November 2021



Superintendent’s Message


Hello Olympia School District families,


Patrick Murphy headshot

Ever since I reached adulthood, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for a variety of reasons. Unlike some others, you can always count on the fact it will fall on a Thursday, and for most people, it results in a four-day weekend. For me, it has always been a time of three of my favorite “F’s”: family, food and football. For our family, it marks the beginning of the holiday season, so it has been a time of hope and optimism about what might come.


Family traditions are a part of who we are, and they change and take shape over time. Some of our families who are Native American, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian have traditions that have developed over thousands of years.


As a child, at school, I was taught a narrative that was presented as the traditional “Thanksgiving” story, in which some of the earliest European colonists arrived in North America and were challenged by their new environment. Desperate and hungry, they were assisted by friendly Native Americans, had a great feast together, and that was about all I remember learning.


Of course, since then, I have learned much more about the impact of European colonization, especially on the indigenous peoples of this continent. There are links at the bottom of this message with additional resources, and I invite you to explore them.


For too long in our society and in our schools we have disproportionately shared history from a single perspective. The story of our Native American students and families needs to be told. All students deserve to know it. We should not be afraid of our Nation's full, unfiltered history. By telling our stories, everyone’s stories, we give ourselves capacity to grow in our understanding and empathy.


Which brings me back to Thanksgiving and the first “F”, family. Like many I suspect, I spend most days preoccupied with my own personal challenges and issues. But at Thanksgiving, I find myself listening and immersed in the stories and perspectives of siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, in-laws and new significant others courageously entering the fold. Sure, those conversations can be contentious at times, but I often end up, if only temporarily, losing myself in the shared experiences of others and leave with a better awareness of who they are and ultimately who I am. I think that is how we grow and become the better manifestation of ourselves that we long to be.


I hope you all can enjoy the gift of family, friends or self-reflection during Native American Heritage Month and over this Thanksgiving weekend.



Patrick Murphy Signature
Patrick Murphy



Related Resources:



Courtney Jarmon: U.S. Air Force veteran & WMS 6th grade science teacher


Courtney Jarmon: U.S. Air Force veteran & WMS 6th grade science teacher

Serving in the military and teaching middle school are remarkably similar, says sixth grade science teacher Courtney Jarmon. And Jarmon would know -- she’s done both.


From 2007 to 2015 Jarmon served in the U.S. Air Force as a flight instructor. During her service she completed three deployments, two to Iraq and one split between Kuwait and Afghanistan. She was a captain when she began her first deployment. While exploring career options after the military, Jarmon found that teaching middle school came to mind. “I figured if I could teach new officers how to airdrop people and stuff going 200 mph and 300 feet off the ground, then I could teach middle-schoolers,” she said.


This is Jarmon’s fifth year teaching at Washington Middle School. The parallels between military service and teaching frequently occur to her. “It’s shockingly similar,” she said.


“When sixth graders start out, that transition from elementary school to middle school, that is very much like putting a person in an airplane,” Jarmon said. “They are scared to death. And those first couple of flight lessons and those first two weeks of 6th grade are very similar. It's a lot of reassurance: ‘You’ll be fine, this is going to be fun. It’s going to be great. We’re all really nice people.’”


Jarmon does a great job of making students feel comfortable and settle into middle school, former students say. Many of her former students choose to come back as eighth graders and work in her classroom as a teacher’s aide.


“Sixth grade was so fun but science with Mrs. Jarmon was one of my favorite classes,” said eighth grader Nora Saylors. “She made it so fun and easy to learn. Now, as an eighth grader, working as a TA for these sixth graders is so fun.”


In addition to gaining teaching experience during her service, Jarmon also honed the qualities of flexibility, quick thinking and a strong work ethic. “The military required me to be really flexible,” she said. “I don’t fluster, especially as a new teacher, the way I would have without military experience. They just prepare you for anything to happen at any point in time. So now when kids say stuff, or do stuff, or the schedule changes, I’m just like ‘yeah okay.’”


Like many veterans, Jarmon’s worldview was forever changed as a result of her service. “My military experience shaped me in big and small ways,” she said. “One big way is it gives me a great perspective on what a 'bad day' actually is. When things get tough, I just think about my worst day deployed, and I haven't had a day worse than that. So I've gained a unique perspective and resilience because of that. A small way is I can pack for a trip in about 10 minutes. I've learned over the years what you actually need, and what is just nice to have. Most things are just nice to have.”


Some of the lessons learned during her service are passed along to her students at Washington, Jarmon said. Particularly, a strong work ethic and commitment to putting forth a full effort.


