More SPS Stories

  • Can you spell ‘tension’? Fourth grade spelling bee winners rise above

    Posted by Communications Staff on 1/31/2023 1:05:00 AM

    Spelling Bee

    Leo approached the microphone in front of dozens of parents and classmates at Hamblen Elementary. He was one of two remaining contestants in the school’s spelling bee for fourth graders, and his word was “blasphemous.”

    Some of the adults in the tense crowd cringed at the assumed difficulty of the word, but Leo beamed and, with little hesitation, confidently stated, “Blasphemous. B-L-A-S-P-H-E-M-O-U-S. Blasphemous.”

    After his remaining opponent narrowly missed on their word, Leo was declared the winner following about a dozen rounds that started with 21 students.

    spelling bee “When I won, I couldn’t even believe it, and then my heart, like, stopped,” he said. “Right when I got the words, I studied them for 30 minutes and then last night I studied for two hours.”

    At Westview Elementary, fourth grader Oliver was the winner, successfully spelling “Overseas.”

    "I was very nervous up there because I wasn't sure if I was going to get one wrong or not,” he said.

    The winners from all eight competing elementary schools include:

    • Browne: Michael
    • Franklin: Foster
    • Grant: Violet
    • Hamblen: Leo
    • Longfellow: Jennifer
    • Spokane Public Language Immersion: Suki
    • Westview: Oliver
    • Wilson: Lauren

    Each winner will move forward to take an online test through Scripps National Spelling Bee to see if they can qualify for the regional round. Students reached the school-based spelling bee based on a 25-word spelling test in early January.

    The spelling bee is one of many ways schools are helping students flourish.

    "We just look for all the different opportunities that kids can do that lets their talent or their strength shine,” said Libby Center Principal Kimberly Stretch. “We might have arts and crafts clubs, sports clubs, an essay writing contest and this is just one other avenue in which someone will shine." spelling bee

    Standing at a microphone in front of your peers and parents is intimidating. Spelling words without writing them down—which involves different parts of your brain—is a challenge.

    At Hamblen, Principal Stefanie Heinen reminded students that only one person gets win, which means 20 other students will experience failure in front of their peers. It’s a lesson in sportsmanship, focus and having fun regardless of the results.

    The eight winners will forever be fourth grade spelling bee champions.

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  • Teachers: Why is education a human right?

    Posted by Communications Staff on 1/24/2023
    A collage of seven pictures showing multilingual English learner students and teachers.
    Five years ago, the United Nations General Assembly recognized education’s role in global peace and development by proclaiming Jan. 24 as International Day of Education.
    In honor of the day, we asked a few of the teachers who work with our multilingual English learners to share why they believe education is a vital human right.
    Jingle Gorton, English Language Development (ELD) teacher at Shaw Middle School, said education is a human right because “it allows members of underrepresented marginalized groups, like me, to break the cycle of deprivation and achieve dreams that I never imagined would be possible for me.”
    “Todos merecen ser incluidos en el acceso a información, idioma y maestros de calidad,” said Kristen Parker, Joel E Ferris High School ELD and Math teacher. [“Everyone deserves to be included in access to information, language, and quality teachers.”]
    “Education is a human right to empower each individual to reach his or her potential and engage in the community,” said Bemiss Elementary ELD teacher Laurie Manikowski.
    Maria Esther Zamora, ELD teacher at Logan Elementary and Linwood Elementary School said the question offers an opportunity to recognize that education is key to accessing and understanding other human rights, like freedom of speech, freedom from slavery, and the right to work, among others.
    “As an educator of color, first generation immigrant who works with refugees and immigrant students, my responsibility is to support education as a human right and to provide excellent education for all,” she said.
    “That implies finding ways for my students to overcome the barriers of poverty and the opportunity gap while empowering them and their families to improve their lives.”
    Advancing the right of education also promotes the positive change necessary to break negative cycles many immigrants have experienced from armed conflict, corruption, indifference, or inequalities, all of which “disrupted our right to dream with prosperity and the pursue of happiness.”
    “We live in a diverse world with diverse perspectives,” said John R. Rogers High School ELD teacher Kailey Rice. “In order to grow in our future, we must understand those who we interact with and continue to yearn to learn. Schools are a beautiful place to practice this life skill.”
    Kailey advises her school’s Amnesty International Club, made up of English Language Learners. She asked a few of her students to weigh in on the question.
    Club president Nermin Omar, secretary Brijoshna Gurung, creative director Jiem Menke, Amnesty helper Abra Clanry, and treasurer Lino Keja said that while they discuss a variety of human rights issues, the right to an education is very important to them. Not only because it leads to a successful future and the ability to provide for a family, but because it allows for a greater understanding of the world around them.
    “It is necessary that everyone is able to communicate with each other about many topics so that people feel equal to one another,” they wrote. “Education helps people to move forward and not repeat mistakes from the past.”
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  • Mentors help turn tardiness into triumph for one SPS student

