For the fourth consecutive year, West Seattle Elementary students got a first-day-of-school welcome like no other: The “Be There Rally.” 2016 was the first time community members were invited to greet and inspire the students. The event has continued growing in size and reputation, and this year drew more citywide dignitaries than ever. More on them later. First – WSE principal Pamela McCowan-Conyers got to tell the crowd all about her school:
She repeatedly referred to “the West Seattle Elementary difference” – not just the students’ success, but also her staff’s qualifications, including 8 board-certified teachers and 3 teachers who are “studying to become administrators,” as well as her assistant principal Sahnica Washington. She also touted supporting the students by supporting their parents.
That family support also comes from the Seattle Housing Authority, which manages the community surrounding the school, High Point. SHA executive director Andrew Lofton (lower left in photo above) was among this morning’s high-profile participants, saying that this year SHA will support the district’s emphasis on reading proficiency – a banner for SEATTLE SUPER READERS hung over the school entrance – the way it previously supported improved attendance.
West Seattle Elementary has more than 400 students, so there was a long line to high-five and applaud.
It all happened with perfectly chosen music courtesy of DJ Akim Finch (who is also a WSE employee), spinning classics including Earth, Wind and Fire‘s “September,” McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” Aretha Franklin‘s “Respect,” Pharrell Williams‘ “Happy.”
Once all but the last few stragglers had entered the school, the principal was convening a meeting for families inside the school. But before that, the dignitaries exited with their own high-fives for community members. They included Police Chief Carmen Best, Superintendent Denise Juneau, Mayor Jenny Durkan, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, and Seattle School Board President Leslie Harris. Pre-ceremony photo ops abounded, too:
That included the smallest member of the SPD Mounted Patrol, Li’l Sebastian:
Eventually, the visitors all moved on, and it was time for the West Seattle Elementary “Husky scholars” to get to work.