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Ferndale teachers, staff rally for new school year

Superintendent Kristi Dominguez sets goal to elevate student needs and voices

Ferndale Student School Board member Kwabena Ledbetter holds the microphone for bus driver Carla DeSoto as she cheers at the Ferndale School District staff rally at the high school on Tuesday
Ferndale Student School Board member Kwabena Ledbetter holds the microphone for bus driver Carla DeSoto as she cheers at the Ferndale School District staff rally at the high school on Tuesday
By Hailey Hoffman Visual Journalist

Entering into this new school year, Ferndale superintendent Kristi Dominguez asked teachers and staff to have one main goal in mind — to elevate student voices.

“We’re going to focus in and we’re going to talk about our students and we’re going to talk about what they need, and we’re going to give them space to talk about what they need,” Dominguez said at a Tuesday, Aug. 29 back-to-school teacher and staff rally at Ferndale High School.

photo Superintendent Kristi Dominguez encourages staff and teachers to uplift student voices this school year. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

The rally was emceed by student leaders — sophomore class president Harleen Malli, junior class president and student school board representative Gabrielle Lenssen and student school board representative Kwabena Ledbetter — who spoke about their own experiences in Ferndale.

“Our schools need to start being a place for the students by the students because our feedback is invaluable and necessary to move forward while making sure no one is left behind,” Malli said. “The foundation for this is to build a sincere connection.”

Staff, from bus drivers to middle school teachers, attended the rally to celebrate the start of the new year. They were welcomed by Ferndale band students and cheerleaders in the new courtyard and heard songs from the Lummi Nation students.

This school year, high school students return to a nearly complete school campus rebuild after getting funds from a 2019 bond.

Ferndale also announced the launch of the Ferndale Public Schools Foundation, which will provide additional support to students by offering scholarships, paying school fees and removing financial barriers for students needing additional support.

“Our mission is to eliminate financial barriers so that students can soar,” board president Anya Milton said. “We are a passionate alliance of community partners united by the shared belief in making education accessible for all.”


The foundation is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity that operates based on donations to support students.

Ferndale schools start classes on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

The new building is a result of a 2019 bond passed by the Ferndale community to fund more than $112 million in capital projects throughout the school district. A majority — $105 million — was designated for the new high school. After the bond passed the district received an additional $20.8 million in a “state match.” The school district reported it had spent approximately $79 million as of Oct. 31, 2022.

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