June 2022


Superintendent’s Message


Hello Olympia School District families,


Patrick Murphy headshot

With the end of the school year comes sunshine and hopefully time for people to wind down a little, be with family and friends, and refuel the energy tanks.


And at the same time, the summer break is a time for us to reflect, think and plan for the work ahead. One thing the last couple of years has given us is permission to think outside the box on how to deliver education. The traditional confines of the facility, the daily clock and the calendar have been loosened, and we have license like never before to explore new ways of customizing learning for all students to better meet their individual needs. Our teachers and school staff have been at the forefront of this transformative work, and we will continue to plan and prepare with them for the ongoing work of creating a better, more responsive school system in the future.


For those who want or need continued learning opportunities, again, we will be extending the school year calendar and providing our OSD Summer School program (offered for elementary and secondary students).


Also, as a reminder, summer is a time for building maintenance around the district. You will see our ground and facilities team working away the next couple of months, with a particularly big remodel at Avanti High School in full effect this summer. Our schools always look so shiny and welcoming come September thanks to the hard work of our dedicated Operations team in the summer. A special thanks to the maintenance staff who keep our buildings looking good and running smoothly.


I wish all of our students, families and staff a well deserved restful and joyous summer break with family and loved ones. In the meantime, we will work hard to be ready to welcome students back to school on Wednesday, September 7, which will include for the first time, our new incoming kindergartners, the Class of 2035.  



Patrick Murphy Signature
Patrick Murphy



Class of 2022 graduation livestream recordings


Class of 2022 graduation livestream recordings

Graduation season for the Class of 2022 has officially wrapped up and all of our senior classes have walked across their respective stages.


If you were unable to attend one of our five graduation ceremonies this year, or didn’t catch the livestream, you can find all of our graduation livestream recordings linked below. You will also find robust photo albums from all of our high school graduations. Congratulations to the Class of 2022!


Class of 2022 Graduation Livestream Recordings


Class of 2022 Graduation Photo Albums



Community partnerships benefit Jefferson MS students and salmon


Community partnerships benefit Jefferson MS students and salmon

Students at Jefferson Middle School got a lesson about local conservation efforts and jigsaws during a recent salmon project in woodworking class. Students used jigsaws to cut out large Chinook salmon shapes in plywood, which will then be painted and auctioned off to benefit the Nisqually Reach Nature CenterOpening in a new window.


Jefferson woodshop teacher John Chernoff volunteered his classroom for the project after hearing about the effort while networking with the Olympia Woodworkers GuildOpening in a new window.


“I thought what a cool thing to blend the local woodworkers, students and a nonprofit group that needs support,” Chernoff said. “And this sort of project is perfect for students who are just starting out with woodworking, because it’s a skill builder, it’s kind of fun and it’s connecting kids, other kids, and something that’s outside the district.”


The fish were cut from resurfaced plywood that was donated to the organization. They were then handpainted in various artistic designs by local artists. Some of the fish will be sold at the auction, and some will be used at a separate fundraising event. Other fish may be hung at the nature center location or used in displays.


“I really liked the project because it was the most independent thing we’ve gotten to do in woodshop, and also it was a nice opportunity to use new tools in ways that I never thought I would use them,” said seventh grader Annabeth Collett.


Seventh grader Eliott Clifthorne said he was happy that he got to use the jigsaw for the first time while working on the project. “Everyone helped out with the fish in the beginning and it was a lot of planning,” Chifthorne said. “I thought it was so fun. The end result was amazing. I loved cutting them and teaching other people how to do it.”


The fish turned out beautifully, said Nisqually Reach Nature Center Executive Director Daniel Hull. “It was great to help give students the opportunity to connect STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills and the ability to build and make things with the knowledge of science and how we can help build a better future with more conservation.”


The school will hopefully participate in the program again next year, Chernoff said. “The students just get the whole run of kids doing leadership, supporting the greater community, using skills, and using the shop for something beyond just the everyday classwork, all while building a relationship with the community.”


