How an alternative school in Elma, Washington harnessed True Colors to improve graduation rates.

“I’ve never seen so many grown men and women cry as when they see their sons and daughters receive their diploma. We truly are making a difference.”

– Steve Bridge
School District Administrator

group of student at desk in classroom


When Grays Harbor High School, an alternative school, was established in Elma, Washington, many in the community initially didn’t welcome it. They perceived the alternative school as an “easy way out” for kids who didn’t do well in regular school.

Six years ago, Steve Bridge was appointed Administrator of the new school. His job was to work with the faculty and help with curriculum.

“In the past, nearly 30% or more of the students dropped out of the alternative school system,” says Bridge. “It’s no secret these kids have had a rough go in their home lives and in the school environment.”


Bridge had attended a True Colors Seminar and decided to use the True Colors Training Program as part of his efforts to build self-esteem and create a better understanding of the students. He wanted to determine what students needed and to help them understand their own strengths, stressors, and communications styles, as well as the personality types of their fellow students and teachers.

Bridge presents an introductory True Colors Basic Awareness Seminars for 1½ to 2 hours for groups of 30-35 students. They are taught how to relate to the staff and to each other. True Colors is also being presented to each of his athletic teams in the regular high school. Bridge holds a barbecue, and the team members go through their True Colors card sort and learn about each other’s personalities. Each person then writes about their own color spectrum, and how they feel about their team. The papers are posted in the locker, and the team members can refer to them throughout the season.

girl student in blue shirt reading book


“The students ‘Get It!’” exclaims Bridge. “They learn about themselves and others and begin to appreciate the differences. Often the students wonder why no one ever taught them anything like this. They never learned to trust adults…especially teachers. They learn to trust themselves. The great thing about True Colors,” says Bridge, “is that True Colors facilitates trust! A whole new world opens to both the faculty and students as they learn how to value each other.”

“This past year, of the 75 kids that went through the program using True Colors, only three dropped out. We had four short-term suspensions and one expulsion. I know that True Colors was a contributing factor to keeping the remaining students and changing the disciplinary needs in school.”

Graduation time at Grays Harbor High School is heart rending. “I’ve never seen so many grown men and women cry as when they see their sons and daughters receive their diploma,” remembers Bridge. “As the students come off the stage, they pick up two roses and present one to each of their parents. It is wonderful. We are truly making a difference.”