Spotlight on Success

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SOS Header - June 2019

June 21, 2019



Superintendent's Message


Hello Olympia School District Families,

Patrick Murphy headshotAs we finish the last day of school today, I wanted to send you all a message thanking you for another wonderful year and wishing you a safe and restful summer break with family and friends.

There were so many great accomplishments this year in our classrooms, on our performance stages, on our playing fields and in our gyms. Our graduation ceremonies always serve as the perfect venue to highlight and appreciate all the hard work of our students, our families and our staff. This year’s commencement exercises were no exception. Student and staff speakers thanked parents and elementary school teachers for helping them get to the next stage in their lives.

Our graduates’ speeches and future plans were reflective of the recently board-adopted Student Outcomes. They spoke of compassion, and a determination to create a more just and equitable world free from bias. They encouraged their classmates to keep finding their passions and to never stop learning. They spoke of a desire to see and contribute to the world in productive and meaningful ways. There were amazing stories and celebrations of resilience and inspiration as our high schools recognized graduates who were recent arrivals to our country who spoke little to no English, and are now going on to college and building a strong future for themselves and their families. From continued pursuits in higher education, entering the world of work or serving our country in the armed forces – the Class of 2019 will undoubtedly be changing the world for the better. 

Perhaps, like me, from time to time you worry about the future of our community, our country and our world. Our graduation ceremonies temper that fear and give us hope and optimism about the years to come. 

In closing, take care of yourselves and each other this summer. We sent home some tips to all families to make sure we all stay safe when taking part in summer activities. Rest up, and we will see you all next year as we prepare to welcome next year’s kindergartners —  the Class of 2032!


Patrick Murphy Signature

Patrick Murphy

Olympia School District


Capital High School marketing students host annual trade show

Aspiring Capital High School entrepreneurs learned it takes hard work, organization, product research and a stellar sales pitch to run a successful business.
CHS Marketing Trade ShowJust ask junior Tyler Reding, who spent three hours one day last month standing behind a booth promoting Olympia’s Encore Chocolates and Teas products during the school’s annual trade show.
“You need to put in a lot of effort if you want to get people interested,” Reding said. “You have to understand the product and be able to show people how much the company loves the product.”
You also have to keep the chocolate bars from melting on a hot day, he learned, and keep a customer’s attention when there are 34 competing businesses handing out product samples and promotional materials for everything from ice cream and pretzels to ski equipment and gymnastics classes.
The trade show is a culminating project each spring for Marketing and International Baccalaureate (IB) Business Management students.
CHS Marketing Trade Show“The CHS trade show project really puts classroom learning into action,” said IB Marketing teacher Brenda Grabski. “Each student gains the experience of an actual marketing job for a day. I love when students realize how the course content fits into the community they live in!”
Each year marketing students partner with local businesses of their choice to create their trade show booth and product displays. The entrepreneurs showcased their products and a portfolio of research they assembled as part of the experience. Advanced marketing students managed the trade show and were responsible for logistics, promotions and more.
Portfolios differed slightly depending on each student’s experience in the marking program; however, in general the process included each student:

  • Contacting a local business to gain permission to work with them in order to promote their product.
  • Spending time in class on business communication, promotions, branding and image, visual and verbal presentation,  design, sales and artistic design.
  • Creating a portfolio documenting the above elements.
  • Designing and implementing a trade show booth and delivering a sales presentation to various attendees based on their interest and questions.
  • Following up after the show with thank you notes and photographs to businesses.

Juniors Nate Benfield and Finn Barnes chose Old School Pizzeria in Olympia as their business venture to promote among classmates, staff and community members who lined up at their eye-catching booth inside the cafeteria. Barnes, who is interested in management and human resources, said he learned the importance of good communication and meeting deadlines as they prepared for the trade show. The secret to their success, however, was even more basic.
“It’s about being genuine, doing something unique and building a relationship with customers,” he said.


2019 Graduation photo albums available on Facebook

Graduation photo albums have been posted to the Olympia School District Facebook page

Avanti HS GraduationCheck out our Facebook page at any point to view all the exciting graduation related content from; Avanti HS, Capital HS, Olympia HS and Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA), Project Search and the Transition Program. 

You will find video of graduations which have been live streamed as well as photo albums of the graduations themselves. We will continue to push graduation content out over the course of the next couple weeks. There’s just so much good stuff to share!


