Reader view: Save Scriber Lake High School

Celebrating Scriber Lake High graduation in 2023. (File photo by David Carlos)

As a first-year teacher at Meadowdale High School in 1997, a veteran teacher gave me advice a few days before classes started. “There will be five or so kids in each class who will fail,” she told me. “Don’t worry about them. Focus on the ones who want to succeed.” After spending six years at Meadowdale, I made the move to Scriber Lake High School, Edmonds’ small (150 students) alternative high school, where I have spent the majority of my 28-year career teaching those “five or so” kids. In that time, I’ve never met a kid who didn’t want to succeed. Not one. I’ve only met kids who have lost faith in themselves due to very difficult circumstances and who need a place to figure things out where they feel seen, heard and valued.

Until this year, I have felt support from our district leadership. As alternative programs have been cut all over the country, ours seemed miraculously solid. But today we are facing debilitating losses — our vice principal position, one of two counselors, a full teaching position and key office and operational personnel — making our already small staff into a skeleton crew next year. Much attention has been given to the cuts in district music programs (as it should), but is our community aware of what is happening at Scriber? These cuts in staff feel like another “Don’t worry about those kids” statement, spoken by those who hold a lot of power. Our district claims to focus on “equity,” but is slashing basic support to those most in need.

What can you do? I have some ideas, beginning with understanding who our population is. Since 2011 I have helped students face past trauma through writing, and we have published nine collections of student stories — all available at the Edmonds Bookshop. In April, we held a book release event at the Edmonds Waterfront Center for our most recent book, I Used to Carry it All. Over 200 people sat in awe of Scriber students’ vulnerability and courage. Please pick up a book and experience their resiliency up close; their stories will change you!

Once you understand who a “Scriber Student” is, you will then better understand how to advocate for us. Let the school board know how much you value having a place that catches kids before they fall, where class sizes are small and where staff are trained, trauma-informed and skilled at guiding them into a future that has benefited our entire community for decades. Take up oxygen in any way you can to tell others about the importance and uniqueness of what we offer, with open arms, to students from all over the district.

It’s graduation week, and there isn’t a more soulful event happening than Scriber’s graduation ceremony. Year after year student speakers tell stories of how Scriber saved them—how they never, ever thought they would graduate, but here they are, feeling some confidence in who they are and in their futures.

Save the arts, yes. But also Save Scriber Lake — a very special place where miracles happen on a regular basis. The health and well-being of our entire community depends on it.

— By Marjie Bowker

Marjie Bowker teaches English at Scriber Lake High School.

 

  1. Well-spoken, Marjie! My son graduated from Scriber; one of your miraculous success stories. Praying that our district leaders take a hard, compassionate look at the priorities and messaging they send with the decisions being made. We MUST take special care of our wounded, amazing children!

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