Congratulations to Foster High’s Class of 2017! On June 16, we had more than 180 seniors walk across the stage to accept their diplomas. As always, this was an incredibly moving, unabashedly joyful event. As superintendent, graduation is it – the culmination of everything we do, the summation of all the lessons, support and love that we have poured into our scholars since before kindergarten, in many cases. The mission of the Tukwila School District is twofold: one, to ensure that all of our children make it to graduation, and, two, to ensure that a Foster High diploma carries with it the rigor and relevance to open limitless career and life possibilities to our graduates. We are making major strides in each area.
Listening to the journeys of our seniors, I am proud and confident they will be the change we want to see in the world. There’s Amy Nguyen, for instance, who garnered more than $2.84 million (wow!) in scholarship offers as she continues her quest to enter the medical field. Or consider Jabez Adjei, who lost some of his closest family members in Ghana before immigrating here; he was still in English-language learner classes as a freshman, but through sheer tenacity he ended this year as a star in college-level English literature and composition. Our graduates are brilliant, compassionate, resilient, beautiful people who have overcome unimaginable obstacles and will continue to overcome obstacles to reach their potential.
So, again, congratulations, Class of 2017. The entire Tukwila community celebrates you.
I can’t overstate how it takes the entirety of our educational system – preschool through senior year – to prepare each graduating class for the dynamic global economy. So as we round out the 2016-17 school year, I want to recognize some of the bigger systemic accomplishments of our district.
• Graduation rate: For the second year in a row, our overall graduation rate significantly increased, jumping 20 percentage points since 2015. Each subgroup of students has also shown incredible gains. For this achievement, Foster was the only high school in Washington to receive the Pathways to Excellence Award, which included a documentary feature shown across the state on KCTS television in the fall.
• We are full-speed ahead in our intense STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) focus. We will be the first district in the state to open SmartLabs in fall. These are hands-on, high-tech spaces that integrate curriculum into real-world, student-led projects.
• Our scholars have had huge wins at the state-level: Foster High students were awarded the Cup of Excellence in the Student BioExpo for their research projects; Showalter Middle students won the MESA engineering competition; and Showalter Middle and Tukwila Elementary students took top honors in the computer-science coding contest at Microsoft.
• Our construction projects funded by the 2016 bond are on time and on budget. We are beginning at Cascade View Elementary as soon as school is out, completing critically needed repairs, including the roof, and modernizing facilities. Foster High’s STEAM wing, the new Birth to Kindergarten Center, Showalter’s STEAM wing and critical repairs and modernizations to Thorndyke and Tukwila Elementary will soon follow.
• We are developing career pathways – business management and administration, health and human services, information technology, and manufacturing – that will provide our scholars access to in-demand, living-wage careers with industry certification upon graduation. Our partnership exploration has led us to conversations with Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft and Sabey, among others.
Thank you to our scholars, staff, families, and residents who made all this possible. You know the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child – well, it takes the Tukwila community to graduate a group of students as diverse and vibrant as our Class of 2017.
Tukwila School Superintendent Nancy Coogan can be reached at 206-901-8006 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.