Whatcom Intergenerational High School
What: Celebrate Authorization of WIHS
When: 3 pm Sat., Oct. 26
Where: Sylvia Center for the Arts, 205 Prospect St.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Basking in the warm afterglow of the 2012 general election, two successful statewide initiatives struck me as being particularly momentous for determining a better and more equitable quality of life for all current and future generations of Washingtonians.
Granted, Measure 502—concerning the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults—seemed like a no-brainer. And just as the initiative’s sponsors promised, 1.7 million or so other “yes” voters helped make that dream come true.
But the other one, Measure 1240—concerning state funding of a public charter school system—proved to be far less bankable and pretty much gave me fits right up to the very end of what seemed to be a hopelessly fraught and endless vote-counting process.
Fortunately, after previously rejecting similar ballot measures in 1996, 2000 and 2004, skeptics finally dropped their guard just enough to warm up to the concept and, finally, at long last, squeak the thing through by a thin and extremely brittle margin of victory.
Victory though it was, a lengthy, high-powered series of legal challenges soon followed, claiming the laws our state legislature kept drafting and redrafting to uphold it were unconstitutional because they were paying to operate these schools with money from our general fund.
Like one of my longtime National Outdoor Leadership School instructor friends in Mazama called up to tell me soon after a decision was made to fund charter schools with lottery proceeds instead of restricted tax money—yes, we deserved a big pat on the back for finally managing to embrace public charter schools, but on the other hand, after all that, it did seem like a pretty feeble embrace.
As a well-seasoned outdoor educator who has gladly invested many grueling, mud-spattered hours and burned through countless pairs of work boots helping to provide hands-on, trail-based learning experiences for several thousand at-risk children and young adults in this culturally diverse, topographically endowed neck of the woods, I concurred with her sentiment wholeheartedly.
How a state that is progressive enough to thwart federal narcotics laws by instituting its very own epoch-making drug policy has taken so long to grapple with the concept of seeding smaller, more adaptable, project-based learning institutions to function and flourish within our established framework of traditional classroom-based schools so they can benefit from and feed off each other is a dichotomy that bears pondering.
But I digress.
A dedicated group of forward-thinking folks have taken it upon themselves to establish a charter school in Bellingham called Whatcom Intergenerational High School (WIHS).
Scheduled to open for the 2020-21 school year, WIHS weaves phenomenon-based learning and critical literacy into an accredited academic program that provides opportunities for diverse generations by connecting students in meaningful ways with elders. Enrollment for the upcoming school year at WIHS begins Fri., Nov. 1.
In celebration of their recent authorization as Whatcom County’s first charter school, WIHS is hosting an open house Sat., Oct. 26 at the Sylvia Center so, regardless of age, you and your children can learn more about their intriguingly inclusive education model from the founders themselves.
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