Students and staff of Yelm High School’s Supporting Independence Through Employment (SITE) House program made a big move last week, packing and relocating from their old location at 401 E Yelm Ave. to their new location at 9791 Tahoma Blvd. SE.
Nora Sutherland, a SITE House teacher, said the new location allows more fluid collaboration between SITE House and other high school programs. The property and its renovated three-bedroom, three-bathroom house also provides larger teaching spaces for students and staff, and its location on Tahoma Boulevard Southeast means less traffic for students who walk to their jobs.
Around eight students helped with the move Thursday, Friday and Monday. Sutherland said her students are getting used to the new location.
“Change is hard for some of them,” she said.
The SITE House is a Yelm High School program for 18 to 21 year olds. It helps students with special needs find employment and begin the transition from high school to the workforce. The program offers training and volunteer opportunities for students to gain applicable workforce skills.
It was announced last year that the program would be making the move after the school district purchased the property for $350,000 and invested $153,000 in improvements and landscaping work. Now, staff from the high school’s Student Support department have a quicker commute to the SITE House.
“They can walk down for lunch and interact with some of the incoming students,” Sutherland said.
The structure, its sidewalks and restrooms are also now Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant. This is the program’s third — and nicest — house within the last 10 years.
Student Don Bower said he likes the new house, especially the hardwood floors that line the entrance and instruction rooms.
“I like the flooring. It is big, though,” he said.
Classes will begin in the fall for SITE House students, Sutherland said. Nine students are registered for the fall, and Sutherland said seven out of the 10 that recently aged out got jobs as a result of the program.
Over the summer, staff will begin unboxing from the move and will begin setting up classroom material. The idea is that this location will be a longtime home for the program and the students that take classes there.