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2023-24 Accomplishments


The Olympia School District is proud of our students and staff who achieve amazing successes every day. In an effort to recognize and celebrate those achievements both inside and outside the classroom, we have compiled a list of academic and extracurricular accomplishments that involve members of the Olympia School District community.

This list is by no means comprehensive, so please let us know if there are additional accomplishments we have missed so we can add them! With your help, we will capture all of the amazing accomplishments in our district and celebrate student achievement, continuous improvement and 100 percent commitment to quality and excellence in all things!



August 2023


Avanti HS re-opens the doors to its new/old home!

Avanti HS completed renovationsAvanti students and staff will begin the 2023-24 school year in the newly renovated Avanti High School. Over the course of the last 12 months, the building located at 1113 Legion Way has undergone major renovations as the final large-scale construction project of the 2016 voter-approved bond measure.

The building was designed by noted Olympia architect Joseph Wohleb, who designed more than 100 buildings throughout Olympia. Avanti was constructed at the same time as the current Lincoln Elementary School, both in Wohleb’s signature Mission Revival style. Avanti’s building was the largest and most ornate of the buildings erected in Olympia and included many of his signature features, such as stucco, ornamentation, marbled glass windows and tiled parapet.

“This project is a long time in the making, the staff are excited, our students and families are curious to see what's been done, and our entire community looks forward to celebrating the building's centennial celebration in 2024," said Avanti Principal Mike Velasquez.

As you explore the first two floors you will see nostalgic beauty in the tall ceilings, ornate moldings and period light fixtures. Elegant white framed windows line the hall looking into an expanded library on the second floor, which invites you to grab a book and settle into the new furniture. The space was reimagined as a gathering space, where students can come together like a “commons,” hold gallery exhibits and perform. The ideas are vast, much like the space that was originally a kindergarten classroom in the “Old Washington” school.

The first and second-floor classrooms sparkle with new lighting, flooring, furniture and state-of-the-art technology. Students will not lack space to display their artistic creations as illuminated glass cases are located in nearly every hallway.

The Annex building that students and staff called home for the last year also received a major upgrade to the weight room, which is fully stocked with modern equipment. The art and shop space has been opened up to provide students with space to reach new levels of creativity. “The staff are excited, our students and families are curious to see what's been done, and our entire community looks forward to celebrating the building's centennial celebration in 2024,” said Velasquez.



Local high school quartet took to the stage and screen this summer

FABBA show performersA string quartet of local high school musicians took to the stage and the screen this summer as they joined “The FABBA ShowOpening in a new window”, an ABBA tribute band making a stop in Olympia to perform during their world tour. The show featured its trademark flashy stage production, elaborate costumes and natural ability to get people on their feet.


Olympia High School violinist Carol Gao, Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) violist Michelle Hegewald, Capital High School cellist Andy Gorrel along with Alluzai Villanueva, a violinist from a neighboring district, were featured on “New Day Northwest” on KING 5Opening in a new window. The musicians, who play chamber music together as part of Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia (SOGO)Opening in a new window, played along with a recording of “Honey Honey.”. “It was quite a privilege and a really great opportunity, I’d never been on TV before,” said Gorrel.

Taking part in the Olympia performance was a milestone for the four SOGO musicians. “At first, I didn’t really know that this show was a big thing,” Hegewald said. Gao added, “I just thought we were going to play at a small private event because that’s what we usually do as a quartet. I didn’t realize until later that it was a big tribute band and that they were really popular and doing a big concert. That really amazed me.”

Concertgoers at the Washington CenterOpening in a new window had front-row seats as the ensemble rocked the stage as they performed “Honey, Honey” and “Slipping Through My Fingers” along with the authentic ABBA tribute show. We are excited to see what is in store for these incredibly talented students.


2023-24 student representatives take their seats on the Board

Student Board RepresentativesThe Olympia School Board welcomed two student representatives for the 2023-24 school year at the June 22, 2023 board meeting. The board also bid farewell to students who served this past year and announced two additional student representative seats are still open for the 2023-24 school year.

Directors welcomed back Olympia High School senior Christine Zhang who will serve a second term. Joining Zhang on the board this year is Meredith Morgan, a Capital High School senior.

Both student board members have a passion for policy and making change. “We did a lot of great work during the legislative session. Two bills that we created - a computer science education bill and a social and emotional health bill will both be presented in the next legislative session which my team and I will be working on with a local senator and testifying for. We hope to continue our legislative work and add a few new priorities to our list.” said Zhang.


OSD Summer School 2023: A glimpse inside

Summer School - Tooth Fairy ExperienceNearly 240 students in grades 1-5 and 8-12 participated in summer school during the months of July and early August. Elementary summer programs were housed at Garfield and Roosevelt elementary schools and served students from throughout the district. Students in grades 8-12 had the opportunity to take classes online and attend in-person at Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA).

