The Student News Site of Granite Falls High School

Tiger Tribune

Tiger Tribune

The Student News Site of Granite Falls High School

Tiger Tribune

Granite Style: The Power of Community

The Problem – It Starts with Education by Ava Jennings

My family often refers back to the “ten dollar soup” story as a benchmark for how far we have come since living in poverty. One evening, when I was nine years old, my mother,  pregnant with my sister, was craving a bowl of lobster bisque from a local restaurant and was heartbroken when we could not afford it. While poverty took its toll on us, we now find it disorienting to recall a time when ten dollars was expensive. As this story is almost a decade old, inflation would now value this soup worth thirteen dollars. Many Granite Falls families need help with expenses like these, as the average income is insufficient to sustain a household comfortably with the current cost of living. According to the last federal census, the overall poverty rate in Granite Falls is 7.79%, and the average annual income is $59,167, insufficient to live comfortably in Washington’s high cost of living. Part of Granite Falls’ poverty issue partially stems from a lack of college education, as the majority of the population relies on a high school diploma, and there is a significant wage gap between those with and without a college degree.

Click here to check out our Editor Roundtable Podcast, discussing these very issues and more!

Last week, as I ordered a Subway sandwich, I had a discussion with the woman behind the counter. She was an acquaintance and a member of last year’s graduating class. When I asked how she was, she sighed, stating that she tried college, but “it didn’t work out” and “she’s still here.”  Sadly, this is the reality for most adults in Granite Falls. According to the last US census, over 35.43% of adults in Granite Falls rely on a high school diploma, while another 25.08% rely on some college without a degree.” Combined with the 6.29% of people in the 9th to 12th grade category, this totals 66.8% of people without a college degree. Considering the current estimated Granite Falls population of 5,517 people, 3,658 most likely do not have a college degree.

Unfortunately, this large group of people without a college degree are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty. When looking at the census data regarding Granite Falls poverty by education level, there is a large discrepancy between those with and without college degrees. Adults with a high school education have the highest percentage of poverty at 8.21%, closely followed by adults with some college at 8.02%. However, Adults with a Bachelor’s degree or greater face nearly half of that, at a rate of 4.91%. 

While many people in Granite Falls and the surrounding areas struggle with poverty, there is a large network of individuals and organizations who are working together to provide people with resources to help those struggling with homelessness, poverty, and other hardships.  The Granite Falls Community Coalition acts as the hub for regional resources. They run a food bank that provides nonperishable items, frozen proteins, pet food, baby supplies, and more, along with drives for school supplies, diapers, and other essentials. They hold monthly meetings with members of the Granite Falls School District, local business owners, and other resource representatives to discuss what the community can do to end this cycle of poverty. Many local business owners pitch in to help or sponsor events, some notable sponsors are Granite Falls IGA, Iron Mountain Quarry, and Granville Grange.

One of the best strategies for ending the cycle of poverty is prevention. This can be accomplished by making sure teens have access to the necessary means to thrive. Each school within the Granite Falls School District has an assigned Student Support Advocate (SSA) who works to remove any barrier to students’ success. SSAs rely on the Community Coalition and many other regional resources such as Arlington Kid’s Kloset, Sno-Isle Libraries, Cocoon House homeless youth center, Lake Stevens Resource Center, Snohomish Health Department, Planned Parenthood, and many more to provide any necessary resources. Granite Falls High School’s Student Support Advocate, Susan Graham, emphasizes this community support: “Making connections within the community is vital to creating a good foundation for growth for each member to thrive. When we make meaningful connections with our peers, neighbors, and local organizations, it makes the community stronger and more welcoming. This fosters teamwork, empathy, kindness, and encourages sharing of resources.”

“Making connections within the community is vital to creating a good foundation for growth for each member to thrive. When we make meaningful connections with our peers, neighbors, and local organizations, it makes the community stronger and more welcoming. This fosters teamwork, empathy, kindness, and encourages sharing of resources.”

— Susan Graham, GFHS Student Advocate

Through these resources, SSAs can help provide basic needs, connect with insurance and find medical providers, provide housing support, social-emotional support, get school/academic resources, and crisis intervention. Granite Falls is a tight-knit community who help provide for each other in times of need. Through the work of the school district and the Community Coalition, we can help provide resources to allow others to succeed in life and grow past the struggles of poverty. 

Fighting Hunger, The Granite Way by Chloe Parker

At the Granite Falls High School Food Drive assemblies, there is the usual glitz and glam of pie eating contests, wrapping paper, and trophies. There is also a collectively awkward – but compassionate – stretch of time where we watch a video from the previous years’ Food Drive successes, complete with emotional music in the background and a man in a Santa costume telling us how fortunate we all are.

