November 21, 2017

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November 21, 2017


Superintendent's Message


Hello Olympia School District Families,

As we head into the holiday season, I want to again express my deep appreciation and thankfulness to Superintendent Murphy headshotthe students, parents and staff of the Olympia School District. Our public schools are crucial to the future of our community, our state and our country. I feel so fortunate to have landed in a place with wonderful students, supportive families and dedicated staff.

For example, we want to applaud the efforts of Marshall Middle School students, staff and families, as that school was recently named a winner of the 2017 School of Distinction Award — an honor only about 20 middle schools statewide can claim. The award recognizes improvement over five years in English language arts (ELA) and math. The neat thing about this award is it recognizes achievement in student growth and is not just a measure of how many students met an arbitrary benchmark. Meeting students where they are and helping them meet their potential is what education is all about.

Our final graduation counts for the Class of 2017, as well as the Class of 2016, are further testament to the district’s commitment to education. These numbers include the on-time rate (those in the Class of 2017 who graduated in four years) and the extended graduation rate (those in the Class of 2016 who graduated in five years). When looking at measurements, like graduation rates, we disaggregate the data to determine who is being successful, who is not, and what practices might need adjustment to ensure greater success for all.

There was a fractional decrease (six-tenths of one percent) in our on-time rate compared to the previous year from 90.0% (an all-time high) to 89.4%. In terms of ethnicity, we saw a slight dip in the on-time graduation rate for our Asian, Hispanic, and two or more races populations. At the same time, we saw a slight increase for our African American students from 79% to 80%. Our low-income students moved up 3 percentage points from 77% to 80%, and students in special education in the Class of 2017 saw a 6 percentage point increase.

Perhaps more telling, and in many ways more promising information, is the data for our extended (5-year) graduation rate. We moved from 91.6% to 94.9% of all students graduating within five years. That is among the highest in the state! When we hit percentages like 95%, that is when goals like 100% are truly reachable. We have learned through the years that one size does not fit all anymore, and it never did. We want all students to finish in four years, if that is achievable. However, finishing in four years might not be reasonable or even advisable for some. For an English language learner who arrives in our country during the high school years, graduating in five years may be completely appropriate. Health or family circumstances may also warrant an extended time in high school for some students. Additionally, students who receive special services sometimes have plans of service through age 21.

Avanti High School’s graduation data is also noteworthy. The school is unique compared to our two large, comprehensive neighborhood high schools. Some students arrive at the school credit deficient due to life circumstances. The school’s on-time graduation rate is 64%. However, the school’s extended graduation rate is 92%. While initially credit deficient, with the support of staff and families, those students become connected. While they take a little longer, they get across the stage at a similar rate as our traditional comprehensive high schools.

Without knowing each student’s individual circumstances, there are many other positive data points in our districtwide extended graduation rate data. The on-time rate for African American students, as mentioned earlier in this message, is 80%, but the extended graduation rate is 100%. Similarly, our students who identify as Hispanic had an extended rate of 93%, special education 76%, and low income 86%. These all represent significant increases when compared to their on-time graduation rates.

During some recent district staff trainings, we presented the idea that equity in schools is about eliminating the predictability of educational outcomes based on demographic factors while raising achievement levels for all students. As we continue to re-think the best ways to meet students’ needs in our schools, we will continue to be data-driven in our work.

I hope all of our families have a restful and joyous Thanksgiving break and holiday season.

Patrick Murphy Signature

Patrick Murphy


Olympia HS boasts two Academic State Championship teams

Olympia High School is home to two academic state championship teams for having the highestOlympia High School Swim Team combined grade point average (GPA) from among all Class 4A schools in their respective sports during the fall athletics season.

Congratulations to the Olympia High girls swimming and volleyball teams, each winning an “Academic State Champion” award — the highest academic award given each season in Washington state.

