Local schools get increased support through New Dawn Security

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – A security operations management firm called New Dawn Security has partnered with Tulalip Police Department to assess risks and develop plans to mitigate risks. New Dawn who primarily works with school districts was approached last summer by Tulalip Police Chief Carlos Echevarria who saw a need for an increased risk assessment plan at the Tulalip/ Marysville School Campus, which includes the Quil Ceda & Tulalip Elementary, Heritage High School, 10th Street Middle School and Arts & Technology High School.

“I met Sean Spellecy at a meeting hosted by the Marysville Police Department where he was presenting on New Dawn. We have all heard of the statistics across Indian country about violence and crime. So when we look at Indian country violence, and children exposed to violence and drugs, we see there is a need in our tribal communities for our children to be safe and that also includes the one place they spend the most time at. When Sean’s presentation included the 26 Safe School Standards developed by the Department of Justice, I was sold. I knew it was the right thing to do,” said Echevarria.

The set of school safety standards created by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice can be embedded into day-to-day school operations to make schools as safe as possible. New Dawn has developed a system based off the 26 Safe School Standards to measure a school’s safety rating.

“The first thing we do is a prevention assessment. What is currently in place to be able to prevent all of the risks that you could potentially face. This also goes for medical emergencies all the way down to transportation accidents, all of it. Anything that interrupts education environment or harms kids,” said New Dawn Security creator Sean Spellecy, a retired school principal.

During the tenure of Spellecy’s education career, horrendous crimes committed against his students prompted him to develop a program to keep students and schools safe, later called New Dawn Security.

“Ten years ago schools didn’t have to worry about 90 percent of the stuff that they have to worry about today,” said Spellecy.

Evolving monthly plans are developed according to each school’s assessment risks. These plans include training for educators on medical emergency prevention, active shooter prevention protocols, sexual abuse and misconduct protocols, crisis response and increasing police patrols and hosting law enforcement days where students learn how law enforcement work to keep them safe. Assessment risk plans can also include implementing safer locks and alarm systems, assessing the safety of school grounds, like checking for blinds spots where students may gather, anti-bullying, and what to do in case of food allergies.

Spellecy contacted Marysville School District to discuss including all district schools in a service contract following the discussions with Chief Echevarria about schools located on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. The district declined services last August due to budget concerns.

Ray Houser Marysville School District Assistant Superintendent said, “At the point in the school year when New Dawn approached us, we had not set aside specific resources or have a budget line item reserved for their type of service. Graciously New Dawn offered to conduct some piloting of their services, which we thankfully accepted. Following the piloting of New Dawn’s services, we began researching, and continue to research, their service as well as a number of other organizations that provide such services.”

Despite the decline for services by the district, the proximity of the Tulalip/Marysville Campus schools to the reservation compelled Chief Echevarria to seek funding from the Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors to seal a contract for New Dawn services for the schools.

The contract is paid out of the police department’s annual budget. Chief Echevarria said, “I didn’t want the cost of the program to be a hindrance or a deterrent for us. Once I received the go-ahead, I was going to find the funding. It was that important and that much of a need then that I was willing to do that.”

Tulalip Police Department has signed a two-year contract with New Dawn Security.  Evolving monthly plans will be developed based on assessment risk needs.

“Every single staff member at all four schools has been trained on the warning signs of a potentially violent individual and lockdown procedures protocols of the district. They had all been trained on alert, avoid, deny and defend prior to October 24,” said Spellecy.

“Having police in schools helps tremendously. Having cameras in schools helps but that only covers just one or two of the safe school standards that go out throughout the school. There is parent and student education, all this plays a part in keeping schools safe. Each of us shares a piece of this puzzle to make these schools as safe as possible. Times are changing. The role of principals to just focus on education is over, now they have to be experts in every field of safety. If I can alleviate some of that and look at school safety differently, as well as create immediate response plans on what occurs then I believe we are achieving our goals,” said Spellecy.

For more information on the New Dawn Security and the 26 Safe School Standards visit the website www.newdawnsecurity.com.