Chinook salmon are on the threatened and endangered species list in the Puget Sound, Hull pointed out. “It’s a hot topic and we need to help the fish.”



Two new student representatives join Olympia School Board


Two new student representatives join Olympia School Board

With photo (from left) of Rahma Gaye and Christine Zhang taken outside of Knox


The Olympia School Board welcomed two new student representatives at its June 23 meeting, bid farewell to those who served this past year, and announced two additional student representative seats are still open for the 2022-23 school year.


Directors recently updated board policy to have four student representatives serve on the school board each year – a junior or senior from Capital, Olympia and Avanti high schools, and an eleventh or twelfth grader from the Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA). Each of the four student representatives also has the opportunity, based on the newly approved Board Policy 1250Opening in a new window, to cast a non-binding advisory vote.


During its regular meeting on June 23, Superintendent Patrick Murphy and the board thanked outgoing student representatives Michelle Pineda of Avanti High, and Matthew Scott of Olympia High, for their service.


Board President Maria Flores described Pineda as a “fierce advocate for justice.” She summarized Scott as “a man of few words, but when he says them they are explicitly to the point, incredibly thoughtful and well thought out.”


After wishing both students well in their futures, Flores administered the oath of office to new student representatives Rahma Gaye from Capital High and Christine Zhang from Olympia High. Gaye and Zhang both took their board seats immediately after taking the oath and were joined in the audience by family members.


Search continues for student representative from Avanti High and ORLA

The board continues its search for a student representative from Avanti High School and ORLA, as no one had applied by the June 23 board meeting. Avanti HS and ORLA students entering grades 11 or 12 this fall are encouraged to applyOpening in a new window for the other two open seats. The deadline to apply is 11 p.m. on Sunday, August 21.


Student representatives serve a one-year term on the board through June 20, 2023. For more information about being a student representative, visit the Student Representatives webpage on the district website or contact Emmie San Nicolas, executive assistant to the Superintendent, by email at [email protected] or by phone at (360) 596-6114.



Capital HS graduate Christian Dailey ‘glows up’ in four years


Capital HS graduate Christian Dailey ‘glows up’ in four years

Christian Dailey, a 2022 Capital High School graduate, will never forget the scrawny, shy, awkward freshman he said he felt like when he first entered the doors at Capital High School in 2018.


“You didn’t even really see me because I was so socially isolated. Maybe only three or four people knew who I was,” Christian recalls. “I didn’t really like people all that much. They scared me, to be honest. I’m getting flashbacks to strength training class. That was terrifying to my freshman self. Everyone was like giants to me.”


Christian didn’t know it at the time, but things were about to take a drastic change. Looking back now, he calls it his big “glow up.” Christian graduated from Capital as arguably one of the most well-known and well-liked kids in his class. How did he achieve that? It was as simple as holding open the school’s front door.


“I just really like seeing everyone’s faces in the morning and having that feeling of making people’s days brighter,” Christian said. “As it went on there were a lot more smiles, a lot more verbal gratitude."


At the graduation on June 17, Capital Spanish teacher Joseph Alonso spoke about Christian. “There’s no better example of kindness than our own Christian Dailey,” Alonso said, to loud applause from the crowd. “Every morning, Christian would stand at the front doors of our school wishing us all a good day. I was so touched by how such a simple but powerful act of kindness made me feel that I began to model Christian, wishing everyone that I saw in the mornings a good day too. Thank you, Christian. It makes a difference. And you made a difference.”


Christian held open the front door of the school at the beginning and end of the day, each and every school day for his four years at Capital. He always cheerfully greeted students passing through. And it wasn’t long until students were cheerfully greeting him as well, giving him smiles and high-fives.


“I just felt like holding the door one day and then I just kept doing it and I never stopped,” Christian said. “I didn’t really have a reason at first.”


Christian added, “After I saw how it made me feel, and it was improving my well-being knowing that I’m doing this service for people, and that I’m making so many people’s days, after all that, it improved my well-being so I just kept wanting to do it because that made way for so much positive change in my life. It just really helped with self-confidence and feeling better about myself. My self presentation got a lot better as well.”


