Vietnamese-immersion program at White Center Heights Elementary in the spotlight

January 30th, 2015 Tracy Posted in Education, White Center news Comments Off

Did you know that White Center Heights Elementary has the state’s first Vietnamese-language-immersion program? Find out about it in this story published by the Seattle Globalist (which, like WCN, is a Seattle Times news partner).

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Next Highline Public Schools bond measure: Superintendent’s open letter

December 19th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Education, Highline School District, White Center news Comments Off

Received from Highline Public Schools, on behalf of Superintendent Susan Enfield:

As the Superintendent of Highline Public Schools and a resident of the Highline community, I feel compelled to write this open letter. I am grateful to those of you who supported our bond measure last month, which fell just short of the 60% supermajority needed for passage. For those of you who opposed the bond, I also appreciate that you took the time and effort to engage in the democratic process and express your views.

On December 17, the School Board approved placing another bond proposal on the February 10, 2015 ballot. We are taking this step because in order to best educate our children, we must replace aging buildings and relieve the crowding in our schools. The proposal includes some savings gained from, among other things, eliminating the need for middle school interim sites, thus ensuring that our middle school students will not have two transitions during their middle school years.

As we move forward we will engage in a community-wide conversation about this bond proposal, including multiple opportunities at schools and in the community to hear your concerns and answer your questions. During the last election there were significant inaccuracies and misstatements shared by those in opposition to the bond, and I welcome the opportunity to correct those errors.

I extend an invitation to all community members to engage in a conversation with me, Highline Public Schools Board members, and staff about how we will provide safe, up-to-date schools for our students and staff. We will be inviting those who opposed the bond in November to participate in these meetings so that we can have an open, public dialogue on these issues. Our first meeting will be in early January and we will post all the information on our website at

I especially want to invite those who opposed the bond to participate in these public conversations so that we may hear and respond to your concerns. I strongly believe that we as adults must model for our children and young people what it means to be informed, engaged citizens and how to participate in the democratic process responsibly and respectfully.

Together we will build a better, stronger, Highline Public Schools—and deliver on our promise of knowing every student by name, strength and need.

Susan Enfield

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Mount View Elementary among Highline schools to get Techbridge

October 6th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Education, Highline School District, Schools, White Center news Comments Off

Announced today by Highline Public Schools:

Highline Public Schools is the first school district in Washington to offer an acclaimed program that gives girls an opportunity to explore technology-related fields. Techbridge, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring girls in science, technology and engineering, has selected Highline Public Schools as the first site of its national expansion.

Beginning in October, Techbridge will engage up to 200 girls in grades 5 through 8 in science, technology and engineering learning through hands-on activities, role models and career exploration. The program will be offered at five elementary schools (Beverly Park, Hazel Valley, Madrona, McMicken Heights, and Mount View) and two middle schools (Chinook and Sylvester.)

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with Techbridge to inspire our girls to become tomorrow’s scientists and engineers,” said Highline Superintendent Susan Enfield. “Techbridge is one more way we are supporting our goal for 19 out of 20 of today’s first graders to graduate tech-savvy and tech-literate.”

National expansion was made possible by a five-year $2.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to bring Techbridge’s award-winning after-school program to three cities across the U.S.

“I am thrilled to be part of an organization that truly inspires and empowers girls through science, technology and engineering,” said Elizabeth Pauley Hodges, Techbridge Greater Seattle Executive Director. “We are very excited to partner with Highline Public Schools and give girls at our partner sites the opportunity to benefit from the high quality programming Techbridge provides.”