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com

Native students could see more representation through paraprofessionals

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – Marysville School District’s recent decision to adopt the Since Time Immemorial curriculum as part of their standard curriculum was a big step in addressing the need for Native representation in their schools. Cultural specialist Chelsea Craig, a Tulalip Tribal member who works at the district’s Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary school says, implementing STI alone will not be enough to address the disconnect schools have with Native students. She is hoping a new change in the district’s paraprofessional requirements will help close that gap.

Paraprofessionals according to the district’s website are “responsible for providing assistance to students under the direct supervision of certificated staff in classrooms or other learning environments as assigned. Although not certified as teachers they act as assistants to teachers and other school staff, making this position great for those who are seeking a career in education. To become a paraprofessional one needed a two-year degree as part of the requirement list that includes background check and ability to pass district training. Now the two-year degree requirement has been dropped and replaced with the requirement to have a high school diploma or equivalent. This change is what Craig is hoping her Native people take advantage of and become involved with their local schools.

“Historically our people have had a mistrust in education, starting from the boarding school era, and then each generation [following] there is still an underlining feeling of mistrust. By having more Native faces in the schools it helps to make schools feel less like an institution to our Native students and more like a family atmosphere,” said Craig.

Four Marysville School District schools are located on the Tulalip Reservation. The schools’ student population adds to the large number of Native students scattered throughout the district. This high concentration of Native students makes a unique partnership between the Tribes and the district. Together both have created initiatives to support students and close the achievement gap, especially in math and literacy.

“Passing STI was huge because we all bring our own wealth of knowledge about who we are and we can share that with our kids,” said Craig.

STI curriculum provides a basic framework of accurate Indian history and understanding of sovereignty that is integrated into standard learning units. Teachers are provided training on tribal history and culture. Quil Ceda has taught this style for some time, gaining national attention for their diverse school culture.

“We are finding that when we teach about culturally relevant topics the engagement is naturally much higher. The kids are motivated to do their work and they are excited about learning about their own culture, and non-Indian students are excited about learning as well. We just need as many Native faces on campus as possible, and if we can’t have them as teachers, having them as paraprofessionals is a great next step,” said Craig. “It makes such a big difference for our kids to see their own people in roles that are inspirational to them.”

If you are interested in becoming a paraprofessional with the Marysville School District visit their website at www.msd25.org or call the district at 360-653-7058.


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com

Tulalip Pride Shines at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary

Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary gym was packed wall to wall with students and community members who assembled to celebrate Tulalip Heritage Day. Students were encouraged to wear traditional regalia according to their tribal cultures. Tulalip pride was on full display as many students wore traditional Coast Salish garb featuring cedar headbands, abalone shells and wool. Other students wore traditional pow wow regalia according to their style of dance. Traditional Tulalip song and dance was performed for audience members, including Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg who was in attendance as a show of support for Native students and respect of Tulalip culture.

Students were encouraged to bring their drums. As Co-principal Dr. Craig said, “Some students have never drummed before and learn by attending and drumming with the Tulalip members who attend the morning assemblies. This gives Native students an opportunity to learn their culture in a safe positive environment.”

Children adorned in their tribal regalia danced in the middle of the gym while the Tulalip drummers and singers filled the air with their traditional, enchanting sound.


Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


The proud heritage of Tulalip was best demonstrated when the Tulalip Canoe Family sang their “Happy Song.” All the elementary students are familiar with the “Happy Song” as they sing it with school faculty at every morning assembly. When the Tulalip Canoe Family performed, their hand movements were gleefully mirrored by the students as they sang along. During the “Happy Song” performance, all the students were transformed into Tulalip performers.

Matt Remle, tribal liaison for Marysville School District and Lakota Native from the Standing Rock Reservation, shared a traditional Lakota song about uplifting one another. During the event he took to Facebook to remark on the importance of the even for Native students posting, “It was beautiful to see the tremendous community support, as well as, see so many young ones singing, drumming, and dancing. This is real education, indigenous education, and empowerment.”

The morning’s assembly marks an important change in history for Tulalip students who previously were not allowed to celebrate or practice their traditional customs, which were prohibited during the boarding school era.


Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


Theresa Sheldon, Tulalip Tribes board member, was also in attendance and spoke to the students about the origins of Tulalip Day. As she explained, “In the 1980s, our Board of Directors actually changed the holiday and made the Friday after Thanksgiving Tulalip Day. Tulalip does not actually recognize Columbus Day, we recognize Tulalip Day.”

After the assembly concluded Principal DeWitte commented on the impact of displaying and teaching Tulalip culture to the students. “Because we do it every day it becomes a part of who we are.”

Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil

Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil


Marysville educator recognized for advocating for Natives

Anthony Craig, co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, received the “Outstanding Young Educator” award on Sept. 2.


Christopher AnderssonAnthony Craig (center), co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, stands with his wife and children next to him and Marysville education leaders behind him after being given the "Outstanding Young Educator" award during the Sept. 2 Marysville School Board meeting.

Christopher Andersson
Anthony Craig (center), co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, stands with his wife and children next to him and Marysville education leaders behind him after being given the “Outstanding Young Educator” award during the Sept. 2 Marysville School Board meeting.


By Christopher Andersson, North County Outlook


The co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, Anthony Craig, was recognized by a prominent Washington education group as their “Outstanding Young Educator” of the year.

Craig, who is of Native American heritage himself, was recognized for bringing “culturally competent” practices to his school and being an advocate for Native American students.

The Washington State Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (WSASCD) announced the award during the Sept. 2 school board meeting.

“The Outstanding Young Educator award is our way of recognizing an emerging educational leader and share his or her exemplary practices with the education community at large,” said Art Jarvis, executive director of WSASCD.

Craig said he was humbled with the award and thanked his colleagues and everyone who has helped him to serve the students.

“I do this to serve my community, but also because my grandmother worked very hard so that I could go to college and be a teacher,” he said. “I once asked her what she wanted to do and she said ‘I wanted to be a teacher, but Indians didn’t go to college then, so you can do that.’ So I stand on the shoulders of a lot of people that came before me.”

Craig completed his Doctorate in Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington in 2012.

Since then he has become a published author in the Journal of Staff Development and will write a full chapter in the upcoming book “Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Native American Students: Paying the Education Debt.”

Craig is committed to social justice and advocating in various roles for his students, according to a peer statement read by director of teaching and learning at the district, Kyle Kinoshita.

“Over the years he worked at Tulalip he provided exceptional instructional leadership,” read Kinoshita. “The evidence was seen in the classroom where instructional improvement was traceable to how Anthony modeled, supported and led the learning of the teachers he worked with and demonstrated some of his early leadership capabilities.”

This leadership led him to become co-principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary and help provide space for all his students.

“Dr. Craig has shown a deep commitment to serving the students in the school and creating an identity-safe place for all students. He has had the courage to confront racism and elitism in a culture of low expectations and done so in a way that unites people, rather than as a way that divides,” wrote Marysville superintendent Becky Berg in a statement.

Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary still sees low scores on state assessments, however Berg points to the improvements that early grades have shown with high levels of achievement in district assessments.

She says the culturally competent practices and data teams implemented by Craig have helped to better engage with Native American students.

Despite the scores, Berg praised the school as “one of the most successful she has ever seen” when it comes to rebuilding education for tribal students

“Yes, the students are not at an acceptable state achievement level yet, but it takes more than three years to reverse decades of malpractice when it comes to the needs of First Nations children,” she wrote.

New backpacks, fresh supplies

BackpackDist2014 from Tulalip News on Vimeo.

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – The annual Tulalip Tribes Youth Services backpack distribution kicked off the farewell to summer as hundreds of Tulalip youth attended a block party held on Tuesday, August 26, at the Don Hatch Jr. Youth Center.

The annual event, held at the Quil Ceda & Tulalip Elementary School in the past, was held for the first time at the youth center, which accommodated space for a large lunch, education booths, backpack distribution, and the highlight of the event: games and carnival-like activities.

Tulalip tribal youth and other Native youth, Pre-K through 12th grade enrolled in the Marysville School District, were provided a backpack filled with basic school supplies required by grade, which helps to lessen the back-to-school cost experienced by parents.

Tulalip Tribes Youth Services distributed over 1,400 backpacks during the event. Youth not present at the block party to receive a backpack may contact the Youth Services Department at 360-716-4902 to collect their backpack.


