Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Wahkiakum High School receives OSPI's Distinguished School Award

Wahkiakum High School was one of four schools in the state of Washington this academic year to be selected by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for a ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Distinguished School Award.

The award also names WHS Principal Stephanie Leitz.

To be eligible for this award, schools must qualify for one of three things--exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years, closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years, or excellence in serving special populations of students, for instance, homeless, migrant, or English learners.

Other factors are considered. Evidence of closing educational achievement and opportunity gaps, standardized assessments showing positive academic achievement growth over multiple years in English and math, a poverty percent over 45 percent, and enrollment.

WHS received a visit from Dr. John R. Mishra, assistant superintendent of the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction on Tuesday, along with a plaque.

"It's a really big honor," Leitz said. "I'm excited about it."

She said WHS was selected for the first category, exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years, with a high number of students showing proficiency in English.

And for Leitz it's all thanks to hard working teachers, and a community that is willing to step up for local students.

"It's our team approach," she said. "Our teachers are willing to wear so many hats and work endlessly to help kids with any kind of academic deficit and help them learn and understand what they need to do to be successful when they leave. It's also the community partnerships like our robotics or the extra elective during Mule Success Time, where kids have an opportunity to get help from mentors and teachers."

She listed off more partnerships with the local health department and the student health care advocates that they employ, The Charlotte House which teaches about healthy relationships, the local fire departments that interact with students and train Cadets, and a science and STEM group called PEI (Pacific Education Institute), as well as all the community members who are willing to come in and share about their careers.

"They help kids figure out a path for their own future," Leitz said. "I think the basic award is based on student achievement, but I don't think we would have that student achievement without all of those pieces and strong partnerships with the community and volunteers and people who are willing to support our students."


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