• Decrease Text Size
  • Increase Text Size

2020-21 Accomplishments


Middle school students stand in front of school bus

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 Margo Hoffman, Communications Assistant, at Photos are welcomed and encouraged!


September 2020


CHS teacher Carol McKay wins national awardTeacher of the year shown in her classroom at a desk with students

Capital High School math teacher Carol McKay has been recognized nationally with the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

McKay is the only math teacher to receive the honor in Washington state, and one of only two PAEMST winners statewide. Nationwide, there are 107 winners honored this year.

This marks the second time an OSD teacher won this national award within the past five years. In 2016-17, Reeves Middle School teacher Jana Dean received the award.

"It has always been my goal to help all students have opportunities to be successful mathematicians and to learn to love mathematics as I do,” McKay said. “The Presidential Award is an incredible honor. It recognizes the challenging yet rewarding work I do alongside my talented colleagues, with the support of district leadership. This award reinvigorates my desire for ongoing professional growth and teacher leader opportunities. I am thankful for the support and encouragement of my family in this profession.”

The PAEMST organization describes the annual honor as the “highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States.”

OSDEF surpasses Principal’s Emergency Fund fundraising goalA speaker standing at the podium at the OSD Education Foundation event.

The Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF) has exceeded its $110,000 fundraising goal for the annual Principal’s Emergency Fund breakfast.

As of September 28, just four days after the virtual breakfast fundraiser, OSDEF Executive Director Katy Johansson reported the Foundation had raised more than $119,000. The Principal’s Emergency Fund provides every OSD principal the resources to help meet basic needs of students and their families.

“The OSDEF Board of Trustees and I are grateful to see that the community support for the Principal’s Emergency Fund matches the need for this resource, which has never been more critical to our students and families,” said Katy Johannson, executive director of the Foundation. “Whether you sponsored the event, donated, encouraged someone to watch the livestream or just told someone how the PEF helps those with urgent basic needs, you were a part of this year’s success. Thank you.”

Thank you OSDEF and the community for supporting the success of OSD students!



October 2020


OSD Visual Arts Program thriving during distance learning

This adorable collection of "Color Wheel' Giraffes" comes to us courtesy of Centennial Elementary School second-grade teacher Byrann O'Neil (and her students) in tandem with the Olympia School District Visual Arts Program.

Colorful artwork of giraffes completed by OSD studentsThis program provides ready-made art project kits (all materials included) for elementary teachers to distribute to their students for completion at home. These projects can be differentiated to fit the needs of every student. Some students require more time to complete an art piece, so they can pause or rewatch the accompanying instructional video as often as necessary.

Byrann had this to say about the art project kits; "This has been a much-needed outlet for students. It is helping students emotionally because they are getting to do something they love and are so incredibly proud of their work. It has allowed me to showcase their work in Schoology as a slideshow so they can feel even more proud of their work, while also appreciating the work their friends created. I have had tons of positive feedback from families."

Many thanks to OSD Visual Arts Creative Director Kirstin Holstrom for making this a possibility. Kirstin is doing her absolute best to make these kits available to as many teachers and students as possible. Like most teachers in this era of distance learning, she is absolutely swamped. We appreciate you Kirstin!

Olympia School District Saves Taxpayers Nearly $30 Million

Garfield elementary was one of the schools to be improved by the 2016 bond.Thanks to strategic fiscal management and favorable market conditions, the Olympia School District was able to act to save taxpayers $29.8 million over the next 19 years.

The savings are the result of selling bonds approved by voters in 2016 now, instead of later in the construction cycle, and a result of refinancing bonds from 2012 now, instead of waiting until March 2022. The first step to selling/refinancing bonds is to obtain a rating from Moody’s Investors Service. In a press release, Moody’s noted OSD’s proven ability to outperform budgeted expectations and capably manage revenue and expenses to ensure stable operations.

