Yelm High School Students Master Intercity Transit on Their Way to South Puget Sound Community College


Students at Yelm High School (YHS) are working to prepare for the future both in and out of the classroom. YHS has partnered with Intercity Transit on a project that aims to help students learn about using public transportation in a comprehensive way. This initiative happened in collaboration with an existing program that brings YHS students to the manufacturing program at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in Lacey.

high school students standing in a line to get on a city bus that says, 'electric intercity transit'
Yelm HIgh School has partnered with Intercity Transit on a project that aims to help students learn about using public transportation in a comprehensive way. Photo courtesy: Yelm Community Schools

Yelm High School Partners with Intercity Transit

Conversations about this project first started in the spring of 2023. Hillary Hull is a teacher at Yelm High School as well as the worksite learning coordinator. She played an important role in proposing and organizing this collaboration. “We wanted to create a learning opportunity about Intercity Transit in Thurston County, especially because it’s currently a free service,” she shares. “Gaining experience with public transit will help our students connect with schools and work in the surrounding areas.”

Career and Technical Education Director Teri Melone helped steer this project, among others. “Our goal is to reduce the barriers that stand between our students and their future,” she explains. “Driving and transportation can be a major obstacle. That’s why this partnership with Intercity Transit is so important.”

high school students sitting on a city bus
Photo courtesy: Yelm Community Schools

The first piece of the puzzle was bringing Intercity Transit into the classroom. Intercity Transit Representative Christina Loomis met with two classes at YHS and presented information about Thurston County’s Intercity Transit system.

Loomis is a travel training coordinator with Intercity Transit. She specializes in teaching a variety of demographics about Intercity Transit and public transportation. There are strategies tailored to high school students, elders, people with disabilities and other groups. This branch of Intercity Transit is used to connecting with different parts of the greater community.

“Generally, we focus on things like how to safely ride the bus, what to expect when using public transportation, as well as how to plan and execute trips,” Loomis explains. “It went great with the manufacturing students at YHS. We’re always looking for ways to create hands-on experiences, and teaming up with the SPSCC trip was a great opportunity,” Loomis shares.

After the presentations, students helped plan bus routes for this year’s annual field trip to the manufacturing program at South Puget Sound Community College. The result was a relevant opportunity for students to learn about using Intercity Transit in Thurston County. Considering this year’s success, the project will likely extend to other destinations in the future.

Yelm High School Students Embrace Intercity Transit and SPSCC

Yelm High School STEM Teacher Sean Pollock – affectionately known as Mr. P – was quick to welcome this idea. “I’m a big fan of our annual visit to SPSCC’s manufacturing program,” Pollock says. “This year the kids helped me plan bus routes for the trip – it has gone really smoothly. I think it’s great to show a clear picture of how this might work for them in the future.”

Chad Bacon addresses a group of Yelm High School students and teacher Sean Pollock as they arrive at the SPSCC manufacturing building. Photo credit: Leo Thom

Chaperone Kiersten Slevin recounts witnessing a lightbulb moment where a student proclaimed plans to pursue the manufacturing program at SPSCC after high school. “That’s the kind of moment that sticks with you,” she shares. The gears are turning for students and educators alike.

Keoni Pablo, a freshman in Pollock’s manufacturing class at YHS, is calm and inquisitive. The teenager has a history of interest in machines – he built a functional motor at home out of LEGOs and some other spare parts. Judging by the reaction of the manufacturing educators, that’s impressive. “This is something I look forward to doing in the future,” Pablo states when asked about the trip.

Pablo has less experience when it comes to Intercity Transit, though. “I’ve only ridden the bus a few times before this in Tacoma,” he says. “It didn’t go so well then. But this time was a lot better. It made me feel like I could keep using public transportation in the future.”

During this tour, Yelm High School students shadow SPSCC manufacturing students as they create magnetic spinning tops. Then they’re able to give the tops a spin! Photo credit: Leo Thom

More to Come for Yelm High School and Intercity Transit

This partnership has succeeded in creating actionable learning opportunities for Yelm High School students. Not only are classes learning about Intercity Transit, but they are planning and executing trips to important locations in Thurston County. The project coordinators at YHS are expecting this concept to continue. Whether students are being connected with SPSCC or other relevant spaces, the benefits are undeniable.

If you are interested in partnering with Yelm High School, you can reach out to Communications Director Teri Melone at 360.960.6006. Head to the Intercity Transit website or download the myStop app to learn more about Intercity Transit’s services. Contact if you want to know more about Intercity Transit’s travel training program.


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