August 2020

Spotlight on Success header


August 2020


Superintendent’s Message


Patrick Murphy headshotHello Olympia School District families,


We know this summer has been challenging, especially with all of the changing information as we continue to tackle the COVID-19 virus as a school district, a state, a nation and a world community. And while it may not be the start of school we were hoping for, I am proud of the work of our staff and families in preparing for the uncertainty and want to welcome you to the 2020-21 school year.


Few things can get students, staff and families as excited as the anticipation and excitement of the start of a new school year. Even in the midst of the Pandemic which has caused us to begin school for most students with remote instead of in-person learning, there is still an eagerness to get back to school, meet new teachers and see friends.


As mentioned, our dedicated staff have been busy this summer preparing for the best start possible. We are better equipped to begin this school year in a distance learning model based on our reflections and feedback from you, our families and staff since last spring. Our teachers have been training on technology tools and best practices for distance learning, understanding that our students and families need consistency and flexibility. We have identified essential learning standards, and students will be able to learn remotely via live and recorded lessons. We know it is not best practice to try to replicate a typical in-person school day online. Asking students to sit in front of a computer screen all day is not the most effective way to learn remotely. Like in-person schooling, our plan is to provide a balance of direct instruction and independent learning time, and time to collaborate with peers. We are also committed to student wellness, as identified in our Student Outcomes, to make sure students have the social, emotional and mental health support they need to succeed.


The Pandemic has forced us to do things differently. This is our opportunity as educators to become better at what we do, and find new ways to meet the needs of all students that we will benefit from long after the COVID-19 health crisis is over. I like to say it’s an opportunity for us not to return to normal, but to get back to better. Through our work this summer to create a fall reopening plan with input from hundreds of staff, students, families and community partners, we are already seeing signs of how we can be a stronger school system. This includes our ability to build more effective individual connections with students and families. The closure of our school buildings has opened a new window to see, front and center, how poverty impacts a student’s ability to learn in school. We can help respond to at least one of these needs, the need for school supplies, thanks to the annual Little Red Schoolhouse fundraiser. The success of this regional school supply collection and distribution project is staggering. Our school district received thousands of school supplies to share with families in need, including 336 boxes of crayons, 275 dozen pencils, 1,440 pocket folders and 460 backpacks, to name a few. We have also worked throughout the summer to disinfect our school sites and implement enhanced health and safety measures so that we are ready to welcome students back on campus as soon as public health guidelines allow. Health officials have given permission for us to serve small groups of students this fall who need specialized in-person learning services.


As we edge closer to that all important first day, whether your student is marking significant milestones such as the first day of kindergarten (Class of 2033), first day of middle and high school, or the start of their senior year, our dedicated staff across the system are ready and excited to welcome everyone to school.


Be sure to stay up-to-date on important district communication by visiting our website, following us on social media, reading our Spotlight on Success newsletters and keeping your contact information up-to-date in our Skyward Family Access student information system. We look forward to partnering with you again this year. 



Patrick Murphy Signature
Patrick Murphy



Reeves Middle School "Upstanders" 

Back to School Resources

School year begins Wednesday, September 9


School Registration

Are you new to the Olympia School District and need to register your student? Learn what forms to fill out and how to submit your information to the district on our Student Registration webpage.



Calendar Distribution

The annual OSD school year printed wall calendar will be given to each family at neighborhood schools as part of scheduled supply distributions. The 2020-21 calendar will also be posted on the school district website. Families that do not pick up a copy as part of their school distribution may pick up a copy from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, September 18 at the Knox 111 Administrative Center. Calendars will be available on tables spaced for physical distancing outside of the front doors of the Administrative Center, located at 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia. OSD families may walk up or drive and park at the Administrative Center to pick up a calendar.


We have printed enough copies of the calendar to provide one copy per family. Thank you for your understanding.



Free Meal Distribution Begins September 9

The Olympia School District will distribute free grab-and-go meals this fall to students, including lunch and breakfast for the following day, at designated schools. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today, August 31, that it approved the distribution of free meals through December 31, 2020.


Students may pick up grab-and-go lunch, and if desired breakfast for the following day, at meal distribution sites starting on the first day of school Wednesday, September 9. Meals will be distributed between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at all OSD elementary schools, Jefferson Middle School and Olympia Regional Learning Academy.


