Opinion

Kent-Meridian turning things around

For many years Kent-Meridian High School was the last choice in the Kent School District.

I helped parents sell their homes and pay more for the same type home just to be in a different school or school district, resulting in lower values on homes in the district. My wife and youngest son visited KM at different times in the ‘90s and said “never again; that place is out of control.”

Today, Kent-Meridian is the first choice of many families in the district.

How did this happen?

At the beginning of this school year I visited the lunch room at KM.

Watching as each student quietly and mannerly ate their lunch and bused their dishes, I asked Dr. Wade Barringer, principal at KM, “Why?”

He answered, “Because we expect it.”

A combined effort by staff, teachers, students and parents has changed this school. Deemed the “NEW KM,” staff, teachers, students and KM parents have reached out and connected with other parents, community members and local businesses by inviting them to the school to participate in assemblies, senior citizens’ teas, luncheons, tutoring, mentoring and athletic events, as well as hosting alumni events in the courtyard.

These participation opportunities have been created by the KM family of staff, students and parents to include the general community in this new energy.

Just prior to the start of the 07-08 school year more than 200 volunteers participated in the KM Beautification Day, raking, pruning, weeding, cleaning and painting.

KM clubs have increased from 30 last school year to 42 this school year, with record numbers in band, which added 100 musicians this year and have received “Superior” ratings this year.

Test scores in writing, math and science have improved and continue to improve.

Next school year, KM will have 25 students in the International Baccalaureate Program working toward earning their IB Diploma (a two-year degree) and a high school diploma at the same time.

In the 2006-07 school year, KM had four such students and this school year there were 10.

For struggling students, KM offers an after-school motivational center, which has seen more than 257 students who have voluntarily attended for tutoring.

KM has increased its volunteer staff committees threefold this year.

“Proud to be a Royal” has become an obvious way of life at the school. The boys swim team doubled in size this year; girls tennis had 80 students turn out, track had 145 athletes turn out, and baseball went from 26 players to 54.

The Royal Dynasty Hip Hop dance group won almost all competitions this year and was highly acclaimed in dance contests as “Excellent.”

Attendance at football games exceeds the old days when KM was a state power.

Safety is an important factor at every school in the country and KM has cameras inside and out monitored by staff and/or security 24 hours a day.

This all takes Herculean effort by every student, teacher, staff and administrator. Want to be a part of the “ROYAL FAMILY?”

I have some specific plans in mind.

See how you can help.

Call me at 253-859-7443 or for more specific information about KM and its programs, call Debbie Theisen at 253-373-7416.

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