Spotlight on Success

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February 15 - Spotlight on Success Header


February 15, 2018



Superintendent's Message

Hello Olympia School District Families,

As we head into the second half of the 2017-18 school year, we want to give a huge thank you to Patrick Murphy headshotOlympia School District voters. Based on early, unofficial election returns this week, voters have approved a four-year technology and safety replacement levy. With an approval rate of just under 70 percent, our levy is among the most heavily supported school ballot measures in the state. We are grateful for our community's support, and we are excited to move forward with initiatives that will increase student access to technology, continue our focus on safety, and prepare students for success now and into the future as they move on to college and/or careers. Thanks to this levy passage, our students will benefit from up-to-date technology in their classrooms, enhanced instruction, and a more equitable learning environment for all. Importantly, the levy will provide training for teachers and other staff and parents as we continue to thoughtfully integrate this new technology and teach our students how to use it in a safe, responsible and healthy way.
While we are so fortunate to have the strong financial support of our community for our future technology and safety efforts, we are in more precarious shape when it comes to our general operating budget which pays for things like second-grade teachers, nurses, algebra teachers, librarians, custodians, etc.  As you may recall from my previous superintendent messages, House Bill 2242, which passed last summer, dramatically changed how school districts are funded. Unfortunately, it has had an adverse impact on the Olympia School District.  Our governor and the superintendent of public instruction, while acknowledging the good parts of HB 2242, both called for technical fixes during this short legislative session to mitigate unintended negative impacts to districts like Olympia that are facing significant deficits in their operating budgets. We have worked hard to educate and raise awareness with our legislators, but we won't know the outcome until the end of the short session, which is scheduled for March 8. We have scheduled OSD budget community forums on February 28 and March 7. Details on the meeting times and locations are listed in the calendar at the end of this newsletter. Stay tuned for more information about these meetings and on ways you can give input on our budget process.
Finally, while we don't know what fixes, if any, will come out of this legislative session, engaging our community in a conversation about values and priorities to inform our budget decisions can pay dividends for us as we launch into a strategic direction and planning process. As our existing five-year Strategic Plan expires this school year, we will be engaging our community in a vigorous and healthy process later this spring to establish a new long-term strategic direction for our district based on shared values and agreed-upon student outcomes. So likewise, stay tuned for information about ways to be involved in that important process.
Thank you all, again, for your generous support of our school district. We look forward to a wonderful and fruitful second half of the school year.


Capital HS students receive top honor at Puget Sound All Girls Film Festival

What happens when you find out about a film competition five days before the submission deadline? If you're Capital High School students Jenna Cusack and Abby Dyck, you buckle down and get to work!

Arts and Technology Teacher Scott Le Duc had this to say about what the whirlwind process looked 2018 All Girls Film Festivallike; "We found out about the competition five days before the deadline. Jenna and Abby said, 'We're on it.' They developed a story based on the prompt, filmed, edited and sent a draft to me four days later. I reviewed the piece and gave some creative feedback. They re-shot the next day, adding all the new content and submitted that night right before the midnight deadline."

The themes for this year's festival were Stereotypes, Empowerment and Inspiration. Entrants needed to create a two- to four-minute film where 100 percent of the film was created by women, feminine identifying, and/or non-binary filmmakers. All the participants in the production process had to be 18-years-old or younger.

Capital High senior Jenna Cusack said, "We first looked at the prompt and we saw stereotypes. 2018 All Girls Film FestivalWe wanted to bring a story to that, because often times a lot of stories around stereotypes are completely based on the actions that occur and we wanted it to be about the person themselves. So, first, we followed an object, like a hat and then brought meaning to that object and therefore applied it to the person and their story." 

Submissions were judged by female alumni from schools in the Puget Sound, along with professional women in the media industry.

Judging Criteria


  • Story Content: Effective use of storytelling techniques appropriate for the genre. Original, strong, clear concept.
  • Camera: Creative use of camera including a variety of shots, angles and depth of field.
  • Audio: Audio is clear. Music/sound effects enhance story. Audio is balanced.
  • Editing: Smooth flow, effective pacing and attention to continuity.
  • Theme: Message of the film clearly communicates the ideals of the theme.