    Posted by Communications Staff on 1/18/2023 1:00:00 AM

    Jordan and Rebekah

    Jordan Powell was walking by the Shadle Park High School library one day when he was supposed to be in class. Skipping school was becoming a regular occurrence for the then-junior, and his grades were suffering.

    Jerry Garcia, one of Spokane Public Schools’ RISE mentors, invited Powell into the library and talked to him about why he wasn’t in class. That conversation started a relationship and gave Powell a mentor who helped him improve his grades by giving him a reason to go to class.

    “I would skip school but knowing that Jerry was at school, I would go,” Powell said.

    Now, SPS mentors like Garcia provide Powell a listening ear when he needs one.

    “If I ever need to talk, I can talk to (a mentor) without being judged,” he said. “And no matter how bad my grades are, I can also get help without being judged.”

    SPS has two key mentorship programs for high school students:

    • Restorative Interventions for Suspensions and Expulsions (RISE)
    • Encouraging Positive Intentional Connections (EPIC)

    RISE provides mentorship and restorative interventions, while EPIC connects volunteer mentors with students to develop positive relationships.

    Laura Alvarado was a RISE mentor who recently became a family engagement specialist within SPS. As a mentor, she worked with students on their schoolwork and behavior, but also provided service recommendations for outside of school.

    “Part of helping them and giving them support is hooking them up to resources in Spokane, helping them to make appointments for themselves and getting that help,” she said.

    Alvarado says she would meet with students for however long was necessary. Sometimes that was 10-15 minutes, other times it was more than an hour.

    “We work on homework assignments together and they share any new updates, anything they’ve been going through in their life,” Alvarado said. “Usually, they open up pretty easily once we’ve built that relationship and got to know each other after a few visits.”

    Alvarado even started a RISE Club at Lewis & Clark High School for students to talk about things like healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, mental health issues and more.

    “Part of it is I can relate to them a lot when they’re telling me, ‘I am having a really hard time asking for help,” Alvarado said. “Then a few weeks later after some meetings and some conversations, they realize, ‘Oh, this wasn’t so hard. There are people at this school who support me.’”

    Powell has seen that support from his mentors ever since Garcia stopped him outside the Shadle library. He’s proud of how much he’s improved – especially his behavior.

    “I had lunch detention a lot and in school suspension and it’s gone away completely,” he said.

    That’s had a trickle-down effect on his overall school performance. Powell says he feels more comfortable talking to his teachers thanks to the encouragement from his mentors. He’s now focusing on his dreams after he graduates this spring, which could include serving others through the Certified Nursing Assistant Training Program at Sacred Heart Hospital or pursing a two- or four-year college program. Powell also has a passion for graphic design and attends NEWTech Prep in the afternoons to express his creativity.

    “Jordan has a wonderful heart for service,” said Rebekah Lawson, the diversion liaison for the RISE program. “He is incredibly compassionate, and incredibly funny. He has a lot of life experience already, and he’s incredibly talented as an artist and graphic designer. He’s got a lot of interests that are really pulling him, and he can really go wherever, however he wants. It’s going to be exciting to see where he goes.”

    “And Rebekah’s helping me figure it out,” Powell adds.

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  • School staff and families build bridges, break bread

    Posted by Communications Staff on 1/12/2023

    Woman stands talking to people sitting around a table

    If the phrase “Beloved Community” doesn’t define the school you attend, teach at, or send your children to each day, there’s work to be done. 

    More than 60 staff and family members spent last Thursday doing that work together, gathered around folding tables in the Jefferson Elementary gym.

    They were led by Nicole Jenkins-Rosenkrantz, Spokane Public Schools’ director of community relations and diversity training, and Erin Lipsker, the district’s restorative practices and mediation program manager. The duo held a training with staff in October and one for parents in November, culminating in last week’s session that included both groups and a shared meal hosted by Feast World Kitchen.

    The workshops have revolved around that concept of Beloved Community, in which all are cared for in the absence of poverty, hunger, and hate – an idea championed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    But moving past the nationwide unrest witnessed over the past few years can only be done if we all show up for hard conversations and work together toward repair, Nicole said.

