Top 100 Best High Schools 2013– International Community School – Newsweek – 29/100
International Community School
11133 NE 65th ST, Kirkland, WA, 98033
School Classification: L
Grad Rate(%): 100
AP/IB Tests: 1.5
College Bound(%): 100
AVG SAT: 1974
AVG ACT: 28.8
SUBS LUNCH: 2
AVG AP SCORE: 3.6
NEWSWEEK SCORE: 3.84
International Community School (ICS) is a small 6-12th grade public school in the Lake Washington School District, with an average of 65 students per grade. It is part of a series of schools founded by Dr. Bruce Saari. Unlike other “International” schools, “International” in the school’s name simply reflects an international focus in curriculum. It is not an International School as conventionally defined; see International Schools.
ICS is not part of the Lake Washington School District junior high/high school feeder system. It is a choice school, for which an application must be submitted. All complete applications are accepted from students in the district, and students are entered into a lottery to select those who will be admitted. In the event that there is space available in excess of the applications submitted by in-district students, applications by out of district students are allowed.
The school offers a special six year Humanities/International Studies/Arts core curriculum, instead of the regular no art/LASS(Language Arts and Social Studies). Additionally, students study Spanish, for at least four years, with the intention of achieving fluency. Every year, students from the school go on Focus Week, leaving “the confines of the classroom to expand their knowledge”. Also, as seniors, students are required to complete a “Culminating Project”, in which they spend more than an hour researching and developing a project in a specific area of interest. Their project is then presented to a panel of staff and students in the spring. In so doing, students develop their planning, management, and presentation skills, as well as gain understanding of independent study.
The school was proposed to the Lake Washington school district by parents in 1997 and its program and policies were developed by Dr. Bruce Saari who modeled it after the Bellevue International School, where he had been program developer the previous six years. In every year since it was founded, ICS students have achieved top-tier scores on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) test, and as a result ICS has been ranked among the top few schools in Washington state and the nation. In 2005, it was selected as a No Child Left Behind—Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. In 2007 it was also selected as a Gold Medal School, ranking 17th out of the top 100 schools in US News’ Best High School list. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, Newsweek selected ICS as one of the Public Elites, the 17 best high schools in the nation. Up until July 2011, Cindy Duenas was the principal of ICS, as well as Environmental Adventure School and Community School.
After the 2010-2011 school year, Duenas left to help start the new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) school for the Lake Washington School District. She was replaced by Dr. Matthew Livingston in 2011. He now serves as the principal of both the International Community School and the Community School.
As of 2009, ICS had an enrollment of 380 students. Because of the limited enrollment, students are chosen from applicants from Lake Washington School District’s 6th grade class by lottery, as well as limited opportunities for transfer into higher grades. The school has a grandfather clause allowing for students who are members of founding families or who had sibling in the first class of the school to be admitted without going through the lottery. The mascot for ICS is the Phoenix, and the motto is “Forever We Rise”.