April 2022



Superintendent’s Message


Hello Olympia School District families,


Patrick Murphy headshot

Spring break has concluded, warmer days with more daylight are upon us, and we are making the turn down the homestretch of the 2021-22 school year. While this has been one of the more challenging years for students, staff and families as we continue our recovery from the pandemic impacts, there are also lots of signs of the fog lifting and brighter days ahead.


Olympia has always been the envy of many because of the bountiful contributions of volunteers and organizations throughout our community. We average 5,000 official volunteers annually and more than 50,000 hours of service to our schools. While COVID hampered our volunteer capacity due to restrictions for being on-site, it, too, is on the rebound. Our district celebrated Public School Volunteer Week April 18-22, and we are on the road to recovery as thousands have returned to our schools under the existing safety protocols.


No organization better exemplifies the commitment to service and to our families like our own Olympia School District Education Foundation. OSDEF is committed to “Empowering every student through community support.” Its values dovetail beautifully with our Student Outcomes, and it supports the district in countless ways. Key areas include 1) the Principal’s Emergency Fund (PEF) 2) Classroom Grants 3) Mental Health 4) Hands On/Outdoor Learning.


The principal's fund gives schools critical resources to support families in need without red tape or encumbrances which is so helpful in a crisis. The classroom grants encourage innovation and give teachers a wonderful ally in their work as they constantly seek ways to make their classrooms more engaging, which is especially important right now in our recovery efforts. The last two years have impacted the collective mental health of our community and OSDEF’s support for staff training in this area has been crucial. And while some of our overnight outdoor learning experiences have been hindered this year for safety reasons, the Foundation remains committed to hands-on learning that is a hallmark of the Olympia community.


I encourage you all to follow OSDEF on social media (Facebook and Instagram) and attend or sponsor a fundraising event (PEF Golf Scramble in August; PEF Breakfast in September/October). OSD staff also can consider automatic payroll deduction. If you want to help in a more direct way with your time, consider joining the Board of Trustees (more details available on the OSDEF website in early June 2022), volunteer at an event, or work on a committee. Please reach out to [email protected] to learn more!


In addition to the OSDEF we have other strong community partners like the City of Olympia, Thurston County YMCA, Boys and Girls Club and the South Sound Reading Foundation. All of them tirelessly support our students and families and better ensure we meet our Student Outcomes. And yes, like our school district, much of their work is largely completed thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers and supporters.


Thank you to all of our community volunteers. We are able to do so much more because of all of you. As we welcome spring and the promise it holds, I wish all a successful last quarter of the school year.



Patrick Murphy Signature
Patrick Murphy



Free sports physicals at June 4 clinic


Free sports physicals at June 4 clinic

The Olympia School District will provide a free-of-charge sports physical clinic from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, 2022 in the Capital High School gymnasium. With the anticipation of serving more than 500 students, doors will close promptly at 12:30 pm.


The clinic is provided thanks to the partnership and staffing from Olympia Orthopaedic Associates and their volunteers. In a return to pre-COVID expectations, all Olympia School District students must provide a valid sports physical annually to participate in extracurricular sports.


"In a return to normalcy, we are excited to partner with Oly Ortho by offering this much- needed service for no cost to Olympia families," said Bob Kickner, Olympia High School athletic director. "Our effort to get students back into the routine of being seen by medical professionals makes for a safer sports environment and helps the parents and coaches confidently support children in the pursuit of personal excellence."



Roosevelt Elementary School students design green home


Roosevelt Elementary School students design green home

Two Roosevelt Elementary School students spent the past several weeks as architectural designers, thanks to a student-led Inspiration Project assigned by their teacher, Spencer Olmsted.


Maebel Johns, grade 5, and Lara Choi, grade 4, worked as a team on their project -- a green residential building model at a scale of 1:24. The building includes three bedrooms, a reading nook and a “living wall" – an entire wall designed with living plants growing on the surface.


“A green building design is a type of house that is beneficial for the environment and also includes plants,” Lara said. “And not with a paved driveway. It’s better for the environment to have different driveway materials so there’s zigzaggy wooden stuff or gravel,” Maebel added.


This green building design included concrete because of its thermal stability. There are native plants throughout the property on the building itself and a waterfall cascades down from the third floor. The inside is lit with modern, LED lighting.


The challenge was something that Mr. Olmsted issues to his students every year: complete an “Inspiration Project” and make it come to life. Students are told to pick their own research topic and then present their findings to the class in whichever format they prefer. Some students complete slideshows, videos and artwork. All are encouraged to take a deep dive into the material.


“I have been assigning ‘Inspiration Projects’ for a few years, but it has developed over time as I see the kinds of things that students are capable of producing,” Olmsted said. “They inspire each other in addition to lighting their own fires. I was blown away by this work. It looks like the kind of thing that architecture students would do. Sometimes it pays off to get out of their way and let them go a little wild.”


