May 2020

Spotlight on Success header


May 2020


Superintendent’s Message


Patrick Murphy headshotAs a former history teacher, I can’t help but wonder how future historians will record the unprecedented times in which we are now living. I suspect history books will portray COVID-19 as the greatest medical challenge the world has faced since the 1918 influenza pandemic.   
History books will likely describe how in the early spring of 2020, life as we know it changed in the blink of an eye as schools, businesses and tourist attractions closed across the country and around the world during stay-at-home directives. Once bustling streets and cities around the world were suddenly deserted. I expect there will be photographs with captions describing heroic first responders donned in protective gear reporting to hospitals and clinics to serve the sick in their community.


Undoubtedly, the impact on education will be recounted, detailing how students exhibited resilience, grit and perseverance in a new learning environment that they did not choose. Perhaps the Class of 2020 will be highlighted, and the story will be told of how despite losing out on some time-honored traditions, they finished their classwork, proudly donned their caps and gowns, and participated in graduation ceremonies that looked different, but nonetheless honored their years of hard work all the same.


There will be descriptions of how all industries were faced with monumental changes, and how teachers shifted from decades of in-person teaching practices to a distance learning model from their homes in remarkably quick fashion. Support staff, likewise, will perhaps be highlighted describing how they, too, shifted and ensured kids were fed and technology was distributed to families, and facilities were maintained to provide last resort childcare to first responder’s children.   
I could imagine chapters describing how our parents and community members were thrust into the unfamiliar role of being the in-person provider of school education at home. There may be pictures of Moms, Dads and other caregivers encouraging and supporting their students in their schoolwork, often while working themselves.


The medical data on infections and fatalities will of course be told, but I suspect there will also be text dedicated to the emotional and mental health impact of the COVID-19 virus on society. I am optimistic that the history books will say that humanity learned from this experience and came out of it with healthier systems in place, more responsive to the individual needs of those in duress, and an enhanced, even more compassionate education system that was better prepared to react to the next crisis.


This speculation on how generations to come will view the present crisis puts greater emphasis on what most of us have been thinking about for some time. What will next fall look like in our schools? While we can’t say definitively how the structure will look, as there are still too many unknowns, we can say that it almost assuredly won’t be business as usual. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has put together a task force to talk about how schools might operate this fall. That group has looked at a continuum of possibilities. Instruction could continue to be delivered in a distance learning model. We could have an on-campus learning model with physical distancing protocols in place that warrant altered schedules. Or perhaps some type of combination of those approaches might be the preferred course. Time will tell as state leaders and health officials continue to track COVID-19 cases locally and statewide, and determine the pace at which sites can reopen. In the meantime, we, too in Olympia, have formed two planning teams to begin mapping out needs for various scenarios this fall. One of the groups is addressing academic needs, and the other is looking at how we could safely operate school inside our physical buildings, even if only for a limited number of staff and/or students. These same groups are planning ways to safely gather and distribute materials going into the summer. Some students and parents are helping educators with this planning work, and we will share ways the entire community can be engaged as we move forward. As always, we will continue to follow guidance from the governor, health departments and education officials.


In closing, I want to express my appreciation to the entire Olympia School District community for your continued support during these uncertain times. I know how hard our staff and students are working every day to finish this school year in the best way possible, as well as those who are working on planning for the start of the new school year.



Patrick Murphy Signature
Patrick Murphy



School recognition graphic 

State recognizes seven Olympia schools for gains

The state has recognized seven Olympia School District schools for their work in demonstrating achievement, showing growth over the previous year, or closing opportunity gaps for students during the 2018-19 school year.


Congratulations to the following schools:


  •  Avanti HS: Closing Gaps for all students for improving the graduation rate.
  • Capital HS: Growth for students identifying as Native American or Alaskan Native.
  • Jefferson MS: Achievement for English Language Arts (ELA) and Math.
  • Marshall MS: Growth for students who are English learners.
  • Centennial ES: Closing Gaps for one or more student groups at a Targeted Support school.
  • McLane ES: Growth for students who receive special education services.
  • Roosevelt ES: Growth for students identifying with two or more races.


“We are fortunate in Olympia to annually have many schools recognized by the state for achievement and this past year is no different,” said Superintendent Patrick Murphy. “The recognition of this year's group of schools is a continued tribute to the dedication of the teachers and staff and their commitment to equity. It once again reflects the hard work of our students and the unwavering support of their families."


The Washington School Recognition Program uses state and local data to identify schools that have made gains in targeted areas and are on a path toward overall improvements in achievement, growth, and closing opportunity gaps.


