Different campus, same choices: Snoqualmie district to take high-level look at Freshman Center solutions this Thursday

The 2013 freshman class may be going to a separate building from their older schoolmates, but they will have a true high school experience, say district administrators.

“They’re still Mount Si High School students,” said Vernie Newell, who gave a recent update on the proposed Freshman Learning Center to the Snoqualmie Valley School Board.

Newell, now principal at Snoqualmie Middle School, will serve as principal for the freshman branch when it takes over Snoqualmie Middle School next year.

Incoming freshmen, he said, will have a core curriculum of language arts, math and integrated science, with a newly required Science Technology Engineering and Math, or STEM,  component, and will enjoy all the extra-curricular activities that students attending Mount Si have.

“Those elements that really connect students with school, that are outside of the classroom learning, will be available for our students,” he said. “We’ve already worked with transportation, we have a plan on how students will be able to access those activities, whether it’s at the freshman campus, or it’s at the main campus.”

The same is true for assemblies, he said, and students will benefit from an advisory model in future planning.

“What we’re talking about is more than just an advisory model. What we’re talking about is really focusing and steering students toward what are their interests and their passions, and how that plays a part in their upper class-work, as they move into their sophomore, junior and senior years,” Newell said, “…so they have more of a guided understanding of where they want to go, now and in the future.”

More detailed information will be provided to the board at the next meeting, said Superintendent Joel Aune, who presented the update with Newell. This evening’s presentation, he said, was “setting it up for the Oct. 18 work session, at which time I think we’ll be prepared to really share with you some of the particulars associated with the freshman campus.”

Newell and Aune also described for the board the planning process and input used to plan the freshman campus and its offerings.

A core planning committee, including Newell and Aune, formed earlier this year to begin the work of getting the freshman campus up and running. Also on the committee are Assistant Superintendent Don McConkey, Student Services Director Nancy Meeks, Instructional Technology Director Jeff Hogan, Mount Si High School Principal John Belcher, Assistant Principal and CTE Cirector Cindy Wilson, and teacher Kyle Warren.

Working with the planning team, Aune said, was a staff advisory team, comprised of about 20 teachers and staff members from Mount Si High School. Their input was critical to the planning group, he said, because “chances are a number of these teachers will actually be teaching at the freshman campus.”

A third group, which Aune called a focus group, had been assembled the week prior to the meeting. Aune said the first meeting, of 30 to 40 people, was successful. He did not specify how the group members were selected, however, and several parents in the audience asked to be included in future focus group meetings.

The school board’s work session begins at 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18, at the School District office, 8001 Silva Ave. S.E.


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