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Suquamish Learning Center readying for grand opening

SUQUAMISH — Even though the official grand opening won’t take place until Sept. 7, a large contingent of local North End area children have been enjoying the friendly confines of the newly constructed Marion Forsman-Boushie Early Learning Center since it opened its doors May 15. Construction began in July of 2006.

The center made the move from its former location at 1840 Suquamish Way into a brand new 12,000-square foot facility at 5283 Totten Road in Suquamish. The new site features more than double the square footage, which is something ELC director Lisa Horn said is a huge bonus.

“We needed more space for our children,” she said. “The building is really wonderful. It’s such a great learning environment for children. We’re absolutely thrilled about the facility. Everyone who walks through is blown away by its beauty. It’s a state-of-the-art building and is very eco-friendly.”

The facility will integrate different aspects of the Suquamish Tribe’s culture and history, with a goal of passing both heritage and knowledge on to the next generation. The center is designed for children between 6 weeks old through 12 years of age. Although the majority of the children are under 5 years old, Horn said.

The learning center is named in honor of the memory of dedicated Suquamish tribal member Marion Forsman-Boushie.

“Marion was an advocate for early childhood learning,” Horn said. “She wanted to help children in any way she could. It’s great the facility is named in honor of her.”

The grand opening ceremony slated for Sept. 7 invites the public to a take a giant step into the state of the art building. Tours of the upper level and lower level of the building as well as the playground are scheduled from 9-10 a.m. A keynote speaker from the Gates Foundation will be present at 11 a.m. Following the speech, a barbecue lunch and a celebration are scheduled for the remainder of the afternoon.

Horn said officials at the center are thrilled about its partnership with Head Start. The Head Start program along with Suquamish’s early learning center are already getting preschool aged children ready for kindergarten this fall.

“The Head Start program focuses on kindergarten readiness. Right now there are children at the learning center going through a transitional program to get them ready for kindergarten,” Horn said.

Horn said the early learning center also is partnering with Head Start in a pilot program titled, “My Amazing Body”.

“It’s a pretty creative curriculum. This program has a Native American focus on food and nutrition,” she said. “At an early age it teaches children what they need to know about the choices they make regarding nutrition.”

Suquamish’s early learning center will give children one-on-one attention on a regular basis for years to come.

“There will be a lot of one on one instruction between staff and children,” Horn said. “The ratio of staff to children will be significantly low. They will get the attention they need. We’re going to offer a lot of before school and after school activities for them.”

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