November 2023

Spotlight on Success header 


Superintendent’s Message


Hello Olympia School District families and community,


Patrick Murphy headshot

Almost seven years ago, my family and I moved to Olympia. Having a school-aged daughter at the time, who has since graduated, we foremost sought a strong school system for her along with a vibrant, dynamic community in which we could work, learn and live. Not only were our expectations met, they were surpassed in so many ways.


Olympia schools strong reputation has been forged over decades and is well deserved. Our students are remarkable and our staff are extremely skilled and dedicated. Over the last few years, our graduates' destinations are as exceptional as the students themselves. Some have gone on to serve their country either through enlistment or admitted into prestigious military academies. Some have entered the world of work and immediately placed in high demand fields thanks to their experience in our schools. Many have gone on to higher education in universities across the country and the world, including Ivy League schools. Annually, the Olympia School District produces more national merit scholars than any other school system in our region. The Class of 2022 continued a long tradition of outstanding achievement with an overall on-time graduation rate of 92% — among the highest in the state. Olympia and Capital high schools saw increases, and Avanti High School once again achieved a 100% extended graduation rate for students who stay for an extra year. And these remarkable achievements are happening at a time when we continue to work diligently to manage the harmful, residual impacts of the pandemic.


Even with our strong overall performance and the remarkable support for public education from our community, the Olympia School District faces a difficult dilemma that many are facing across our region and the country; enrollment decline. What many thought was a temporary anomaly due to the pandemic was actually, in retrospect, a trend that was making itself known prior to COVID in the form of declining birth rates. While other factors have contributed to lower enrollment since the pandemic like greater numbers homeschooling; over the last decade we’ve seen an average decline of about 50 births per year from the first five years to the last five years in OSD. That directly correlates to lower kindergarten classes that gradually make their way up through our system producing smaller enrollment each year.



Birth in OSD (5 years earlier) 

Actual size of Kindergarten class
































As smaller cohorts work their way through our system it results in smaller enrollment in our schools overall. Costs per pupil decrease as school sizes increase. Conversely, costs per pupil increase as school sizes decrease. Given the state’s funding models, when elementary schools are smaller than 300 students they are difficult to operate financially, and when middle schools are smaller than 600, they too, are more expensive to run. Schools need administration, food service staff, office support, custodians, etc., regardless of school size. We often lose efficiency in instructional staffing as well with smaller schools due to less flexibility. If we only had a couple of small schools in Olympia, the cost to run them could be offset by running larger schools. We don’t have one or two smaller schools in Olympia, we have several.


School Level

Enrollment Full Time Equivalent (FTE) as of October 1, 2023

Elementary School

Boston Harbor ES


Madison ES


Montessori (ORLA)


McKenny ES


Lincoln ES


Garfield ES


LP Brown ES


Middle School

Reeves MS


Jefferson MS


Thurgood Marshall MS


High School


Avanti HS



*Montesorri is a program within ORLA and the school has an overall enrollment of 473


Understandably, as we have waded deeper into this challenge and are now strongly considering the possible closure and consolidation of some schools to match our enrollment and fiscal realities, we’ve heard loud and passionate feedback from our community. The comments are varied but the core theme is universal, “Don’t close schools (especially my school).” Some have said that we shouldn’t look at this challenge like a business because we are talking about children and their well-being. I agree with that initial sentiment, that schools are not businesses. We are not here to make a profit, but rather to serve our families by teaching and helping our children to become happy, healthy and productive citizens. And yet, at the same time, we are under the same fiscal restraints as any business in that our revenue has to be equal to or greater than our expenditures. Funding pays for the staff we employ and the resources we provide to serve our children. Enrollment drives funding.


The board started this conversation in earnest during the 2022-23 school year and closure/consolidation was much discussed during last year's difficult budgeting process. The decision was made and shared out last spring to table any possible school closures or consolidations until 2024-25 at the earliest. We are in a better fiscal position this year due to the tough decisions made last year. That was a grueling process that was traumatic for many. Some have understandably said we should look to make cuts elsewhere before ever closing a school. I agree that we should revisit proposed reductions from last year that were inevitably not cut and look first at the central office and areas farthest from the classroom, and yet our enrollment dilemma and small school sizes will still challenge us fiscally.


