Lake Washington Girls Middle School Programs
An integral and rewarding part of the LWGMS experience, the goal of our Service Learning program is for students to recognize their own abilities to improve their communities and gain experience taking action with social responsibility. Students choose projects that interest them, that they can learn skills from, and that benefit their community in some way. In addition, LWGMS students adopt an area of Seward Park and are responsible for its upkeep.
Every LWGMS student is a member of a small, multi-grade Respect and Responsibility Advisory Group. Lead by faculty and staff advisors, R&R groups are comprised of “big sisters” and "little sisters" who meet on a weekly basis. Throughout the year, R&R Groups work on many of the following initiatives through activities, workshops, and conversations:
- Community building and group cohesion
- Orientation, school citizenship, and school business
- Goal-setting, reflection, and self-assessment
- Life skills, healthy development, and self-care
- Real-world connections and service learning
Students learn first-hand in real world experiences with local experts, fieldwork, and service projects. Every 6th grader participates in a three-day excursion to Eastern Washington as part of a study of Latinos and Native Americans our state. Students visit an organic orchard, pick peppers at the Alvarez farm, appear on a Spanish-speaking radio station program, and explore the Yakama Nation. All 7th graders see plays and participate in workshops and classes in a 5-day trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 8th graders climb, explore, discover, and analyze their surroundings on a three-day geology trip. Destinations vary from year to year, and include Vantage, Diablo Lake, North Cascades Highway, Lake Chelan, Mt. St. Helens, the Columbia Plateau, and the Hanford Reach.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Lake Washington Girls Middle School is a place where girls are empowered to be strong in mind, body, and voice, and where faculty embrace and inspire students on their academic and social journeys to becoming responsible, kind, courageous young women. For over a decade, after an initial period of growth, LWGMS was committed to our small size of 54 qualified, mission-appropriate students, 18 in each sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. We are proud of our students, families, and graduates, but still, something has been missing from our community: the additional qualified and mission-appropriate students whose lives would change if given the opportunity to attend LWGMS. While an acceptance rate hovering around 25 percent and an enrollment yield of 80-85 percent may seem like gifts for any institution, for the Lake Washington Girls Middle School community they have always been the hardest truths about our admissions process. For many years now, we have faced the heartbreaking fact that the number of girls in our applicant pool who would thrive here and enrich our community far exceeds our acceptance capacity.
The school’s guiding principles include, among other things, inclusiveness, affordability, and community responsibility, and we are proud to announce that we can now more completely apply these important considerations to our admissions decisions. Beginning in the fall of 2012, the school accepted approximately 32 sixth grade students, so that the incoming sixth grade class was made up of two mixing sections of 16. By the 2014/2015 academic year, all grades will consist of two sections. The Board, faculty, and community at large feel this decision will allow the school to continue to serve the girls and families who are our core constituency and to enable us to provide more learning opportunities for our students. Making an LWGMS education available to more girls, maintaining a diverse student body, keeping tuition rates within reach, providing more opportunities for our current students in terms of programs, sports, social interactions, and technology, and being better able to compensate our faculty and staff are vital to this decision, and we are very pleased to share this exciting news with you.
Growing the school also allows the Board of Trustees an opportunity to evaluate our current and future facilities needs. Although our current space is large enough to accommodate more students, the board has already begun the exploration of purchasing our own building and laying the foundation for a capital campaign. Our girls – students and alumnae alike – deserve a home of their own, and with careful stewardship of our operating budget and fundraising, we are planting the seeds of a building fund we hope to use within the next five years.
These are indeed exciting times at Lake Washington Girls Middle School, and we anticipate the changes, challenges, and advantages of growth in true LDub spirit: Fuerza!