Highline's Outdoor School

The Waskowitz Outdoor School and the WELS program in Highline School District sound really great.  I had never heard of this before. 

Camp Waskowitz was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) in 1935 at its present location and was named Camp North Bend. After the CCC was disbanded, the Camp was sold and later renamed after Fritz Waskowitz, who had been a football player and team captain at the University of Washington. Waskowitz later became a pilot in World War II. After he was shot down and killed, the camp was renamed in his honor.

Highline Public School began sending students to Camp Waskowitz in 1947 and later bought the property in 1957. Superintendent Carl Jensen convinced the Highline High School student body to use funds raised for a new sports stadium to buy the property with a promise that the school district would reimburse their fund. Some time later, Superintendent Jensen and the district made additional purchases of surrounding land that increased the Camp Waskowitz's acreage to its present 372 acres.

Today, Camp Waskowitz is a State and National Historic Preservation site and is one of only two remaining CCC Camps in the United States with all of the original buildings still standing.

Since the inception of the Outdoor Education program in 1947, over 200,000 students have experienced this school in the woods. The Carl Jensen Environmental Education Center at Camp Waskowitz serves the students of Highline Public Schools, as well as students from surrounding schools and districts, through environmental education and team building programs. When not in use by student groups, the facilities are available to outside groups for rent.

Waskowitz Environmental Leadership School                                                                                   
WELS teaches high school students both academic and career skills through themes of leadership, environment and community. WELS is building on 14 years of history in the Highline School District to create new and comprehensive educational pathways for students.

WELS is a full-time commitment for the entire year, and students will receive credit from instructors upon completion. The program provides a series of 6th grade outdoor school instruction, classroom internship, research, career exploration and outdoor adventure.
Classwork, fieldwork and internships are a big part of WELS, and students will be leaders at Waskowitz for a total of 5-6 weeks over the entire year (see One Week Leadership). During these weeks, students leave for Outdoor School on Monday morning and return Friday afternoon.
Coursework includes English, Math, Science, Teaching Academy, and Leadership Electives (other coursework to be determined for Fall 2015 including PE and/or Sociology).

**WELS is open to Age 15 or Sophomore status (or older); Freshmen may apply but will be put on the waiting list for the following year.  
Wow, innovation, personalized learning and it's not a charter school.  Who knew that could be done? 


Anonymous said…
Don't forget Highline also got Aviation High School off the ground. (See what I did there?) Never without controversy, but still, it would be nice if SPS could try SOMETHING. But we can't even get the basics right. It's amazing that Seattle, a world class tech hub and with a booming economy, can't have a few innovative programs or a STEM school or an outdoor school or a performing arts school. However, I can hear the complaints already: not everyone will get to go, so NO ONE can go. Bellevue can have the International School with its lottery to get in, or application processes for unique programs in Highline, but in Seattle, if someone has something better/different (even barely passable!) we must eliminate it out of fairness. Such is what happens when so many kids aren't being served. If everyone at least got ADEQUATE, maybe it would be OK that there was an occasional possibility of terrific education, even if spots were limited. I doubt we'll find out, as we seem far from achieving adequate. The only fair way is to suffer together.

-Just sayin'
Ed said…
And Seattle SD actually owns the "Cleveland Forrest" property already.

Hummmm, could we get Highline to show Seattle how to fully put resouces like these to use?

Answer: fingers crossed

Ed, great idea.
Oh Please said…
perhaps "just saying' hasn't noticed the Highline hasn't been able to pass a levy. I understand a particular individual didn't have all their ducks lined-up in a row.


Saying that SPS doesn't get anything correct is absolutely wrong. Perhaps you didn't see the student testify about his flight experience within SPS. Seattle has it's share of problems, but there are also many good things happening within the district.
Oh Please, I have no idea where you got this idea that this thread was about SPS not doing anything right. It's not and I've never said that AND I did hear that student speak.
Ed said…
There are some structures at Cleveland Forrest but more could be built by (Franklin) students as well.

