Give BIG so that local Elementary School students can Shine Bright

By Katalia Alexander

The bell rings at 1:40 p.m., and students flood the halls of Hazel Valley Elementary School, eager to get home and enjoy the weekend.

For twenty students however, the day isn’t over – they will be there for another ninety minutes to participate in a program called Shine Bright. Shine Bright is a community organization led by high school students that runs an after school club every Friday afternoon at seven elementary schools in the Highline School District: Gregory Heights, Southern Heights, Hazel Valley, Marvista, Parkside, Mount View, and Cedarhurst.

The program was started in 2013 by Mt Rainier High School student Emma Hart, then a sophomore, with the goal of motivating elementary school students and enabling them to succeed. In a video produced by Highline School District in June of 2016, Hart stated that she founded Shine Bright with the goal of teaching students “what a great education is at their hands if they can just learn the skills to utilize it.” The program is currently run by Program Directors Lauren Englestad and Carly Johnson, seniors at Mount Rainier, and a small administrative team.

Rather than focusing on subjects such as math or writing, like many after school clubs and tutoring programs, Shine Bright teaches skills such as respect, focus, goal setting, and time management that students can apply to both their academic careers and their personal lives. When asked if they thought Shine Bright would help them to succeed in the future, students in the program didn’t hesitate to answer: “definitely.” Johnson and Engelstad added, “We believe Shine Bright has an impact on more than just the students in the program. We have seen the program turn both elementary students and high school volunteers into leaders who are active in changing their schools and communities for the better.”

One of the most important aspects of this program is that is offered to local students absolutely free of charge. In order to continue running this program without cost to participants, Shine Bright is asking community members to Give BIG in support of their program. Shine Bright is aiming to raise $5,000 to cover program costs for the next year.

Please visit for more information and to donate. Give Big ends on Wednesday, May 9.

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