The judges submitted their decisions, and Jenna and Abby learned they had been recognized as one
2018 All Girls Film Festivalof the top three winning films for the festival. "It is a testament to their creative, technical and organizational skills that they've developed over the last four years. They're just that good!" said Le Duc. 

Take a look at the winning entry here.

Congratulations Jenna and Abby! The drive, determination and dedication to your craft is plain to see. Keep up the amazing work!


Centennial Elementary has a heart for veterans and first responders

Red hearts, crayon drawings and stars and stripes surely brought a smile to local veterans and first responders this Valentine's Day. Kindergartners in Christine Goode's classroom at Centennial Elementary made special valentines in early February as part of Congressman Denny Heck's annual "Valentines for Veterans" drive.
This is the sixth year that Heck has coordinated the program, and this is the first year that first Centennial student making valentinesresponders were also included. Each year, Congressman Heck and his office staff deliver the cards to veterans organizations and first responder work stations on Valentine's Day.
Making the day a little more exciting, Drew Mikkelson, King-5 TV South Bureau Chief, stopped by Centennial Elementary to interview several students about their efforts. A link to the interview and video of the event, which aired on Valentine's Day, can be found on our district Facebook page or on the King 5 website.
In addition to Goode's kindergarten class, approximately 100 other Centennial students participated in the program including the resource room, second-and-third grade classes, and library classes. Way to spread the love Centennial


Jefferson Middle School REACH students create monstrous new production

Students in the Jefferson Middle School Reading Enrichment and Arts Cohort for High Achievers Jefferson student participating in school play(REACH) program brought monsters from classic literature to the stage in a thrilling two-part production: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein Meets Dracula. The production debuted January 23 and was completely student-written and produced.

The play was presented on two nights and two matinees in late January with two different casts. 

Goals of the REACH program reflect the use of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In the first quarter, students analyze high school-level text. In the second quarter, students work together to bring what they have learned to life through a theatrical production. Students learn to write scripts, build sets, direct audio and lighting, as well as act on the stage.  
Article submitted by REACH teacher Jonathan Moore.


Madison students spread warmth and care this winter season

During the month of January, Madison Elementary students held a mitten and sock drive to help Madison students collecting goods for charitychildren and families keep warm and dry for the remaining weeks of winter. Jennifer Moore's third-grade class organized the drive and will soon deliver hundreds of mittens, socks and scarves to local elementary schools, the Salvation Army, Pear Blossom Place family shelter and the Thurston County Food Bank.

The class recently took a field trip to the Thurston County Food Bank to learn more about one of the agencies that will receive donations from the warm clothing drive, as well as from the school's annual canned food drive held last fall. Moore said her class "learned so much about our community and ways the volunteers and community organizations help support programs at the food bank."

Way to go Madison Lion Cubs!


Morning smiles and high fives make a difference at Capital High School

A hearty good morning, a smile and a high five go a long way at Capital High School.  For three leadership students, it's their way of making each morning a little nicer.

Beginning on the first day of school last September, and every day since, Capital High School CHS Greeter at front doorsophomore Olivia Huff, junior Kallie Kidder and senior Sam Kerans arrive early and greet their fellow students at several entrances to the school. The three are in Angel Elam's Advanced Leadership class, but the daily activity is strictly voluntary.

Elam said she teaches the kids in leadership that "It's the little things we do that make the biggest difference."

At the beginning of the year, Elam asks each leadership student how they are going to make a difference at Capital. This year, Huff, Kidder and Kerans made the commitment to hold the entry doors open for fellow students each day. Elam said the program has been in place for several years but that usually the students give up the early mornings after a few weeks. Not these three. They are committed and "are making a big difference in our school climate and culture," said Elam.

When asked how they stay motivated to show up every day, Kidder said, "I am a happy person all the time, why not put it to use?" Kerans echoed that saying, "We're definitely morning people."

