School board celebrates musicians, supports learning assistance program expansion

The Edmonds School District Board of Directors at its Jan. 24 meeting praised student musicians, listened to progress on Alderwood Middle School’s improvement plan and heard recommendations to expand the learning assistance programs the district offers.

The board honors six Edmonds School District musicians.

Six students were given certificates for their selection as All-Northwest and All-State musicians. They are:
Kellen O’Brien, Lynnwood High School- All-NW Band, Trombone
Gabriel Espitia, Mountlake Terrace High School- All-NW Jazz Choir, Drums
Audrey Chen, Edmonds-Woodway High School- All-State Orchestra, Cello
Sophia McCann, Lynnwood High School- All-NW Orchestra, Violin
Ryan Phan, Lynnwood High School- All-NW Jazz Choir, Tenor 2
Pierce McCann, Lynnwood High School- All-State Orchestra, Viola

In addition, six students from Alderwood Middle School talked about their experiences with AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination). The program teaches students techniques and strategies for overcoming challenges that they face in their education, such as breaking down tougher concepts and working together.

Alderwood Middle School student Olga Aremenko speaks about the impact AVID has made in her life

“Not only has AVID helped me prepare for my academic future, it has also helped me understand who I am as a student and peer,” said Olga Aremenko, a seventh grader from Alderwood Middle School. “I learned strategies that are right for me and I use those strategies I learned from AVID during tests, classes and outside of school as well.”

Alderwood Middle School officials continued their presentation by discussing the school’s chosen goal to improve students’ sense of belonging. The school selected engagement as its goal because data indicate that students have not felt connected to the school community.

Alderwood Middle School presentation

Principal Christy Frary said a sense of belonging is not only important to students’ education, but also to their own mental and emotional health. The school has been working with its faculty to improve relationships between teacher and student, she added.

Alderwood Middle’s assistant principal, David Friedle, talked about the training staff has received to recognize signs of suicide and implement socio-emotional learning. He also pointed to the success of CBITS (Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools), a program that connects kids who have experienced similar traumas.

In other business, the board listened to a proposal to expand learning assistance programs. The proposed expansion aims to assist students who were significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Board members praised the program’s focus on student success and health and were supportive of its expansion.

Deborah Kilgore talking to Alderwood Middle School students

The school board also approved pending language changes in district policies. A report on the district’s budget indicated everything was on track with expectations and no action was required. School Board Vice President Deborah Kilgore received a letter of recognition for five years of service to the board.

Finally, the board informed the public that the search to fill the superintendent position was progressing well and that, when finalists were narrowed down, members of the public would be welcomed to a community forum Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Mountlake Terrace High School theater from 6:30-8:30 p.m. You can learn more about the superintendent search process here.

— By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

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