Barker Creek Grand Opening
New School Breaks Down Traditional Walls
Posted on 10/06/2017
Barker Creek students and Central Kitsap board members cut the ribbon on the new building.

Barker Creek Community School students walked through their school's doors for the first time in September.  "I absolutely love it," said student Izabela.

It’s very different from the alternative high school that many students, such as Izabela, attended last year. That school, which was in a portable near the Anderson Hill roundabout, is gone.

“It’s so, so nice because being an alternative student — and I love alt so much — it’s hard because it kind of has a bad reputation,” Izabela said. “So it’s even harder when you’re in a little portable because you don’t feel like you’re an actual high school student in an actual school. This new school is just amazing because it makes it feel like you’re an actual student.”

Increasing Options

In 2016, district leaders had to find a new home for the alternative high school, which construction would displace. At the same time, they were looking to increase options for families and improve student outcomes.

They decided to phase out the alternative programs of the past and create Barker Creek Community School to serve students from kindergarten to 12th grade. The school brings together elements of online learning, classroom-based high school classes, and a parent partnership program that provides support and enrichment for students who learn at home.

Students and families will be able to choose pieces of each program. “What we’re trying to do is break down the ‘traditional’ walls where you have to be inside the school to do your learning,” said Principal Stuart Crisman.

The conventional school model hasn’t worked for many of Barker Creek’s students. Reasons why are as different as each student. They range from complex family situations to the ability to thrive in a home or smaller school setting instead of a traditional school.

But all of Barker Creek’s students have something in common, Crisman said.

“They come here because they want to learn," he said. "They choose to come to this school.”

A Work in Progress

In some ways, Barker Creek is a work in progress. While the building is open, programs continue to evolve. In the future, the school plans to further develop the concept of a community school. Community schools bring together educators, families and community partners to offer a range of opportunities, supports and services to youths, their families and communities.

Remodeling the building at McWilliams Road and Highway 303 was the first major milestone. It has an open concept. Sliding whiteboard walls between classrooms and common areas allow teachers to have flexible room sizes. Classrooms have new technology, such as flight simulators, and art/science labs. One student said the space felt “Google”-like.

“I think it's going to be great this year,” said Kiet, who was an alternative high student for several years. “I really like the school a lot more. There’s more room, new people, teachers have always been great. I love it.”