Seattle World School gears up for move to permanent home

An artist's rendering of Seattle World School at the T.T. Minor building, where the school will move this year. (Illustration via Seattle Public Schools.)
An artist’s rendering of Seattle World School at the T.T. Minor building, where the school will move this year. (Illustration via Seattle Public Schools.)

In September, the students of Seattle World School — a school of nearly 300 immigrant students grades six through 12 — will open the doors to their new home.

“We’re finally getting science labs,” said principal Concepcion Pedroza. “We’re really thrilled.”

The move to the T.T. Minor building will be its ninth in 30 years — and the permanent move that families and supporters of the school have been advocating.

This has been a dream of this school for ten years,” she said.

All of the school’s students are immigrants to the United States and primarily speak another language at home. There are school liaisons for 12 languages, including Amharic, Cantonese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Swedish and Tamil.

In 1980 the school was established as the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center, which consisted of about a year of English language instruction before students were sent to other Seattle middle and high schools.

Seattle World School still has the newcomer program for students who want to transfer to their local high schools, but it now also has a full-fledged high school program where students can continue with intensive English Language Learning and earn a diploma. The program was established in 2011 and the first senior class of 13 students graduated in 2015.

The goal is to grow and add capacity and include more students over time,” Pedroza said.

The move appeared to be threatened three years ago despite its inclusion in district-wide school levy campaign, after some raised concern that the T.T. Minor building on Capitol Hill would be needed for an elementary school, according to The Seattle Times. But after lobbying by Seattle World School supporters, school board members agreed to stick to the promise to move the school to its permanent home at the T.T. Minor building.

The Seattle World School Families also felt it was important to be in a central location like Capitol Hill, Pedroza said. About two-thirds of the students live in south Seattle and the rest live in the north part of the city.

“We wanted to have relationships with the colleges,” she said. “We fought for that, to be a true all-city draw school and to be central to the city.”

The school has programs that help students’ families adjust to the United States, such as World Family Center and also works with community organizations that help specific communities, such as refugees. International Community Health Services will continue to have operate clinic, which serves not just the students but also provides assistance to their families.

“We say we’re a full-service school for families,” Pedroza said.

Seattle World School’s grand opening celebration will be Sept. 2 at the T.T. Minor building at 1698 E Union Street.

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