Excel Grant Stories – Field Trips

The U.S. Travel Association recently conducted a study with 400 adults (balanced for gender, age, race and income), half of which had taken a learning trip in their youth, the other half had not. The study found that, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, youth who take educational trips have better grades (59 percent), higher graduation rates from high school (95 percent) and college (63 percent), and greater income (12 percent higher annually). In fact, 89 percent said educational trips had a positive, lasting impact on their education and career because the trips made them more engaged, intellectually curious and interested in and out of school.

The Foundation applauds each teacher’s dedication to providing the best possible education for our students and one of the most impactful ways the Foundation supports students is with classroom grants for programs like these field trips.

4th Grade Living History at Waskowitz Outdoor School | Hazel Valley Elementary

4th Grade Living History at Waskowitz Outdoor School!This grant allowed us to get all 4th graders from Hazel Valley to attend Camp Waskowitz at a more reasonable price. It lowered the cost of each student from $28 to $6. In the past many families have asked for financial assistance but because of this grant only a small handful of families asked for assistance. This made the trip much more manageable for our schools community.

This grant made a huge difference in our school and helped create lifelong memories. Students got the opportunity to experience Camp Waskowitz before they go as 6th graders. 6th grade teachers have said this trip helps ease some of the anxiety of staying at Camp as 6th graders. One specific story I can share has to do with a LRC student that joined our class for this field trip. He normally is shy, timid and not willing to participate. Throughout the field trip he was the exact opposite, he was smiling, raising his hand to participate and using real tools. This grant has also set an expectation/tradition that as 4th graders we will be going to Camp Waskowitz.

“Thank you for continuing to grant this Excel Grant Application.  I’m not sure how we could continue to do this field trip without this grant! Much love and appreciation!!!” ~ Jairo Garcia

Big Picture Junior Year East Side College Hop-portunity

Big Picture Hop-portunity

“I learned that going to a college or university that requires me to live on campus might benefit me in the long run because I get to network and learn how to be more independent and engage in diverse groups and activities.”

With the grant money we received, we were able to take 14 of our juniors to visit three eastern Washington universities, including an overnight stay in the dorms at EWU. Our goal was to expose as many students as possible to schools beyond the typical Highline “commute”. The trip was incredibly positive and smooth, and all of our students reported they were planning on applying to at least one of the three schools we visited. I think we were also able to both answer students’ questions about college and the application process, and generate excitement about the possibility of attending a four-year institution.

We asked our students to reflect on the trip, their impressions of the schools, and what, if any, influence the experience had on their post-high school visions. Some quotes from the reflections:

  • “I’m now considering going to a college/university that is a little far from home, like Central. I learned that going to a college or university that requires me to live on campus might benefit me in the long run because I get to network and learn how to be more independent and engage in diverse groups and activities.”
  • “After going on this trip and visiting a few more schools I realized that the atmosphere between different schools can be so different in ways that I didn’t notice before…so that really reinforced the idea that you should visit a college before you actually commit to going there.”
  • “The best part of the trip was probably having [a former BP graduate] speak about how transition from an innovative school to a traditional school.”
  • “This trip pushed me forward to do better so that I can go to college. Being on an overnight trip with my best friends was awesome. We had hilarious conversations and I feel closer to them than ever. I would do this whole trip again in a heartbeat, so I hope there are more like this in the future.”

My co-advisor, Angie and I love the process and rely on HSF grants each year to run essential activities with our students. We are happy with both the process and the generosity of the Foundation’s support. Thanks again! ~ Steve Uydess

HOSA State, Here We Come! | Puget Sound Skills Center

HOSA State Here We ComeThe grant money gave students the opportunity to compete at HOSA, showcasing their leadership skills. By having supportive financial help, we were able to take 23 students to conference in Spokane while 21 students had the competed at the state level. Many students had not been to eastern Washington before nor experienced being away from their family by travels hundreds of miles away, staying overnight in a hotel. It was enlightening, amazing, special, friends formed, bonding, leadership, camaraderie, sharing, caring, challenging, educational.

It was back in September, a student joined our NAC community from Global Connections High School. She was a student who sat in the corner, very quiet and shy, struggling with course content and English was her 2nd language. Lul Abdinoor, a Muslim girl with a beautiful smile who has aspirations of becoming a nurse.

A month or two went by as I continued to try and engage Lul into conversations, pair her up in active groups but somehow she was still struggling in the classroom and not communicating with others. In November, our program was asked if I could rally volunteers for a community service event to feed the homeless. It was on Thanksgiving Day and I didn’t think I’d be able to gather a group together on this holiday. To my surprise, 16 students stepped up to volunteer for this special event. I asked Lul if her family made a big turkey dinner for the occasion and she said no, her mom didn’t know how to cook. I invited Lul to come with us. I said I’d pick her up. She was reluctant, stating she’d have to ask her parents and they agreed after coming in several times to talk to me about details.