For the past 14 years, Techbridge after-school programs have served more than 5,000 girls in grades 5-12 focusing on underrepresented communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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You’ll vote on a Highline Public Schools bond measure this November

June 5th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Education, Election, Highline School District, White Center news 3 Comments »

It’s official – the Highline Public Schools board has voted to put a bond measure on the November ballot. Full details in this announcement from the district:

A school construction bond to repair or replace deteriorating schools and ease overcrowding will go before voters on November 4, 2014. The School Board passed a resolution at its June 4 meeting to place the bond measure on the ballot.
If approved, the bond would:

-Rebuild Highline High School,

-Replace Des Moines Elementary School at the Zenith site (16th Place S. & S. 240th St., Des Moines),

-Build a new middle school at the Manhattan site (440 S. 186th St., Burien),

-Build a new middle school at the Glacier site (2450 S. 142nd Street, SeaTac),

-Make critical renovations at Tyee and Evergreen campuses,

-Provide technology improvements throughout the district,

-Make capital improvements to support arts education throughout the district, and

-Address additional critical needs throughout the district.

The bond is necessary to meet two significant challenges facing Highline schools:

1. Growing Enrollment: Projections show more than 2,000 additional students will enter Highline schools over the next 8 to 10 years. The bond would add classrooms, provide space to lower class sizes in grades K through 3, and meet the growing number of students in Highline schools. Without additional classrooms, class sizes will get larger instead of smaller, and the district would likely have to forfeit up to $2.2 million a year in extra state funding targeted for lowering class size.

2. Deteriorating Buildings: The measure would increase student safety by replacing two buildings that are nearly 100 years old and were not built to current earthquake and fire code. Critical improvements would be made in other aging buildings, especially the Tyee and Evergreen high school campuses.

“As our buildings age, repairs and maintenance are becoming more and more expensive, draining money away from the classroom,” said Chief of Staff and Finance Duggan Harman. “In addition, these older buildings do not have the electrical capacity to support the educational technology our students need to be prepared for the workplace of tomorrow.”

Planning for the bond included community input, a professional analysis of building conditions, updates to enrollment projections, and multiple Board work sessions.

School construction and capital improvements are funded through voter-approved bonds. A bond measure must be approved by a 60 percent margin.

Here is how the cost to homeowners breaks down for the $385 million bond:

Total Bond Measure Cost
$385.1 Million
Rate per thousand of Assessed Value
Average Home Value
Projected Cost Per Year
Projected Cost Per Month

For more details about the proposed bond, visit the Building for Tomorrow Today section on the district website.

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3 potential charter schools to be pitched in White Center tomorrow

January 15th, 2014 Tracy Posted in Education, White Center news 1 Comment »

Though voters in our state approved the creation of charter schools more than a year ago, none have opened yet – would-be operators are going through a vetting process. Public forums are part of that, and one is happening tomorrow (Thursday) night in White Center. Three charter schools proposed for the South Seattle/Highline area will be pitched in a forum at the Tech Access Foundation‘s Bethaday Community Learning Space – Rainier Prep (middle school) at 5 pm, Summit Public School: Sierra (high school) at 6 pm, and First Place Charter School at 7 pm. The forums are explained in this Seattle Times (WCN partner) story. The state Charter School Commission is hosting the forums – here’s the full schedule, including another forum Friday night in Tukwila – and is expected to decide by month’s end whether to approve any or all of the applications.

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Governor Inslee in White Center: Science standards announced at Cascade Middle School

October 4th, 2013 Tracy Posted in Education, White Center news Comments Off

(Top two photos by WCN co-publisher Patrick Sand)
Big excitement at Cascade Middle School on Friday afternoon – a visit from the governor. Not only did principal Diana Garcia and her students enthusiastically welcome Governor Jay Inslee, who has White Center roots, but so did leaders from throughout Highline Public Schools, including Superintendent Susan Enfield. The governor joined State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn at Cascade to talk about the new science standards. But before they spoke, he spent some time with students, asking if they like science and wondering what new ideas they’re working on. Student Ming Tong volunteered one:

He told the governor that we should be working on low-polluting or even non-polluting aircraft fuel. Gov. Inslee said there’s some work under way at Washington State University, but was so impressed by Ming’s suggestion, he gave him a pin (an apple he says he hands out daily to someone with a good idea).