“We kept our days fun, engaging and simple. Our academic focus was math and reading for first, second and third grades, and a more intentional focus on math for fourth grade,” said Jones. Elementary summer school used the OSD Bridges Intervention kits and the recently piloted University of Florida Literacy InstituteOpening in a new window (UFLI) curriculum daily. “Students were assessed at the start of our program to pinpoint specific needs in both academic areas. Instruction was tailored to meet those needs. By the end of our three-week program students showed significant growth,” shared Vay.

At the secondary level students participated in the summer school program at Olympia Regional Learning Center (ORLA). Incoming freshmen through continuing seniors completed courses through the Edgenuity online platform. “Students had over 25 high school level classes to choose from in the areas of English, math, science, social studies, physical education and health, as well as several electives,” explained principal Denise Freund. The five-week program offered students the opportunity to complete courses for the purposes of credit retrieval, grade replacement and initial credit.

Each program celebrated everyone's hard work and a successful summer school experience. Thank you to the fabulous summer staff, students and families who made the programs a huge success.



OSD Summer Construction Projects: A recap

Summer project completion - TMMS Solar panel crew photoThe summer has been a busy and productive time thanks to the Olympia School District Support Service Center and Capital Planning and Construction departments. As the days grew longer and warmer, our dedicated teams have been hard at work ensuring that our facilities remain top-notch for our students, staff and community. Here are some of the projects and updates:

Centennial Elementary School
The CES Traffic Garden was installed by the Child Care Action Council’s Safe Kids Thurston County program, with help from Intercity Transit's Walk N Roll program and the Olympia School District, and funding from the Rotary Club of Olympia Capital Centennial.

A traffic garden is a safe and fun place for youth to learn and practice bicycle and pedestrian safety skills in an environment away from vehicles. The miniature streetscape includes an intersection, stop signs, crosswalks and a roundabout. The traffic garden is located on Centennial Elementary School’s playground and will be used during PE class to teach bicycle and pedestrian safety skills. The traffic garden is also open to the community during non-school hours.

Reeves Middle School
The Reeves field renovation and minor repairs to the track included updates to the athletic field grass with sod replacement and drainage improvements. Protective barrier fences may remain in place through September 2023 to allow the sod to fully establish.

Thurgood Marshall Middle School
Thurgood Marshall Middle School is the fifth Olympia School District building to have completed a solar panel project. The middle school joins Olympia High School, Olympia Regional Learning Academy, Roosevelt Elementary and Washington Middle School utilizing natural and efficient sustainability.

For this project, the district partnered with Olympia Community Solar and Puget Sound Solar. A project team was formed in early 2022 to begin the development.

Community solar projects such as Thurgood Marshall expand solar access to those without access to traditional residential solar for people who don’t own their home, have an unsuitable roof or property for solar or face financial barriers to incorporating solar. A group of community members participate in a single solar project and share its benefits. As an integral community resource for families in Olympia, Thurgood Marshall Middle School is ideal for hosting a community solar array.

With the support of the community, 306 solar panels were installed on the Southwest facing school roof. This area was selected because of its excellent solar exposure. This roof portion faces the school’s playfields and bus parking areas and will be visible to students as they arrive at school each day, during outside time, and at the end of the day when they board their bus.

This project will create learning opportunities about renewable energy for students and aligns with OSD Student Outcome 6. One of the indicators in Outcome 6 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 150 kW system will be capable of producing 149,000 kilowatt-hours a year. This will reduce the school’s energy bill, contribute to sustainable infrastructure in Olympia, and create learning opportunities for Thurgood Marshall students on renewable energy.


Additional Projects:

Capital High School: B-Pod bathroom conversion to all-gender access
McKenny Elementary School: Playshed sprinkler system replacement
Fire Alarm Panel Upgrades: Hansen Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, LP Brown Elementary, Madison Elementary and Jefferson Middle School



September 2023


Centennial Elementary unveils its new Sensory Room

Centennial ES sensory roomWe recently had an opportunity to visit the new sensory room at Centennial Elementary School and WOW, what an experience!


CES Counselor Chelsea Richardson was the driving force that brought the idea of a sensory room to life. In previous years, this space was used for reading interventions and as a Resource Room. When it became apparent the room may be available, Richardson jumped at the opportunity.

The sensory room has been open/available to students since the start of the school year, and the response has been exceptional. The space was created to provide students with an alternative tool to refocus, self-regulate, regain concentration and help manage worry or emotional distress in a calming environment. There are 11 different sensory stations within the sensory room that provide a stimulating environment to engage and soothe the senses from soft furnishing, lighting, auditory and visual stimuli, tactile elements and interactive objects.


The outfitting of the room itself was an organized team effort; Administrative Professional Megan Green was in charge or placing all of the various orders for different items, the entire CES staff took their own time to create a stunning sensory wall, and then Behavior Technician Travis King and Richardson pulled all of the pieces together and set up the space as summer was coming to a close to prep for kiddos. “A huge THANK YOU to Mrs. Ritter and the entire Centennial Elementary School family for believing in the importance of a space like the sensory room,” said Richardson.

We couldn’t agree more, what a total team effort. One that CES students will be reaping the benefits from for years to come. Just one more reason it’s good to be a Centennial Star!