In all, 391 Washington schools are being recognized this year, and each one will receive a banner and certificate for display. Additionally, the state Legislature has acknowledged the last week in April as Washington School Recognition Week (April 27-May 1, 2020).


In a press release announcing the statewide awards, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal thanked educators “for your amazing work” and said, “Right now, the whole world is understanding the significance of our public schools. Public education provides each student with an opportunity for success; it's the foundation of our democracy and our society.”


The annual Washington School Recognition Program is coordinated by the Washington State Board of Education, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee.


“With these awards we recognize the outstanding efforts of our schools and their positive impact on students," said Washington State Board of Education Chair Peter Maier.


To learn more about the awards, visit the Washington State Board of Education website.



2019 Ice Cream Social crowd 

Join us for our annual Ice Cream Social Thursday, May 28 on Zoom

Mark your calendars for the Olympia School District’s annual Ice Cream Social from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, May 28.


This annual event honors district retirees, celebrates school advocates of the year and recognizes the Olympia Education Association Teacher of the Year and Gary Brown Award.


All students, staff and our community are welcome to attend this special recognition event in this year’s new online format. To join the fun simply follow this link at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 28. We hope you can join us!



Class of 2020 graduation graphics 

Class of 2020 Graduation Planning and Recognition

Graduation logistics continue to be worked through at each of our traditional and alternative high schools. Once details have been finalized we will be pushing out all the specifics to students, families and the community via district communication, the district website and social media.


Here are some of the ways the Class of 2020 has been honored by our staff and the Olympia community over the past two months since schools closed:


Capital High School: 340 Seniors/340 Miles

As a commitment to the Capital High School Class of 2020, staff members are running, walking or biking one mile for every senior between now and graduation day. Many CHS staff members are sharing their progress on social media for all to enjoy!


Olympia High School: Class of 2020 Yard Signs

Olympia High School staff took it upon themselves to design and print a yard sign, featuring student senior photos, for each member of the OHS Class of 2020. The yard signs were placed along Carlyon and North streets for the community to enjoy. Congratulatory messages were left for students, by the community, on the back of the signs. Students were allowed to take the signs home after a few weeks on display.



As part of a statewide tribute to the Class of 2020, the Olympia School District turned on stadium/field lights on April 20, 2020 at 8:20 pm (20:20 military time). Field lights were shining brightly at Ingersoll Stadium (Olympia HS) and Swarthout Field (Capital HS). Given the state’s stay-at-home order, we encouraged our community to turn on their porch lights at 8:20 p.m. to honor and celebrate our remarkable students!



Washington MS teacher Brian Morris 

Brian Morris wins WITEA Teacher of the Year Award

Congratulations to Washington Middle School Industrial & Technology Arts Teacher Brian Morris for receiving the Washington Industrial Technology Education Association (WITEA) Teacher of the Year award.


Morris was nominated for the award by Pat Cusack, Olympia School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director, Washington Middle School Principal Paul Anders, and teaching colleague Marc Coyner.


Morris’ program has been a model within our district for similar programs, as well as in the region. “Brian has had a number of teachers and CTE directors from other districts come and observe his classes,” Anders states. “On numerous occasions, he has gone to other schools to assist teachers with their equipment and software. Brian truly believes in a community of learners and recognizes that the support that he has received in the past deserves to be passed on to others.”


Coyner, who teaches media arts, had this to say about Morris; “Having taught at WMS for over 30 years, Brian is well-known and established within our community. He has long standing connections and has his students producing products yearly for local arts organizations and businesses. Word of mouth is so strong throughout the community that Brian has hesitated having his students do much advertising for fear of inundating them with too much work.” 


Morris was invited to attend the WITEA Spring Conference in early March to receive his award, but due to the spread of COVID-19 it was canceled out of caution. Please join us in congratulating Morris for earning this prestigious award and for being a driving force in the CTE field, and in students' lives, during his three decades in our district! Go Bulldogs!


To be eligible to receive the WITEA ‘Teacher of the Year’ award, members must be teaching for five years or more, exhibit high-quality teaching in a given subject area or discipline and set an example for other teachers to follow. The WITEA is specifically designed for those who teach classes in the Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing (STEM) trades. To learn more visit the WITEA website.



OSD Electric Bus 

OSD to receive three electric buses

The Olympia School District will add the first three electric school buses to its fleet thanks to a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.


The three battery-powered school buses are among 40 that will be purchased with nearly $12 million in Ecology grants awarded to 22 school districts statewide.


