Interlake

Bellvue, WA

Sometimes thought of as an “edge city,” a “bedroom community,” or just as a suburb of Seattle, Bellevue is a city of around 125,000 people that lies east across Lake Washington from its larger neighbor. Bellevue is bordered to the east by the smaller Lake Sammamish, leading to the city sometimes being known as “the city between the lakes.” Two major bridges cross Lake Washington from Seattle: the Murrow Memorial Bridge, and the newer Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. Bellevue is consistently ranked among the best places to live in America, ranking as high as number two in 2014.

Bellevue is administrated by a seven-person city council; the council chooses a mayor from among their number to serve as a council chair and spokesperson with no veto power. Bellevue is close to Redmond, the home of Microsoft, Valve, and Nintendo, and quite a few significant technological corporations have their headquarters in the city. Bellevue lies within King County, along with Seattle and several other satellite cities.

Communities within Bellevue include Bridle Trails (adjacent to the same-named state park, an area with many equestrian facilities), Crossroads, Eastgate, Cougar Mountain, Factoria, Newport, Sammamish, Somerset, Tam O’Shanter, West Lake Hills, Willburton, Woodridge, and Northeast, Northwest, East, and West Bellevue.

Interlake High School

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Interlake High is a place of learning for around fifteen hundred teenagers in the Issaquah School District. Interlake is noted for its gifted and talented students program. The school has, like much of the Seattle area, a large percentage of Asian-American students. The school mascot is a Saint Bernard named “Bernie,” and the school sports teams are the Saints. Interlake is consistently rated as one of the best public high schools in the United States.

Schedule

Interlake uses the European and Japanese style of classroom organization, so students are assigned a homeroom when they join the school and their teachers come to them over the course of the day. School is divided into three terms, like Japanese school years, but the school year begins in late August like American schools.

The first term runs from August through late December, with a two-week break at the end of the year, then January through March before a week-long spring break. The third term runs from early April through July, with an eight-week summer break. This averages out to students at Interlake spending about 30 more days a year in school than the average American student, but 30 days less than Japanese students.

Students are expected to be in their homeroom class by 8:30 AM. Homeroom attendance and whatever subject the homeroom teacher wishes to discuss lasts until 9 AM. Classes then run in 50-minute segments, with 10 minutes between classes for teachers to move from one classroom to the next and for students to get water, go to the bathroom, and so on.

There are three morning periods before a one-hour lunch break for juniors and seniors; freshmen and sophomores instead have two morning periods before their lunch. After lunch, students have two afternoon periods, though all seniors and some juniors have one of those periods as a “free study” period. School officially lets out at 3 PM, and buses start leaving at 3:30 PM for students that require public transport home.

Club meetings sometimes run during the day on designated “club days,” but most clubs and student groups meet after school. Club meetings and activities run until 5 PM every day, with more buses running at 5:30 PM. The school is also open two Saturdays each month for club-related activities and intramural sports.

Academics and Extracurricular Activities

As one of the best schools in the country, Interlake has high academic standards for its students, so even the “bad students” at Interlake are above average for most of America. Extracurricular activities are considered important at Interlake, which uses the European model of “sports clubs” and “culture clubs” for its school-based activities.

Interlake has baseball, softball, basketball, football, track, tennis, swimming, volleyball, judo, and soccer clubs, all of which are divided into boys and girls clubs (except football, which is boys only). The culture clubs change every year, but currently include painting, music, science, chess, math, broadcasting, writing, photography, and yearbook.

Unlike European or Japanese schools, but like many American schools, Interlake also has several campus-based faith and lifestyle clubs. These include a Jewish Student Union, a Campus Christian Coalition, the Queer-Straight Alliance, the Black Student Union, the Ginger Club (founded after someone noticed a large proportion of redheads in the student body), an Islamic Cultural Awareness Club, a French Club, and a Spanish Club.

Interlake’s outdoor facilities include a turf football field, two concession stands (run by different groups), baseball and softball fields, seven tennis courts, a courtyard, and three parking lots. Its indoor facilities include three gyms, a Performing Arts Center, a technology wing, a horticulture building, a music wing with four soundproof practice rooms, a commons area, and a library.

More than a third of Interlake’s students speak a first language other than English, and almost 80% of the student body is multilingual. Interlake requires two language classes to graduate and offers French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese as regular classes, along with several other languages on a semester-by-semester basis.

Interlake is also notable for its Center for Special Education, a program that supports students with disabilities from all over the district. Such students, ranging in age from 14 to 21, come to Interlake to experience a typical school day adjusted to their individual needs. Mainstream students are encouraged to volunteer as Center teacher’s aides and assistants.

The most notable programs at Interlake, however, are its Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program and the PRISM initiative, an extension of a similar advanced studies program available in Washington middle schools. These two programs work together to offer an International Baccalaureate degree, allowing students in their senior year to take college-level courses through nearby universities and participate in internships.

Want to meet the faculty of Interlake High School?

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Get to know some of the various groups that call Interlake home!

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Interlake

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