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The Hazen Way...

According to historians, 1968 was the year that changed America. The war in Vietnam was raging and, after the Tet Offensive debacle, Americans were anxious to end a war in which troops had been engaged since 1955. The nation was convulsing - student protests on college campuses created a sense of upheaval within society; the hippie movement challenged people’s idea of what constituted society; and the country lost the leader of the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and Robert F. Kennedy, Democratic candidate for the presidency in assassinations just three months apart. Into this societal cauldron, Hazen was born with a new philosophical imperative: allow student growth through flexible scheduling and opportunities for creative curiosity.

Hazen was built as a state-of-the-art educational facility. Dr. Earl Hobbs, RSD Superintendent in 1967, stated, “Hazen High School will be a sophisticated education machine and one of the outstanding high schools in the country.” Originally, Hazen was built to house 1200 students in grades 9-12. Seminar rooms were attached to the Social Studies classrooms for individual and small group learning. Foreign Language classes used language laboratories for students to practice speaking with pre-recorded lessons; teachers could listen to individual students and provide correction or in-put. A large group room, currently the Lecture Hall, was available for teachers to use when team teaching. Science classes were scheduled for 2 hour blocks for extended study and lab time. Both the Choir and Band rooms were wired for sound recording; the teacher’s office served as a sound technician’s booth

Teachers at lunch

Teachers Lounge

Every academic department had a large workroom and small offices for each teacher to encourage team work and quiet lesson-planning.

In anticipation of the computer age, Hazen was built with technological advances in mind. The Instructional Materials Center, a combination Library, information retrieval, and study area was to be the heart of the school. The IMC had a dial access information retrieval system so students who missed class could catch up on their assignments. Students had an opportunity to work in small groups or by themselves in study carrels allowing all students an opportunity for “self-directed inquiry.” Hazen was also wired for closed-circuit TV and an all-school intercom system. As a result, students watched their own television station, KZEN, each day for the daily announcements.

Renton School District, with Dr. Hobbs at the helm, took a giant leap into the future. In a pamphlet outlining this new school, Hobbs states, “With rapid social and scientific changes now under way in our society…..we saw a need for change in our educational plan.” The teaching staff was hired well in advance of Hazen’s opening and were charged with designing a new educational philosophy. Teachers hired that first year recall a rigorous interviewing process with an emphasis on utilizing special teacher talents. Staff felt empowered to make changes to the educational setting without direction from district office, and often in direct opposition of administrative wishes, to do what was best for the Highlanders sitting in their classrooms. Teachers were given leeway to initiate program improvement, discuss cooperative teaching models, and increase the possibilities for individualizing instruction. Thus were sown the seeds of ‘the Hazen way’.

The daily schedule was also innovative and was created to give students an opportunity in self-directed learning. Students were scheduled in an 8 period day, each class period was 40 minutes long. But students did not attend 8 classes a day; most had 6 classes and 2 study periods. Teachers were assigned to the IMC to guide and monitor study times. In accordance with the new philosophy, classes were created to cater to student curiosity and promote growth as self-directed citizens in a changing world. A master schedule from those early years indicates the depth and breadth of instruction. These classes offer a glimpse:

Humor in Literature
Television Production
Social Protest
Math Analysis
Marine Science
Plastics and Fiberglass
Power Machines for Girls
Sewing and Tailoring
Driver’s Training
Hazen is the result of study and research of innovative programs, as well as direct observation of quality schools. The ‘Hazen way’ continues.