a great local event that certainly celebrates the wonderful brewing history of the community.  The Olympia Brew Fest in a great location and in a region that embraces local and craft beer. This festival celebrates that.  The craft brewing scene is picking up in the Thurston County area and we are proud to be a part of it.”

What should you expect if you attend?  First and foremost expect a great party.  The event is purely about fun and enjoyment of great food, drink, and company.  However, all that fun is also for a great cause.  The event is in support of the Thurston County Chamber Small Business Development (Incubator) program, helping small businesses get off the ground, adding value to the economy and community right here where we all live, work and play.

oly brew festYou can also look forward to high quality beers at each and every booth.  “I personally sample and approve each entry into the Brew Fest,” laughs Mahron, a true lover of a well-crafted beer.  Options will be plentiful and suit every palate with favorites like 7 Seas Brewing’s Life Jacket Session IPA , at 4.4% ABV and Top Rung Brewing’s Hose Chaser Blonde, at 5.0% ABV and more unique offerings like Brickyard Brewing’s SW Green Chili Blond Ale, at 5.0% ABV  and Narrow’s Brewing’s Cardamom Coffee Stout at  8.0% ABV.

Along with the brews you’ll be entertained by three different live bands throughout the event along with delicious food from Marv’s Marvlus Pit BBQ, O’Blarney’s Irish Pub, The Blend Café and Hawks Prairie Restaurant.  As in years past, the Lucky Eagle Casino will join together with the Chehalis Tribe to prepare traditionally cooked salmon for festival-goers.

oly brew festThe Olympia Brew Fest starts at 1:00 p.m. on August 2 ending at 8:30 p.m.  Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, although a sell-out crowd is anticipated so purchasing tickets in advance is recommended.  (Ticket information can be found here.) Your ticket buys you a commemorative mug and six, 5.5 ounce tastes.  A $5 military discount is available at the door.  Drink cards for six additional tastes can be purchased inside for $8. All designated drivers pay only $5 to enjoy the event.  Ages 21 and over only and no pets allowed.

Come thirsty, come hungry, and come ready to have fun.  The Olympia Brew Fest is quickly becoming one of the premier events on the Olympia summer calendar and one you don’t want to miss.

All photos courtesy of the Olympia Brew Fest.

Harbor Days Maritime Festival & Tugboat Races

Thurston Talk - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 7:55am



Submitted by Harbor Days

Olympia Harbor Days 2013 (30)For four decades, Olympia has celebrated its long maritime heritage — and the big-shouldered working boats that made it happen — with the Harbor Days Maritime Festival and Tug Boat Races.  The 41st annual festival fills the last weekend of August with a fascinating mix of seafaring, food and fun you won’t want to miss. Brought to you by the Olympia Kiwanis

As many as 15 vintage and modern tugs are expected to participate, and most will be open for tours at Percival Landing all day Saturday, August 30th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Be on hand Sunday at noon to watch the procession, as the tugs get underway for the big race up Budd Inlet.

All weekend long, enjoy live entertainment and over 250  arts and crafts, commercial, and nonprofits booths. See the “Tiny Cabin” craze at Lopka Logs.  Taste cuisine in the food court from around the world and our own back yard.  Exclusively, the Chehalis Tribe’s Lucky Eagle Casino will be preparing Pacific salmon in the traditional tribal way, using alder wood and hot rocks.

Lenny Lekanoff, the tough deckhand from the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” will be a special guest aboard the tug Galene, where you can also meet the oldest crew member aboard — well into his 90s and going strong.

Cummins NW, one of the leaders in marine engines will be on hand.

This year, Harbor Days also celebrates Tacoma Rail’s long history with the Port of Olympia and combined working relations with tugs. It’s Tacoma Rail’s Centennial Celebration at Port Plaza. Come see a live engine and caboose at Port Plaza by Anthony’s restaurant. Tour a real working train.

Kitsap Live Steamers will be joining us as well, with over 100 feet of track and a small train you can ride. There will be lots of other activities for the kids, too:  A giant slide, trampolines, trains, model tugs (viewing Olympia Harbor Days 2013 (27)only), and much, much, more.