You may already know, but much of this information and more is on our School Facility Efficiency Review webpage. A committee was convened this fall, and now the board is in the midst of considering that group’s work along with other data and community feedback with a goal to narrow a list of possibly impacted schools at the December 14, 2023 regular board meeting.


This is extraordinarily difficult work. In a strange twist of irony, the outpouring of concern and even anger about the potential closing of schools has made one thing abundantly clear. Our families overwhelmingly love their schools. Being in a position where I am often more inclined to hear about a problem or complaint, there is some solace and even consolation in hearing the overwhelming affirmation that all of the work our staff have been doing to serve our children well is making a huge difference. I’ve always known that, but many of you have made that even more obvious to me. And because of that, while I don’t know where we will stand at the end of this process, I do know that no matter where in the Olympia School District a child attends school, they will be served by amazing educators and staff who deeply care for all the children in their building and school community.




Patrick Murphy Signature
Patrick Murphy



The sky's the limit for Olympia High School’s Chloe Song


The sky's the limit for Olympia High School’s Chloe Song

Olympia High School junior Chloe Song made her debut last month with the Olympia Symphony Orchestra (OSO). “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and such an honor,” said Song. The talented 16-year-old, who performed the rigorous Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, has been playing piano since she was five.


Her debut is the result of winning the senior category (14 and over) of the OSO ‘Young Artists’ competition in January 2023. Another OSO Young Artists winner from the junior category (13 and under), Ava Pakiam of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, also performed with the symphony on October 15. Pakiam played Barber’s violin concerto.


Song has a deep passion for music and performing that has evolved as she has matured. “When I was younger I focused on playing each note and sought the perfection behind the performance, and now I understand the emotion behind the music, and the power that comes with those emotions. It can change your mood or set a tone,” shared Song. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Song began developing her skills and talent at an early age. For the past eight years Song has been refining her skills and studying with pianist Dr. Ramona Allen. “My mom played piano through sixth grade, and my dad taught himself to play the guitar. He is also a talented singer,” said Song.


When Song competed in the OSO Young Artist competition it was the day of her sixteenth birthday. “When I received the call that I had won, my parents played a little trick on me so I would come home quickly and take the call. I couldn’t believe I had won. I was overwhelmed and grateful for the opportunity,” Song said.


Her preparations began right away to memorize the three complete movements, and work to build strength and stamina, for Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1. The Concerto is a musical composition that is for a solo instrument — in this case a piano, and is accompanied or backed by an orchestra. Song said, “Performing is very different than practicing, it is incredibly physically demanding and requires mental strength as well.”


Song is certainly not afraid of hard work and consistency, crediting her mom as her biggest influence. “My mom and I are very close. She is the hardest working, most stable committed person I could ever know. She never gives up and is consistent in everything she sets out to do. I always hope to be more like her, and her example reminds me to keep going,” Song said.


Olympia Symphony Executive Director Jennifer Hermann shared, “It is rare to experience someone with such talent, determination, generosity and kindness. I believe this is what makes her music so special. She is both effervescent and powerful in both her approach to music and in life.”


Her strength can be witnessed in every performance, awakening the senses and sharing the emotional transfer of the music she plays. "Song is an extraordinary talent. She has a unique combination of technical prowess on the piano and violin and has the ability to learn large amounts of music quickly. Her highly collaborative nature, leadership skills and work ethic makes her an invaluable part of the music program at Olympia High School,” said OHS Orchestra Director Joseph Dyvig.


Over the course of the last nine months Song prepped for her OSO performance while continuing to participate in other activities she enjoys. Song is the junior class president, a captain on the OHS tennis team, an active volunteer performer at local senior centers, and a member of the chamber orchestra. She can also be found performing in master classes and lessons at University of Puget Sound, and teaching private lessons. In her free time she loves to ski and travel, listing Korea and Mexico as two favorite destinations.


