Awards and Accomplishments
The Olympia School District is proud of our students and staff who achieve amazing successes every day. In an effort to recognize and celebrate those achievements both inside and outside the classroom,we have compiled a list of accomplishments including academic and extracurricular accomplishments that involve members of the Olympia School District community.
This list is by no means comprehensive, so please let us know if there are additional accomplishments we have missed so we can add them! With your help, we will capture all of the amazing accomplishments in our district and celebrate student achievement, continuous improvement and 100 percent commitment to quality and excellence in all things!
Garfield Elementary receives a performance award of $6800 from OSPI for exceeding student growth performance as a Title I school. Criteria includes meeting participation and scoring thresholds on OSPI's Report Card.
McKenny Elementary receives a new outdoor learning patio thanks to a Lowe's Corporation grant. Third grade teacher Nancy Hooper wrote the winning proposal for the outdoor study area at the end of the 2016 school year.
Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF) Annual Breakfast raises more than $60,000 for the Principal's Emergency Checkbook Fund.
A team of ten Olympia High and one Capital High cross country team members win the Portland Coast to Coast Relay. The relay is the longest and largest high school relay in the world at 130 miles in length.
Avanti High joins the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) network of small schools. Avanti embraces the CES "Common Principles" and shares an educational vision that promotes students' "intellectual, emotional and social habits and skills to become powerful and informed citizens who contribute actively toward a democratic and equitable society.
Three Olympia High students qualify as Semi-Finalist National Merit Scholars; Warren Gu, Spencer Johnson and McKenzie Murray.
Jefferson Middle School math teacher Jana Dean is one of six teachers selected as a state-level finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST).
Timberland Regional Library (TRL) and the Olympia School District forms partnership via the library’s MyTRL Program. The MyTRL program provides elementary, middle and high school students access to the public library’s large and updated collection of research resources, eBooks, digital magazines, downloadable music, videos, and kids and teen homework help.
Capital High math teacher Carol McKay named Capital Region 2017 Teacher of the Year by Educational Service District (ESD) 113. McKay is one of nine candidates chosen by their respective regional ESDs and tribal schools as the 2017 Regional Teacher of the Year.
Avanti High joins an elite group of less than 100 schools statewide that have been named a School of Distinction for being in the top five percent of highest improving schools. This is the fourth time in five years the school has received a School of Distinction Award from the Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE).
Hundreds of high school students and families attend the annual Career & College Fair on October 18. Admissions officers from more than 70 colleges, universities, community colleges and technical schools answer questions about degrees and programs offered and explain application requirements . Workshops are held on diverse topics such as scholarship tips and tricks, financial aid, ROTC opportunities, college test prep (SAT/ACT) and alternative pathways.
District hosts first ever Faith Leader Luncheon on October 11. District and faith leaders enjoy lunch and conversation on influential local topics of interest.
Olympia High string quartet plays along with the band in "In My Life - A Musical Tribute to the Beatles" at the Washington Center of Performing Arts.
District offers a series of free parenting classes facilitated by Candyce Bollinger and held at ORLA. Classes run from October to March. Four elementary parent workshops include; Child Development Overview, Safety without Fear, Positive Discipline and Managing Technology. Five middle/high school parent workshops include: Teen Development, Communication & Conflict Resolution, Social Media, Anxiety, Depression & Stress and Teen Relationships/LGBTQ Topics.
The YWCA honors Olympia High senior Gyanna Lâm as a 2016 Woman of Achievement. Lâm is chosen for her extensive volunteer work with the Olympia Free Clinic, the LOTT’s WET Science Center, the Timberland Regional Library teen tech tutor program, and the YWCA Girls Without Limits Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Camp.
The Olympia School Board is named "Board of Distinction" in Washington State. Olympia is one of 24 school boards from among 295 school districts statewide selected to receive the recognition this year from the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA).
District hosts first ever retiree luncheon on November 1. Superintendent Dick Cvitanich welcomed the retired Olympia School District teachers and administrators to gather together, enjoy lunch and hear about some of the exciting initiatives taking place around the district. The group also explored ways retirees can continue to be partners in education.
District hosts Una celebracion de familias on November 3. The event is geared towards Spanish speaking families to learn about Skyward family access as well as many other local services and resources available in the Olympia community. A few of the organizations on hand include: South Sound Reading Foundation, Centro Integral Educativo de Olympia (CIELO), Thurston County Public Health, Choice Network, Hands on Children’s Museum, YMCA of Olympia.
