EDUCATOR RECOGNIZED – La Conner School Board member Janie Beasley (“talecha”), a teacher of Lushootseed, was honored at the Swinomish Education & Awards Dinner last week. She is joined by her sister, Cathi Bassford, and brother, Rudy Edwards. – Photo courtesy of Katie Bassford
A thirst for knowledge was quenched last week by those who regularly feast on learning. About 300 people filled the Tribal Youth Center last Wednesday night for the Swinomish Education & Awards Dinner honoring student achievement and paying tribute to former longtime La Conner School Board member Janie Beasley. Beasley, who served 15 years on the Board while juggling other local and outside leadership positions, was honored and blanketed at the event for her work on behalf of La Conner students. She was defeated for re-election last fall by Marlys Baker, who joined Superintendent Dr. Whitney Meissner and other La Conner Schools and Swinomish officials for a program that celebrated Beasley’s contributions to academics along with ongoing strides made by Tribal students. Meissner said she was thankful to take part. “It was an honor to be present and invited to participate,” she said. Highlighted by presentations of a wide range of academic awards, the Swinomish Education Dinner brings together persons committed to helping students meet their scholastic goals. Those include La Conner Schools and Swinomish Education Department staff, parents, friends, family and community members. Primary speaker for the night was Michael Vendiola, director of the Swinomish Education Department. Among several topics covered by Vendiola, between announcements of student awards, was the importance of the 2020 census. Vendiola noted that federal funding decisions for communities, including those related to education, are closely linked to census data. Vendiola emphasized increased funding and greater representation begins with the census. Among the more popular features of this year’s Swinomish Education Dinner program was the availability of colorful Lushootseed alphabet posters. Lushootseed, part of the La Conner Schools curriculum, is the traditional Salishan language spoken by tribes living in and around this area. The posters themselves are viewed as educational tools, both here and elsewhere. “These are incredible,” Trisha Lane, of the Lummi Nation in Whatcom County, said. “Making the language more accessible is a huge accomplishment.” The posters were an ideal complement to the evening as Beasley has taken an active role teaching Lushootseed to local students.