Spotlight on Success

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August 30, 2018


Superintendent's Message


Hello Olympia School District families,

Patrick Murphy headshotThere is an old classic Peanuts comic strip where Charlie Brown is complaining to Linus about how summer is almost over and he wonders, “Where did it go?” Linus ponders for a moment and replies, “Summers always fly, Winters walk.” That adage can feel particularly true when we see “back to school” ads on TV in the midst of hot summer weather. And yet, at the same time, few things can get children (and parents) as excited as the anticipation of the upcoming start of a new school year.  I can tell you we in the Olympia School District are incredibly enthusiastic to welcome all of our students back to school, including our brand new preschoolers and kindergartners. If any of you, like me, had the opportunity to attend our graduation ceremonies this past June, you might better understand why we are so eager to welcome our students back to school. Our recent graduates are a talented, caring, thoughtful, hard-working group of individuals who I have no doubt will change the world. They didn’t get that way through happenstance. I have learned that there is an incredible partnership in Olympia between our nurturing and devoted families and our compassionate and highly skilled school staff. This special connection between home and school begins in pre-K and continues all the way through elementary, middle and high school, producing amazing young adults well-prepared to pursue their dreams.

At the end of the day, that is what we all want — to teach and develop our children so they can go on to live healthy, productive and satisfying lives. Our school board spent time this summer thinking about that ultimate goal. During their summer retreat, the directors created draft student outcomes to drive the goals of the district's new Strategic Plan. We will be embarking on an intensive community outreach campaign to solicit input on the draft outcomes that will include meetings and focus groups with staff, students, families and community.  Families’ voices and thinking is critical to this process to not only solidify the outcomes, but also to create the metrics and action plans to ensure that all families in the Olympia School District are well served and our students meet their full potential. Stay tuned for opportunities to participate in feedback sessions at your school or in the community. We also invite you to share your feedback on the draft student outcomes by filling out and submitting a brief online feedback form. Lastly, we hope you stay informed about our Strategic Plan work this year by visiting a Strategic Planning webpage on our school district website.

As we launch a new school year, I want to close this message by affirming how fortunate we are in the Olympia School District to have such a supportive community. From bond measures, to volunteerism, to advocacy; I’ve never seen a school system so wholly strengthened by the region it serves. So thank you, again, for your continued dedication and service to the children of Olympia.


Patrick C. Murphy, Ed. D.
Olympia School District



Summer Freedom Farmers produce fresh food for schools and community

Summer vacation is often a time for relaxation, hanging out with friends and playing video games. This summer, a group of more than 20 students from the Olympia School District Freedom Farmers program participated instead in a unique summer job training program.

The summer program is offered to students who have demonstrated great attendance, work ethic, Blue Peetz and student hard at work at the Freedom Farmprofessionalism and kindness during the year-long Freedom Farmers classes at Olympia High School. Participants earn money and credits through the district’s partnership with the New Market Skills Center.

Students engage in 180 hours of community food work over the summer working primarily at the district-owned Muirhead Farm, an 18-acre property off Yelm Highway on Siskiyou Street.

Students grow, harvest and pack fresh vegetables, fruits and berries for the Olympia School District Child Nutrition Services Department. They typically generate 13,000 - 15,000 pounds of produce per year. Not only do students grow and tend the food crops, they also work with Child Nutrition Services staff in processing it for school year use. This year students focused on blanching and freezing crops like tomatoes, broccoli, beans, cauliflower, carrots, and making and freezing pesto, and pickling.

Summer production is also directed to the free summer lunch programs at Madison and Garfield The whole Freedom Farm crew posing in OHS kitchenelementary schools through the Summer Kids in Parks Program (SKIPP) and is distributed to several local community nonprofit organizations including Safeplace and the Family Support Center.

On top of managing the district farm site, students assist the Kiwanis Food Bank Garden project in the growing, maintenance and harvesting of fresh produce for the Thurston County Food Bank.

“This has been a special crew this summer,” said Freedom Farmers teacher Jason “Blue” Peetz. He praised this year’s student farmers for “making this community work happen and expanding our production area to produce even more berries and fruits for future years.”


Why do YOU Teach?

We sat down with a few of our teachers from across the district to see what it was that brought them into the teaching profession. Afterwards we asked our students to describe their teachers in a single word. The answers, from both sides, were pretty remarkable!


Mini-building dedication set for September 4

The newly constructed two-story classroom mini-buildings at Centennial and McLane elementary Centennial ES Mini Buildingschools will open their doors for classes on the first day of school, September 5 and be the site of community dedication ceremonies the previous day.

The community is welcome to join students and staff, Superintendent Patrick Murphy, school board members, district staff, and the architect and contractor in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at both schools on Tuesday, September 4.