Pioneer ES 4th graders showcase environmental awareness

Pioneer Elementary School’s fourth graders put a unique spin on Earth Day this year. Students took old T-shirts and turned them into functional and funky beach bags, messenger bags and totes. Some students even used other pieces of used clothing, such as an old pair of leggings, to make into a small Earth Day at Pioneer ESpurse. Pioneer Elementary teachers joined the fun as well, showcasing a few examples of bags they had made to inspire their students. Teacher Laurie Raben says students are “literally carrying the message of ‘Reuse, repurpose and recycle’ to heart.”
The second half of their Earth Day celebration took on a more aquatic feel. Killer Whale Tales, a nonprofit based out of Seattle, brought environmental awareness into Pioneer Elementary School’s fourth-grade classrooms. Jeff Hogan, the presenter from Killer Whale Tales, talked with students about orcas and ways they can take steps to be more environmentally friendly.  
Earth Day at Pioneer ESStudents carried what they learned in the classroom into their own homes, conducting household inventories to assess their conservation habits. The students were invited to fill out “Kids Making a Difference Now” worksheets to gain a better conservation awareness. Students were asked a series of questions, including, “Can you cut back on faucet running time when brushing teeth?” and “Does your household currently have Recycled/Chlorine-free paper products?”

 Students had the opportunity to show Hogan the bags they had made. They also presented Hogan with a gift: a handmade bag with the Pioneer logo. Raben says, “He was thrilled to receive it and said he’d be sharing the bags during future presentations in other schools.” Students were given killer whale trading cards featuring whales from family pods in Puget Sound.
What a wonderful way to foster environmental awareness. If you see a Pioneer fourth grader carrying around their handmade bag this summer, be sure to compliment them on their creativity and conservation of this beautiful place we call home.



SKIPP & Summer Lunch Program

SKIPP Summer Lunch ProgramOlympia Parks and Recreation will facilitate the USDA Free lunch program this summer at both Garfield and Madison elementary schools. Lunches are free for children 18 and under. Lunches will be served from noon to 12:30 p.m. from June 25 – August 17 (except July 4).

Garfield will be a hot lunch site, while Madison will be a cold sack lunch site. No registration is necessary.

Every day following lunch, kids 6-12 are invited to participate in the Summer Kids in Parks Program (SKIPP). This is a supervised, drop-in playground program. For additional information, view the Olympia Parks and Recreation SKIPP and Summer Lunch Program webpage.



Olympia High School students win National Merit Scholarship

Every year, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation awards scholarships to outstanding students who meet specific requirements. The scholarship is based on PSAT scores, as well as a final essay written by students. This year, two Olympia High School students received a National Merit Scholarship.
OHS National Merit ScholarFor his essay, Gordon Elwood selected a Walt Whitman quote that he has admired since the 7th grade, taken from the poem “Song of Myself.” The verse “I am large, I contain multitudes” resonated with Gordon. He says, “I connected with the quote for a long time because I felt like I contradicted myself. I play soccer, but I also do a lot of academic stuff.” He wrote about the journey during high school as he began to define himself outside of his social circle. His essay and insights resonated with the judges as well. Gordon is planning on attending Williams College in Massachusetts. He is looking forward to the small college experience. He is interested in a variety of subjects, from biochemistry, to economics, to law. Gordon is excited to see where his studies take him. “I was excited to win the scholarship. I felt it was an honor,” Gordon says.

Earlier in the selection process, all Olympia High School semifinalists were commended by Principal Matt Grant. 
OHS National Merit ScholarAJ Sterner, another National Scholarship winner, also was inspired by one of his creative pursuits. He wrote his essay on a solo ensemble performance in high school. “Before the performance, I was a perfectionist,” AJ says. “My teacher and the performance helped me get over the ‘It has to be perfect’ mentality.” AJ played the trombone in band under Band Director Erik Curley. “He is a really amazing teacher,” AJ says. AJ will be attending the University of Arizona in the fall and is planning on studying engineering. His calculus and physics classes introduced him to the type of math used in engineering. AJ also credits his interest in engineering to his grandfather who worked as an engineer. The National Merit Scholarship is another stepping stone in AJ fulfilling his dreams. “Being selected for the scholarship was a nice feeling,” AJ says.
Congratulations Gordon and AJ! Best of luck in your future endeavors.


