March 2020

March 2020 Spotlight on Success Header


March 2020


Countdown to Kindergarten a hands-on introduction to school

One of our favorite events of the year is our annual 'Countdown to Kindergarten' event. Parents and guardians with children entering kindergarten for the 2020-21 school year were invited to learn about making the transition to kindergarten with their child.


Families were invited to walk through an information fair in the Capital High School Commons where they met staff from elementary schools around our district and learned more about: registering for kindergarten, using Skyward Family Access (the district’s Student Information System), riding the bus, alternative kindergarten program options, before- and after-school child care, community partner services and so much more.


You can view a photo album from this event on our district Facebook page. We can't wait to have all these little nuggets in our buildings next year!



Capital HS student Camden Martin


Capital High School’s Camden Martin; a literary star in the making

Take a second to think back to what life looked like for you at 16 years old. What were your hopes, goals and dreams for the future? Did you have anything you were passionate about and wished to accomplish, or were you just focused on the moment and taking it all in?


Chances are you weren’t in the midst of signing an eight-year publishing contract for a novel you had just spent the past two years of your life putting together.


That is exactly what current Capital High School senior Camden Martin was doing at 16.


Camden began writing her first novel as a sixth grader at Griffin Middle School. While that novel was never completed, it planted the seed of possibility for Camden to pursue her passion for writing. One year later she began work on the first iteration of her novel “If I Could Tell It.” Camden did her best to convince her teachers and peers that she would one day get her novel published, but nobody believed. Undeterred, Camden pushed forward, and by her freshman year at Capital High School, she had completed the full manuscript. Now, her novel “If I Could Tell It” is published and available to the world for purchase on Amazon. This truly is a dream come true.


Camden had this to say about her journey thus far in the literary world; “The publishing process, as well as finishing a full-length novel, as most would agree, is one of the hardest journeys anyone can pursue. However, due to an inherent determination, this challenge has excited me every step of the way. I have loved every part of the process, even the rejection letters, because I know they make me stronger. When I first started writing, I had never considered potentially having a career in it, but now, if the opportunity were to arise, I think I would feel strongly inclined to pursue it.”


Not one to pause to catch a breath, Camden is now working on her second full-length manuscript for a Young Adult Dystopian novel which she also hopes to publish upon completion. She also wrote a short story titled “Something to Stand For,” which was published in the CHS school newspaper.


"Camden is awe-inspiring. I do not recall a student in my 20 years in education with such a long list of academic and extracurricular accomplishments. I do not know how she does it, but her motivation and skills have opened vast doors for her future," said CHS Counselor Joel Komschlies.


Because attending high school and writing/publishing novels isn’t quite enough, Camden took the time to participate in the Voice of Democracy competition, a worldwide audio-essay competition that requires entrants to write and record a three-to-five-minute essay on a patriotic-based theme. This year’s theme is “What Makes America Great.”


The National Association of Broadcasters started the Voice of Democracy Scholarship program in 1947. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) became a national sponsor in the late 1950s and assumed sole responsibility for the program in 1961. The competition was created to provide students in grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves in regard to democratic ideas and principles. Around 40,000 students participate in the competition each year and VFW awards more than $2.1 million in scholarships every year.


Camden finished in first place in the regional competition and advanced to the state competition where she finished in third place, receiving $1,200 amongst other prizes.


“To anyone, from middle school age writers to adults looking to finally write their book, the greatest advice I can give is to retain determination and tenacity the entire way. Even though I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason, I also believe that nothing is impossible and anything can happen. All one has to do is put their head down and write.” - Camden Martin


What a testament to the drive, determination and focus which our students display on a daily basis in our buildings. Congratulations Camden on your journey, you are an inspiration and a truly gifted writer. We can’t wait to see what you will do next!



OSD 2020 School Calendar cover


Board approves 2020-21 calendar

The Olympia School Board has approved the school year calendar for the 2020-21 school year. This one-page calendar includes districtwide holidays and events. Be sure to check school websites and calendars for school-specific events and activities.