As for the new standards, read Superintendent Dorn’s announcement here; read about the standards themselves here.

To see more of today’s visit – check out this clip put together by the district:

Governor Inslee Visits Highline from Highline Public Schools on Vimeo.

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Holy Family gets TV showcase during Pope’s installation ceremony

March 21st, 2013 Tracy Posted in Churches, Education, Holy Family, White Center news Comments Off

Thanks to both Gill and Christine for suggesting we republish this story – KING 5 coverage of White Center’s Holy Family Parish School watching, and learning during, this week’s installation of Pope Francis.

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‘Exciting times are ahead': Superintendent on federal grant announcement

December 12th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Education, Schools, White Center news Comments Off

Highline Public Schools is among the regional districts that joined forces to seek – and win – a big federal grant. Here’s what our partners at The Seattle Times are reporting about it; here’s the reaction of HPS Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield, per district e-mail to media:

As many of you know, Highline joined with several South King County school districts to apply for a federal Race to the Top grant. I am thrilled to announce that our proposal has been granted full funding of $40 million. We are one of just two applications across the country to receive the full $40 million.

I want to thank Alan Spicciati and other members of the Highline team who contributed to developing our application. This was a regional team effort, and I am so proud to be part of the coalition that put together this successful application. Most importantly, this grant will give us the opportunity to make a significant difference for the children of Highline and the South King County Region. … Exciting times are ahead!

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The kids at Mount View Elementary need you: ‘Compramos libros en Español, por favor!’

November 19th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Education, How to Help, White Center news 7 Comments »

Mount View Elementary in White Center needs your help – and it’s really easy.

Shoshanna Cohen, the ELL Interventionist at Mount View, explains that the school “has an incredibly high Hispanic population and very limited books in Spanish for them to read,” so: “We entered a contest through Santillana where the grand prize is $5000 grant for Spanish books for the school. The entire contest is based on votes and you can vote every day.”

Here’s how:

Go to this webpage and click the lower-right link that says VOTAR/VOTE.

You’ll go to a page with the entries – look for the student in the Cat in the Hat-striped hat, and that’s for Mount View. You can watch their video – same one embedded above here – or just click “vote for this video.” It’s fast and easy – NO registration, NO signing up for anything.

Cohen adds, “I love my school and my students are amazing -there is so much research showing that by promoting the student’s first language, their growth in their second language (English) is astronomical.”

The competition runs through next weekend – so no time to waste, vote for Mount View today!

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Grand-opening reception tonight for TAF’s Bethaday Community Learning Space in White Center

October 24th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Education, White Center news 1 Comment »

The Technology Access Foundation‘s Bethaday Community Learning Space in White Center’s Lakewood Park is ready for its closeup – and tonight is your chance to take a look inside! The community grand-opening reception is 5-8 pm. Project details are here; it’s been 14 months since the groundbreaking celebration. Find the center at 605 SW 108th.

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White Center Heights Elementary to offer dual-language program next year

September 6th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Education, Highline School District, Schools, White Center news 1 Comment »

From Highline Public Schools:

More Highline Kindergarteners will learn a second language at school starting next fall. Highline will open new dual language programs at White Center Heights and Madrona elementary schools. Each school will have two dual-language Kindergarten classes starting in fall 2013.

Madrona will offer Spanish immersion. At White Center Heights, there will be one Vietnamese immersion and one Spanish immersion class. Half of the students in each program are native English speakers and half are native speakers of the other language. Students spend 50 percent of every day learning in English and the other 50% learning in the second language.

Each year, the schools will add a grade level as students progress through each grade and new Kindergarteners enter the program every fall.

Hilltop and Mount View elementary schools were the first two schools in the district to offer Spanish dual language programs. The first cohort at Hilltop will enter 7th grade in 2015. Highline plans to expand dual language to middle school at that time.

Demand for dual language classrooms in growing in Highline. “We anticipate expanding to other elementary schools in the next three to five years,” said Bernard Koontz, Director of Language and Cultural Arts.