Everyone already knows this, of course. We are about to start the cycle of collecting, packaging and delivering food for our fellow community members, and it is very possible that we may be feeding the people sitting next to us. The hard truth is that the food that gets collected is a necessity for so many of those in the community. We may not know who they are, but we do know there were 184 families that were taken in by the Granite Falls School District Food Drive this past November.

We start off this yearly tradition with upwards of 30 students and a handful of teachers working to coordinate the chaos. But it doesn’t stop with just them. Every single class gets involved, whether that means collecting both food from home or standing outside local grocery stores for hours on end to collect donations. Later on, students file out of classrooms over the course of several days, taking all 180,000 of the food and household items to sort into the mountain of boxes stacked in the Granite Falls High School commons. From there, those same boxes of food are delivered, some in cars with ‘student parking’ permits in the windows, to homes in need throughout our community.

Using money from donations, Granite Falls Students & Staff shop for local families in need.

Elsewhere, in the lobby of both Granite Falls Middle School and Granite Falls High School, sits Christmas trees, adorned with paper tags representing one of the 380 kids that were given gifts for this Christmas. Students and staff eagerly take these tags and find gifts for our community’s kids. Adding to that, our theater students put on a rendition of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” asking only for a donation of five dollars, or five canned food items upon entry. The GFHS Christmas production is typically a major hit, as evidenced by the money it helps raise. All together, these contributions total up to almost $27,200. These donations all go towards making sure that no one in our district goes without on Christmas morning. As touching as this is, it this isn’t the end of the school’s mission to help the community in Granite.

Thanks to the endless support of the Student Support Advocates (SSA), our students have a growing chance to change their lives. With our local GFHS advocate, Susan Graham, leading the way, SSA offers resources to help get the necessities like clothing, food, toiletries, identifying documents, and transportation for our students. SSA, as well as a long list of other programs and organizations, help those less fortunate within the community to get back on their feet.

Another notable help to local families is the the free and reduced lunch program. Every week before school starts, the district sends out a form to qualify students to participate. Whether or not you’re eligible depends on how many people are in your family and your yearly income. For instance, since the median number of people per household is three, their yearly income to qualify would be about $41,000 per year. With that in mind, one of our elementary schools, Monte Cristo, reported that 40% of their kids were on free or reduced lunch programs. That is a large portion of the upcoming classes. The good work our community is doing now will help the future generations of Granite Falls have the ability to be more financially stable.

With all the good that’s being done, it is really heart-wrenching to see the numbers of families in need stay the same or go up every year. With these serious problems plaguing our small little town, it is a continuous fight by so many to keep our community functioning. However, with that, there is hope that what we are doing for our home right now will still be successful in making our hidden corner of the world a brighter place.

The Granite Falls Coalition by MacKenzie Dennis

Here in Granite Falls, we are all about the people. Our small town prioritizes everyone within the community, which helps people strengthen and grow connective and personal relationships with one another. One union that our town has, is our Granite Falls Community Coalition. The GF Coalition proudly serves our community by supporting and catering to many different programs like the Granite Falls Food Bank, The Diaper program, and the Meals Til’ Monday Backpack program. The Community Coalition strives to make sure Granite stays a safe, healthy, and drug free town that focuses on the essential needs of the people.

The Heart of Granite Falls, where many businesses come together to take care of those in the community who need help the most. (MacKenzie Dennis)

The Granite Falls Food Bank is another program within Granite that works to help those who may be less fortunate. This program works within the community to make sure everyone in our town has access to food, water, and other needed essentials. They help our small town by offering fresh produce, frozen proteins, and pantry staples to any and all families that may need it.

The Granite Falls Diaper program is another union that works tirelessly to help the low income families within our town. This program proudly provides many different families with diapers, ranging from newborn size, up to size 6, which is typically used for kids that are 4 and 5. They offer biweekly diaper pick-ups at the local coalition office in town from 9:30-3:00 on Fridays (and on Thursdays by appointment).

Finally, one of the most important and respected programs in Granite is our Meals Til’ Monday Backpack program, which greatly helps students in all of our schools. Students here in Granite are given the ability to pick up backpacks full of food each Friday at their school. All five schools within our district have backpacks ready and packed for a student, ensuring they have meals for a full weekend, completely free of charge.

These are just a few of the programs our town has to offer to our community. Granite Falls strives to make sure every citizen within our town is reached. From helping families, to helping students, we make sure that each and every person here in the Granite Falls community is helped in the ways they need it. Each of these programs help to meet the needs of every community member, and brings our community closer.

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About the Contributors
Ava Jennings
Ava Jennings, Executive Editor
Chloe Parker, Op-Ed Editor/Public Relations
MacKenzie Dennis, Sports Editor
Ryann Smith, Managing Editor
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