“It’s the whole idea that there is a mission. In the Air Force, it’s mission first, people always. You do the mission and that’s the expectation. I come into teaching that way,” Jarmon said. “I tell kids if you give me 100 percent, the grade will work itself out. If every day you give me 100 percent then in the end, everyone’s happy. Because I feel like that’s way more important than getting caught up in the grade. It’s about building the skill set.”


Jarmon doesn’t just ask her students to give 100 percent. She gives them 100 percent effort right back. “One of the core values of the Air Force is 'service before self' and that has become my teaching philosophy,” she said. “For me, that means that everyday I show up and do my best for each student. My goal is to leave everyday and feel like each class got 100% of my effort. I will always think I could have done something better, but I never want to feel like I didn't give them my best. They deserve that.”


The commitment to giving 100 percent is necessary in both teaching and military careers, Jarmon said. “They are both a calling and the people who do best at them feel the calling. You have to love it so much to endure the hard parts. I think the people that succeed are the people that love it even during the times when it doesn’t love you back.”



Board approves Tech & Safety Replacement Levy election Feb. 8, 2022


Board approves Tech & Safety Replacement Levy election Feb. 8, 2022

The Olympia School Board has unanimously agreed to place a Technology and Safety Replacement Levy proposal before voters on the February 8, 2022 Special Election ballot.


The proposed replacement levy is not a new tax. It would replace an expiring four-year technology and safety levy approved by voters in February 2018. The levy would raise an estimated $52.4 million over four years (2023-2026).


“This replacement levy proposal reflects a continuation of our strategic planning efforts to make technology accessible to all students and prepare them for success now and into the future,” said School Board President Scott Clifthorne. “It also proposes investments to enhance safety and security at every school site.”


View more information about the replacement levy on the Technology and Safety Replacement Levy Election 2022 webpage. The page includes links to frequently asked questions, proposed levy projects, the levy resolution approved by the school board on November 4, 2021, survey results, levy planning committee members, and details about cost/tax rate.


Information about the replacement levy proposal will also be shared at a community webinar on Wednesday, December 1 on Zoom.


The webinar will be held from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom (see Zoom details below). Superintendent Patrick Murphy will be joined by Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Capital Planning Jennifer Priddy, and Chief Information, Technology Marc Elliott.


After a brief introduction, panelists will address questions posed by participants during the Zoom webinar and/or emailed in advance. If you are unable to attend, feel free to email questions in advance to: [email protected]. Upon completion the webinar, along with previous monthly webinars, will be recorded and posted on the district website.


December 1, 2021 Zoom details:


Please click the link below to join the webinar:


Or One tap mobile:
US: +12532158782,,86258492903# or +16699006833,,86258492903#


Or Telephone:
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 253 215 8782 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 301 715 8592


Webinar ID: 862 5849 2903


International numbers available: 



Laurie Creighton, beloved OHS volleyball coach, retiring after 43 years


Laurie Creighton, beloved OHS volleyball coach, retiring after 43 years

November 20 marked the final state tournament for Olympia High School volleyball coach Laurie Creighton. Creighton retires this year after 43 years coaching at OHS. In that time, her teams went to state 24 times and won two state titles.


“The two state championships are highlights of my career at OHS,” Creighton said. “Winning both, while the tournament was played locally at St. Martin's (University), was pretty great. Also, helping teams qualify and compete at the state tournament a bunch of times has been really special. I'm grateful to get to do that with this last group of outstanding kids.”


Creighton was so influential in the volleyball program at OHS that the school named the court after her. Creighton Court was unveiled during a ceremony at the school on Oct. 30. She has also been inducted into the OHS Athletic Hall of Fame and the Washington State Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.


"Coach Creighton is the gold standard for professionalism in educational-based athletics,” said OHS athletic director Bob Kickner. “Forty-three years of service to a community is amazing. Her impact on and off the court to young women is immeasurable. She has shown a determined commitment to the female athletic experience since the passing of Title IX in 1972. Her dedication to the craft of coaching and her ability to teach life skills through volleyball has impacted nearly 1,000 student athletes."


Read complete article on Coach Creighton



OSD welcomes new Native Education & Tribal Relations Program Manager


OSD welcomes new Native Education & Tribal Relations Program Manager

The Olympia School District is expanding its Native Education program this fall, thanks to the work of Sandra Gordon, the district’s new Native Education and Tribal Relations Program Manager. The Native Education Program relies upon Every Student Succeeds Act Title VI funding.


“When Tribal Relations and Native Education came under the umbrella of our Teaching & Learning Team in Summer, 2021, the Board and Superintendent prioritized hiring a leader for this work,” said OSD Chief Academic Officer Hannah Gbenro. “I'm grateful that the school certificated, classified and administrative staff partnered with me in the hiring process to identify a leader who met our call.”