As an avid competitor, Song has received numerous other awards and recognitions. She has been the winner of six first prizes at the Olympia Music Teacher Association (OMTA) Concerto Competition, two Gold Medals (as well as two Silver and a Bronze) at the Chopin NW Competition, two-time winner of the Washington State Music Teacher Association (WSMTA) Honors Recital Competition and first prize at the Masterworks' Youth Music Competition (MCE) for both elementary and middle school divisions. In addition to the piano, Song is a talented violinist. She has been awarded first place at Solo & Ensemble competing at the Washington State competition with the OHS chamber orchestra, trio, quintet and piano solo.


All who have had the opportunity to be a part of Song’s journey share the same admiration. “It's been such an honor to be a part of Chloe’s musical journey, and I will definitely be following her success in the future,” said Hermann.


Dyvig added, "It cannot be overstated what an accomplishment it is for Chloe to win this competition and play the entire Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto with a semi-professional orchestra the caliber of the Olympia Symphony. Often in these situations students will only play a single movement of a large work like this. To play the entire piece, memorized, and at a very high artistic level at her young age is truly remarkable and a testament to her talent, work ethic and maximizing the resources available to her. We are all very proud of her and this accomplishment!".


Song said, “The performance and my time spent with the symphony and the OSO Director/Conductor Aleandra Arrieche is my most memorable moment in music so far. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I will never forget. If I shared one piece of advice for anyone chasing a dream I would say to try your best and work your hardest, your results will reflect that hard work. And like my Mom has taught me, keep going.”


This incredible young musician has a lifetime ahead of her to chase whatever her next dream may be. Song’s strength, passion and will to persevere will undoubtedly lead her to continued success. Congratulations Chloe on another remarkable achievement. This Oly Bear is truly a bright and shining star!


Students learning in a classroom


School Facility Efficiency Review Update

The following is an update of work that has been done, as well as next steps, in the School Facility Efficiency Review process.



In late August 2023, the Olympia School Board received an analysis of enrollment trends and a long-term enrollment forecast from Flo Analytics in Seattle. That analysis showed that districtwide enrollment has declined in recent years and is projected to continue to decline by nearly 1,000 students over the next 10 years. The lower enrollment projected is due to a variety of factors, including housing trends and declining births — issues not unique to our district. View the complete Flo Analytics report posted on the district website.


That same month, the board chartered a School Facility Efficiency Review Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) made up of nearly 40 staff, students and community members. The committee’s responsibilities, as outlined in the charter, were to:


  • Study the comprehensive enrollment forecast, housing trends, staff allocations generated by state funding formula, and building capacities/conditions.

  • Dialogue with other CAC members about the diverse perspectives and needs of individual school communities, but remain focused on the needs of the district as a whole.

  • Provide a variety of recommendations on school size and configuration to the board that would help the district achieve financial sustainability without reducing services or programs.


The School Facility Efficiency Review CAC met from September 25 - November 1, 2023. Shannon Bingham, of Western Demographics, Inc., facilitated the committee meetings. Meeting summaries, reports/data, and committee membership are posted on the OSD website.


On November 2, 2023, the Olympia School Board held a work session to hear a report from several committee members. Bingham shared that the committee did not reach a consensus on any recommendations, but provided the board with four possible school facility efficiency scenarios in rank order. These four possible scenarios, which include school closures and grade reconfigurations, are posted on the district website.


Next Steps


  • Thursday, November 30, 2023: The Olympia School Board has scheduled a work session to review a written analysis of reports and data shared with the School Facility Efficiency Review Committee, as well as additional information directors have requested related to this topic. The work session begins at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. The work session will be held in person and on Zoom. There is no public comment during board work sessions.

  • Thursday, December 7, 2023: The Olympia School Board has scheduled a work session to continue discussion about school facility efficiency. The work session begins at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. The work session will be held in person and on Zoom. There is no public comment during work sessions. Note: The board intends to offer other community engagement opportunities the first week or two of December 2023. Those opportunities will be announced on the district website once information becomes available.

  • Thursday, December 14, 2023: The superintendent will present to the school board during its regular board meeting a recommendation on school facility efficiency, informed by information presented to the committee, as well as student, staff and community input. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

  • January and February 2024: The school board will hold meetings/public hearings to gather input from students, staff and community members at any school that could potentially be closed based on board action taken on December 14, 2023.

  • Early March 2024: The board is expected to announce a decision about school facility efficiency.



