By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
Tulalip Heritage High School recently received accreditation through AdvancED, an accrediting agency comprised of educators who conduct on-site external reviews of Pre K-12 schools. The education accreditation procedure is a yearlong voluntary process in which a school becomes a certified institution by meeting a set of external standards of quality. Due to successfully completing the process, Tulalip Heritage has been granted accreditation for the next five years.
Tulalip Heritage was previously accredited under Marysville-Pilchuck, the recent accreditation now recognizes Heritage as its own school and by doing so, the high school has the opportunity to thrive on its own, as well as provide a fresh outlook for potential students and their families. On the evening of Wednesday August 30, Tulalip Heritage celebrated their accreditation with the Tulalip community at the Francis J. Sheldon Gym.
“It’s really a huge accomplishment for us, as a school, to receive this accreditation,” states Tulalip Heritage High School Principal, Shelly Lacy. “We’re accredited through AdvancED, they have accredited over 34,000 schools nationally and we actually scored ten points higher than their average. A lot of times we hear in the community that Tulalip Heritage is an alternative school, that we’re less than. This accreditation tells them no, we meet the same standards; as a matter of fact, we exceed those standards.
“It took us a year to get ready,” she continues. “[AdvancED] were at our school for three days and spent over a week looking at all of our data. They came in and did interviews with the students, parents and staff; and also observed the classrooms. We learned a lot through the process, [the accreditation] is good for five years and is an ongoing process where we continue to work with them to improve our instruction so that we make sure that our students receive the best education that they can receive.”
The accreditation celebration allowed parents and students a chance to fill out paperwork for the upcoming school year. Heritage also provided dinner, a spaghetti-bar buffet by Olive Garden, as well as entertainment as many Tulalip Heritage Alumni took to the basketball court to compete in a full four-quarter game against the current Heritage High School student-athletes.
“When we thought about celebrating the accreditation, we wanted to include all of our alumni because they are who made our school important. They came and did their best work here and then they continue to come back. They come back to support the athletes, they come back to volunteer at our school. So, we wanted to make sure we included them and the best way is through their love to play sports.
“The one thing we’re most excited about is this year’s graduating class will receive the first-ever Tulalip Heritage High School diploma, we’re really excited about that,” Shelly expresses. “We’re in the process of designing the new diplomas. They will say Tulalip Heritage High School and will include our logo and probably a picture of our school. We thank the Tribe for their support because we couldn’t offer our students what we offer without the Tribe’s support. We can offer P.E., have a full-time counselor and a full-time principal because the Tribe supports us, so that we can make sure our kids have everything they need to graduate and be successful in college and their future careers.”