Community life built around rural schools in Washington State

via Education World

Rural eastern Washington enjoys a 100% graduation rate. The secret? The community functions around the school. With the loss of community centers and the high concentration of school districts with only 500 students, community members have taken charge of the situation by integrating school with town life. As reported by the Seattle Times, both residents and facilities are doing double-duty:


Church pastors serve as substitute teachers. Local business owners and farmers moonlight as bus drivers. School buildings double as meeting sites, nighttime gyms, one-day flu-shot clinics and festival centers.

Students also give back by taking active roles in community events, volunteer opportunities, and Chamber of Commerce projects.


The Seattle Times describes the circumstances in their article:


There are 96 students who are bused to Harrington School from a 328-square-mile area. Younger and older classes are separated by a gym, an auditorium and a swimming pool. A typical graduating class ranges from eight to 15 students, and Harrington boasts a 100 percent graduation rate several years running.


Town residents embrace the schoolchildren by attending events and volunteering their time or land or livestock. Class sizes are small, and students receive lots of one-on-one attention.

If students try out for a sport, they won’t be cut. If they want a leadership role in clubs like FFA or Future Business Leaders of America, chances are they’ll get one.


“We have what Bill and Melinda Gates spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to create in big schools,” said Betty Warner, Harrington School District’s agricultural teacher, referring to the foundation’s work in education.


Eastern Washington is mostly farmland, with two of the counties producing the largest amount of the nation’s grain. By placing priority on school facilities and making them the heart of the community, East Washington has managed to ensure the success of its communities. Could such a strategy be replicated in Bertie County?

Seattle Times | Rural schools are often the heart of E. Washington towns

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