From its very beginning, the Hutton Settlement children have attended schools in the West Valley School District, initiating a critical partnership between the two historic institutions.
Story after story, even dating back to the 1930’s, Hutton alum have shared of their experiences being students of the various district schools. Most liked their teachers who treated them no differently from any of their classmates, despite being “Hutton kids.” Mabel Maley, a resident from the late 1930’s, said that “we were not considered like, “Hey, you’re an orphan, we don’t want anything to do with you.’ Nothing. We just were kids like the rest of them.” Involvement in athletics, student government and various after school activities was just as pertinent then as it is today.
Cooperation between the Settlement and the school district continued and in the autumn of 1930, the students of West Valley planned and hosted a party in the Settlement’s auditorium with school provided chaperones, including the principal. For many involved, this proved that the first generation of Hutton kids continued to meld with the rest of the student body and were building lasting friendships.
As the years passed, critical conversations were had around the increased need for support in vocational education, how the district could support technology needs and ways in which the Settlement could lobby for state support of the district. Whether it was computers on loan to every student, annual teas hosted at Hutton for educators or the welcoming nature of leadership, collaboration was top of mind.
Many involved recount the impact of the partnership throughout the years, both organizationally and to the individual residents. In the 60’s boys still took part in many varsity sports at West Valley High School and in 1968, Hutton kids made up one-fourth of its championship wrestling team. Girls made their mark as cheerleaders and as one resident shared, cheerleading “was a big deal... It validated that we were OK people out there” at the Settlement.
Today, the connection remains strong. Following the retirement of WVSD’s long-time superintendent and champion of Hutton, Dr. Gene Sementi, the new leadership has expressed the importance/benefit of a continued commitment. “Hutton Settlement has been an outstanding partner with the West Valley School district for many years due to the strong relationships our staff and their staff have together. The students are the center of our work and we continue to find ways to keep our communication as the conduit to support and enhance their time with us as a district,” shared Kyle Rydell, current WVSD Superintendent.
Current Hutton residents participate in a wide variety of school-sponsored activities including band, choir, robotics, DECA, athletics, drama and knowledge competitions, all reinforcing their sense of belonging at school. Larger initiatives, including the incorporation of HOPE coffee sales exclusively for district employees has given both youth the opportunity to engage with their mentors, and also adults able to continue their support of Hutton’s programming.
The West Valley Outdoor Learning Center whose mission is to provide opportunities for young people to explore the natural world around them has found an extension site at the Hutton Settlement. Each year, students district-wide explore campus trails and grounds, a favorite field trip for many. In 2019, a grant from the Hagan Foundation made it possible for the construction of a Hutton yurt allowing for a year- round classroom among the habitats students are engaging in.
From Hutton’s perspective, we couldn’t ask for a better partner in ensuring our student’s educational needs are being met. “Words don’t convey just how blessed the Settlement has been by the school district’s desire to welcome and support our residents. Not only is it reassuring to know how our kids will be treated, but it also means so much to know it’s a two-way relationship. That when a child is struggling, they know they can reach out and expect a team of support at home,” shared Chud Wendle, Hutton’s Executive Director.