Video: South Seattle Community College expands ’13th Year Promise’ to Chief Sealth International High School

Hundreds of Chief Sealth International High School students just found out in a surprise announcement in the school auditorium that a free year of college awaits them – and potentially thousands of their future counterparts. In an event under way at Sealth right now, South Seattle Community College has announced that CSIHS is the second Seattle Public Schools high school to become part of the SSCC 13th Year Promise Scholarship program. (Cleveland High School was the first, starting with its Class of 2008.) The official announcement explains:

The groundbreaking scholarship program, which is the first of its kind in Washington state, guarantees every graduating senior the opportunity to attend South tuition-free for one year, regardless of grade point, test scores or other factors. …

The 13th Year Promise Scholarship was developed to address data that shows the enormous difference just one year of college can make in terms of earnings and a student’s likelihood of continuing in higher education. This critical “Tipping Point” has been identified as a high school diploma and one-year of college. The scholarship is also designed to increase the access to higher education for our community’s students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, including students of color, low-income and first-generation college students. …

The program is funded by financial aid and/or scholarship funds raised through the South Seattle Community College Foundation. …

The announcement event is being led by two Sealth graduates – SSCC president Gary Oertli and CSIHS principal John Boyd.

ADDED 3:34 PM: Oertli and Boyd are in the video added atop this story – also participating, school-board rep (and Sealth parent) Steve Sundquist:
(video no longer available due to shutdown)

27 Replies to "Video: South Seattle Community College expands '13th Year Promise' to Chief Sealth International High School"

  • mom January 14, 2011 (10:30 am)

    This is totally unfair to West Seattle High School students, many of whom are also in financial need and who see South Seattle CC as a continuing Education option.
    Sealth has no closer relationship to South than WSHS, other than mileage!

  • add January 14, 2011 (11:00 am)


  • westseattledood January 14, 2011 (11:16 am)


  • Lura January 14, 2011 (12:11 pm)

    This is a wonderful opportunity that will make a huge difference in many students’ lives.

    As to to comment saying this is “unfair” to ineligible students, well, that’s true for all scholarship opportunities. Is it “unfair” that the West Seattle Alumni Association is well-funded to give generous scholarship opportunities to many WSHS grads, even though much of the alumni association’s endowment came from the larger West Seattle area that now attends Sealth?

  • teachermom January 14, 2011 (12:19 pm)

    What a wonderful educational opportunity for hard-working students who might not experience college otherwise. The link says that 20 seniors from Cleveland High took advantage of this offer the first year. It will be interesting to see how many from CSIHS apply.
    @mom – It looks like if there is additional funding WSHS would be next.

  • Anonymous January 14, 2011 (12:27 pm)

    How can you say something like this is unfair? Having gone to both West Seattle and now currently Chief Sealth, I know that there are WAY more students here that are financially insecure than at West Seattle High School. We have the highest percentage of graduates that don’t go on to college just because of their financial situation. It would be awesome if South Seattle could afford to give both schools this opportunity, but it’s already costing them around a million dollars to do this. So no, it’s not UNFAIR.

  • *Like* January 14, 2011 (12:33 pm)

    West Seattle free/reduced lunch- 48%
    Chief Sealth free/reduced lunch- 58.4%

    @mom, Which school has higher needs??????

  • cstar January 14, 2011 (12:37 pm)

    I don’t know much about this program but it sounds like a great opportunity for students who wouldn’t have the means (or GPA) to attend college otherwise.

    It’s not realistic to expect SSCC to extend the offer to all local high school graduates but it would seem more fair if they could have found a way to do so for low-income, under-represented groups who are not eligible for other scholarships, regardless of which area school they attend. Still, I understand the program as it exists is intended to target specific under-performing schools and in general the students at Sealth are not afforded as many opportunities as their peers at WS High.

  • Anna January 14, 2011 (12:53 pm)

    This such a great opportunity!!!!!