Let us introduce you to the WMS Bulldog News production team!

Washington Middle School students have returned to their production studio for the 2023-24 school year and are immersing themselves in developing new editions of the ‘WMS Bulldog News.’ The Bulldog News acts a a conduit for WMS visual communications students to lend their voice, and their technical skills, to addressing the greater WMS community.

The Bulldog News “staff” is comprised of 24 students and is led by teacher/instructor Andrew Callender. Their goal? To create unique and customized visual content (Bulldog focused of course) from start to finish. Students are responsible for planning, recording, editing, producing and releasing each episode. Callender helps troubleshoot any issues or questions that may arise throughout the process, but it’s up to the students to own their work. New episodes are produced every other week and posted on the official Bulldog Productions YouTube Channel.


National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists named

OHS National Merit Semi-FinalistsThe National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced on September 13, 2023, that five Olympia High School seniors have been named National Merit Semifinalists.

Seniors Cassius Love, Hadley Manista, Grace Matsuoka, Junelin McGauly and Cole Wilson met the qualifications and were among the highest scoring participants from 21,000 high schools. This is the 69th edition of this annual scholarship program.

If chosen as finalists, the five OHS students will be considered for one of three types of National Merit Scholarships: College Sponsored, Corporate Sponsored or National Merit $2,500. The 7,250 awards available have a combined value of more than $28 million. Winners are chosen on the basis of their abilities, skills and accomplishments. Notification of scholarships for finalists begins in March 2024.



October 2023


Thurgood Marshall MS: Expedition Yellowstone

TMMS Students at Yellowstone National ParkHave you ever visited Yellowstone National Park? Well, we know of 29 Thurgood Marshall Middle School students who just recently returned from one of the most unique, weeklong, school “field trips” that you can imagine!

TMMS students (along with three staff members and six parent volunteers) embarked on an expedition to explore the fierce wonders of Yellowstone, America’s first national park. Their adventure took them back in time to the historic Lamar Buffalo Ranch where bison roam, wolves are the keystone species and the heartbeat of the park is gauged by the eruptions of numerous geysers.

The journey started as the 38 adventurers began the drive to Missoula, Montana, where they spent their first night. The following day they entered the park and explored the Roosevelt Arch and the Mammoth Springs Visitor Center before heading to the Lamar Valley to check into camp for the week. “The drive was long, but fun, and it was so awesome to arrive," said eighth grader Liam Weide.

Yellowstone Park rangers served as instructors using curriculum that connected educational objectives with the park’s resources throughout their expedition activities.

This amazing opportunity created a bond among students, staff and family volunteers who were able to witness the wonder of nature through the eyes of their students. What an incredible adventure this group shared, one they will be able to tell stories of for the rest of their lives. Thank you to the TMMS staff and parent volunteers who made this adventure possible, as well as to all of the Yellowstone rangers who provided the educational connection to the park, land and its inhabitants. You truly made this trip a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!



Josh Everson - Empowering all voices through art

OHS teacher Josh EversonOlympia High School art teacher Josh Everson was recently honored with the prestigious Washington Art Educator of the YearOpening in a new window award by the Washington Art Educator Association (WAEA). His dedication, professionalism, innovation, service, advocacy and excellence in the field of art education was recognized at the WAEA Fall Conference in Everett the weekend of October 20-21. Everson had the support of his family in the audience celebrating his recognition.

“Everson guides his students to unearth their inner creativity and discover their unique identities,” said OHS Principal Matt Grant.

Junior Cece Wallace added, “He is a teacher who motivates you, and wants you to succeed. If you find yourself struggling he will encourage you to explore art, and when you find an interest he will help to guide you through the entire process.”

OHS student art has been featured prominently throughout the area. Students have participated in the Olympia Art Walk and received high honors as part of the remarkable spring annual showcase at the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction(OSPI).

Everson provides connections through conversations throughout the year with guest presenters, providing students an opportunity to discuss their portfolio submissions and gain helpful insight about their own projects.


In receiving this award, Everson also becomes eligible for future nominations for regional and national recognition with the National Art Education Association. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Everson who is giving a voice to all OHS art students through the creativity he inspires. As the saying goes in the OHS Art Department, “Someday art might just rule the world!”


Hundreds attend Olympia Education Foundation annual breakfast fundraiser

Oly Ed Foundation BreakfastSeveral hundred Olympia School District employees, community members and students celebrated the Olympia Education Foundation’s 25 years of “empowering every student” during the annual Foundation breakfast fundraiser on October 13.

The event, held at the Capital High School Performing Arts Center, began with a welcome from Master of Ceremonies Drew Mikkelsen, King 5 News South Sound Bureau Chief. Mikkelsen introduced Capital High School student Jaelah Coley, who shared a land acknowledgement.

The event featured information about the Foundation, i
ncluding videos that highlighted the Foundation’s Principal’s Emergency Fund and Mental Health Initiative.


