Reader view: Save Scriber Lake High School

Celebrating Scriber Lake High graduation in 2023. (File photo by David Carlos)

As a first-year teacher at Meadowdale High School in 1997, a veteran teacher gave me advice a few days before classes started. “There will be five or so kids in each class who will fail,” she told me. “Don’t worry about them. Focus on the ones who want to succeed.” After spending six years at Meadowdale, I made the move to Scriber Lake High School, Edmonds’ small (150 students) alternative high school, where I have spent the majority of my 28-year career teaching those “five or so” kids. In that time, I’ve never met a kid who didn’t want to succeed. Not one. I’ve only met kids who have lost faith in themselves due to very difficult circumstances and who need a place to figure things out where they feel seen, heard and valued.

Until this year, I have felt support from our district leadership. As alternative programs have been cut all over the country, ours seemed miraculously solid. But today we are facing debilitating losses — our vice principal position, one of two counselors, a full teaching position and key office and operational personnel — making our already small staff into a skeleton crew next year. Much attention has been given to the cuts in district music programs (as it should), but is our community aware of what is happening at Scriber? These cuts in staff feel like another “Don’t worry about those kids” statement, spoken by those who hold a lot of power. Our district claims to focus on “equity,” but is slashing basic support to those most in need.

What can you do? I have some ideas, beginning with understanding who our population is. Since 2011 I have helped students face past trauma through writing, and we have published nine collections of student stories — all available at the Edmonds Bookshop. In April, we held a book release event at the Edmonds Waterfront Center for our most recent book, I Used to Carry it All. Over 200 people sat in awe of Scriber students’ vulnerability and courage. Please pick up a book and experience their resiliency up close; their stories will change you!

Once you understand who a “Scriber Student” is, you will then better understand how to advocate for us. Let the school board know how much you value having a place that catches kids before they fall, where class sizes are small and where staff are trained, trauma-informed and skilled at guiding them into a future that has benefited our entire community for decades. Take up oxygen in any way you can to tell others about the importance and uniqueness of what we offer, with open arms, to students from all over the district.

It’s graduation week, and there isn’t a more soulful event happening than Scriber’s graduation ceremony. Year after year student speakers tell stories of how Scriber saved them—how they never, ever thought they would graduate, but here they are, feeling some confidence in who they are and in their futures.

Save the arts, yes. But also Save Scriber Lake — a very special place where miracles happen on a regular basis. The health and well-being of our entire community depends on it.

— By Marjie Bowker

Marjie Bowker teaches English at Scriber Lake High School.

 

  1. Marjie, your letter makes me so sad. As a fellow employee, I always hope and advocate for our decisions to put students first. I know that Scriber staff can work magic… and I know that there are limits to the magic that you can do with limited resources. The work you do is so important. We’re rooting for you!

    1. What scriber is to me is almost impossible to put into words… scriber and all it’s staff were there for me when it felt like the rest of the world had given up on me. It gave me a place to be accepted, to learn, to grow as a young adult. But most of all scriber gave me a second chance that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without all the help and support I received from all the teachers and staff at this school. It’s heartbreaking to hear that it might just fade and dissappear entirely. This school is such a valuable resource for our community and future students to help them find themselves after the rest of the would has seemingly given up on them. Don’t let this amazing school just dissappear into nothingness, we need programs like this to help grow and nurture our future students, our future leaders and community.

      1. It is so extremely sad what is happening at a school that has helped so many of us! When I went to scriber they gave me a place to not be ok. I stuggled for the first two years in high school. My best friend had terminal cancer and I was 14 and didn’t know how I was going to live life go to school, and be ok. All the staff at scriber helped me realize that I was going to be ok. I could lean on any of them anytime, they made it so I could be successful. Even when I didn’t make it easy on them, they still believed. This is what all the teachers and staff at this school do. They make kids who would not have made it in a traditional high school feel welcome, wanted, heard and loved. There is something that needs to be done to help save this amazing school so the kids who do go there don’t fall through the cracks at a traditional. Thank you Marjie Bowker for being an amazing teacher at this school for so long and for fighting for something that needs to be believed in. Students at this school have published books, have succeeded further then they thought they would have.

