I think I can speak for a majority of parents this week, “how have we gotten here already? Summer break, what?” Students at Methow Valley Elementary School will be sharing their student portfolios with parents this week. A new practice that is common among the creative arts, the portfolio showcases the best work of the student from all subjects, demonstrating progress and work through the year.
In so many ways, the portfolio is a better reflection of learning than a typical report card. It’s a visual display of the work produced and organized in a representative and meaningful way. It also allows children to reflect back on their work and learning so see their own growth.
As summer break begins, so do the blockbuster hits at the movie theater. The premier of “Top Gun: Maverick,” the sequel to the 1986 phenomenon, “Top Gun,” hit the Barnyard Cinema last week, and it’s selling out the house with each showing. Prior to seeing the movie over the past weekend, rumors were circling that the battle scene was filmed in the Cascades, our proverbial back yard.
We are all accustomed to the jets from Whidbey buzzing the valley and giving air shows to skiers at the Loup Loup in the winter, so it seemed quite possible. I had to go see for myself. There are scenes that are undeniably the Cascades. One looks like a fly over Lake Chelan and the other looks like the jagged peaks of Goat Rocks wilderness, south of Yakima. The pilots from Whidbey use the Cascades for low flight training, and without a movie spoiler, this is what was required of the secret mission to destroy an enemy installation in a remote wilderness setting. So, movie-goers here in the Cascades are in for a treat to try to parse out where the Washington scenes took place.
About 10 years ago, I had a “Top Gun” encounter here in the valley. I wish it had been with Lt. Pete Mitchell after a volleyball game, but it wasn’t. It did however take my breath away. I was out for trail run in the spring up an unmarked trail along a steep canyon wall of a hidden basin on the northern edge of the Methow Valley Wildlife Area, when all of a sudden out of nowhere a fighter jet rose up from the valley floor below me. Because he was below me, I didn’t hear it for second. Out of the corner of my eye, a dark mass appeared and then a thundering vibration enveloped the air. Time slowed down. I looked over my shoulder to find myself eye-to-eye with the cockpit. At a distance of maybe 100 yards from the canyon wall and not more than 300 feet above the surface of valley, he kept his elevation for split second as time stood still. The encounter was surreal.
I doubt the pilot saw me along the hillside, but boy did I see him. It’s a vivid memory and one that’s been incorporated into dreams at night. Sometimes he waves at me or gives me a hand sign like in the movie, like our own top secret signal, but in reality he just sped off into the sky, unaware of my witness.