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December 14, 2016


Superintendent's Message

Winter Greetings!

It seems hard to believe we are at winter break already. I wouldn't have believed the date except that snow arrived last week reminding me and everyone else that winter is upon us. Hopefully, the cancellation of school and some activities didn't interrupt your plans too much.  We work hard from 4:30 a.m. onward to develop clear communication for families, staff and students.

In making these early morning decisions we consider current weather and road conditions, predictions for the next 12 hours and overall safety issues. Our goal is to "get it right" every time when thinking about safety, loss of instructional time and cancellation of student activities.

When we return in January there will be much work ahead both within the hallways of our schools and at the state level. All of us are watching as our state Legislature confronts the issues surrounding the McCleary decision and full state funding for public education. This will be a dominant news story throughout our state, and you will hear much about the conversation both in local and state media. We do not anticipate a quick decision, which will complicate our budget development process that begins in February. Should the Legislature struggle finding a common ground, our budget considerations will be pushed to a date later in the spring. Of course, this will be challenging for district staff because we collectively plan for program improvements and recruitment of high quality staff in a competitive marketplace, and strategically plan instructional initiatives based upon clear budget information. As such, we are hoping the Legislature can reach a decision earlier rather than later.

I would like to offer a final word of congratulations to Carol McKay, Jana Dean, and our Olympia School District Board of Directors. Carol, a math teacher at Capital High School, was chosen as the Capital Region Educational Service District (ESD) 113 "Teacher of the Year." There are more than 40 school districts in our ESD, and Carol's selection is noteworthy. Jana Dean, a math teacher at Jefferson Middle School, is a state finalist for the "Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching."

Finally, our board recently received the "Board of Distinction" Award from the Washington Association of School Directors for their excellent practices as leaders of public education in our state. Three cheers!  We are proud of all students and staff in the Olympia School District, but we feel a special pride when our colleagues are recognized for their hard work. It reflects well upon all of us in our school district. Please join me in celebrating their success. Finally, please take time to enjoy the winter break. We look forward to seeing you in January.




Dick Cvitanich


First ever Glass Studio class produces unique art

Fitted with safety goggles, students in Sharan Mann’s Glass Studio class at Olympia High School are encouraged to play with fire. A hot flame is a necessity when fusing glass, creating beadwork and designing glass art.

In its first year at Olympia High, the Glass Studio class has enrolled 81 students who 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.

During a recent visit to her classroom, Mann provided instruction and demonstrated proper technique as students created glass beads, glass leaf pendants and stained glass fish.

“Teaching this class is one of my favorites,” Mann said. “I am really enjoying it, and the students are great.”

Mann’s interest in working with glass was inspired by her mother, a glass artist. Mann also teaches Ceramics at the school.

Students from the class recently sold candleholders, dishes and necklaces at the school’s annual holiday bazaar, raising money for the school’s ASB fund. Sophomore Emily Adderly said she enjoys taking home the handmade projects and “giving them as gifts to friends and family.” Junior Georgia Leib, an advanced student in the class, has taken her knowledge one step further by designing and fabricating glass bead bookmarks, which she plans to sell on the Internet.

Mann worked closely with Olympia High’s Material Science teacher Brian Wright and the district’s Career and Technical Education program to obtain needed equipment and materials, develop the curriculum and set up the learning space for the class.  She attended workshops at Area 253 Glass Blowing in Tacoma to develop her skills and techniques in glass art.

Her vision for the future of the program, she said, is to have a “Hot Shop” like one at Jason Lee Middle School in Tacoma, where students focus on the fine art of glass blowing.

For their final project of the year, students will design and fabricate an 8-by-10 original stained glass piece. We can’t wait to see the results!


Learn All About Kindergarten event set for February 11

The Olympia School District will hold its annual “Learn All About Kindergarten” informational event starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 11 at Capital High School.

If you know of neighbors or friends who have a child entering kindergarten in the Olympia School District in fall 2017, please share this information with them and encourage them to attend this free event. Capital High School is located at 2707 Conger Ave. N.W. in Olympia.

The event begins at 10 a.m. with a welcome by Superintendent Dick Cvitanich. Families will then have until 11:30 a.m. to visit school booths set up in the high school gym and learn about a variety of topics related to kindergarten and school in general.

Among other things, families may 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 will also have a school bus on site for parents to learn about bus safety and rules, and to see the inside of the bus.

A reminder that children should be 5 years old by August 31, 2017 to be eligible to start kindergarten in September 2017. The event is geared for adults of incoming kindergartners in the Olympia School District. Childcare is not provided.

After the Learn All About Kindergarten event, families are invited to visit the 3rd Annual OSD Technology Fair in the Capital High School Commons. The Technology Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will showcase how technology tools are used to support student learning.