    “Cultural conflict can be uncomfortable to discuss, and it’s natural to want to avoid topics that make us uneasy,” she said. “This training is focused on normalizing the conversation and providing pathways to building authentic relationships.”

    While Jefferson is the first school to take part in this training, Nicole said six more schools will have the opportunity in the coming months thanks to a grant from Better Health TogetherGymnasium full of people sitting at tables listening to a speaker.

    “The more schools that participate, the more connections are made and the more positive impact we hope it has on our community,” she said.

    Erin said the work is deeply personal as a biracial woman who was raised in Spokane and now has children at Jefferson.

    “I know firsthand how hard it can be to function in the often racially divided world we live in,” she said. “It makes it even harder when the people around you don't have the language or the tools to help you navigate the feelings and realities caused by racial harm and ignorance."

    Providing a space to honestly talk through these issues and problem solve over a shared meal helps participants see each other’s humanity more clearly, she said.

    Fifth grade teacher Diana Janachek said she too has experienced racism and microaggression within school environments in the past.

    “I am also raising children of color and, while I’ve experienced racism myself, it hits deeper when my own children experience it,” she said. “I am grateful and even relieved that the work we are doing with Beloved Community creates space for staff and families to come together to discuss anti-racism, because not all schools and districts are onboard with equity.” 

    In her view, achieving the district’s motto of “excellence for everyone through equity” will require buy-in from the entire community.

    “Creating opportunities to get out of comfort zones together creates courage for people to speak up and start sharing,” she said. “With more courageous conversations, I think we will be few steps closer to fighting racism.” 

    People sitting at table eating a meal.  Jefferson parent Mark Finney agreed that while it might seem “safer” to avoid contentious issues like racism for fear of rousing conflict, it’s vital to address it overtly and frequently.  

    “We all know that Eastern Washington and neighboring North Idaho have a significant history and ongoing presence of white supremacist activity and ideology,” he said. “I’m grateful that SPS is a great partner with my wife and me in helping raise our kids to be the best contributors to the future of our community that they can be.”

    Principal Brent Perdue said that while it’s been heartening to see the bridge building between staff and parents, he sees it as the beginning of a journey to lift all Jefferson students.

    “I hope that this helps propel us forward as a school and as a community in this work,” he said. “Equity for all truly means all. With parents as partners, helping support their own children and their neighbors’ children, we can get there by building one bridge at a time.”

    Learn more at

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  • Salk students work with KHQ to produce on air local news broadcast

    Posted by Communications Staff on 12/19/2022 9:00:00 AM

    Salk at KHQ

    “Red leather, yellow leather.”

    That’s the vocal warmup KHQ Content Manager Alex Peebles gave a group of Salk Middle School students from Chris Trechter’s video production class, one of many great Career and Technical Education opportunities available at Spokane Public Schools.

    The students were nervously awaiting the start of a six-minute broadcast that aired on KHQ’s 4 p.m. newscast last Friday. The “red leather, yellow leather” phrase is said repeatedly and aloud to prevent students’ nerves from tying their tongues.

    Prior to “lights, camera, action,” the students, who’ve spent the semester producing news broadcasts for The Spartan News Network, toured the KHQ studios, then met in groups with editors, producers, reporters, anchors, etc. to create the show. It was an hour of organized chaos as students and KHQ employees worked together.

    Salk at KHQ weather For Salk students, a lot of the work was the same as what they do in Mr. Trechter’s class each week. But the equipment, the anchor desks, the green screen for weather—that was all new. Some practiced delivering the weather while others were using a lapel mic for the first time or taking a look at the control room.

    As the preparation hour ended, the reality of being on television suddenly sunk in. These were real TV cameras, a real, high-tech teleprompter, and a final few seconds to get through everything they planned for the broadcast. Plus - and this was much different from school - there were no do-overs. No stopping and starting over. If you flub a line, you must keep going.

    Anchors Grace and Evie opened with breaking news: KHQ anchor Cory Howard had his bronzer stolen! The anchors then moved on to other news and tossed to reporter Abby for a quick interview with her fellow Salk students to learn why they enjoy the video broadcasting class and if they see themselves in TV media one day.

    After a brief report from Laney on Winter Break, Mason told us the weather was going to be cold and foggy in the coming days. On-site reporter Izzy spoke with a KHQ cameraman about why it’s important to shovel your sidewalks for pedestrians. Another report followed on Salk art teacher Colleen Maciver’s art fundraiser, then Owen followed with a look at sports —a tough loss for the Seahawks and a preview of Gonzaga’s big game at Alabama. As the six-minute newscast wrapped and cameras turned off, relief settled in for students and the KHQ employees let out a loud cheer.

