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Eighth annual LWSF luncheon brings in more than $216,000 in donations
State legislators, council members, educators and parents were among a record-number of 562 guests at the Lake Washington Schools Foundation’s eighth annual benefit luncheon on Wednesday.
The Legacy for Learning gathering, held at Juanita High School (JHS), was to ensure that students could succeed — despite the mounting odds against them today — as long as the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) can implement its new “Signature Programs,” designed to hone in on the in-demand 21st century skills, which are desperately needed in today’s work force.
And with more than $216,600 in donations to the foundation, an amount exceeding the district’s fund-raising goal, LWSD students may see the three-period long “Signature Programs” as early as this fall.
“Currently, Washington state is struggling with finding funding for basic education,” said LWSD Superintendent Traci Pierce. “And in Lake Washington School District, we’re striving to implement programs that are far beyond basic. (But) basic isn’t good enough. Basic will not lead to our students being future ready.”
According to Pierce, the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, educational approach will be the focus of the programs because of the growing skills gap so many employers, such as Microsoft Corp., have reported.
“At the same time employers are finding that young people are not prepared to be successful in the work place, global problems in our world are mounting,” Pierce said. “Acts of terror, threats of nuclear war, environmental disasters, failing urban infrastructure and decay, political unrest, new antibiotic resistant virus strains and attacks on cyber security are recorded almost every day.”
Although the school district opened a STEM high school last fall, Pierce (below) said it is important for every LWSD high school to have a focused “Signature Program” and will be available to all high schools in the district within the next two years. However, Redmond High School (RHS), JHS, Emerson High School (EHS) and STEM School will begin the program this September.
The vision, “Every Student Future Ready, prepared for college, prepared for the global work force, prepared for personal success,” has prompted the district to connect educational content to real world situations.
Teacher Gregg McDonald with RHS explained their program will focus on the policies, problems and solutions surrounding global health.
“The social studies content of the program will involve an examination of the social, political and cultural issues facing medical professionals globally, using a problem-based model,” he said. “Students might investigate what cultural challenges have impacted vaccination efforts in parts of Africa and the Middle East and develop a plan for how best these challenges can be overcome.”
Rebecca Townsend, a teacher at JHS, looks forward to partnering with Evergreen Health Medical Center to bring real world applications of global health that aren’t available in the classroom as her students also study global health issues.
EHS students will learn about food and sustainability during the last six weeks of school. In addition to reading and analyzing books, a garden/green house will be created by students and teachers so specific questions about food production and hunger in the United States may be examined.
Students at the STEM School will learn in their “Signature Program” about environmental engineering and sustainable design, digital media and game design and forensics/psychology.
Keynote speaker CEO and president of Alaska Airlines Brad Tilden praised teachers, parents and staff members of the LWSD for helping to provide for the next generation, as well as educate the future leaders, because he believes “education is the way to take advantage of the opportunities” and is the way to address many of the world’s problems.