Gov. Jay Inslee talks with DECA Club students at the Oasis Cafe, the student store, Tuesday in Marysville Pilchuck High School’s new cafeteria. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Gov. Inslee visits Marysville Pilchuck to see new cafeteria

MARYSVILLE — Gov. Jay Inslee dropped by Marysville Pilchuck High School on Tuesday to visit the newly opened cafeteria, talk to kids about science and technology, and make a pitch for his budget proposal.

The new cafeteria cost $8.3 million, with $5 million of it coming from a special appropriation from the Legislature and $2.6 million from state matching funds. The building opened in January.

The old cafeteria has been closed since the October 2014 shootings that took the lives of five students, including the shooter. It is expected to be demolished once funding becomes available.

Students had been crowding into the school’s second, smaller cafeteria or ate lunch in the gym or classrooms.

Associate Principal Dave Rose welcomed the governor and thanked him for Olympia’s support.

“It has been like a breath of fresh air for our students and staff after two and a half years of a dark cloud,” Rose said.

The Marysville School District set up several demonstration stations in the cafeteria for Inslee’s visit.

Amanda Smalley, a fourth-grader at Shoultes Elementary School, showed how she was writing software code to create graphic images.

“I’m trying to fix this, ’cause it’s wrong,” Smalley said.

Nearby, Mike Shreeve had brought his robotics club students from Cedarcrest Middle School.

Inslee asked the kids what they liked about robotics.

“I mostly like team building and assigning each other jobs,” eighth-grader Riley Antram said.

Seventh-grader Lily Siron chimed in: “We have to go out and find solutions. It isn’t just laid out for us.”

“I look forward to you working for Boeing,” Inslee told them.

Other stations were set up from Marysville Pilchuck’s AP Chemistry class, and the governor also chatted up DECA students behind the counter at the Oasis Cafe.

Inslee said one takeaway from his visit was the importance of STEM education, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“We want to see this across the state, that’s why we’re focused on McCleary,” he said, referencing the state Supreme Court decision requiring the Legislature to fully fund education.

He also said other schools in the state needed access to mental health services that have been made available at Marysville Pilchuck since the shootings.

“I’m hoping the Legislature will fund these positions to provide nurses and mental health professionals, because these kids need it,” Inslee said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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