MUKILTEO, Wash., January 12, 2023—In many ways, 2022 has been a big year for Kamiak High School. In our third of a four-part mini-series highlighting the biggest milestone moments of Kamiak over the past twelve months, enjoy a trip down memory lane with highlighting Policy Changes.
Throughout this calendar year, the Mukilteo School Board approved budgets, fundraisers, and policies, just as we’ve seen in years prior, but during this year especially, we’ve seen many students engaging in what they believe in and making themselves heard.
Last January, the District debated and ultimately approved the removal of Harper Lee’s controversial To Kill A Mockingbird from the required freshman English curriculum list. It was a tough, controversial decision, and in one of their meetings, the Mukilteo School Board considered fifteen speakers, composed of students, teachers, and Mukilteo community members, ultimately coming to their unanimous decision. In a statement from School Board President Michael Simmons at the time of the decision, “All board members voted with clear minds and only after seriously considering the information provided.”
Currently, the novel remains on the “approved novel list” and can be taught at a teacher’s discretion, but many teachers have replaced its presence with All American Boys, a fictional young adult novel by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. The novel depicts the bleak reality of police brutality for black men in America in a heart-wrenching way, yet this book too has also garnered controversy in districts nationally, in challenge of the book’s references of drugs, profanity, and violence.
In November of 2020, Washington voters approved Referendum 90, the Sex Education in Public Schools Measure, to uphold Senate Bill 5395, approving the statewide change in sexual health curriculum. With the official bill now requiring sexual health be taught “Twice to students in grades nine through twelve” along with other provisions, the Kamiak sexual health education system needed an update. Eventually, the Mukilteo School District opted to add a sophomore grade curriculum, in addition to their freshman grade curriculum.
With a goal of recognizing all students and seeing all identities, a team consisting of thirty Mukilteo nurses, teachers, counselors, and students total began to discuss possible programs. They met online through Zoom calls throughout January and February of last year, delineating between curriculums and accessing them through a plethora of criteria, with a focus on inclusion and medical accuracy. Ultimately, they settled upon P3 (Positive Prevention Plus) for elementary, middle, and special education schools and FLASH for high school students.
As seen through another event back in January, students made themselves heard through peaceful protesting. At this time, the peak of the pandemic nationally in the United States, a group of roughly eighty students assembled for a walkout, protesting the school’s decision to keep the campus open despite the high percentages of sick students and staff. On the 21st, these students assembled after discussing their plans through numerous Zoom meetings over the prior weekend and creating a list of demands they hoped the district would abide by. The students received media coverage through KOMO News, encouraging their free speech.
Kamiak and the Mukilteo School District have constantly worked towards meeting the needs and values of the school community. Students and their activism have highlighted the importance of student voices and perspectives in shaping the direction of their own education, working towards creating a more inclusive and effective learning environment for all students and staff alike.
Editor’s Note: Article written by Kamiak High School student reporter Esaw Adhana (he/him), courtesy of the Mukilteo Community Grant Program. Adhana is senior at Kamiak High School who wrote for the Kamiak Gauntlet and The Camden Pulse. journalism allows him to share news and experiences, helping keep everyone up-to-date on past and present events. He looks forward to what 2023 brings!