OSD names two employees as this year's Classified School Employees of the Year. Honorees are Barb Ensminger, a paraeducator at Roosevelt Elementary School, and Deborah Harbord-Ayers, a paraeducator at Olympia High School.
South Sound Partners for Philanthropy awards Capital High students Spencer and Ben Rex as “Next Generation Philanthropists.” The brothers scour garage sales for unique items they sell for a profit on the Internet. Ten percent of their profit then goes to local charities. Among those benefiting are Seattle Children’s Hospital, Wounded Warriors, Community Youth Services and Pear Blossom Place.
Olympia High's Jenna Killman is named The Olympian's All-Area Girls soccer player of the year.
The Olympia Math Group from Olympia High School takes first place at regional math tournament on November 19. The competition involves 37 students from five schools around the region. Winners qualify for the state tournament in April.
Visual Arts Pilot Program expands during second year. There are 30 participating elementary classrooms, expanded from just five classrooms last year. This is a creative and fun program that is focused on teaching the basic principles of visual art design to K-5 students.
Capital High receives $25,000 grant from The Boeing Company to offer the CorePLUS Manufacturing Program at the school. Students in the program will learn specialized skills specific to metal fabrication, precision machining or aircraft repair. Capital is one of a few schools throughout the state that has had an opportunity to partner with Boeing to offer this curriculum.
Olympia High Girls Volleyball has the highest GPA (3.88) in 4A volleyball in the state of Washington.
Congressman Denny Heck visits Olympia and Capital high schools to award three nominations to the U.S. Service Academies. Students nominated are: Capital High senior Lauren Frasier (U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY), Olympia High senior Rachel Ballew (U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD), Olympia High senior Ryan Underland (U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO).
Olympia High fields first ever full girls wrestling team. This is the first season that the Bears had enough girls turn out to compete as a full team. Class 4A South Puget Sound League, which Olympia joined this year, has officially scheduled meets for the girls.
Olympia High offers first ever Glass Studio class. Students are learning to design, develop and produce glass art. Students practice skills during the yearlong class in stained glass, fusing, slumping, casting, etching, flame-work and glass blowing.
Marshall Middle School celebrates MLK Day with "Day of Service in order to help students put the concepts and words from the Civil Rights Movement into action with a school-wide "Day of Service."
The day begins with an all school assembly in the morning that highlights children's contributions to the civil rights movements and other service efforts both locally and globally. Afterward students separate into 23 different service-learning groups. Each group consists of seven to 28 students, with each group providing a different service in the community. All students engage in their service project for approximately 2 1/2 - 3 hours before returning to school for a reflection activity and another school wide assembly to celebrate student efforts and accomplishments.
OSD Employees rally to support the United Way of Thurston County with donations of more than $13,000 during the annual campaign.
Capital and Olympia HS students excel at FBLA Conference. Students compete in various event categories including: objective tests, performance events, production events, interviews, role-plays, speeches and presentations. In the 17 different events in which students compete, there are 66 Olympia School District students who qualify for the state competition, taking place in April in Spokane. Capital High School is sending 16 students to state, while Olympia High School will be sending 51.
OSD teams dominate FIRST Tech Challenge and qualify for State. After competing in the South Sound Inter-District Championship of the FIRST Tech Challenge(FTC), six of the seven OSD teams qualified for the State competition. Participating teams designed their robots, presented their engineering journals and made presentations to the judges. After presentations district teams unveiled their robots and the competition was underway!
Avanti math teacher Todd Thedell receives Evergreen State College 2016 Teacher Excellence Award. Each year The Evergreen State College asks incoming students to nominate a teacher they felt made the biggest difference in their education. His former student, Sequoia Demetro, nominated Thedell for the award. Thedell is a math, physics, music and computer science teacher at Avanti High School. Avanti Principal Michael Velasquez said that Thedell is one of the “finest teachers” he has encountered in his career. He described Thedell as a “master teacher who is in tune with students’ needs and interests,” and that “he is beloved to students and families and is well respected by his peers.”