    A behind-the-scenes feature accompanied the newscast during KHQ’s 4 p.m. newscast, showing how students spent the hour.

    The KHQ employees went above and beyond to welcome the Salk students and give them an experience they’ll remember forever. Some of those students may be back at KHQ down the road as full-time producers, reporters, editors or anchors.

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  • Middle school students learn in-depth science lessons at North Central High School

    Posted by Communications Staff on 11/30/2022 3:00:00 AM

    NC classroom

    Middle school students are learning about science at a high school through the exciting and innovative Institute of Science & Technology (IST) program at North Central High School.

    This science-focused program provides 180 middle school students the opportunity to participate in advanced curriculum that gets them excited about science and prepares them for high school.

    IST STEM Curriculum Director Daniel Shay says that research surveying 4th grade elementary school students shows about 75% of them view science as their favorite subject. But there’s a steady decline in science interest from 4th to 12th grade, with only about 30% of seniors listing science as their top choice.

    The IST program features hands-on projects that partner with Spokane community needs to help foster an ongoing love for science in students.

    “What differentiates us from other middle school programs is the depth and authenticity of the work that we do in the lab,” Shay said.

    Student work addresses real issues like the health of the Spokane River and its ecosystem. Students who stay at North Central High School and choose to continue with the program have created award-winning research projects which are impactful to the community.

    Notebook These projects, which are displayed in the halls of North Central, have a wide range of focuses from looking at coral reefs to the gut health - or microbiome - of dogs.

    Middle school aged students at IST are also building game apps in their elective period and exploring the different organs and systems in the human body by dissecting rats.

    As might be expected, eighth graders are enthusiastic about dissecting worms, crawfish and rats. There is much debate about which is the grossest to investigate, but either way, students are very excited to share photos of their work.

    “Our goal is to make it exciting and accessible and have them ask questions and answer them,” Shay said. “Like, do those really gross things that are shocking and memorable, but also intriguing and fun, make you want to lean in and learn more?”

    At each grade level there is a different science focus. Sixth grade students focus on the natural history of the earth, as well as space, in their earth science course. In one field trip, they’ll visit a local fossil dig site to start piecing together the deep history of the Inland Northwest.

    Seventh grade students learn about microbiology and the structures and functions of microscopic cells. They’ll research the micro-organisms in a local pond and through an experiment that shows slime grows toward the food source it likes. By discovering which stimuli attract the slime, students learn about chemotaxis, or the moving of cells.

    Finally, in 8th grade, students learn about human physiology. They start with anatomy, and then move to animal dissections and in-depth research of each system and its individual parts. These students also are working with Gonzaga University on creating prosthetics.

    Not only are IST students learning and performing impressive STEM research, but they also learn crucial social skills.

    IST Program Administrator and North Central Assistant Principal Heidi Hayes points out that the IST middle school program has only about 60 students per grade level, meaning classmates need to work out any disagreements amiably. Through the metaphor of the wolf pack (the North Central mascot), students learn important interpersonal and conflict management skills. They talk about being a small family where they cannot just abandon one another.

    This close-knit community also allows students to grow especially close to their teachers.white coats

    “I love seeing their progression. I taught my first group of seventh graders and I’ve had them for six years,” Shay said. “You get to see this incredible growth in these students. You get them when they are 11 or 12 years old and say goodbye to them when they’re 18. Those are the most formative years in a person’s life, and you get to be part of that to see them grow and help them grow, and that’s a really special thing. I love everything about my job.”

    Students are chosen for the IST program through a lottery system open to all families in our region. To learn more, visit the IST webpage or sign up for the IST email list.

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  • 'They just kept winning so we just kept writing'

    Posted by Ryan Lancaster on 11/29/2022

    Football player running from kids. The John R. Rogers Football team earned their first win in three years this September, inspiring an article in the Spokesman-Review and at least one school of kindergartners. 

    Longfellow Elementary teacher Casey Divelbiss caught that news piece. 

    “Coach Dewey talked about how those kids are taking care of their younger siblings, their houses, as well as keeping up on schoolwork, homework, and playing football,” she said. “And I wanted them to be recognized for that.” 

    She enlisted the help of her kindergarten class to write a collaborative letter, saying how proud they were of the neighborhood team. 