Occasionally, students find that the inspiration leads them down a path they never imagined before. In the case of Maebel and Lara, they were inspired to become amateur architects.


“Mr. Olmsted said we wanted us to take it onto the next level and so that’s what we did - we made this!” Lara said.


They were encouraged by Maebel’s father, who took some architectural design courses in college.


“These two smart and ambitious girls are responsible for all of the concepts, design and construction of the project,” said Chris Johns. “I helped with using the razor knife to cut the foam pieces, but the girls really made this project come to life themselves. They incorporated all of the design elements just as they had planned it out on paper and took care of every detail including adding lights on all three floors of the house.”


Maebel and Lara researched environmentally friendly construction and completed their blueprints during class time at Roosevelt. At home, they worked on their model with foam, wood, paint, rocks, hot glue and moss. It took them four work sessions and more than 11 total hours. That doesn’t include a few vital trampoline-jumping breaks!


“During the process, we had a lot of fun, that’s probably the best part of making it. Me and Maebel were making jokes and we got to play with her siblings,” Lara said.


It was an ambitious project, Johns said. “With this being a three story house of such complexity, there was just so much time required of them to complete it. They were so focused on the weekends, hour after hour, as they made their vision come to life. Everyone who has seen their project has been very impressed.”


Maebel’s mother, father, and both sets of grandparents helped organize supplies as well as supervise and encourage the young architects throughout the duration of this project. “Without her parents and other family members helping us we would have not been able to do this,” Lara said.


“I was so impressed with their vision, creativity, ideas and how they brought them to life,” said Annie, Maebel’s mother. “I enjoyed hearing them troubleshoot ideas and discuss which areas would be painted which color. They worked together to glue, mixed the paint a specific shade, and determined the landscaping. They originally had some pretty advanced ideas on the waterfall and pond, which structurally would have been quite challenging, so the girls worked through a new game plan and they executed it in a really beautiful manner.”


The project was just as much fun for the adults as it was for the children, Annie said. “I must say, watching something come together that these young people are creating in their heads is pretty exciting, I’m very proud of those two!”



Board approves 2022-23 school year calendar


Board approves 2022-23 school year calendar

The Olympia School District Board of Directors has approved the school year calendar for the 2022-23 school year.


This calendar includes only districtwide holidays and events. School-specific events are not included, so be sure to check school websites/calendars for specific school-related events and activities.


2023 graduation dates will be published as soon as the dates are confirmed.




Buddies Program at ORLA builds bonds across the ages


Buddies Program at ORLA builds bonds across the ages

On a recent afternoon at Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA), students in an upstairs classroom looked like they were just sitting on the floor having a good time playing with their Legos. But beneath the surface, there was a lot of important work going on. On this particular day, quiet students were learning to advocate for their own needs - while more assertive students were learning to take turns.


The Buddies Program at ORLA is currently in its 14th year. Students across all grade levels sign up for the weekly class as part of the school’s hConnect program, which allows homeschool students to sign up for individual classes and receive school support. This year, about 50 students in grades K through 12 participate in the Buddies Program.


“This is our student’s fourth year in Buddies and each year has been a very positive experience,” said hConnect parent Kris Cummings. “Important social skills such as active listening, problem-solving and mindfulness have been taught and reinforced, but most importantly, lasting friendships have been made. Our student looks forward to attending Buddies every week.”


Children across a broad range of ages have a unique and powerful ability to influence one another, said ORLA teacher Keoki Kauanoe.


“This class is about having a kind of multigenerationalism where you have the younger students and the older students being mentored. They’re having a good time but they’re also having a role model,” Kauanoe said. “I’m Hawaiian and in traditional Hawaiian families it’s also multigenerational with kids having close relationships and mentors among siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents … so we’re kind of doing it on a smaller scale here.”


During the Lego activity, some of the more assertive students stepped in to support a more reserved buddy when a Lego was taken from them or when their opinion wasn’t being heard. Other students learned they couldn’t always be in charge of the activity or be the center of attention. Older students, or buddies, have a unique way of resolving these situations from inside the group that adults can’t always emulate as classroom leaders.


“After two years of remote learning due to COVID-19, our younger students in particular need practice building good classroom habits and can benefit from intentional social emotional activities,” said ORLA teacher Ashley Arvidson. “The current lesson on assertiveness has been especially helpful. Students are learning how to positively advocate for their needs while also considering the ideas and perspectives of others.”


First grader Mae Cook said the Buddies Program is one of her favorite classes at the school. “It’s where you get to do everything that’s fun,” Mae said. “You may have more than one or two buddies. They always chat with me.”


