Letter - Wa-Hi grades behind in science

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I am a past, present and future parent of Walla Walla High School students.

Wa-Hi students start behind in college science.

My college daughter took several AP science classes from excellent teachers while at the Wa-Hi. She got to her first college science class where she found she was completely lacking in lab experience in comparison to her peers.

I’ve not encouraged our current Wa-Hi student to take biology or chemistry because I believe these subjects are truly based on sound lab experiences, which aren’t available at Wa-Hi.

This is discouraging because I believe we have outstanding educators for these subjects. My eighth-grader is about to move up to Wa-Hi and, once again, we are discussing the best approach to her science education given the restraints at Wa-Hi due to essentially absent lab facilities.

We have spent a good deal of our own time providing outside science education for our children because essential lab experiments are not available at Wa-Hi.

The science department is staffed with talented and creative educators. We see this every day in what they are able to do for our kids with acutely limited resources. We live in an age of increasing technology and the ever growing need for our students to have hands-on skills to solve tomorrow’s complicated problems in medicine, engineering and environmental issues.

Our brightest science students are not leaving Wa-Hi with the experience needed to be ready for demanding science courses in college, while other students simply leave without a basic understanding of how laboratory science fits into their daily lives. Some students only become excited and engaged in science because they love the labs. We completely lose these students in the current facilities.

This proposed bond is smaller, it is focused on the greatest need, it is part of a phased-in approach to improve the facilities. It is what the community has been asking for.

Ask yourself, “Do I want to have well-trained medical professionals, engineers, architects or the chemists who find the next promising drug that saves lives in the future? Will I ever need one of these people to make my life better?”

If your answer is “Yes,” then you have to support their education with all the necessary tools from the minute they walk into a Wa-Hi science class. Please support this important bond, which will then support the highest level of science education for our students.

Kathryn Southwick-Hess

Walla Walla

Comments

fatherof5 4 months, 2 weeks ago

This letter is spot on and written by someone who writes with clarity on the importance of giving our kids a quality education in science. She's clearly done her research.

I would contrast this letter with another one published in today's U-B, where the author complains about pot holes and then segues to: "Don’t let them fool you about College Place High School students staying at Wa-Hi instead of going to CPHS."

That writer's point is that hundreds of Wa-Hi students will migrate to CP, thus making a new science building unnecessary. His assertion is simply not true on multiple levels.

First, no one is attempting to fool anyone. CP is only expecting 300-400 students and has a capacity limit of not significantly higher than that. Just ask the folks in CP. So, at a minimum Wa-Hi will still have 1,400 students and proportionately fewer teachers. And the science rooms will still be too small, still lack sinks and proper ventilation, and still be built for the science of 1963. That won't change without a bond to change it.

The need is there. There are no charades or gimmicks. The main question is if our community is willing to improve science education for our kids by paying $5 more per month in taxes for their $200,000 houses. I think it is willing to do so.

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