Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor


High school could lose accreditation

Bob Hennessey builds his case for off-Island students on the bottom line. What he’s saying is that we need these kids, and he’s right.

One of our selling points, featured on the high school Web site, is that we are a “fully accredited public high school” that meets the criteria of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.

Our accreditation, however, is one of the things still on the table. If proposed budget cuts go through, the high school will exceed every staffing requirement for accreditation but one: a full-time librarian.

Does it matter?

It mattered in Clayton County, Ga., when local schools lost accreditation; The New York Times picked up the story. School accreditation, according to the Aug. 29, 2008, article, is voluntary, but “many colleges require or prefer diplomas from accredited high schools.”

It mattered to Holbrook Junior-Senior High students in Massachusetts, when the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) threatened to revoke their school’s accreditation; they lacked a full-time librarian.

According the the NEASC director, in an article in School Library Journal, “Although accreditation is not mandatory, losing that cachet will weigh negatively on Holbrook’s prestige, particularly since 85 percent of colleges and universities prefer to accept applicants from accredited schools.”

You can find standards for Northwest states at www.


According to those standards, libraries are to be “directed by a certified library media specialist,” and schools with more than 500 students, such as Vashon’s, are to “have a full-time library media specialist and have additional library media personnel.”

Three-fourths of our Nisqually league competitors manage to meet these library standards.

In a few years, state rules for “prototypical schools” will kick in, and Vashon will need full-time librarians at all three schools. In the meantime, we should worry less about whether to accept off-Island kids — they are an asset — and worry more about whether off-Island schools will accept ours.

— Peggy Kallsen

Vashon High School librarian

Island agencies

Good news for fire district and library

The June 3 Beachcomber was full of great news.

First, the board of Vashon Island Fire and Rescue did the right thing twice.

Recognizing the judge in the Hackett discrimination case may have made some mistakes, they voted to appeal the nearly $900,000 verdict. Then they promptly acknowledged the case had merit and agreed to a settlement.

The fact that Hackett agreed to that settlement so quickly after the vote for the appeal validated VIFR’s decision to appeal, thereby saving our community $200,000.

Second, it was great to hear the library will remain in Ober Park.

Congratulations to all the Islanders who worked so hard to make this happen. Since we voted to support this expansion five years ago, it is long overdue.

I wish the park board well in its discussions with King County Library regarding a structure that will work best for the community. I only hope it will not make the same mistake that almost resulted in the library being moved to the K2.

At the end of the day, if King County says this is the most it will do, the park board needs to listen, unless we want to end up back at K2.

— Scott Harvey

Underage drinking

Talking helped at Dockton Park

I would like to acknowledge the parents and community for stepping up, being present and challenging our high school students who are in transition, graduating and on their way to becoming adults.

There had been two weeks of nightly drinking in Dockton Park by high school students, with some occasional abusive and unsafe behavior.

I spoke with Susan Hanson, the high school principal, on Thursday morning and was moved by her stories and years of attention to the safety of our community’s children. She passed on my information to other concerned parents and must have said the right thing. There were none of the same drinking problems at the park Thursday and Friday nights preceding graduation.

It feels like a difficult paradox — to challenge our children when we are at the same time trying to launch them on their way to adult successes. But in my experience it is in these paradoxes that the greatest growth can occur, especially when done with love, which you parents have certainly shown.

As John Andrew Holmes said, “Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.”

— Lyman Houghton

King County Park Dock Host, Dockton Park

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