‘iTech is home’ — Vancouver’s STEM magnet school opens on WSUV campus

New sixth through 12th grade project-based school opens with help from Gov. Jay Inslee


VANCOUVER — “This building represents who we are, creativity, innovation, openness, collaboration and a new perspective,” said high school junior Emily Boatright, in the main hall of the new iTech Preparatory campus. “From our open ceilings where students can see how the building works to open windows where all students can demonstrate their learning. iTech is home.”

Students, staff and families gathered on the night of Feb. 20 to dedicate the new iTech Prep building in Vancouver. Photo by Mike Schultz
Students, staff and families gathered on the night of Feb. 20 to dedicate the new iTech Prep building in Vancouver. Photo by Mike Schultz

Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) celebrated the dedication and official grand opening of their newest addition Thursday evening; project-based STEM magnet school, iTech Preparatory. The over 80,000-square-foot building on Washington State University’s Vancouver campus will bring together middle and high school students from the existing locations on the campus and at the Jim Parsley Center.

“Thinking back to eight years ago when we opened our doors, and we welcomed 210, sixth, seventh and ninth graders, I remember the excitement and anticipation that everyone had,” said iTech Principal, Darby Meade. “We shared a sense that what we were doing was special, different important work.”

LSW Architects and Robinson Construction designed and began building the three-story building beginning in September of 2018 after VPS passed its $458 million bond measure in 2017 by more than 69 percent. iTech Prep is the second school to be constructed with funds from the measure. 

“As we developed iTech, we discovered plenty of reasons not to create this school. They included the challenges of working with a higher education system to build the district dome facility on this university campus, operating a school in the attendance area of another district, starting a program with middle and high school students on two separate sites,” said VPS Deputy Superintendent Mike Stromme. “But we didn’t back away because we were convinced that the iTech vision was the right thing to do for today’s and tomorrow’s students.”

In attendance for the ribbon cutting ceremony on Feb. 20, was Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. The governor had the opportunity to speak to the school’s staff, students and their families, before having the privilege of cutting the ribbon.

Gov. Jay Inslee, VPS board members and iTech staff celebrate after Inslee cuts the ribbon for the new iTech Prep building. Photo by Mike Schultz
Gov. Jay Inslee, VPS board members and iTech staff celebrate after Inslee cuts the ribbon for the new iTech Prep building. Photo by Mike Schultz

“I can officially say the coolest thing going on in the state of Washington today is iTech and I’m happy to be here with you,” Inslee said. “The vision statement of the people who we really want to thank tonight, and that’s the citizens who are ponying up to make this incredible investment in their kids future. It’s the taxpayers of this community who realized that the futures of their children were incredibly bold, if we could provide them this technical education to get them started.” 

iTech Prep features 23 classrooms, including several state-of-the-art laboratories, an upstairs gym room, and indoor, turf soccer field. The school opened to students last month, and has been operating at capacity. Ever since the first iTech class graduated in 2016, the school has maintained a 100 percent graduation rate. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to students, parents and staff at the dedication of Vancouver Public School’s new iTech Preparatory STEm magnet school. Photo by Mike Schultz
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to students, parents and staff at the dedication of Vancouver Public School’s new iTech Preparatory STEm magnet school. Photo by Mike Schultz

Students who attend iTech are selected through a lottery-based application process. This ensures equal opportunity to a wide range of students in the community, said Oliver Jessup, an iTech junior. 

“We collaborate to invent new things, build upon and innovate ideas and inspire our fellow students of all grades,” Jessup said. “[Our] school system gives equal opportunity to a variety of students which provides our school with a diversity of both backgrounds and ideas.”

After the ribbon cutting, guests were invited to tour the new facility with student guides. Everything from robots, to longboards, to strange history, to virtual and augmented reality, to fitness, to university-grade science laboratories, is part of the iTech facility. VPS board members shared their belief that new and equipped public schools like iTech are the foundation of healthy communities.  

iTech Prep students are seen here demonstrating their robotics project to parents and community members at the iTech dedication this week. Photo by Mike Schultz
iTech Prep students are seen here demonstrating their robotics project to parents and community members at the iTech dedication this week. Photo by Mike Schultz

“At VPS, we are so incredibly grateful to be working with and serving a community, which understands and prioritizes that core principle,” said VPS School Board President Wendy Smith. “Because of you, our families, our students, our staff, our partners, neighbors and voters, because of you and your willingness to invest in the future of our students, that is why we are able to celebrate this glorious place of learning tonight.”

For more information about iTech Preparatory and the programs offered there, visit them online at itech.vansd.org. For more information on upcoming events similar to the dedication, you can subscribe to VPS notifications here.  

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a graduate of WSU Pullman’s Edward R. Murrow College where he studied journalism and media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and abroad in Argentina. He has won a regional Emmy and Mark of Excellence award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his film work. His passions range from sharing the love of Jesus, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife and son in Vancouver, WA. Proverbs 16:3

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