“Big Picture is a great fit for students who have a real passion for learning and know what they want out of life,” said Kaarina Aufranc, English teacher and advisor at Big Picture. This year the school will graduate its first senior class.
Students at Big Picture focus on their passion and interests, and how to get to the career path they want, while staff support the students on their goals, said Aufranc. It’s about “figuring out along the way not just what your career is going to be, but what is going to drive you for your life. I would encourage any student who is interested in figuring that out to come here,” she said.
Big Picture senior Anna Strigenz made that choice the first year Big Picture opened. She was attending her neighborhood middle school when she heard about the district’s new choice school, Big Picture. “I was really excited and I looked into it and realized that Big Picture was going to be the right fit for me,” she said.
It was the smaller school environment and more personalized attention from teachers that drew Strigenz to Big Picture. The unique project based learning also piqued Strigenz’s interest.
“Project based learning is really different because teachers assign projects and students can create visuals, posters, media, whatever they like to show their understanding of the content,” said Strigenz. “It’s very open-ended and allows students to be creative.”
Students at Big Picture extend their learning outside the classroom by participating in internships catered towards their career goals.
“When I first came into Big Picture I knew that in my future I was really interested in working with people as part of my profession,” said Strigenz. “I started off my first couple years of high school working with students with developmental delays and in the autistic spectrum at the University of Washington.”
Big Picture encourages students to look at a variety of fields and explore. Strigenz did just that and expanded her experience by obtaining an internship at Overlake Medical Center this year. She was given the opportunity to shadow nurses, doctors, and physical and occupational therapists. This unique opportunity for Strigenz “was kind of a whole circle change for me,” she said. “At first I was looking at more education, but then trying this field I was like ‘whoa, I think this is what I want to do when I’m older.’”
Next year Strigenz will attend the University of Washington Bothell, where she will pursue a degree in nursing. She was admitted into the school’s first entry program for nursing, a 4.5 year degree that will certify her as a registered nurse upon graduation.
Contemplating what life would have been like if she hadn’t attended Big Picture, Strigenz said “I would have gone to a university and explored many majors and various fields. But I don’t think I would have entirely known what I wanted to do until later in life.”
Noting students’ impressive drive and determination to excel, Aufranc said, “I just think it’s amazing that these 14 and 15 year olds are being very clear about what they want out of life.”