The Olympia Education Foundation continues to edge closer to this year’s $125,000 fundraising goal. More information about the annual fundraiser, including videos shared during the event and opportunities to donate, is available on the Foundation website.

Thank you OEF and the community for supporting the success of OSD students!


OSD board welcomes two new student representatives

New Student Board Reps from Avanti and ORLAThe Olympia School District Board of Directors has welcomed two additional student representatives to the board for the 2023-24 school year.

Olympia School Board President Darcy Huffman issued the oath of office at the October 26 board meeting to Dani Farney, an Avanti High School senior, and Aphrodite Torres, an Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) senior. They join the two existing student representatives who took their oath of office in June of 2023 — Christine Zhang, senior at Olympia High School, and Meredith Morgan, senior at Capital High School. All four student representatives are serving a one-year term which ends in June 2024.

“The board is excited to learn from Aphrodite’s and Dani’s experiences as students from ORLA and Avanti. Their contributions will help inform the board and support the students in secondary education,” said School Board President Darcy Huffman.


It’s always a beautiful day for Harvest Festival!

Lincoln Options Harvest FestivalThe weather certainly cooperated for Lincoln Elementary School’s annual Harvest Festival event! Sunny skies and vibrant fall colors were the perfect backdrop for numerous fun activities taking place across the grounds at Lincoln. Harvest Festival celebrates the abundance of the harvest, the shifting of the seasons and the importance of nature and earth in our day-to-day lives.

Thanks to all of the amazing volunteers, students were able to spend the day participating in leg wrestling, face painting, hay jumping, art projects, pressing cider, drum circles and more. That's without mentioning the delicious homemade cuisine that was available for all in attendance. Each classroom had a dish that they were in charge of making for Harvest Festival and every classroom participated, it was spectacular. Is there a better way to roll into fall?!?




November 2023


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

Chloe Song performing with Oly SymphonyOlympia High School junior Chloe Song made her debut last month with the Olympia Symphony OrchestraOpening in a new window (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.


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!


Oly Firefighters Foundation donates ‘Coats for Kids’

Oly FF Coats for kidsThe 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.

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.

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.


Olympia School Board General Election results

Election Results GraphicTwo 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.


Thurgood Marshall celebrates solar project completion with ribbon cutting

TMMS Community Solar Ribbon Cutting CeremonyCommunity 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 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 f

uture of clean energy and vast learning opportunities.


PoDS program at CHS invites parents to volunteer

PoDS program at Capital High School

Capital High School has launched a new volunteer program that inviteparents 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.


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).



December 2023


Olympia High Bears launch girls flag football programOHS Girls Flag Football

Flag football has become one of the fastest growing sports around and thanks to the Seattle Seahawks, the Olympia High School Bears are a part of the inaugural girls South Puget Sound League (SPSL) season. Flag football has a long tradition on the playground but is just now hitting the big time and women are an instrumental part of that growth.

“Adding girls flag football has been an exciting project to start my AD career here at Olympia. When it was first brought to my attention by the Seahawks and the SPSL I was quick to add it to my agenda of things I wanted to make happen at OHS. The sport of football has always lacked in offering opportunities for girls to play and this was a great way to see how much interest there was. Thanks to the Seattle Seahawks we had an opportunity to make it possible,” shared OHS Athletic Director Mark Iddins.

The Seattle Seahawks announced that there would be $117,000 in grant funding available to support the launch of girls flag football teams at high schools across the region. The grant funding is courtesy of the Seahawks and the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation. Support for the grants were made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Cowlitz Tribal Foundation. Participating schools each received a flag football equipment kit from USA Football, as well as uniforms courtesy of NikeOpening in a new window. Since the initial launch in 2021 there have been 64 high schools statewide that have started girls flag football programs.

The future is bright for the sport and for participants. “We are at the beginning of something really amazing, and are already seeing the growth and excitement locally, with youth programs (TCYFLOpening in a new window) offering spring flag for seventh and eighth grade girls. This is the fastest growing sport in the nation right now and we are all looking forward to the future for our Bears,” said Coach Christiansen.


Rigg added, “As a senior I hope we will open the door to girls who will follow and continue to grow the program — maybe even chase this dream after high school and pursue college. I encourage all young female athletes to try new sports, and flag should be one of them, be a part of it, and leave a legacy of empowering other female athletes.”

The Bears have two upcoming home games in January against Curtis and Bethel/Rogers. Come out and show your support and check out these amazing athletes as they introduce you to this vibrant sport that is sweeping the nation. For a full schedule and to follow the team as they compete in the 4A SPSL (Emerald Ridge, Curtis, Bellarmine, Olympia, South Kitsap, Bethel, Graham Kapowsin, Puyallup and Rogers) visit the olyflagfootball Instagram page.



Classified School Employees of the Year Named

Classified Employee of the year

Congratulations to LP Brown Elementary School Paraeducator Jairus Torres and McLane Elementary School Paraeducator Amy Long for being named this year’s Olympia School District Classified School Employees of the Year.

