Committee explores '21st century curriculum' for new FWHS

Entrance to the cafeteria at Federal Way High School. - Courtesy photo from
Entrance to the cafeteria at Federal Way High School.
— image credit: Courtesy photo from

The Federal Way High School Curriculum Committee (FWHSCC) seeks to determine the best curriculum and programs that will give students of the new Federal Way High School (FWHS) the best education in this ever-changing world.

The committee is facilitated by Vince Blauser, Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) Executive Director for Secondary Education and Athletics. Blauser gave an update to the school board on May 28.

The committee is formed of parents, students, staff members, and secondary high school experts. The goal is to inform the district and the FWHS design team of the curriculum and programs the committee wants in the new school. The input is intended to influence the design to support successful delivery of programs, Blauser said.

"It's…important for this committee to be represented by a cross-section of expertise," Blauser noted.

The committee began its work by trying to "ground" itself in the culture of FWHS, Blauser said, taking a deep look at the demographics of the students and parents and the staff.

Along with this, the committee also tried to to discover what it is about FWHS that creates the unique family community that so many current students and alumni refer to when speaking of the school.

"It was from this foundation that the committee began to look to the future," he said.

From there, Blauser said the committee began to examine questions like "What does 21st century education look like, feel like, and produce?" Out of that framework, the committee developed what they termed the "7 C's of 21st Century Learning." Those are:

• Critical thinking and problem solving

• Creativity and innovation

• Communication

• Collaboration and leadership

• Cross-cultural understanding

• Career learning and self-reliance

• Computing and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) literacy

Blauser said the committee began digging into its work last month.

"Each committee member was assigned an area of study and each began to research a program or curriculum…I asked each one of the team members to lead with this thought 'Imagine if?'"

The committee will continue the work of researching throughout the summer and into next school year, Blauser said. As part of its work, the committee plans to have a "Question of the Month" posted on the district's website, where it will seek input from parents and community members as their work continues. Along with that, the committee hopes to have a final recommendation ready for the board and the FWHS design team by about this time next year, Blauser said.

"It's time to do the work. It's time to do the research," he said, "to look at all the possibilities out there."

Construction of new school

Construction of the new Federal Way High School will be funded through a levy approved by voters last November. The levy will collect $60 million over six years, and will add 92 cents per every $1,000 of assessed evaluation for Federal Way home and property owners. The levy will help fund improvements to the district’s security camera system and playground equipment at 19 elementary schools.

Architecture firm SRG Partnership Inc. was selected to design the new school. Construction is expected to begin in 2014, and should last about three years.

The architects recently set up a display in the current FWHS faculty lounge, seeking input on possible options for the new school's design. Staff and students picked their favorite concepts - such as open spaces and a performance area, for example - by placing colored stickers on the poster-sized photos.

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