The Eagle Eye|December 16|News

Lummi High School opens doors

Lummi High School

Lummi Nation students are celebrating the completion of their new tribal school which opened in September.

With 186 students in grades 7-12, the doors to the building open into the expansive chamber of the student commons. Massive columns hold up the second story walkway, which overlooks the commons. Hallways branch off in various directions leading to classrooms, a library filled with windows, and the cavernous gym. Glass cases line the hallways with displays of native artwork.

Inside the cavernous Lummi High School Gym

“This new school is truly a blessing,” said Mrs. Donna Cultee, administrative assistant. “Our ancestors worked so hard for this school. They always wanted something better for their children.”

With the brand new facility has also come a renewed sense of pride.
“The staff and students are really taking pride in the facility and in themselves,” said Mr. David Tomlin, principal. “Everyone is coming together as a school and a group. The kids are learning, having fun, developing a sense of pride, and becoming successful. I imagine we’re going to continue to grow.”

The new building has opened the doors to host of new classes. Lummi High currently supports the usual math, science, social studies and English classes in addition to new ceramics, art, literature, Lummi culture and language, contemporary living, and physical education classes.

“We have an art room to rival most high schools,” said Loren Cultee, junior. “It has several art tables, five pottery wheels, and two, full-size kilns. It’s really nice.”

The art and science programs meshed to create holographic images.

“We have a machine which will create holographic images over top of other images,” said Mr. Dave Brown, science teacher. “The machine uses a laser and sandbox to create the images. We’re one of the few high schools in the region, let alone the country, who has this kind of technology.”

Plans call for the selling of some of the student created holograms. The rest will either be used by students for personal portfolios or to decorate the school.

Technology is a big part of the new school with an advanced computer lab of flat screen monitors, and two 27 inch plasma screens in the science rooms.

Yet some people attribute the current growth of the high school to an improved sports program.

“Kids never really came before because we never had many sports in school,” said Mr. Jim Sandusky, physical education teacher and varsity football coach. “There are six programs now, and with more being offered, more students can participate. It’s also boosted the academic performances because student have to maintain a certain GPA to remain eligible for sports.” The sports currently being offered include football, boys’ and girls’ basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball.

“The new sports programs are really nice,” explained James Scott, senior ASB president. “We have a ton of new programs and we may be adding track to the list this spring.”

Many Lummi students are leaving the public schools to attend the new tribal school.
“It’s good to see that a lot of our kids are coming back from public school,” said Mrs. Tammy Cultee, administrative assistant. “We rely on the students who have been here since freshman year to teach the newcomers the respect everyone deserves.”

Students have also found a love for the new school.

“I like it a lot better, to have more space and not be all jammed up,” said L Cultee. “The building wasn’t completely ready when we came here, but it’s really nice and I’m glad to have it. My dad was actually in charge of the construction process and so I got to come in all the time during the summer and see the building go up.”

With the creation of a new high school came an influx of new teachers.

Mrs. Leticia Geldart, English teacher, moved from New York City to Bellingham three years ago to teach at Lummi High School.

“Things have changed a lot in the past three years. The students are much more academically focused, they have goals and plans, and they want to bring what they have learned back to their community to help it. It was a huge adjustment for me moving from a school where I had 90 kids in a class to 12 in a class. Here the classes are much more close knit. You get to know everyone really well, and I really enjoy that,” she said.

Lummi High students enjoy lunch in the cafeteria

Mr. Brown has been at the school longer than any other teacher and has come to realize some of its goals and dreams.

“Our goal here is to make this a modern facility with modern equipment and technology. We, as teachers, are trying to offer the same opportunities here as they could get at any school. We offer individual attention; it’s an informal atmosphere; we’re on a first name basis a lot of the time. Its personalized and uncrowded, and you know everyone by name. It’s just a really great atmosphere,” he said.

by jordan drost |

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