Spotlight on Success

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March 21, 2019


Superintendent's Message


Hello Olympia School District Families,
Patrick Murphy headshotAny time an organization contends with difficult situations like our recent budgetary worries, it is always good, I think, to key in on those things that the organization values and stands for. Core values help us prioritize and remember why we dedicate ourselves to this work and fight each day to get better.
In the Olympia School District, our key beliefs and goals are bound up in our recently adopted Student Outcome statements. These statements, approved by the Olympia School Board last December, are part of our school district’s Strategic Planning process. As you may recall, the Student Outcomes are:



Outcome 1: Be compassionate and kind.
  • Outcome 2: Have the academic and life skills to pursue their individual career, civic and educational goals.
  • Outcome 3: Advocate for the social, physical and mental wellness of themselves and others and be hopeful about the future.
  • Outcome 4: Have the skills, knowledge and courage to identify and confront personal, systemic and societal bias.
  • Outcome 5: Discover their passions, be curious and love learning.
  • Outcome 6: Be critical thinkers who contribute to and collaborate with our local, global and natural world.


The next big step of the Strategic Planning process is to expound and explain what we mean by each outcome. That deeper explanation will be in the form of “indicators” under each outcome so that students, teachers and parents know what this means in our schools and classrooms.

For example, under Outcome 4, which says our students will “have the skills, knowledge and courage to identify and confront personal, systemic and societal bias,” an indicator could be:

  • Our students will develop an appreciation of world cultures, which may include the understanding of the basic structure of another world language


Our students will develop an appreciation of world cultures, which may include the understanding of the basic structure of another world language

Or under Outcome 2, when we say that our students will “have the academic and life skills to pursue their individual career, civic and educational goals,” an indicator could be:

  • Our students will read, write and speak effectively for a wide range of purposes, including the interpretation and analysis of both literary and informational texts


Our students will read, write and speak effectively for a wide range of purposes, including the interpretation and analysis of both literary and informational texts

Other examples of possible indicators, as well as background about the Strategic Planning process, are included on the district’s Strategic Planning webpage. This type of specificity will help students, staff and parents better understand how the outcomes will be realized in our schools. We will be pulling together a targeted group of students, staff and community members to help us on the “indicator’ development at a gathering this Friday, March 22.

In addition, we will have two open public meetings to welcome the community’s thoughts on a set of draft “Student Outcome Indicators.” Your voice is important in this process, and we hope you can join us on either of the two community meetings:
Monday, March 25, 1:30-3 p.m.; Knox Administrative Center Room 303, 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia

Wednesday, March 27, 6:30-8 p.m.; Knox Administrative Center Board Room, 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia

If you are unable to attend either of the community meetings and would like to comment online, please share your thoughts on a Student Outcome Draft Indicators online feedback form. The deadline to submit comments is Monday, April 8, 2019.

Patrick Murphy Signature

Patrick Murphy

Olympia School District


Cristy Havens selected as Elementary Educator of the Year

ORLA teacher Kristy HavensOlympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) teacher Cristy Havens was recently selected as the Washington Association for Learning Alternatives (WALA) Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) Elementary Educator of the Year. Havens was nominated by ORLA hConnect & MAST teacher Laura Herman and the ORLA administrative team. She is to be honored this Friday night at the WALA Spring Conference.

The intention of the WALA ALE Elementary Educator of the Year award is to recognize worthy individuals who stand out for their contributions to the work of ALE through their service to educating ALE students and taking time to go above and beyond in helping make ALE schools and programs successful.

Alternative education, also known as non-traditional education or educational alternative, includes a number of approaches to teaching and learning other than mainstream or traditional education. Educational alternatives are often rooted in various philosophies that are fundamentally different from those of mainstream or traditional education.

ORLA Administrator Celeste Waltermeyer had this to say about Havens: “Cristy is a dynamic, beloved teacher in our building and her classes are always “filled to the brim” with excited, smiling young students. She covers subjects ranging from reading to math, to choir to dance, with grace, patience and joy. Cristy’s ASB and leadership students have been pivotal in setting the tone and environment at ORLA. They greet families and hold doors each morning, they create positive, encouraging signs and posters for our halls, they actively plan and lead extracurricular activities for our students and families, and they model our school’s building expectations for behavior by modeling and educating others about Ownership, Respect, Leadership and Awareness.

Congratulations, Cristy, on this exciting recognition of your work at ORLA. We are proud to have you as a part of the Olympia School District family!


