School to Open in September
Wash. - In September, Lummi school children will attend
a new school - one that is five times larger than the current
school, will have a name chosen by them and with the design
that will include elements of their culture.
want a place of education where our children, their parents
and relatives will feel a sense of pride, a sense of culture
and a sense of history," Lummi Vice Chairman Perry Adams
said when school design was approved.
preparation began in June. Lummi officials approved the school
design in October. Construction began in November.
school will be two stories and 120,000 square feet - a larger
footprint than a Wal-Mart store. Total construction cost is
spokesman Aaron Thomas said the school will have spacious
classroom settings designed for a strong teacher/student ratio
and flexible class sizes and roomy "commons area"
for students of all ages to gather throughout the day. Two
gymnasiums, one of which will hold more than 1,000 spectators
during home basketball games will feature retractable bleachers
for added function space. Internet broadband capability and
telephone/intercom systems will be in every classroom.
all K-12 grades attend school in one building, which is considered
an alternative school. Lummi students either attend school
on the reservation or in Ferndale, a neighboring non-Lummi
new school will be open to Lummi and non-Lummi students. Thomas
said the school expects 750 students.
school project is a symbol of the community renewal Lummi
leaders have been working toward.
decline in the salmon population in the 1990s decimated the
Lummi fishing industry and left local fishers without income.
unemployed Lummi fishers were hired by DO/Strider Construction,
which did site preparation for the school, and trained to
operate heavy equipment. Thomas said those workers have stayed
on; they earn $36.05 per hour regular time, $50 per hour overtime.
officials hope to create more such jobs through its Lummi
Dislocated Workers Program.
education is seen as one of the keys to stopping substance
abuse on the reservation. Lummi Councilman Henry Cagey has
said that prevention activities, jobs, housing and education
are necessary in the battle against substance abuse. The school
construction shows that the community believes education is
important. Construction of the new K-12 school is being followed
by construction of a new Northwest Indian College campus.
received a $21 million grant from the BIA for construction
of the school. "We worked 10 years to obtain the grant,"
Thomas said when the grant was awarded.
Lummi will have a series of local meetings to gather input
on the schools interior design. Residents submitted
100 entries in a naming contest; Chairman Darrell Hillaire
said school children will pick the name.
an American Indian-owned construction firm in New Mexico,
is the contractor. The school is being built using steel frames
and cement panels, giving it a 90-year average life as opposed
to 50 years for wood construction.
an earlier interview, Bob Doucette of DO/Strider Construction
said the school will be a source of local pride. "My
message to people is, take pride in this school. Your great-grandchildren
are going to go here.
by Richard Walker / Correspondent
/ Indian Country Today