Mercer Island 11-year-old aims to save the word, one carnival at a time

Carnival signs at Luther Burbank on June 1 led to a hilltop where several “tween” girls sat in the trees, watching their chums perform a puppet show for younger carnival-goers. Magic tricks, games and treats awaited their pleasures.

Posters and handouts informed kids how to help save the rainforests and other endangered things of the world. Fourteen girls directed me to 11-year-old Zoey Pressey, who organized this — her third annual “benefit carnival.”

“This is my part in helping the environment,” said the MI girl who will enter sixth grade at Forest Ridge Academy next fall. “I’ve been reading about global warming since second grade and am concerned that they’re chopping down rainforests the size of the state of Washington every year. Do you know that only two percent of the Golden Tamarind monkey’s habitat is left?”

“Don’t forget to tell about saving the wolves,” chimes in one of her buddies.

Zoey says she is also concerned about water pollution and other issues that fill dozens of her notebooks. Her e-mail address includes the phrase, “”

She’s not at all intimidated by this mission, she says.

“Melinda Gates recently was at Forest Ridge to celebrate our 100th year, and she told us that in another 100 years, how the world will look is up to us," she said. "It really motivates me." Profit from fun was $300, plus the chance for 15 girls to recycle their toys as prizes.

Margaret Atwood, environmentalist and writer, says: “At the end of a spring day, you should smell like dirt.” One who agrees is Bill Rodgers, who grows 150 varieties of irises at our CCMV community pea patch. Since irises bloom for only one month, Bill scurries to distribute his bounty to the MI Chamber office, MI Community Center and condo lobbies around town. Bill says he was bit by the iris bug years ago. His pea patch fervor began when his dad, Walter Rodgers, cultivated one at the MI Presbyterian Church in the 1980s.

When the irises finish, Bill’s 500 gladioli will begin blooming, along with zinnias and other perennials that he planted on a weedy hillside there. “I got bored with dahlias,” says the contract geologist by trade, who has filled local establishments with free flowers for over a decade.

Kiss and Tell: When Erica Clibborn, daughter of Judy and Bruce, recently turned 35, she invited friends to a private showing of “Sex in the City” at The Big Picture in Seattle. Instead of gifts, she asked them to donate to Washington Women in Need. On June 1, Erica’s cast of 88 came dressed in character to cheer for their “fav” character in the movie. WINN director spoke about women empowering women. Linda Jackman, Terry Moreman, Prudy Bair, Candy Bretschneider and Judy were the only over-40s. (Pssst: Bruce Clibborn snuck into the movie, the only guy attending.) Proud parents applaud these next generation stewards who mustered $4,000 for a good cause and had a blast in doing so.

Speaking of Clibborn, Gov. Christine Gregoire — who visited the Island last week — applauded her and Fred Jarrett as legislative champions of the 520 bridge replacement plan, now targeted for 2014. It likely will be two lanes each way with two more lanes dedicated for high capacity and breakdown shoulders for disabled vehicles. Additional 520 lanes would dump too much snarl onto I-5, she explained. Yes, tolling will be necessary.

Fifty IS Nifty: MIHS first Golden Grads class of 1958 plans a weekend extravaganza on Sept. 12-14, its 50th reunion: caravan tours of old schools and haunts, golf and lunch, a dinner soiree and a Sunday brunch. They will also sell “Mercer Island Merlot” and, with the Class of 2008 Senior Service Club, will give the school a lit computerized sign to publicize school events.

MIHS Alumni presented their first gifts at the June 6 MIHS Senior Awards Breakfast. Tony Nugent, first winner of the Ethel C. Johnson Award for scholarship, citizenship, service and leadership, awarded the alumni trophy to the 2008 recipient, Mihir Parikh, an inspiration for taking the shy or underprivileged under his wings. “Mihir is all about wanting to make others happy,” says his dad, Sanjiv. Mihir is a scholar, an ASB veep, a Bridges activist and a summer volunteer at an orphanage in India. Next: Whitman College.

Gordon Maclean presented a 1958 Class Picture Plaque for the Distinguished Grads Wall, along with an original MIHS logo plaque. Class memorabilia will be in the front hall at MIHS with the first ISLA yearbook and Mercer HI Times newspaper; dance programs, activity items, letter sweaters and awards that show the progression of school colors from maroon and silver to maroon and white, says Sally Ford Brown. Other committee members are Larry Brown, Ted Heaton, Peggy and Dave Hiatt, Gordon Maclean, Jeff Martine, Judie Phillips, Mike Terry, Bill Webster, Bob and Kay Wiley and Jeff Williams. Interest grows to form a Golden Grads Association to perpetuate support for its alma mater.?

Drum roll, please: John Matthews, MI officer in Rotary’s districtwide organization, is helping to gather 1,200 gently used musical instruments of all kinds for Seattle schools. “Music 4 Life” organizer Dick Lee told MI Rotarians that he was once a young boy headed for trouble until the school music teacher requisitioned him a tuba — and a new purpose for life. For details, see

To contact Nancy Hilliard, e-mail her at


Correction to last week’s column: reader Kit Phillips, who worked at MI’s first library in the Guild Hall as a teenager, says that her librarian there was Mrs. Holloway: “Ms. Gayhart may have been the first, but she was not the only librarian in that location.”

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