The BSD school community has unmatched school spirit — which is a testament to its educators, students and families. We are ever thankful to everyone for living out BSD values with temperance and virtue — acknowledging the work ahead during this transition phase of building consolidations. We are moving forward together to ensure students’ transition with support and reassurance from trusted adults and professionals.
After being established in 1942, the Overlake School District #405 was consolidated and renamed in 1952 as the Bellevue School District #405, approximately one year before the City of Bellevue was incorporated. In 1923, Bellevue High School became the first accredited four-year high school, making it the oldest school in our district. In 1952, Clyde Hill Elementary was opened, making it the oldest elementary school. Bellevue Digital Discovery is the newest BSD school, officially launching in 2022, as the need grew to provide an online learning option for students. These milestones are just a few in the vibrant history of schools and buildings in Bellevue.
BSD’s long running and rich history includes several school closures and consolidations, which also come with stories of their impact on people and communities. There have been approximately 15 school consolidations from 1978 to the present, starting with Ashwood Elementary School in June of that year. This K-6 school located in the west Bellevue area was also known for serving neuro-diverse and special needs students. Three short years later, Bellewood Elementary became the fourth school to be consolidated, sending students to Lake Hills Elementary in June 1981.
BSD Families Share Their Perspectives
A comprehensive timeline provides dates for when all schools first opened, yet their challenges and successes are a part of perspectives only told by past and present students, staff and families.
Former BSD families recently shared their school consolidation and closure experiences with the BSD Communications Department, expressing their viewpoints, vivid memories, and advice our school community today.
Fred and Sheri Yeatts
Fred and Sheri Yeatts were parents with two students at Ashwood and co-presidents of the local PTSA when the school board received and approved the recommendation to consolidate Ashwood with Clyde Hill. They recall the experience of sending their students to a new school after managing the impact of the consolidation and the transition planning their children experienced at the time.
Sherrie Mill, was a parent at Lake Hills Elementary and shares her recollection of that time as PTSA president of Lake Hills which was one of the schools identified for possible closure and ultimately received Bellewood in the consolidation process. She was asked by the school principal to present the case to the closure committee to keep Lake Hills open.
When you experienced school consolidation while in the district, how would you describe your experience at that time?
Fred: We were co-presidents of the PTSA, the kids were small, and it was handled well. It wasn’t a consolidation but a total closure, and the kids moved to two new schools. The school district was looking for buy-in, and they gave all the information first — then closed Ashwood. They moved the kids to Clyde Hill and then Cherry Crest. No long bus rides. Excellent job of putting it together.
Sheri Y: It was a smooth process, but they loved their neighborhood school, which they all walked to. When they closed it, they couldn’t do that anymore. Ralph Allen was the principal and had a collaborative work style that was very transparent. He played a significant role, and people trusted him. There was no resistance because we trusted him.
Sherrie M: While it seems more emotional now on the heels of COVID-19. We were also emotional about the possible closure of our neighborhood school and stressed over the implications for childcare with so many working parents. We also felt confused about the criteria that were being used to make the decision. Fortunately, the principal helped calm our community and assured us that even if we were selected to close, we could make it work.
What impact did it have on you then? And what do you remember about it?
Sheri Y: Three things: One, the principal’s style was very supportive and welcoming. Two, lots of meetings were held, so we felt like things were transparent. Three, Clyde Hill (the receiving school) had an open and inviting meeting, and that was encouraging from the start. It made everyone feel better. Ashwood had two popular events, Funky Fair and Fun Day, and Clyde Hill said, “let’s do that here too!” That made us feel very good.
Fred: The kids knew and watched what us adults said and did.
Sherrie M: While I remember the initial impact was very stressful, I was most impacted by the resilience demonstrated by both school communities. Lake Hills received a new principal, Mike McBride, at the beginning of the consolidation, who reached out with empathy to both communities and committed to honoring both schools’ traditions. I was also very grateful to the incoming Bellewood PTSA president and a group of parents for their willingness to cooperatively work with us. Likewise, our children adjusted reasonably well to the consolidation and quickly formed new friendships. Ultimately, my experience with the closure process catalyzed my decision to run for a position on the school board.