The grant awards are one of the “largest investments in zero-emission school buses in the country,” according to a press release issued by the Department of Ecology.


“Children face the greatest risk from diesel pollution, and giving them cleaner transportation to school is a priority,” said Department of Ecology Director Laura Watson. “These buses are an important first step toward helping every student in Washington start and end their days with an emission-free ride.”


The state grants, funded by a statewide emissions settlement with Volkswagen, are intended to accelerate replacing older diesel school buses and help cover the additional costs of purchasing an electric bus, compared to a conventional diesel bus.


The new electric school buses will replace three of the Olympia School District’s diesel buses manufactured in 1997. The full-size buses are expected to join the 87-bus fleet within the next year, said Transportation Director Rhonda Morton.


“It makes my heart so happy to know that our grant application was approved for not one but three electric buses,” Morton said. “This is one way we can contribute to helping with air quality in Thurston County.”


Superintendent Patrick Murphy added, “We are so appreciative to the Department of Ecology for this grant that will result in our ability to have cleaner buses to transport our students to and from school. Transitioning to electric bus transportation has been a priority of our students and our school board. Curbing carbon emissions contributes to a cleaner environment.”


The $900,906 grant awarded to Olympia School District will pay for three electric buses and associated charging stations. It takes about eight hours to fully charge a bus, and a full electric charge can power a school bus to travel between 80 and 100 miles.



Last day of school on June 19 graphic 

2020-21 school year calendar, snow make-up day and last day of school

The Olympia School Board 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.



Snow make-up day: May 22, 2020 (No School)

Please remember that the snow make-up day on the district calendar for tomorrow, May 22, 2020, is a non-school day for students. There will be no school on May 22. It was only set to be a school day should there be a weather-related school cancellation prior to that date.


Last Day of School 2020

The district plans to apply this month for a waiver from the state, which would result in the last day of school being June 19, 2020. The expectation is this waiver will be granted, and we will notify the community when the June 19 date is confirmed.



Summer school graphic

High school summer school course registration starts June 8

Registration for high school summer school courses will soon be available! Classes begin on June 29, 2020, and registration forms will be posted on the school district website and shared on social media platforms. Please watch the OSD website and social media for updated information.


High School Summer Program


  • Enrollment is open to students in grades 9–12, including select courses for incoming ninth graders.
  • Registration begins June 8, 2020.
  • All courses utilize computer-based instruction and students will work remotely. 
  • A remote orientation is mandatory, as well as Zoom meetings with teachers. 
  • Students should plan to work approximately three hours per day.


For more information, including specifics about course offerings, visit the Summer School webpage on the Olympia School District website. The page will be updated as more information is available.


Location: Remote


Associated Costs


  • $150 - Students who seek Initial Credit or Grade Replacement
  • $100 - Students who seek Credit Recovery (not currently enrolled in Edgenuity)
  • $50 - Students eligible for Free and Reduced-price Lunch
  • $0 - Continuing senior students -- students currently enrolled in Edgenuity and students needing to complete an Incomplete due to Covid-19 will receive free tuition


Student Status


  • Initial Credit: Courses a student is taking for the first time
  • Credit Recovery: Retake only portions of a course necessary to earn credit
  • Grade Replacement: Replace a low grade (not failed) but course must be coded the same as the original as determined by the school district 
  • Continuing Senior: Students enrolled beyond 4 years of high school


Dates & Times

June 29 - August 6, 2020
Monday - Thursday from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.


Online/remote course options will not be continued for initial credit into the regular school year. Courses must be completed by August 6, 2020.


Student registration at the OSD 

Registering for school or submitting a transfer request

New to the Olympia School District and unsure where to start to get your student registered for school, or need direction for an In-District or Out-of-District transfer request? We’ve got you covered!


New students who live within the Olympia School District attendance boundaries will need to complete the OSD application for student registration forms and submit them to their neighborhood school. Any student desiring to attend or continue to attend school in the Olympia School District, outside of their regular attendance area shall apply for a transfer. The Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education will accept names for the waitlist.


Please follow the links below for all the details and contact information for student registration or transfer, including all the necessary forms.




Upcoming Events


  • May 26 - Online Board Meeting via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.
  • May 28 - OSD Ice Cream Social via Zoom at 4 p.m.
  • June 8 - Online Board Meeting via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.
  • June 15 - Online Board Work Session via Zoom at 6 p.m.
  • June 19 - Last Day of School (waiting on state waiver approval)


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.