Pioneer students preparing to compete at national weightlifting competition

When you’ve got a best friend, and you’re inseparable, you want to share just about everything together. This is how Pioneer Elementary School fifth graders Katie Groth and Alina Dziembowski came to take up weightlifting.

Last September Alina was at Fortis gym with her father, saw people lifting free weights, and it piqued her interest. From then on, every time her father was heading to the gym, Alina followed. She took the time to learn about and practice with the free weights available to her. A few months later, Alina convinced Katie to make a trip with her to the gym to see the cool new sport she had picked up.

They were hooked.

Since then the girls spend multiple nights a week, for one to two hours a night, lifting weights and pushing one another to new heights. Together Alina and Katie have competed in six meets and now belong to the East Coast Gold weightlifting club.

Alina and Katie have both qualified to compete in the 2017 National Youth Weightlifting Championships in Atlanta, GA, and plan on attending with their families. Katie’s mother, Sarah Groth, had this to say about her daughter’s newfound love; “I was a little hesitant at first, but as long as she’s active and happy, I’m happy. It’s a learning experience — every time I attend one of the girl’s meets I learn something new.”

Congratulations Alina and Katie, keep up the great work. We’ll be cheering you on (from a distance) when you compete at Nationals in June!


Snow Bulletin 2016-17

Every year it seems snow or severe weather conditions lead to the closure or late start of our schools, and we want to keep you updated about those decisions. The Olympia School District will inform you as soon as possible when school schedules change through our phone/email messaging system, our district website and district social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).We also encourage you to monitor local radio and/or television stations for up-to-date information about weather-related closures or delays. If school is open but you think it would be unsafe for your child to attend, school officials will accept your judgment and it will be treated as an excused absence.

The district will make every effort to operate normally, despite the weather. On rare occasions, however, weather conditions may make it necessary to modify bus routes, and when that occurs, media outlets will be asked to announce the use of “snow routes” or “emergency routes.” Some of the emergency route changes are listed here:

Emergency Snow Routes:

At other times, weather conditions may require schools to close early. In that event, the normal busing sequence will be followed, that is, returning high school and middle school students home first, followed by elementary students approximately one to two hours later. Please instruct your child what to do should there be an early school closure when you are not home during the regular school day. Parents are also asked to remind students to be especially careful when walking or waiting for a bus during bad weather.

It is our hope that weather conditions do not disrupt transportation and schools. However, our most critical concern is the safety and welfare of our students.


School Board elects new officers in annual reorganization

Every year in December, the Olympia School Board elects officers for the coming year during its annual reorganization.

By unanimous vote, the board elected Eileen Thomson president and Frank Wilson vice president during its December 12 regular board meeting.

Both Thomson and Wilson will assume their new roles at the January 9 school board meeting. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Knox Administrative Center, 1113 Legion Way S.E. in Olympia.

The board also appointed the following:


Madison kindergarten class celebrates a world of color

The sign outside Julie Gibb’s kindergarten classroom at Madison Elementary proudly declares, “We are a box of crayons. Each one of us is unique, but when we get together, the picture is complete.”

Inside the classroom, students have been learning about color by mixing pigments, coloring pictures, making colorful designs, and reading and writing about color. When the recent color unit came to a close, students had a “Color Celebration Day.” Kindergartners came to school dressed in their favorite colors, Gibbs arrived in her stylish crayon box outfit, and Principal Domenico Spatola-Knoll wore his Matisse-inspired 1980s tie.

Students ended the day enjoying cups of multicolored Jello through the gaps in their teeth. It certainly was a colorful day, made complete by a classroom of kindergartners getting together and having fun!


Winter Break Schedule

All Olympia School District schools will be closed for Winter Break from Monday, December 19 through Monday, January 2. Schools will re-open on Tuesday, January 3.

During Winter Break the district administrative offices will be open December 19-21, and December 27-29. Otherwise the Knox building will be closed and will not re-open until Tuesday, January 3.


3rd Annual OSD Technology Fair is February 11

Mark your calendars for the 3rd annual OSD Technology Fair on Saturday, February 11 at Capital High School.

The free event, which is open to all students, families and the community, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the high school Commons, 2707 Conger Ave. N.W. in Olympia.School booths will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will showcase a variety of ways that students and teachers use digital tools to support the learning process.

Fair visitors are also invited to watch student technology challenge presentations from 1-3 p.m. Each school has an opportunity to enter a student team in a technology challenge to be revealed the morning of the Technology Fair. Teams will work collaboratively on the challenge from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and present to the audience in the afternoon.

Elementary school students will present their technology challenge from 1-2 p.m. Middle and high school students will present how they responded to their challenge from 2-3 p.m.​​​​​​​


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