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Meet Whatcom Intergenerational High School: Bellingham’s New Public Charter School

Sep 2, 2021 | Blog, Launching Schools

“With the opening of Whatcom Intergenerational High School, and the return to in-person learning, our community now has a new option that broadens opportunities to choose the kind of public education our children should have: A safe space for students to fully embrace who they are as they pursue their passions in learning.” – Marisa Garcia, Founding Parent

Whatcom Intergenerational High School (WIHS), opening this fall, will be Bellingham’s first charter public school.  Founded on the First People’s Principles of Learning, the school offers multidisciplinary and holistic instruction rooted in the values of inclusivity, a sense of belonging, and an ethic of care for all students, staff, elders, families and the community.    

Within this framework, the school delivers intergenerational learning through mentoring between students and elders in the community – focusing on connectedness, relationships and a deeper exploration of self through shared knowledge.

The model also includes phenomenon-based learning that draws from native wisdom and history in the region. Working in real-world contexts, students explore topics that focus on the issues and problems they care about. Driven by a student’s natural curiosity, learners look at multiple perspectives and practice with the same methods, tools, and skills that will serve them in career and life beyond school.

Students will spend their mornings on campus and take afternoon trips into the community for hands-on learning opportunities. All transportation will be provided throughout the school day.

Whatcom Intergenerational High School’s founders, Cindy Reuther and Shirley Williams, were inspired to create a learning environment that encourages students to engage in their passions and share their unique gifts, while connecting through the wisdom of community elders. Principal Cliff Poage is humbled to be bringing this option to Whatcom teens and the community. “We know that one size does not fit all when it comes to public education. Our school model was informed by the wisdom of our communities, and we are honored to be opening doors to students this fall.”

WIHS still has some spaces for 9th and 10th graders available for the 2021-2022 school year. The school year will begin September 7th in a dedicated space on the Whatcom Community College campus, and will transition to its permanent facility in Bellis Fair Mall when construction of the new space is complete later in September.  

Location:

Whatcom Community College – 237 W Kellogg Rd, Bellingham, WA 98226

Contact:

Cliff Poage at (360) 927-1119 // cliff.geispoage@intergenerational.school