Christian was also recognized by the Olympia School District Board of Education with the “Service above self” award at Capital’s senior awards night.


Following graduation, Christian will attend Project SEARCH – a nine-month program for students with individualized education plans to get additional vocational training after high school. Christian will participate in three unpaid 10-week internships with the goal of finding full-time employment. He is considering that he may enjoy retail customer service.


“The fun of Project SEARCH is discovering what you would like to do,” Christian said. “You could have one plan and then realize that’s not at all what I want to do with my life, and then you can do something else.”


Whatever he ends up doing, Christian hopes he will be around a lot of people. As it turns out, he is quite a people person. He discovered that during his time at Capital. “I was probably just born that way but probably just needed to unlock that,” he said. “That happened by just being around people. That helped me to grow out of this introverted shy phase.”



Congratulations WASA Region 113 award winners


Congratulations WASA Region 113 award winners

Congratulations to Olympia High School student Bea Wilhelm, community leader Joe Ingoglia, and Executive Director of Secondary Education Mick Hart for being recognized at this year’s Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Region 113 annual awards dinner.


More than 100 people attended the May 25, 2022 event to recognize “outstanding educational administrators and others who have made extraordinary contributions to K-12 education.”


Following is information shared during the WASA awards dinner:


WASA Student Leadership Award: Beatrice (Bea) Wilhelm

The Student Leadership Award recognizes outstanding student leaders who have created or played a significant leadership role in initiatives or programs that promote access, equity or social justice in their school and community.


Olympia High School ninth grader Beatrice Wilhelm exhibits natural leadership through her consistent support of others. The 14-year-old, who was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 5 and has been wearing a torso brace since second grade, started an Olympia chapter in 2020 of the international “Curvy Girls Scoliosis Support Group.” Bea brings girls with scoliosis together monthly to raise awareness, support one another and organize fundraisers to provide “Higgy Bears” – specially made stuffed animals for children with scoliosis – to a local hospital. Bea is described as a competent, reliable and supportive individual who is respected by her peers and teachers.


WASA Community Leadership Award: Joe Ingoglia

The Community Leadership Award is presented to community members or groups in recognition of their outstanding contributions to education.


Joe Ingoglia is an inspirational team builder who, as campaign manager for Olympia Citizens for Schools, helped lead the last three successful Olympia School District election campaigns. Ingoglia’s enthusiasm and strategic, outcome-driven leadership contributed to the success in 2018 and 2022 of a four-year Technology and Safety Levy, as well as a four-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy, approved by 70 percent of OSD voters, in 2020. For nearly 20 years Ingoglia has given back to the community in leadership roles with Boys & Girls Clubs, most recently as Director of Organizational Development with Boys & Girls Clubs of America.


WASA Retirement Award: Michael “Mick” Hart

The WASA Retirement Award honors service to the profession.


Mick Hart is retiring this month after 44 years in education – 38 of those years in public schools, including 16 years in public school administration.


Most recently, Hart served three years as the Olympia School District Executive Director of Secondary Education. Before that he worked as an assistant principal at Olympia High School, a teacher at Reeves Middle School and various other teacher and leadership positions.


He is known for cheerfully greeting everyone he sees by name, and he also plays a mean electric guitar, as well as acoustic guitar, banjo and ukulele in “The Mick Hart Band.”


Hart said he will miss the daily interactions with colleagues, students and their families. In retirement, he looks forward to spending time with his family which includes his wife, Kim, as well as five children, their spouses and 14 grandchildren. He looks forward to visits to Kauai and playing music late into his 80s, like Willie Nelson.


In addition to the annual awards presented, the WASA event program included recognition of WASA members who have served 20 years. Olympia School District administrators receiving the 20-Year recognition include Executive Director of Human Resources Scott Niemann and Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Capital Planning Jennifer Priddy.



