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Lake Washington Schools Foundation luncheon surpasses fundraising goal of $225,000

Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce speaks at the Lake Washington School District
Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce speaks at the Lake Washington School District's 9th annual Legacy for Learning luncheon at Juanita High School.
— image credit: Matt Phelps/Kirkland Reporter

It was another record year for the 9th annual Lake Washington Schools Foundation’s Legacy for Learning luncheon, which generated $237,023 -- the highest amount yet.

Hosted at Juanita High School, 585 attendees packed into the Rebels’ gymnasium and were seated at more than 60 neatly decorated tables, also a record.

“Part of it was that we set higher goals for ourselves,” said Kathleen Reynolds with the Lake Washington Schools Foundation. “Our new executive director since September has given us more capacity.”

The foundation’s luncheon fundraising goal was $225,000.

Reynolds said she believes Executive Director Kristina Williams was able to build stronger professional relationships as well. Microsoft was the foundation’s biggest sponsor.

“Sometimes with a higher goal, you push harder,” she said, adding that their total annual goal is $365,000 for 2014.

Last year, the foundation raised $216,650 at the luncheon with a goal of $192,000, which were used to help implement the Lake Washington School District’s signature programs.

This year was clearly a year to revel in the programs’ success and to ensure it stays on the right path.

“Six months ago, I didn’t value education the way I do now,” said Juanita High School student Lauren McAllister, who is enrolled in the STEM signature program. “And if you would have asked me if I thought I’d be standing here in front of hundreds of supporters as a representative for my school, I would have called you crazy.”

McAllister was nominated by her teachers and classmates to share her success story.

Made up of English, anatomy and biotechnology courses, McAllister found herself grateful for the teachers’ willingness to help students in the program.

“Not very many teachers that I knew would spend countless hours re-explaining what enzyme incorporates the HIV virus in your DNA, but my teacher did,” she said. “It’s things like that that make you understand how important education is.

“There’s not a doubt in my mind that I would not be the student and person I am today without this program and without these teachers.”

But the STEM signature programs are just one piece of the educational puzzle the foundation has helped the district fund.

The foundation provides LINKS mentors for students, scholarships, a teacher support program for second-year teachers, and classroom grants for practical education, such field trips that show how students’ education is implemented in the “real world,” among others.

“As a class, we were able to go on many field trips,” said Thomas Barnett, a student at Redmond High School, who is also in the STEM signature program. “At Seattle BioMed, we got to see how professionals analyze and experiment with the HIV virus, which is what they use for figuring out vaccines [that] still haven’t been found.”

Although medical professionals threw around terms such as “gene sequencing” and “gene amplification” during the field trip, Barnett said they were able to understand the technical jargon because they “were all educated in the classroom to understand what it meant and how it applied to the research they did.”

Initial keynote speaker Robert Malte, the CEO of EvergreenHealth Medical Center wasn’t able to speak, as there was a death in his family, but Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeff Tomlin took the reigns.

Tomlin recalled when Malte was interviewing for the CEO position. He was assigned to giving Malte a tour of the hospital and one of the questions Malte asked was how successful the Lake Washington School District was.

“I told him Lake Washington School District is superior,” Tomlin said, whose children attended several Kirkland-area schools and later became coaches at Juanita High School in their adult life.

EvergreenHealth has partnered with schools to create a career day that has been widely successful, he said. The hospital is also the largest employer in the city of Kirkland, employing more than 3,800 people.

“It isn’t just nursing or doctors, but there’s a number of things that are within the health care institution,” he said, describing the hospital’s need for well-educated students in the workforce. “It’s like a small city. You have it, you have behavioral health, you have radiology - all the medical things - but there’s environmental services. We’re at a point where we have arts and education. Some of our Parkinson’s patients have dance instructors that help them learn to dance, which helps them with Parkinson’s.”

Tomlin said he looks forward to strengthening the partnership between the foundation and the hospital so they can continue to aid in fostering “energetic young students” excited about learning and applying their education in a real world environment in something they can use, he said.

“In light of the levy and the hard news there, you can tell a lot about an organization from its foundation,” Tomlin addressed the crowd. “It’s a healthy foundation. I know it’s young, but the commitment from all of you will help take an organization, like Lake Washington School District’s partner with us, to take organizations from good to great, to make organizations like this even better.”

After highlighting the district’s high graduation rate of 93 percent, Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce also mentioned the failing bond measure and said she would be meeting with district staff and board members to discuss their next steps.

“The Lake Washington Schools Foundation is a key partner for the district,” Pierce said. “They help us to fund programs in core academics, intervention, and enrichment that build pathways for student success. We are so fortunate to have a caring and supportive community that invests so generously in our schools and in our students.”

To donate to the Lake Washington Schools Foundation, visit www.lwsf.org/donate.

 

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