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com


Unique talents with original flare

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

The annual Tulalip Quil Ceda Talent Show on Tuesday, April 22, gave students an opportunity to showcase unique talents, imaginative recreations of pop songs, and amazing skills.  The kids put on an exciting show that included singing, dancing, improvisational song and dance, martial arts demonstrations, and instrumental performances. An all-around good time, the show was entertaining.

Each student had five minutes of fame as they performed an act of their choosing. Performances varied, with original pieces of choreographed dance, including daring breakdance moves, hula hooping and more. Each act reflected the personality of the performers through wardrobe and dance choices. At the end of the show, school was over, but performers returned later that night with an audience of peers and parents, running through the set for an evening finale.

Jacob demonstrates a Kung Fu form.

Jacob demonstrates a Kung Fu form. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Guitarist and vocalist Henry gave an excellent performance

Guitarist and vocalist Henry gave an excellent performance. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Jade, Singin

Jade, Singing. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Mateo, singing and dancing in the style of Michael Jackson

Mateo, singing and dancing in the style of Michael Jackson. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

A lovely duet by Candace and Macaela

A lovely duet by Candace and Macaela. Andrew GObin/Tulalip News

Jose, Alex, and Coltin breakdancing.

Jose, Alex, and Coltin breakdancing. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

TQC Talent Show ~ 14 TQC Talent Show ~ 14

Rhianna, singing a song by pop star, Rhianna

Rhianna, singing a song by pop star, Rhianna. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Kamaya singing Michael Jackson's "I'm Bad"

Kamaya singing Michael Jackson’s “I’m Bad” Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Kamaya singing while Selina performs kung fu as a dance.

Kamaya singing while Selina performs kung fu as a dance. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

This little singer's name is Emma.

This little singer’s name is Emma. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Keyondra Hula hoop dancing.

Keyondra Hula hoop dancing. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Keyondra Hula hoop dancing.

Keyondra Hula hoop dancing. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Masters of Ceremony Avel, Ivan and Anthony.

Masters of Ceremony Avel, Ivan and Anthony. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Masters of Ceremony Avel, Ivan and Anthony.

Masters of Ceremony Avel, Ivan and Anthony. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News


Andrew Gobin is a reporter with the See-Yaht-Sub, a publication of the Tulalip Tribes Communications Department.
Email: agobin@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov
Phone: (360) 716.4188

Exploring Culture: Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary takes field trip to see Tulalip art

TRC General Manager Sam Askew greets the children on their field trip and explains a little but about the art featured at the resort.

TRC General Manager Sam Askew greets the children on their field trip and explains a little but about the art featured at the resort. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

The Tulalip Resort Casino adorned with traditional Coast Salish art provides an excellent place to learn about art outside of a class setting. Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary 5th graders took field trips to the resort February 24th through the 28th to look at the artwork done by Tulalip artists. The students are currently learning about Coast Salish art styles, specifically styles of Puget Sound traditions.

Students capture a photo on an iPad for the scavenger hunt.

Students capture a photo on an iPad for the scavenger hunt. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

The kids struggled to keep from running, mesmerized by the art, losing themselves in the mystery and intrigue of coastal designs. The 5th grade students studied Coast Salish art before the excursion, learning the composition and design elements of the artwork. During their art period, Mr. Heimer  took each class on different days throughout the week to see the art first hand. Groups of students conducted scavenger hunts looking for very specific designs with unique elements, making the students engage with the art, using classroom iPads to show what they thought was the correct design. For example, one item was a bear with a snout made from trigons and crescents. There are many bear designs throughout the resort, though each design is different. The student groups were all abuzz looking over their pictures, talking about the designs they had captured, going back to the designs to point out what they needed to photograph, demonstrating their intricate understanding of Coast Salish Traditional art.

Students rush to finish their scavenger hunt.

Students rush to finish their scavenger hunt. Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

The trip, although short lasting only about 20 minutes, was important for the class. The students were excited to see the art, and even more excited to tell you about the art, explaining what different components were. They returned to class where their photos will be evaluated and graded. The school hopes to continue with similar activities, making their learning relatable on a local and human level.