End-of-year Facebook photo albums from across the district


End-of-year Facebook photo albums from across the district

The last two months of the school year are always a whirlwind, and this year was no exception. We are so grateful to have been able to get out to so many schools, for so many different events to capture photos and videos of all the end-of-year happenings and excitement.


Below you will find Facebook Photo Albums of many of the events which we have covered over the past two months. We hope you enjoy some of the photos and videos we’ve captured when out and about visiting our buildings:


May ‘22 Photo Albums


June ‘22 Photo Albums



McKenny ES to get new traffic garden this summer


McKenny ES to get new traffic garden this summer

Students will have a new place to practice riding their bikes this summer at McKenny Elementary, thanks to a partnership with the Olympia School District, Safe Kids Thurston County and the Intercity Transit Walk N Roll program. The traffic garden is scheduled for completion in late July. The goal is for students to learn the rules of the road in a controlled setting.


McKenny PE teacher Mindy Swedberg applied for a grant to install the traffic garden after seeing a similar project at a school in Lacey. McKenny was awarded $10,000 from the State Farm Good Neighbor Grant for the project.


The garden will be a permanent painted feature and includes examples of common traffic scenarios such as four-way stops and roundabouts. It will be just shy of 100 square feet. The general public may use the traffic garden during the summer and on evenings and weekends after school resumes in the fall.


“Our Traffic Garden Program provides many benefits,” said Safe Kids Thurston County Coordinator Danielle King. “First and foremost, this space provides children a reduced-size version of the public street networks they will encounter, whether biking or walking, which they can maneuver through safely in the absence of motored vehicles. The traffic garden will provide the school with a resource, create a public recreation site for families, and can help reinvigorate the neighborhood as an educational public art piece.”


McKenny PE classes will also use the traffic garden for a new bicycling unit that will begin next year. The school secured donations of helmets and bicycles for the new class, which will be taught to all grade levels during regular school day PE classes. They are currently working to secure funding to store the bicycles.


“We’re really excited about this,” said McKenny Principal Micheal Havens. “We want kids to be safe and know the rules of the road while they’re out there so that they can be safe getting from point A to point B.”


The majority of McKenny students bike, walk or are driven to school. Only two school buses service the school.


“Perhaps fewer parents would feel the need to drive their students to school if they knew that their students could get to school safely on their bikes,” Havens said.


A committee of community members worked together to pull off the project, including Havens, Swedberg, Olympia High School design student Natalie Zobell, Washington State Traffic Engineer Tyler Zobell, Olympia Police Department, Walk N Roll Supervisor Kerri Wilson, Safe Kids Thurston County Coordinator Danielle King, State Farm and OSD Executive Director of Operations Frank Wilson.


“The collaboration has been amazing,” Swedberg said. “This should be an amazing asset to our school, the community and the OSD. It would be awesome to see them put in at more elementary schools in the future.”



Olympia Regional Learning Academy opens new outdoor classroom


Olympia Regional Learning Academy opens new outdoor classroom

Students at Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) are enjoying a new outdoor learning space that was built at the school this month.


ORLA teacher Lea Mitchell advocated for the outdoor classroom. She said it is something she’s been dreaming of for many years and was finally able to pursue with funding that was part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“We know from our own experiences, from the research, and most importantly from students that being outside helps with creativity, focus and emotional health,” Mitchell said. “A sturdy covered outdoor shelter creates a new kind of learning space and also sends the message that we walk the talk.”


The shelter is used for classes, quiet time reading, sketching in nature, meetings and any other needs that come up, Mitchell said. “I imagine that the use will grow and evolve over time,” she added.


The Office of Superintendent of Public InstructionOpening in a new window reports that outdoor learning promotes physical, social and emotional health, as well as closes the access gap for students of color and students with disabilities.


On a recent sunny afternoon, kindergarten Montessori students visited the outdoor classroom for some independent drawing time. Drawing without direction is part of the Montessori philosophy. On this day, the students happened to be drawing salmon. While the students were drawing there was calming, meditative music playing in the background.