“We were seeking someone who would partner with students, families, Tribes, and district leaders to create innovative, Whole Child supports that lead to high engagement, graduation, and overall success of students who are Native American, Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian,” Gbenro said. “The three hiring teams identified Sandra Gordon as our Program Manager and she's proven to be the right fit, readily building relationships and partnerships both internally and externally in the interest of student success.”


Gordon is a member of the Ojibwe Tribe, White Earth Nation, Minnesota. She is also a descendent of the Oglala Lakota. Her role is to serve as a liaison between the district and local tribes, advocate for Native students and help educate our community. She will also write grant proposals. Gordon is working to create a parent advisory group for the Native education program. And this fall, she hosted professional development opportunities for staff throughout the district.


“I’m equipping people to be able to work with Native families because there are some differences in cultural awareness, and there's a history of distrust of public education among Natives,” Gordon said. “Western education and Native ways of knowing and teaching our own are different.”


Common stereotypes of Native Americans aren’t helpful, Gordon said, noting that many people, when thinking of Natives, visualize fictional characters such as Disney’s Pocahontas. She is working to educate the community to change that perception. “It’s kind of like Native education for all,” she said.


There are currently over 100 students throughout our district who identify with a Washington State Tribe and 33 as Alaska Native. The State Tribes currently represented are: Chehalis, Colville, Cowlitz, Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha, Lummi, Makah, Nisqually, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Puyallup, Quinault, Shoalwater, Skokomish, Snoqualmie, Squaxin Island, Tulalip, Upper Skagit, and Yakama.


Gordon is currently working to form a parent committee that will determine the content, services, and resources needed to implement the program. Activities are intended to provide children and families with opportunities that not only encourage them to succeed academically but to enrich their cultural lives as well.


For more information about the Native Education Program, contact Sandra Gordon at
(360) 596-6144 or [email protected].



OSD student artwork to be featured in downtown Olympia


OSD student artwork to be featured in downtown Olympia

Artwork including paintings completed by students from Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA), LP Brown, and NOVA private school will be on display in downtown Olympia beginning December 4.


The project will feature a colorful, glow-in-the-dark collage featuring the work of several hundred students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The display will adorn empty windows downtown as part of the mission of the Olympia Artspace Alliance.


“I can’t wait to see all the colors light up,” said one LP Brown student in Divina Clark’s class.


Lea Mitchell, an art teacher at ORLA, is the mastermind behind the display, which she calls “A Peaceful Critter Community Living in the Light.” She was approached by members of the art alliance as a private artist but quickly decided this project would be even better for her students. She teamed up with teachers from LP Brown, Lincoln and NOVA.


“Although I’m an artist, I feel like my current art is teaching,” Mitchell said.


Students were inspired to make their work from the following prompt: “Imagine you were creating a creature for the community that would make it a more loving and peaceful place,” Mitchell said. Some of the students made dolphins, snowy owls, penguins or snow leopards, among other things.


LP Brown students recently commented on their artwork. “The animals (owls, dolphins, pandas, tigers, and turtles) bring peace, love, joy, play and protection to our community,” one student said. “Dolphins are playful and they bring joy. Dolphins are not predators,” said another.


The “Peaceful Critter Community Living in the Light” art installation will be on display downtown on the windows of the Goldberg Building, on the corner of 4th Avenue and Capitol Way through the end of January 2022.


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 and staff 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 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.


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


The deadline to complete this survey is 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30.


Capital Grad Kendall Hooper named Olympia Sports Star of the Year


Capital Grad Kendall Hooper named Olympia Sports Star of the Year

Kendall Hooper, a 2021 Capital High School graduate, was recently named Girl’s Sports Star of the Year by the Olympia & Beyond Sports Commission. She was chosen for her performance in sports as a senior at Capital last year, as well as leadership, dedication, sportsmanship and good school behavior.


Nine other Olympia School District students also were recognized at the event, along with the entire Capital Cougarettes dance team.


“I was truly touched to be named for something that I loved to do and participate in at a high level,” said Hooper, who is now a student at Baylor University in Texas.


As a high school student, Hooper competed in three sports and was president of the school’s Future Business Leaders of America club. She also had a job at Boston Harbor Marina and volunteered as a coach and referee for Little Cougs basketball and Oly Kicks soccer camp. She graduated CHS with a 3.98 GPA.


“Kendall was always a great example of what being a Capital Cougar is all about,” said Capital Athletic Director Steve Taylor. “Kendall was not only a leader in the classroom and in athletics but a true leader in the halls. She took every opportunity to use her leadership skills to make Capital a better place. As a 3-sport athlete, Kendall had the opportunity to inspire many students to strive to be the best that they could be. We in the Athletic Department are very proud of Kendall and this great award.”