The district timed the sale and refinance of bonds for Sept. 29, 2020 to take advantage of historically low interest rates, said Jennifer Priddy, assistant superintendent of finance and capital planning.

“These are taxes we now do not need to collect,” Priddy said. “Our taxpayers will now be able to keep this money rather than make interest payments. We are always working to be good stewards of public funds, and we are pleased to be able to provide this tax savings to our community.”

OSD collaborates with Puget Sound Energy for solar power project

solar panels at Roosevelt elementaryAn array of solar panels will soon be installed at Olympia High School thanks to a partnership between the Olympia School District and Puget Sound Energy (PSE). This project is part of PSE’s Community Solar Program, which adds solar energy to the local power grid from one large location.

Community subscribers can support this solar energy project without placing solar panels on their own homes. These solar panels are scheduled to be placed at OHS at no cost to the district. This site was chosen because of the extensive roof space available, said OSD Executive Director of Operations Frank Wilson.

There are also plans to provide an informational kiosk at the high school displaying real-time data from the solar panels. The data may be used by students, teachers and visitors from throughout the district in their classroom studies.

“We are proud to partner with PSE to bring solar energy to our community and provide learning opportunities for our students,” Wilson said. “We are always looking for ways to be more earth-friendly as a district and contribute positively to our local, global and natural world.”

OHS will become the fourth Olympia School District facility to have solar panels. There are currently solar panels at Roosevelt Elementary School, Washington Middle School and Olympia Regional Learning Academy.



November 2020


OHS graduate establishes Thurston County nonprofit

Natalie Stagnone, a 2018 OHS graduate, is one of two executive directors and co-founders of Thurston County Inclusion, an organization that aims to bring free summer camps to children with disabilities throughout Thurston County. The project began when Stagnone was a senior at OHS and thrived under the mentorship of OHS paraeducator Antonio McClinon, who serves as co-executive director.

The idea for the nonprofit was born in the summer of 2018, when Stagnone and her team secured a grant from Special Olympics to support inclusion in their community. They decided to use the grant to create a summer camp promoting inclusion for people with disabilities. The camp ran for seven weeks, included themed activities each week and was a huge success, Stagnone said.

“It was a really valuable opportunity for students with and without disabilities to interact during the summer months,” Stagnone said, adding that many participants formed and strengthened bonds that will last well into the future.

Immediately following the camp, organizers knew they had to find a way to keep the camp going in the years to come. That’s how Thurston County Inclusion was born. There were plans for fundraisers and a summer camp in 2020, but restrictions on gatherings due to COVID-19 stymied their plans. Stagnone is optimistic that in 2021 the organizers will be able to host their camp and raise the funds to do so.


District celebrates historically high on-time graduation rate

A graduate shown in cap and gownThe Olympia School District’s on-time graduation rate for the Class of 2020 reached 92.8%, marking the highest on-time graduation rate in district history. The percentage of students who graduated in five years also rose in several high schools and contributed to an overall district extended graduation rate of 94.5%.

“First and foremost, this achievement is a direct result of the hard work and dedication of our graduates and the support of their families,” said Superintendent Patrick Murphy. “The class of 2020 faced adversity in their senior year like none had experienced before, and their persistence is reflected in this all-time graduation rate. Likewise, our teachers and educational staff, from preschool through high school, worked tirelessly to serve and support this class and prepared them to not only graduate from high school, but to go on and confidently pursue their post-secondary goals, whatever they may be.”

In addition, district leaders attribute the increased graduation rate, in part, to important staff and innovative programs including:


  • Graduation specialists in each high school provide extra support for students who are struggling to fulfill requirements.
  • Online education classes offer students a robust menu of online courses which can help students attain the credits they need to graduate.
  • High School and Beyond Plans, facilitated by career center counselors, engage students pursuing a variety of future paths, whether that be college, career or military.
  • “Opportunity Time” each week in schools provides high school students additional time with teachers, allowing the students to revisit instruction, ask additional questions and take exams.
  • Restorative Practices have reduced student suspensions and have not only kept students in school but engaged in their instruction.


