Embracing Local History
Katie Joyce, Social Studies

For the first time, I get to teach a Washington State History class to high school students during the 2022-2023 school year! I have always been interested in local history, but subject requirements have kept me focused on places farther away. To better support our population of international students, Forest Ridge decided to offer this graduation requirement (and exciting elective!) on campus this year. The class is off to a great start!

We began the year by taking a hike in the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park, a fabulous King County-owned property with miles of trails and access to historical artifacts. When reflecting on the trip, students commented that it was one thing to know that the Newcastle area got its start through mining, and it was another thing entirely to see a blocked-off mine shaft and antique mining car in the middle of the woods. We stopped for a break at Ballpark Meadow, where the miners relaxed by playing highly competitive ball games. We learned that companies used to recruit miners based on their baseball skills!

Back in the classroom, we have been practicing map work, reading historical documents like treaties with the indigenous tribes of Washington, and researching industries important to the state. Students are also taking turns presenting parts of state history that are interesting to them. So far, we have learned about Mount St. Helens and Washington’s lighthouses, with upcoming presentations on Starbucks and Jimi Hendrix. We are looking forward to a trip to the Museum of History and Industry as we continue our study of our backyard.

In the spring, I plan to build on this information with a more concentrated study of the land around Forest Ridge in the Immersive week course Wild Watersheds. In this course, students will examine questions about how this land is used by animals and people, and how to keep it useful for future generations. We’ll do more hiking, visit the Duwamish cultural center, and experience more of what makes this area so amazing. I encourage you to explore too!