Daniel Santiago introduced himself and thanked his teacher, Mrs. Neil, for the opportunities provided at W.F. West High School. “With the installation of the STEM wing, I have various equipment installed into the STEM wing . . . a graduate student in college would get to use after many years of study. The equipment I got to use included the fumehood, which soaks up toxic gases to prevent me from breathing it in, and a real-time PCR Machine.
A Polymerase Chain Reaction machine, or “PCR” for short, is an instrument used to amplify DNA. “The PCR machine enabled me to do my own independent research on involving SLC983.2,” said Daniel, “which is a long name for a gene that’s part of a sodium hydrogen exchanging process.” The recent high school grad explained for his audience, “This just involves the acid assimilation with the zebrafish so it can regulate its own blood level acidity so it can survive in different environments.”
Daniel went on to describe the research he conducted in the Advanced Molecular Genetics class in his high school. His appreciation for the school was evident. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was just curious and started with the basic biology class . . . when this wing came into construction and I got to move into it with the chemistry classes, I knew that I wanted to be able to participate.”
This level of learning is becoming more evident with many students in Chehalis. As amazing as it may seem to outsiders, this level of study is just part of what is offered students at W.F. West, and it provides evidence for donors that their investments are paying off.
The Ingwersen STEM Endowment is just one project of the Chehalis Foundation in partnership with the school Chehalis School District. With a goal to “inspire and better prepare our kids for higher educational opportunities and to be creative thinkers,” the foundation works to promote educational excellence in the schools. “Our community of individuals and business donors, along with various grants and other foundation support has provided approximately $8 million in support of our project,” reports the Chehalis Foundation on their website.
Each year, the Ingwersen Endowment Committee meets to receive an update on progress made in STEM programs at W.F. West. The eight member team contracts with Security State Bank for financial management services. Each year since 2012, between $75,000 and $86,000 has been distributed from earnings from the trust.