Elaine Rinker OSD Teacher of the Year 2020


Elaine Rinker named as 2020 OSD Teacher of the Year

Every year, our district selects a Teacher of the Year from nominations submitted by students, staff and community members. This year we proudly present Elaine Rinker, who teaches special education at Centennial Elementary School.


Rinker says she experienced a flood of varying emotions, including shock, gratefulness and a deep sense of appreciation, when she was told she had been chosen as the Teacher of the Year at an impromptu Centennial Elementary staff meeting.


At Centennial, Rinker is nicknamed “the golden unicorn.” The name originated with Principal Shannon Ritter. In praise of Rinker, Ritter says, “There’s no problem she can’t figure out a solution to.” Over the years, Rinker has been given a mug with a golden unicorn etched on it and a small stuffy unicorn with golden hooves and a horn. She keeps both of these on her desk.


Rinker, who has been teaching special education for eight years, also has high praise for the school she works at. “I can honestly say without any doubt that each and every teacher at Centennial wants nothing more than to have his or her students be successful,” she says. “Working with a team that is always willing to go above and beyond inspires and motivates me every day.”


Rinker decided to become a teacher out of a love for making a difference in others’ lives. In her own school years, she says she struggled. That, in turn, has helped her relate to her students. “Each of my students is unique, with unique strengths and unique struggles,” she says. “My job is to figure out their specific challenges and make a plan, using their strengths to solve it, and then support the student until they have reached their goal. Just like me, all my students need is a little extra support and encouragement to boost their skills and self-esteem.”


She remembers special teaching moments this past year, such as when a student read more than 100 words per minute for the first time. She also recalled a time when a student announced that she was good at multiplication. “Any time one of my students overcomes a challenge or finds success, it becomes my next favorite moment,” Rinker says.



Reeves MS Upstander Week


Reeves Middle School emphasizes the importance of being an “UpStander”

Reeves Middle School celebrated National No Name Calling Week in late January this year. This week was inspired and headed up by school Counselor Marisa Castello, who is in her first year at Reeves. Castello talked with each of the grade levels about the importance of being an “UpStander” instead of a bystander in instances of bullying.


Like many examples of social change, this nationally-recognized week was inspired by James Howe’s novel “The Misfits.” The story follows four best friends in the seventh grade who are bullied for a variety of reasons: from weight, to intelligence, to sexual orientation. The four besties decide to run for the student council election against their more popular peers. Reeves has also taken this to heart and designed a variety of activities to help open students’ eyes to the issue of bullying and the importance of taking a stand against it.


One student who had been the target of bullying told her teacher, “I’m so glad we’re doing this!” Making this a schoolwide awareness made a difference in this students’ life. Sometimes just knowing one student was impacted makes everything all worthwhile.


During No Name Calling Week, Reeves MS leadership students talked with the school about the power that words have in peoples’ lives and the need to be kind. They shared their message during morning announcements. Leadership student Megan Schmidtzinsky also spearheaded a kindness project, with support from her leadership class. Students were encouraged to take a notecard and write something they appreciated about their fellow students, then place the cards in each person’s locker.


Other students put their creative skills to use to help create a visual for other students. The Kindness Assembly held at the start of the No Name Calling Week included four student-led video Public Service Announcements. The videos were created by students in Deborah Nied’s seventh-grade English Language Arts classes. In the videos, students acted out examples of how to be compassionate and kind to each other. Students and staff were also encouraged to wear blue bracelets during the week; a color that symbolizes Anti-Bullying. Reeves culminated the week with “UpStander Friday,” where students and staff were encouraged to wear blue to school. “I thought it was really neat to see students wearing the bracelets. Many of them asked if they could have a second one which indicated they were really into it. Several staff and students are wearing them still,” Castello said.