The classroom iPads at Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary were purchased with National Education Association (NEA) School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding. You may recall the See-Yaht-Sub coverage of the NEA visit to the school, congratulating them for their excellent progress as one of the SIG schools, and wanted to know more about the role technology has played in making them a successful SIG school.

The technology levy for the Marysville School District, which recently was passed by voters, intends to incorporate other technology in every classroom in the district for similar uses. Progressive learning has arrived in the MSD.


Andrew Gobin is a reporter with the See-Yaht-Sub, a publication of the Tulalip Tribes Communications Department.
Email: agobin@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov
Phone: (360) 716.4188

Stranger Danger!

RadKIDS programs comes to a close


Alieja Elliot demonstrates his escape planAndrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Alieja Elliot demonstrates his escape plan
Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Article and photos by Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Students run from the big man in a bright red suit. No, it isn’t Santa Clause, it’s a stranger. Students of the radKIDS program at Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary graduated on December 16th, taking turns displaying their defensive skills on Tulalip Police Officer Clayton Horne who wore a bright red padded suit.

The radKIDS program is an eight session program that teaches kids all about stranger danger as well as what to do about bullies. For the first part of the graduation, program instructors Rochelle Lubbers and Razi Liptich had the students circled up in the gymnasium shouting “STOP!” or “NO!” while reviewing their defensive moves like elbowing, toe stomping, kneeing, and kicking.

As the teachers wrapped up the review and explained to parents about the program, the kids suited up in minor padding.

“RadKIDS has gained attention nationally, being noted in several attempted abductions where the child was able to escape,” said Rochelle Lubbers, emergency management coordinator for the Tulalip Tribes.

For the final part of their graduation they were approached by officer Horne in the red suit as he tried to abduct them. The students had to choose their defensive move, then escape to tell an adult.

Grace Davis, now a radKIDS graduate, said, “I liked the program. I learned how to get away and how to tell if someone is a threat.”

Grace Davis.Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Grace Davis.
Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Students fingerprinted their certificates as they received them, which also had a recent photo printed on them. The certificates are now important profiles for authorities, making children easily identifiable. If anything were to happen to a child, the parents would be readily prepared with recent information to give to the authorities.

Marysville students out perform the nation’s priority schools

Members of the NEA and WEA present banners and library checks at Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary.

Members of the NEA and WEA present banners and library checks at Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary.
Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News


NEA recognizes Marysville schools’ turnaround


Article and photos by Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Tulalip − American Education Week began Monday, November 18th, with visits to Totem Middle School and Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary school by the National Education Association (NEA) and Washington Education Association (WEA). Both campuses, earmarked as priority schools, exemplify a joint commitment of students and teachers to academic achievement. The incredible turn around embodies the intent of the School Improvement Grant (SIG grant) they received as schools in need. A change in national perspective led to the development of the grant which catalyzed the positive turn around at these schools.

“Because of previous legislation, schools that needed assistance were labeled failing,” said Kim Mead of the WEA, referring to No Child Left Behind, which decreased funding to schools that did not meet state and national standards. “We changed our perspective, failing schools came to be seen as priority schools.”

In the last five years, 97 Washington schools were considered failing and had their funding cut. With the new perspective of those schools as a priority, the US Department of Education created the SIG grant in 2010, providing three-year funding to schools on the national priority list. 28 schools were awarded grant funding of the 60 eligible schools in Washington state that applied.

The SIG grant is conditional funding, giving four plan options to bring schools up to standard. These options are closure and transfer students to high achieving schools, turnaround by reorganizing currents school curriculum and staff, transformation through a change in leadership and instruction, and restart which would convert public schools to charter schools, which were illegal in Washington state until 2012. Of the 28 Washington priority schools awarded grants, now specified as SIG schools, 1 school closed, 23 selected transformation, and 4 opted for the turnaround, including Totem, and Tulalip Quil Ceda.

Led by the teachers, these schools developed their staff and curriculum to change the professional practices in their schools. Through the SIG funding, Totem purchased laptops for each grade in order to assess individual understanding of course materials. They developed a home visit program so that teachers have the necessary skills to bring school needs into the home, while addressing home issues, not as a means lower standards or make accommodations, but to understand how to balance the school work with home life. The most prominent demonstration of home life coming to school is the morning assembly at Tulalip Quil Ceda, which incorporates traditional values into the school day. The NEA observed the assembly during their visit.