Centennial Elementary will host its dedication ceremony from 9-10 a.m., with McLane Elementary holding its ribbon-cutting at 5 p.m. Centennial Elementary is located at 2637 45th Ave. S.E., Olympia. McLane Elementary is located at 200 Delphi Road S.W., Olympia.

Guests are welcome to walk through the new classroom buildings following the ribbon cutting Hansen ES Mini Buildingceremonies. The newly constructed mini-buildings are among five two-story classroom mini-buildings approved by voters as part of the 2016 school bond. Mini-buildings are also located at Pioneer, Hansen and Roosevelt elementary schools.

Each of the mini-buildings has eight classrooms, a music room, a commons/general classroom space for multiple uses, small learning areas between classrooms for small-group teaching and learning, a musical instrument storage area, and an administrative office and storage area. Each building also has a covered walkway connecting it to the main school building at each site, an elevator, two sets of stairs, and student and staff restrooms on each floor.

Exterior finishes and colors are designed to coordinate with the main one-story school buildings on the same campus.

Elementary student entering school busDrive with caution around school buses

School begins September 5 and school buses will be back on the road. Practicing caution and following the law while driving when school buses and children are present is essential for the safety and protection of our kids.

Remember that cautious and safe driving applies even when a school bus isn’t visible. It’s crucial to drive carefully near bus stops, in school zones and anywhere there are kids walking to and from school.

Olympia High School students and some Olympia Police Department officers created an informative video on bus safety rules of the road. Please do your part to keep kids safe and watch the video here.


Students learn and achieve through summer months

July 25 marked the official last day of summer school for the more than 125 students with some NASA summer camp students prepare rockethands-on learning who collectively finished 165 classes! Held at the Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA), summer school offers students the opportunity to retrieve credit, reinforce important skills, fill in gaps in learning, and become better prepared for the upcoming school year. Congratulations to these hardworking students, whose perseverance and sacrifice will make all the difference.

In addition to traditional courses like language arts, math, history and physical education, this year a “To Infinity and Beyond” NASA space camp was offered at Olympia High as part of the summer school program. The camp was made possible by a grant through the Northwest Earth and Space Science Pipeline (NESSP) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  Free for all attendees, students earned credit for participation.

Olympia High teachers Ricky Gant, Paul Rae and Heidi Kirk facilitated the camp as students explored NASA summer camp studentsRockets and Exploration of the Solar System, Environmental Sciences and Remote Sensing and Robotics and Surface Exploration. The curriculum consisted of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-oriented hands-on activities and classroom lessons developed by and supported with materials from NASA.

For students interested in discovering new things, solving problems and learning how things work, NASA camp was the place to be this summer.


See list of back-to-school resources

The first day of school for the 2018-19 school year is Wednesday, September 5. first day of school for Kindergarten and preschool begins on Monday, September 10 (except for Lincoln Elementary). Lincoln Elementary kindergarten students will begin school on Wednesday, September 5, as part of combined K-1 classes.

The first day of school can be both exciting and stressful. We have put together a few resources that First day of school photo of family dropping of studentwill make it easier for our students and parents to get the school year off to a great start! View our Back to School page for links to resources like school supplies, bus routes, new student registration and more.

Please visit our Child Nutrition Services webpage for any questions you may have regarding Breakfast and Lunch programs, including Free and Reduced meals and applications. You can also find districtwide menu and meal information for the upcoming school year here.

We can't wait to see our students and families on September 5. Just a reminder that September 5 is a full day at school (no early release).

Power Scholars calls Garfield Elementary home for the summer

Garfield Elementary School served again this summer as one of the locations of the power scholars hard at work in the classroomSouth Sound YMCA's Power Scholar Academies.

Power Scholars offers summer learning opportunities for students interested in continuing their Student and teacher learning in the classroommomentum in the classroom through the summer months. Students from Olympia School District, North Thurston Public Schools and Tumwater School District participate in this impactful regional program.

Along with working on math and reading, students in the Power Scholars Academy have access to the community lunch program and site playground facilities.

Curriculum for the Academy was developed in partnership with Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) and Scholastic.

We are thrilled to be a part of this amazing partnership. What an incredible group of hard-working students and staff!



School Improvement Bond Projects Update

Progress is visible throughout the district on construction projects approved by voters as part of the 2016 school improvements bond.

Remodel projects at Roosevelt, Centennial and McLane are well underway and making significant Construction in progress in mini-buildingprogress. Each school will retain its original footprint and exterior while being renovated from floor to ceiling. The projects include, among other things, new windows and roof, new electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems and seismic upgrades.