  • Gerry January 14, 2011 (1:30 pm)

    This is so exciting. Yes, what a great opportunity!

  • Brian January 14, 2011 (2:07 pm)

    I hope this is a trend that continues across the state. What a great starting point for higher education.

  • Eliza January 14, 2011 (2:11 pm)

    What an amazing opportunity these kids will get!

    Not to over address the “unfair” comment, but it is a little funny to me that a mom, who, generally speaking, Moms have been telling their own kids for years that “life isn’t always fair” has the child side of the argument this time.

    WSHS has one of the largest alumni associations in the United States, I am sure they could come up with something that would mirror this offer.

  • don January 14, 2011 (2:47 pm)

    What timing! Todays Times has an article about worst performing schools. Who’s number one? Sealth. Who’s been the leader? John Boyd. West Seattle made some tough decisions, now it’s Sealth turn.

    • WSB January 14, 2011 (2:52 pm)

      Actually we had that story here last night.
      Sealth is not “#1” – this is a list compiled by the state to determine eligibility because of the availability of federal grants. It’s not a ranking. Two other Seattle Public Schools are on the list, with the reason cited as “achievement”; Sealth made the list, the district says, because not enough students were graduating. But the district’s contention, as quoted in our story, is that it has an improvement plan well under way. – Tracy

  • teachermom January 14, 2011 (3:38 pm)

    I looked at the data on OSPI for the last four years to see how the numbers reflected their “improvement plan underway.” I found two items of interest: the first was the graduation rate changes for on time vs. six years, unlike the district report card where no change is noted. THANK GOODNESS! I found the 0 change in 4 to 6 year graduation rate quite alarming.
    The second trend I saw was that their graduation rates have decreased over the last four years. However, because I also saw other incongruities among the state’s reports, I cannot assert that the calculation of the rates is consistent from year to year. But the state’s data trend is downward, which is how they were placed put on the list. Either way, it was a surprise to hear a school with such a wonderful reputation on this blog to be identified as an underperforming school.

  • teachermom January 14, 2011 (3:43 pm)

    Also, about the FRL number.
    FRL is a figure derived by a self-reporting for financial need. There are populations for reason’s of personal pride who don’t and won’t take a government handout because they believe it is wrong. To do so is an admission of their inability to feed their own family. Please, remember that when comparing “who is poorest.” Consider which populations refuse to be identified as poor due to the “shame” associated with it.
    Besides, whose poor kids deserve a chance more? Is that really what you want to argue about?

  • Kate K January 14, 2011 (7:59 pm)

    Giving HS students a chance to go to college is always a good thing. What a great program!

  • azeb212 January 15, 2011 (8:59 am)

    This is great news for CSHS in light of its recent ranking as one of the worst 50 schools in the state. (They make this list with other SPS schools – Rainier Beach HS as well as an alternative school) . Schools in West Seattle definitely could use this help. To those who indicate it is unfair to WSHS; students whose desire it is to attend South Seattle CC can always select Sealth as their HS (or they can transfer). (What a great opportunity for these kids with the importance of a chance for post secondary education.) I imagine that if this program is successful that the goal would be to expand it to other needy schools if there is funding available—a program needs to start somewhere. WSHS seems to be managing to get a large percentage of their students into many good schools (many in their recent graduating classes are attending UW, WWU, WSU, as well as other state schools in Washington and in other sates and some fine private institutions). Additionally their alumni association has a very generous scholarship fund which many students benefit from. Let’s work on making all of our West Seattle (and beyond) public schools successful.

