News in and around Madison Valley

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The Benefits of a Small School


By early October, I know each of the children at my school. As Head of The Valley School in Madison Valley, I get to greet our students by name each morning at the gate and ask questions that let them know I care about them. With just over 100 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, our school provides the close connections and sense of belonging that increase a child’s engagement in learning. 




Schools come in all types and sizes, but increasingly teachers, administrators, and researchers in the field of education are recognizing the advantages of small learning communities. 

Smaller schools foster a greater sense of connectedness among children, teachers, and families. Effective learning communities, at all levels but particularly in elementary schools, are based on empathy. In small schools, where every child is known and no one can fall under the radar, empathy can flourish more fully. 




Smaller schools have the flexibility to adapt more quickly to new learning opportunities. With fewer teachers and fewer scheduling constraints, small schools can respond quickly and nimbly to new topics and areas of student interest. Pulling the whole school together for a performance by a visiting musician is easier in a small school. 

In small schools, teachers know all of the students at all grades more personally. As students advance from grade to grade each year, children enter a new classroom where they and their parents are already known by the teacher. 




In smaller schools, with smaller staffs and fewer layers of administration, parents have closer contact with all members of the faculty, thus allowing for quicker, more timely communication and collaboration on strategies. Relations between parents and school people tend to be more personal and informal, thus leading to trusting, close relations. Research has shown that strong home-school relations are one of the key predictors of a positive learning experience for children and of academic success. 

At The Valley School, like many small schools, we pride ourselves in providing a positive family-like school climate where children can be themselves, can take risks safely and confidently, can engage in their learning fully, and grow into thriving members of a healthy school community. 




The Valley School is an independent School located in Madison Valley. Visit us at


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Madison Park Home and Garden Tour to Benefit McGilvra


Realogics Sotheby’s and the McGilvra PTA are working together to revive the once-popular Madison Park Home and Garden Tour. The proceeds will benefit the elementary school’s kindergarten and first-grade programs.


McGilvra Elementary School


The tour will feature 10 homes and gardens in the neighborhood. The properties comprise a variety of architectural styles, including traditional Craftsman homes and modern structures.

June 11, Noon–4 p.m.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online.


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Childcare Options and Strike Camps


Many families are wondering what to do with their children while the public schools are on strike. Here's a list of available Childcare Options and Strike Camps.



Community Centers: Garfield and Miller Community Centers have child care you can sign up for all next week. You have to register a spot and you have to register for each day separately.

To do so: follow this link and on the left hand menu use the "advanced search" and enter "strike" as a keyword search. You should see *Special Event - Teacher Strike/Walk Out" listed as an option. You can narrow the availability using the drop down in upper right-hand side to the community center you want.

Arts Aloft in Madrona will offer one day camps from 9-1 focused on impressionism. $65 a day, , email or call 206.920.2015

University YMCA has said they’ll be offering some kind of strike camp, most likely at their Magnuson Park camp/before & after care location.

Seattle’s Littlest Performers will offer theatre camps on Sept 9-11 from 9-4, with extra care available from 4-6pm. Email for information or to pre-register.

Seattle Children’s Theatre Drama School is offering day camps from 9-4 for $85 per day this week for Grades 1-5.

Sylvan of Seattle (NorthGate center only) is offering day camps for $80/day. Children will work on academic programs (reading, math, writing), as well as fun STEM activities (Lego Robots). Limited spots available.

Creative Coding 4 Kids Is offering all-day (9-5) camps starting Thursday for kids 8-12 at the Mountaineers Building in Magnuson Park. All (0r no) experience levels are welcomes. There will be plenty of breaks and outside time. Special Discounted Price: $99

TGA has some half-day tennis and golf camps available.

Wedgwood Drama is offering full-day (9-4) camps for K-3rd Graders. The’ll play theater games, build original characters, explore movement, dramatic storytelling and learn what it takes to create theater together! There will also be time for art, singing and the playground!