Bill Kallappa receives Community Leadership Award

Bill Kallappa, interim director of the Nisqually Tribe Education Department and new member of the State Board of Education, has been recognized with this year’s Washington Association of School Administrators Community Leadership Award for his outstanding contributions to education.
WASA AwardsOlympia School District Superintendent Patrick Murphy shared a few words about Kallappa and presented him with a certificate during a regional awards ceremony on May 29. Other award winners across the region also received certificates and praise during “An Evening of Celebration” at the Capital Region Educational Service District 113 administrative office in Tumwater.
In his remarks, Murphy thanked Kallappa for being a key partner in education with the Olympia School District. “He has provided invaluable guidance with several Olympia School District initiatives, including our Strategic Planning process and implementation of the Since Time Immemorial curriculum,” Murphy said.
WASA AwardsKallappa also serves on a committee that is assisting with the district’s new administrative center design, including a historical timeline of the school district and area.
“Bill’s timeline of community involvement is impressive, including 25 years in public education and youth programs, not to mention membership on numerous state and national associations,” Murphy said.
Throughout its history, the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) has been involved in honoring and recognizing outstanding educational administrators and those individuals in other professions who have made extraordinary contributions to K–12 education.
The WASA Community Leadership Award is presented annually to a community member or group in recognition of their outstanding contributions to education. Specific criteria include:

  • Benefit to students
  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Success
  • Cooperation/coordination with local district
  • Recognition by others
  • History of service


On the same evening Assistant Superintendent Nancy Faaren received a certificate honoring her retirement from the Olympia School District. Congratulations, Bill Kallappa and Nancy Faaren for all that you do for the Olympia School District!



Reeves MS bands study music in Tacoma and Seattle

Reeves BandWhat better way to learn more about music than taking a field trip to Tacoma and Seattle? The Reeves Middle School bands began their field trip with a visit to the stunning Lagerquist Concert Hall at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Tacoma. Students had the opportunity to perform a variety of pieces, as well as attend a clinic offered by PLU band directors Dr. Edwin Powell and Dr. Ron Gerhardstein. Reeves Middle School band teacher Randy Grostick says, “Having two college band directors conduct and coach such young students at a very high level was truly inspiring for the students.”
Reeves BandThe students also had the opportunity to visit the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. Grostick talked with the students about the OSD Student Outcomes, approved this year by the Olympia School Board. Students had the opportunity to learn more about a Foundation that focuses on reducing inequities related to poverty, health and education. Grostick tied this to Student Outcome 1: “Be compassionate and kind.” The band students also had a chance to see how Student Outcome 6 plays a vital role in the world: “Be critical thinkers who contribute to and collaborate with our local, global and natural world.”
Reeves BandThe students ended their time in Seattle with a visit to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop), previously called “The Experience Music Project.” This icon of Seattle, known for its elaborate architecture, houses a variety of displays and hands-on activities. The band students were able to play music in the Sound Lab, bringing their musical experience from the classroom into the museum. Other displays gave the historical background of various musical artists and insight into how they created their art.
What a wonderful opportunity for students to learn more about the musical world they love so well, as well as implement the new student outcomes of our district.


New law removes personal and philosophical exemption for MMR Vaccine

As of July 28, 2019, a new state law removes the personal and philosophical option to exempt children from the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine required for school and child care attendance. Medical and religious exemptions are not affected by this new law.

VaccinationsFamilies who have exempt children from the MMR vaccine for personal and philosophical reasons need to provide updated immunization paperwork at or before the start of the 2019-20 school year, starting on September 4, 2019. Children without a medical or religious exemption will need two doses of MMR vaccine to be allowed into school.

Because MMR vaccine doses must be administered at least a month apart, children may be entered into school if they have paperwork showing at least one dose of MMR vaccine by the beginning of the school year. This will place students under conditional status for up to 30 days, at which point families will need to provide records showing the student received the second dose of vaccine.

In Summary:

  • Personal/philosophical exemptions for MMR are no longer valid.
  • Children need proof of MMR vaccination by the first day of school.
  • Children not compliant with state vaccine requirements may be excluded from school.


The following resources may be helpful in accessing children’s immunization records or finding locations where free immunizations are offered this summer:

  • How to access immunization records: The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has shared on its website several ways families can access their child’s immunization information, including from their health care providers.
  • Where to get local free immunizations: View a flyer from the Thurston County Medical Reserve Corps informing the community of local free immunizations offered this summer at back-to-school immunization clinics. 
  • Where to find a list of required immunizations, Certificate of Immunization Status, and Certificate of Exemption: Visit the DOH website to learn what immunizations are required and related forms, including the Certificate of Immunization Status. This form is available in different languages. The site also contains the Certificate of Exemption form.




WMS Tech Arts student creates model of cafe on 3D printer 

Washington Middle School student Quinn Baker helped Vice-Chairman of the WA State Business Enterprise Program, Robert Ott, “see” his cafe for the first time. Located in downtown Olympia, Ott’s Washington MS 3D Printercafe serves a mix of breakfast items, burgers, sandwiches and more. How did Quinn help Ott see his cafe? With a Stratus uPrint 3D printer, of course! Ott visited the middle school’s Tech Arts class to talk about his journey since the incident that left him completely blind 20 years ago. As well as being Vice-Chairman of the WA State Business Enterprise Program, Ott is an author, motivational speaker and father of two.