Each year Harbor Days honors one tugboat, and its silhouette becomes the centerpiece of the festival’s logo.  This year’s logo tug is the Reliable, a former Army tug built in 1945 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin as ST-908.  It’s been through several names and several owners, and its still hard at work.  It’s been a harbor tug for the Army, an oceanographic research vessel, a gill-netter, and now a tug again.  Skipper Cliff Center gave Reliable a major overhaul in 2006, including sandblasting, new fantail steel, bow thruster, new accommodations, head, shower and galley. She has worked for the navy at Bangor, Bremerton, Everett and Indian Island towing port security barriers between bases and to Port Gamble for haul out and maintenance. A few weeks each year, she gets a vacation hauling Cliff and his wife, Wanda, to the San Juan Islands and Canada.

The Reliable is one of the many tugs that will be open for tours all day Saturday.

We extend a special thank you to Olympia Federal Savings for their financial and staff support. There is great synergy and appreciation supporting our community

Thank you to all of our community sponsors, together we make Harbor Days happen.Olympia Harbor Days 2013 (33)

For more festival information log onto

We look forward to seeing you Labor Day Weekend!


What:   Harbor Days Maritime Festival and Tugboat Races

When:  5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, August 29; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, August 30 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, August 31

Where: Percival Landing 405 Columbia St NW, Olympia, WA 98501. From the Oyster House to Port Plaza


Rani Hong Creates Global Change from Olympia with the Tronie Foundation

Thurston Talk - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 7:52am



By Gale Hemmann

providence medical group sponsorDid you know we have a local resident who is truly changing the world direct from Olympia?

She’s been on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She’s spoken to the United Nations General Assembly. Her work has been featured on CNN World News and international media. She has worked with hundreds of thousands of human trafficking survivors. Rani Hong’s work with the Tronie Foundation might have a global sweep, but she is based right here in Olympia.

rani hong

From her home base in Olympia, Rani Hong’s work with the Tronie Foundation has had a global reach, changing many lives.

Rani Hong’s life story is amazing. Born in rural India, she was sold into human slavery at age seven. She managed to survive, and has since dedicated her life to helping other survivors and changing the global consciousness about human trafficking.

Rani and her husband Trong Hong, also a trafficking survivor, live here in Olympia with their four children. They co-founded the Tronie Foundation in 2006. What Rani has been able to do since then is truly astounding.

She reaches out to survivors around the world, empowering them to become leaders. She also works with policymakers to raise awareness of and enact new laws about human trafficking. Whenever funds allow, she travels globally to do her work. (She has already visited 20 countries and reached many more through broadcast media.) She spends the rest of her time working from her office in Olympia to raise awareness of the issue. Hong also serves as special advisor to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) initiative.

I was honored to speak with Hong. She told me about her current projects, and the past accomplishments and future goals of the Tronie Foundation. At the end of July, she’ll be traveling to Colombia, for the first-ever international conference on human trafficking. She also traveled to the United Nations in New York City this summer to celebrate the first ever world day against trafficking in persons which she helped to establish.  It marks the success of progress on human trafficking issues and a direct result of Rani’s outreach efforts

In Olympia, Rani is involved in the local community through her children’s schools. She attends sports and other activities at Centennial Elementary. She is also involved in her church.

Hong also partnered with Centennial Elementary last year to create an initiative to educate kids in the United States about slavery. They held a fundraiser and raised over $4,500 to help educate former child slaves and at-risk young people in India. She has also given presentations to several civic organizations, such as Rotary clubs, Zonta groups, and Soroptimist International, about human trafficking issues. Hong shares that her major funder is a local Olympia business, Diamond Technologies, Inc.

Clearly, Hong’s work is an example of the resiliency of the human spirit, and an example of how the local is linked to the global.

rani hong

Rani Hong was invited to speak at the United Nations in 2010. She is now a special advisor to the United Nations GIFT (Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking) Initiative.

I asked Hong what she would most like to share with readers about her work. First, she said, is that human trafficking happens and can take many forms (sexual, forced labor, slavery in private households). It is shocking to learn that 2.5 million people around the world are currently enslaved. The second is that, even if we feel far removed from human trafficking in our everyday lives, it’s possible for us to be complicit in it as consumers through the supply chain of items we purchase and the policies and organizations we support.

