VIDEO: Arbor Heights Elementary dedicated as ‘not just a school – a philosophy’

The just-concluded dedication ceremony at Arbor Heights Elementary celebrated a day that twice came close to never happening. Mentioned many times during the pre-ribbon-cutting speeches was the fact that the school community had to fight to get the rebuild – and then had to fight to get the schedule moved up in the BEX IV levy so that students could get out of deteriorating conditions as soon as possible. Not mentioned – the fact that just a few years before, during a contentious school-closing process, the Arbor Heights program was proposed for closure. That too was fought and now AH students are hours away from their first day in a $28 million building built for their eSTEM curriculum, as highlighted by principal Christy Collins:

The ceremony in the AHES Commons was attended by a crowd we estimated at more than 400 – here’s just part of it:


The ribbon-cutting was followed by tours – here are our photos from the recent media tour, including many of the elements that Collins mentioned. She was joined onstage and at the microphone during the ceremony by 34th District State Sen. Sharon Nelson, 11th District State Rep. Zach Hudgins, Seattle PTSA Council president Sebrena Burr, Schools First president Melissa Pailthorp, West Seattle/South Park School Board rep Leslie Harris, School Board president Betty Patu, and SPS Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland.

AHES is one of 5 new schools the district is dedicating, and the next one is in West Seattle too – Genesee Hill Elementary (1 pm)!

ADDED: Another view of the crowd in the commons, showing the bracing in the back, meant to be educational as well as safety-enhancing:


The big smiles during the ribbon cutting:


Pieces of the ribbon were offered to kids afterward – “Batman” got one:



Both kids and parents were helping the Arbor Heights PTA make the most of the big turnout, handing out cards touting the “4th Annual Direct Drive” fundraiser – one was offered to us as we walked down the sidewalk before even getting to the school, and the PTA had a table in the lobby:


It was a day for celebration and for gratitude – with principal Collins thanking many, including the neighbors who dealt with two years of construction, and the Louisa Boren K-8 STEM community whose Delridge building they shared the past two years (“wonderful hosts”). And now, as of Wednesday morning, Arbor Heights’ new future begins.

7 Replies to "VIDEO: Arbor Heights Elementary dedicated as 'not just a school - a philosophy'"

  • Amy September 6, 2016 (1:05 pm)

    I know my memory is not great, but didn’t they just rebuild Arbor Heights Elementary in the past 20 years? I know my soon (who is soon to be 28) went to the old school with the wooden floors, and my youngest child (who is now 21) went to the new school. Please tell me that I am reading this wrong.

    • WSB September 6, 2016 (1:57 pm)

      No, they did not. A bit of history is on the project page – built in 1949 with a few additions, most recently 1958. Our archive links point to the literally crumbling condition of the old school in its final pre-teardown years.

  • CherylR September 6, 2016 (2:32 pm)

    Such wonderful news for the AH community! Thanks for the report TR/WSB. While we’re no longer at Arbor Heights (or in WS), I know personally this was a long time coming… 

    What a joy it’s going to be for the kids (and teachers, and staff, and parents) to be *in* their new school this year, finally! 
  • Shellie September 6, 2016 (3:38 pm)

    Beautiful building…amazing staff and principal. So happy for Arbor Heights :)

  • Mark Ahlness September 6, 2016 (4:35 pm)

    Thanks for the great coverage, WSB – it is a beautiful school! Also, thanks for pointing out the near closure of the program in 2008-09. If not for the strong Arbor Heights community that fought so hard back then, there would simply be no Arbor Heights School today. 


    Wishing all the students, parents, and staff at Arbor Heights a wonderful school year!

  • Margaret Smith September 7, 2016 (1:32 pm)

    Is there any more information about E.C. Hughes Elementary? There is a baby boom within blocks of this school and we will need another school to open within a few years.

  • WSB September 7, 2016 (1:41 pm)

    I am working on an update on that. The people who have the info we need have been tied up with all the school openings. Most recent district doc I found online projects a timeline of two years from now – fall 2018.  But to your interest, the question is how much additional capacity the school will have – given that so far as we know, it’s still planned as a new home to the Roxhill program, not an additional elementary school. – TR

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