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Sammamish High School wins Symetra Heroes in the Classroom 'MVP Award'

Located in Bellevue, Washington, Sammamish will use the $10,000 grant to fund STEM professions.


BELLEVUE, Wash. — Symetra and the Seattle Seahawks have awarded Sammamish High School with the 2014 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom® "MVP Award." Located in Bellevue, Washington, the high school will use the $10,000 grant to fund an innovative student achievement program focused on growing student interest and awareness of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions.

The winning program, called "Engineering Projects in the Community" or EPICS,  was announced at a March 20 luncheon at CenturyLink Field celebrating all 16 Puget Sound-area Symetra Heroes in the Classroom winners from the 2014 NFL season. Sammamish High School Principal Tom Duenwald was on hand to receive the $10,000 check from Jim Pirak, Symetra's senior vice president of Corporate Marketing and Investor Relations, and Mike Flood, Seattle Seahawks vice president, Community Relations and Special Projects. Duenwald was joined by Elayne Grueber, an engineering and physics instructor at Sammamish High School and a 2014 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom recipient.

Seahawks and Symetra honor Heroes in the Classroom at the annual luncheon at CenturyLink Field.

"EPICS is a unique program that provides students with an amazing leaning opportunity. They design, build and deliver real products to solve engineering-based problems that meet the needs of nonprofit organizations," said Duenwald. "The program's goal is to grow student interest and awareness of STEM professions, particularly in underrepresented female and minority student populations. Students work through an engineering design process that teaches them to solve open-ended problems and develop many transferable skills. Albert Einstein said, 'The value of an education is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks,' and this is exactly the opportunity students have in the EPICS program at Sammamish."

The Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program honors K-12 teachers for educational excellence throughout the NFL football season. Each of the 16 Puget Sound-area schools with a teacher/Hero is eligible to submit an MVP Award proposal. Nominated programs are evaluated on a range of criteria, including innovation, feasibility and demonstrated need.

About Engineering Projects in the Community (EPICS)
Statistics show a need for promoting engineering and other STEM professions in K-12 programs, particularly with female students. The Department of Commerce estimates in the coming years STEM occupations will grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations but there will not be enough college graduated to fill the growing need.1 Since 2006, EPICS has been implemented in more than 50 high schools across the country, with more students participating each year. Sammamish High School is the first school in Washington State to implement EPICS. The goal is to grow the program at Sammamish and beyond to address the need for student interest and awareness of the STEM professions.

About Symetra Heroes in the Classroom®
Since 2006, 200 Puget Sound-area teachers have been honored as Symetra Heroes in the Classroom. Teachers are recognized in front of their students and peers at surprise in-school presentations. They receive tickets to a Seahawks home game, where they are acknowledged during on-field presentations at CenturyLink Field. In addition, Symetra makes a $1,000 donation to each teacher-Hero's school for classroom books and supplies. Teachers may be nominated by their principal, district staff, student or student's parent. The winners are selected based on their ability to make a real difference in students' lives; to go above and beyond in their day-to-day responsibilities; and to help students build life skills. For more information about the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program, visit

About Symetra
Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE: SYA) is a diversified financial services company based in Bellevue, Wash. In business since 1957, Symetra provides employee benefits, annuities and life insurance through a national network of benefit consultants, financial institutions, and independent agents and advisors. For more information, visit

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