Spotlight on Success

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Bird painting by Roosevelt Elementary 1st grade student

May 17, 2018


Camp sparks STEM interest among middle school girls

According to, “women are vastly underrepresented in Science, Technology,
Olympia School District STEM student weldingEngineering and Math (STEM) fields, and this can only be changed by changing the attitudes young girls have towards STEM.” Our district middle and high school robotics and STEM teachers are doing just that.

A group of 30 female students from Marshall, Jefferson and Reeves middle schools recently attended the First Annual OSD Middle School Girls Mini STEM Camp. The camp was facilitated by district middle and high school robotics/STEM teachers and students, including members of Olympia Robotics Federation (ORF) Team 4450. The girls attended after school sessions on May 1, 3 and 8 at Reeves Middle School, and on May 10 at Capital High School.

According to Brenda Diettrich, Avanti High School teacher and OSD STEM Robotics Competition Coordinator, the goal of the camp was to reach out to more girls and get them interested in robotics and OSD STEM classes in general. Participants were introduced to building and programming robots like the ones built for FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) competitions.

The last day of the camp they visited the Capital High School manufacturing classroom and worked STEM students weldingon a metal project. With instruction from staff, Capital High students and ORF team members, the girls created metal boxes using a variety of shop tools including a lesson in spot welding.

Olympia High junior and ORF team member Holly Wetzel surveyed participants before and after the mini-camp to gauge the girls’ interest level in STEM and robotics. In the pre-camp survey, a common trend was that girls said robotics was “cool” and “fun” but also that it was “hard.” In the after-camp survey, many students said that they “like” and “love” robotics and that it’s “very interesting, fun, really cool and enjoyable.” 

Before the camp, 13 girls said they wanted to do robotics in high school. After the camp, that number climbed to 17. Way to go girls!

Community input sought on Capital High building improvements

The community is invited to view and comment on initial sketches of a proposed new Capital High School Performing Arts Center, as well as learn about other school building improvements.

Capital Planning and Construction department staff will team with project consultants from McGranahan Architects to share the sketches, answer questions, and take input from 5-6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22 in the Capital High School Commons, 2707 Conger Ave., Olympia.

Plans are to seek bids in spring of 2019 for the Capital High School construction project and breakCapital High School PAC rendering ground in summer of 2019. The project is funded by the voter-approved 2016 school bond.

In addition to building a new 500-seat theatre and performance space, the major components of construction include replacing the main building siding, reroofing portions of the school, adding some new windows, updating classroom shop areas, repairing the fire truck access loop, removing non-functioning in-wall heaters, and replacing all furnaces and air-conditioning units while installing a new controls system.

At this time the new Performing Arts Center is planned to be located between the Commons and gym near the lower parking lot. Initial sketches show it as a two-story complex with glass windows.

Olympia High Economics team students win trip to New York

 Four Olympia High School (OHS) students and Economics Club members will compete in the National Economics Challenge finals in New York City May 18-21. 

Students Aiden Farmer, Hanbich Lee, Tom Pree and Kaylee Shen, qualified for the trip to the finals by finishing in the top eight of 35 state champion teams in the David Ricardo Division. Most of the cost of the trip will be paid by the Council for Economic Education, a non-profit organization with headquarters in New York. 

A second OHS team, including students Lucas Ehinger, Gordon Elwood, Jackson Hall and Justin Ong,Olympia High School Econ Club finished 14th out of 37 state champion teams in the Adam Smith Division. 

After winning state championships, both teams recently took an online national semi-final exam covering macroeconomics, microeconomics, international economics and current events.

A total of 11,000 U.S. students in four-person teams competed in the Challenge this year. The David Ricardo Division is for students who have taken only one semester of regular economics; no honors, AP or IB classes allowed. The Adam Smith Division is for students who have taken AP or IB economics, or at least two semesters of regular economics.  

