By Katalia Alexander Junior, Mt. Rainier High School The bell rings at 1:40 p.m., and students flood the halls of Gregory Heights Elementary School, eager to get home and enjoy the weekend. For twenty students, however, the day isn’t over – they will be there for another ninety minutes to participate in a program called Shine Bright. Shine Bright is a community organization that runs an after school club every Friday afternoon at five elementary schools in the Highline School District: Gregory Heights, Marvista, Cedarhurst, Southern Heights, and Hazel Valley. The program was started in 2013 by Mt Rainier High School student Emma Hart, then a sophomore, with the goal of motivating elementary school students and enabling them to succeed. In a video produced by Highline School District in June of 2016, Hart stated that she founded Shine Bright with the goal of teaching students “what a great education is at their hands if they can just learn the skills to utilize it.” When Hart graduated in 2016, leadership of the program passed to a core administrative team, led by Mt Rainier High School senior Katie Jenkins. Upon Jenkins’ graduation next month, Assistant Director Lauren Engelstad will succeed her as Director, ensuring the program’s continued success. Rather than focusing on subjects such as math or writing, like many after school clubs and tutoring programs, Shine Bright teaches skills such as respect, focus, goal setting, and time management that students can apply to both their academic careers and their personal lives. When asked if they thought Shine Bright would help them to succeed in the future, the students in the Gregory Heights program didn’t hesitate to answer: “definitely.” One of the most important aspects of this program is that is offered to local students for absolutely free. In order to continue running this program without cost to participants, Shine Bright is asking community members to Give Big in support of their program. In honor of their upcoming fifth year, Shine Bright is aiming to raise $5,555.55 to cover program costs for the next year.

To donate, please go to:

Give Big ends this Wednesday, May 10!


Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.