Board recognizes Teachers of the Year and National Board Certified Teachers

OSD Teachers of the YearThe Olympia School Board recognized this year’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year, the new National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT), as well as those who have renewed their NBCT certification during the March 11 school board meeting.

Teachers of the Year (the board recognized):

Olympia School District Elementary Teacher of the Year: Devin Alexander, reading intervention specialist at LP Brown Elementary School. Alexander has worked at LP Brown Elementary since 2006.

Olympia School District Secondary Teachers of the Year: Lorraine Manning and Marion Sheridan, Special Education Life Skills teachers at Olympia High School. Manning joined the district in 1996 and has worked at both Olympia and Capital high schools. Sheridan started in 1998 and has worked at Olympia High School ever since.

National Board Certified Teachers

National Board Certified Teachers: The NBCT recognition began with two OSD educators providing an overview of the process to become certified and to renew certification. Erica Kinsel, an Olympia High School teacher, a Regional NBCT facilitator and a facilitator of the Olympia NBCT cohort, teamed with Cindy Johnson, a Pioneer Elementary School teacher who is currently going through the NBCT renewal process.

The school board recognized:


  • New NBCTs: Emily Hamilton of McLane Elementary School, Amy Hill of Pioneer Elementary School and Marisa Castello of Olympia High School.
  • Renewals: Tania Albert, Kelly Boyer and Kristen Soderberg of Olympia High School; Charleen Hayes and Trisha Douay of LP Brown Elementary School; Melissa Johnston-Cota of Capital High School; and Candyce Burroughs and Jodi Boe of Washington Middle School.

Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees!


Hansen ES student's "Green Monster" art wins international competition

Elliot showing off his graphic artwork on tshirtElliot Beagle, a 7-year-old at Hansen Elementary School, enjoys drawing a variety of art pieces including a certain competition-winning green monster. Elliot joined 19 other young artists whose drawings of imaginative monsters were selected as part of an international competition. Jasper Wong, a pop culture artist, took the winning designs and reinterpreted them into a design for PLAE, a company that specializes in artistic shoe and T-shirt design. Elliot named his monster “Green Eevee.” The origin story of this particular piece of winning art can perhaps be traced back to the family cat, who also bears the name Eevee. Elliot drew a picture of Eevee in his first “Art for Kids” class after school using chalk pastels.

Claire, Elliot’s mother, said her son was so excited when he learned his artwork had been chosen. “He couldn’t believe he’d won such a big competition. He asked almost every day if the shoes came out yet.” She is the proud mom to her “tiny artist,” and says one of her favorite pieces of art her son has done was of the family cat (although she is also incredibly proud of his pastel of flowers, drawn for a neighbor).

When Elliot grows up, he said he hopes to be a ninja, an artist and an architect. He plans to design his own house, with one room set aside to display his art. Elliot is an inspiration to everyone to create dreams and pursue them. Whether he is sharing his art with neighbors or winning competitions, we wish him success in his future goals.



Families come out in droves for OSD “Countdown to Kindergarten” event 

There were a record number of attendees at this year’s “Countdown to Kindergarten” event, with 300-plus people coming through the doors of Capital High School.

Boston Harbor Elementary staffThis informational event is held annually so families can learn about a variety of topics related to kindergarten. The day began with a welcome and presentation by Superintendent Patrick Murphy and Assistant Superintendent Nancy Faaren. Among other topics, the presentation focused on kindergarten readiness, Skyward Family Access, registration requirements, transportation, food services and community resources.

Following the presentation, families had an opportunity to visit with school and district staff to learn about programs and support services available in the district. School transportation staff provided school bus tours so parents and students could become familiar with rules and expectations.

Many thanks to all of our incoming families, school and program staff, and community service agencies that attended and made this day a great success. This year we had representation from all 12 of our Elementary School programs. There was also a record number of exit surveys completed by families this year, nearly double what was received last year, which will help us make improvements to the event next year.

OSD Administrative Intern Renee James-Burney, who was in charge of much of the coordinating for this event, had this to say when the festivities wrapped-up: “I am so thankful for all the support we received from every one of our elementary schools, the Olympia School District department staff, as well as the involvement from outside community organizations. This is always one of my favorite events of the year. It’s such a treat to see the excitement on the faces of all our soon-to-be kindergarten students!”

For additional information about kindergarten registration, visit our kindergarten registration webpage. We can't wait to meet all of our new students this fall!



Reeves MS student named semifinalist in GeoBee competition

Spelling Bee champ at Reeves MSDylan Borden, a sixth-grader at Reeves Middle School, has been named one of the semifinalists eligible to compete in the 2019 National Geographic GeoBee Washington State Competition on March 29. The GeoBee competitions test the participant's knowledge of countries, oceans and cultures around the world.

