As an alumna of Rainier Beach High School, I was pleased to see the encouraging article “Stunning surge in graduation rate as Rainier Beach gamble pays off” [News, March 16]. At Rainier Beach, I received a solid academic education and an unforgettable life experience.
Students at Rainier Beach face some of the highest poverty rates in Seattle. Because of the life challenges that are related to poverty, it is shortsighted to credit the increase in the graduation rate to the International Baccalaureate program alone. The IB program is important, and we must recognize that outside agencies provide essential nonacademic services that also contribute to graduation rates. A school community like Rainier Beach requires social as well as academic support to truly serve its entire student body. Planned Parenthood runs a long-term youth development program, which guides students to develop healthy life skills and participate in community service learning. Communities In Schools Seattle, a leading dropout prevention program, serves hundreds of students a year with case management, college preparation, basic-needs services and more.
These programs and the work of dozens of other nonprofits that connect with and support students every day should be credited in addition to innovative instruction and the IB program for the remarkable graduation-rate improvements.
Anna Kashner, board chair Communities In Schools Seattle