Yelm Community Schools is a unique title for districts across the state of Washington. We are the only district that formally acknowledges that it takes the entire community to operate quality schools and to create the environments where students can succeed. I also believe the name implies that where there is need, the community and schools will partner to fulfill that need.
What are the examples? The largest and most prominent is our Graduate Yelm! initiative. The need was to create a community-wide emphasis that our graduates need to develop and enact a plan for continued learning and work after graduation. The result has been more than 260 businesses, churches and civic organizations have stepped in to find avenues for our students to implement their post-graduation plan.
We are a district that is seeing increased poverty emerging from the pandemic. With poverty comes the need for support like food, clothing, hygiene products and household items. Our community outreach team, school counselors and social workers have partnered with our community to provide year-round access to these items.
Additionally, this professional community also works hard to connect families to community services for health care and housing needs. During the holidays, our district and community partners worked to provide more than 400 meals, hygiene products, and family holiday clothing and presents.
Another example of strength in our community happens whenever we need volunteers and expertise to support classroom learning. Each semester hundreds of volunteers help us conduct mock job interviews, help teach young adults money management, help supervise student events and give guest presentations about the world of work.
As superintendent, I hear often from community members that they will help any student in need. Sound cliche? It isn’t. At every meeting, our board approves significant donations so that students can have access to unique field trips, leadership opportunities, competitions and events that don’t fit into the definition of basic education. We are a highly benevolent community.
Lastly, our community shows up just to support students.
Whenever a student or team earns a state or national championship, that school enacts significant celebrations of success. Our board recognizes both individual and state champions at our meetings. However, our football team winning the state title is unique in that it was the first time in school history.
Throughout the playoffs dozens of individuals and businesses stepped in to provide means, student tickets to playoff games, rooter buses and opportunities to celebrate.
Recently, the city and district decided to collaborate to celebrate our team, but to also celebrate the community for their support through this special time. We ask that you join us on Jan. 23, starting at 4 p.m. for a parade and celebration of our community’s success. Please check our district website for details and updates.
Brian Wharton is the superintendent of Yelm Community Schools.