Little Explorers School will have outdoor day camps (8:30-5:30) starting Thursday.
Pacific Science Center has camps ($75/day) with exhibit access and planetarium or laser shows (8:15-4).


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Tours of McGilvra Elementary


McGilvra Elementary will hold three tours this school year for prospective families.  These tours will be December 12th, January 16th, and May 1st.  Parents will have the opportunity to tour the school, see a classroom in action and speak with parents who will be tour guides. 

McGilvra Elementary School

Tours begin in the lunchroom at 10:00 AM and last approximately one hour.  
If you are interested in participating in one of the tours, please call 206-252-3160 or e-mail to reserve a space on a tour.


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Reading Tutor Position Available at McGilvra


McGilvra Elementary School has a position open for a one-on-one reading tutor. 

Sound Partners Reading Tutor
18 hours/wk (approx. 9:30 am–2:00 M-Th) paid position

This is a position that makes an enormous positive impact on our students who are developing reading skills! Training and on-going guidance are provided. Applicants should have experience working with young children, and references of such. Position may also include recess supervisory responsibilities. Consistency and reliability throughout the year are a must. 


For more details, please contact Jennifer Carr, McGilvra Reading Specialist:

Please send resume and references to McGilvra Elementary Principal, Maria Breduer:


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Events at McGilvra Elementary


As we head into the week of Thanksgiving, the McGilvra community is in the middle of a food & toiletry drive in coordination with the YWCA. The food and toiletry donations continue to make a big difference for those in need over the Holiday season and through the winter. If you are a McGilvra parent, you have seen the boxes outside each classroom and at the administrative office and library.

We encourage the community to be just as involved. There are food drive donation boxes all around the community, including at Homestreet Bank in Madison Park.   

In this time of giving thanks, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving and thank you for supporting this great opportunity help those in need. 

Students and family are also continuing their tradition of service with our annual Mitten Project. The project allows families to pick a mitten to find a card inside that will help fulfill a wish for a family in need. This has always been a favorite project and very important part of what McGilvra teaches our children about being involved with the community in positive ways.


As we approach the holidays, McGilvra librarian Danae Powers and some very dedicated parent volunteers are gearing up for the Scholastic Book Fair — books are great gifts! The week long event will end with a wonderfully planned Snow Celebration concert by the McGilvra students.  

Hunter Robbins is a McGilvra parent, Communications Chair for the McGilvra PTA and can be reached at


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Events at McGilvra Elementary


Local resident and McGilvra PTA Board Member Hunter Robbins has sent a rundown of recent events and activities at McGilvra Elementary. 


On October 17th, students, teachers, and parents braved the rain to run laps around the school in what is one of our most important fundraisers of the year, the annual McGilvra Run-A-Thon. We are grateful for the wonderful support of our local business sponsors (Bert’s Red Apple, Girlie Press, Talking Rain Beverage Company, and Seattle Fire Department) and neighbors who continue to pledge dollars to support our school. We receive very minimal funding from the District toward such critical parts of a student’s life, such as arts, technology, and the essential reading and math support specialists. Thank you for the continued community support.



Class of 1958 Gift to McGilvra Library

Some of the members of the Class of 1958 had a reunion at McGilvra in August and came up with the idea of presenting living McGilvra with a gift. On October 21st, Joel Milstein from the McGilvra Elementary Class of 1958 presented principle Maria Brueder and librarian Danae Powers with a surprise donation to the McGilvra Elementary Library as a gift from the Class of ’58.



Harvest Dance

This week the students at McGilvra Elementary had fun making luminaries for the upcoming Harvest Dance on Friday, October 24th. The kids continue to help us prune and plant in the native area of the school garden, making scarecrows and decorating to make our “spooky garden” for the Harvest Dance.