    2. Scriber Lake high school is important to my family and I. My dad graduated from scriber, my sister did, I did, my brother, well he didn’t.. and that’s the best thing about it. For my brother, they set him on a path for success, that, while it looks different than what most people consider, has influenced his life and his family, his kids.

      Scriber Lake has a special place in my heart, and I still have friendships to this day, no matter how much time passes, how old we get, are satisfying and meaningful. It was a safe place where we were encouraged to be more than a grade, more than a test, and to become part of our community. I don’t celebrate all the many things people have come to identify as who they are, but Scriber laid the foundation for me to come to love people in different walks of life, different paths, unconditionally.

      I hope to help scriber Lake.

  2. I am honest enough to admit; if it wasn’t for this school, the staff, and the programs. Which have been offered to me. It’s safe to say that I do not know where I would be. For the first time EVER I had received just what I needed. Support. Scriber changed my life entirely. It breaks my heart beyond imagination to hear that this school is going through such hardships. The impact of this school drove me to become the adult that I am today. The lessons I learned at Scriber Lake High School have stuck by me on a day to day basis. I talk about my Scriber experience every moment I get. Please save Scriber! If not for me… But for our future generations with hidden potential that just need something or someone special to unlock themselves. Before stepping through the doors, I had no faith that I would ever receive a diploma. I was an 8th grade student with a 1.9GPA. Fast forward. I graduated 5 months early, diploma in hand with a 3.6GPA with 28 credits. All due to the mentorship and support from the amazing adults who were there when no one else was. If there was one message I have for anyone who is peering. Please allow a chance to achieve success with methods they never have experienced before!

  3. I will never forget my time teaching at Scriber. It is a gem of a school, and I’ve never worked with such caring teachers as I did during my time there. I’ve taught in many schools at this point, but it speaks volumes that I still hear from my Scriber kids 15 years later; it is such a special community. I’m frustrated to hear about so many cuts because it sends such a negative message to the kids. They matter, and I love that you are using your gift of words to spread awareness, Marjie.

  4. You and several other staff members, are tje reason I am here today to serve my community.. Scriber created a safe and loving place for all of use “black sheep” out there.. Myself and so many other youth, owe souch of our self confidence, to the amazing adults who stepped in to Nurture us!
    Thank you for this, and thank you for creating a solid foundation for me to build my future on

  5. I have read the stories of Scriber Lake students. They are both heartbreaking to hear their life experiences and heartwarming to know their achievements in completing their schooling at Scriber. This is probably one of the most successful schools in the district and should be supported by the school board and the district.

  6. I attended Scriber Lake high school almost 40 years ago as a pregnant 16 year old. If it had not been for this school, I do not know what may have happened to me. I was able to graduate high school on time and bring my baby to school with me. I was treated with respect by my teachers and my peers, this was not something that I could experience at my regular high school. The learning experience was very important and I had some really special teachers, which I’m sure are long gone, but they were wonderful Steve and Margie were two great teachers that really made an impact on me. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to go to this school and I sincerely hope that other children who are experiencing major life issues are able to have this soft place to land and to grow into successful adults. Please save Scriber Lake high school.

  7. My husband and I both graduated from Scriber Lake. I can say without a doubt that we would not be where we are without the staff and school that we had. Please save Scriber Lake.

  8. My children have long-since graduated from EWHS (2005, 2007, 2010). I have no direct experience with Scriber Lake HS, but every school district needs at least one Scriber. The school board must find a way to keep it open and prospering. What does it spend each year on maintaining athletic fields and programs?

  9. Over the last 24 years I have had the honor to work with ESD on a number of important issues: Bonds, Levys, Enrollment Studies and Tutoring. When it comes to special education, home schooling, and alternative education the staff associated with these unique opportunities should serve as a model for how we deal with all kids K-12. I have seen first-hand as a tutor the development and implementation of individualized plans for kids. If all ESD kids had the same attention our graduation rates and achievement levels would be much higher.

    Programs like Scribner serve as a model for all of our kids.

    If we truly want to improve outcomes we need to start at Pre School and help every child use these exciting years to become a contributing part of community.

    Marjie, thanks for sharing and thanks for your work.