Lincoln Elementary student selected as finalist in art contest Piper Hendrix is one of five finalists for the Washington State Ferries Cover Contest. More than 150 artistic renderings are submitted from K-5 students throughout Washington State. The winning artwork will be featured on the 2017 Washington State Ferries 'Winter Sailing Schedule'.
While Piper did not take home the grand prize, it is quite an accomplishment to be selected as a finalist.
Three athletes from OHS sign National Letters of Intent on February 2 to continue their athletic careers in college. Skyler Davis: football, George Fox, Jenna Killman:soccer, New Mexico, Amir Matheney: football, Eastern Washington.
Learn All About Kindergarten Day is held February 11 at Capital HS. Among other things, families learn about kindergarten program options, riding the bus, how to register for kindergarten and how to use the district’s Family Access student information system to stay updated on everything from grades to lunch accounts. The school district’s Transportation department has school buses on site for parents to learn about bus safety and rules, and to see the inside of the bus.
Third Annual OSD Technology Fair is held February 11 at Capital HS. School booths showcase a variety of ways that students and teachers use digital tools to support the learning process. Visitors are invited to watch student technology challenge presentations in the afternoon. Each school has the opportunity to enter a student team in a technology challenge to be revealed the morning of the Tech Fair. Teams work collaboratively on the challenge and presented to the audience in the afternoon.
Capital High School girls bowling qualifies for the Class 3A State Bowling Tournament for the first time ever. During the tournament the team earns a 6th place trophy.
Capital HS senior T.J. Mickelson earns MVP in 3A South Sound all-league boys basketball. Brian Vandiver, Capital HS boys basketball coach is named 3A South Sound Coach of the Year.
Capital High junior Margaret Doyle is named 2017 Lakefair Queen. In addition to Doyle, the judges also select her court: Elizabeth Hirotaka, Black Hills High School; Ava Brackenbury, Olympia High School; Jayla Simmons, North Thurston High School; and Malinda Lyon, Avanti High School.
Capital High math teacher and a 2017 Regional Teacher of the Year Carol McKay is featured in “From Seed to Apple,” a collection of inspirational stories and lessons learned from Washington’s Teacher’s of the Year. McKay’s story focuses on her experience mentoring one of her students who enrolled and graduated from the Washington Youth Academy.
Washington Middle School Bulldog Concert Choir is selected to perform at the National Association for Music Educators Northwest Conference. The Bulldog Choir joins other choirs, bands and orchestras from six different states. Washington is one of only two middle school choirs to perform at this prestigious conference at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom in Bellevue.
Construction of mini buildings is underway. Construction is underway on the first two of five elementary school classroom “mini-buildings” approved by voters in the February 2016 school bond election.Work began this month on the 10-classroom, two-story mini-buildings at Hansen and Pioneer elementary schools. The Centennial and Roosevelt elementary school mini-building projects are scheduled to begin construction in April, followed by McLane Elementary in May. The Hansen and Pioneer elementary school mini-buildings are scheduled to be completed in September. The other three mini-buildings are planned for completion in December. Classes will continue during mini-building construction at all five sites.
Capital High sophomore Raghavendra (Raghu) Bharadwaj excels at South Sound Regional Science Fair at Pacific Lutheran University. His project, "Maximizing the Efficiency of Delta Wings," earns him a number of awards: 1st Place - Engineering and Math, 4th Place - Overall High School Division, Naval Science Award for Outstanding Project.
Olympia High senior McKenzie Murray awarded first place in the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts High School Essay Contest, earning a $3,000 scholarship.
Nancy Hooper (McKenny Elementary) is named Elementary Teacher of the Year and Melissa Charette (Washington Middle School) is named Secondary Teacher of the Year, for the Olympia School District for 2017.
Patrick Murphy, assistant superintendent in the Edmonds School District, is selected to become superintendent of the Olympia School District, effective July 1.The Olympia School Board unanimously agrees on April 10 to approve a three-year contract with Murphy from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2020.
Madison Elementary principal Domenico Spatola-Knoll and Leslie Gowell, McKinney-Vento Support Specialist are presented with the Spirit of Leadership Award by Capital Regional ESD113. This award recognizes the exemplary work each of them does in their roles providing McKinney-Vento supports to homeless students in the Olympia School District.
Olympia Robotics Federation (ORF), FRC Team 4450 wins quarterfinals matchup and advances to semi-finals in the PNW Regional competition and qualifies for the PNW District Championship in April This is the best start to a season team 4450 has had in their history.