Both teams studied on weekends, October-April, through the OHS Economics Club. One student also completed a semester class of AP macroeconomics. All eight students have taken, or will be taking, the macro and micro AP economic exams. Retired OHS teacher, Brian LeTourneau, is the club adviser and facilitates many hours of study sessions to help students prepare for competition and exams.

When the students travel to New York, they will take exams in macroeconomics, microeconomics, international economics and current events. In addition, they will be given an economic problem and prepare a presentation to a group of economists and businessmen. These events will determine which two teams will compete in an oral quiz bowl for the national championship. Individual prizes run from $200 for fourth place to $1,000 for first place.

Since 2003 when the Economics Challenge began, OHS students have won 19 state championships. However, they have only been to New York for the national finals once, where they finished third in 2013.

We wish the team the best of luck as they represent Olympia in New York City this weekend!

Join us at OSD Night at the Tacoma Rainiers May 31!

Tickets are available for the annual Olympia School District Night at the Tacoma Rainiers on Thursday, May 31.

The Rainiers will take on the Salt Lake Bees beginning at 7:05 p.m. The gates open at 5:30 p.m.Tacoma Rainiers logo

All students, families, teachers, staff and the Olympia School District community are invited to join us for this fun-filled district event. Invite your friends and neighbors to join us and show support for the Rainiers and our school community.

Last year we had more than 150 district attendees. Let’s surpass that this year with a great turnout! Be on time to watch OSD Board President Frank Wilson throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Tickets are available by visiting and entering the promo code OSD. Group Express tickets are $13.00 and include a reserved seat ticket and ballpark meal (hot dog, chips & bottled water). Double Play tickets are $19.00 and include Group Express items plus a limited edition Rainiers hat.

Hope to see you there!


Lincoln Elementary celebrates two-decade partnership with Ruben Dario

Twenty years ago this month, Lincoln Elementary Principal Marcela Abadi was a teacher at Lincoln when it hosted a delegation of visitors from Santo Tomás, Nicaragua. One of the Nicaraguan delegates, Yessenia Solis, was a teacher from the Ruben Dario school. Solis is now the principal of that school in Nicaragua.

The delegation visited Olympia in 1988 thanks to the efforts of the Thurston Santo Tomás SisterRuben Dario presenting with Marcela Abadi in the LES gymnasium County Association. Among other things, the philosophy and mission of the Association is to foster sustained relationships and greater understanding between the peoples of Santo Tomás and Thurston County through the development of personal friendships, community ties and people-to-people exchanges.

That visit to Olympia began a 20-year “sister school” relationship between Lincoln and Ruben Dario. The Association helps to fund visits to Olympia and to Santo Tomás on a regular basis where school staff, families and community members come together to share cultural and educational information and resources. Many teachers, students, parents and principals from each country have visited each other over the years.

Each student at Lincoln Elementary benefits from the relationship even if they don’t have the Ruben Dario presenting at Lincoln Elementary Schoolopportunity to travel to Nicaragua. Lincoln and Ruben Dario students are pen pals and write to each other in Spanish, reinforcing language learning and cultural understanding.

The Lincoln community also raises funds to assist Ruben Dario with much-needed school supplies. Funds also help purchase shoes for children, since they are a requirement for attending school.

Other funds raised have been used to build a roof over a structure where Ruben Dario can hold assemblies, and to purchase books to expand their tiny library.

This year, Nicaraguan delegates are visiting Lincoln and Olympia for an entire month. They are visiting classrooms, attending and performing at assemblies, and forming relationships with the Lincoln community. The partnership “helps kids, adults, teachers and staff learn empathy and compassion through sharing ideas and making connections,” said Abadi.


Register for Summer School 2018

Registration for summer school 2018 is now open. Summer School is for students in grades 9-12. AllSummer School logo classes will be held at the Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) campus, 2400 15th Ave SE, Olympia WA. 