Oly Firefighters Foundation donates ‘Coats for Kids’


Oly Firefighters Foundation donates ‘Coats for Kids’

The Olympia Firefighters Foundation donated 984 coats this year to students at Garfield, Hansen and LP Brown elementary schools, as well as two elementary schools in the Tumwater School District. That number includes siblings who were in need of winter attire. This was the first time the ‘Coats for Kids’ donation has included five different schools.


That’s a LOT of new coats.


Thankfully the Foundation was prepared as they began their fundraising efforts back in July 2023, when they hosted their annual charity auction. That auction helped raise more than $50,000. All of that money is donated back to the Thurston County community.


Annika Nicholas, family liason at Hansen Elementary School, saw what an impact a donation like this can make, “As the cold set in, our community was warmed by not only the coats, but by the incredible team of firefighters and staff that came to Hansen on November 9 to distribute the coats and give students a tour of one of their fire engines. Watching students' eyes light up as they got to choose their very own, brand new coat was truly soul-warming. The Olympia Firefighters Foundation team and their generosity will not soon be forgotten by our students and staff.”


Besides the Coats for Kids event, the Foundation also stocks pantries in eight schools across Thurston County with non perishable food items, school supplies and clothing. They also partnered with our district and the Tumwater School District to help “fill the cap” of student needs, both in and outside of the classroom. This can cover a wide variety of items, from clothing, car repairs, household items and even helping with athletics participation costs.


At the beginning of the 2023-24 school year, each of the five schools participating in Coats for Kids was sent a form by the Foundation to send home to families who then had three weeks to submit their coat order request. Once ordered, the Foundation coordinated with each school to find a date to pass out coats to students!


Keilani Pragnell coordinated Coats for Kids this year and had this to say once the event wrapped up, “I’m just really grateful the Olympia Firefighters Foundation trusted me to coordinate this event. Being able to meet the kids we are helping and see the joy in their faces when they received their coat is something I’ll never forget.” Pragnell also wanted to shout out staff at the buildings saying, “We couldn’t have done it without the help of the school resource liaisons and counselors that sent out forms to their students and made sure all students and siblings were included.”


Any students who missed the opportunity to pick up a coat at their participating school are encouraged to speak to their school counselors who will contact the Foundation to coordinate the purchase and the delivery of extra coats.


If you may be interested in future events that the Olympia Firefighters Foundation is putting on, check out the Foundation website or follow on Facebook and Instagram.



Olympia School Board General Election results


Olympia School Board General Election results

Two incumbents and one new member will take their oath of office as Olympia School Board directors at the December 14, 2023 board meeting.


Incumbent Maria Flores has been re-elected to the District 1 position, and incumbent Hilary Seidel has been re-elected to the District 4 seat, according to certified November General Election results. Jess Tourtellotte-Palumbo will join the board representing the District 2 position.


In addition to the administering the oath of office, the school board will elect officers on December 14 for the coming year and appoint members to serve as liaisons with various community groups and state agencies.


The regular board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held in-person and on Zoom. Meeting details, including the agenda and Zoom link, will be posted in BoardDocs and on the district website in advance of the meeting.



Thurgood Marshall celebrates solar project completion with ribbon cutting


Thurgood Marshall celebrates solar project completion with ribbon cutting

Community members, school district employees, solar project participants and local elected officials gathered on November 1 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Thurgood Marshall Middle School Community Solar Project.


The project was completed in late August and consists of a 306-panel solar array on the southwest facing roof.


The project is the fifth solar array in the Olympia School District, joining Olympia High School, Olympia Regional Learning Academy, Roosevelt Elementary and Washington Middle School.


Olympia Community Solar partnered with Puget Sound Solar for the installation. The solar project represents a new model of affordable, collectively-owned clean energy where solar access for community members otherwise might not be possible due to the barriers of location, property ownership, cost or sun exposure.


Olympia Community Solar President Mason Rolph thanked those in attendance and the many participants who made the array possible. He also shared some details about the project.


“The Thurgood Marshall community solar array consists of 306 solar panels that make up 150 kilowatts of generating capacity — that's about 15 homes worth of energy, or about a third of the school's electricity,” Rolph said. “This project is community-owned. Our nonprofit leased the roof out from the school, and we organized community members and grants to fund the system.”


