As January came to an end, representatives of Communities In Schools of Washington gathered in our State Capitol for the annual CISWA visit with members of our state Legislature. I had the pleasure of being one of our CIS-Peninsula Board members to join in the activity. Gotta brag: Ours was the largest contingent among the many from across the state to participate.
CISP site coordinators, who work at Evergreen Elementary, Harbor Heights Elementary and Peninsula and Henderson Bay high schools, invited students to visit legislators on their end-of-semester day off from school. Eleven students joined CISP staff, a CISP Board member, CISP volunteers and a parent, riding a school bus to Olympia for meetings with legislators.
For HBHS student Chantel Anderson, "It was an amazing experience!"
Her classmate Kristia Lloyd said, "It was something I've never been able to do before. So much fun!"
Unlike previous years when individual CIS units dealt only with legislators from their immediate area, each operating separately, this year we took over a large meeting room, where legislators were invited to join us for a buffet lunch. This enabled our group to meet with legislators from across the entire state. We were able to explain that CIS is the nation's largest dropout prevention program, providing integrated student support since 1991. In 2014, in 14 school districts across Washington state alone, more than 63,000 students were served. We're helping transform struggling youth into confident, self-reliant graduates.
Three volunteer mentors, one at Evergreen, one at Henderson Bay and one at Peninsula and Purdy Elementary participated in the talks.
CISP students were excited to participate in the discussions, and gave legislators their perspectives on what CISP programs mean to them.
To Evergreen fifth-grader Brookelynn Hicks,"It was inspiring. I've never liked talking in front of a whole group of people, but now I want to. It was great to be at the Capitol on National Dairy Day and get to eat ice cream, too! It was also fun exploring."
Her classmate, Aubrey Hoover, felt, "It was kind of scary being in front of and speaking to the legislators, but they were very friendly to us."
Evergreen site coordinator Jane Duea said, "As one who has the privilege of spending time with students regularly, it was a fantastic day to hear from not only students where I work, but also from students all over who have been so greatly impacted by the services we provide."
"The Olympia visit was a great educational opportunity for the students," said CISP program director Laurel Shultz. "They did an excellent job representing CISP."
And that's an understatement!
Interested in helping our kids graduate on time? Please contact Shultz at Communities In Schools of Peninsula, P.O. Box 684, Vaughn, WA 98394, or call 253-884-5733.