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Art, Advanced Placement and Student Leadership Among Highlights of EHS School Board Workshop

The Enumclaw School Board was treated to several presentations from Enumclaw High School students and staff during its Tuesday night workshop illustrating goals and achievements this year.

Advanced Placement Human Geography may become the must-take class for freshmen at Enumclaw High School as in this, its first year of being offered, 89 freshmen are already enrolled in the course.

Steven Murphy, who teaches all three sections of the class specifically offered for freshmen only, told the Enumclaw School Board Tuesday night during its workshop on campus that while advanced placement classes are usually recommended for upperclassmen, the students have exceeded his expectations in being able to think critically about the material as well as genuinely enjoy the course.

Murphy enlisted the help of five of his top students to testify to why they value the material as well as show some of their work. The students spoke in consensus that the course has helped them to view the world in a different way and keep an open mind about other cultures -- both in their similarities and differences.

While it's called Human Geography, it's difficult to describe exactly what the course entails, said Murphy, though it emphasizes everything from physical geography to cultures and interactions of human beings. "What's here, and why is it here" was one way to describe the class, he said.

For more information about the course, click here to visit the website of The College Board.

The presentation about this AP class was one of three themes that school administrators wanted to share with the board, according to Superintendent Mike Nelson. In all, they were:

  1. The continued expansion of EHS's AP program
  2. The role of student leadership and the student voice
  3. The continued emphasis on the arts in the midst of continuing budget cuts

To present a case of the second theme of student leadership, sophomores Courtney Bone and Alicia Cassell spoke to the board about a DECA project they are proposing to school officials as part of their marketing class under teacher Carol Jackson.

Inspired by the ongoing community , the students sought to look for a way to build on the kindness principles of Rachel's Challenge and were guided by principal Jill Burnes to look into a Link Crew as part of the Boomerang Project.

The Link Crew, an orientation and transition program set up for high schools, is meant to help entering freshmen adjust and find a niche in their new school. Bone and Cassell cited success stories they've seen in schools in Green Bay, Wisc., and Portland, Ore. in their presentation.

In their presentations to school staff and administrators, the students are also looking for ways to fund the program, which requires training for the students who wish to take part.

Burnes commended the students for their initiative and dedication to the project. She further explained to the board that the school's Core Choice program which aims to support students at their various stages of understanding concepts while encouraging independent study once mastery is reached has ensured that in the last quarter, there were no freshmen who were failing all six classes. In fact, there were no freshmen who were failing five classes, which is the first time in four years that that's happened, she said. Like the objective of Link Crew, Core Choice aims to build a connection to school to encourage regular attendance.

"We're still exploring how do you get kids involved in school," she said. 

Tuesday's workshop began with a walking tour through the campus with stops at the main lobby area which featured new student artwork as well as two classrooms that showcased student work in crafts including jewelry-making, glass-blowing and three-dimensional art. Arts is usually the first to go when budgets get tight, said Nelson. The tour was meant to showcase the continued emphasis that the school puts into the arts, which helps to connect a lot of the kids to school, he said.

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