In addition, each of the schools will have a more secure entry system and an updated facade. The remodeled buildings will also have higher ceilings and more natural light.

The newly completed two-story mini buildings at Centennial and McLane will be operational at the start of the school year and will provide much-needed overflow space as construction continues at both schools through the 2018-19 school year. The mini-building at Roosevelt has been in use since last spring.

The remodel projects at all three schools are scheduled for completion prior to the start of school inWork in progress in OSD mini-buildings September 2019.

To learn more about progress of construction projects around the district, including a list of projects planned this school year and those already completed since voters approved the bond, please visit the School Improvements Bond Projects webpage.

Photos of construction projects and updates are also regularly posted to the district social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to follow us to follow our progress!

Middle schoolers “Earn-A-Bike” through Intercity Transit Program

Several Olympia School District middle schoolers took part in the “Earn-A-Bike” program offered by the City of Olympia Parks and Recreation program and Intercity Transit this summer.

In the program, middle school students attend a week-long camp where they learn basic bike Intercity Transit "Earn-a-bike" Programmechanic skills, rules of the road including making turns, signaling, lane positioning and bike handling skills. The program aims to set kids up to use their bikes as a mode of transportation and build lifelong skills.

This is the first time the program has operated weeklong summer camps as it is traditionally an after-school program. Bikes, helmets and bags are provided free of charge to participants if needed. The bikes are donated to Intercity Transit and made roadworthy and safe by community volunteers.

At the end of the week, campers who do not have their own bikes are welcome to select a bike to keep for as they venture out to become healthy and safe riders. What an amazing opportunity for our students to build healthy lifelong habits and learn to be safe on the road!

Photo courtesy of Intercity Transit

September is Attendance Awareness Month

The Olympia School District joins the State of Washington and the nation in recognizing September as Attendance Awareness Month.

Attendance Awareness Month posterEvery absence, excused or unexcused, is a learning opportunity lost and can have significant impact on a student’s success in school and life. A student who misses 10% or more of their school days, which can mean just two days a month, for any reason, is considered chronically absent.

Chronically absent students are more likely to fall behind academically and less likely to graduate from high school. Developing good attendance habits early sets the stage for success in high school, college and beyond.

Our schools and staff are committed to ensure all students fully benefit from their education by attending school regularly. We ask our parents, families and the entire community to join us and help our students be successful by making every school day count.

Awareness Month was started in 2013 by, a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance.

Tickets to high school athletic events available online

A new digital ticketing system launched this month allows people to buy their tickets online to Olympia and Capital high school athletic events that require a purchased ticket or season pass to enter.

The new digital ticketing system — much like ordering tickets for a professional sporting event — allows users the option to view available seats at the venue online, then pay for the tickets or season passes from a computer or mobile device.

The goal is to create a user-friendly and efficient way to purchase tickets, which in turn will help speedPurple Pass logo up lines at the ticket booth, said district Business Manager Justin Lanting. For those who prefer to continue to purchase tickets at the gate, that option will continue to be available.

If an event is canceled or postponed, the Purplepass Ticketing system will refund the cost of the ticket(s) to the purchaser.

The Olympia School District is the first school district in Washington state to partner with “Purplepass Ticketing,” an event organization company, to offer this online ticketing option. Plans are to eventually expand the online ticketing to include district performing arts events that charge for entry.

With a print-at-home feature, users can either print their ticket or just show it on a smartphone at the event. Once arriving at the event, users can skip the ticket booth and go straight to an event official who will scan the ticket off the paper or the mobile device.

Once an individual purchases a ticket or season pass online, the user can:

  • Print the ticket at home and bring it with them to the event.
  • Show the ticket purchased on a smartphone at the event.
  • Pick up the ticket at Will Call at the event.


By printing the ticket and/or showing it on a smartphone, users can skip the ticket booth line and proceed to the entry gate where an event staff member will scan the ticket on their phone or printed paper ticket.

Event staff for sporting events that charge for entry, such as high school football games and volleyball matches, have been equipped with iPads and ticket readers to quickly scan tickets as people enter.

Those who want a laminated season pass card, as has been offered in previous years, may continue to purchase one in person at the Capital or Olympia high school Associated Student Body (ASB) office.

View and purchase tickets on the new online ticket system.


Upcoming Events

September 5 - First Day of School (Full Day - No Early Release)
September 10 - First Day of Kindergarten & Preschool*
September 10 - Board Meeting at Knox @ 6:30 p.m.
September 12 - 50-Minute Early Release
September 17 - Constitution Day
September 19 - 50-Minute Early Release
September 24 - Board Meeting at Reeves MS @ 6:30 p.m.

*All grades at Lincoln Elementary begin September 5


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.