Suquamish Early Learning Center unveils new digs

 - Shaun Scott/Staff Photo
— image credit: Shaun Scott/Staff Photo

SUQUAMISH — Children in Suquamish aren’t just getting a head start in their educations, they’re off to the races and have been running swiftly along the path since the Marion Forsman-Boushie Early Learning Center opened May 15.

The community converged at the center Sept. 7, celebrating the official grand opening of the 12,000-square-foot facility on Totten Road.

For parents and residents in Suquamish, the new center means good things for the children, who range in age from 6 weeks old to 12 years. Currently, 76 students are enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start classes. An additional 85 children are participating in the preschool program.

“I can’t really put into words how I feel,” said Suquamish tribal member Teri Bayes. “This is the biggest thing the Suquamish Tribe has done in a decade.”

Bayes, who has lived in Suquamish for 21 years, said the center will provide a training ground for local students that will pay off down the road.

“This place will offer children a healthier and brighter future,” she said.

“It will benefit children for decades. I want people to know that this facility is going to forever impact the Suquamish people. It can only get better and continue to grow.”

Suquamish tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman said he was glad to see so many people in attendance at the event.

“It’s exciting to finally see the building completed and have it received so well,” he said. “This building was designed to fully meet the needs of children.”

Suquamish tribal elder Betty Pasco said the new center was a good sign the community as a whole was moving in the right direction.

“This is so close to my heart. I’m so proud we have this facility,” she said. “This kind of project that was completed shows our priorities lie with our children. This will be a wonderful place for children to go to.”

And while the early learning center always has been just that, the new building and location has vastly improved how it does business, said childcare coordinator Sandy Mabe.

“I remember when this started in a little house in Indianola in 1996,” she said. “This is awesome that we have this beautiful, brand new building. We’re like one big family. That’s what means the most. It’s very special for me.”

Suquamish tribal elder Oliver Jackson Jr. agreed.

“I bring my grandkids here every day,” he said. “This building brings the community together. It’s pretty awesome.”

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