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Rainier Beach High School Rallies to be First LEED Platinum Green School in Washington

Apr 05, 2013
by Jemae Hoffman, Director at VIA Architecture

Community leaders held a press conference on March 26th at Rainier Beach High school, announcing that they are banding together in an ambitious effort to renovate Rainier Beach High into the greenest high school in the State.

photo credit: Rainier Valley Post

Southeast Seattle parents, community members, the Rainier Beach Foundation, and the Rainier Beach Empowerment Coalition have rallied support from the City of Seattle and Denis Hayes (Bullitt Foundation and Point32) for a consultation on retrofitting Rainier Beach High School as the first LEED Platinum Green school in the State.  VIA has been supporting the Rainier Beach Community in implementing their vision for the light rail station area; laying the groundwork for an Innovation District.

Rainier Beach High School is one of the few schools that were not prioritized for renovation in the recent school levy funding package passed by voters.  That fact upset some Rainier Beach high school students so much that they staged a walkout.  The student organizers were inspirational in their hopes for a better future for their community, and a highlight of the press conference was their Principal giving these students a glowing introduction.  Denis Hayes commented:

“This is the first time I have ever heard a Principal glowingly introduce students who organized a walkout”

Another great quote was from LaCretiah Claytor , with the Rainier Beach Empowerment Coalition and PSTA:

“As James Brown said ‘Don’t give us anything, open the door and we will get it ourselves’”

The high school, often known for its academic and social failures, is on the rise to becoming one of Seattle Public Schools’ most thriving institutions, and one of the most thriving in the State. Rainier Beach High School will soon be certified as an International Baccalaureate (IB) brand, while its CTE programs evolve with Microsoft TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools) which places Microsoft engineers in a team teaching role within classes in grades 9 to 12 to teach computer science in cooperation with an existing in-service teacher.

It’s still unknown what renovation cost will be, and there are no current funding commitments; however, spearheaders and supporters are committed to creating an innovative building that they believe would complement Rainier Beach’s innovative programs. The first fundraiser is scheduled for May 11 at 6pm at the Sho­Ware Center in Kent, where some of the nation’s best high-school basketball players are expected to participate in a West Coast All-Star Classic game. Current NBA players who graduated from Rainier Beach High are also are expected to participate.