For its first 15 years, Olympia Community Solar will manage and operate the system. The school will enjoy some reduction in energy costs, and energy benefits will be distributed to individual participants who invested in the project by donating or purchasing solar panels or by subscribing to power generated by the completed grid. The majority of the benefits will be allocated to a local nonprofit that builds and maintains housing for low-income South Sound residents.


Olympia School District Superintendent Patrick Murphy spoke of the connection with the project and the OSD Student Outcomes. Outcome 6 refers to students “being critical thinkers who contribute to and collaborate with our local, global and natural world. The tools that accompany this project give opportunity for our students and staff to connect with the results,” he said.


Rolph explained to the crowd the long-term plan. “After 15 years, the project will be donated back to the school and is ultimately expected to yield around a million dollars in energy savings for the school district throughout the array’s lifetime.”


Thurgood Marshall Middle School Principal Anthony Brock expressed his excitement for the project's benefits shared by both solar energy and education. “The seventh and eighth grade students take part in an energy-efficient tiny house project. I am excited about providing students with firsthand knowledge and enhancing what has typically been yielded from textbooks or online research. Now our students can see what energy is being generated daily, monthly, yearly, understanding the impact and then applying that knowledge to the classrooms.”


Rolph and his team were able to spend time talking with TMMS students in spring. “It felt like the room was suddenly filled with bees as they buzzed with excitement when we shared that the next project would be right here on their rooftop!” said Rolph.


Jeremy Smithson, founder and chief executive officer for Puget Sound Solar, reiterated the importance of beginning education at an early age about the power of solar energy. He thanked OSD and Olympia Community Solar for their partnership and then thanked his team that worked to complete the installation.


The solar array at Thurgood Marshall is the one of the first projects commissioned by Washington State University’s new low-income community solar program, which was established in response to legislative approval of Second Substitute House Bill 1814 in 2022. This state incentive program aims for equitable access to the benefits of renewable energy through community solar projects.


Thank you to the amazing Olympia community, Olympia Community Solar, Puget Sound Solar and partners for providing Thurgood Marshall Middle School with a future of clean energy and vast learning opportunities.



2023-24 Snow Letter


2023-24 Snow Letter


Communications Protocol

The Olympia School District will inform you of school schedule changes as soon as possible through our phone/email/text messaging system, as well as on our 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 closures or delays.


School Closure

If OSD schools close due to inclement weather, students do not report to class, regardless of whether they attend school in person or through ORLA online. OSD has a “Snow Make-Up Day” built into the calendar on May 24, 2024, to be used as a school day in the event there is a weather-related school cancellation prior to this date. Additional snow days, if needed, will be made up at the end of the 2023-24 school year.


2-hour Late Start

All schools, including ORLA online, start two hours late


  • OSD school buses pick up students two hours late

  • No zero-hour classes or before-school activities

  • No AM preschool

  • No AM childcare

  • No Avanti High School periods 1-3 Monday-Thursday, and no AM academic support or activities on Friday

  • No out-of-district transportation

  • No district transportation to New Market Skills Center

  • Breakfast and lunch served throughout the district


3-hour Late Start (new late start option for the 2023-24 school year)

All schools, including ORLA online, start three hours late


  • OSD school buses pick up students three hours late

  • No zero-hour classes or before-school activities

  • No AM or PM preschool (full-day preschool continues)

  • No AM childcare

  • No Avanti High School periods 1-3 Monday-Thursday, and no AM academic support or activities on Friday

  • No out-of-district transportation

  • No district transportation to New Market Skills Center

  • Breakfast and lunch served throughout the district


Snow Routes

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



It is our hope that weather conditions do not disrupt transportation and schools. However, our most critical concern is the safety and welfare of our students.


Please understand there are many factors when deciding to close or delay school. We exercise caution and overall safety for all OSD staff and 9,000+ district students when determining if school should be canceled or delayed. The 80 square miles covered by our district are very diverse geographically, and what one family experiences can be very different from what another family is experiencing on the other side of the district. Staff drive the streets in the early hours of the morning to determine the safety of all routes. We appreciate your understanding and support.


