Elhi Hill students highlight safety, activities at Youth Forum


Students at the Elhi Hill High School Program made their voices heard on Jan. 24 at a youth forum facilitated by the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District and the Communities for Families Coalition.

Representatives from the District, City of Sumner, The Market in Bonney Lake, Building Beyond the Walls, Prairie Ridge Coalition and Calvary Community Church met with Elhi Hill students to ask what are the strengths, needs/opportunities, and potential solutions they see in their community. Students also engaged in discussion with facilitators to learn more about how to help create change in their communities, such as working with local city governments, civic groups and school leaders.

Students pointed to their own school culture at Elhi Hill as a strength in their community, and also that overall, their broader community was accepting and had a willingness to learn.

Students also voiced interest in mental health resources, not only for teens but for the wider community, such as a mental health first-aid class to learn how to better help friends and family.

Public safety, such as added streetlights and sidewalks across Bonney Lake and Sumner areas, was another priority topic voiced by students. Teen activities and places to hang out were also of note for participants.

One student participant, Chloë, said that the youth forum was a great opportunity.

“What stuck out to me was that the people who have the most influence for change were actually listening,” she said. “It felt proactive.”

“It was really a welcoming environment,” added Elhi Hill student Lawrence G.

Members of the CFF Coalition, along with others in the community, are able to use forum input to help shape strategic plans and activities within Sumner and Bonney Lake that are youth-focused in nature. Coalition representatives will share notes from the Youth Forum at their next meeting on Feb. 2, as well as at the CFF annual Community Summit on April 18.


Student voices are a powerful driver and can lead to effective change. As a member of the Communities for Families Coalition, the District has facilitated youth forums at our middle and high schools for 25 years. The Youth Forum returned this year after a three-year pandemic hiatus. Youth Forums for Sumner and Bonney Lake high schools will take place later this year.

“By centering the voices of youth, we have an opportunity to deeply and specifically understand the community our future needs from us,” said Stacey Crnich, CEO of The Market at Bonney Lake. “By amplifying the voices of youth, we can help evoke the changes they need our support in.”

The Elhi Hill High School Program provides a caring environment for students who need services beyond the traditional school day to meet state and district standards. Students who graduate from Elhi Hill receive a diploma from Bonney Lake or Sumner High School.