by Marcus Harrison Green
Rainier Beach High School is headed to prime time, or more exactly the “News Hour,” as the Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) eponymously named news program will soon feature the South Seattle School during a future broadcast. The visit from PBS is just the latest media coverage heaped upon the South Seattle school as a result of its International Baccalaureate Program.
First introduced in 2011, the program focuses on engaging Beach students with a high-end curriculum, which includes computer coding and advanced courses in history and science. With about 22 percent of its students currently enrolled, the IB program is credited with increasing the school’s graduation rate by 25 percent over the past 4 years. Beach’s overall graduation rate currently beats the Seattle School District’s average.
A feel good story first picked up by local media outlets, the school’s turnaround attracted PBS’s nightly hour-long newscast, long known for its in-depth reportage on provocative issues, as an example of a possible solution for the current ails of the public school system. Crew from the PBS News Hour, which is broadcast nationally on over 300 PBS affiliate stations, will be in attendance this Saturday for the final Rainier Beach Community Café.
The cafés, which began last February, have served as a meeting ground for Beach students and faculty to communicate the value and impact of the IB program on the South End community. The program is currently scheduled to run out of funding at the end of the 2017 school year. Part of the discussion at the café will revolve around ways to extend the program, making it a permanent fixture of a Beach student’s education.
Cambrie Nelson, the International Baccalaureate Community Outreach Coordinator, summed up much of the excitement shared by students and school administrators at being featured on a nationwide scale in an email to the Emerald: “We are proud of our young scholars. We are grateful for the opportunity to share about the success of a full community effort with a broader audience. The partnership between Rainier Beach High School, Urban Impact, and the Rainier Beach Community is innovative and effective. Through our Community Cafes and Ambassador meetings, our vibrant community has supported a clear message: education should be and can be a driver of equity. We hope that PBS will capture the beauty of our community’s story in a way that supports our goal to find the resources necessary to sustain the school as a whole and the International Baccalaureate program at Rainier Beach High School beyond 2017. Simply put, we are excited to welcome them to the Rainier Valley!”
The café will be held at Emerald City Bible Fellowship (7728 Rainier Avenue South) from 12:00pm until 2:00pm. Event organizers are hoping for a strong showing for the broadcast and are encouraging all in the surrounding community to attend.