Classified School Employee of the Year is an annual statewide awards program through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It begins with local nominations from school districts throughout Washington. Those individuals have a chance of then being named a regional Classified School Employee of the Year, which allows them to advance to the state competition.

Congratulations and thank you Jairus and Amy for your steadfast dedication to our students. Family, friends and community members are invited to celebrate with our honorees at a January special recognition ceremony starting at 6:10 p.m. on Thursday, January 11, 2024. We hope to see you there!

The annual award recognizes employees who have made a positive difference in their profession. A screening committee made up of OSD employees reviewed the nominations before selecting the honorees.

Both Torres and Long learned of this honor during surprise announcements at impromptu after-school staff meetings at their buildings. The news, shared by Superintendent Patrick Murphy, was greeted with applause, standing ovations and hugs. Olympia School Board Director Darcy Huffman was also on site to present each of the honorees with flowers. They will be formally recognized at a school board meeting in January.


Reeves drama club generates collaborative creativity

Reeves Drama Club

In February 2023 Reeves Middle School science teacher Beth Land proposed a new after-school dra

ma club to “practice” running musicals. Principal Aaron Davis and Assistant Principal Karen Zarate both gave their enthusiastic support.

“Participating in a drama club can have a significant positive impact on students' overall development and well-being. It gives students purpose and a reason to attend school regularly and provides a creative outlet that can motivate students to actively participate in their education,” said Davis.

It had been a number of years since Reeves had an annual musical performance. Land decided to test current interest by offering students an opportunity to come after school on Fridays. Participants would focus on the different parts of production, such as learning about how to set up lights and the sound system, makeup techniques, prop construction, and drama games to build confidence and teamwork. To Land’s surprise, 80 students signed up. “It truly fills your bucket when you see so many students excited to be a part of the group,” said Land.


With a large support network of teachers and volunteers, the drama club took shape. For its first musical in six years, Land selected “Once Upon a Mattress,” a humorous adaptation of “Princess and the Pea,” as the school’s spring 2023 production.

Reeves Middle School shop teacher Alex Shriver and students built free-standing walls for the backdrop and a rolling multi-mattress bed that stood 6 feet high “It took about a month to construct but it was all done by the students! We moved the set parts down to the gym and put them together, then helped to take things down at the end. Beth created sketches of what was needed, we brainstormed on the logistics and design but for the most part her plans were ready to build. The students took over from there,” said Shriver.

Students also had the opportunity to operate the lights and sound. “Randy Grostick, our band & orchestra teacher, lent his incredible talent and vast knowledge to teach the students about the light and sound tech,” said Land.

This club is more than just a Friday hang out. It is a place and time for Reeves Rams to come together to grow and learn and heal from the social dynamic shifts over the past four years. “The absolute best part about drama club for me is looking forward to Fridays,” Land said. “Students get off the bus on Friday morning as I greet them at the back door and say, ‘Drama Club today!’ It is definitely the best way to end my week — laughing with students while participating in my favorite subject - DRAMA!”

If you are a Reeves Ram and are interested in joining the club or auditioning for the upcoming production, visit the RMS Drama Club webpage or drop by the front office for more information.


School board elects new officers in annual reorganizationBoard Reorganizations

Every year in December, the Olympia School Board elects officers for the coming year during its annual reorganization.


At its December 14, 2023 meeting, the board elected Hilary Seidel as this year’s board president and Scott Clifthorne as vice president.


Clifthorne administered the oath of office to newly elected board member Jess Tourtellotte-Palumbo, as well as to Maria Flores and Hilary Seidel, who were re-elected in November to four-year terms.


Superintendent Patrick Murphy and President Seidel thanked Talauna Reed for her service on the school board this past year.


Board members are also appointed annually to serve as liaisons with various community groups and state agencies. This year’s appointments include:




January 2024


Students honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – his work and his legacy

MLK Assembly at CESOver the past few weeks students throughout the Olympia School District came together to honor and recognize the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The teachings of Dr. King have a direct, tangible impact that is still felt to this day as he is widely recognized for his leadership in the fight for civil rights and integration in our country.


During the MLK school assembly at Centennial Elementary School, second and third grade students were greeted by a gathering of students, parents and family members as they entered the multipurpose room and lined up on the risers to perform their songs. “I look forward to this each year," said a grandmother as she entered the building.


The students’ uplifting voices and messages were carried loud and clear through their well-rehearsed short speeches and beautiful songs. They started the program with “Lift Every Voice” written by the Johnson Brothers in 1900.


Dr. King's message is on display throughout our hallways. It can be seen reflected through the eyes, the artwork and actions of our of students:

  • At Madison Elementary School Halli Aaron’s third grade students created a videoOpening in a new window that featured some of their beautiful artwork set to the audio of Dr. King's “I Have a Dream” speech.

  • Reeves Middle School students reviewed segments of that speech, then took some self-reflection time to consider their dreams and the actions that might be necessary to achieve them.

  • Students at Olympia High School spoke and performed at a schoolwide assemblyOpening in a new window, connecting the civil rights era and today.