Aside from living in Olympia, the city has also been an important starting place for Hong’s work. In 2002, Hong testified about her experience as a survivor of human trafficking in front of the Washington State Legislature at the Capitol Building. She asked them to be key partners in addressing the issue.

Washington then passed the first state-level law regarding human trafficking. (We currently have twelve laws in place, as a result of Hong’s initial efforts.) Now, a little over a decade later, all 50 states have laws on the books. You can read more about Washington State’s action on this issue here. Hong notes that she is deeply grateful to the State of Washington and local support for her work in getting the ball rolling.

Making an Impact, Changing Lives

rani hong

Rani Hong (center in dark purple) has worked with a variety of groups including these women in India.

The reach of Hong’s work so far has been truly global. She has traveled the world giving talks, speaking before prominent figures. She has spoken to the President of the United Nations, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Bollywood actors. She has also talked with American celebrities including Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, and Mira Sorvino. But perhaps most importantly, she has met with thousands of human trafficking survivors around the world, in shelters and schools.

She also notes an important part of making the Tronie Foundation so successful is that she incorporates survivors’ voices as leaders in the project. It is this dual ability – to network with policymakers and survivors alike – that makes Hong so effective. It is also sheer drive and determination. Hong runs the organization herself, and notes that she relies on donations and support from individuals and the community to keep it going.

How You Can Help

You might be thinking, “I’m only one person.” Yes, you are one person, but it is amazing what you can do to help make a difference. In speaking with Hong, she had many ideas for ways individuals, schools and businesses can help. While it is a very serious issue, the good news is that you can do something positive about it. Here are some of the ways, according to Hong:

  • Become aware: Educate yourself about the issue. Many people think human trafficking doesn’t really exist. Read the Tronie Foundation website, and discuss the issue with others. Parents can even talk to kids about this topic in age-appropriate ways. You can also listen to some informative videos on the website and download public school educational materials under the Take Action tab here.
  • rani hong

    Rani and her husband, Trong Hong, live in Olympia with their children. They provide easy steps on how you can take action internationally to fight human trafficking.

    Get social: Join the I Give Hope campaign.  Hong was positive about the power of social media as a way for people to connect globally and be a voice for change. Whether Twitter, Facebook, or another social media venue is your preferred platform, join conversations, re-post, and make social justice part of your online presence. Share your voice with #IGiveHope.  Follow the Tronie Foundation on Facebook or on Twitter at @TroniFoundation and @RanisVoice.

  • Donate: Even small amounts are appreciated. No matter what you have to give, Hong stressed that it is a very tangible way to help make a difference. A donation of $25 can print and deliver 240 educational comic books to those that are at risk of exploitation and human trafficking survivors around the world, to help educate them about their options.
  • Take it to work: Hong noted that she would love to have businesses support the work of the Tronie Foundation by donating, partnering, and earning a “Freedom Seal.” She noted that businesses can also help by examining their chain of supply for items they purchase, and commit to using items that are not produced by forced labor.

As I ended my interview with Hong, I reflected on our conversation. I am most inspired by her ability to put her life experience to such a positive purpose in her work with the Tronie Foundation. I was honored to speak with a global leader right here in our community.

As Rani notes in her speech to the United Nations, she invites you to join her in promoting “the universal freedom of all people, the value of equality, and the opportunity for every human to pursue his or her full potential.”


Selector Dub Narcotic at Bar Francis!

K Records - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 2:47pm
Wake up Sunday morning to the vibrant sounds of Selector Dub Narcotic spinning underground 45s of the soul, independent, jamaican, punk, country, beat, blues and etc. variety. It’s happening Sunday July 27, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Bar Francis (located inside Northern), downtown Olympia.Be there and be square.  
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Serendipity Academy – A Place for Students To Find Their Potential And Grow

Thurston Talk - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 10:39am



By Gail Wood

New CBM LogoThis is not your typical elementary school classroom.

Students are collecting water samples from the Deschutes River. Other students are working at a food bank.

But this is part of an educational experience at Serendipity Academy, a private Tumwater school for grades kindergarten to sixth grade. Learning isn’t limited to what can be taught in a classroom.

olympia private school

Maya Nelson and Whitney VanGorkom, Arborists in Training, identify trees at a field trip to McLane Creek.