Unbelievable on how that experience changed Lul, I saw an introverted girl suddenly blossom with radiance and charm. One of the highlights for Lul was taking home food for her family to try. The students were feeding her foods she’d never tasted before, laughing at her expressions, making her laugh. It truly was cultural diversity at its finest. She loved the interaction with others and made lasting friends that day. It was amazing to see this unfold.

Lul has become a friend to everyone in her class, creating strong bonds. She is thriving at clinicals and loves doing patient care. Since that day, she is no longer a student that struggles. She has become this incredible person who now is involved in everything, helps her peers, laughs, talks, questions information to learn more, her grades have dramatically improved and most of all, she is confident in her own skin. She no longer sits in the corner but sits in the middle so she can have all her friends around her.

The best part of this story is that in February, students signed up to compete in HOSA (CTSO for healthcare) and they were tested on their knowledge by a proctor. From there, 21 students qualified for state and on March 10th we headed east to Spokane for a three-day HOSA State conference and competition. Students fundraised for this event and Highline Schools Foundation so generously provided transportation and drive for this trek across Washington. It was exciting, fun and a whirlwind of activities. I share this story with you because Lul competed in three events at the state level. Her father and mother spent many late nights in my classroom, watching Lul prepare for her events. They were nervous in letting Lul go away as she had never done that before.

It was Lul’s 1st time staying with friends, nine other girls in adjoining rooms. I have to say, I can’t remember a slumber party being that much fun and seeing girls of many cultures embracing their differences. Muslims, Hispanics, Russians, White, African-American, Ukraine …..No one cared. They were all nursing assistants with the same goal.

HOSA State, Lul Abdinoor

On this trip, Lul Abdinoor took 1st Place in the Personal Care category at state, an honor I would have never have guessed back in September.

On this trip, Lul Abdinoor took 1st Place in the Personal Care category at state, an honor I would have never have guessed back in September. I feel blessed to teach a diverse classroom of students that have such passion for their beliefs and a drive to be the best they can be.

Lul has the honor of representing Washington State at the International Convention in Orlando, Florida this June. Her parents are thrilled and so proud of her and I am ecstatic that I will be there to share this amazing journey with Lul along with Maria Mercado and Jennifer Hernandez, also HOSA International winners from the NA-C program.

I am super proud of these 3 students as well as all the students that competed at the state level at HOSA this year! Thank you Highline Schools Foundation for supporting our future healthcare professionals and providing a life changing opportunity to them.

“Thank you for all you do! Education is an investment that benefits everyone, whether it be in community outreach projects or educating our students in our school systems, we all are awarded in some way. I appreciate the opportunity to work with such amazing people at the foundation.” ~ Jane Judd

Living History at Camp Waskowitz | Madrona Elementary

Madrona Elementary SchoolMy group of students had never had some of the outdoor experiences that Camp Waskowitz has to offer.  The students started their day doing team building activities working on trust, empathy and communication skills. After a morning of team building the students watched a counselor build a fire and learned how to cook hot dogs over the campfire. A majority of our students had never cooked over a campfire and were so amazed that they even roasted their carrots over the fire and were amazed how it changed the flavor. After s’mores we went on a hike and looked at nature. The students were mesmerized being surrounded by the tall trees of the forest and loved when we stopped and talked about how the slugs helped the ecosystem, nurse logs, and all the other wonderful parts of the forest. ~ Alexandria Skagen

New Start Sails | New Start High School

New Start SailsThis grant funded the sail of New Start students! It was a complete success! 35 students boarded the Schooner Adventuress on April 12th and sailed with a crew of 10 across the Puget Sound around Bainbridge Island and back. There was a lot of science learning, reflection, community building and engagement. Students were integrated into the life at sea, saw the career opportunities available and got a taste for leadership and maritime.

Many students attend New Start because they have been under-served at comprehensive high schools and are behind in credits. For the past several years, New Start students have come aboard Adventuress each spring for a boat sail. This time we sailed for 1 day instead of 3 which allowed more students to participate and allowed for us to have a more accessible experience for all students. It also allowed me to open the experience for both New Start and Learning Center students.

One particular impact that the trip had on one of my students: “When Alex came to New Start this year he was significantly behind in credits and had been disengaged from school for several years. He found a home at New Start when he started attending in the fall. His New Start family has helped him grow and the boat trip this year helped him bond with more people then he ever thought possible. He also saw how related his science class was to the experience on the boat and how important science is. He wants to participate in an internship with the Adventuress after this experience and explore a career in maritime. This opportunity also helped him catch up on his credits and will help him graduate this year.”

“We went on our fantastic sail and used our Grant money this last week. A local newspaper is doing interviews and writing a news story about it that I can send a link to you when I get it. Thank you  again for making this sail possible for my students!” ~ Kelsie Maney


Since 1999, the Highline Schools Foundation has been supporting innovation and excellence in Highline Public Schools. Our funding priorities focus on programs to improve academic achievement, supporting college and career readiness, grants to teachers for engaging classroom projects, the arts, athletics, and programs that keep students in school and productive. Highline is a district full of need and opportunity. The Highline Schools Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to all schools in our district—our goal is to help as many students as possible be successful!

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