Way to go Reeves Middle School, not only for teaching students strong values, but for encompassing the Olympia School District Student Outcome 1: Be compassionate and kind, and Outcome 3: Advocate for the social, physical and mental wellness of themselves and others and be hopeful about the future.



Boston Harbor bear and artist


Local artist visits Boston Harbor Elementary for carving assembly

If you have driven out the long, winding that is Boston Harbor Road, you know how beautiful the countryside is. Local wood carver Joe Tougas wanted to create something just as beautiful for the local school: Boston Harbor Elementary. When you walk into the school, the first thing your eye is drawn to is a carving of a bear sitting atop a box. Commissioned by Boston Harbor Elementary’s parent-teacher organization in 1993 after the most recent school renovation, this masterpiece is a much-loved part of the school — so much so that students are often reminded not to climb on the carving.


This past December during an assembly, students and staff gathered in the gym for a presentation by Tougas. He told students that the bear was carved from cedar wood. “There are a lot of cedar trees that grow in this part of the world. Cedar is a really good kind of wood. It is a softwood and it lasts a long, long time,” he said. Tougas held up a few of the tools laying on the table next to him. “This is one of the main tools I use. It’s called a gouge. Another important tool I use is called a mallet.” Tougas then took out a chunk of wood and began working it in front of the students, as wood chips flew in all directions. As he carved, he said with a smile, “One thing I really like about wood carving is that it always makes a mess!” Laughter rippled out amongst the students. “Yay for messes!” one student called out, clapping.


Tougas showed the students the original concept sketches of the bear and the box. He spoke with the students about his creative process, ending with: “The reason I wanted to show you all these drawings is that all of you are able to make beautiful things. One of the things you always need to remember is that you can start with an idea and then change your mind, or bring new ideas in. Then you can decide out of all the ideas you have, which is the best one.”


When Tougas carved the bear in 1993 it took about a month-and-a-half to finish. One student asked Tougas, “Why did you carve it?” Tougas responded, “Well, I’ve always loved to carve wood and look for different ideas of things I can carve. When I heard Boston Harbor school was looking for a wood carving, I told them I would be happy to do it. Another reason is that I’ve lived in the Olympia area for a long time and I really like Boston Harbor. I wanted to add a little bit of my art to this place.”


“Our bear is so beloved and is such a gift,” says Boston Harbor Elementary Principal Jen Brotherton. “The story that Joe told reminds us that we can learn from each other. I think that’s the biggest takeaway.”


Brotherton then unveiled the name for the bear, which was officially voted on by the students this past December. So the next time you’re at Boston Harbor ES, make sure you say hello to the aptly named “Boston the Bear!”



OSD Thank You Voters graphic


Thank you voters!

The Olympia School District Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy passed with nearly 71 percent voter approval – one of the highest in the state for a school district with more than 5,000 students -- according to final certified election results released near the end of February.


The February 11, 2020 Special Election results show 70.86 percent of “yes” votes for the district’s replacement levy out of 18,001 votes cast. A levy requires 50 percent-plus one yes votes for approval.


“We are grateful to the voters of Olympia for supporting the students, staff and families of the Olympia School District,” says Superintendent Patrick Murphy.


The local levy pays for nearly 17 percent of the district’s overall operating budget.



Capital High School Restorative Center mural

Capital HS student creates breathtaking mural for others to enjoy

Capital High School’s Restorative Center has a new, permanent art addition that adds an uplifting vibe to the center; a place nicknamed “The Restorative Garden.” In the vividly painted mural on the wall, golden clouds fill the background, weaving in and out of tall, purple mountains. In the foreground is a deep green pond with lily pads and lotus scattered across the surface where a cougar is surfacing. The cougar’s vibrant blue eyes look ahead, its face partially submerged in the water. “The swamp and lotus flowers represent thriving out of muddy waters. Beauty that has come from a dark place but has transformed into something new,” says Capital High senior Rylee Fry, the student artist who created this work of art. The four mountains represent the four wings Capital High School campus. The mountains themselves stand tall, showing both strength and the willingness to move forward.


