Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Evergreen Elementary Dedication Ceremony, Shelton
September 9, 2003

Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here.

I am here today because of my daughter Emily.

You see, Emily plays soccer. Her coach last season was Linda Hicks-Green. Linda is an Evergreen Elementary School staff member. As we got to know Linda last season, we talked about many things. Including, of course, this new school. Linda was kind enough to invite me to this dedication. I am honored and grateful that she did.

When I say I am here because of my daughter Emily—and my son Dylan—I also mean that in a more personal way. When I go home at night, I am just plain “Dad.” Like all parents, Mona and I are deeply interested in and concerned about how our kids will be educated. Like all of you, we are committed to their future, and the future of education for all children in Washington.

When I hear about an outstanding effort to improve education, I am naturally very interested. And this new Evergreen Elementary School is an outstanding effort in every sense of the word.

This new school reflects a community partnership. It is a partnership of parents, teachers, community members, students, administrators and local government. This partnership reveals a community that cares and is willing to take action. Together, ordinary people have accomplished something extraordinary here. Today we celebrate that accomplishment.

You were faced with a difficult dilemma. The original Evergreen Elementary just couldn’t keep up with the needs of the students. This in turn placed a burden on all of the elementary schools in the district.

This community faced the difficulty head-on. Shelton citizens decided to take responsibility for solving the problem. And to do it, you passed the largest tax measure you’ve ever had here. This community placed its faith in the Shelton School District to build quality schools and provide an excellent education. Our state pitched in to help, providing $2 million toward construction of Evergreen Elementary school.

Community involvement did not end there, however. This community not only committed funding—it committed considerable time and effort. Evergreen staff, parents and community members were on the planning group to define the school’s needs and design. The group worked tirelessly, visiting other schools, working with the school board, working with the architects. The process was inclusive, and the entire community joined in the dialogue.

You have shown just how effective a community partnership can be. Here we stand in this beautiful new school, completed in time for a new school year. Meeting the needs of today. And keeping the promise of tomorrow. This school is symbolic of a community that cares and is willing to join together to do what is needed for our children and grandchildren.

Standing here, I am inspired. I hope you are all as proud as I am. You deserve to be.

This summer we’ve seen proof of success in our schools. Our kids in Shelton and all across the state are making strong academic gains. I am very proud of our students, teachers, principals, parents and school district staff. Here in Shelton, and all across our state.

We have very high standards, and we are working hard to achieve them – and more and more students are meeting or exceeding those standards.

Look at what we have accomplished in just seven years! In the 4th grade, 48 percent met the reading standard in 1997. This year, almost 67 percent met the standard. And in 1997, only 21.4 percent met the math standard. This year, 55.2 percent made the grade.
Seventh graders have made great progress in writing. In 1997, 31.3 percent met the writing standard. This year, 54.6 percent passed. And there’s great progress in the Shelton School District as well.

And when it comes to S.A.T. scores, our state is among a select few in the top tier of performers. In states with 54 to 66 percent of their students participating, Washington ranks FIRST in both math and verbal! The College Board has stated that Washington has had the largest gains over the past ten years.

We have a good start. But education requires dedicated, permanent, and stable funding. Just as this community stepped forward to fund this school, our state needs to make the same kind of emphatic commitment to all of our children and our state’s future.

This next session, I intend to continue my fight for a permanent, dedicated, and stable source of education funding.

As I stand here and once again experience firsthand the power of community, I’m convinced we will prevail. Our education system has made great progress the past several years. It’s because of people like you, communities like Shelton, and successes like Evergreen Elementary School.

This is more than just a great new elementary school. It represents a promise that Shelton will do what it takes to give its children a quality education. This community is keeping that important promise, and conferring a lasting legacy of opportunity for future generations.

Congratulations on this remarkable accomplishment. And thank you for letting me share in this important day for your children, this community, and our state’s future.

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