    1. It seems quite telling about our district’s priorities that so many cuts (both this year and last) are happening near to our most vulnerable students. As a former special education teacher and parent of children currently receiving accommodations or special education in the district, it is clear to me that the way we treat our most vulnerable populations will soon be the way we treat all of our students. It is fundamentally wrong on so many levels.

    2. I 100% agree with Darrol on this post. Alternative schools should be the absolute last place where any funding cuts are made by any school district. My late wife was a County Probation Officer assigned to work as the Juvenile Court Officer acting as the authority figure (most like the Vice Principal at a regular Senior H.S.) at one of the Everett School Dist. alternative schools. Many of the kids on probation were ordered to, or asked to, attend this school and often ended up turning their lives around in the process. For many it was the only place they ever got a real nutritious meal and any recognition and encouragement at all for their efforts to better themselves. In my view, the way we now treat young people in general with ultra expensive advanced education and high interest loans just for access to over priced state owned institutions of higher learning and vocational training is appalling. It’s like just another opportunity for banks to make money. When I was growing up it seemed like society wanted me to succeed, now I have to wonder how today’s youth think society views them and their efforts to thrive. Plus we don’t teach responsibility for personal actions and wonder why so may of the young are so irresponsible and angry.

    1. As an SLHS parent, I am so deeply grateful for what this program has done for my student. It has been a 180-degree turnaround in one year from absolute disinterest in school to active interest in not just school subjects, but also the SLHS and Edmonds community. I am certain we would not have seen this happen so quickly in the traditional high school setting. I’ve been blown away by the way this school provides for its students’ academic, emotional, and physical needs. Thank you for sharing, Marjie – the school board will be hearing from me!

    2. Scriber lake is a saving grace for hundreds of kids each yes. I graduated from scriber is 2017 and without attending this school, I would have dropped out. It isn’t just a school, it saves teenagers from their home lives, and themselves by providing a safe place to be with resources that help and the teachers are passionate and set you up for success rather than watch you fail. I have met so many incredible humans that staff this school and without these teachers and their willingness to go the extra mile to HELP the children nobody else is willing to help, graduation rates WILL decline quickly in the edmonds school district and these kids will be without a guaranteed safe space, resources, food, counseling and plenty more. Scriber changed my life and I know it has changed so many others as well. Please do your part and help to save Scriber Lake High School and all of the educators who CHOOSE to help each generations youth.

  10. Marjie,
    Thank you for this. Luka has had you for an English teacher for 5 years, and I so appreciate you and Scriber Lake High School!!! It is an amazing program and I’m so thankful it was available for my kiddo!

  11. Without a doubt if it wasn’t for scriber I don’t know what I would do. My junior year I got pregnant and if it wasn’t for the staff at scriber I would have had to drop out! I went back for my senior year as a 17 year old single mom having to bring my 1 month old with me just so I had the chance to graduate on time. If it wasn’t for Mike, kanoe, marjie, and the principal (at the time 2016) I wouldn’t of been able to do it, scriber is a family, and to see this breaks my heart. Kids that can’t do regular high school need scriber! I needed scriber!

  12. This is the campus I work at for the Edmonds School District, serving special needs students in pre-vocational skills as a Work Experiences student supervisor. This is by far my favorite campus I have worked on, partly because I was one of the students that would have benefited from alternative schooling. It saddens me that decisions being made currently in our district are most effecting those who are most vulnerable in society. We are taking from where the need is the highest, where there is the most vulnerable. My program is experiencing a significant change and will not offer the same programming to our students with disabilities, and we will not be apart of this beautiful campus next year, despite our efforts in advocating, and despite the many people (including students and families) who spoke up.

    Hoping and praying the community helps stand for those who can’t stand for themselves.

    1. Save scriber lake!!!
      Man it’s helps the little guy, kids who have lost faith in themselves due to very difficult circumstances and who need a place where they feel seen, heard and valued.
      The impact Scriber and options had on me. Was to be able to stay in school with my tough childhood. I wasn’t ever good at school. Couldn’t handle being in big classes,
      I wasn’t the best teenager either. But they sure stuck with me and helped me through my toughest years. And I still think about my teachers and office staff.
      They helped shape a great, and kinda smart woman..
      The classes and teachers all get on a closer teaching level rather than a classroom with 30+ students. You learn better. You understand more… They’re able to put more 1×1 time into children that have harder times, The faculty is outstanding and understanding in every way troubled teens, even teens that have learning disabilities, normal students. ALL succeeded in that type of environment… Under the help of the staff, this is a gem that needs to be protected by the people… Cuts happen. But this?!? That’s ridiculous. Let’s just leave no child behind