"I just like coloring where my mind takes me, and then all of a sudden I like to be quiet and just focus on what's in front of me,” one kindergartner said.


Students were also eager to talk about other outdoor activities they’ve been participating in at ORLA – such as working in the school garden.


"Yesterday we pulled up grass, so there's dirt in areas so we can plant the sunflowers,” said a kindergartner in Isabella Rogol’s class. We're all excited about it. We all get to plant them!"


To view photos of ORLA's amazing new outdoor classroom in action, follow this linkOpening in a new window!



Listen to District Celebration webinar recording


Listen to District Celebration webinar recording

OSD students, staff, family members and community partners were recognized for their contributions to schools and the community this year during a one-hour District Celebration webinar on May 31, 2022.


Olympia School Board President Maria Flores joined Superintendent Patrick Murphy for the one-hour Zoom celebration. Flores and Murphy shared about each of the honorees and then presented each one with a unique certificate recognizing their efforts.


The District Celebration, which is planned to become an annual event, was the last in a series of monthly community webinars that addressed various topics.




Olympia High School students partner with local architects for mentorship


Olympia High School students partner with local architects for mentorship

Olympia High School students got some hands-on experience in architectural design recently as participants in the Thomas Architecture StudiosOpening in a new window mentoring program, facilitated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest WashingtonOpening in a new window in partnership with the Olympia School District College & Career Readiness program.


This was the program’s first year. It was a pilot project in career mentoring made possible with grant funding from Capital Region Educational Service District 113Opening in a new window. The goal of the program is to connect students with architects working in the field in order to learn about the career field and basic design concepts. Thomas Architecture Studios in Olympia provided 11 staff members to serve as mentors. Students participated in monthly meetings and field trips.


OHS junior Taiga Eichler participated in the mentorship program this year, along with about eight other OHS students in grades 9-12. “My goals at the start of the internship were to learn about other fields of design, and how math and applied arts work together in design,” Eichler said. “I learned about the planning for buildings, and how many sketches and rough drafts one needs to begin building. I want to head into industrial design, so I hope learning about various other art forms could help. This was a really fun apprenticeship program.”


Big Brothers Big Sisters and Thomas Architecture Studios are currently working out the details for next year’s mentorship program. Big Brothers Big Sisters is also working to expand their Career Connected Mentoring program to include other industries in the future.


“The program was a massive success,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters coordinator Georgia Aust. “Students participating reported that they learned a lot about architecture and design, increased their confidence in professional settings and had a lot of fun! The mentors were also very happy to connect with young people and share their knowledge of the field.”



Back-to-school information


Back-to-school information

Are you prepping for the next school year? Check out our back-to-school resources page for all the necessary information, including school hours, supply lists and more!


Darcy Huffman named new school board vice president


Darcy Huffman named new school board vice president

Darcy Huffman, who joined the Olympia School Board in December 2021, is the new board vice president and will serve in that role until the next school board reorganization in December 2022.


Huffman assumed the role of vice president at the June 23, 2022 regular board meeting following a unanimous vote by the board. Previously, the role was held by Director Justin McKaughan, who recently announced his resignation as a board director, effective August 31, 2022. McKaughan announced he will move out of District 2 and will no longer be eligible to serve on the board after August.


McKaughan was elected to the Olympia School Board in 2019. His four-year term expires in 2023. The board will follow district policy, which states that the vacancy be filled by board appointment.


President Maria Flores noted that the board has 90 days to appoint someone to fill McKaughan’s vacancy after his departure on August 31, 2022. The board is currently in the planning phase of the recruitment process for the District 2 board seat.


Flores added that the board will receive applications from qualified individuals interested in filling the District 2 seat until the next regularly-scheduled board election. Details about the application process will be announced in district communications.



Upcoming Events



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


Ken Turcotte, Section 504 and ADA Coordinator (Students)


Starla Hoff, ADA Coordinator (Staff)


Scott Niemann, Affirmative Action Officer and Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator


Paula Perryman, Director of College and Career Readiness


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