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First day at Holy Family School: New dual-language program debuts

September 4th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Education, Holy Family, Religion, Schools, White Center news 1 Comment »

Big smile from Holy Family Parish School principal Frank Cantwell – it’s the first day of school and the first day of a new program that will continue growing over the years. Holy Family is debuting its dual-language program. The principal explains, “We have hired seven bilingual teachers from Mexico, South America and Spain. Our Pre-School, Pre-Kindergarten, and Kindergarten students will be learning half their subjects in Spanish and half in English. Each year, we will include the next grade up. For now, all the students in Grades 1 through 8 will be taught in English, but learning Spanish in the more traditional approach.” One of the new teachers is Flori Muñoz from Argentina:

Here’s her kindergarten classroom from another angle:

Assistant principal Anca Wilson was conducting parent orientation:

Also happening this week at Holy Family – the annual Street Fair is coming up Saturday and Sunday (September 8-9). Principal Cantwell says, “We will be having Mexican, Filipino and Vietnamese foods, as well as hot dogs and hamburgers. We will have pony rides again this year, and we have built a water slide that I am sure will be a big hit with the kids. We will also be having a variety of ethnic music and dancing. We expect it to be bigger and better than ever.”

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First day of school for Highline – and new superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield

August 30th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Education, Highline School District, White Center news Comments Off

(Photo by Nick Adams for White Center Now)
Be careful out there! It’s the first day of school for Highline Public Schools. In our photo, that’s new Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield at a bus stop this morning, headed for White Center Heights Elementary; she’s also scheduled to visit Mount View Elementary and Shorewood Elementary. More later.

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Three more days of summer vacation for Highline Public Schools

August 26th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Education, Highline School District, White Center news Comments Off

Before this week is out, thousands of Highline Public Schools students will be back in class. Thursday is the first day of school. Last day: June 13, 2013.

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Go to college without leaving White Center! Highline Community College to hold classes

March 20th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Education, Greenbridge, White Center news Comments Off

Starting next month, Highline Community College will offer a class, Introduction to Communications, in Greenbridge. Here’s the official announcement.

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South Seattle Community College offers workshop for Pacific Islander families

March 2nd, 2012 Tracy Posted in Education, White Center news 1 Comment »

White Center CDA is among the community partners for this upcoming workshop at South Seattle Community College:

Families of prospective Pacific Islander students at South Seattle Community College are invited to attend a FREE workshop to will learn how to support the educational progress of their family member attending the college. Parents, grandparents, siblings, partners, children, and spouses can all positively impact the success of a college student, and this informative workshop will provide them with the tools they need to make a difference.

Attendees will learn about what it is like to be a Pacific Islander college student at South; obtain information about campus resources to help students; and discover the many important ways they can help their student get the most out of the college experience. The workshop is ideal for new students and their families to encourage them to get a strong start on their college career. It is also extremely useful for current Pacific Islander students and their families as well.

Admission is free, but advance sign-up is requested.

Contact & RSVP: (206) 934-6487

Tongan and Samoan interpreters will be available.

This workshop was developed and presented by South’s AANAPISI grant; Student Outreach, Admissions and Recruitment; 13th Year Scholarship program; the Cultural Center; and TRiO Student Success Services. Community partners include U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle, Southwest Youth and Family Services and White Center Community Development Association.

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Financing deal closes for Technology Access Foundation project in White Center

February 1st, 2012 Tracy Posted in development, Education, Lakewood Park, White Center news 4 Comments »

(Rendering of new center)
Announced today via news release (read it in its entirety here): A financing deal that’s part of the package for the TAF center in Lakewood Park has closed. Here’s how the $ shakes out:

Financing for the facility was supplied by multiple public and private partners. Enterprise Community Investment, one of the largest allocatees of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), provided $12.5 million in NMTC allocation. A $2.9 million bridge loan was financed by Enterprise Community Loan Fund, which used proceeds from the sale of its Enterprise Community Impact Note to fund part of the loan. The Seattle Foundation made a $1 million investment in the Note last April as part of its commitment to support development of projects that promote the health of local communities. Impact Capital participated in the bridge loan by providing $1.46 million of the $2.9 million in bridge financing. Other financing included $2 million from King County, $1.5 million from the State of Washington; $1 million from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; a $500,000 federal appropriation arranged by Senator Patty Murray; and $300,000 from Microsoft Corporate Community Affairs.

