[EDITOR’S NOTE: Now in her second year with more great work is our youngest-ever Contributor – 12-year old Isabel Herbruger – Local Girl Scout, 4-H member, and aspiring photojournalist. We encourage residents of all ages to submit stories and photos for posting – for consideration, please email yours to [email protected]!]

Photos and Story by Isabel Herbruger, age 12
Last Friday, May 20, 2016, the Highline High School campus was taken over by more than 1,300 students, staff, and volunteers to spring clean the failing 92-year old building. I stopped by to see how things went.

“This is OUR school. This is all we got.”

As many adults know, two recent bonds have failed to pass for the district. This has been hard on students, who talked to staff about how rundown the school looked and the impact it was having on them. They wanted to do something about it. It took three months to plan this first “Pirate Pride Day” which included deep cleaning, painting and fixing garden beds on the campus.
Principal Vicki Fischer gave a tour to show off the work done by students, staff, and community volunteers. By the east entrance, staff was cleaning a sign hidden behind bushes and years of dirt. They were very excited by their treasure.
I met Pastor Dan from Four Square Church and Burien City Councilmember Austin Bell, who were working on garden beds by the cafeteria. Neither had gone to Highline but felt it was very important to be involved in the community.
“Highline is at the center of this community and we should take pride in how it looks,” said Mr. Bell.
Around the next corner was Stan, from the class of ’95. He took the day off to bring his pressure washer to clean the foyer between the main office and cafeteria. The ‘heart’ of the school used to be dark and forgotten but now was looking very bright and cheery.
In one of the staging areas I met Guy from facilities. He spent the last few months preparing for this day. Sixty yards of bark is a lot to move in a few hours, and the Pirates of Highline did an incredible job at it. They also filled two large trucks with garbage from the campus, with more piles waiting for pick-up. Inside the school, fresh paint went on some walls, others were washed down, lockers were scrubbed, and trophy cases shined.
I am sure the list was much longer, but it was time to eat burgers and play on the front lawn. Some of the Senior Pirates told me:

“Even though we are graduating, doing this for our school gives hope to the others here. It feels hopeful here now.”

Out on the front lawn I spotted a few firefighters and asked if they had come to help. They hadn’t been able to, but wanted to show their community support. I also spotted Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield incognito. When I asked if she helped with the cleanup, she smiled, “Yes. I scraped weeds off the front sidewalks and steps over there and flipped burgers!”
Then I asked how she felt about the day.
“It went really well but I wish more community members could have been involved today. It is important to show support for our students,” she said.
The campus still has lots of projects waiting to be done, but that is okay. As one person put it, “I am looking forward to the next one. This was fun and we made a huge difference!”
One thing I discovered on my tour was a plaque for Matt Pauls. After being an online detective, I learned he was 16 when he died in a car accident in Burien 26 years ago. I wonder what other hidden history will be discovered in the next Pirate Pride Day…?
Click images to see larger versions/slideshow:

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Principal Vicki Fischer


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Bark in front of the school.


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Garden spaces inside the school.


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“Look what we found!”


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Sign rediscovered!


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Pastor Dan and Councilmember Bell at work.


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’95 Graduate Stan finishing up his pressure washing.


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The foyer is bright and cheery now.


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Guy from facilities, one of the coordinators of the day.


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One of the staging areas at the end of the day.


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One of the piles of debris waiting to be hauled off.


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Memorial sign found.


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One of the walls repainted.


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One of the walls cleaned up.


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Food and games on the front lawn.


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Food and games on the front lawn.


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Superintendant Enfield with firefighters.


Thank you for your time and consideration,
– Isabel H.
Official “Unofficial Pirate Photographer”
and aspiring Photojournalist]]>