“We ask ourselves what expert can we go to in the community to help the kids learn?” said Emily Walsh, principal at Serendipity Academy.

Last year, first graders participated in a year long community service project at a food bank. Students in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade at Serendipity Academy helped in a water quality check of the Deschutes River for South Sound Green.

“They were collecting real data in the field and then that data goes to South Sound Green and they use it to analyze the water in the Deschutes River,” Walsh added.

It’s all part of the learning experience at Serendipity Academy. Field trips, expert guest speakers and purposeful assemblies are about learning. At Serendipity Academy, teachers go beyond the lecture.

This is one school that is not afraid to incorporate brain-based research to teach their students. To ensure fitness, mentally and physically, they use Bal-A-Vis-X, or Balance Auditory Visual eXercises using sandbags and racquetballs.

“It’s brain and body exercises that helps the student to have their body and their brain integrated for learning,” Walsh said.

Last year, students at Serendipity Academy, from kindergarten to sixth grade, took part in a unique online computer science class that is called Hour of Code. With over 15 million students participating worldwide during the week, it is considered to be the largest educational program. The online class was put on by, a Seattle-based company.

“It was a great experience,” Walsh added.

olympia private school

Kai Nichols and Kelsey Hickey create a project at Maker’s Faire.

To better understand how the Hour of Code program worked, Walsh did it herself.

Every student at her school, from kindergarten to sixth grade, earned a certificate of completion. It was an introduction to computer programing that might be the spark a student needs to go into that field.

“I think it was another outlet for them to see what they could do with their life,” Walsh said. “If this is something that you’re good at, then let’s expose you to it.”

At Serendipity Academy, an important component to success in the classroom is behavior. Cooperating, not being a classroom disruption, is part of the agreement between student and teacher. If a student is a disruption, a problem-solving meeting is set up between parent, child, teacher and administrator.

“We try to do our best to front load the kids on our expectations,” Walsh explained. “And we revisit them often. At the beginning of the year we talk about our school expectations.”

Those expectations are shared together with all the students at assemblies and then they’re shared with each individual classroom.

“And we revisit it often so discipline isn’t a problem,” Walsh said.

Walsh gets an occasional visit at the principal’s office with a student who was disruptive in the classroom – but not many.

“We still have our share of things that go on,” Walsh said. “But any school is going to have that.”

olympia private school

Detective Liska visits Serendipity Academy to talk about his job as a police officer.

Education doesn’t just accidentally happen. It has to have a purpose, a mission. At Serendipity Academy, that mission is to ensure “each student’s success by providing an exceptional education and fostering an environment that promotes individual growth, a passion for learning and social responsibility.”

And at the core of that mission is a team of certified teachers committed to providing the best education possible.

Walsh said her teaching staff is dedicated to helping each student grow and learn, reaching their potential. It’s a place for the A-student to excel and for the struggling student to catch up.

“We meet them at their needs,” Walsh said.

Serendipity Academy is dedicated to helping students grow academically, encouraging them and challenging them.

To learn more about Serendipity Academy or to schedule a tour, click here.


Jessie Munson – Llama Love at the Thurston County Fair

Thurston Talk - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 6:17am



By Tali Haller

thurston county fairJessie Munson, member of the Spokes 4-H Club in Rochester, enthusiastically urges Thurston County Fair visitors to check out one of the many Llama Shows – she is organizing them all!

thurston county fair

Jessie and Zion placed as the 2013 Reserve Champions (2nd place) in the Lads and Lassies Lead Contest, in which participants show off the what the animals fibers are capable of. Jessie made her outfit from the wool of her llama.

“Llamas are incredibly intelligent animals. I can’t say enough about them,” said Jessie with a smile. She continues to rave about her own beloved, brown, fluffy llama Zion, whose high intelligence and human-like behaviors makes him sound more like a friend of Jessie’s rather than a non-speaking pet. Apparently, he is grumpy in the morning (obviously, not a “morning llama”), gets bored easily, and loves to look at himself in the mirror.

“Zion’s intelligence can sometimes be a pain,” mentioned Jessie, who had to get him a yellow, plastic chain with a bell on the end of it to divert his attention from “reorganizing the stall” (taking things apart out of boredom).