ORLA Principal Frank Reed said that the buddies program supports the following Olympia School Distirct Board Outcomes:


  • Outcome 1: Students will be compassionate and kind.
  • Outcome 3: Students will advocate for the social, physical and mental wellness of themselves and others and be hopeful about the future.
  • Outcome 5: Students will discover their passions, be curious and love learning.


“It brings me joy to see our older students taking on the role of a mentor and becoming a positive influence to some of our younger students,” Reed said. “And the positive impact for all of the students is evident. I must shout out what a great job Ashley Arvidson, Rebecca Stoddard and Keoki Kauanoe have done in preparing students to be kind and caring individuals.”



Take the Balanced Calendar Survey by May 20


Take the Balanced Calendar Survey by May 20

The Olympia School District is in the early stage of exploring a balanced calendar.


Please complete this brief survey to help us gauge community interest on whether or not to more formally investigate a balanced calendar for the Olympia School District.


The deadline to complete this survey is 5 p.m. on Friday, May 20, 2022.



To learn more about balanced calendar, view the following:




Avanti, Olympia HS students win top awards in OSPI state art competition


Avanti, Olympia HS students win top awards in OSPI state art competition

Olympia and Avanti high school students took home a total of five awards this year during the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) annual art show. A total of about 20 winners were chosen from across the state, and OSD students took about 25 percent of the awards!


From Avanti High School, junior Adelyn Krone is the first Avanti student in eight years to win a state art competition award. Her digital art design “The Track to Ukraine,” was intended to make people expand their worldview and consider the beauty of all cultures throughout the world. Since she was a little girl, Adelyn has been enchanted with her Ukrainian and German roots – studying the traditions, cultures, dress, language and history of her ancestors. She continues to follow current world events.


“I want my art to create a clear bridge between our distant, misunderstood worlds – between our very defined cultures, so we may be able to understand the countries we know little to nothing about,” Adelyn said.


From Olympia High School, award winners included senior Jacob Reeves for his piece “Old Capitol,” a watercolor that began as a sketch and inspired while he was waiting at an intersection. It illustrates, in detail, the historic old Capitol building in Olympia following a snowstorm. The building is now the main office for OSPI.


Olympia HS junior Leila Chavez won for her painting “Mt. Tahoma,” a brightly colored, whimsical portrayal of one of Washington’s most iconic features of natural beauty – Mount Rainier. The mountain was formerly called Mount Tahoma by Northwest Native Americans who lived in the region. “I drew inspiration from seeing the mountain at sunset,” Leila said. “I love the way the colorful and illuminated sky reflects off the mountain.”


Olympia HS senior Ella Sherin won an award for art that is both beautiful and functional. Traditional and Contemporary Hand Drum is a working drum made with rawhide and cedar, then painted with acrylic. The designs represent the Cowlitz Native American Tribe, of which she is a member.


In the ceramics medium, OHS senior Fiona Whitaker earned an honorable mention with her piece Jewel Chest with Drawer. “My piece was inspired by things that give me joy, such as nature,” Fiona said. “It is meant to be a reminder to 'treasure' the little things that make you happy in life. My goal was to create something both beautiful and functional. I have built a box before, and so a second goal I had this time around was to increase the complexity of my box by adding a working drawer.”


Many of the OSPI art show winners receive a trophy, as well as a cash prize. Students will find out which prize they earned during a ceremony on May 26.


  • View the OSD award winners on Facebook
  • View all the state art show submissions on the OSPI website



College Guaranteed Admissions Pilot (GAP) comes to OSD


College Guaranteed Admissions Pilot (GAP) comes to OSD 

Olympia School District has partnered with the Guaranteed Admissions Pilot (GAP) Program to support college and career goals for seniors throughout the district. Many of Washington’s public baccalaureate institutions have a focus on increasing access and credential completion in Washington state.


OSD is one of 60 districts across the state participating in the Guaranteed Admissions Pilot program this school year. The GAP program supports guaranteed admissions efforts at Central Washington University (CWU), Eastern Washington University (EWU), The Evergreen State College, Western Washington University (WWU), and Washington State University (WSU). These participating institutions require the following two criteria to be met for a student to be eligible for the program:



Students who meet the above criteria, or are on track to meet the criteria by high school completion, are guaranteed admission to the institution. Seniors eligible for guaranteed admission must apply to the institution by completing an admissions application and any additional requirements by the institution. They are also encouraged to maintain their high school GPA during their senior year to meet the guaranteed admission criteria.


College admissions staff will reach out by email to students who meet the necessary qualifications. College admissions staffers note that students must complete the application process and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) as one of the steps to continue the path toward admission.