McGilvra & YWCA Food Drive

The McGilvra Harvest Dance is the beginning of our Food Drive in collaboration with the YWCA. We are encouraging families to bring any non-perishable food items or toiletries to the dance to be collected as a kickoff to this important cause. We will continue to collect and distribute these donations to our community YWCA (located on East Cherry Street) through February 20, 2015.

If you have any questions or are interested in helping or donating, please email the Community Outreach Committee members Sandra Shanahan ( or Linda Moy (


Christmas Trees

The McGilvra Elementary 4th and 5th grades’ Annual Holiday Tree and Wreath Sale is has been extended to Monday, October 27th. This is another great way to support McGilvra students and build great community spirit. We’ll have easy pick-up options as well as a delivery service you can purchase for an inexpensive rate.

The tree options range in sizes from 5' to 10' tall and most wreaths are crafted to 24" with a mix of noble and cedar cones. We can attest they smell fantastic! You can order for your home or business and we would be happy to deliver to you.

Order forms went home on Friday and are due by Monday, October 27. For questions or additional forms, please contact Greg Fimmano at


African American Students & Academics Meeting

Monday, November 3rd from 6:00–7:30 PM, McGilvra Elementary will host a dinner meeting of “McGilvra Families with African American, African, Caribbean, Bi-racial and/or Multi-racial Black Students.” One of the goals is to learn what McGilvra Elementary and Seattle Public Schools are doing to support and improve academic performance and social opportunities for African American students.


Veterans Day

McGilvra Elementary students would love to hear your story! In honor of Veterans Day we would love to showcase the experiences you (or your loved ones) had serving our country. We invite you to share your stories during a videotaped interview or in person, during the Veteran’s Day All-School Assembly on Monday, November 10.

We would appreciate sharing as many stories as possible. Please contact 1st Grade Teacher Tammie Le at or Community Outreach Chair, Sandra Shanahan, at to let us know of your interest in participating.

McGilvra Kids & Vets


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McGilvra Elementary Offering Centennial Brick Pavers Until June 1st


Dear Community Members,

McGilvra Elementary is offering brick pavers to celebrate its 100 year anniversary. These lovely bricks will be placed in the walkway leading up to the school over the summer.

McGilvra Paver

You can choose a 4x9, 9x9, or 18x18 brick for $150, $500, or $1,000 with your business, children or family name. If you need a form, please email or Please turn in your completed order form with a check to the school office or mail to:

McGilvra PTA
4111 E. Madison Street, #46
Seattle, WA 98112

Please turn in your orders by June 1st.

Thank You!


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McGilvra Elementary Celebrates 100 Years With Auction


McGilvra Elementary celebrated its 100th anniversary with its biennial auction on Saturday March 22nd, at Showbox SODO. Close to 300 guests attended including current families, McGilvra Alumni, and incoming kindergarten families. The night's events were hosted by Ken Carson, who was returning for his fourth McGilvra auction. John Platt and his staff from St. Cloud's provided the catering. 

McGilvra Auction Image

The event had over 300 items donated from families, local businesses, and McGilvra teachers and staff. Some of the more popular items were Principal for A Day, where a student gets to make a new rule for that day, monitor lunch, and recess activities. A Seahawks VIP preseason training camp and a Shark Trip to the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco were also big money raisers. 

McGilvra would like to thank all of the local businesses that donated to the auction this year. Our staff and students are so grateful for your generosity. With continued cuts in education, the school relies more than ever on donations from parents and community members. Over 75% of the classrooms have a student to teacher ratio of 29:1. The money raised from the PTA pays for the art program, a part time school counselor, a math and reading specialist, part time classroom tutors, and technology and library grants. 