  • At Avanti High SchoolOpening in a new windowTacoma Arts AliveOpening in a new window performed "Where Blooming Flowers Meet the SkyOpening in a new window" – the story of Zhuli, a young artist writing a new book of poetry. On Zhuli’s artistic journey she is visited by three prominent ancestors from the 1960’s Civil Rights era. Each one gives her a piece of wisdom from their experience, helping her find her voice.

  • Lincoln Elementary came together for an assembly where classes sang, recited quotes and together connected to the civil rights movement through song.


OSD Fourth graders ‘Link Up’ with Olympia Symphony Orchestra

Link Up concert at WCPAAfter months of preparation and with recorders in hand, the entire Olympia School District fourth grade population (824 to be exact) set out on a grand adventure to perform with the Olympia Symphony OrchestraOpening in a new window (OSO) at the Washington Center for the Performing ArtsOpening in a new window.


On January 18, students boarded buses for the short drive to the ‘The Orchestra Sings’ performance. Every seat in the Washington Center was full from the mezzanine to the stage. Boston Harbor Elementary student Tristan Ducummons was dressed for success in a tux coat, white collared shirt and bow tie. The excitement was palpable and Ducummons was smiling from ear to ear with wide eyes as Boston Harbor students entered and took their seats. Prepared to listen to a wonderful and exciting performance made by the Olympia Symphony Orchestra. 


After months of focus and repetition, 824 fourth grade students performed “Ode to JoyOpening in a new window," guided by the sweeping melodies, strong emotions and deep meaning of the music. McKenny music teacher Heather Matthews said after the concert, “My students told me how magical it felt to feel part of something bigger. Hearing all the different parts of the music come together after playing by themselves in class was incredible. The biggest payoff for me was returning to the building for afternoon general music and the students wanting to play their recorders, that’s what I call a huge win!”


Theatre and Robotics, a partnership made for center stage

She Kills Monsters Play at CHSCapital High School theatre’s most recent production “She Kills Monsters” took to the stage last week for its opening weekend bringing with it some new and creative elements. “This has been a play of firsts and that adds so much excitement,” said CHS junior Chris Salerno. Capital teacher and theatre director Kristina Cummins had been looking forward to unveiling this production for a while. The inspiration for the production came to life from an interview Cummins heard. “I knew what we needed to add to make this show truly unique…robotics!” said Cummins.


Cummins contacted Capital High School and Jefferson Middle School STEM teacher Brenda Diettrich, who presented the possibility of collaboration to her robotics teams. “They were so excited to join forces,” said Diettrich. Seven of the robotics students from Jefferson and four from Capital went right to work conjuring life from sketches…using science and engineering.


“The robotic creations brought an incredible moving dimension to the production. When designing our largest robot, the Beholder, I added similarities to her parallel character, Vera. Real world Vera wears a spike bracelet kinda-punk rock, so we added that common element to the massive robots' many moving arms,” continued Vincent.


Check out the link below to view more on this amazing and creative collaboration.

Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action: February 5-9

BLM at School week of action graphicThe Olympia School Board has proclaimed February 5-9 as Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action.


The Board read the two-page proclamationOpening in a new window at the January 25, 2024 board meeting.

The school board proclamation states in part that “our students have the right to be educated within a village committed to nurturing their courage and skills to confront personal, systemic and societal bias, while recognizing the many types of privilege that exist within our society.”


The proclamation goes on to state that “students have the right to engage in reflection and honest conversations in school communities on issues of social justice, equity, the intersectionality of oppression and the legacy of institutionalized racism and oppression that has plagued the United States since its founding.”


The Black Lives Matter at School campaign first began in Seattle in 2016 and has since spread across the nation.


Jefferson Middle School is rowing it’s way to great health

Jefferson MS rowing it's way to great health Jefferson Middle School is celebrating a recently awarded grant that integrates indoor rowing into their physical education curriculum. The grant was generously provided by the George Pocock Rowing FoundationOpening in a new windowOlympia Area RowingOpening in a new window (OAR) and Concept2Opening in a new window. “This is an amazing addition to the holistic well-being of Jefferson students and it provides continuation of our efforts to foster a healthy school environment. JMS has been working on expanding its health and fitness program with an overall vision to provide a dedicated space to promote physical, mental and emotional well-being among our students,” explained Jefferson Principal Jane Allaire.


Thanks to the grant and efforts of its staff, the small gym at JMS is equipped with 20 rowing machines. Students and staff have embarked on an exciting journey working toward creating a healthier, more resilient school environment. The program includes 20 rowers, a comprehensive physical education curriculum and teacher training, plus support over the next five years. "We have dedicated efforts to a platform that prioritizes physical health while embracing mental and emotional well-being. I am thrilled to lead a team of passionate staff who wholeheartedly support and contribute to this vision," shared Allaire.


February 2024


Congratulations to this year's OSD Teachers of the Year!

OSD 2024 Teachers of the YearThis year the Olympia School District is thrilled to announce two teachers have been selected and recognized as the 2024 OSD Teachers of the YearOpening in a new window; Centennial Elementary School Physical Education teacher Kristen Draper, and Olympia High School Environmental and Physical Science teacher Heidi Heiser.


