Tacoma-area Christian high school aims to bring more international students to campus

A Tacoma area Christian high school hopes to double the number of international students it attracts by partnering with a California-based company.

Evergreen Lutheran High School, located in the Summit-Waller area just outside Tacoma, announced that it would team with a company called Kitebridge, based in Palo Alto. Kitebridge specializes in recruiting and working with students from China and Korea who want to attend high school in the United States.

Kitebridge already works with two Lutheran high schools in St. Louis, and another on Long Island in New York. Evergreen will become its first West Coast school program, company spokeswoman Jo Murray said.

Currently, 17 of Evergreen’s 130 students are international students.

Kitebridge students are scheduled to start the new school year at Evergreen in the fall of 2015.

Evergreen admissions director Anne Poetter said the high school has had students from Europe, Asia and Latin America over the years. But she said welcoming those students has depended on the school’s ability to find local host families.

Kitebridge will house students in a nearby apartment complex, where they will be supervised by Kitebridge counselors. The company promises to provide one counselor for every four students.

In addition to academic help, the counselors also provide international students with opportunities to learn about American culture, sports and day-to-day life.

“They get a ‘whole child’ education,” Poetter said.

She said Kitebridge interviews prospective students and their families overseas before they arrive in the United States. Application forms ask about students’ educational background, knowledge of English, visa information and ability to pay tuition and expenses.

Tuition for local students at Evergreen ranges from just over $7,000 to nearly $9,000, according to the school website. There are discounts for church members and families with multiple students, and financial aid is also available. Poetter said international students pay higher tuition.

In addition to broadening the high school experience for students, Poetter said Kitebridge also brings expertise in college admissions.

Murray said Kitebridge looked at a number of schools, both Lutheran and non-Lutheran, before deciding to team with Evergreen. She said the company wanted a school that demonstrates academic rigor, strong values and leadership.

Poetter said the partnership will enhance cultural learning opportunities for Evergreen students.

“Our student body works hard to have an inclusive environment,” she said.

Evergreen Lutheran High School opened in 1978. It was formerly located in DuPont and Des Moines before moving in 2013 to a new campus at 7306 Waller Road E.

“I’m so excited for our school,” Poetter said. “We want to grow.”