Dylan says, “When I first started reading, I mostly read nonfiction.” He went on to say how he enjoyed learning about natural features such as lakes, rivers and mountains. Jessica, Dylan’s mom, says, “My son has been into maps and the world since he was tiny.” Dylan’s dad says he is very proud of his son and his accomplishment. “My children read so much,” he says. A new interest for Dylan was the cultural aspect of the GeoBee. “A lot of the questions had to do with cultural stuff, so I started getting into that - like Africa and Asia.” A love of reading and learning was instilled in Dylan growing up. Kurt, Dylan’s dad, said his son especially enjoyed the Redwall series early on. Dylan smiled as he told how the whole school erupted in applause when he won the school GeoBee. “It was pretty cool,” he said.

To qualify for the state GeoBee, winners at the schools took an online qualifying test. The 100 top ranked students in each state qualify for the state championship. State champions will receive a medal, $1,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Championship. “I’m looking forward to the experience,” Dylan said about his opportunity to go to state.

We wish him the best of luck in his upcoming competition!


Join us at OSD Night at the Tacoma Rainiers May 9

Tickets are on sale for our annual OSD Night with the Rainiers on Thursday, May 9. Come watch the Tacoma Rainiers take on the Reno Aces.

Tacoma Rainiers logoGates open at 5:30 p.m. Superintendent Patrick Murphy will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at 6:45 p.m. followed by a performance of the national anthem by the Washington Middle School Choir. The game starts at 7:05 p.m.

To purchase tickets, please visit and enter promo code OSD19. Group Express tickets are $14 per person and include a reserved seat, hot dog, chips and bottled water. The Double Play tickets are $19 per person and include a reserved seat, hot dog, chips, bottled water and a limited-edition Rainiers hat.

All students, families, teachers, staff and the Olympia School District community are invited to join us for this fun-filled event.

We hope to see you there!



OSD students compete at state DECA conference

Capital HS DECA teamThe Distributive Educational Club of America (DECA) is a co-curricular organization for high school marketing students. Participants in DECA have the opportunity to hone skills for college and future careers. A wide range of competitions offer students a chance to demonstrate their knowledge of entrepreneurship, retail, marketing and more.

More than 4,000 students from Washington state competed in the DECA state conference February 28-March 1. Students who placed in the top 5% at state qualify for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) in April.

11 Capital High School students placed in the top 5% in state:

  • International Business Plan: Maddie Jansen, Alexis Maki, Kaya Kirkendol
  • Student Store Team: Bela Valdenegro, Katie Moore, Keegan Wentworth, Kyle Johnson, Emma Boyd
  • Chapter Campaign for Entrepreneurship: Tommy Ly, Kaya Kirkendoll, Maddie Jansecolln

Runner-up in Sports and Marketing: Carson Collard


Olympia HS DECA team8 students at Olympia High School received medals for top finalist in their categories:


  • Business Finance Team Event: Catherine Bell and Lindsey Lucenko
  • Business Finance Team Event: Amaya John and Olivia Cai
  • Entrepreneurship Team Event: Emily Church
  • Food Marketing: Luca Myers
  • Hotel and Lodging: June Marie Brittain 
  • School Based Enterprise Team: Tyler Woods, Paige Adderley, Lily McGuigan


The School Based Enterprise Team also achieved Gold Level recertification.

Three students from Olympia Regional Learning Academy also participated in the state conference:


  • Quick Service Restaurant Management: Prana Brockmeyer
  • Principles of Hospitality and Tourism: Atalanta Bella-Rogol
  • Principles of Hospitality and Tourism: Archer Hansen


Congratulations, students!


College Bound Scholarship Program opportunity for low-income families

Jefferson MS Administrative teamThe College Bound Scholarship Program, organized by the Washington Student Achievement Council, was created to provide state financial aid to low-income students. Students in grade 7 or 8 who meet the qualifications may apply. Application for the scholarship closes on the last day of the student’s eighth-grade year. The scholarship covers tuition at comparable public college rates, a small book allowance and some fees.

“Opportunities are really life-changing with this program,” says Steve Rood, Executive Director of Secondary Education at OSD. “It’s one of those programs that really has a clear outcome on equity and changing the futures for kids.”

Todd Fulton, a counselor at Marshall Middle School, adds, “I’ve witnessed the College Bound Scholarship Program absolutely change the trajectory of our students’ lives.” The statewide high school graduation rate for College Bound students has shown to be 10 percentage points higher than for other low-income students.

