In kids’ view, Suquamish Tribal Council gets an ‘A’

Suquamish Elementary School students present Tribal Council members with gifts, in appreciation for the council’s financial support of school programs.            - Richard Walker / Herald
Suquamish Elementary School students present Tribal Council members with gifts, in appreciation for the council’s financial support of school programs.
— image credit: Richard Walker / Herald

SUQUAMISH — Suquamish Elementary School students honored the Suquamish Tribal Council Tuesday for its support for the school’s education and outdoor learning programs.

Without Suquamish’s funding, “we would have lost these programs,” Principal Jon Torgerson said. The Suquamish Tribe has provided grant funding to help support summer school, all-day kindergarten, family reading nights, and outdoor school at Islandwood.

Summer school is “an extended learning opportunity,” Torgerson said. “Students come back (in September) with a higher readiness. They learn cultural and historical lessons, and they catch up to their peers.”

Torgerson told the council, “Your generosity is having an impact.”

Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman gave the credit to the school for the advances the children are making. “It’s been a great opportunity for us to help this school that we all attended. But you are the ones who create and implement the programs.”

In April, the Suquamish Tribal Council donated $100,000 to the North Kitsap School District. In the past five years, including the most recent donation, the Tribe has given the district $967,781 in grants.

The money is a combination of Appendix X grant funding and Tribe funds. Funding includes $350,000 to provide all-day kindergarten for five years and $100,000 for summer school for five years at Suquamish Elementary. A total of $417,781 has been given from various Appendix X grants.

The money comes as the North Kitsap School Board looks for ways to erase a $1.7 million budget shortfall for the 2012-13 school year.

The school expects to request $8,000 in grant funding for the next outdoor education camp at Islandwood; the money will ensure every fifth-grader can attend.

During a presentation, fifth-graders told the council what they enjoyed about outdoor education — from bird watching to building gardens to visiting cultural sites like the House of Awakened Culture.

The students then presented gifts to the council — necklaces they made of clam shell and cedar fiber, and T-shirts from their outdoor education program.

Janice Jackson, library media specialist at the school, told the council that without its support, programs like the outdoor school at Islandwood “would go away.”

The students, she said, “honor the culture of the people whose land we use.”



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