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Wenatchee Learns Connect Center opens with a party

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The Wenatchee School District enlivened downtown Wenatchee last Thursday with a  loud and exuberant celebration for the opening of its new community outreach center — Wenatchee Learns Connect.

Wenatchee High School's renowned Mariachi Huenachi group and drum line created a festive atmosphere for dozens of community members, school district officials and students who turned out for the ribbon cutting ceremony. It was a heck of a party.

The opening of the center is a significant milestone for the district, which undertook an extensive community-engagement process called Wenatchee Learns a few years ago. That effort allowed students, faculty, businesses and the community at large to set the direction for learning in the community.

Three key principles established in the process included developing a personalized approach to education for students, using technology effectively and tapping into the wisdom of the whole community in education.

Diana Haglund, who formerly worked with Central Washington University, leads the Wenatchee Learns Connect effort. She told me the next step is to encourage volunteers and businesses to sign up on the Wenatchee Learns web site. Individuals will offer areas of expertise that can be helpful in the classroom and businesses will identify internship, mentorship and project opportunities to engage students. 

Research by The World's 30 Under 35 young leaders a few years ago revealed tremendous enthusiasm among business leaders for connecting with students and schools. Their report spurred the district to create the center.

By January, Haglund said, the district expects to begin matching individual volunteers with classrooms and businesses with potential interns.  This is a huge project but it reflects the future of education in our region — a future in which community members and businesses play a much more crucial role than in the past. 

These are exciting times, indeed. It's great to see the school district connecting the dots with the community.