Family, colleagues and friends joined Draper and Heiser as they were honored during a special Olympia School Board recognition on Thursday, February 22, at the Knox Administrative Center. Congratulations Heidi and Kristen on being recognized as the 2024 Olympia School District Teachers of the Year!



Hot Tea and TLC at Lincoln Elementary School

Lincoln ES Lois Vernon Tea TimeLincoln Elementary Health Room Assistant Lois Vernon is much more than a provider of ice packs, bandaids and daily medication. She also hosts an incredibly popular daily tea time. This act of service is available to any Lincoln student to sign up and attend during their snack or recess time.


“It is a time for students to come to the office and take a break, breathe and center themselves,” explained Vernon. Supplies for daily tea time, such as kettles and a variety of tea flavors, have been donated by supportive Lincoln parents who welcome the idea of the calming tool that provides the students an opportunity to slow down and be present.


Kindergartner June Blanton and her tea time friends sipped their cups of Lemon Zinger or Mint tea and discussed the important stuff — dogs and puppies. Vernon calmly invited a fellow student who was visiting the nurses office to join the group, pouring them a cup of tea and pulling up a stool to the table. The students in attendance were quick to welcome them and joined with a smile. This is also a great way to practice good table manners without placing a focus on the lesson. Pleases and thank yous, and ‘have a nice day’ were shared amongst all who strolled by or joined the gathering at the little table in the office.


Sitting down to enjoy a cup of tea with friends is heartwarming in its own right, but tea time combined with Vernon’s sunny disposition and smile will fill your heart as she fills your cup.



Avanti celebrates 100 years and renovation with ribbon cutting

Avanti Ribbon CuttingThis past month the Avanti High School community gathered to recognize their school building turning 100 years old, while also celebrating the completion of their most recent school renovation with a ribbon cutting ceremony.


Avanti students and staff began the 2023-24 school year in their newly renovated digs following the completion of a major renovation project. Principal Micheal Velasquez kicked off the event to a full house which included district leadership (past and present), students and staff. Velasquez shared some background on Avanti’s home which was designed by Olympia architect Joseph Wohleb. The Avanti High School building was constructed in tandem with Lincoln Options Elementary, both designed in Wohleb’s signature Mission Revival style.


This stately structure has been a part of Olympia School District since its construction in 1924. It’s original purpose was as the second Washington School, replacing the first Washington School that was located on the site of the Armory Building Creative CampusOpening in a new window. In 1970 it became the Olympia School District headquarters. Nicknamed “Old Washington,” the building was renamed in 1987 to the Esther R. Knox Administrative Center.


During the ceremony Velasquez announced to the crowd the recent recognition that both the Avanti and Lincoln school buildings had received from the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House MuseumOpening in a new window. Holding up The Gerry L. Alexander AwardOpening in a new window for the crowd to see, Velasquez  explained, “The award is given for outstanding achievement in heritage and preserving the historical character of the building.” He went on to thank the voters and leadership for their investment in their future and for entrusting them as the caretakers of the historic building. Velasquez then shared his wish that in 100 years the building will continue to educate Olympia youth providing “creative, innovative and inclusive opportunities within the walls of the beautiful building.”


Avanti’s ribbon cutting ceremony was a heartfelt celebration. Not just of the building itself, but as a showcase of the compassion, strength and love that this school building has been a home to since 1924. Here’s to the next 100 years Avanti Boxers!



Centennial Elementary School celebrates belonging

Centennial ES You Belong CelebrationCentennial Elementary School was excited to bring their students together for the first annual “You Belong” schoolwide event earlier this month. The staff and student council had been hard at work planning and prepping since October.


When students first arrived they were quick to notice staff wearing matching T-shirts donning the theme “You Belong at Centennial.” A student was heard complimenting Ritter on how nice all the teachers' matching shirts were. Little did students know they would find the same exact shirt waiting for them, folded on their desks. “Their eyes lit up and you could see how very excited each of them were as they layered on their own “You Belong” shirt,” said Ritter.


The You Belong event took a tremendous amount of planning and preparation, but was so worth it! Everyone who attended were STARS that day, and the goal of belonging was clearly seen when the students, staff and volunteers wearing their matching shirts posed for a group photo on the field taken with a drone by a student photographer from Washington Middle School. Thank you to the staff, community volunteers, Vic’s Pizzeria and SMU Saints for a memorable morning.



Paper roller coasters are all the rage at Jefferson MS

Jefferson MS Paper Roller CoasterOver the past few months, Lorie Gillespie's students at Jefferson Middle School have been diligently constructing paper roller coasters. What are paper roller coasters you ask? Well, in this instance it involves marble runs made of only paper and tape. The roller coasters are required to meet certain requirements/constraints, so students had to put a lot of thought and effort into their designs. This also included creatively problem-solving unanticipated glitches!