  13. As a graduate of SLHS and current employee, I can say with utmost confidence that Scriber is an absolute necessity to our community. I came to this school as a junior with a significant credit deficiency, plagued by grief and severe mental health challenges. Were it not for the courage, empathy, resources, and pure love from the staff at Scriber, I never would have graduated. Even more, I probably would not be alive today. This school is a safe haven for many of us labeled “misfits” and “outcasts”, whatever the reasons may be. For me, Scriber was my last chance before facing a lifetime of hospitals, institutions, and even death. I know this is the case for many other students, current and former, as well. Scriber is more than a school, it is a family; and it is worth so much more than what it is passed off as. I was told by many that I would be throwing my life away and “joining the degenerates” if I chose to enroll. That could not be further from the truth. Scriber is where I found my life. It is where I made my beginning. The staff, students, and community deserve better than to be pushed aside and given the bare minimum. We deserve just as much as any other school, if not more. Save Scriber Lake.

  14. Marjie Bowker Please let us all know what we can do to save Scriber and these positions that are necessary. This school helps the students.

  15. I graduated at Scriber Lake 6 months early and walked with the class of 2015. It is a safe haven for youth who are shackled to the chains of the inconsistent and inefficient teaching standards America refuses to address. Everyone has a different story, and the staff and students at scriber listen to them all. Teachers are supposed to be mentors; people you could confide in without judgement, and that is EXACTLY what Scriber excels in. It deeply saddens me to be reading this article, written by one of the most influential and loving teachers I’ve ever met. This school is so much more than just a “misfit” destination that it gets the reputation of. Many of my fellow graduates are fathers, mothers, business owners, and everything in between that keeps this world turning and operating. DO NOT give up on the future generations of Scriber; most are wise beyond their years due to the circumstances they were and will be put in. Considering Edmonds School District just refinanced their bonds and saved millions of dollars, I’d hope they would evenly distribute this money, or give more to those who need it. But, capitalism just doesn’t favor the ones down on their luck.

  16. My daughter is one of “those kids” who did not thrive in a regular high school. Scriber Lake changed her life like so many other kids. It’s tough when budgets need to be cut, but not every school program has the power to literally save lives. This one does.

  17. As a SLHS graduate I could not imagine our community without this school. I have two teenagers who have struggled with school since Covid and if I lived in the district I would definitely be sending my children there. Scriber not only taught me how to love myself, but taught me how to respect my teachers, because of the compassion they showed me. I came from meadowdale as a really crumby teenager, who didn’t care about anything, with 0 credits and a 5th grade reading level my sophomore year. Scriber staff showed me my worth and helped me graduate early with my diploma and at a college reading level. Also gave me the confidence to run for senior president. Scriber is the best Alternative school and it would be so sad for the community if kids didn’t get a second chance.

  18. This little amazing high school saved me. I was able to graduate on time even if I was so far behind. The staff is part of who i am and i am do grateful for the staff. This school became my home. I enjoyed going to school every day and I hated the days i couldn’t be at school. The staff there became family to me. I even know my own parents love this school and are so grateful for what this school did for me. I cant imagine mh life without this school is it my safe place and my home. Please save this amazing school, please safe Scriber Lake HS.

  19. Hello Marjie
    Both of my sons, Oliver and Aaron Wolfe went to Scriber Lake High school. We lost Oliver to suicide in Dec 2022. I know we all tried our best to help him. Aaron is married to Kaliegh and are expecting their first baby Sept 8 2024! I know how much you meant to both my son’s. Thank you

  20. Attending Scriber Lake was one of the best decisions of my life. It completely changed my life! This is the only place I have had teachers who honestly care for their students. This is also where I met my closes friends and husband, my community, my inner circle. Hearing about these cuts is not just heartbreaking but it also angers me. What a way for the district to show how little they care, why? Because we are different? Capitalism does like someone who is different, it wants mindless worker bees. Do not take away or cut back anything from this amazing place that so many of us has called home. Save Scriber Lake!