The girls swimming team, led by coach Mel Smith, earned a combined team GPA of 3.858. The volleyball team, coached by Laurie Creighton, earned a combined team GPA of 3.883.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) awarded the teams the scholastic honor Olympia High School Volleyball Teamfor the Fall 2017 sports season. The awards are open to sports teams; activity squads such as dance, and drill and cheer; and fine arts groups such as band, choir, orchestra and drama.

Any team or group with an average GPA of 3.0 or higher qualifies for a state award. A team with an average GPA of 3.0-3.49 qualifies for a Distinguished Team Award. A team with an average GPA of 3.50-4.0 qualifies for the Outstanding Team Award.

The team/group with the highest average GPA for their activities and classification level statewide is recognized as an Academic State Champion.

Photos courtesy of John O'Leary Photography.


Reeves Middle School hosts Revolutionary War speaker

Dolora Henderson and her eighth-grade social studies class at Reeves Middle School recently hosted a unique and informative guest, dressed head to toe in an American Revolutionary war uniform. Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert O’Neal, a member of the Washington Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), was invited talk to students on the role that teenagers played in the Revolutionary War.

Prior to O’Neal’s visit, the class explored daily life in colonial America, learning about education, family, farmReeves MS American Revolution assembly and city life, leisure, and the political climate leading up to the Revolution.

During the presentation, students learned that more than half of the colonists were under the age of 16 and that thousands of teenagers fought and served on battlefields, at military camps and on homesteads. O’Neal explained that some boys joined the Army and became soldiers, drummers or fifers and others protected the homestead as their fathers served on the battlefield. He explained further that girls were not allowed to join the Army but instead served as both informants and spies and managed logistical operations at Army camps – providing medical care, sewing, reloading munitions and preparing food.

In addition to sharing the roles that teens played during the Revolution, O’Neal explained the significance of regimental, militia and colonial clothing and brought samples of each for students to try on.

A notable story O’Neal shared was of 16-year-old Deborah Samson, who disguised herself as a man to Reeves American Revolution Assemblyjoin the Army, and fought for three years alongside her male peers. Student Madrona Naragon said that before the presentation she “didn’t know teens were that involved in the war.” Classmate Helena Scuderi added that she “didn’t know that women would disguise themselves to join the Army.”

The eighth-grade class is scheduled to learn next about the growing tension between the colonists and Great Britain from 1763-1775, eventually leading to the Revolutionary War. Henderson invited O’Neal to speak as a preview of that period, and as a way to engage the students by making a connection between their lives in the 21st century and how vastly different it is from teen’s lives during the Revolutionary War.

As students continue learning about the conflicts that led to the rebellion, for the culminating activity, they will assume roles of historical figures during a colonial town meeting debate for independence. Henderson will invite O’Neal back to see that activity and witness firsthand what her students learned from his presentation and in-class research.


Congratulations Classified School Employees of the Year

The announcements came as a surprise, and each one was filled with emotion ranging from tears and cheers, to standing ovations and hugs.

The Olympia School District recently announced this year’s Classified School Employees of the Year.

Congratulations to:
Carolyn Poage - Olympia High School

  • Marilyn Dye, delivery driver with Child Nutrition Services.
  • Michell Orwig, paraeducator at Garfield Elementary School.
  • Carolyn Poage, head custodian at Olympia High School.

All three were honored at a special recognition ceremony during the November 20, 2017 Olympia School Board meeting.

The award recognizes employees who consistently demonstrate outstanding work performance, professional leadership and collaboration.

In September, the Olympia School District opened nominations for Classified School Employee of the Year. The district invited staff, students, parents and community members to submit nominations.

The district received nearly 40 nominations from throughout the district. A screening committee madeMarilyn Dye - Child Nutrition Services up of OSD employees and community members reviewed the submissions and recommended the three names to Superintendent Patrick Murphy.

Murphy, School Board President Eileen Thomson, and school leaders announced the winners and presented them with flowers during impromptu staff meetings.

Classified School Employee of the Year is an annual statewide awards program through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It begins with local nominations from school districts throughout Washington. Those individuals have a chance of then being named a regional Classified School

Michell Orwig - Garfield ES

Employee of the Year, which allows them to advance to the state competition.