McGilvra would especially like to thank its Presenting Sponsors; Dan and Larry Wilcynski from Wilcynski Partners, Mark Everts from Cobalt Mortgage, Dr. Lora Shahine and Partners from Pacific NW Fertility, and Chris Husband from CleanScapes. We would like to thank Platinum Sponsor Shawn Plaster from The Plaster Group, Gold Sponsor, Park Shore Senior Living, and Bronze Sponsor, Dr. Keith B. Wong. McGilvra would also like to thank its advertisers Kevin Trombold from Trombold Law, Wally Green from AllState, and Park Postal. Hemlock Printing was a major contributor by donating the catalogs and PaperlinX donated the bid paddles. Uber car service was instrumental in getting people to and from the auction safely while providing a generous discount to auction ticket holders. McGilvra would also like to thank local artist, Richard Carl Lehman, for use of his beautiful illustration of the school in many auction materials. Our school would not be the same without your support. Thank you!


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McGilvra Auction Tickets On Sale Until Feb. 14



McGilvra Auction Image

McGilvra Elementary will be holding its biennial auction on Saturday March 22nd at 5:30pm at Showbox SODO. This is the largest fundraising event of the year for the school. McGilvra turns 100 years old in 2014 and hopes to have many alumni attend the auction along with its current families. The money raised from the auction pays for programs that are not funded by Seattle Public Schools. These include the art teacher and supplies, reading and math teachers as well as curriculum, a part time school counselor, technology tools such as Lexia and Pebble Go, teacher and library grants, and classroom tutors.

With many classes having a 29:1 student teacher ratio, these programs are more essential than ever for our children. If you would like to attend the auction, please go to our website and click "Buy Tickets." Tickets are available until Friday February 14th. You can also view our online catalog. If you have any questions, please send us email. Thank you.


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TOPS K–8 Alternative Public School


TOPS (The Option Program at Seward) is an alternative K-8 public school; if you are looking for an option school, come see firsthand why TOPS is the best alternative!

Small school environment — students, staff and teachers know each other

• Our mission concerning social justice and compassionate citizenship are woven through the curriculum in every grade
- Lots of volunteering, we are a parent-lead school
- By eliminating the achievement gap, we include students historically underserved by the public school system and help all students to meet or exceed standards.
- As a Vision, we are creating a school that empowers students to be active participants, leaders, learners, and contributors to social justice.

• Diverse student population which both complements and demands teaching empathy, acceptance, and responsibility to others. Come visit!

Elementary School Tours:
Jan 21st 9 – 10:30 am
Feb 6th 9 – 10:30 am
Jan 23rd 5:30 – 7 pm

Middle School Tours:
Jan 27th 5:30 – 7 pm
Feb 11th 9 – 10:30 am

During daytime tour sessions, you will be given a tour of the school and you will have time to speak with the principal. Some handouts will be available. No appointment is necessary. When you arrive, sign in at the main office, right near the main entrance on Franklin Avenue. We are sorry to say that visits cannot be scheduled at other times due to the disruption it causes to classes. Parking is very limited, so please allow time for on-street parking. After 9:00 am, Eastlake Avenue has some 4-hour parking zones. Thanks!


TOPS Class of 2013


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McGilvra Celebrates 100 Years With Centennial Pavers


This year McGilvra Elementary School is celebrating 100 years of educating Seattle children. The PTA will be selling centennial brick pavers between now and June 30th.

McGilvra Paver

These pavers will be placed in the outside walkway leading up to the entrance of the school. If you or your children attended McGilvra, or if you would like your business represented, you are invited to purchase a commemorative paver from the PTA. Your donation directly benefits the ongoing education enrichment programs that make McGilvra the great school that it is. The pavers come in the following sizes and prices: 4.5" x 9" $150, 9" x 9" $500 and 18" x 18" $1,000. Purchase of the two larger pavers includes the placement of a small item in our time capsule. Later this year, McGilvra will be receiving an historic landmark designation from the City of Seattle. Your name or your child's name will be represented at McGilvra for the next 100 years to come! For information or to receive an order form, please email


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Auction for McGilvra Elementary


McGilvra Elementary turns 100 years old in 2014 and will be holding its biennial auction on Saturday, March 22nd at Showbox SODO. This is the largest fundraising event of the year, and the school hopes to have many alumni attend the auction with their current families.