    1. It is such a shame to see Scriber Lake High School, once again, on the chopping block of the Edmonds School District. This school is just as, if not more, important as any other school or program within the district.

      Seventeen years ago, in 2007, I stood up during a school board meeting to express the need in the community, importance of and impact that Scriber had on my life and the lives of my peers. That was my graduating year. I will say now, as I said then, I would not be the person I am today without Scriber, Scriber’s teachers and supporting staff. And while the location and some of the faces have changed, the mission and values haven’t.

      I implore the community to support SLHS and the board to rethink these cuts as it hurts more than just the positions lost. It truly hurts the community and the students who thrive within the supportive structure that Scriber provides.

  21. Scriber “kids” – no matter how old you are – are fiercely loyal! I should not be surprised at this outpouring of support, but wow, it sure has been energizing to see your names and read all of your comments today.

    And thanks to the Scriber parents, staff, and community members who responded — we are truly grateful!

    1. Marjie,
      I so loved working with you as a co-worker and as a home~hospital tutor, 1992 – 2017. Scriber holds a special place in my heart, as I have seen how the dedicated staff has made such a positive difference in our kids. Scriber Lake has profoundly made a positive mark on my life; inspiring empathy, compassion and support for all students, especially the bruised, marginalized and challenged ones. We truly love you!!

  22. It breaks my heart to hear that Scriber is at the end of the knife when it comes to cuts. If it wasn’t for being a student at Scriber, I don’t know if my life would have turned out the same. From just getting out of rehab at 15, I needed support and guidance beyond what I was able to get at a traditional school. The teachers at Scriber helped me see my worth with more personal 1:1 that I would never have gotten elsewhere. The INSTEP class led by the infamous Chris Brown and Liza RIP, ignited a deep passion for nature. Math class with Mike Carey saved me from no longer pulling out my hair; I finally understood math! Marjie Bowker and Ingrid Rick’s gave devotion, patience, love, and encouragement in their writing courses where I got to be part of the first book “We are absolutely not okay”. I learned lofrom sharing my story, that I had a lot more to say, more than I could share then. More in my heart that I needed to let out. And I couldn’t do it without you; Scriber. I will fight for you, for our kids who need you. I can’t imagine a world where you don’t exist and will give everything I have to save you. – Love, Tebra

  23. This school is not just for children who struggle in school academically or socially. It’s for those who want a great balance of school and home-which this school not just says they believe in they show it with their actions. It’s for those who don’t like the large population schools because they don’t feel safe. It’s for those who want to learn and the small classroom sizes allow that. It’s for those who are struggling in their own head – here they aren’t overlook but noticed and helped. Things don’t get overlooked here or swept under the rug it is addressed and handled and I know this 1st hand. My brother, husband, 2 kids and countless friends went to this school and it’s wasn’t because they were a troubled child it’s because they new what they needed and Scriber Lake High School provided everything they needed and more. You don’t just sign your kid up for this school- you submit letters you do interviews there are background checks. I don’t question my daughters safety here, but I had several sleepless nights when I thought of sending her to her hometown school.

  24. I attended Scriber for all of High school. I was going to MTHS but was being bullied so relentlessly that I had to switch schools. And I am so beyond glad I did! Scriber was a safe space for me, the one place where for the first time in my life, I felt at home. I know so many of us feel that way: it didn’t feel like school. It was more of a home. I wouldn’t he the person, the mom, the woman I am today if it wasn’t for the amazing teachers and staff at Scriber. You all saved my life. Please allow the new kids coming in to feel what we all felt over & over again. Who knows, maybe we can save some more kids.

  25. The adaptable mold of this school shaped myself and others that wouldn’t be able to be where they are today. Scriber bred a unique class of students and friendships and shaped my career I have today! I wouldn’t be in the place I am without this school. Scriber Alum we need to pull together for the place that helped pull us together across that stage! Please email the importance that SLHS had on you and the detriment that it would have on our community without this alternative high school. https://www.edmonds.wednet.edu/our-district/school-board/directors

  26. I wish all schools held the same morals n standards for their students that scriber does. but they dont. there’s no other school like it, there’s so much heart, so much love, and genuine want to see their students succeed and get through whatever they’ve been through up until finding scriber. They want you to be better, live a better life, dream of a future you maybe never saw before. the support they give to every single student is powerful and life changing. we need scriber. we need these people out there, giving our youth a reason to keep going. i wouldn’t have, if i hadnt found scriber. this school and the people there saved me. so many others, as well. scriber deserves just as much support as they give to others.