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction recognizes the regional finalists and announces the state Classified School Employee of the Year at the annual spring award ceremony at the Old Capitol Building in Olympia.

The state award winner and regional finalists are invited to several annual recognition events including the Governor's Reception for Exceptional Educators.



Capital High makes history and wins State 3A Volleyball Championship

The Capital High volleyball team, coached by Katie Turcotte, won the first state championship in the team’s history on November 11, defeating Mercer Island 3-1 at the Class 3A finals in Kennewick.Capital High School Volleyball Team

The team secured the 3A district championship the first weekend of November qualifying for state tournament play. The Cougars entered state tournament with a 17-1 record including just one loss in early October to Gig Harbor.
After three previous second-place finishes at state, this championship team took the win with positivity, energy and a winning mindset. Way to go Cougs!


Washington MS hosts first-ever STEAM Night

Washington Middle School held its first-ever STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) night on November 15.

The evening kicked off at 5:30 p.m. with a spaghetti dinner in the cafeteria, accompanied by soothing tunes from the school orchestra. Once dinner wrapped up, everyone was invited to tour the school and attend any of the open sessions available in classrooms, the library or gymnasium.

In these open sessions students and teachers were available to demonstrate how they use STEAM components in the classroom. Here are a few of the sessions which were offered to families:

Chromecasting with Interactive Display PanelsWMS Steam Night
See how students can project their entire desktop to the teacher’s presentation station in order to guide the classroom discussion based on Web findings.

Learn how teachers can manage online resources and assignments with their students. See how teachers can provide feedback on student work.

Kahoot! & No Red InkWMS Steam Night
Learn how teachers use Kahoot! to present interactive quizzes online in real time. Also see how No Red Ink is used to help students master grammar.

News Productions & Video Editing
See how WMS produces its morning announcements broadcast. Additionally, students will teach the basics of video editing.

Tech Arts Shop – Product Development & MarketingWMS Steam Night
Learn about the products that students are producing for their mock companies and how they are marketing them to the community.

STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!

What a cool event. Way to go Bulldogs, we can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for us next year!



Board approves technology and safety replacement levy proposal

The Olympia School Board unanimously agreed to place a technology and safety replacement levy Technology in the classroomproposal before voters in February to help pay for increased student access to technology, as well as safety projects districtwide.

The board passed a resolution in October to include the technology and safety levy renewal on the February 13, 2018 Special Election ballot.

“This levy proposal reflects a continuation of our efforts to make technology accessible to all students and prepare them for success now and into the future as they move on to college and careers and become global digital citizens,” said Board Vice President Frank Wilson. “This is about equity and increasing access, while also moving us forward in the area of safety.”Technology in the classroom

The proposed levy is not a new tax. The measure on the February 2018 ballot would replace a four-year technology and safety levy approved by voters in 2014. The levy would raise an estimated $35.4 million over four years (2019-2022).

The total proposed tax rate for school levies in 2019-2022 would remain the same as or be lower than the total tax rate for 2017 school levies.

Continue reading article here



McKenny community welcomes home U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Latavis Walker

Staff Sgt. Latavis Walker arrived home to Washington just in time to surprise his children during a Veterans Day Assembly at McKenny Elementary School. As Principal Michael Havens McKenny Veteran's Day homecomingannounced his name, Walker appeared from the side of the gym, walked in waving and smiling, and was rushed by his children who cried tears of happiness. In addition to his children at McKenny, he was able to surprise a daughter from Washington Middle School and a son from Capital High School who were invited to the November 9 assembly for what they thought was a performance by one of their younger siblings.

Parents and guests in the audience welcomed him with a standing ovation, and King 5 TV was on hand to help capture the surprise. Walker returned to his family after a nine-month deployment in Jordan and Kuwait.

Thank you Staff Sgt. Walker for your service to our country!