That was evident on a recent early morning visit to Capital. The sun hadn't yet risen, but the girls wereCHS greeters meeting students at their posts handing out high fives and saying, "Good morning Hunter, good morning Tyler, good morning Wes, good morning Olivia, how was your test, how are you today, good to see you, what's up, I like your outfit." The girls set the tone for the day by calling everyone by name and welcoming them with a smile.

Even more impressive, Huff said she isn't a morning person, but she participates anyway, saying the daily ritual has helped her to get to know lots of students at the school. She said people know her as the "door holder."

Kerans plans to study at Grand Canyon University next year and major in education. Kidder, a junior, is considering a major in business or journalism at the University of Washington or Western Washington University.

Leadership studies at Capital emphasize the importance of communication, character, personal growth and building strong relationships and teams. Other events and activities that the leadership classes are responsible for include coordination, promotion and execution of many school events including assemblies, dances, guest speakers, a talent show, an open house, ASB/class elections, earth week and many more.

Great work by these Capital Cougars, setting the tone for a positive and welcoming experience at school each and every day!


Countdown to Kindergarten a great success

Several hundred families of incoming kindergartners attended last Saturday's "Countdown to Kindergarten" day at Capital High School.

This informational event is held annually so families can learn about a variety of topics related to Visitors of OSD Countdown to Kindergarten Daykindergarten. The day began with a welcome and presentation by Superintendent Patrick Murphy and Assistant Superintendent Nancy Faaren. Among other topics, the presentation focused on kindergarten readiness, Skyward Family Access, registration requirements, transportation, food services and community resources.

Following the presentation, families had an opportunity to visit with school and district staff to learn about programs and support services available in the district. School transportation staff provided school bus tours so parents and students could become familiar
Kindergarten day participants touring one of the OSD busseswith rules and expectations. In addition, representatives from the Boys and Girls Club, Timberland Regional Library, CIELO, Apple Health and many others provided valuable community support information to families.

Thank you to all of our incoming families, school and program staff, and community service agencies that attended and made this day a great success.  We can't wait to meet all of our new students this fall!


"Hello Dolly" opens February 22 starring OSD staff and students

Tickets are on sale for Hello Dolly, this year's annual musical presented by the OSD Players - a group of staff and students from throughout the school district.

This year's production will run Thursday, February 22 through Sunday, February 25 at the Olympia Hello Dolly posterHigh School Performing Arts Center. The performance is a fundraiser for the Olympia School District Education Foundation, which uses the funds to make grants to the school district, schools and educators.

There will be five shows, all at the Olympia High School Performing Arts Center (1302 North St. SE, Olympia). Performance dates and times are as follows:


  • Thursday, Feb. 22; 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Feb. 23; 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 24; 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 24; 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 25; 2 p.m.


General admission tickets are $10 for Thursday's performance; $12 for all other performances. Reserved seating for all performances is $15. Tickets available at the door or in advance online.



Upcoming OSD Events



Feb. 19 & 20: Mid-Winter Break (No School)
Feb. 21: 50: Minute Early Release Wednesday
Feb 22 & 26: ORLA Montessori Information Night - ORLA at 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 22-25: OSDEF Presents Hello Dolly (Olympia High School PAC)
Feb. 25: Entertainment Explosion/Brothers Four - Benefit Concert
Feb. 26: Board Meeting - Roosevelt Elementary School at 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 27: ES Parent Education Workshop: Anger
Feb. 28: 50-Minute Early Release Wednesday
Feb. 28: OSD Budget Community Forum - Jefferson MS Library from 6:30 - 8 p.m.


March 1 & 7: Lincoln Information Night - Lincoln Elementary School at 6 p.m.
March 6 & 8: Middle School Choice Programs Information Nights
March 7: 50-Minute Early Release Wednesday
March 7: OSD Budget Community Forum - Washington Middle School Library from 6:30 - 8 p.m.


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 following people have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies, reports of alleged sexual harassment, concerns about compliance, and/or grievance procedures: 

All four individuals may also be contacted at 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia, WA, 98501.