Lincoln High School


Transforming student lives with longer days, challenging courses and quality teachers

Math textbooks, English novels and laptops lay open. It’s mid-morning at Lincoln High School and students are in their new, mandatory seminar class.

“Juniors and seniors, remember you must complete 90 percent of Career Cruising before you leave,” says Lincoln math teacher Sara Ketelsen, pointing to a to-do list on the class projector as students gather in small groups.

​Math teacher Sara Ketelsen guides students during Seminar class.
​ ​​​​​​​​​​Seminar class is a linchpin of Lincoln 2.0, an evolution of the award-winning Lincoln Center, which began in 2008 as a way to boost the academic performance of students. Participating students in the Lincoln Center program volunteered to stay later each day, enrolled in advanced classes and put in extra time at school on Saturdays and over the summer. 


Lincoln Center’s results – strong academic growth and graduate rates for students – showed so much success that starting with the 2014-2015 school year, the best parts expanded to the whole school. Now every student reaps the benefits of the extended-day model.

“We wanted all kids to benefit,” said Principal Patrick Erwin of the evolution.

Every student stays an hour extra four days a week. The required seminar class provides time during the school day for academic support targeted to each student’s needs. Students who qualify are automatically enrolled in Advanced Placement classes, and there’s more time for robust athletic programs.

Lincoln Center, which earned an innovation designation from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, posted impressive results:

98 percent of the first graduating class earned their high school diploma,

82 percent won acceptance to two- or four-year colleges, and

the 2014 graduating class garnered almost $2 million in college scholarships. 

“The extended day model has proved beneficial,” said Erwin. “With the expansion of the new model we expect all the graduation rates to go up, not just for those who were in Lincoln Center.”

Study Time

In Ketelsen’s seminar class, juniors and seniors complete Career Cruising, a software program that prompts students to identify their passions and learn how those passions could align with a career. Students also have time for help with assignments from other classes.

​“Now resources are being brought to everyone,” Ketelsen said.

​Jamie Zigin uses longer days to get ahead in schoolwork.
​ ​​​​Senior Jamie Zigin didn’t participate in Lincoln Center and initially questioned the value of longer days. “Now I like it,” she said.  “I can ask questions during seminar. I was actually expecting to be a lot more confused my senior year than I am.”


After graduation, Zigin plans to study veterinary technology, a field she didn’t know about before taking a pre-veterinary class at Lincoln.

Well-rounded 'Abes'

Lincoln High School serves a largely low-income population from diverse backgrounds, including many immigrant families. By percentage, students from these circumstances often dismiss thoughts of college as impossible dreams.

Part of the intention of Lincoln 2.0 is to boost college and career readiness for students who aren’t thinking about those goals – and to provide enrichment activities so all students believe in their future options.

For Mikala Davis, a 2014 graduate of Lincoln High School, life after high school rarely crossed her thought before enrolling at Lincoln. She simply wanted a school home after transferring from two different high schools in nearby districts, in part because her mom was struggling with drug addiction.

Finding the right school was “a really big deal,” she said. “My whole life wasn’t too great, so I wanted to have a really good high school experience. I knew Lincoln was home as soon as I started.”

Teachers and staff sought her out to introduce themselves, ask about her life and offer help. She joined the cheer squad and student government, finding mentors along the way. 

Now, Mikala is the first member of her family to enroll in college. She earned a full tuition scholarship to the University of Washington Tacoma and credits staff members at Lincoln for guiding her.

“At Lincoln, preparation for college isn’t just what you do on your own time,” she said. “They incorporate it into the school day. They told us, ‘You guys are smart enough to do this. You can do this. So let’s make it happen.’ 

“When I saw my friends and classmates above me go to college, that made me think it’s possible.”​​​​​​​​​​​

Get to know Lincoln Center

Innovation Model: Lincoln earned a state innovation designation by instituting a pilot project - Lincoln Center - that provided students with 450 extra instruction hours over the course of their high school career. Due to the proven success of the students who voluntarily participated in Lincoln Center, all of Lincoln High School adopted the extended day, homework help and academic advising model beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. With the new "Lincoln 2.0" approach, the coursework is more challenging with many classes taught at the honors or Advanced Placement level. Lincoln also weaved in time for clubs, sports, extra-curricular programs and homework.

Grades: Ninth through twelfth 

Students: 1388

Teacher training: Lincoln High School teachers are committed professionals who continually focus on their own development. Many of them train others in the district.

School report card

School Web site

Special clubs and after-school programs:  Athletics • ASB - Associated Student Body • Achievers Scholars • Abe's Golden Acres • Bike Club • Cheer • DECA - Distributed Education Clubs of America • Environmental Science Club • DECA - Distributed Education Clubs of America • Environmental Science Club • FCCLA - Family Career & Community Leaders of America • HERO - Higher Education Readiness Opportunity • Indian Education • Japanese Club  HERO - Higher Education Readiness Opportunity • Indian Education • Japanese Club • Key Club • REACH - Recognizing East Asian Cultural Heritage • Skills 253 • Teach 253 • TRIO - College Prep • Upward Bound • YLC - Youth Leading Change •​ YMCA Brotherhood & Sisterhood

Related links:

What Makes Good Teaching? A Case Study of Lincoln Center

“I am the Master of My Fate,” A research project on Lincoln Center

Education Week: Regular Schools Start to Mimic Charter Schools

KCTS 9 Spotlight on an Innovative Program

Designated Innovative School - Washington State