North Creek Pioneers Ethnic Studies Program

Leah Bromagen, Staff Writer

      Before the 2019-20 school year began, the school board at North Creek High School started discussing a new Ethnic Studies program that would help students and staff to learn about the interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity within our school, and around the world.

      Now in its second year, the course remains the only program of its kind in the Northshore School District. “North Creek is very lucky to have many, many diverse cultures on our campus! We want to value each and every student and we want to value their backgrounds, their histories, their heritages, their religions, and their cultures – and Ethnic Studies is one way to begin that work,” said North Creek’s Principal Dr. Eric McDowell.

     According to the course guide, “The purpose of Ethnic Studies is to transform student lives by promoting healing from historical trauma, humanizing and empowering all students, and promoting civic and community engagement through action in solidarity with others.” 

      Unlike other history courses, the curriculum centers open discussion and critical analysis of systems of power and oppression, like racism.  “I think oftentimes our curriculum is extremely eurocentric and focuses heavily on white stories while disregarding other cultures, ethnicities, and identities, and this class is a step closer to making education equitable for everyone,” said senior Aliyah Jacobs. 

     Additionally, this innovative class provides North Creek’s students with a safe space to come together and learn about a topic that many would find difficult to talk about. “Honestly it’s probably the first time in my schooling history I have felt seen in my own identity,” said Jacobs, “I’m a woman of color, so social justice is really important to me and I think this class is a step in the right direction to creating a safe place for all students from all walks of life to learn and create a better understanding of the systems in place.”

     Both students and staff are benefitting from the Ethnic Studies program, but the apparent goal is to share said program with other schools in the Northshore District.  “Right now, North Creek is the only school offering this class – but the plan is for Ethnic Studies to be offered at all schools in Northshore in the years to come,” said Dr. McDowell.  

      Northshore’s Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Department and Racial and Educational Justice Department assembled an Ethnic Studies Pilot Work Team earlier this school year. other schools may begin to follow North Creek’s example as the district is currently piloting an Ethnic Studies program. Consisting of students, parents, and educators, the focus group’s training is working towards developing a framework for Ethnic Studies. Several North Creek students, teachers, and administrators are involved with this program.

      There is also hope that the program will expand and grow as more students become involved.  “I am just super hopeful that it continues to be a growing course that gets implemented into the core curriculum for everybody,” said Jacobs.