Students may visit any OSD school listed above that is distributing meals; they do not need to obtain a meal from their nearest school or the school that they are enrolled at. Distribution will be walk-up and drive-up, following school and public health department guidelines for social distancing and face coverings.




Free Immunization Clinics

Free immunization clinics are available for uninsured and underinsured students from kindergarten through age 18 on four dates in September.


Washington State Immunization Law requires all students attending public schools, preschool - 12th grade, to provide proof of immunization. All exemptions must be signed by a medical provider and legal guardian. Students who are behind on required immunizations will need to be in compliance before scheduled in-person learning begins. Appointments are required to participate.




Athletics and Activities Update

The Olympia School District understands the importance of education-based athletics and activities. While adhering to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) and county guidelines, Olympia School District will provide athletics and activities when allowable. At this time the fall season sports have been postponed and will occur during Season 3 of the WIAA modified sports seasons. View the WIAA 2020-21 Modified Season Calendar.


Middle School sports will also follow a similar timeline with the start being postponed until winter season.


Additional information will be provided to families by school athletic directors regarding sports clearance dates when the time comes. Should families have any questions, please contact your school office or site athletic director. You may also visit the WIAA website for updates.



Child Care Options

Looking for child care for your school-age child? There are a variety of options in Olympia and the surrounding area, including offerings for low-income families. Learn more information about the various child care programs, as well as a new childcare relief program announced today, August 31, on the Community Child Care Options webpage on the school district website.



Fall Reopening Plan Posted on Website

The school district’s Fall Reopening Plan, approved by the Olympia School Board in early August, is posted on the district website along with an extensive list of resources.


Visit the Fall 2020 School Reopening Plans webpage to view the approved plan, read frequently asked questions, see meeting agendas and summaries of committees and small workgroups this summer, and view an extensive list of local and state resources, including guidance from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and a COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard.



Key Cards

Beginning September 4, 2020 current Ingersoll Stadium key cards will no longer work, as the old card system has been replaced. Current card holders will need to fill out a replacement application in order to receive a new key card. The replacement application may be found here.


A new key card will be mailed as soon as the district receives the application (please simply throw your old card). There is no charge to obtain a replacement card, and the it will also provide access to the Capital High School Swarthout track.


Please note, the district has attempted to contact all current key card holders regarding this change. If you have not received any notification, we may not have your correct address on file. By submitting an application for a new card we will be able to include you for future updates.


If you would like to obtain a key card for the first time, please click here to obtain a new card. There is a $10 one-time fee.



Navigating Back to School Free Webinars

The Olympia School District Education Foundation has partnered with the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide to provide a new online learning experience to help every member of the school community — educators, students and families — cope with the upcoming school year during uncertain times. There are several learning modules designed especially for families that offer practical tips for the 2020-21 school year.


“Navigating Back to School” learning modules are free and may be taken at any time. The modules help participants to: Recognize the impact COVID-19 has had on them, accept that the foreseeable future will be one of uncertainty, and move forward in this new learning climate. There are short video clips, instructional materials and activities to assist families in navigating the journey of the upcoming school year for themselves and their children.


This resource is the newest component of the Foundation’s Mental Health Initiative, which supports the district’s focus on mental health and social emotional learning. Last year, the Foundation established a districtwide Mental Health Resource Library and a new Teaching & Learning Grant available to all OSD educators that supports programs and projects that prioritize the mental health of educators, students and families.



Community Resources for Youth and Families

Community agencies are available to assist youth and families who need help navigating circumstances of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


Visit our district website Community Resources for Youth and Families webpage for resources such as assistance with groceries or meals, free or low-cost Internet and phone options, community child care options, help with bills/income, mental health/counseling, local and national emergency hotlines, and articles such as how to cope with anxiety and how to talk with children about COVID-19. The webpage is updated regularly with new information.



Information for Families New to OSD

Whether you are a family that's brand new to the Olympia School District, or just wondering where to go to find answers to specific questions you've never known how to answer, we recently launched a new District Resources for New Families webpage on the OSD website. If there is information you are searching for and don’t find here, please email us as we update the site regularly. If you are new to the district, welcome!



OSD Teacher of the Year Carol McKay


CHS Teacher Carol McKay Wins National Award

Capital High School math teacher Carol McKay has been recognized nationally with the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).


McKay is the only math teacher to receive the honor in Washington state, and one of only two PAEMST winners statewide. Nationwide, there are 107 winners honored this year.


