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2019-20 Accomplishments


OHS students help canned food drive

The Olympia School District is proud of our students and staff who achieve amazing successes every day. In an effort to recognize and celebrate those achievements both inside and outside the classroom, we have compiled a list of academic and extracurricular accomplishments that involve members of the Olympia School District community.

This list is by no means comprehensive, so please let us know if there are additional accomplishments we have missed so we can add them! With your help, we will capture all of the amazing accomplishments in our district and celebrate student achievement, continuous improvement and 100 percent commitment to quality and excellence in all things!




Please submit accomplishments to Arielle Allard, Communications Assistant, at Photos are welcomed and encouraged!


September 2019


Three photos of national merit finalistsThree Olympia School District students named National Merit Semifinalists


Three Olympia School District students were named as National Merit Semifinalists out of 1.5 million juniors who applied. The mission of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation is to “recognize and honor the academically talented students of the United States.” Each year, students throughout the United States who meet the rigorous qualifications for this scholarship program are selected as semifinalists. Paloma Sharangpani, a senior at Capital High School, is one of three Olympia School District students selected for this honor. Her future plans include a desire to attend a small college and major in English. Paloma is looking forward to writing her essay which she will submit to qualify for the National Merit Scholar award. Quinn Murry, a senior at Olympia High School, also was selected as a semifinalist. He is looking forward to majoring in biology at college. He credits his teacher, Ed Bassett, a recently retired biology teacher, with his interest in biology. Quinn also credits his Physics and Robotics Teacher Alex Steinkamp. “Mr. Steinkamp is an amazing teacher in general and always really happy. It’s nice to come into a class with a smiling face,” Quinn says. Gabriella Larsen, a senior at Olympia High School currently enrolled in the Running Start program, was excited to learn of her placement as a semifinalist. “I knew my PSAT score. I wasn’t too surprised, but it was nice to know I was a semifinalist.” She is still exploring the world of college classes and is waiting to decide on a major. “Once I’ve had a chance to take a wider variety of classes in college, I’m hoping to figure out what I’m interested in,” Gabriella says. Congratulations to our three Olympia School District semifinalists!


Olympia HS student selected as Top Young Innovator

Girl poses in hallway of her high schoolOlympia High School ninth grader Nidhi Krishna Kumar has been selected as one of the top 300 middle school scientists in the country. The Broadcom MASTERS competition had more than 2,300 applicants. “I was really excited when I found out. I’ve been placing every year in science fairs, both regional and state. But to know that my work is being recognized nationally is a big deal,” Nidhi says.

Nidhi’s science fair project was originally presented at Jefferson Middle School in April 2019. “I built a device which I nicknamed ‘Cura’ which means ‘care’ in Latin,” Nidhi says. This automated greenhouse control system has three sensors: soil moisture, temperature, and humidity and luminosity. “These are the four factors that affect climate the most,” Nidhi says. The data is ultimately uploaded to an app that Nidhi created.


Applicants were judged on the creativity and originality of their submitted science fair projects, as well as on relating Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) principles to the real world. Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade entered their science projects in Society-affiliated fairs around the country.



October 2019


Reeves Middle School teacher teaches in her classroomReeves teacher conducts research project in Netherlands 

Reeves Middle School math teacher Jana Dean set out to discover more about the connection between math and language last year during a six-month stay in the Netherlands. The veteran math teacher, a 2019 recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching, boarded a plane last January for the small country in northwestern Europe.

Her trip abroad, funded by a Fulbright grant, focused on an inquiry project she created called “Math Between Us.” Dean immersed herself in Dutch culture to learn more about the intersection of math and language as people — especially those who teach and learn math in a language different from their native language — communicate with each other about what they see and learn.


Capital HS celebrates Red Ribbon Week for second year in a row

Capital HS has been busy this week highlighting Red Ribbon Week; a nationwide movement that encourages students to be drug free. Capital HS leadership students stood in front of their school bright and early, handing out red ribbons to their peers. To take a red ribbon is to pledge to stay away from drugs. "I pitched the idea of Red Ribbon Week to the leadership kids, and they ran with it," Chemical Dependency Counselor Lorissa Cloud said. Nice job, Cougs!  


Capital high school teacher helps students with work at desks

Capital HS math teacher is finalist for state-level award

Carol McKay, a precalculus and algebra teacher at Capital High School, is one of five finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

McKay is one of only two state-level finalists for the math award. The other three Washington educators are finalists for the science award.

A committee comprised of STEM experts and award-winning teachers selected the five finalists over summer 2019. National awardees will be based on content mastery, use of effective instructional methods, effective use of assessments, reflective practice, life-long learning and leadership in education inside and outside the classroom. The PAEMST program typically announces national award recipients in the spring.


Olympia High School celebrates October as Disability Awareness Month 

Olympia High School celebrated October as Disability Awareness Month during an assembly in the PAC. Motivational speaker Steve Ferreira was invited to speak to students about his journey, successes and challenges with Cerebral Palsy. Olympia HS students also shared about their time in Unified Sports, a Special Olympics program. "It's made me a kinder and well-managed person," one student said. Another student shared how Unified Cheer "spreads positivity across the court." Way to go Oly HS students! You are making a difference in the world.  


High school students study at computers

Capital HS students take part in cybersecurity research study 

Scott Le Duc’s Career and Technical Education classes at Capital High School have been a part of a cybersecurity research study sponsored by Portland State University (PSU). The study began in fall 2019 and will be completed six months later, finishing with a survey that examines the students’ knowledge and experience using the Yubikey. Le Duc has been teaching students what makes a strong password, as well as what “phishing” is and how to guard against it. Students were also provided with a USB device called a Yubikey from PSU. Yubikeys are a security tool used for hardware authentication. Le Duc describes them as, “like car keys for Google accounts.”


Avanti HS Math and PE teacher named Teacher of the Week 

Nikki Winkley, a math and PE teacher at Avanti High School, was named Teacher of the Week by Seattle Mariners Radio Network and WSECU. Nikki received a $500 classroom grant that will be used to build a pavilion at Avanti HS. This pavilion will expand the learning spaces at Avanti and include a construction-based class opportunity for students. Congrats Nikki! What a wonderful adventure for Avanti HS.