    • WSB January 15, 2011 (11:47 am)

      Azeb, as noted just a few comments above, we published that story on Thursday night, with a Sealth focus, including a specific quote from the district.
      Also note that just choosing a certain school, HS or otherwise, doesn’t work the same way, because of the New Student Assignment Plan. Incoming 9th graders, starting this year, are generally assigned to their “assignment area” school. Some seats at high schools are set aside for non-assignment-area students to choose – and this year, my understanding is that those who did that at either CSIHS or WSHS got in – but in future years, some might be left on a waiting list. – TR

  • Melissa Westbrook January 15, 2011 (11:55 am)

    What I find odd is that the SPS press release says this about the district applying for funding to help Sealth:

    Sealth is also on the list but SPS is NOT going to apply for a grant for them”because the school is well into implementation of a plan to ensure a high‐achieving school. “While additional funding would be helpful, we do not want to disrupt the momentum that has been created.”

    Again I say…what? There is a chance for money to help a school that is still getting its footing and is going to be transitioning to a joint campus with a middle school and we aren’t applying for the funds? How is more money “disrupting the momentum?”

    Does anyone know why applying for these funds (with no guarantee to get them, of course) would slow the momentum at Sealth?

  • Melissa Westbrook January 15, 2011 (11:58 am)

    Well, I should have just read Tracy’s great reporting on the issue of the grants – if Sealth took the money, they would have to change the principal and other “transformation” changes.

    Is there any push or parent concern over Mr. Boyd?

    I ask this because I write for the local education blog, Save Seattle Schools, and it’s always better to ask parents in the know what they think.

  • Deanie Schwarz January 15, 2011 (12:42 pm)

    Melissa –

    TR addressed that in WSB’s grant article in the last graph and, if I am understanding correctly, SPS and the teachers’ union decided any grant received would have to be “transformational”. TR cited the requirements of that scenario. I’m neither defending it or criticizing that decision, merely pointing out the parameters set by SPS and the teachers’ union. It included replacing the principal, among numerous other strategies. How disruptive that would be, I leave to more learned people.

  • GenHillOne January 15, 2011 (1:05 pm)

    Good lord. No, there isn’t any nefarious plot brewing to oust the Sealth leadership. Yes, if Sealth received the grant, it could be disruptive to a program that is really picking up steam. I see it as a vote of confidence and am pleased. No school is perfect, or perfect for every student, but there are exciting things going on at Sealth.

  • Deanie January 15, 2011 (1:48 pm)

    mw, just to be clear, your second post hadn’t published when I wrote my reply.

  • RJ January 15, 2011 (9:56 pm)

    Melissa- this is what happened at West Seattle Elementary this year. They took grant money so they had to have a new principal. She was from a different state and brought a wonderful new perspective! Changes that have been implemented have greatly impacted the youth I work with and see on a daily basis very positively. I am in no way saying that Mr. Boyd should be replaced. What I’m saying is that it would be very interesting for there to be a follow-up story on how the changes are coming along at West Seattle Elementary this year and if parents who didn’t want to see Gayle leave are now on board and understanding why the changes took place for the betterment of the school. Sometimes a fresh perspective is the best thing even if other changes are already in the works.

  • Great news January 16, 2011 (8:36 pm)

    I think this is great news, particularly since SSCC has so many great vocational programs.

    People turn up their noses at the trades, but they were the original middle class – and they are still some of the best jobs put there,

    Some kids just aren’t meant for college – and I say that as someone who was the poster child for “not meant for college”. It took four years of tuition for me to figure that out. Although I do wish the vocational programs had a stronger liberal arts requirement – particularly writing, literature, civics and critical thinking – and that the students and schools would take that part more seriously

  • TwoCents January 18, 2011 (2:22 pm)

    I am so proud of SSCC’s Foundation & Development office for organizing the funds to make these scholarships possible, and for creating the opportunity for the 13th year scholarship to grow. It’s so exciting to be able to add a new school after only having the program running for 3 years!

    For those disgruntled that WSHS isn’t on the list yet, is it better for SSCC to add high schools as they can, or would you rather they withhold all scholarship funds until all West Seattle/South Seattle high schools are eligible? I, for one, am glad that SSCC has made a conscientious choice in rolling out this program one school at a time so that the program’s growth is manageable and each student can be adequately served while under the scholarship.

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