Note: The above 2023-24 Snow Letter may also be found on the OSD website in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.



PoDS program at CHS invites parents to volunteer


PoDS program at CHS invites parents to volunteer

Capital High School has launched a new volunteer program that invites parents to make a difference in the lives of students. Parents on Deck at School (PoDS) was born from recognizing the value and importance of parents and guardians and the role they play in the successful experience for students.


“The goal of the program is to give power to presence, expanding the amount of available adults who are here creating a positive impact, in our hallways and in the lives of students. A simple good morning or opening a door can go a long way in someone's day,” explained Assistant Principal Doug Anderson.


CHS staff are excited for the program to grow. “Parents and students have a great impact on our culture, climate and all areas of student success,” said Anderson.


Kevin Mondau, a Cougar alum, parent and weekly volunteer at CHS, encourages other parents in the community to take part. “I have been volunteering for nearly a year, and have enjoyed being able to support the students and school,” he said. “This new program is an open door to other parents to join.” 


Mondau said he recognized right away how simple interactions can begin to build relationships with students. “We aren’t the disciplinarians at the building, instead we are the familiar face that gets to catch up with them and check on how their soccer tryouts were, or how their weekend was.”


Each PoDS volunteer completes a volunteer application, including a background check, and training coordinated by Anderson. “Often we see fewer volunteers as students enter the secondary level, and we are hoping to turn that trend around,” Anderson explained.


Mondau shared, “There is room for everyone. It is easy to feel nervous and unsure about volunteering at the high school level. What I have come to know is there is room for anyone. If you are less comfortable in a big social setting that is all right. Just like our students, everyone can find their place at CHS.”


Anderson added, “The transition to high school isn’t always easy, and taking steps toward their future can prove stressful. Taking part in PoDS allows our parent volunteers the opportunity to be a part of our students' journeys, it is about being there, present, and building relationships, a high five, a hello, it all makes an impact. During the volunteer training we talk about some of the characteristics of what students today go through in social settings and society, and how volunteers can be a positive interaction during everyday activities.”


Mondau attends lunch weekly, first checking in with the office and then heading to the commons to start his rounds. “I make it a point to just say hello and recognize students, and try to introduce myself to a few new faces each visit. They may not always be receptive right away, but that is what relationship building is about, seeing them and introducing myself is the first step,” said Mondau.


Principal Lil Hunter added, “The CHS community includes more than teachers and kids. Parents and community are among the greatest assets any high school could hope to have. The PoDS program is an opportunity for our parents to experience the daily life of our wonderful school. And our students benefit from the presence of caring adults.”


Anderson also explained that PoDS welcomes parents to be active participants in any capacity. “You do not have to commit a day, a week, or even hours a week,” he said. “If you can come in once a month, we would be happy to have you. Our students are truly amazing, creative, fun and incredible kids. They make you smile and laugh on a daily basis and we are looking forward to bringing more volunteers into the PoDS program to be a part of our culture and share in the many successes of our students.”


If you are interested in volunteering with the Parents on Deck at School program you can call CHS directly (360-596-8000). You may also complete the Google Form below. If you have any questions please contact Assistant Principal Doug Anderson at [email protected].




Winter Break Schedule


Winter Break Schedule

All Olympia School District schools and the Knox 111 Administrative Center will be closed to the public during Winter Break.


Winter Break is from Wednesday, December 20, 2023 through Tuesday, January 2, 2024. School resumes on Wednesday, January 3. School and administrative offices also reopen on January 3.


The Knox Administrative Office will be closed to the public throughout Winter Break. Any deliveries should be made at the lower level of the Knox building, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia on business days (December 20-22 and December 28-29). Please plan ahead and contact staff before the closure if you need assistance.



Yes, we’re growing plantain, just not the kind you’re expecting!


Yes, we’re growing plantain, just not the kind you’re expecting!

Plantago lanceolata is a species of flowering plant in the plantain family Plantaginaceae. It is known by the common names ribwort plantain, narrowleaf plantain, English plantain, ribleaf, lamb's tongue and buckhorn. Some consider it a common weed.


This is where things get interesting.


