December 14, 2017

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December Spotlight on Success Header

December 14, 2017


Superintendent's Message


Hello Olympia School District Families,

It is hard to believe that 2017 is almost over. As we head into the holiday season and look to welcome

in a new year, I wanted to express my gratitude and thankfulness to all of our students, staff, families,
Patrick Murphy Headshotfor all of their dedication and hard work since school started back in early September.

As I have transitioned into the role as your new superintendent, I feel fortunate to have had support and feedback from so many of you to help me better understand the district and the community. Some of you may recall, I crafted an entry plan upon being hired last spring. I recently reported out to the board on the culmination of the entry plan and that report can be found here.

While I believe that I’ve learned much in a short period of time, I know that I have much more to absorb to better understand the needs of our schools. At the same time, I did hear some recurring themes in my conversations with students, parents, and community that I think will be helpful as we begin the work in the second half of the school year of crafting a new Strategic Direction and Plan for the district. I heard loudly and clearly that strong student achievement is an expectation and that it is the paramount obligation of our schools to do all we can to prepare our students for college and careers so they can lead healthy, satisfying and productive lives. I also heard that this work must be done while simultaneously meeting the social and emotional needs of our children. Producing compassionate children who are physically and mentally healthy is of paramount importance.

Parent/Family/Community partnership is built into the fabric of the Olympia School District. Partnering with parents, who are our student’s first and most important teacher was another core belief that came through in my conversations with folks. I heard that there is a strong desire to work together across the district to meet common goals while honoring the individuality of each school community.

Finally – in many visits, I heard people express their desire to more effectively address the consistent and nagging disproportionate student outcomes that are present throughout our nation, our state, and in our school district. Students of color, students impacted by poverty, or those enrolled in special programs, too often lag behind their peers in both achievement and opportunity. How we can collectively plan and address those gaps was a consistent theme.
These themes align closely with the goal set by the board of directors this past summer to create a new Strategic Plan focused on equity, student achievement, mental health support and early learning.

I will be working with the school board to take what I have learned and commence on Strategic Planning beginning in January of 2018. More information will be coming out to the community about opportunities to participate so please stay tuned.
Until then, I wish you all a wonderful winter break and holiday season. We will see you all next year, on January 2!

Patrick Murphy Signature

Patrick Murphy



Pioneer Elementary students tune-in for ‘Hour of Code’

Pioneer Elementary was one of the district schools that chose to participate in ‘Hour of Code’ for Hour of Code at Pioneer ESComputer Science Education Week. Pioneer Teacher Librarian Annette McQueen offered second- through fifth-grade classes an opportunity to try coding, which was a first for the majority of the kids. McQueen remarked; “It’s amazing how intuitive and natural students are at creating a short program. They help one another and learn from one another, as much as they do from teachers or the tutorials.” Tutorials on the Hour of Code website are amazing. User-friendly no matter the age or ability level!

One of the lessons this week was inspired by the holiday season. McQueen and her students noticed Hour of Code at Pioneer EShow everyone is decorating homes in preparation for the holidays and realized Google was doing the same with their ‘Google Doodle’. After some discussion, the class came to the conclusion this would be a pretty awesome job and wanted to give it a try. Before you knew it, there was a classroom full of graphic designers!

Students loved the variety of activities available to them during ‘Hour of Code’, and the ease of use of the web-based software. They especially enjoyed sharing their creations with the rest of the class, to see who the expert was in the various programming areas. No matter the experience level of the students, everyone in the classroom had a blast. The smiles were contagious.

The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify Hour of Code at Pioneer ES"code", to show that anyone can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities, but expanding to all sorts of community efforts.

We can't wait to see what amazing technological advances these mini coders will bring to our world in the not too distant future. Way to go Bear Cubs!



4th Annual OSD Technology Fair is January 20

Mark your calendars for the 4th annual OSD Technology Fair on Saturday, January 20 at Capital
2017 OSD Technology FairHigh School.

The free event, which is open to all students, families and the community, will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the high school Commons, 2707 Conger Ave N.W. in Olympia.

The theme of this year’s event is “Connect, Collaborate, Create.” School booths will showcase a variety of ways that students and teachers use digital tools to support the learning process.



Marshall MS honored as a School of Distinction

A standing-room-only crowd at the December 11 Olympia School Board meeting cheered as directors recognized Marshall Middle School for being named a 2017 School of Distinction.

