Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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White Center Heights Elementary School
10015 6th Avenue SW Seattle, WA 98146

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Incoming Kindergarten Parents Excited for Somali Language Program at White Center Heights

Incoming Kindergarten Parents Excited for Somali Language Program at White Center Heights
Photo of student and parent

Next fall, Faiza Shire’s son will start kindergarten at White Center Heights Elementary. She is particularly excited that he will be part of the inaugural class to participate in the school’s new Somali Language Enrichment program. 

“I am so excited we will have a Somali program,” Faiza said. “I feel so happy! Somali is my first language. My other kids speak English well, but even when I speak Somali at home, they might understand me, but are not able to reply. I am happy there will be a Somali class so my son will know the language.”

White Center Heights is launching a Somali Language Enrichment Program in kindergarten starting in the 2023-24 school year. The new enrichment program will accompany the school’s well-established dual language programs. 

Starting in September 2023, kindergarten students not enrolled in the Spanish or Vietnamese dual language programs will receive 30 minutes of Somali language learning during the school day. For the remainder of the school day, students will have English instruction.

“We thank the district, the principal, teachers—especially teacher Muna—and the parents, who have been waiting for this opportunity. I am so excited!” Faiza said.

Two photos: incoming Kindergarten student and dad, incoming K student, brother and mom.

White Center Heights parents Saeed and Ardo Ali’s younger son will also be enrolled in the new program. “It means the students get to keep their culture, another link to their religion and to be proud of their Somali heritage—to feel they have somewhere that they came from,” Saeed said. 

Over the last few years, the school has grown an after-school Somali Heritage Program for students to learn about the Somali language and culture. Somali Heritage programs are located at six Highline elementary schools. On March 17, the White Center Heights families gathered at a family event to cheer on the heritage program students who demonstrated their emerging language skills by reciting the alphabet, names of colors, or by reading a book in Somali. And they celebrated the upcoming launch of the new Somali Language Enrichment Program, starting in kindergarten for the 2023-24 school year.

Learn more about this new program.

Somali Enrichment Teacher Muna Hussein and young student hold the microphone, another staff member looks on.


A group photo of staff, students and parents (seven people).