Hyla signs deal for downtown BI school

By purchasing the Ericksen Avenue Office Park July 29, Hyla School has now come “full circle.”

“Some will remember that Hyla started on Ericksen Avenue. That’s where Hyla first opened its doors,” board president Karen Rice said.

Like its long-established middle school, the new high school learning experience will not be typical — one area even has the feel of a treehouse.

There will be zones for collaborative groupings and different types of learning, “like the upper mezzanine that feels like a treehouse and ideal for Socratic seminars,” said Suzanne Messinger, head of school.

Nearly 30 years after Hyla opened, its upper school program will move into the newly renovated 355 building on Ericksen Avenue this month. Hyla will lease the other three buildings on the property with plans to renovate and occupy them over the next three to five years.

“The new campus is a really exciting extension of our mission, which now includes high school,” Rice said.

Hyla announced the high school addition in 2020 and launched it last year at IslandWood. Like at its middle school, it is committed to strong academics, student well-being through small class sizes, hands-on learning and robust tuition assistance, Rice said, adding each grade would be capped at around 40 students.

Messinger said families have been excited about their “deeper learning” educational model.

“Students and parents alike tell us they seek a high school that weaves together two needs. The first is for dynamic academics that reside at the top of Bloom’s taxonomy, where students are engaged in examination, evaluation, analysis, critical thinking and creation — well beyond memorization, definition, closed answers and essays.

“Next, families seek a positive culture and a school community that attends to well-being and mental health as much as to academics.”

Rice said the school integrates classroom learning with off-campus immersive experiences so students can tackle real-world problems through projects, internships, citizen science and studies. The new location of the high school provides easy access to downtown Winslow to facilitate that work.

Rice said local partnerships already include IslandWood, Bainbridge Arts and Resource Network, Insight Climbing & Movement, Bainbridge Metro Parks & Recreation District, Island Fitness and Island Music Guild.

Regional partners include Kitsap Transit, Puget Sound Restoration Fund and The Mountaineers. Internationally, Hyla worked with Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas, where students conducted marine research. Hyla is connected to online consortiums that connect students to a global network of teachers and students.

Just like at the middle school campus, Rice said they want to be part of a healthy and active neighborhood on their new Ericksen campus.

Rice said the high school looks forward to its new class of ninth-graders and upper-grade transfers.

Hyla trustee Scott James said the school is excited about using public transportation and remodeling the buildings to keep their same footprint. The new campus will have a modern and urban feel, with exposed steel, raw wood and an open flow through flexible-use spaces.