McGilvra Elementary School

The money raised from the auction pays for programs that are not funded by Seattle Public Schools. These include the art teacher and supplies, reading and math teachers as well as their curriculum, a school counselor, teacher and library grants, and classroom tutors. With many classes having a 29:1 student teacher ratio, these programs are more essential than ever for our children. McGilvra would love your help. If you have an item or service you would like to donate, please do. Another way you can support McGilvra is to place an ad for your business in the auction catalog — over 300 people will be seeing it. You can also be an auction sponsor. All information is available on the auction website at You can download procurement, ad, and sponsor forms from the website. If you have further questions, please email Thank you.


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McGilvra Elementary School Honors Veterans


This year, McGilvra Elementary students and faculty continued the tradition of honoring veterans by hosting an assembly and supply drive in observance of Veterans Day. Second grade Teacher Tammie Le organized the assembly which took place on November 8th. The entire student body — kindergarten through 5th grade — crowded into the school’s gymnasium to meet and learn from veterans and current service members.

McGilvra Vets Flag

The children sang songs and waved flags in appreciation of the sacrifice, hard work, and dedication of our service members. Several local veterans were in attendance. Park Shore resident, Guy Falscow, who served in the US Navy during the Korean War, shared his story about enlisting in the Seabees after college. He described his military service as “being a GPS before there was GPS,” mapping the ocean floor as a surveyor in the 1950s. Family members with children and grandchildren in attendance shared stories about serving their country in one form or another. During the month prior to the assembly, students participated in a care package drive, collecting items and creating greeting cards to be sent to soldiers deployed around the world.

McGilvra Kids & Vets


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Playground Update

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Harrison Ridge Greenbelt Update


Sixth-grade teacher Ben Wheeler has created an elective class in Urban Forestry. Students learn about plant identification and restoration techniques, as well as planting. There is an emphasis on the importance of wild green space for the overall ecology of the community. The class began in mid-October and will run until the middle of November. Ben hopes to offer the class for subsequent quarters and perhaps it will become a permanent fixture in the curriculum.

Greenbelt Photo


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McGilvra Elementary Completes Successful Run-a-thon


Congratulations to the students at McGilvra Elementary for a hugely successful Run-a-thon on October 10th. For the second year in a row, Bert’s Red Apple has been the main sponsor for this event. The students go out and collect pledges using their pledge forms or personalized web pages that were made for each student. The kids then run the perimeter of the soccer field or school, depending on their grade, for one whole hour! 

McGilvra Runners

This year the school has a goal of $55,000. The kids have until October 28th to turn in their pledges. The money raised goes towards various programs not funded by Seattle Public Schools such as art and supplies, reading and math support, a school counselor, teacher grants, and classroom tutors. McGilvra is so thankful for all the support they received around this event. Trainers from FT Training came to warm up the kids, ladies from the Seattle Reign came to cheer them on, and Ari and his band from The Music Factory played to keep the kids going. 

The student who raises the most money will receive four VIP tickets to the Lion King, generously donated by the Paramount Theater.


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Bush School Names New Head of School

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McGilvra Elementary Gets a New Principal


McGilvra Elementary is so pleased to welcome its new principal, Maria Breuder. Maria was raised in Seattle where she attended Seattle Public Schools as well as a local private school. She moved to Portland to attend Lewis & Clark College, where she received her B.A. in Psychology, and her M.A. in Teaching. Oregon was Maria’s home for many years, until she and her husband, Paul, decided to move back to Seattle in 2005. Maria and Paul have two children — Dante is 7, and Giovanna (Gia) is 5. 

Maria has been an elementary teacher for the past twelve years, beginning her career at North Plains Elementary in the Hillsboro School District in Oregon. Upon returning to Seattle, she accepted a teaching position at McGilvra Elementary, where she has taught for the past eight years. 