Melinda Vickers, Conservation Biologist for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) noticed that there just so happens to be plenty of Plantago (plantain) growing on the property of the Olympia School District administrative offices and decided to reach out to see about possibly digging it up to transplant to WDFW land.


Why, you might ask? Well it turns out that Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly is endangered and relies on the non-native (but non-invasive) plantain for much of their lifecycle. The heat waves in our summers have been killing off much of the local plantain. When Avanti High School CTE & Science Teacher Quasar Surprise heard about this undertaking, she was on board.


“I was super excited because I love plantain,” said Surprise. “I first learned about it in depth through Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB) and their ‘Tend Gather Grow’ curriculum. Plantain teaches us to self-soothe and is sometimes called nature’s bandaid. Students in the Avanti Sustainable Agriculture class had already spent some time with plantain this fall, doing botanical drawing of it to learn plant anatomy and harvesting its seeds to make play slime. Usually we harvest its leaves to make a healing salve.”


Vickers visited Avanti to have an initial conversation around prairies, Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly, narrow leaf plantain, and to discuss her career pathway with students. This aligned nicely as Vickers was a dynamic guest speaker and it also focused on ways to get student out in the field to gain that vital hands-on career experience. A week after Vickers talk the Sustainable Agriculture class met another WDFW employee at the Knox building as they helped pull 200 plantains to be transported and planted in prairie habitat for the Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly.


When asked about the plantain transplant process Vickers had this to say, “My team is involved in a program to raise the butterflies in captivity and then release them into the wild to help their populations recover in the South Puget Sound. In order to make these releases successful, the caterpillars need something to eat. Taylor’s Checkerspots eat English plantain (Plantago lanceolata) while they are in their larval stages. Following the heat dome event in 2021 and subsequent weird weather years, these plants have suffered in prairies. However, Plantago is still thriving around town, and we believe that they can recover in the prairie with help from transplanting.”


Surprise went on to say, “It feels important to teach about indigenous ecological knowledge to honor the deep history, current practices, and resilience of native communities. Plantain and prairies are one entry point into that learning. Prairies are one of our regional anthroecosystems and have thrived only due to their partnership with people since time immemorial.”



Update Skyward Family Access information

Update Skyward Family Access information

If you have not already done so, please take a moment to log in to your Skyward Family Access account and update your student's information for the 2023-24 school year.


It is important that we verify your address, phone numbers and emergency contact information each year, as well as any changes to your student's health information. These details are a vital piece of our district Emergency Operation Plan.


To update or review the information, log in to Family Access, click the tab on the left labeled "Update Your Student's Information 2023-24" and follow the prompts to submit any updates.


While you update your student’s profile information, you also have the opportunity to amend permissions for information distribution. This includes choices for higher education information, yearbook photos, district social media use and more. For the definition of each distribution select the ? for descriptions.


Any changes made to the parent/guardian phone number and email will sync overnight with the ParentSquare communication platform. Please be aware that any updates you make to your email or phone number will also change your parent log in with your ParentSquare account. If you encounter log in concerns after updating your family access skyward account please contact the OSD Communications Dept at [email protected] or (360) 596-6103.


For additional assistance with updating your Skyward Family Access, you can submit a help ticket at [email protected].



Upcoming Events




  • November 29: 50-Minute Early Release

  • November 30: OSD Board Work Session (in-person and on Zoom) at 6 p.m.

  • December 6: 50-Minute Early Release

  • December 7: OSD Board Work Session (in-person and on Zoom) at 6 p.m.

  • December 13: 50-Minute Early Release

  • December 14: OSD Board Meeting (in-person and on Zoom) at 6:30 p.m.

  • December 20 - January 2: Winter Break



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 Paula Perryman, 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:


James Whitehead, Title IX Officer

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506

(360) 596-8545

[email protected]


Autumn Lara, Executive Director of Elementary Education

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506

(360) 596-8534

[email protected]


Ken Turcotte, Section 504 and ADA Coordinator (Students)

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506

(360) 596-7530

[email protected]


Starla Hoff, ADA Coordinator (Staff)

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506

(360) 596-6185

[email protected]


Scott Niemann, Affirmative Action Officer and Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506

(360) 596-6185

[email protected]


Paula Perryman, Director of College and Career Readiness

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506


[email protected]


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