Centennial Elementary welcomes New York Times best-selling author Kobi Yamada to assembly celebrating the school logging more than 300,000 minutes of reading for the month of February. Yamada's book, What Do You Do With An Idea" is the inspiration for a school video produced under the direction of integrated arts teacher Jana Gedde.
Capital High junior Mylo Lang places first in the SkillsUSA Washington State Aerospace Assembler competition. Of the thousand students currently enrolled in CorePLUS (the Boeing Company's Aerospace Assembler curriculum), Mylo is judged by Boeing trainers and manufacturers to be the best!
Capital High junior Michelle Nguyen is awarded a full scholarship to attend the International Baccalaureate World Student Conference by the IB Organization. The conference will take place during the summer of 2017 in Rochester, NY.
District hosts 4th annual OSD Night at the Rainiers on April 15. More than 160 district families and friends turn out for the game!
Olympia High English and Creative Writing teacher Carolyn Gilman is a published poet. Her poem titled "Driving Home From Spokane" is selected for inclusion in "WA129," an anthology featuring 129 poets from Washington State - one for each year of Washington statehood. The anthology is a project of the Washington State Poet Laureate program.
Roosevelt Elementary hosts first ever Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) night with more than 465 in attendance! During the event, the Roosevelt community and staff are exposed to next generation science standards. STEAM learning is being infused into the new standards and helps students learn how to solve problems in creative ways. In order to make this night possible, Roosevelt partners with OSD Food Services, WEA Chinook, the Hands on Children's Museum and Idea Hatch.
Jefferson JAMS math & science teacher Jana Dean facilitates webinar for the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP). In the webinar, Dean recounts her travels to Hamburg, Germany for the 13th annual International Congress of Math Educators. Jana shares her thoughts on why Singapore scores so high on math achievement, the Dutch roots of the most progressive math pedagogy in the world, what public schools in the U.S. have in common with public schools in South Africa and more.
Olympia High senior Amir Matheny wins Princeton Prize in Race Relations. Matheny and other recipients receive a $1,000 cash prize, as well as an all-expense paid trip to Princeton University to participate in a symposium on race during the summer of 2017.
Lincoln Elementary fourth grader Mia Widrow is a state Level 1 champion in the 2017 "Letters about Literature" competition. Nearly 3,000 students submit letters for the 2017 contest, which is facilitated each year by the Washington State Library. Three winning letters, including Mia's, are sent to the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress to be considered for the national competition.
Olympia High senior Matteo Del Guidice is named The Olympian's All-Area soccer player of the year.
Capital High senior Jace Ezzell is featured in a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The film, called "The Mars Generation Movie", focuses on a group of students attending space camp and is available on Netflix.
District launches Spanish Speaking message line. The message line is designed to help families get answers to questions ranging from how to register for school or volunteer, to how to locate bus routes or daily lunch menus. An Olympia School District teacher who is fluent in Spanish monitors the messages and responds to families with answers to their questions. The message line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round at (360) 596-7569.
Olympia High Knowledge Bowl team places first in the Puget Sound Regional competition as well as every one of their district meets in the 2016-17 season.
Seven Olympia School District schools selected as 2016 Washington Achievement Award (WAA) Winners. Schools are selected for recognition using Washington's Achievement Index. There are more than 2,200 public schools in Washington and our district has seven of the 280 being recognized this year. Results and awards are as follows: Boston Harbor ES-Overall Excellence; Garfield ES-Special Recognition English Language Arts Growth; Jefferson MS-Overall Excellence, Special Recognition Math Growth, Special Recognition English Language Arts Growth; Marshall MS-Special Recognition Math Growth; McKenny ES-Special Recognition Math Growth; McLane ES-Closing the Achievement Gap (students with disabilities); Washington MS-High Progress.
Washington Middle School teacher Marc Coyner is awarded a $5000 grant from CenturyLink for robotics kits.
More than 600 band/choir/orchestra students from Reeves and Washington Middle Schools travel to the Seattle Opera to see "The Magic Flute" at McCaw Hall. The momentous trip is made possible by grants from the Olympia School District Education Foundation, Reeves Middle School PTA and numerous other fundraisers.
