Location Change Proposed for Two Rivers Big Picture School Next Fall
The Snoqualmie Valley School Board approved a proposal from Two Rivers Principal Rhonda Schmidt, during the February 27 school board meeting, to transition Two Rivers Big Picture High School to be a ‘school within a school’ on the new Mount Si High School campus next fall. They approved this decision in a 4-1 vote, subject to meeting the standards set out by the board to address some of the community comments and concerns heard at the board meeting.
In approving the proposal, Snoqualmie Valley Superintendent Dr. Manahan and the School Board emphasized their commitment for ensuring the Two Rivers program remains true to its core values and philosophy as a Big Picture School, They discussed steps needed to not only support this philosophy, but enhance the educational experience and opportunities for students as well as the professional experience of staff to create a more equitable program.”
Below are some of the key reasons for making this transition, how this change will benefit Two Rivers’ students, and the special care that will be given to help ensure the alternative school retains its personalized approach and wrap-around supports for students.
The primary reason for a move to the MSHS campus is the state’s new “Graduation Pathways” which offer students a broader range of options for meeting testing requirements for graduation in Washington State. In the current Two Rivers School location on Ballarat Avenue in North Bend, the school does not have the capacity to provide students the expanded opportunities now available that can help students meet new state testing requirements.
Two Rivers students are not exempt from state testing requirements and we want them to have every opportunity available to help them graduate. Specifically, moving to Mount Si will enable our students to access Career and Technical Education (CTE) coursework pathways as well as specialized Bridge-to-College courses to meet state testing requirements.” Click here for details regarding the new Graduation Pathways.
A top priority for a move to MSHS is for Two Rivers to maintain a separate program from Mount Si with the following considerations:
Two Rivers will still be a Big Picture School, and its students will still participate in internships. The design and goals of the program will remain the same, only the location would change.
Two Rivers students would also have the option of taking courses from MSHS staff to explore their interests – including CTE courses, world languages, arts and music – classes which are not currently offered at Two Rivers. Career and Technical Education course include: construction, environmental horticulture, marketing, Microsoft certifications, sports medicine, robotics engineering, digital media, graphic design, ceramics and more. (Find the complete list of CTE offerings here.)
If a Two Rivers student prefers not to take any MSHS classes, they may still exclusively be served through the Two Rivers program and staff.
The exact physical location of the ‘school within a school’ is still to be determined. They are working to identify a space that would preserve smaller class sizes and the intimate nature of the program. Consideration will be given to accommodate a unique entrance, have a separate dining service/schedule, parking access, and collaboration space to continue providing a learning environment that helps students feel safe, connected, and accepted.
With this move, Two Rivers’ students will also benefit from access to college and career opportunities at Mount Si, including meeting with college admissions representatives throughout the year, and extracurricular activities, if they choose.
The move is intended to help ensure equity and access for our Two Rivers students -- to ensure they have more options and learning experiences that can help them identify and pursue their career goals after graduation.
This is also an opportunity to extend the Big Picture program, which emphasizes internship experience, to more interested students.
“We believe this will be a positive change that will help more students graduate with the quality education they deserve,” explained Principal Schmidt. “I also know our Two Rivers staff is committed to preserving our special Two Rivers learning community, where students will continue to benefit from strong teacher-student relationships, small class sizes, internship experience, and the supportive learning environment that make our school so special.”
Superintendent Manahan added, “Next steps involve the District verifying appropriate space at MSHS and program compatibility, ensuring we meet the individual needs of our TRS and MSHS students, and successfully navigating the potential obstacles discussed by the Board. While we are confident in our ability to do so, if after further review and consultation with staff and students it seems untenable, we will keep TRS at the current location.”