Thursday, March 21, 2013

High school will call East Campus home

By Stephanie Beckman, News Writer

Mount Rainier Lutheran High School was almost homeless. The landlord sold the building last summer that houses the school’s 95 9th-12th grade students, according to a June 12 article in The News Tribune.

The newly appointed principal of this small private school, Sarah Elliott, began after the sale to search for a different location for the school that was still close to their previous building southeast of Tacoma.

The idea of approaching Pacific Lutheran University to ask for space for the high school originated with several members of the school board, including the chair of the board, who are PLU alumni. Elliott’s husband was a senior and environmental studies student at PLU at the time  the search began.

Before the school approached PLU, both the Embassy CES and the Head Start programs, which had previously utilized East Campus, had left, and there was room to rent out to new tenants as well as room to find supplementary income.

Mount Rainier Lutheran High School will use mainly the east side classrooms, which are being renovated for their use. 

Sheri Tonn, PLU vice president of finance and operations, said the high school is “doing all of their own renovations. So they did all of the painting that went on and they’re going to refinish the gym floor, and they’re laying some other stuff in the gym and elsewhere.” 

PLU will not offer any dining services for the high school, but they are welcome to pay to eat in Garfield 208 and the dining commons. 

Tonn said the theatre department’s costume class as well as dance, yoga and relaxation techniques classes currently in East Campus will move to Eastvold once renovations end. 

“For security reasons, we had planned all along to get those programs back on campus,” Tonn said. 

Eastvold’s construction is anticipated to remain on time for this move. Then, once the upcoming reconstruction of Garfield Street buildings and businesses is finished, the marriage and family therapy department will be permanently moved there.   

Mount Rainier Lutheran High School held an open house at East Campus on Friday to show the renovations and give tours. Elliott and Sheila Larsen, Mount Ranier’s admissions director, both said that they were happy to be moving into East Campus and to be showing the students, staff and community their new home. 

Mount Rainier Lutheran High School may have faced homelessness for a few months, but they have found a warm welcome at PLU.