    “Not all of us knew how to write our names yet, so we put our fingerprints on the bottom of the page and sent it away,” she said. “And they just kept winning so we just kept writing.” 

    Her fellow kinder teachers at the school joined in and sparked a connection that culminated in a visit last Tuesday from the Rogers team. A line of youngsters stood as patiently as possible in the cold, holding a long purple banner that read, “Welcome Rogers Football,” as their teachers occupied them with sing-alongs. 

    When the busload of teens finally arrived, it was a tossup as to which group was more excited to give high fives and pair up for a hand-held walk to the playground. Rogers Coach Mike Dewey shared what the letters meant to his team as a bag full of footballs was handed around. Teens lifting younger student up to basket.

    “It gives our guys a chance to realize that their actions have meaning,” he said. “That it’s beyond just playing a football game. These kids, they have a huge impact on their community, just look around here right now.” 

    Some groups played catch or shot baskets while others ran around or chipped at the remnants of a snowman. A circle gathered for a dance off, laughter rising like they’d known each other for years. 

    Justin, a Rogers junior, attended Longfellow as a kid. “When I went here, we didn’t really interact with any other schools,” he said. When asked about the letters, he replied, “I was glad to see someone celebrating our success, which we don’t have veryWoman talking to students in lunchroom. often.” 

    Lunch called everyone inside, where olders helped youngers navigate the meal line and open milk cartons. Little smiles mirrored bigger grins. Games of rock-paper-scissors were shared along with more laughter before the kindergarteners lined up for autographs from their favorite players.  

    “I just think this sort of thing goes a long way toward developing people who understand in the long run that what you do matters,” Coach Dewey reflected, chuckling with a nod as Casey Divelbiss spoke up: “Hillyard Nation is on the rise. Here we come.” 

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  • Awards ceremony honors "sacred gift" of Native youth

    Posted by Ryan Lancaster on 11/21/2022 7:00:00 AM

    Students stand holding awards in front of group of family taking pictures. More than 100 community members recognized students from across SPS during a dinner and award ceremony held Friday, Nov. 18, at Shaw Middle School. 

    “We are honoring our students who have shown some of the Seven Grandfather Teachings that come from my culture,” said Native Education Coordinator Tamika LaMere, who is part of the Anishinaabe Tribe.

    She called individual students up to receive awards for representing one or more of the following attributes: humility, honesty, courage/bravery, respect, wisdom, love, and truth.

    Indigenous educator and consultant Dr. Martina Whelshula, a member of Arrow Lakes Nation of the Colville Confederated Tribes, spoke about the importance of holding youth up and providing them with opportunities to know and take part in Native traditions, cultures, and values.

    She also shared the words of Pauline Flett, a Spokane Tribe elder who was instrumental in preserving and teaching the Salish language to younger generations before her death in 2020.

    “She told me, ‘The thing that I want most for my grandchildren is for them to get up every day, look in the mirror and like what they see. That sense of strong cultural identity. To feel good about who we are as indigenous people.’ And so that’s what we’re here to do. To celebrate our children and that cultural character they’ve demonstrated in their day-to-day life.” Man holds drum as he sings with woman.

    Dr. Whelshula’s husband, SPS Native Ed Support Specialist Martin Whelshula, then joined her in a song honoring the young people she called “a sacred gift from mystery.”

    Listen to it here.

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  • “The music is in the people”: Shadle junior gets music experience of a lifetime

    Posted by Communications Staff on 11/7/2022

    Shadle muscians

    Pictured: Shadle Park High School Junior, Nathan Waitt (left, wearing black beanie), attended the 5-week Aspire Summer Program where he participated in jam sessions, classes and more. 

    Shadle Park High School junior Nathan Waitt dedicates his time and talent to his school’s music program. In the Summer of 2022, he continued to grow his musical talents and leadership at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. 

    Waitt has an extensive music background. He started playing the trumpet in 5th grade, joined the jazz band in 8th grade and now holds the elected leadership position of Junior Drum Major. Waitt also gains experience with the Whitworth Jazz Department. 

    Aspire is a five-week intensive music performance program at Berklee and is “the world’s most comprehensive summer music performance program,” with Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth among notable alumni. Each year, high school and college students from across the country attend Aspire and live on Berklee’s campus. 

    Waitt attended thanks to a scholarship from the Johnston Fix Foundation (JFF). Founded in 1948, JFF supports regional organizations dedicated to education, the arts, and the environment.  

    With the help of SPS Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator Carol Peterson and a nomination from Shadle Park Band Director Matthew Wenman, Waitt was chosen as an ideal candidate for Aspire.  

