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April 25, 2017     West Seattle Herald
New playground planned for Early Head Start program at White Center Heights Elementary
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April 25, 2017
 

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New playground planned for Early Head Start program at White Center Heights Elementary | West Seattle Herald / White Center News Skip to Main Content Area Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | Broken clouds, 53.6 °F search Letters Sign in Subscribe Contact Us Front Page News Features Sports Opinion Police Blotter What’s on tap? Ounces serves up only the best -- exclusively from Washington By Lindsay Peyton When West Seattle residents Laurel and ... Westside-O-Rama West Seattle Entertainment Guide Admiral Theater 2343 California Ave. S.W. 938-3456 Movie ... Highline Bears Semi-Pro baseball will open the season June 2 in White Center The local semi-pro Highline Bears baseball team announced that its ... A note about some changes- Westside Weekly becomes Westside Seattle By Ken Robinson Managing Editor When Jerry Robinson took the ... Police Blotter week of 4-24-17 Neighbors who aren’t neighborly The victim and the suspect of ... News New playground planned for Early Head Start program at White Center Heights Elementary Trimesters, credits, and graduation, oh my! Microsoft shuttle will share space at Metro stop in pilot program Local restaurants participating in Dining Out for Life April 27 First Date musical comedy will delight audiences starting April 28 UPDATE:Fifth annual Peony & Bamboo Festival POSTPONED Two car crackup at 35th and Morgan SW sends three to hospital Sound Transit sends out RFQ for light rail consultant on West Seattle and Ballard routes Eleven, 3-story townhouses going ahead on 3420 SW Graham; Part of High Point redevelopment Streamlined design review set for three story, five unit townhouse on Delridge Way SW Metro looking for input on simplifying adult bus fares King County Assessor explains why taxes are going up Next HPAC meeting is set for Wed. April 26 — join the conversation Historical society to seek new executive director $440,000 settlement reached in West Seattle tree cutting suit: One suit remains P-Patch community garden plots available in select neighborhoods Reduce, reuse, recycle – King County plans repair event for Earth Day in White Center The Art of Hair: Ola Salon opening a new location in Burien On the Go Week of 4-17-17 A box of light – White Center Library recognized for unique architecture SLIDESHOW: Twenty Ninth Annual West Seattle Thriftway Easter Egg Hunt sees huge crowd The Lumberyard, White Center gets its first LGBTQA bar; Opening later this year Former owner of Admiral Pub and Alki Crab and Fish sentenced to prison, fined $800,000 Precinct Commander Davis speaks about crime prevention in West Seattle Instruments of Change Dinner-Auction will fund WS Food Bank May 13 Courtesy photoBuilding on the new playground will start in early May New playground planned for Early Head Start program at White Center Heights Elementary 04/25/2017 updated 5 minutes ago By Lindsay Peyton Principal Anne Reece at White Center Heights Elementary has been pounding the pavement for years -- desperate to find funding for a playground for her youngest students. Now her vision is about to take shape. Construction crews are breaking ground on a playground for the school’s Early Head Start Program at the beginning of May. The project will be completed in time for the next school year. Reece explained that she added Early Head Start to the campus to meet a need for additional instruction at an early age. The federally funded preschool program serves children younger than 3 from low-income families, meeting their early education, health and nutritional needs. White Center Heights already had a preschool program for 3 and 4-year old children – but Reece felt certain there was more the school could offer. “My data was showing that only 15 percent of the children were coming in kindergarten ready,” she said. “They weren’t meeting those necessary benchmarks. We were the lowest in the district, maybe even one of the lowest in the state.” She decided to introduce the Early Head Start to campus two years ago. The program now serves 26 children total in morning and afternoon classes at White Center Heights Elementary. The program also includes a nine-week training component for parents. “They learn how to improve their skills as the first teachers for their children,” Reece said. She said that Head Start has various minimum requirements – including that schools have a fenced-off or contained play area for younger children, separate from the school’s other playground, which serves kindergarten through sixth grade. For the past two years, White Center Heights Elementary teachers have been doing their best to provide a place for the Early Head Start children to play, Reece added. But the school did not have separate space. “We put cones up and teach children not to go past them,” Reece said. She believed that building an additional playground for Early Head Start would not only benefit the children enrolled in the program, but would also help students in the school’s preschool program, which serves about 82 children. A new playground would also eliminate the conflicts that arise when teachers try to balance time outside between preschoolers and the 620 kindergarten through sixth grade students. “In terms of scheduling, it’s been pretty much back-to-back,” Reece said. “There’s no flexibility. So, we needed a preschool playground for a number of reasons.” The only problem was that there was no funding to build the facility. Reece began searching for ways to make it happen – and has been digging around for years. “These things take time,” she said. “And you can only do so much as a principal.” Eventually the Highline Public Schools stepped in – and helped pull the resources together. “They’re still figuring out the funds, but they’re going to back this no matter what,” Reece said. One major chunk of support came from a grant from UnitedHealthcare. The health insurance company’s gift totaled $15,000. Claire Verity, CEO of the Pacific Northwest Market, explained that UnitedHealthcare has several outreach programs. “We’ve participated with the state of Washington to boost health and wellness of our youth,” she said. This will mark the first time the company has helped build a playground. “Learning to play as a child leads to staying fit as an adult,” Verity said. “And if they don’t have a playground, it’s hard for that to happen.” She said UnitedHealthcare particularly wanted to help White Center Heights Elementary. “There was a discussion of where the most need was,” Verity said. “This was a very underserved area. We wanted to close that gap.” She looks forward to attending the ribbon cutting ceremony this summer. “The more we can encourage physical and outside activity, the better,” she said. “This is a compelling message – and it’s something we should be doing.” Reece is also eager to see the playground take shape. “It’s going to be lovely,” she said. “I know the preschoolers are going to enjoy it. It will be a place where they can just be themselves, with preschool size play equipment.”   For more information about White Center Heights Elementary, visit www.highlineschools.org/whitecenterheights. For more information about UnitedHealthcare’s outreach programs, visit www.uhc.com/about-us/community-connection.   We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed. View the discussion thread. Please send us your news tips, photos or ideas of how we can better cover your neighborhood. Email us at WestSeattle@robinsonnews.com or TEXT news tips to 206-459-6717 Receive updates on news and events in the West Seattle neighborhood via Twitter! Web development by Freelock Computing © 2017 Robinson Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved. 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