“You know the movie Avatar, with the blue people? I wanted the color scheme to be like that; more like fantasy. Yellow clouds, purple mountains. It’s not exactly real, but it could be,” says Rylee. The creative spark that led to this work of art had some spur-of-the-moment origins. “I had done a portrait of Mr. (Terry) Rose’s daughter for him, and while I was giving it to him in the Restorative Center Mr. Rose said, ‘It would be really cool if you painted a mural here in the Restorative Center.’”


Restorative Center Teacher and CHS Football Coach, Terry Rose, encouraged Rylee as she worked on this project. Rylee’s art teacher, David Wall, also lent a hand throughout each step of the mural creation process. “Mr. Wall is a really amazing person in general. He taught me a lot about style and really guided me through this process. He showed me how to do an ‘underpainting’, which is just getting basic shapes and colors. He actually painted the mountains for me. He’s very tall, so he can do that!” says Rylee.


The intention for the mural, Rylee explains, is to resonate and connect with people. From start to finish, the project took about 60 hours to complete. “I was super pumped to just be offered the opportunity,” she says. “I went around to teachers that I feel have made major impacts on Capital, or that have been here for a long time, to get input on what this school means to them. The one word that kept getting repeated was ‘persevere,’ so that became my main thing.”


At first, the scope of the project seemed overwhelming. Riley says: “As the layers of paint went on, I felt less overwhelmed and more content to share the mural with other people.” She says that seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces when they looked at the mural “was truly the most rewarding part of all ... I got to know a lot of other students when I was in there, and they loved it. They loved watching me paint, and maybe it was distracting at times, but they all really liked it. It was cool to see how happy my art made the teachers and the impact it had on them.”


2019 OSD Annual Report


2018-19 Annual Report now available

Every year the Olympia School District publishes an Annual Report to share with the community many of the student, staff and school successes during the previous year. The 2018-19 Annual Report posted on the school district website also features demographic and financial information, building improvement updates and links to school improvement plans and school performance reports. We encourage you to read the report and join us as we celebrate many of the moments that made the 2018-19 school so memorable!



OSD Transfers

In-district and out-of-district transfers

Any student who desires to attend school in the Olympia School District outside of their regular attendance area needs to apply for a transfer. To find out additional details about areas of residence, please review Policy 3130: Residence and School Attendance Areas.


In some circumstances, a family may ask to transfer their student to a school outside of their resident district or school attendance area. Approval or denial of a student transfer request is based on criteria outlined in OSD Board Policy 3131 for resident students and Policy 3141 for nonresident students.


All transfer requests are handled by the district office. Requests are granted based on the capacity of the requested school, academic history, attendance history and disciplinary history of the requesting student. The Executive Director of Elementary Education and the Executive Director of Secondary Education will accept names for the waitlist.


  • Renewal requests: On February 3, 2020, the waiting list opened to accept names for renewal requests of currently enrolled student transfers.
  • New requests: On April 13, 2020 new requests for in-district and out-of-district transfers will be accepted to the waiting list.


To be added to a waitlist for a school in the Olympia School District, you must fill out the following form online. This form will allow the opportunity to make multiple requests for siblings if needed.


Names added to the waitlist after April 24, 2020 will be considered in late August/ early September on a case-by-case basis and may have to wait until actual enrollment counts in September before receiving notification. Please note that school offices are closed in July and part of August.


For more information, visit the Olympia School District Transfer page.


Please note that kindergarten transfer requests will not be processed until after fall enrollment has been determined.


United States Census 2020

Learn about the 2020 Census

In mid-March, homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census.


The census only happens once every 10 years, and it counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands).


Each home will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire. Once the invitation arrives, responses may be sent online, by phone or by mail.


Read More



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.