“I chose Washington to kick off American Education Week,” said Dennis Van Rockel, NEA president. “I hear so much about Washington, what you all are doing here, and I’m glad to be able to come and see it first hand.”

Programs in these SIG schools that see drastic positive improvement are leeching out into other schools throughout MarysvilleSchool District.

“This is important as we get ready to roll out the Common Core curriculum, which is the national standard equivalent,” said Tulalip Quil Ceda teacher, George Camper.

2013 marks the final year of the SIG grant funding, which means the priority schools were evaluated nationwide. Totem and Tulalip Quil Ceda not only outperformed all others in the state, they outperformed the nation’s priority schools. In recognition of their achievement, each of their libraries were given $500, and each school was given a banner acknowledging their accomplishment.

The nation is now looking to Washington as an example for the work Totem, and Tulalip Quil Ceda schools have done. They have set a standard for priority schools nationwide, which is described in a packet titled ‘Improving Student Achievement in High-Poverty Schools: Lessons from Washington State,’ that outlines how these schools successfully turned around from persistently low achieving to high achieving.

Morning assemblies create community

Cultural values teach kids about respect and responsibility

At Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary, each day is begun with a song and a presentation of core Tulalip cultural values. Photo/Andrew Gobin

At Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary, each day is begun with a song and a presentation of core Tulalip cultural values. Photo/Andrew Gobin

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

Tulalip – Entering the main hallway of Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary you hear the drum beat. Nearing the gymnasium you begin to feel the beat resounding through the corridors. Kids stream in off busses, excitement building as they find a seat. Others come to school, drum in hand. This is the norm for students at Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary, where each day is begun with a song and a presentation of core Tulalip cultural values.

Started at Tulalip Elementary in its final year, the morning assemblies are an excellent forum to create a community, where students and teachers can communicate about respect and the responsibilities they have. The school’s canon of learning, GROWS, is visible in almost every aspect of the school day.

“The students have really taken to GROWS. It stands for Grow your brain, Respect for all, Own your actions and attitudes, Welcome all who come to our community, and finally Safety is paramount. The morning assemblies are used as a way to teach a value that ties into one of the GROWS,” said Dr. Anthony Craig, school principal.

The songs are led by students, with the help of occasional community volunteers. The students are seated in a fashion similar to Coast Salish traditional gatherings, which is in the round.

In an effort to build a stronger educational community, some classes are trying a technique called looping, where the students of a class will not change as they progress to the next grade. Some classrooms have dividing walls that are opened up the majority of the time, so that two classes become one larger learning group.

“We are trying to develop groups of students that learn well as individuals and as a collective,” explained Dr. Craig.

This year, Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary will develop a cultural aspect to their educational community. The Marysville School District created a cultural specialist position in the school in an effort to incorporate traditional aspects of life into the learning process. In doing so, the district supports and encourages what the faculty of the school is trying to achieve.

Former Tulalip teacher and new cultural specialist for the district Chelsea Craig said, “Here at school you see kids walking around with a drum and a school bag. They don’t have to be a native student; they can just be themselves, at school, as they are meant to.”

The Tulalip Tribes Youth Services department created two comparable positions, with the intention of collaborating with the school. Tenika Fryberg and Taylor Henry are the cultural specialists for Youth Services.

“This has never been done [in Tulalip or Marysville] before, so I plan to develop a program where the community decides what they would like to have brought into the curriculum,” noted Craig. “I’d like to see more community involvement too. Why can’t we have a grandma in the back of every class? We should make this school ours. It is ours; it belongs to the community as every school does. We shouldn’t wait for our own k-12 program, nor do we need to,” she added.

Both she and Dr. Craig acknowledge that some families are not comfortable with their children participating in these cultural activities and have other activities available for children to opt out of the cultural practices, though all of the students are still brought together as a whole for the group message in an effort to continue to develop the learning community that is Tulalip Quil Ceda Elementary.