New Schools, New Opportunities for Success: Whatcom Intergenerational High School

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Newly opening this fall: Whatcom Intergenerational High School in Bellingham, WA

Whatcom Intergenerational High School (WIHS) is a tuition-free public charter high school serving Bellingham, Washington. WIHS incorporates the First Peoples Principles of Learning as a way of broadening perspectives and embracing many ways of knowing. By practicing these principles, the school fosters student growth that supports the self, family, elders, community, and the land. 

WIHS will open in September to an inaugural class of 60 9th and 10th graders. Over the next few years, the school will add grades 11-12. One of our 30 Under 30 Changemakers, Sadie Olsen, was instrumental in the school’s development as a cofounding board member.  

Not only does WIHS support academic growth, the school also supports physical, cultural, emotional, economic, and spiritual learning and development. Cindy Reuther, WIHS co-founder and CEO, believes all students are looking for academic success, and she shared what led her to open a charter school. 

“Institutional barriers (racism, classism, heterosexism) have created situations for many students who are currently underserved in our traditional school systems. Marginalized students in Whatcom County are looking for safe spaces to grow, learn, and develop as whole people.”
- Cindy Reuther, co-founder and CEO of Whatcom Intergenerational High School

WIHS is dedicated to helping students take ownership of their learning, consider multiple perspectives, and apply real-world methods and tools to help create positive change. 

“Our model is co-designed with students --- as students move through their learning experiences and studies, they eventually create their own units of study based in their individual and group interests and passions.”
- Cindy Reuther, co-founder and CEO of Whatcom Intergenerational High School 

Students are encouraged to think on a deeper level to gain an understanding of how issues impact their own lives as well as their communities. Through morning circles, students have an opportunity to build relationships with community allies who will help nurture their interests and help them evolve into critical thinkers.

“We are intergenerational, rooted in Phenomenon-Based Learning which provides opportunities for students to engage in multidisciplinary academic experiences with community; based in critical literacy, students learn that all texts (literature, art, music, documents) are created with a particular viewpoint.” 
- Cindy Reuther, co-founder and CEO of Whatcom Intergenerational High School

Students are taught to recognize different agendas and pay close attention to the factors that contribute to them. Elders also play an important role at WIHS to help mentor students and share their experience and cultural knowledge.  

WIHS uses a holistic approach to learning, ensuring students grow academically and gain self and cultural awareness. The team is committed to ensuring students, “regardless of their life circumstances, develop the competencies and agency for success in college, career, and life.” 

Learn more about Whatcom Intergenerational High School.