The goal was to attempt to keep the marble in the coaster for as long as possible before reaching the bottom (finish line). Students were charged with attempting to make the marble run last 60 seconds, which is a tall task. Some got close, some didn't, but regardless it was a fun ride!



March 2024


Around the world with McKenny and Pioneer elementary schools

Around the World with McKenny and Pioneer ESWe had the pleasure of joining students and families for a trip around the world at the McKenny Hawks Cultural Kaleidoscope event and the Pioneer Bear Cubs Cultural Fair. Imagine two trips around the world in less than 80 days! Each event offered beautifully crafted student information boards and displays that gave attendees an opportunity to learn about the cultures, customs, foods and traditions of the diverse students and families of their schools and communities.


Booths and displays allowed attendees to join in the exploration and learn fascinating facts about each other's heritage.



Thurgood Marshall MS is embracing clubs

TMMS ClubsAt Thurgood Marshall Middle School clubs are not just activities; they're empowering experiences! From yoga to coding, TMMS clubs are student-led, promoting leadership skills and independence. But that's just the start. They also foster self-esteem and positive social interactions. Whether it's collaborating on a project or leading a discussion, students learn to express themselves confidently and connect with others in meaningful ways. Keep making moves Mustangs, we are with you!



Blaze Rowan takes poetry from the page to the stage

Poetry Out Loud winner OHSOlympia High School senior Blaze Rowan was one of the nine finalists who competed this month at the state finals for the Washington State chapter of Poetry Out LoudOpening in a new window. Rowan was selected from 9,000 high school students who competed from 42 different schools across the state. Rowan represented the emotion behind the poems, reading with elegance and inflection. When all was said and done, Rowan was crowned the 2024 WA State Poetry Out Loud (POL) Champion!


POL is a national recitation contest that celebrates the power of the spoken word and a mastery of public speaking skills while cultivating students’ self-confidence and an appreciation of their literary heritage. There are nine regional champions (from across the state) which are represented as; Central WA, Eastern WA, Northwest WA, Southwest WA and WA POL Virtual. These regional champions competed against one another on March 9, 2024.


"POL has greatly enhanced my love for poetry, and has served as an incredible learning experience for me. I have absolutely loved how positive this experience has been, as the competitive nature takes a back seat to the experience of sharing poetry with a group of like-minded youth," shared Rowan.




April 2024


2024 Countdown to Kindergarten brings ear-to-ear smiles

Kindergarten CountdownThe Olympia School District Class of 2037 packed the house at Capital High School over the weekend for our annual Countdown to Kindergarten event. This family-focused event introduces incoming kindergarteners (and their families) to our district elementary schools and the many departments supporting schools and families behind the scenes.


Families had opportunities to meet their school principal and front office staff, tour a school bus, and collect stamps on their Countdown to Kindergarten passports at the various activity booths and tables. At the end of the event kiddos got to hand in their stamped passports for fun prizes.



STREAM Night at LP Brown ES fills hearts and minds

LP Brown STREAM nightThe LP Brown Elementary ‘Eagles’ hosted their second annual Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STREAM) Night last week. The school community came together for an evening filled with laughter, learning and hands-on activities that encouraged attendees to explore the wonders of STREAM. Each element sparked different types of curiosity and encouraged attendees to further investigate as they roamed through the various stations that were set up throughout the school.


“STREAM teaches important life skills like critical thinking and problem-solving, and this year, we hosted over 11 engaging activities that catered to all ages and interests,” said Dean of Students, Callie Jones who coordinated the event. The focus of this event was incorporating new and innovative ways to continue to build connections for the LP Brown students and community. “I am thankful for the partnerships that made this event so positive, and prioritized care for each guest,” said Jones.




Aerospace Club at Washington Middle School is OUT OF THIS WORLD!

WMS AerospaceThe Washington Middle School Aerospace Club is climbing to new heights with a little help and guidance from the Olympia High School Aerospace Club.


Club members from OHS act as mentors to the younger Bulldog club members. They help guide them through the process of building a rocket (from scratch) and bringing it through the testing phases as they prepare for their final launch where they will submit their team results to the American Rocketry ChallengeOpening in a new window.


As you'll see from the photos and videos (linked below) these are no ordinary rockets. Why don't we let these small geniuses tell you all about it...enjoy!



Olympia HS teams heading to NASA HUNCH Competition!

NASA Hutch CompetitionQuestion: What does HUNCH stand for?

Answer: High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH)


Did you know that Olympia High School recently had two NASA HUNCHOpening in a new window teams selected as National Finalists? These remarkable students visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston this month to present to NASA engineers and astronauts.


The NASA HUNCH mission is to empower and inspire students through a Project Based Learning program where high school students learn 21st-century skills and have the opportunity to launch their careers through participation in the design and fabrication of real-world valued products for NASA.


Check out this student videoOpening in a new window submitted to NASA by one of our OHS teams as it was going through the review process. For even more insight follow the link below to see our featured video on the HUNCH teams from OHS and how their projects came together.




Please submit accomplishments to Maria Betts. Photos are welcomed and encourage