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College Possible Washington board visits Decatur High School

9 People Stand Smiling In Front Of A Wall On Which Is Painted "greetings From Decatur"

Decatur High School was established in Federal Way in 1971, and has gone through several renovations since its original construction. In February 2024, College Possible board members were invited to tour Decatur High School to see the work of the College Possible team supporting Federal Way in action. This team, led by program manager Maria Peterson, includes Megan Convery, who coaches both juniors and seniors at Todd Beamer High School, Briana Peang, the junior coach at Decatur High School, and Julie Venezio, the senior coach at Decatur High School.

A tour of the school was guided by Decatur’s College and Career Specialist, Renee Novak, a dedicated supporter of College Possible. The Decatur team collaborates closely with Renee, sharing an office space in the school’s Career Center. Here, students both in and out of the College Possible program can receive support for their next steps beyond high school. College Possible has been serving Decatur students since 2016, providing nearly eight years of support for students who are interested in furthering their education through college. The current high school coaches work with cohorts of 21 seniors and 17 juniors to prepare students for college through one-on-one meetings and group sessions, while creating personal connections with students to understand their unique interests and goals.

When asked by the board members what sets Decatur High School apart from other schools, Briana and Julie brought up that Decatur has a horticulture program, complete with goats, sheep, chickens, and ducks! There are other specialized career and technical education (CTE) programs offered, such as automotive technology, prostart, teacher academy, and sports medicine. Students also have the opportunity to earn credits through Running Start and Puget Sound Skills Center (PSSC). Decatur also has many notable alumni, including Iam Tongi, who won last year’s 21st season of American Idol, when he was still a senior at Decatur! As for Todd Beamer High School, Megan discussed differences in their CTE programs and athletics. Specifically, Megan mentioned Todd Beamer’s all-girls flag football team, noting that one of the students in her cohort participates on the team.

Briana and Julie not only support students in reaching their college goals but also try to make the process fun. Coaches turn college-prep tasks into a competition, granting students points to be used toward College Possible swag for every item they complete on their checklist.  Seniors earned entries for each scholarship application, while juniors earned entries by attending group sessions, scheduling 1:1 meetings with their coach, or by completing the baseline SAT. Juniors and seniors also collaborate through various activities. For instance, Briana encouraged her cohort to write college-related questions on post-it notes and stick them to the wall for seniors to answer. During the College Possible board visit, board members were invited to join in and answer these questions as well. 

Throughout the year, Decatur seniors have applied to over 125 colleges and universities, with 17 seniors already receiving acceptance letters to at least one college. Juniors are getting a head start on their college journey: Deciding which colleges to apply for, working on college application essays, and preparing for the SAT through practice tests. 

Looking forward, Julie says she is the most excited to see the students she serves finalize their college decisions and start preparing for their freshman year of college. In the near future, junior students will get to visit UW Tacoma to learn about different colleges. Briana is excited to be a part of this visit and to see what colleges interest her students.

If you want to support Federal Way students on the path to earning a college degree, learn more about becoming a College Possible Washington coach today!

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