Cheney Free Press -

By PAUL DELANEY
Staff Reporter 

Endeavors begins its mission in Medical Lake

Former alternative high school unveils new name, colors and logo

 

September 6, 2018

Paul Delaney

The staff at Endeavors (L-R): Keith Dunlop, Kam Gunther, Lyra McGirk, Char Edwards and David McNeill.

The start of a school year means many new things lie ahead for students and staff.

And for those at Endeavors, this is especially true. Endeavors you say? Just what is that?

That is the new name for the former Medical Lake Alternative High School as the rebranding became official several days ago when new signage took the place of the old.

"We'll always deal with the stigma of the word, 'alternative,'" school director Lyra McGirk said.

That is a state-level description so there is no getting around it on an official basis at least. But on the local level, things are different.

"We're definitely detaching that from our name," McGirk said. "It's a big deal to have a new image, it's definitely what we're trying to achieve here." The staff is working to make sure they try to distance themselves from the use of the term.

The new message is, "We're Endeavors, we're a small, personalized learning environment, we're a non-traditional pathway and we're about promoting a positive sense of pride," McGirk said. The name speaks to making it through one's education despite the challenges.

This is McGirk's third year with the program, having come to Medical Lake from the Central Valley School District in Spokane Valley. She worked for what was known as the Barker Center, but is now called Mica Peak school in their own "rebranding" exercise.

Medical Lake's version opened in its present location at 317 N. Broad St.- a half block south of the high school - six years ago after being housed in a portable adjacent to the district headquarters.

With its fresh start comes the use of color to help identify students by their personality traits.

"Every student gets identified with what their primary color is," McGirk said. That is accomplished through some initial testing.

Blue is for people who like harmony. Green is the shade for those who are analytical. Really fun and charismatic people identify with orange. Gold is for people who like processes and structure.

Those colors have been incorporated into the school logo and mascot which has an interesting tale of its development.

Medical Lake director of teaching and learning, Kim Headrick, spoke at the school's graduation ceremony in the spring, referring to the team at Endeavors as having the heart of a lion.

"I just kind of thought on that and was looking at images online and then came across that logo, and I was like, 'That's it, it's the pride,'" McGirk said. And as luck would have it, the design was an uncopyrighted piece of art.

Students are arranged into teams with progress charted by how they collect their graduation credits, not by the traditional grade levels of a high school. Team Pinnacle are those who are in the senior range. For on-time juniors it is Team Ascension. Tenth-grade are Treckers, while ninth graders are Team Expedition.

While rare, Endeavors will take in middle school students from time-to-time. "They are few and far between," McGirk said. "Those are kind of special situations, identified within district."

There are also some students who "choice" in to the school from out of district.

The program will start the school year with 26 students, a significant increase from the 14 who began the 2017-18 term which was a significant drop. With some outreach, that number doubled within two weeks McGirk said.

"Coming in with 26 I think is a pretty strong number, comparatively to last year," McGirk said.

The school will focus on more small group instruction and trying to "attack" graduation rates, McGirk said. In the past there has been more individual instruction, using a variety of options, but predominantly online curriculum.

Keith Dunlop is the social studies teacher, Char Edwards has an English and math background, David McNeill handles math, science and health and fitness while Kam Gunther is the social interventionist. Along with her position as the team leader, McGirk will also pitch in with her skills teaching language arts.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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