Olympus Northwest School:
 How it came to be


In 1972 a determined group of parents who lived in the Clyde Hill area began meeting to make a dream a reality. They wanted to establish a school for students that would emphasize choice, responsibility, and love of learning. Olympus became the realization of their dream when it opened in September of 1974.

These parents were concerned that the junior high schools of the time provided little opportunity to utilize problem-solving techniques. They felt that far too many decisions were made for students in an arbitrary and authoritarian manner, pitting students and teachers in an adversarial relationship that was detrimental both to students' self esteem and ability to learn.

Olympus' unique characteristics developed from those concerns. Students accept decision-making responsibility when they set goals and sign contracts, participate in consensus actions and accept or reject the Olympus goals and guidelines during Retreat. Problem solving techniques are used in Home Groups, sometimes on a daily basis. First names are used among students, parents, and staff to encourage a relaxed, informal atmosphere and to establish the sense that "we're all in this together."

Many aspects of Olympus have changed during the years it has been in operation. Course schedules were determined on a weekly basis in the first few years, as students designed their own leaming programs. Over the years, through experience and the advice and guidance of parents, students and staff, changes have been made to reflect the needs of the student body.

When Olympus became a middle school in 1985, the needs of the younger population of student necessitated a tightening-up of scheduling and offering students more structure and guidance. But the dream of those founding parents still remains. Olympus' purpose is to provide students the opportunity to make responsible choices and to enjoy their leaming experiences. That purpose should be visible in all student/staff/parent interactions.