District recognizes National Merit Scholar Semifinalists

National Merit scholars shown in a Zoom meetingCongratulations to our Olympia School District National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists and commended scholars. This program recognizes the most talented students throughout the country for demonstrating a proven commitment to academic achievement.

At Olympia High School this year, semifinalists include (pictured above): Bethel Asomaning, Hollen Foster Grahler, Kayla Jones, Andrew Pan, Michael Tsien, Blake Willett, and Aren Wright.

OHS commended scholars include: Evan Butler, Pranav Gundrala, Zachary Hayes, Jenny Jang, Veronika Kettel, Kaylee Lam, Joy Matsuoka, Kalani Pavel, Kimberly Savel, Samantha Savel, Isabella Widrow and Elena Zimmerman.

At Capital High School, Rebecca McMillin-Hastings and Caleb Anderson were recognized as commended scholars.



December 2020


Classified School Employees of the Year Named

A group of district staff pose together after surprising Paul Flock with his CSEY award.Congratulations to Marshall Middle School Paraeducator Nadine Owen and Olympia School District Child Nutrition Services Supervisor Paul Flock for being named this year’s Classified School Employees of the Year. The annual award recognizes employees who consistently demonstrate outstanding work performance, professional leadership and collaboration.

Both Owen and Flock learned of their recognitions during surprise announcements accompanied by applause from their colleagues. They were also recognized at the Dec. 10 Board of Directors meeting. Owen has been a paraeducator for 22 years, five of them at Marshall. Flock has been the supervisor in Child Nutrition Services for 31 years. Both were selected for this honor following a nomination process that included many outstanding submissions from throughout the district.


New Avanti High class focuses on racial and social justice movements

A group of teachers display the book they are using as part of a study group on racial and social justice. Students and staff at Avanti High School are focusing on racial and social justice movements in a new Civil Rights class which began this month.

Students participating in the class said they were motivated to learn more about current issues involving race and social justice. “As someone who is a part of multiple minorities, I think it's important to speak up about injustices and shed light on the situation and give those people a platform to amplify their voices,” said Avanti eleventh grader Adaya Coleman.

“I want to educate myself to be a more genuine and thoughtful person to all, not just those that I'm used to being around,” said Avanti tenth grader Taz Macbeth. “We all have internal biases, and if we're really honest with ourselves and can make the effort to educate ourselves, then I feel like we can become one step closer to equality.”

The class is taught by a team of three AHS teachers who initially began coordinating the new offering during a summer professional development course on confronting racism in the community through classroom education. The teachers were so moved by the course, they applied for a grant to continue their study and bring their knowledge into the classroom.


Capital High School debaters find success in online tournaments

Capital high school debate students and their trophyWhile many sports and competitions have been postponed this year, Capital High School Speech and Debate students are not only persisting, but excelling, in the current environment by competing in events using video conferencing.

The team took top prize in the speaking event category at the recent Tahoma Golden Bear Classic Speech and Debate Tournament. Tenth grader Charles Norris earned a first-place prize in the event and ninth grader Kaloyan Menser earned second place.

Public speaking in an online platform such as Zoom provides unique challenges, the students said. Over time, they have learned some effective techniques for speaking via video conference.


Middle school students meet author Alexandra Diaz

middle school students meet with author Alexandra Diaz in a zoom meetingNotable children’s author Alexandra Diaz shared insight into the writing process with middle school students from throughout the school district during a special Zoom online class session. Nearly 100 students participated in the event.

Diaz is an award-winning Latina children’s author who publishes in both English and Spanish. Her book The Only Road was featured in the OSD Battle of the Books competition last year. She also authored the books Good Girls Don’t Lie, The Crossroads, Of all the Stupid Things and Santiago’s Road Home.