Fairgoers who just want to pet, interact, and learn about llamas and alpacas can visit them in their pens, where the owners are happy to answer any questions. (A favorite question according to Jessie, is how to tell the difference between a llama and an alpaca.) However, there are many cool things people will get to see llamas do by attending a show.

A favorite show is the Llama Obstacle Courses. Depending on the specific course, viewers may get to see llamas go through hula hoops, walk over bridges, jump over obstacles, pull things, or wear an assortment of hats and scarves.

Another favorite show is the Public Relations Obstacles in which the course is designed to show how good llamas can be when interacting with others. In many cases, these obstacle courses simulate a parade. They might have to walk past windows, look into mirrors, move through differently-textured areas (wood, glass, suction cups, etc.) or be subjected to a petter (a stranger who pets them).

thurston county fair

Jessie spends much of her free time with Zion, her favorite llama.

As simple as many of these tasks may sound, they are actually great sources of amusement. For instance, due to the llamas extremely sensitive feet pads, when they walk on different types of material you can see them getting used to the new feel, which is actually very funny.

In the Llama Showmanship Contest, fairgoers can expect to see impeccably groomed llamas while their exhibitors are professionally dressed in black and white (trying to take a little of the attention away from the llamas). The goal here is to make the llama look as perfect as possible as they walk around and do a few tricks.

“This year has some especially challenging obstacles,” confessed Jessie, who works to push the exhibitors without discouraging them. She obtains most of her llama obstacles from Craigslist, self-described as the “Llama Craigslist Queen.” One of her main goals with this year’s fair is to show people what llamas are capable of and get more people involved.

“I’ve been showing animals since I was nine and showing Zion since I was 15,” said now-17-year-old Jessie. Obviously, she has a lot of experience.

Aside from the Thurston County Fair, Jessie participates in a number of county, state, and registry shows.

thurston county fair

Jessie and Zion posing after a successful day of showing at the “A Llama Affair” show put on by the Southwest Washington Llama Association.

She has also exhibited her animals, mainly Zion and her older alpaca Charlie, at the Hands on Children’s Museums’ annual fundraising event, Sand in the City, and the Harvest Festival at Michael T. Simmons elementary. Her big goal this year was to go to Nationals, which is held in Park City, Kanas in late October. Due to her dedication and llama expertise, Jessie qualified at the Black and Blue Pasture Show in Colorado recently, earning the Grand Champion (first place).

At times, exhibitors may earn premiums, but for Jessie it’s all about the fun. “I learn so much and I love what I’m doing,” she explained. As a senior at Olympia High School, Jessie has begun to plan for a future in which she sees herself involved with agricultural education (hopefully, she can incorporate her llama knowledge as well). Outside of llamas and fairs, Jessie is into music – playing in both the school’s marching band and wind ensemble – and horses.

But at the moment, it’s the upcoming fair that’s on her mind. The fair will be open from Wednesday, July 30 to Sunday, August 3. During this time, there are six total llama-based events, a different one every day except Sunday, which holds two in honor of closing ceremonies.

Wednesday, July 30 at 7:00 pm: Lad and Lassie’s Lead Contest at WOW Arena

Thursday, July 31 at 10:00 am: Llama Public Relations Obstacles at West Arena 2

Friday, August 1 at 3:00 pm: Llama Obstacles at West Arena

thurston county fair

Charlie and Jessie show off during the Thurston County Fair.

Saturday, August 2 at 1:00 pm: Llama Showmanship and Costume Contest at East Arena

Sunday, August 3 at 11:30 am: Llama demonstration and Fun Activities at WOW Arena

Sunday, August 3 at 2:00 pm*: 4-H Senior Division Large Animal Round Robin Competition (will feature horses, llamas, dairy and beef cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs) at West and East Arena

*Intermediate Division Large Animal Red Robin Competition begins at 3:00 pm.

To see the full schedule for the fair’s events click here.


Capital’s Ryan Chase and Yelm’s James Rodeman Finish High at Track and Field Junior Olympics

Thurston Talk - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 6:09am



By Tom Rohrer

little caesars logoIn the decathlon, versatility is a requirement.