Today, Hooper is studying biochemistry on the Pre-Physician Assistant (PA) pathway. She plans to graduate from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Science and then be accepted into Pre-PA school in hopes of becoming a physician assistant.


“Being a student athlete has always been who I am,” Hooper said. “I have always been a competitive person and sports helped me apply it to the academic aspect also.”


Hooper thanks a number of coaches who inspired her during her years at Capital. “Someone who has always been there is my soccer Coach Keith “Otto” Otteson. He was at all my athletic events even though he was my soccer coach. You could find him in the stands at basketball games or fastpitch games. In addition, he was always motivational -- instilling confidence in me and ultimately giving incredible amounts of support,” Hooper said. “In addition, all my high school coaches such as, Coach Adriana Montes, Coach Tiffany Twiddy, Coach Amanda Beers, and Coach Nicole Glenn. They all gave me something special that made me who I am today and instilled quality and memories that I will never forget.”


“Another influential person in my high school career was my basketball coach Nigel Warren,” Hooper added. “He is someone who I could always count on, whether it was to level my head or someone who would sit and listen. He's a coach you never forget because he’s someone who never gives up on you and will be your number one cheerleader wherever you go. Last but not least, my history teacher and the boys basketball coach Brian Vandiver. He is someone who only wants the best for you and will go to great lengths in order to see you succeed.”


For current students and athletes, Hooper offers the following advice: “Never give up no matter how hard it gets. The outcome is much sweeter if you have to work at something to get there. Lastly, be dependable for all of your teammates and classmates.”


Olympia School District Snow Bulletin: 2021-22


Olympia School District Snow Bulletin: 2021-22

Every year, inevitably, snow or severe weather conditions lead to a delay in start times or the closure of our school buildings. We want to keep you updated about those decisions.


The Olympia School District will inform you as soon as possible when school schedules change through our district messaging system, our district website, and social media platforms.


We also encourage you to monitor local radio and/or television stations for up-to-date information about weather-related building closures or delays.


On rare occasions, weather conditions may make it necessary to modify school bus routes. When that occurs, district and media outlets will announce the use of “snow routes” or “emergency routes.”



Ribbon-cutting celebrates completion of solar panel project at OHS


Ribbon-cutting celebrates completion of solar panel project at OHS

More than 30 people, including representatives of the school district, Puget Sound Energy (PSE), and the community, celebrated a new solar panel installation at Olympia High School during a ribbon cutting ceremony.


The installation of more than 500 solar panels on the high school’s gym roof is part of a partnership between the school district and PSE. The project is part of PSE’s Community Solar Program, which adds solar energy to the local power grid from one large location.


Guest speakers at the November 12 ribbon cutting included Olympia School District Superintendent Patrick Murphy, PSE Director of New Product Development Will Einstein, and PSE Outreach Coordinator Tyler Beairsto. All three praised the partnership and the benefits to students and the community at large.


Einstein presented Superintendent Murphy with a circular wooden plaque, made from a recycled utility pole. The etched plaque states in part, “In recognition of the Community Solar project in partnership with Olympia High School ...Together we are building a clean energy future for our shared community.”


Superintendent Murphy noted that it was exactly two years ago this month that the Olympia School District applied for a grant to bring Community Solar to our community.


“We are proud to partner with PSE to bring solar energy to our community, while at the same time providing learning opportunities for our students,” Murphy said. “This project aligns with OSD Student Outcome #6, which has an indicator that states that our students will ‘advocate for and contribute to local, regional or global improvement by utilizing natural resources in an efficient, sustainable way.’”


The solar project will provide students with tangible, real-world experiences that involve engaging with complex problems and authentic data. These are natural components of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Literacy.


Heidi Kirk, Olympia High science department head and Climate Action Club adviser, assisted in the ceremonial ribbon-cutting event. She was joined by Andrew Houle of A&R Solar, which installed the rooftop panels, Superintendent Murphy, Einstein, and Beairsto.


Thank you to everyone who attended the ceremony, including Olympia School Board Director Justin McKaughan, OHS Principal Matt Grant, PSE representatives, OSD employees, and various local and county officials.



Upcoming Events


  • December 1: 50 Minute Early Release
  • December 1: Tech & Safety Replacement Levy Webinar (online via Zoom) at 6 p.m.
  • December 8: 50 Minute Early Release
  • December 9: OSD Board Meeting in-person and online via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.
  • December 15: 50 Minute Early Release
  • December 20-31: No School (Winter Break)
  • January 3, 2022: School Resumes



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.