Summer School helps students to retrieve credit, reinforce important skills, fill in gaps in learning, and become better prepared for the upcoming school year. Recommendations for students to attend Summer School are based on a handful of factors: credit deficiency, teacher referrals, and classroom performance. 

Please visit the Summer School webpage for more information and to download the registration form.


Capital High student attends first-ever Washington STEM Signing Day

Just like signing days for athletes, the inaugural Washington State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Signing Day on April 23 celebrated high school seniors from across the state as they made commitments to continuing education programs focusing on STEM.

The Boeing Company and Washington STEM partnered to host STEM Signing Day at the Museum ofCapital High School student Mylo Lang receiving recognition Flight to recognize, celebrate and lift-up high school seniors who are interested in pursuing a degree or career in STEM. Students signed "letters of intent” to their chosen STEM field.

Capital High School senior Mylo Lang was among those selected to attend. He signed his “letter of intent” and plans to hire directly into Boeing after graduation. Lang took first place last year at the Boeing sponsored SkillsUSA Aerospace Assembler state contest and made a great impression on Boeing judges. After graduation, he plans to pursue Aerospace Engineering or Material Science at either Seattle University or the University of Washington.


OSD Educational Summit Survey

Olympia School District’s 5-year Strategic Plan expires at the end of 2018. Later this month, nearly 150 people representing a cross-section of the community -- students, staff, family members and community members -- will come together for an intensive two-day Educational Summit. This Summit will mark the beginning of our exciting work to develop an educational road map for the next five years and beyond.Olympia School District survey

While not everyone can be in the room for this two-day Summit, we value everyone’s input. We invite you to share your voice by taking the time to answer the OSD Educational Summit Survey. Input will be shared with those at the Summit.

Please complete this online survey and submit by 4 p.m. on Monday, May 21. Thank you for your time completing this survey.

Complete the survey now! (English)


Completa la encuesta ahora! (Español)



OHS receives several grants to build cultural competence and resilience

The Olympia High School (OHS) library is one of six recipients of a $5,000 American Association of School Librarians’ Inspire Collection Development Grant. The library and English departments also received a $5,000 Safeway/Albertsons Innovation in Education Grant. 

OHS Librarian Stacy Udo applied for both grants which will be used to fund an Olympia High School OHS Teacher Librarian Stacy Udo“We Need Diverse Books” Project. The goal is to update and diversify the book, online, subscription and/or software collections in their library to help students and community members build cultural competency and resilience.

OHS Art Teacher Josh Everson also received a $3,300 Safeway/Albertsons Innovation in Education Grant for the Art Club. The Art Club will use the grant money to invite diverse professional artists to teach projects involving new techniques representing multicultural and underrepresented populations.

The library grants will bolster the selection of multicultural literature to support the school’s new “American Ethnic Studies” course. The course uses a thematic approach to examine the history, politics, society, economics and cultural attributes of various racial and ethnic groups in the United States. It strives to develop the equity, literacy and cultural competency of students by providing a comprehensive approach to studying contemporary issues affecting racial and ethnic groups.

In addition, the grants will support a more culturally representative set of free-choice novels for OSD Teacher Joshua Everson receiving checkstudents, allow for the development of a Professional Collection for teachers and other staff, and fund book study sessions for students and staff. The titles will focus on equity and diversity in schools as a way to help support the goals within Olympia High School’s Site Improvement Plan, which focuses heavily on student equity.

Udo, along with OHS Graduation Specialist and Chair of the OHS Equity Team Anthony Brock, will form a Collection Development Team made up of students, staff and community members that will make recommendations for the purchase of diverse books. Udo and Brock will also meet with the OHS Diversity Team to suggest and select titles to be used for Professional Development/Book Studies. OHS will conduct four book studies throughout the 2018-19 school year; two will include students, staff and community members, and two will focus on OHS staff only.