Marshall is one of only 20 middle/junior high schools statewide named a School of Distinction for Marshall Middle School staff receiving School of Distinction Awardbeing among the top 5 percent of highest improving schools. The award recognizes the Olympia middle school for sustained improvement over five years in English language arts (ELA) and math.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy congratulated Marshall Middle School on the award and invited Principal Condee Wood to the podium to accept the honor. Wood thanked the board for the recognition and also thanked the Marshall Middle School staff and school community.

“We have an incredibly dedicated staff who is very open to change and working together as part of a learning community,” Wood said. “In addition, we have an absolutely amazing community of parent support. So, we all feel lucky to be at Marshall Middle School, and thank you so much for this honor.”

In all, 98 schools representing elementary, middle/junior and high school received a 2017 School of Distinction honor this year from the Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE).
The organization examined the sustained improvement of English Language Arts and math scores at the elementary and middle school levels, and 4- and 5-year graduation rates at the high school level. The School of Distinction awards were created in 2007 to recognize the highest improving schools in Washington state.
As a 2017 School of Distinction award winner, Marshall receives a banner and certificate to display at the school.



District continues child development workshops in January

The Olympia School District offers free child development workshops with Candyce Lund Bollinger Candyce Bollinger interacting with studentsduring the 2017-18 school year. Workshops are offered on a variety of topics, each geared to either elementary and/or middle/high school parents.

Workshops take place from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Olympia Regional Learning Academy.

The next workshops in the series take place on January 9 (Effective Teen Discipline) and January 23 (Safety without Fear). View the full schedule here.



Polar Express event delights LP Brown students

LP Brown kicked off the holiday season with a Polar Express PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention Polar Express at LP Brown Elementaryand Supports) school-wide event for their students.  The whole school had to earn 6,000 eagle feathers collectively to qualify for this fun event. Students earn eagle feathers by being safe, kind and responsible.

A very special conductor, Principal Charleen Hayes, and several helpers pushed a Polar Express “train” around the school and delivered hot chocolate to each classroom. The event was a surprise for the students who were delighted by this very special reward.

PBIS is a positive and effective behavior framework established to improve behavior and academic outcomes for all students. Research indicates that schools implementing PBIS have a more positive school climate, decrease in behavior incidents and increased academic performance.



Olympia High School hosts Small Claims Court

Civics lessons came to life for nearly 75 Olympia High School students who watched as a Thurston County District Court judge recently presided over Small Claims Court at the school instead of in a traditional courtroom.

Court calendar proceedings took place in the school’s Black Box Theatre, with folding tables used in Small Claims Court at Olympia HSplace of the courtroom judicial bench. 

This is the first time in Thurston County District Court history that it held Small Claims Court on a high school campus.

“We are excited to bring these cases outside the courtroom and introduce the judicial system to these students,” said District Court Judge Brett Buckley.

Olympia High social studies teacher Michael Schaefer began the morning by reminding students they needed to follow the traditional rules of a courtroom — no cell phones, no talking, and no food or drink. He then passed the microphone to Judge Buckley, who shared about small claims court and the judicial system before opening the floor for students to ask questions.

Judge Buckley first appeared before students dressed in a suit as he welcomed students to the Small Claims Court at Olympia HS“Olympia High School Branch of Thurston County District Court.” He also thanked litigants who sat in the theatre’s front row for agreeing to have their cases heard in a high school setting.

Small Claims Court cases allow people to bring disputes of $5,000 or less to court for adjudication. Litigants represent themselves and are encouraged to first participate in a mediation process with facilitators from the Dispute Resolution Center of Olympia. They may also choose to have their case heard by the judge, who decides the case.

At the end of his introduction, Judge Buckley left the room and, moments later, returned in a traditional black judicial robe. Students, most of whom are enrolled in Schaefer’s government or civics classes, stood respectfully when the judge re-entered the theatre and listened attentively as he moved through the court calendar.

“There’s obviously a huge advantage to being able to actually see the process of the small claims court system in action as opposed to just learning about it in a classroom,” said student Ciara McCall. “It definitely allows a much stronger understanding of judicial processing and the court system as a whole. In addition, the opportunity to be able to ask questions of an actual judge gave a really excellent perspective on the courts system from someone with extensive insider information.”