The three-story facility is expected to be open before year’s end.

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Highline’s interim superintendent visiting ’50 sites in 50 days’

September 1st, 2011 Tracy Posted in Education, Highline School District, Schools, White Center news Comments Off

Here’s a unique way to experience today’s first day of school in Highline Public Schools – and 49 more days after that: Interim Superintendent Dr. Alan Spicciati is planning to visit “50 sites in 50 days,” and he’s writing about it here. He started with writing about his Tuesday Madrona Elementary in SeaTac, and it looks like he plans to write about visiting a few more schools on this actual first day of classes. (In case you’re wondering, on the other side of the line, Seattle Public Schools don’t start till next Wednesday.)

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Let the construction begin! Groundbreaking for Technology Access Foundation’s ‘Bethaday Community Learning Space’ in White Center

August 27th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Education, Lakewood Park, White Center news 2 Comments »

(From left: Dow Constantine, King County Executive; Miya McClain, TAF Alum; Biruk Araya, TechStart Student; Trish Millines Dziko, TAF Executive Director; Ken Birdwell, Valve Philanthropist; Joe McDermott, 8th District King County Councilmember; Alan Spicciati, Highline Interim Superintendent)
Story, photos, and video by Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

The Technology Access Foundation‘s long-awaited White Center facility has just celebrated its ceremonial groundbreaking.

Dignitaries gathered for the event celebrating the now officially named “Bethaday Community Learning Space” in White Center’s Lakewood Park A large gathering of neighbors and dignitaries gathered on a rise of gently sloping green space, a building site chosen with the environmental goal of minimal disturbance to and inclusion within the existing natural surroundings.

Nearby groves of trees will be preserved for cooling the building, as well as a number of other innovations in design and materials for the energy and water efficient building.

TAF executive director Trish Millines Dziko explained to the gathering that the new official name of the facility is a consolidation of two inspired individuals in education and science, Mary McLeod Bethune and Michael Faraday. Dziko also noted that 92% of the fundraising has been completed and encouraged the participants to support the final efforts to secure the remaining funds as the construction begins.

The 24,000 sq. ft. Bethaday Community Learning Space will create opportunities for White Center community members to participate in computing, financial-planning, job training and other classes, according to TAF; groups will also be able to rent spaces in the building at a low cost so programs can be operated which benefit the community, including out-of-school options.

Ken Birdwell, founder of Valve, and a philanthropist supportive of TAF, told WCN that he is looking forward to coming back to Bethaday in ten years to hire the future engineers he will need in his own computer game industry who will have been inspired to pursue science and technology careers within the Bethaday Learning Community.

Friday’s festivities also included performances – here’s the WC-based Tanoa Polynesian Dance Group:

For more about the project, check out this webpage.

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Date announced for Technology Access Foundation groundbreaking at Lakewood Park

July 29th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Education, Hicks Lake, Lakewood Park, White Center news Comments Off

It’s been a long time in the making, but Dick Thurnau of Friends of Hicks Lake tells WCN Technology Access Foundation has announced August 26th as the groundbreaking date for the long-long-awaited learning center in Lakewood Park (home of Hicks Lake). They have raised 92 percent of the $13 million needed for the three-story, 25,000 square-foot building, where students will have access to science, technology, engineering, and math (often shortened to STEM) coaching and learning. The building will be south of Lakewood Park’s upper parking lot; enter from SW 108th; the August 26th event is set for 10:30 am-noon, all welcome.

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