Private campus with public fellowship – that is King’s High School

By Todd Milles
December 01, 2015 11:18 PM  


King’s High School is bit of both a maze and a mystery.

The maze is the widespread, multi-generational, multiple-ministry campus — which started out more than a century ago as a tuberculosis sanitarium with underground tunnels.

The mystery is why does this private school get the rap of housing spoiled students?

King’s has collected 44 WIAA state athletic championship trophies since 1950. And on Saturday, the football team has a chance for the first time in school history to add to that haul when it meets Royal for the Class 1A title at the Gridiron Classic.
For those who have driven up to watch a regular-season King’s football game at Woolsey Stadium, it is easy to notice this isn’t some ordinary campus.

The property was purchased by Mike and Vivian Martin in the late 1940s, and was originally supposed to open a boarding school for troubled kids. Its original name was “King’s Garden.”

It quickly developed into more than just a private school. It became a family of CRISTA, or “Christianity in Action” ministries.

Along with King’s, the six other active ministries are:

▪ Senior living: A walking, breathing senior-citizen community lives on campus, ranging from independent living to nursing homes.

And they are involved in the school, too. Once a month, they are allowed to attend a class with students at the high school.

▪ Media: A radio station streams Christian shows on both the FM and AM bands.

▪ Veterinary missions: The campus has a headquarters for veterinarians who want to go on short- and long-term missions to help indigenous families care for their pets.

▪ World Concern: Much like World Vision, missionaries partake in international relief work. This group was heavily involved in Haiti following the earthquake in 2010.

▪ Camps: They host two camps on the Kitsap Peninsula — Miracle Ranch (for horses) and Island Lake (dirt bikes).

▪ Schools: Approximately 1,200 students from preschool to high school attend schools on campus. The seventh CRISTA ministry also falls under this header with its Seattle Urban Academy, an alternative school in the Rainier Valley.

King’s students seemingly have a hand, big or small, in all of these ministries, as well as their own school activities.

“I am involved in an (improvisation) group, and I sing, too,” said Jackson Whitaker, a two-way starter at linebacker and fullback. “I know what others think of us … but we come from a blue-collar attitude. My parents told me I have to work for what I want.”

Rick Skeen, the athletic director and assistant principal at the high school, spent 16 years in public-school education. He arrived from Burlington-Edison High School in 2011.

“I get the question all the time, ‘Why would you ever go to a place like (King’s)?’ And I’ve said, ‘I don’t think you understand the quality of kids and students we have — in the things they are doing and at the places they are serving.’

“This idea that they are the rich, privileged, lazy, spoiled kids isn’t true. In fact, they are actually some of the most driven, motivated, hard-working kids I’ve been around.”

Football coach Jim Shapiro was one of those types of teenagers.

Shapiro grew up in Kenmore and was slated to attend Inglemoor High School. But he had friends involved in bad activity, so he asked a girl at his church if she thought King’s would let him enroll.

“My parents didn’t have a lot of money … but I got in,” Shapiro said. “And I absolutely loved it.

“You get the well-rounded athlete here who is activity-minded.”

This isn’t the ideal week to cut football practices short when you are about to play for a state championship.

But on Tuesday, that’s what Shapiro did. Many of his players had to set up their DECA booths for a retail showcase in the school’s gymnasium Wednesday morning.

“Our robotics teams are internationally competitive. Our mock-trial teams are nationally known,” Shapiro said. “They are not just students — they are academic students.”

You would think this past Monday, when Shapiro met friends for his weekly coffee, the conversation would center around a big week for King’s football.

Instead, the hot topic focused on how this generation of kids do not understand the meaning of work ethic.

Shapiro smiled.

“Our kids here, their rooms might not be clean,” Shapiro said. “But think about their schedule — football, DECA and 3 1/2 hours of homework. The last thing we should be worried about here is how neatly their bed is made.”

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