Anonymous said…
Garfield's outdoor education program, POST, used the Cleveland National Forest several times a year for the Survival and Advanced Survival weekends. Also held work parties there in fall and spring for trail maintenance and clean up. In the wake of the field trip disasters, POST was shut down at Garfield a couple of months ago by the district or school, not sure which. It has become an independent, parent run organization now, without access to Cleveland National Forest. The parents and kids are doing a great job with the POST program, but so much has been lost by having to take it off campus. Not having GHS staff involvement is a big one. The Boy Scouts have stepped in to provide leadership and POST is using their camp properties now instead of SPS owned Cleveland.

The irony is that POST never had the problem these other field trips had. It is primarily a student led club. In many ways I think kids are way better at policing each other (and adults - when a 17 year old trip leader tells the parent chaperones not to drink, they don't!). It was an amazing program within SPS. Now gone.

Anonymous said…
Oh Please -

I am aware that Highline didn't pass the levy - which only shows they do more, with less. We vote SPS all the money they want, and where does it go? Have you been reading here? (Also, bummer about POST. That was an amazing program).

I agree there are great things going in in SPS, but not at the DISTRICT level, which was the point of this thread. Great things seem to happen on a school wide or even teacher-specific basis. I'm talking about the decisions downtown, like launching innovative programs - which seems impossible when they can't get SPED or ELL or HCC adequate.

I ask a serious question: Melissa, Charlie, Oh Please: let's say SPS got Amazon/MS/insert tech companies to fund 95% of a downtown school devoted to STEM. Fully paid building, state of the art facilities, laptops, smart boards, etc. It's a neighborhood school, and SPS pays little. Could the community stomach this windfall for those lucky few who lived there? Alternative: let's say SPS opens a great outdoor/wilderness school and uses resources to set it up and fund a really stellar program. Entrance is by lottery, and demand is so huge only 10% of kids are picked. Assume that these programs/schools aren't hype, and are acknowledged/reviewed as leaders in education models and truly well-educate their students. Would you support them? Would the community? Even though SPED students remain unserved, or HCC? And that some schools still have no lunchrooms or reliable heat? That is an honest question. I just don't have the answer myself. Would I feel uneasy that Suzy from downtown has an amazing school, (even if SPS didn't spend a dollar), when Sally across town has 36 kids in a kindergarten room with broken windows? What about Johnny who gets a winning ticket to the wilderness academy, when Jason the SPED student still hasn't had services? This is what I mean about SPS needs to get things (district-wide) to adequate, before they can even attempt better. Would love to hear thoughts.

-Just Sayin

Just Sayin', and there's the struggle.

SPS would like to have it both ways - "look at our great programs" that they then do not fully support (see IB, foreign language immersion, etc.). I'm not sure any good program in this district is really and truly supported by the district. Certainly not the music programs.

On a paid downtown school, it would depend. I have been advocating for Amazon/Vulcan to be good corporate citizens and lease/allow for free the district to set up a school on a floor in one of their shiny new buildings. Because if downtown does not help, it will take a very long time to get a school NOT because the district does not want it but because there is no land or money to buy land.

I note that when there was a lot of discussion around a downtown school, there was this "well, it should be open to people who WORK downtown" not just live there. I could only see that happening if the school could not fill on its own (or was allowed space for growth). I would not support a downtown school for downtown workers.

We already have a situation where some schools are almost falling apart (see John Rogers with their tiles falling and water coming in the building).

We already have a situation where SPed students needs are not being met.

The outdoor wilderness program would be great and given POST has the experience and SPS has its own forest, it would be a great thing. It would have to be strictly by lottery with no sib preference. I would say there should be a bump (by some percentage for at-risk/F/RL students who are less likely to access this kind of program via summer camps, etc.).

But see, our district is already taking its eye off the ball with, for example, the pre-K program. The Superintendent said "many,many hours" are being devoted to its creation. I'm glad so many staff have so much time when there are pressing K-12 needs.

Folks, we need people on the Board to do some course corrections.
Anonymous said…
Both of my kids did 5th grade overnight camp at Camp Waskowitz. Both absolutely loved it.
It is a great program, very well-run.

- North-end Mom

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