Maria acquired her Principal Certification through Seattle Pacific University, and served as an Administrative Intern while teaching at McGilvra. The parents and PTA at McGilvra are really looking forward to working closely with Maria and her entire family. Maria has said that it is her goal to work with our entire community (Madison Park, Madrona, Washington Park, Central and everyone in between) to make this a fantastic and successful school year for all and hopes that the community, not just the families who attend McGilvra will become more involved with helping our kids and our community.

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Youth Vitality at MLK


It has almost been a year since the Madison Park Times article, “From Conflict to Community,” was published. The article highlighted the history, challenges, success, and aspirations of the MLK FAME Community Center. As a long time arts educator, artistic director of Ewajo Dance Workshop located in Madison Valley for 15 years and youth arts coordinator at MLK, I am excited and inspired by the progress over the past year. 

Steel Pans

Since January 2012, there has been a successful and well-attended after school and summer program. It is designed so each student is introduced to dance, music, theatre, and visual arts within a 12-week session. The age range is 5 – 15 years. It is fun, energetic and open to all levels. 

Having taught for many years and seeing programs come and go, you get used to the status quo and what it brings. Closing the achievement gap and students having equal access to resources has been a prime topic of discussion and debate for a while. Having taught youth from public and private schools and different socioeconomic backgrounds, I see how vital it is to create an environment that excites, challenges, and emphasizes equal contribution from all participants. 

This summer we had a group of students from CAYA (Central Area Youth Association) and the Valley School learn, practice, and perform traditional Caribbean rhythms and songs on the steel pans (the main percussion instrument in the Trinidadian Carnival festivities). They had to work together supporting and encouraging each other while focusing on playing as an ensemble. The end result was extremely inspiring and boosted self esteem for all the students. I feel that before an achievement gap is closed, there must be a common interest and consistent interaction over a period of time. This created camaraderie and a sense that their capabilities are the same. The creativity and excitement of the performing arts makes it the perfect medium to achieve this. 

For information about class registration visit and click on the youth link. If you are interested in volunteering in the program please email me at


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Central District Street Fair


The Central District is holding its annual street fair next Saturday, August 10. The event began in 2002 as the Educational Resource Street Fair, and continues to emphasize children’s education. More than 50 public/private organizations and exhibitors will participate, with music and food, performing arts, talent competitions, arts & crafts, books and computers, and a farmers market. 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, on 24th Avenue between East Yesler Street and East Alder Street. The event is free. For more information, see their website


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MLK F.A.M.E. Open House

APRIL 1, 2013 | EDITOR

The MLK F.A.M.E. Community Center is holding an open house on Wednesday, April 24, at 7 p.m. The community organization is holding this event to announce activities, share ideas for future programs, and to mingle with neighbors and friends. Childcare provided. 3201 East Republican St. 206 257-5572

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Nature-based Preschool in the Arboretum

MARCH 27, 2013 | EDITOR

The UW Botanic Gardens is opening a nature-based preschool this fall in the Washington Park Arboretum.

Fiddleheads Forest School is offering an outdoor program of day-to-day activities, play, and exploration. As the children engage with the world around them and inquire about it, instructors will supplement the activities with a curriculum to further engage their curiosity.

The mission of the school is to promote the growth of the whole child through attention to his or her social and emotional development, self-regulation, and physical development.

See their site for more info, applications, schedules, and tuition.

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Meany Middle School to Modernize and Re-Purpose


The Seattle Schools Capital Levy (Proposition 2) has been approved. In the new funding is a $14.5 million line item to modernize and re-purpose the Meany campus on Capitol Hill. 

The existing building, originally built as a junior high, would be modernized and reopened as a comprehensive middle school. The plan will address current and projected middle school growth in central Seattle, and reduce overcrowding at Washington Middle School.

Links: Read more information on the plan or to get involved in the design process.

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