The veteran educator is also the second Olympia School District teacher to win the national honor in the past five years. Reeves Middle School teacher Jana Dean received the award in the 2016-17 school year.


"It has always been my goal to help all students have opportunities to be successful mathematicians and to learn to love mathematics as I do,” McKay said. “The Presidential Award is an incredible honor. It recognizes the challenging yet rewarding work I do alongside my talented colleagues, with the support of district leadership. This award reinvigorates my desire for ongoing professional growth and teacher leader opportunities. I am thankful for the support and encouragement of my family in this profession.”


The Olympia School Board honored McKay with an engraved plaque at its August 24 meeting.


The PAEMST organization describes the annual honor as the “highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th-grade science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States.”


A committee of STEM experts and award-winning teachers selected five Washington state finalists last summer based on content mastery, use of effective instructional methods, effective use of assessments, reflective practice, life-long learning and leadership in education inside and outside the classroom.


"Olympia School District, but specifically Capital High School, is lucky to have Carol serving our community,” said Capital High School Principal Curtis Cleveringa. “Carol's work speaks for itself! The impact that she has had and will continue to have is irreplaceable. It is an honor to lead alongside her."


Capital High School Assistant Principal Michelle Anderson, who nominated McKay for the PAEMST honor, added, "In all my years, it is rare to have the pleasure to work with a teacher who takes the time to check in with every single student, every single day. It might be related to the math concepts, but it might be related to an activity the student participated in the day before or just to check in with how the student is doing. This action is done in a very intentional way with thought behind every word spoken. Because of the atmosphere intentionally created, consistently, students share how much they feel valued in her classroom and in turn feel comfortable asking questions without fear."


McKay is a National Board Certified Teacher in mathematics and has spent her 14-year teaching career at Capital High School. She has taught all levels of mathematics and currently teaches 9th- through 12th-grade Geometry and Precalculus.


This latest award follows her 2017 recognition as the Capital Region Educational Service District 113 Regional Teacher of the Year.


Presidential Awardees receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.


Awardees also join an active network of outstanding educators from throughout the nation. Since the award program was established in 1983, more than 5,000 teachers have been recognized for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession. Awardees reflect the expertise and dedication of the nation’s teaching corps, and they demonstrate the positive impact of excellent teachers on student achievement.



OHS Bridge Building Competition 

Olympia High School Physics Bridge Building Contest

Back in June, for the first time since 2013, Olympia High School held an AP Physics Bridge Building Content. This competition was open to all Olympia AP physics students, staff, families and friends. OHS teacher John O'Leary tested 85 bridges to determine the winners or the "most efficient" bridges.


The building of these structures was done remotely at the homes of each of the participants using basswood and following the International Bridge Building Rules for this year: Bridge: 25g or less, span a 30cm gap and hold the 4cm x 4cm testing plate. All bridges were tested until they broke, or flexed by one inch. The bridges which stood up best to this challenge were those of Jack Samson, Julia Marzella and Joy Matsuoka. Aaron Ward also received recognition for the "Top Parent Submitted Bridge".


What a cool example of students learning engineering and model building with the remote guidance of their teacher. Kuddos Mr. O'Leary for coordinating this contest, that's a lot of smiling kiddos!



OSD Notice of Nondiscrimination

The Olympia School District will provide equal educational opportunity and treatment for all students in all aspects of the academic and activities program without discrimination based on race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, honorably-discharged veteran or military status, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, marital status, the presence of any sensory, mental or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. The district will provide equal access to school facilities to the Boy Scouts of America and all other designated youth groups listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society. District programs will be free from sexual harassment. Auxiliary aids and services will be provided upon request to individuals with disabilities.


The Olympia School District offers many Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs/courses in the following areas: Skilled and Technical Sciences/STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics); Agriculture/Natural Resources; Business Marketing; Family and Consumer Sciences; and Health Sciences. For more information about CTE course offerings and admissions criteria, contact Pat Cusack, Director of College and Career Readiness, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506, (360) 596-6102. Lack of English language proficiency will not be a barrier to admission and participation in CTE programs.


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

Michael Hart, Title IX Officer

Ken Turcotte, Section 504 and ADA Coordinator (Students)

Starla Hoff, ADA Coordinator (Staff)

Scott Niemann, Affirmative Action Officer and Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator

Pat Cusack, Director of College and Career Readiness


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