Schaefer added, “As an educator, I always seek the most effective way to engage students in the processes of our American democracy. This opportunity to experience our civil justice system firsthand and be able to engage directly with Judge Brett Buckley was invaluable.”

Olympia High Principal Matt Grant, who visited the courtroom during the proceedings, said it was helpful for students to see how conflict mediation can lead to a positive conclusion. “It was refreshing for many to see citizens working out their problems in a civil manner. Rather than understand civics through a text or lecture, students experienced it firsthand. It was a unique and unpredictable experience that kept students on the edge of their seats. We are grateful that the court was willing to take the risk to work with us.”

Judge Buckley said he couldn’t have been more pleased with the first attempt to bring court into a school setting.

“The students were attentive, courteous and inquisitive,” Judge Buckley said. “One of your students asked if there was a noticeable impact on the litigants from having the proceedings in a high school. In my mind, the presence of the students encouraged the litigants to be more respectful to each other and to listen to the other party’s point of view. Three of the four cases set for trial settled after mediation, and the case that went to trial was minus the drama and histrionics I sometimes see in court.”

Judge Buckley continued, “It was an opportunity for students to see adults resolve disputes like adults. A good lesson for all.”

Thank you, Judge Buckley, and Thurston County District Court staff, for introducing students to the judicial system and bringing civics lessons to life!



Register to vote for February 13, 2018 Special Election

Olympia School District voters will be asked to consider a technology and safety levy on the February 13, 2018 Special Election ballot.

If interested in voting in February, note the following voter registration deadlines:

  • January 15, 2018: Deadline to register online to vote or to update existing voter registration information if registered to vote anywhere in Washington. 
  • January 16, 2018: The last day to register by mail. All submissions must be postmarked by this date.
  • February 5, 2018: Last day to register in person at the Thurston County Elections Division.


To register to vote in Thurston County, applicants must be:Remember to Vote

  • At least 18 years old by Election Day.
  • A United States citizen and legal Washington state resident.
  • Not under the authority of the Department of Corrections.
  • Not disqualified from voting due to a court order.


Register by mail

Voter registration forms are available at schools, public libraries, staffed fire stations in unincorporated Thurston County, city clerks' offices, most state offices and the Thurston County Elections Division.

Forms may also be accessed on the Internet or by calling the Thurston County Elections Division at (360) 786-5408.

If registering by mail and it is the first time registering to vote in Thurston County, applicants must list on the form a Washington state driver’s license or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Register online

It is easy to register online. A valid Washington state driver’s license or Washington state-issued identification card is required to register online.

Register in person

Thurston County residents not yet registered to vote in Washington who miss the mail-in or online voter registration deadlines may register in person through February 5.

In-person voter registration is done at the Thurston County Elections Division, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. S.W., Bldg. 1 Rm. 118, Olympia, WA 98502. The Elections Division is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except on the first Friday of the month when the office opens at 9 a.m.


Elections information may also be accessed through “MyVote,” available by signing up online.

  • Register to vote or update voter registration with changes such as address or name.
  • Locate the closest ballot drop box and get driving directions.
  • View a sample of the current election ballot.
  • View a list of federal, state and county representatives and access contact information for elected officials.





School board elects 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 Frank Wilson president and Joellen Wilhelm vice president New OSD Board Members being sworn induring its December 11 school board meeting. Wilhelm will also serve a second year as the board’s legislative representative.

The board also appointed the following:

  • Leslie Huff, Board representative to the Thurston Regional Planning Council.
  • Hilary Seidel, Board representative to the Olympia School District Education Foundation Board of Directors.
  • Scott Clifthorne, Board representative to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.





Winter Break Schedule
Winter Break

All Olympia School District schools will be closed for Winter Break from Monday, December 18 through Monday, January 1. Schools will re-open on Tuesday, January 2.

During Winter Break the district administrative offices will be open December 18-21, and December 27-28. Otherwise, the Knox building will be closed and will not re-open until Tuesday, January 2.



Upcoming OSD Events



Dec. 18 - Jan. 1 - No School/Midwinter Break


Jan. - School Board Recognition Month
Jan. 2 - School Resumes
Jan. 3 - 50-minute Early Release Wednesday
Jan. 8 - Board Meeting, Knox at 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 9 - Child Development Workshop, ORLA at 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 10 - 50-minute Early Release Wednesday
Jan. 15 - No School/Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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.