Othello High School Students Review Plans for Local Medical Clinic


By Travis Goddard

Planners from the City of Othello and Washington State Department of Commerce provided an introduction to planning to Othello High School students enrolled in the Design and Beyond class and the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program.

Students reviewed development plans for a 77,000 square foot medical clinic building run by a non-profit organization that serves the local community. In the process, students developed an understanding of the tie between specific site decisions and community wide impacts. They also learned that planning is a practice involving multiple disciplines, and that planning involves a partnership between public and private sectors to bring about community benefits.

During the exercise, each student got to self-select a particular discipline and put on either a traffic engineering hat, an environmental protection hat or a land use planner hat. Each group was given applicable code regulations, site plans and a series of questions to consider. After thinking critically about the questions, each group identified at least one issue and described how that issue was being addressed by the proposed development.

Students literally had “ah-ha” moments as each discipline brought its piece of the puzzle to bear on the problem. These moments were transformed into excitement as they talked about their conclusions, and students living near the site commented on how they had personally experienced development impacts, but hadn’t realized it.

Being tied to a property the students knew and a service provider they had all used, the project was personal and relevant to students’ lives. The exercise by design was both open-ended yet focused with information that was detailed yet simplified making the content accessible to the students. Both of these contributed to the success of exercise.

In all, approximately 100 students participated in the planning exercise giving them an opportunity to explore their interests, stretch their thinking in a technical field and cultivate an appreciation for community participation in fair and open processes. An added bonus was the engagement of a traditionally underrepresented population in a local planning process.

Supporting materials include: a detailed project description, site plans, regulations and questions

For more information contact: Travis Goddard, Community Development Director at the City of Othello, [email protected] or 509-488-5686 or Dee Caputo, Senior Planner at the Washington State Department of Commerce [email protected]

Image: Othello High School students reviewing medical clinic site plans. Photo taken by Dee Caputo.

Tags: Planners, Teachers, Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, English Language Arts


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