In retrospect, what would you change about your response to the news and/or process?
Sheri Y: The kids watched how the parents and teachers discussed it. It’s a learning experience; they watched what we said and did.
Sherrie M: I wish I had initially held more space in my mind about the possible rationale for closure. I became too quickly focused on the need for our school to stay open because I felt I needed to protect our students and prepare the best rationale for us to remain open to present to the closure committee. The process had the effect of pitting one school against another and both schools against the school district. Thankfully, our principal helped me see the bigger picture.
Comparing your thoughts and feelings to now, what comes up for you?
Sheri Y: I only know what I read and saw on the news. I heard much more defensiveness from everyone — and focused on the individual and how it would bother them. I wish there were more emphasis on the greater good.
Fred: The media attention showed the polarization between the district and parents. I ask that the district be proactive and meet with groups ahead of time. We didn’t have that when our school was closed.
Sherrie M: Watching the recent outbursts on TV, I wondered how much the post-COVID-19 environment has augmented the angry response. I can imagine parents feeling that another rug was being pulled out from under them after all they have been through trying to help their kids learn at home while the schools were closed. However, the news tends to play up the outrage. It gives the sense that people are not being treated fairly — and the viewers don’t really know the breadth of the dissatisfaction. I also wondered if the school district had done enough to explain the options that were considered to address the budget deficit and the criteria for identifying the schools to be considered for closure.
What would you say to anyone experiencing this today?
Sheri Y: Stop looking at what you’re losing and look at what you’re gaining. We still have connections with people that were at Ashwood. Our kids had wonderful opportunities at Clyde Hill that they may not have gotten if they had stayed at Ashwood.
Fred: Encourage parents to get involved in their student’s education. Not that they don’t want to — if they are from other countries, they may not know how or are working and don’t have time.
Sherrie M: It’s natural to be disappointed if your school is selected to close. Still, it’s also important to help your children to develop resilience as they move to the new school. If you’re part of the receiving school, reach out to the new school community and find ways to collaborate to honor both schools’ traditions. If you were unhappy with how the district handled the closure process, share specific recommendations to make the next process go more smoothly.
The views expressed in this article are solely those that were interviewed and not those of the Bellevue School District, employees, volunteers or affiliates.
Timeline of the Establishment of Schools in the Bellevue School District
- Bellevue High School – 1923
- Clyde Hill Elementary – 1952
- Enatai Elementary – 1953
- Eastgate Elementary – 1956
- Medina Elementary – 1957
- Sherwood Forest Elementary – 1957
- Stevenson Elementary – 1957
- Woodridge Elementary – 1957
- Highland Middle – 1957
- Lake Hills Elementary – 1958
- Sunset Elementary (now Puesta del Sol) – 1958
- Sammamish High – 1959
- Phantom Lake Elementary – 1960
- Tyee Middle – 1960
- Chinook Middle – 1961
- Newport Heights Elementary – 1963
- Tillicum Middle – 1963
- Wilburton Elementary – 1963
- Newport High – 1964
- Ardmore Elementary – 1967
- Interlake High – 1967
- Spiritridge Elementary – 1969
- Odle Middle – 1969
- Bennett Elementary – 1970
- Cherry Crest Elementary – 1970
- Somerset Elementary – 1971
- International School – 1991
- Big Picture School – 1995
- Jing Mei Elementary – 2011
- Bellevue Digital Discovery – 2022
Timeline of School Closures in the Bellevue School District
- Overlake School District – 1942
- Ashwood Elementary – 1978
- Hillaire Elementary – 1979
- Bellevue Junior High – 1979
- Ivanhoe Elementary – 1981
- Three Points Elementary – 1981
- Bellewood Elementary – 1981
- Surrey Downs Elementary – 1981
- Robinswood Elementary – 1983
- Wilburton Elementary – 1983
- Hyak Junior High – 1984
- Lake Heights Elementary – 1985
- Educational Service Center – 1985
- Ringdall Middle School – 1987