Marshall MS Administrative teamIn the 2017-18 school year, Jefferson and Marshall middle schools were named “Gold Star” schools for a sign-up rate of 80% of their eligible eighth-graders. Rood says, “We are proud of the efforts of our middle school staff and our high school staff who are committed to helping get those kids over the finish line.” Brenda Corkum, a counselor at Jefferson Middle School, says, “There are at least 67 different programs in our state that will accept this scholarship payment. This gives our students so many options for their future.”

Families interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to contact their school counselors.

For more information:




Imaginations abound at Pioneer Elementary School science fair

Pioneer ES science fair projectFrom the popular oobleck, to building a model of an amoeba, Pioneer Elementary School students displayed a wide variety of curiosity and hands-on learning during their annual science fair.

The genesis of this science fair began in January with a question that students wanted to explore. These questions became the finished product of 94 science projects. From the colorful “Can a blow dryer melt crayons?” experiment to one that explored how water affects root growth, students had the opportunity to explore their interests. Plastic bags served as amoeba, gelatin was used as cytoplasm and cheerios became projectiles for a small-scale trebuchet.

Teacher Jennifer Moore, the main coordinator of this event, praised students for their passion and ability to explain their projects so well. Sixteen community members acted as judges, giving students the opportunity to talk about their projects and receive feedback.

Pioneer ES Science Fair projectPrincipal Joel Lang enjoyed watching students “use their imagination to dream up a project.” The science fair gives students the opportunity to “work with friends to investigate something they’re curious about,” Lang says. Lily and Reese, a team of two 5th-graders, enthusiastically shared their experiment to test the durability of five dog toys (Subjects A, B, C, D and E) with Lucy, Reese’s dachshund. Their display included pictures of a very thrilled dachshund testing out the new toys. Ana, a second grader, also engaged her pet in her project. Ana wanted to know if she could teach Blu, her eight-month-old tabby kitten, to sit. She discovered that Blu sometimes needed a bit of prompting at first, as well as finding treats he liked. Blu is her first kitten.

We’d like to give a shout-out to all the parents, OSD staff, friends and pets who made this science fair such a huge success. Whether you participated in projects such as the ice cream/brain freeze test, or helped students come up with their project ideas, thank you for all you did for these students and this year’s science fair at Pioneer Elementary.



Benefit concert features The Brothers Four

Really Big ShoeEntertainment Explosion hosts “A Really Big Shoe 13” special encore performance by The Brothers Four at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 31 at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. This performance benefits homeless students in eight local school districts in Thurston and Mason counties, and Community Youth Services, to provide items such as shoes, clothes, food, shelter, school fees and supplies. In 12 years, Entertainment Explosion has raised and distributed $307,000 to benefit local students in need.

Tickets for A Really Big Shoe are $20, $30 and $40 each and can be purchased on the Washington Center for the Performing Arts website.

For more information, call (360) 753-8586 or email



Survey of OSD budget priorities for the 2019-20 school year

OSD Budget Survey iconAs preparation for the upcoming school year, the Superintendent and Board of Directors seek community, staff, parent and student input on the Olympia School District budget development. Due to recent changes in the state school funding system, the district is projected to face a deficit in the 2019-20 school year. We are hopeful that the state Legislature will address some or all of the causes, and the district may not face a deficit. Regardless, we seek community, staff and student input on instructional and operational priorities and values.


Upcoming Events



  • March 25 – "Student Outcome Indicators" Public Meeting: Knox Administrative Center from 1:30 - 3 p.m. (Room 303)

  • March 25 – Board Meeting: Boston Harbor Elementary School at 6:30 p.m.

  • March 25  – Building Blocks for Success: From Families to Friendships at Garfield Elementary School at 6 p.m.

  • March 26 – Parenting Workshop: Effective Teen Discipline at Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) at 6:30 p.m.

  • March 26-29  – Elementary School Conferences (Half Days)

  • March 27  – 50-Minute Early Release (Middle & High School)

  • March 27 – "Student Outcome Indicators" Public Meeting at Knox Administrative Center from 6:30 - 8 p.m. (Board Room)

  • March 31  – A Really Big Shoe Performance at Washington Center for the Performing Arts at 2 p.m.



  • April 1-5 – Spring Break (No School)

  • April 12 – Half Day (Middle School)

  • April 15-19 – Public School Volunteer Week

  • April 15 – Board Meeting: Knox Administrative Center at 6:30 p.m.

  • April 15 – Building Blocks for Success: Raising a Mathematician at Garfield Elementary School at 6 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.