Councilmembers Tour New Risdon Middle School
Posted on 08/11/2017

As the summer winds to a close, students are gearing up to head back to school.

There are three different school districts represented in Newcastle: Issaquah, Renton and a small section of Bellevue. Issaquah School District classes begin Sept. 6 (Sept. 11 for kindergarteners), Renton starts on Aug. 30 (Sept. 5 for kindergartners) and Bellevue begins on Aug. 31 (Sept. 5 for kindergartners).  

Drivers, please be mindful of school zones when children are present and adhere to any posted speed limit signs. As a reminder, it is illegal to pass a school bus stopped to load or unload children. See the full state law here.

There are two elementary schools within Newcastle city limits, and a middle school joins the list this fall. Vera Risdon Middle School opens right next to Hazelwood Elementary School. A few Newcastle City Councilmembers joined Renton School District officials on a tour of the new middle school on Aug. 9.

“It’s really a great addition for the community as a whole,” said Newcastle City Councilmember Carol Simpson, one of the council members who toured the school.

Vera Risdon Middle School sits on the exact spot where its namesake served many years as both principal and teacher. Risdon's name should be familiar to Hazelwood community members. The longtime Renton School District educator was the Hazelwood Elementary principal from 1986-1992.

She most recently served as the district's interim superintendent, after Mary Alice Heuschel left to take a position with Gov. Jay Inslee.

"The Renton School District has been a very important part of my life for nearly a half-century," she said in 2013 after accepting the interim role. "It's truly an honor and a privilege to serve Renton students, staff and community in this capacity."

Before retiring in 2013, she had been an educator in the Renton School District for nearly 50 years:

• Teacher in five different schools from 1966 to 1982 (Hazelwood, Campbell Hill, Benson Hill and Renton Park elementary schools and McKnight Middle School)

• Principal at Highlands (1982-86) and Hazelwood (1986-92) elementary schools

• Assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and technology (1992-2000)

• Associate superintendent for elementary education (2000-2007), part-time

• Assistant superintendent (2011-2012)

• Interim Superintendent (2013)

In May, Risdon teamed up with the Friends of Renton Schools Foundation to raise money to enhance musical options for the new school’s incoming students. Risdon, who is a passionate musician, wants to ensure as many students as possible have options to get involved in music from the beginning. Learn more about the campaign at

Learn more about the new middle school and see photos on the Renton School District website here.

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