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Enumclaw schools in good shape

Student Lauren Redman talks about life at Enumclaw High with fellow students and Superintendent Mike Nelson. - To view or buy photos go to www.courierherald.com Photo by Brenda Sexton
Student Lauren Redman talks about life at Enumclaw High with fellow students and Superintendent Mike Nelson.
— image credit: To view or buy photos go to www.courierherald.com Photo by Brenda Sexton

“I started with the word grateful and I’ll end with the word grateful,” Superintendent Mike Nelson said at the conclusion of his annual Enumclaw School District State of Education address Thursday night in the Enumclaw High School auditorium.

This is the third year for the event, which, Nelson said, not only gives the community an update and look at the district, but “gives us a chance to think about our goals and where we’re at midpoint in the school year.”

Nelson also used the event as an opportunity to showcase programs in the district. The EHS chamber choir performed the National Anthem and a round of “Happy Birthday” for Nelson to open the program.

Then Nelson talked about the four pillars the district operates under: head, hands, heart and habits.

The head, he explained, is academic excellence. He hit briefly on the district’s continued high test scores in reading and writing and how the district is moving forward to find a way to have the same success in math for grades kindergarten through high school.

Heart stands for the people. Nelson talked of the 550 employees and the 4,200 students and the parents, who are all working together. He also talked about the continued support from the community in its donations to programs and activities and levy support.

The hands of the district is system development, which included replacement roofing at Enumclaw Middle School and Southwood Elementary School and heating systems, all paid with levy dollars.

Nelson also talked about Habits, or what he refers to as a culture that cares. He mentioned students participation in the Battle of the Bridge food drive, which brought in more than 10,000 food items for the local food bank. There was a Thanksgiving basket program by staff and United Way contributions.

“Sometimes schools are perceived as only takers,” Nelson said referring to fundraisers and levies. “We want to switch the thinking. We are a public entity with 550 employees. How can we be giving?

EHS students Cole Snider, Monica Dion, Lauren Redman, Kendel Davis, Sarah McKinley, Lindy Prewitt and Haley Button joined Nelson. The seven shared their experiences as students, explained to the audience how a typical day might look for them. Nelson said the district is trying to involve students more by allowing them to participate in climate surveys, selecting a student representative for the district’s board of directors and bringing graduates back to speak at the Beyond High School luncheon.

Nelson then met on stage with staff members Darrell Miller, Rebekah Cheney, Sara Davis, Jackie Carel, Shirley Rhodes, Dianne Hammonds, Rose Becker and Faith Lindley to discuss the work they’ve been doing in Professional Learning Communities.

Teachers explained what goes on during early-dismissal Fridays. Many called that time to meet with other teachers and discuss student work a gift. That period of time also allows them to collaborate with peers, help students and be held accountable for student success.

As the year progresses, Nelson said district will continue to work in math, literacy and PLC, as well as high school science. The district will also begin putting its technology levy money to work in the classroom.

The largest challenge for the district looms in the state’s proposal to cut more than $1 million from its budget this spring. The district also has seen its student population drop by more than 1,000 in the past 10 years, but, as Enumclaw and Black Diamond lift building moratoriums, the district could see rapid growth five to 10 years from now.

A reception followed in the library with treats created by the EHS culinary arts program.

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