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Committee calls for fresh approaches at Mount Si High School's new freshman campus

Mount Si High School freshmen could attend a different kind of institution at a Snoqualmie Middle School annex starting in 2013, under the latest recommendation by a Snoqualmie Valley School District committee.

Months of discussion by parents and school officials culminated Sept. 9, when the High School Educational Program Study Committee presented its views on best-practice ways to make the middle school part of a high school campus.

Annexation would fix overcrowding at Mount Si and create new outlets and opportunities for ninth grade students, committee members told the Snoqualmie Valley School District Board of Directors.

Under the committee’s proposal, the new annex would act as a pilot site for new educational approaches, such as blended classes, integration of honors with regular classes, and emphases on leadership or a Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (STEM) model.

If successful, such approaches could be tried at Mount Si.

“You can’t just copy a program from another area,” said Liz Piekarczyk, a citizen representative on the group. “It was important that we identify our needs and what parts of each program would fit our needs.”

The group also recommended building social connections between freshmen and older students, and called for some movement of students between the annex and the main building.

Lisa Truemper, Mount Si teacher and committee member, said the needs and expectations for programs at a new middle school annex are the same for the high school.

“We talked about developing something that would raise the bar across 9-through-12,” she said. “It would implement those needs at a (new) facility as well as Mount Si.”

“I concur with the recommendation,” Superintendent Joel Aune said. “It will take us in the positive direction in terms of where we want to go in the future.”

The committee’s work in finding solutions, he added, is “a vehicle to accelerate” work in improving local graduation rates and reducing drop-outs.

More planning is to come. The study committee will present specifics for a replacement middle school at the board’s next meeting, Thursday, Sept. 23, at the district office.

The two-year satellite campus project would require a bond to build a new middle school on the district’s 40-acre parcel on Snoqualmie Ridge, where Carmichael Street intersects with Elderberry Avenue and McCullough Street.

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