Middle School Information for Incoming Sixth Graders


Middle School Information for Incoming Sixth Graders

Olympia School District’s four middle schools invite families of fifth graders to learn more about the transition to middle school. Opportunities to learn more about Thurgood Marshall, Reeves, Washington and Jefferson middle schools are listed below:


Thurgood Marshall Middle School

TMMS staff will visit classrooms at Hansen and McLane elementary schools during the week of May 16 to distribute registration and course scheduling materials. TMMS will host 5th grade students in the morning on Friday, June 10 for “move up day” activities during the elementary school’s half day.


Incoming sixth grade parents and students are invited for a 6th grade Information Night and Ice Cream Social at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, in the cafeteria at Thurgood Marshall Middle School. Administrators and counselors will be there to provide an overview of everything students and parents need to know about TMMS. If you can’t make it in person, a Zoom option (linked below) is also offered at the same time. Ice cream not provided!


Join Zoom Meeting: https://osd111.zoom.us/j/88629615538


Families may also learn more about Thurgood Marshall on the school website.


Reeves Middle School

Reeves counselor Kaitlin Martin visited all feeder elementary schools the week of April 11 to present registration information. She also hosted a 45-minute Welcome Night on April 21 on Zoom with Administrative Assistant Brandi Sorem. This Zoom presentation contained the same information students learned the week of April 11, including an overview of class options, registration instructions, and building procedures and expectations.


Families of students that are not currently enrolled in one of our feeder elementary schools were encouraged to attend this presentation. Additionally, learn about the school by visiting the school website.


Washington Middle School

Registration information, as well as a slideshow featuring videos about Washington Middle School, are posted on the school’s website. The presentation, featured as an Announcement on the school’s Home page, includes a video message by Principal Paul Anders, comments by Washington Middle School staff and students, and a glimpse into several classrooms and programs on campus.


Questions can be emailed to [email protected].


Jefferson Middle School

Parents and guardians of incoming 6th grade students are invited to attend a parent night at Jefferson from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on May 31 in the Jefferson Middle School Library. Students are not required to attend. Parents will be provided with information about how to register online.


Representatives from Jefferson will visit classrooms at LP Brown and Garfield elementary schools this spring to present information about transitioning to middle school. Students and their teachers will also visit Jefferson for a school tour on June 16. You can learn more about Jefferson on the school website.



Take School Supports and Environment Survey


Take School Supports and Environment Survey

Building students’ social-emotional learning skills is an important goal for all Olympia School District schools this year. Over the next several weeks, students and teachers will participate in several exercises to better understand these concepts and to reflect on how they identify these skills internally.


We are also asking OSD families to participate in a survey based on their (or their child’s) experience at their school. Responses will provide invaluable insights into how we can improve and adapt our district to their needs.


The responses to these surveys will be completely confidential. We are partnering with a third-party vendor to support us in administering these surveys.


You may complete a survey for each child enrolled in our district or for each school in which you have students enrolled. Your time and feedback are greatly appreciated and will be used by district and school leaders to guide planning for the 2022-23 school year.


The deadline to complete this survey is May 6



If you have any questions about this survey, please don’t hesitate to contact your student’s school.



Upcoming Events


  • April 28: OSD Board Meeting in-person and online via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.
  • May 2-6: Teacher Appreciation Week
  • May 4: 50 Minute Early Release
  • May 5: OSD Board Work Session in-person and online via Zoom at 6 p.m. (tentative)
  • May 11: 50 Minute Early Release
  • May 12: OSD Board Meeting in-person and online via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.
  • May 18: 50 Minute Early Release
  • May 18: Citizens Advisory Committee Balanced Calendar via Zoom at 6 p.m.
  • May 23: Ice Cream Social from 4:30 - 6 p.m. - Olympia High School Commons
  • May 25: 50 Minute Early Release
  • May 26: OSD Board Meeting in-person and online via Zoom (6 p.m. staff recognition followed by board meeting at 6:45 p.m.).
  • May 27: School is in session (previously scheduled snow make-up day)



OSD Notice of Nondiscrimination

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 Olympia School District offers many Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs/courses in the following areas: Skilled and Technical Sciences/STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics); Agriculture/Natural Resources; Business Marketing; Family and Consumer Sciences; and Health Sciences. For more information about CTE course offerings and admissions criteria, contact Pat Cusack, Director of College and Career Readiness, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506, (360) 596-6102. Lack of English language proficiency will not be a barrier to admission and participation in CTE programs.


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:

Title IX Officers

  • Autumn Lara, Executive Director of Elementary Education: [email protected], (360) 596-8534
  • Michael Hart, Executive Director of Secondary Education: [email protected], (360) 596-8545


Ken Turcotte, Section 504 and ADA Coordinator (Students)


Starla Hoff, ADA Coordinator (Staff)


Scott Niemann, Affirmative Action Officer and Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator


Pat Cusack, Director of College and Career Readiness


All six individuals may also be contacted at 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA, 98506.