Jan Kiefer inducted to WSDDCA Hall of Fame

In a testament to her passion and dedication, Jan Kiefer, head coach of the Capital High School Dance Team (the Cougarettes) was inducted this fall into the Washington State Dance & Drill Coaches Association (WSDDCA) Hall of Fame.

Capital High Principal Curtis Cleveringa said, “There is nobody more deserving of this recognition than CHS Dance Coach Jan Kiefercoach Jan.” He added that Kiefer and her staff spend countless hours planning, preparing, coordinating schedules, traveling to competitions, hosting events and holding practices while maintaining a positive culture.

That positive culture is a direct result of Kiefer’s perseverance and her willingness to take a leap of faith when she applied for the job 21 years ago. The only dance experience Kiefer had at that time was from the parent perspective, watching her daughter participate on the dance team. A friend who believed in her and was convinced she was the right person for the job urged Kiefer to apply, and the rest is history.

Once selected, Kiefer said she attended every clinic and coaching training opportunity she could find. She spent hours talking to other coaches, sitting in on practices, talking to girls and parents, and slowly began to mold what she felt “would be a program that would be successful, that would be rewarding and a positive experience to girls on the team.”

Looking back, Kiefer said she “never imagined she would still be coaching 21 years later.” She added that Jan Keifer - Capital HS Dance Coachshe has “learned so much, met so many wonderful people, and most of all been able to watch girls on the team grow and blossom into beautiful, self-assured dancers." Kiefer said she is especially proud to have helped the girls “learn the value of teamwork and commitment, form bonds with each other and accomplish things they never imagined they were capable of.” Just as the Capital Cougarettes are spirit leaders at school pep rallies and sporting events, Kiefer is the spirit leader for the team.

In Kiefer’s 21 years of coaching at Capital High, the team has made 20 state appearances including 15 top five finishes in the state. They have been district champions every year since 2010, winning top placement in multiple categories of competition including Pom, Military and Dance. In all, there have been nine runner-up state finishes; three state championships and four national appearances with two top 25 places.

“Jan is so loved because of what she has given to this program,” said Assistant Coach Jaci Gruhn. “Jan has given 21 years of love, encouragement, time, smidges, laughter, joy, tears and compassion. She is a legacy,” added Gruhn.

That legacy continues this school year with the Cougarettes placing first in Pom at the Lake Washington Dance Competition on November 18. As Principal Cleveringa said, “Jan and her staff built a program that not only has the admiration of our school community but has high regard throughout the entire state of Washington.”

The WSDDCA Hall of Fame recognizes those in the Washington State Dance/Drill community, both past and present, who have made Washington State dance/drill what it is today. Coaches who have coached for 10 or more years are eligible to be considered for the Hall of Fame.



Winter weather and emergency information for families

The winter weather season is here and the Olympia School District wants to ensure every child and staff member arrives at school safely. Winter weather conditions may require the closure, late start or early OSD Winter Weather advisorydismissal of students. Occasionally, weather conditions may also make it necessary to modify bus routes to "emergency routes."

Please refer to our 2017-18 Snow Bulletin for important information about our district’s plan during severe weather conditions. Additional information can be found on our website’s Emergency Information page.

Should you have questions, please contact our district office at (360) 596-6100.



Upcoming OSD Events



22-24 - No School (Thanksgiving Break)
29 – 50-Minute Early Release Wednesday


2 – SAT Test at Olympia High School
6 – 50-Minute Early Release Wednesday
9 – ACT Test at Capital High School
11 – Board Meeting - Knox @ 6:30 p.m.
13 – 50-Minute Early Release Wednesday
Dec. 18 - Jan. 1 – No School (Winter Break)


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: Jeff Carpenter, Title IX Officer, (360) 596-8544; Ken Turcotte, Section 504 and ADA Coordinator, (360) 596-7542; Steve Rood, Director of Career and Technical Education, (360) 596-6109; and Scott Niemann, Affirmative Action Officer and Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator, (360) 596-6193. All four individuals may also be contacted at 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia, WA, 98501.