Patty in the News

RICHLAND -- Tayler Wonders already was nervous knowing he'd be giving a tour of Delta High School to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

Then several school board members and education officials from throughout the Tri-Cities also showed up Thursday for the event.

"It was very nerve-wracking," the 14-year-old freshman said. But he didn't let on as he and some classmates led Murray, D-Wash., from classroom to classroom, explaining Delta High's unique curriculum.

The regional public school that's focused on science, technology, engineering and math -- or STEM -- opened in Richland this fall.

Tayler and his fellow tour guides ushered Murray through Delta, making stops in each classroom. They talked about how the school's emphasis on STEM fields is integrated into every subject.

Murray listened and asked questions. She even posed for a photo with Bobby Richardson, 14, who wanted a snapshot of her visit.

There are about 100 students -- all freshmen -- at Delta High this year. Another grade will be added each coming academic year until the school is full with about 400 students.

Delta High is a partnership among the Richland, Pasco and Kennewick school districts, Battelle, Washington State University Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin College.

After the tour, Murray sat down with her guides to discuss their experiences at Delta.

Tayler told Murray he wants to be an architect and that he thinks Delta's STEM focus will help him achieve that goal.

The senator encouraged the students to work hard and not be afraid to dream big. "Education is a passion of mine," she said. "That's why I'm so excited to be here and see what you are doing."

Later, Murray said the Delta High model is innovative and reflects what she is trying to do at the national level. She wants to see schools like Delta that offer students instruction and training in fields that are needed in their communities.

Deidre Holmberg, Delta's principal, said Murray's visit was a positive learning opportunity for students. They got to hear about her work and have the experience of sharing information about their school.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., also took a tour of Delta earlier this year, and Holmberg said she hopes many more elected officials will visit as the school continues to grow.

"I love how here at Delta we have so many opportunities. I think it's amazing how all this is happening," said Ilse Martinez, 15, after Murray visited the computer lab where she was working.

Tayler said he also had a great day, even though he started out nervous. Overall, "It was pretty amazing," he said.

- Tri-City Herald