Superintendent Dick Cvitanich is named 2017 Crystal Apple award winner by the Washington School Public Relations Association. The Crystal Apple award winner is someone who has given tirelessly of themselves to enhance positive stakeholder perceptions of K-12 public schools and/or has empowered school public relations professionals to be their best.
Olympia High senior Maddy Ford launches "More Self Love" campaign. The campaign consists of week-long activities focused on eating disorder awareness and body positivity for high school students. Besides promoting self-acceptance, all the funds raised are donated to the National Eating Disorders Association.
Washington Middle School teacher Melissa Charette is named the 2017-18 Regional Teacher of the Year by Capital Region Education Service District (ESD) 113. The National Board Certified teacher is one of nine candidates chosen by their respective regional ESDs and tribal schools as the Regional Teacher of the Year. This is the third time in five years that an Olympia School District teacher has been named ESD 113 Regional Teacher of the Year. A state selection committee will review and select one of the regional finalists as the 2018 Washington State Teacher of the Year.
Garfield Teacher-Librarian Katy Beattie is selected as a winner of the Dav Pilkey "Summer Reading Educator Contest." Garfield is now the recipient of 500 new books as a result of Beattie winning the contest.
Capital High cheer team takes second place in Cheer, second place in "All-Around" and wins prestigious "Top Banana" award at the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) camp.
Lincoln Elementary 4 & 5 graders in Michael Stine's class present at the June 6 Olympia City Council meeting. They share the work done this school year monitoring quality in local watersheds, as well as their experience taking part in a regional symposium with other schools, called the GREEN Congress. The students studied the theme of Movers and Shakers all year and this was a wonderful opportunity for them to be movers and shakers themselves.
School Resource Officers Kim Seig and Doug Curtright receive the Olympia Police Department's Chief's Award. Officer Curtright is the SRO at Olympia High School while Seig is the SRO for both Capital High and Jefferson Middle School. Both officers are commended for their work building trust, educating parents and adding value to the police department by connecting to and supporting students, parents, teachers, administrators, the school board and the community at large in their roles as SROs.
The Olympia School Districts welcomes Superintendent Patrick Murphy. Murphy was most recently the Assistant Superintendent in the Edmonds School District. Murphy officially beings his tenure on July 1, replacing Superintendent Dick Cvitanich, who retired on June 30 after five years of service.
Almost 200 students participate in summer school at Olympia Regional Learning Academy. Middle and high school students retrieve credit, reinforce important skills, fill in gaps in learning and become better prepared for the next school year. The middle school program also works with students on soft skills like self-esteem and study skills along with math, reading and language arts. For the second year in a row, the district offers a special English Learner (EL) program and students receive help in many subjects including Psychology, English Foundations, Health and Pre-Algebra.
Four Capital High sophomores tackle Seattle to Portland Bike race. Conor Potkonjak, Jake Brandsma, Jake Layton and Colby Wilson successfully completed the ride. The race covers 203 miles and is one of the nation’s largest cle rides.
Thirteen Olympia High students are selected for Providence St. Peter “Medical Career Exploration” summer program. Students attend day-long sessions at the hospital and explore careers in a variety of medical specialties including Respiratory Therapy, Diagnostic Imaging, Pharmacy, Rehabilitation Therapies, nursing and more.
Olympia High 2017 graduate Surabhi Mundada’s invention wins a $10,000 IEEE President’s Scholarship. Mundada invented a tool for the detection and testing of Parkinson’s Disease. She will attend Stanford University in the fall.
Twelve Olympia High Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) students attend prestigious national competition in California. Students competed in a variety of categories including Public Speaking, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Business Communications and more.
Capital High 2017 graduate Thu Nguyen is recognized by the Olympia Kiwanis Club and presented with the Robert F. Lucas Outstanding Governor Award for her work in the Pacific Northwest District Key Club.
Olympia School District is named one of the top 10 school districts using social media in the U.S. by Box Clever Education. The group said that our district "stood out to Box Clever because of their eye-catching images. These images are perfect for grabbing attention in busy social media platforms. Olympia shares photos of fun student-related events, such as class projects and the groundbreaking for a new building. They post regularly, and often use photos with people as their subjects. You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube." We are honored to receive this recognition!
View the 2015-16 Accomplishments list here.
Please submit accomplishments to Kim Doherty, Communications Assistant, at email@example.com. Photos are welcomed and encouraged!