LETTER: Some Highline Schools students will be missing from B-Town Beat event

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The White Center Blog nor its staff:]

“Artwork and performances by amazing students of Highline Public Schools” will be on display on Thursday, May 5th in downtown Burien at the B-Town Beat Music and Art Walk. Highline Public Schools student-artists from every high school and middle school campus will proudly display their talents and wares. Except Cascade Middle School students.

Cascade Middle School will be missing from Thursday evening’s festivities, because Cascade students are no longer offered drawing and painting classes. When the Cascade art teacher took another job several years ago, a counselor position replaced the full-time art position. As a result, Cascade is the only HPS middle school with no Visual Arts classes.

Surprisingly, HPS middle schools provide students with vastly different fine arts options despite Highline Board Arts Policy 2160, which prominently states, “The School Board recognizes the importance of equitable access to an arts education.”

Cascade has the fewest fine arts options for students offering to budget almost a full-time teacher to teach both Band and Choir. Chinook Middle School offers a full-time Visual Arts (painting and drawing) teacher and a half-time position for Band. Pacific Middle School offers a full-time teacher for Visual Arts, and another full-time teacher for Band, Orchestra, Choir and Guitar/Ukulele. Sylvester Middle School offers the broadest arts programs with Band, Beginning Instrumental, Visual Arts and Drama.

Cascade’s arts budget is half of Chinook’s arts budget, and is a third of both Pacific and Sylvester’s arts budgets!

Highline School Board Arts Policy 2160 leads with “The Board recognizes that an arts education (defined as dance, music, theater, and visual arts) is an essential part of the learning experience for all Highline students.” Not only do HPS middle schools not offer essential and equitable arts for all Highline middle school students, HPS high school students are offered vastly inequitable arts education options as well, depending on a student’s address within the school district.

The Evergreen Service Area is a veritable arts desert with two-thirds of all kids in those schools not receiving a single drawing and painting class from Kindergarten through high school graduation!

Highline School District leadership needs to revisit Highline Board Arts Policy 2160 and strive to do a much better job celebrating and honing artistic talents of ALL Highline children by ensuring equitable arts opportunities in every school. It is unfair and unjust for Highline Public Schools to sponsor an arts and music event promoting creative Highline students, and then exclude entire schools lacking arts programs and the kids who attend those schools.

Sarah Gengler Dahl

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3 Responses to “LETTER: Some Highline Schools students will be missing from B-Town Beat event”
  1. Libby DeBell says:

    At Cascade Middle School, we deeply value the arts and are excited to announce that we are adding four visual arts classes to our electives offerings next year. This will be in addition to our amazing music program consisting of two choir classes and three band classes. Our students in the Leadership/Community Building elective class this year have engaged in arts projects that they will be displaying at the B-Town Beat Music and Art Walk. We look forward to continuing to expand our arts programs in addition to the diversity of other electives and programs we offer at Cascade.

    Thank you,
    Libby DeBell
    Principal, Cascade Middle School

    • One Evergreen says:

      Wonderful news that Cascade will have Visual Arts classes once again beginning next year! Thank you for letting us know! Highline elementary schools rely on homeroom teachers and volunteer parents to teach and provide opportunities to make student art. Art classes taught by artist-teachers offer students arts educations, not just a chance to be creative making projects. In Visual Art classes, students receive foundations in design, color, proportion, techniques and style that is essential in developing their artistic skills.

      Also, fantastic that the music and choral programs are growing at Cascade! I understand there is now a symphonic band too. The Evergreen Service Area used to have the strongest band at Evergreen High School in the Highline School District before the program withered when small high schools replaced Evergreen. With the vibrant Highline elementary school music programs, Cascade can once again bloom with continued school and district support.

      • Jimmy says:

        If you really look back at when evergreens band stared getting smallerit was right after mr. Hasenberg left for a better position. It is unfortunate but from what I heard at the time it was a job closer to his home and family so I don’t blame him.

        Just because you have a issue with evergreen being smaller school’s is no reson to blame that on every issue. I went to evergreen when it was a regular size school at it was a hell hole of teachers not liking the special Ed students in regular classes and would attempt to fail them no matter what the situation is.

        We had a 250 lb+ female physical education/health teacher That was trying to teach us how to work out and eat healthy. Also let her little skinny female t/a where a short mini skirt as her gym uniform every day.

        We had a vice principal that had a Vendetta towds some students. We had the most screw up attendance system that was getting parents charge with the Becka bill for errors the school made. Which parents had to fight in Court over. Among the other issues with evergreen alone. So yeah something had to change. Smaller hands on school’s smaller classes instead 30+ students in a class and one teacher more teachers and teaching assistants.

        I also remember attending osc now puget sound skill center hafe days and catching a school bus from evergreen lots of students did this to get more hands on learning instead sitting with there face in a book board as all hell.

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