SEATTLE — Parents, students and staff at Rainier Beach High School in south Seattle are fighting to get the district to fully renovate the school.
Rainier Beach High School was built in 1961 and students say ceiling tiles are falling, windows are boarded up, gym equipment is ripped and they feel like they deserve a nice school like other Seattle public schools that have been renovated.
So students at Rainier Beach High put on a fashion show as a fundraising effort to show the district they are dedicated and not giving up the fight for a better, safer school.
The fashion show showcased the style from the past 50 years and looked like a fun Friday night, but under the layers of clothing was the fabric of the community woven together by students, parents and staff, bonded to raise money to renovate Rainier Beach High after what they say has been decades of deterioration.
“The insulation is bad, the school has been the same since the '60’s,” said PTSA president Virginia Bethea.
Gian Rosario, a junior at Rainier Beach, says he has a lot of pride attending the high school, but telling other people he’s from Rainier Beach High school isn’t always easy.
“When you say you’re from you’re Rainier Beach they say, 'Oh you’re Rainier Beach,' they’re say it in a toxic way, I want them to be proud they’re from Rainier Beach,” said Rosario.
Dedicated to creating a better school for his younger siblings who will be attending Rainier Beach in a few years, Rosario says he hopes other students will listen when he says they can be the generation creating the first layer of change.
“I always tell other students, the future student that come here will think of you and thank you for giving them a better quality learning environment,” said Rosario.
Parents supporting students fighting for a full renovation say other schools like Nathan Hale High School and Garfield High School have gotten, but Rainier Beach has been left behind.
"We’re sending a message that we’re sending, that this is what we want, this is what we’re going to fight for and we’re not going away. Our community is very strong,” said Bethea.
She added that the fashion show is just the beginning, the students and parents know they aren’t going to raise enough money to fund renovations but it is the beginning of their fight and that their determination and dedication will prevail.
“Kids in this generation, they’re different,” said Bethea. “They know how to fight. We’re going to support them as parents and members of this community to get them what they need.”
The school district said in a written statement:
“Seattle Public Schools is committed to providing an equitable educational experience for all of our students. Part of that commitment includes renovating our school facilities across the district according to a cyclical construction project schedule. Rainier Beach High School (RBHS) was constructed in 1961 and since that date has had numerous repairs including roof replacement, seismic improvements, mechanical systems upgrades and additions and modernizations to the performing arts center and the library. Currently, Capital Projects & Planning is implementing a master plan study as part of the work surrounding BEX V and on May 20, 2017, hosted a visioning workshop and design charrette. Their next meeting is planned for Tuesday, June 27, 2017, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at the Rainier Beach Library and we welcome the participation of students, families, and the RBHS community to assist with the visioning process so that we can provide the best educational experience for our students.”