By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Superintendent Kelly Shea said the carnival, set up on the green fields between Helen Haller Elementary School and Sequim High School, makes it difficult to keep students focused during the state's Measurement of Student Progress test, or MSP, which happened at the same time last year.
“The kids see it. There's all these rides going up, and they're going back to class to take the test all excited and wound up,” Shea said. “It serves as a distraction.”
The carnival, with rides and games set up for the past two years by Davis Carnivals NW, has been set up on the school grounds for the past 22 years, according to Deon Kapetan, director of the Sequim Irrigation Festival.
The festival is the oldest in the state. The 118th annual festival was held last May.
Kapetan said festival organizers are open to the idea of having a new spot for the carnival.
“We understand it can be a distraction for the kids, and I know those state tests are really important to the school district,” she said.
Prior to being placed on the school property, the carnival was in the J.C. Penney parking lot on West Washington Street.
Organizers already are pursuing two potential locations in the city, but Kapetan would not say where they are because they are in the middle of negotiations.
One spot is owned by the city, she said. The other is under private ownership.
A crucial test
Results of the MSP test, like the many other state tests administered throughout the spring, impact the school's funding and other assistance from the state, Shea said.
“Basically, we're administrating a state test of one kind or another from March until June,” he said.
“These are pretty important tests. It's never easy to get the kids to focus on these tests, but throw a carnival in the mix, and it makes it that much more difficult.”
He added that carnival workers walking the grounds between the two schools pose a safety concern for students.
“Not that anything's happened, but we really have no idea who these workers are,” Shea said. “And they're camped out, basically, right on the school grounds.”
Shea said the district has offered any assistance it can give to the Irrigation Festival's move.
“We're just asking them to see what they can do. And anything they can do would be very much appreciated,” he said.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.