  27. I am forever grateful for Scriber Lake High School and the staff who ran it, as my son Alex Bradford attended and graduated. Without that school, I don’t think he would’ve made it at the mainstream high school. I was actual bereft when Scriber was torn down in the promise of a new school being built, and never was fulfilled.
    I hope that our community and leaders of this county understand that these kids, who have difficulties and life thrown sideways at them, deserve the respect, care and push to love learning, and it isn’t always traditional. The educators and staff at Scriber have big love in our hearts. Thank you so very much for all that you do

  28. Without Scriber I would not have been able to graduate, I was even able to graduate on time. Through Scriber I was able to find my enjoyment of school and my education again. With Scriber I was able to work through my struggles with school in a place where I was met with compassion and understanding. I am so very thankful to all the teachers and staff that were there and helped me through my schooling.

  29. This issue. I do think that Alternative Schools can be very beneficial for these students. When I worked as an Outreach worker with Homeless youth Everett had a school like this. I spoke to a number of kids a lot. Some listened and wanted to try this type of schooling. I didn’t really know much about how those schools were budgeted etc. I just was happy to see a place for these kids. Now I am asking why is the funding for this school totally cut? I just thought maybe someone could explain why it would disappear. Our other schools have cuts why does this one get totally cut to the point of no longer existing? Is there a plan to try to educate these kids elsewhere? Someone tell me about this. I care and I am curious. Thank you.

    1. Hi Deborah–

      The funding has not been totally cut. The school still stands, but the cuts that will make it impossible to offer the kind of wrap-around care we have always provided for our students.

      Thanks for your concern– much appreciated!

      1. You’re welcome Marjie. I would love to hear more about the wrap around services and if there is any fund raising happening for your school? You can get my email address from Teresa Wippel. She has it and she has let me have her contact folks before. I only have Comcast for Emails. So lets talk. I am sometimes effective! I know I was good outreach worker and I know that the kids respected me and I loved every one of those kids. Even the very rowdy would quiet every one down when I walked in to Cocoon House. They listened and I don’t lecture I just talk and I listen. XO to you ALL. Don’t give up kids. Never give up.

  30. Like many before me, SLHS saved my life. The staff there gave me a chance when I had no one in my corner time and time again. If it wasn’t for Scriber I can guarantee you I would not be here today. Thanks to this school and the amazing staff it has held through out the years, I was able to graduate on time after dropping out my sophomore year. When I came back 2 years later the staff was understanding and gave me the time and grace I needed to get my life back on track. I am forever indebted to SLHS for everything it has done for me. Please remember the children like myself and many others who had no one and no where to go before we all end up back there again. We needed Scriber.

  31. Scriber was the best thing that ever happened to me in my young adult life. I went from a straight F student, to thriving because of the experience I had here. Scriber made an unbreakable community in itself, from my peers, and to my teachers whom I still see and talk to almost 10 years later. Without Scriber I don’t know where I would have ended up, but I know I would have been just another student that fell through the cracks in an ever growing pool caused by an ever growing ideology ideology of acceptable mistakes.

    This school has changed my life for the better, and it needs to remain to uplift those kids who need it next.

  32. Scriber Lake High School was my school for three years. I loved the small class sizes and the one on one that the teachers would give you. I have friends from high school that I still hangout and I also still communicate with the teachers as well.

    Annie wilkinson class of 2010

  33. Scriber was and is everything! The teachers and staff helped me on my journey to healing after my mom passed away. They gave us their time. They gave us their hope, even when we had given up hope on ourselves. Too fathomly think of this high school to fade away is unimaginable of the futures it can give to students that are deemed troublemakers, unintelligent, not worthy enough. I have met some of the most kind, caring people here that have gone on to be nurses, chefs, electricians, business owners, etc. I would love to continue to see future students be able to thrive in a broken school system that would try to diminish their light by taking away their resource that goes above and beyond in nurturing our future leaders!

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