Muffins made easy with new high-output machine

When you produce more than 100,000 muffins a year for schools throughout the district, you need anIndustrial muffin maker hard at work!
industrial-sized muffin maker.

We visited our Child Nutrition Services department recently to watch employees in action as they made a batch of banana muffins. Depending on the day, OSD employees make between one and three batches of muffins. Each batch in the machine produces roughly 400-450 muffins. You do the math, that's a lot of muffins!

Staffers Brenda Bailey and Penny Henry were on muffin-making duty during our visit, and they showed us just how much time is saved when they have a machine like this at their disposal.
Child Nutrition Services employees making muffins

In addition to banana, the team makes a variety of nutritious muffins in the machine including blueberry, chocolate chip, poppy seed and double chocolate chip! The base recipe for each variety includes 50 percent whole grains with the addition of other natural fruits and flavors to make these yummy muffins!

Great work Child Nutrition Services team, and thank you for all you do to provide freshly baked, healthy options to our students!


Responsible Citizenship students attend law enforcement breakfast

Several Capital High School ninth graders were recently invited by Lewis County Judge Steve Buzzard and Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury to attend a monthly law enforcement breakfast to hear a talk by bestselling author, Helen Thayer. 

The ninth graders who attended the breakfast are members of a Responsible Citizenship class taught by Capital High Graduation Specialist Jane Allaire.

Named one of the Great Explorers of the Twentieth Century by National Geographic, Thayer has beenCHS Law Enforcement breakfast honored in ceremonies at the White House several times. She uses her vast experience as an explorer to convince the young and old that all great triumphs are realized by total commitment to a goal, planning for success and determination to reach the top. 

Among Thayer’s greatest achievements are skiing at age 50 to the Magnetic North Pole without a dog sled, snowmobile or resupply support, and walking 4,000 miles across the Sahara from Morocco to the Nile River.

Allaire said, “Helen’s ability to use her amazing journeys to illustrate goal setting, problem solving, excellent planning and overcoming difficult challenges relates perfectly to the student’s world. Her story encourages us to look to new successes and beyond our personal horizons. Her life is a testament to setting goals and achieving them.”

The law enforcement breakfast is held monthly in space donated by the Squaxin Island Tribe and is attended by a mix of Mason and Thurston County law enforcement, area officials and business owners. Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury established the law enforcement breakfast several years ago in an effort to promote networking and growth in the outlying counties.

Responsible Citizenship is a freshman class taught at both Capital and Olympia high schools. The class focuses on choices, consequences and goals for self and the community. The class explores how to be a productive student body member and a positive role model in society based on individual interests. The class also explores conflict resolution and restorative justice practices in daily and family life.
A successful transition into high school is important, Allaire said. “We try to equip students with the academic and social knowledge and skills they need to increase the likelihood of a great high school experience and a better adapted student.”



Upcoming OSD Events



May 21:  Board Meeting (McLane Elementary School @ 6:30 p.m.)
May 23:  50-Minute Early Release Wednesday
May 28:  Memorial Day Holiday (No School)
May 30:  50-Minute Early Release Wednesday
May 31:  OSD Night at the Rainiers (Cheney Stadium @ 7:05 p.m.)


June 6:  50-Minute Early Release Wednesday
June 6:  ORLA Graduation (Indian Summer Country Club @ 6 p.m.)
June 7:  Avanti HS Graduation (Knox Auditorium @ 6 p.m.)
June 8:  Transition Academy Graduation (Knox Auditorium @ 7 p.m.)
June 8:  Early Release/Half Day (Elementary & Middle Schools)
June 11:  Board Meeting (Knox Administrative Center @ 6:30 p.m.)
June 13:  50-Minute Early Release Wednesday
June 13:  Olympia HS Graduation (St. Martin’s Pavilion @ 7 p.m.)
June 14:  Capital HS Graduation (St. Martin’s Pavilion @ 7 p.m.)
June 20:  Last Day of School (Half 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.