    “I was surprised and excited, and also kind of intimidated because I’ve never been away from home for that long,” Waitt said. 

    Waitt said life at the program included classes in theory, musicianship and jazz arranging or composition. There was also a lot of ensemble and group work.  

    “It’s a lot of getting in that setting where everyone is there for music,” he said, “Which is a lot different than the environments I’ve had here.” 

    By playing with a group, Waitt learned to communicate with peers, attendees and ultimately navigate music in a practical sense rather than a theoretical one. One of these practical skills Waitt learned was how to entertain through music.  

    “Ultimately, music is a language. It’s a language without words.” Waitt said. “So you need to be able to communicate with the other members that you are playing with and be able to know what works with the audience.” 

    Waitt said that much of this is being able to perform under pressure and connect with the audience. In a controlled environment, music is played the exact same way every time until you perfect it. Entertaining entails adapting to the audience’s unique reactions. 

    “The music is in the people,” Waitt said. 

    Learning how to entertain also meant failing at times. Waitt said he remembers his first jam session with the entire jazz department very clearly.  

    “I remember going there with my instrument, getting up to play and realizing I had no idea what I was doing,” he said. 

    Waitt said this put, “Always be the worst player in the room,” in perspective, a lesson Wenman taught him.  

    “So even though I did horrible that first time and it was probably the worst solo that was played that night, I still had a lot of fun just listening to all these great people come in and play and learning from them,” he said. 

    Waitt now works with many individuals one-on-one in the Shadle Park music program. He is trying to help them play how they want to, rather than how they should. Instead of trying to “carbon copy” music, he helps other people recognize the individualistic part of music, as Aspire helped him to do. 

    “Going to Aspire turned everything upside down in a good way in that I recognize it’s a lot different in the music world than when you’re in high school,” Waitt said. 

    While Waitt dreams of becoming a music teacher like Wenman someday, no matter what he does he wants to make sure music is always a part of his life.

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  • SPS Board adopts resolution promoting gun safety

    Posted by Communications staff on 10/27/2022 8:30:00 AM

    gun safety graphic Last night, the SPS Board of Directors unanimously adopted Resolution No. 2022-13 to inform district families and the wider community about the importance of secure firearm storage. Safe firearm storage can save lives and ensure children remain happy and healthy at school.

    Securely storing firearms can reduce the risk of unintentional firearm injuries among children and teens by up to 85%, according to research. Unsecured firearms also contribute to deaths by suicide. Nearly 700 children in the U.S. die by gun suicide each year. The Pacific Northwest Suicide Prevention Resources Center found that more than half of adolescent firearm suicides in Washington were carried out using a gun from the home.

    Jeremy Ball, president and owner of Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop, is a vocal proponent of safe firearm storage.

    “First and foremost, a firearm owner must assess their living situation and determine what sorts of storage requirements are necessary for them and when those storge requirements are needed,” he said. “Since I have two young boys and regularly have nieces, nephews and other little kids around our home, storage is a top priority. I store firearms in various methods by using a safe, lock boxes, and cable locks. All of these are sufficient methods for the firearm I am securing.”

    Ball stresses that firearms should be stored unloaded.

    Families without a way to securely store firearms can contact the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department, which offers free locks. Every firearm purchased in Washington through a firearms dealer also comes with a cable lock.

    Families with firearms they want to dispose of can also contact the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department, which will send someone to retrieve the weapon for safe and proper disposal.

    “Secure firearm storage is an essential part of home safety,” said Petra Hoy, a gun owner and volunteer with Washington Moms Demand Action. “With more guns in more homes due to an unprecedented surge in gun sales over the past two years, it’s more important than ever for parents and caregivers to know how secure storage protects children.”

    Educating children about firearm safety and the associated rise of injury is necessary for everyone, whether families own firearms or not. Hoy suggests teaching children that if they find an unsecured firearm, they should leave it alone and tell an adult right away.

    If you’re concerned about your child visiting friends at homes with firearms, have a civil discussion with the homeowner to ensure the kids’ safety. Research shows that most unintentional firearm-related deaths among children occur in or around the home - 50% at the home of the victim and 40% at the home of a friend or a relative.

    “As a dad and gun owner, I can think of nothing worse and cannot imagine the guilt I would feel if one of my boys became one of these statistics,” Ball said. “Safe storage of firearms is the responsibility of every gun owner to do their part in keeping their own children and the rest of our kids safe of accessing firearms without supervision.”


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