Within the two day competition, athletes must perform in the following ten events – long jump, 1,500 meter run, javelin, pole vault, high jump, 400 meter and 100 meter dash, 110 meter hurdles, shot put and discus.

Used to determine the world’s best female and male athlete in the Summer Olympic Games, the decathlon features athletes armed with both strength and speed, technique and explosiveness.

Two soon to be high school seniors in the Thurston County area have proven themselves worthy on the highest national stage at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics in Houston, Texas.

junior olympics track

Ryan Chase (left) and James Rodeman competed recently in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics.

Capital’s Ryan Chase and Yelm’s James Rodeman finished second and fifth respectively in the 17-18 men’s division following the final day of competition on Tuesday, July 22.   Chase’s 6,421 points put him 814 behind champion John Lint while Rodeman posted a score of 6,003.

Heading into the competition, both Chase and Rodeman expected to contend for the championship.  Both ranked in the top five among decathletes in the nation following their performance at the Washington State Multi-Event meet in June and continued training in preparation for Junior Olympics.

“I didn’t take any time off at all really,” said Chase, the 2014 2A state champion in the decathlon, long jump and triple jump.  “We just had to keep going, keep moving forward and prepare.”

Rodeman and Chase moved forward together – the two are training partners on an almost daily basis.

“We’ve become really good friends and I think it’s because we’re both so competitive,” said Rodeman, who finished second to Chase in the state decathlon.  “We push each other and demand a lot from ourselves.”

“I have no patience for failure and James is the same way,” said Chase.  “We don’t accept it.”

Chase placed first in shot put (13.03 m), finished second to Marquis Barnes in the long jump standings (21- 11 ½ ft) and runner up in javelin (46.35 m) and notched third in high jump (6.75 ft).  Rodeman’s top event was long jump, where he finished fourth overall (20-09 ft).  He was sixth in both the 110 meter hurdles (11.61 seconds) and the pole vault (12-3 ½ ft.) and took eighth in the javelin (121-09 ft.).

Chase finished second in the 15/16 age group last year, giving him high expectations as he headed into his seventh Junior Olympics.

junior olympics track

Chase (left) and Rodeman finished second and seventh respectively in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics.

“Winning is the ultimate goal for me and I think I have a good shot,” Chase said a few days before leaving for Houston. “I will go out, have fun and do my best.”

Rodeman made his first ever appearance in the Junior Olympics and had been looking forward for the opportunity for some time.

“It’s the best of the best and that’s who I want to compete against,” he said in advance of the tournament. “I know it will be exciting and that I’ll have to compete really hard.”

Chase was one of several Baron Park Striders athletes and alumni to compete at the Junior Olympics.  Tumwater’s Peyton and Lane Russell, one of Chase’s biggest rivals in the long and triple jump competed as did Griffin School student, Colby Wilson.

The foundation for Chase’s track career was laid by Drew Stevick and his sons, all Barron Park Striders coaches and instructors at some point. (A future in the Division 1 college level may be in Chase’s future.  He has been contacted by Washington State University, University of Arizona, University of New Mexico, and University of Wyoming, among other colleges.)

isa track junior olympics

The two competitors are friends off the track, competing together for Barron Park Striders.

“They made coming to practice fun.  I remember being excited for the first time to attend practice,” noted Chase in reference to Barron Park Striders.  “I wouldn’t be in this position without all of their help.”

In the months preceding he Junior Olympics, Chase paid the instruction he received from the Stevicks’ forward.  Like he had been instructed by Casey Stevick years ago, Chase took Wilson under his wing and helped prepare him for the pentathlon (a five event version of the decathlon).

“It’s been fun because I was once in the same position, looking up to my coaches and how great they were,” said Chase. “I know where Colby is going and it’s fun to be a part of that process.”

Adding top-five national finishes to their already impressive resumes will not stop Chase or Rodeman in their consistent quest for improvement and another trip to the event next year.

“State was big for me because I knew I could compete against the best,” said Rodeman, who finished fourth in the 110 meter hurdles at the 4A state meet.  “I can just feel the momentum.”

“These meets are the best because there is so much pressure and that’s what I feed off most,” said Chase.  “I want the big stage and I think it will keep getting bigger going forward.”

For more information on the Barron Park Striders, please visit


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