Following Ott’s presentation to the WMS Tech Arts class, Teacher Brian Morris presented Ott’s idea of creating a 3D model of his business “Bobby Jay Café,” to his Tech Arts classroom. In a letter of appreciation to Morris’s class, Ott wrote: “I was offered a wonderful gift in return.” Quinn decided that he “would be willing to take up the challenge.”
Washington MS 3D PrinterIn the months that followed, Quinn worked from the blueprint of the café that Ott sent him, inputting the dimensions into the computer program that would produce the pieces for the model. “I really liked the detail work,” Quinn says. Quinn also appreciated the experience of “working with Mr. Ott as an employer.” They began this project near the end of October. Quinn used a SketchUp 3D modeling software to sketch and size the model. Once all the plastic pieces were printed on the 3D printer, Quinn fitted them together and sanded them down. Quinn says he enjoyed making the final product. He praises his tech arts class, and instructor, saying, “It’s a great class with great experience, and I’m really glad I could have it all three years of middle school.”



Student representatives take seats on Olympia School Board

New OSD Student Board RepsThe Olympia School District Board of Directors welcomed two new student representatives to the school board during a swearing-in ceremony at the start of the June 3 regular board meeting.
Ruby Gruber, a junior at Olympia High School, and Alexis Nevy, a junior at Avanti High School, will serve as student representatives to the board through the end of May 2020. School Board President Joellen Wilhelm administered the oath of office to both students, who then took their seats on the board.
Two student representatives serve on the board each year. The representatives alternate between the district’s four high schools (Capital and ORLA students serving one year, followed by Olympia and Avanti students the next).

Student representatives serve in an advisory capacity at school board meetings and do not vote. They are welcome and encouraged to comment about policies, procedures and decisions.


Register to vote for the August 6, 2019 Primary Election

Thurston County residents interested in voting in the August 6, 2019 Primary Election may register to vote online up to eight days prior to Election Day. Information must be received by an election official by July 29.
Register to VoteThere are three candidates vying for the District 1 seat on the Olympia School Board in the August 6, 2019 Primary Election. The top two vote-getters in this Primary Election will advance to the November 5 General Election.
The three candidates vying for the District 1 position are Ahniwa Ferrari, Maria Flores and Heath Howerton. The seat is currently held by Director Frank Wilson, who did not file for re-election.
There are two other board seats that will be on the November General Election ballot. The candidates for both of those seats are running unopposed. Justin McKaughan is vying for the District 2 seat that will be vacated by Director Joellen Wilhelm, and Hilary Seidel is running for re-election to the District 4 position, which she has held the past two years.
Register to vote online, by mail or in-person at the Thurston County Auditor's Office. In person voter registration is done at the Thurston County Elections Division, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. S.W., Bldg. 1, Rm. 118 in Olympia.
Additionally, Washington state is implementing Same Day Voter Registration beginning with the August Primary Election. You may register to vote in-person and update your voter registration address up to 8 p.m. on Election Day at the county Auditor’s Office.
To register to vote you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States.
  • Residing at your current address for a minimum of 30 days before Election Day.
  • A legal resident of Washington state.
  • At least 18 years old by Election Day.

Election ballots will be mailed on July 17, 2019.


Upcoming Events



  • June 21 - Last Day of School 

  • June 24 - Board Meeting at Knox Administrative Center, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. The public hearing on the 2019-20 school year budget starts at 6 p.m..

  • June 27 - Elementary furniture sale at Madison Elementary School, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.



  • July 3 - Elementary furniture sale at Madison Elementary School, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. 

  • July 4 - Independence Day 

  • July 15 - Board Meeting at Knox Administrative Center, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. 



  • August 5 - Board Meeting at Knox Administrative Center, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. 

  • August 19 - Board Meeting at Knox Administrative Center, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.



The Olympia School District will provide equal educational opportunity and treatment for all students in all aspects of the academic and activities program without discrimination based on race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, honorably-discharged veteran or military status, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, marital status, the presence of any sensory, mental or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. The district will provide equal access to school facilities to the Boy Scouts of America and all other designated youth groups listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society. District programs will be free from sexual harassment. Auxiliary aids and services will be provided upon request to individuals with disabilities.

The following people have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies, reports of alleged sexual harassment, concerns about compliance, and/or grievance procedures: 

All four individuals may also be contacted at 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia, WA, 98501.