September 24, 2019

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Spotlight on Success Header - September 2019


September 24, 2019


Superintendent’s Message


Hello Olympia School District Families,

Patrick Murphy headshotThe first few weeks of school are just about complete and not surprisingly, our students, families and staff have slowly begun to reestablish their routines and rituals. It is the predictability and reliability of school that can be comforting. At the same time, we know that our most powerful learning experiences in school, and in life for that matter, do not take place when we are most comfortable. On the contrary, they are more likely to occur when we are outside of our comfort zone. That is one of the great challenges for our teachers — to create a learning environment where all feel safe and valued while simultaneously providing opportunities for our students to stretch themselves, experience new learnings and ultimately create new ideas and understandings.

We are so fortunate in Olympia to have schools filled with dedicated educators who constantly work to do just that. In fact, as I visited all of our schools the first couple of weeks of school, I saw teachers and staff setting the foundations for strong relationships with their students. At the same time, I saw them challenging students to think critically about new concepts and ideas. It’s not only in our classrooms that students are already stretching themselves. In school gyms and performance halls, and on playing fields, our athletes and musicians are likewise pushing to get better and strengthen their teamwork.

I think our school board was cognizant of this need for balance when they constructed our recent Student Outcomes, which drive our strategic planning. Under Outcome 5, which states that we want our students to “discover their passions, be curious and love learning,” there are two indicators that read as follows:

Our Students Will:

  • Broaden their perspectives and seek out various opportunities to explore new ideas, particularly those areas that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable to find their interests.
  • Experience failure, setbacks and disappointments as an expected and honored part of learning.


Experience failure, setbacks and disappointments as an expected and honored part of learning.

So as September rolls into October, and our students research topics, study for exams and prepare for presentations and performances, know that we are committed to providing a safe and caring learning environment where our students can grow and reach their full potential.



Patrick Murphy signature

Patrick Murphy



District hosts Career & College Fair October 10

OSD College and Career Fair 2018Students and families are invited to attend the 2019 OSD Career & College Fair. This is a districtwide fair that is free and open to all interested high school students and families.

Location: Olympia High School, 1302 North St. S.E., Olympia
Date: Thursday, October 10, 2019
Time: 5-7 p.m.

More than 70 representatives from four-year universities, community and technical colleges, military, career, and apprenticeship opportunities will be presenting to Olympia School District high school students. This year the fair will focus on careers. 

Students are encouraged to bring questions regarding their career pathway options, as well as a list of career and/or college representatives they would like to meet. Check out the list of a portion of the representatives who will be attending on Olympia High School’s website.



Student participates in summer space camp opportunity

Brooklynn Yeates, a sixth grader at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, attended Space Camp for the first time in August 2019 and plans on completing the Advance Space Academy - a total of seven years of training.

Located in Huntsville, Alabama on the grounds of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Museum, this camp focuses on the four aspects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The Space Camp program teaches participants to work as a team, as well as be problem solvers and critical thinkers.

Brooklyn Yeates at Space CampWhile at camp, Brooklynn also worked as part of a team simulating a mission to the moon. Her assignment was to operate as the Payload Commander, the member of the crew responsible for movement in space. This was, by far, her favorite aspect of the camp.

Brooklynn also had the opportunity to structure and launch a model rocket she created, experience a “moon walk” with a simulator and learn-more about space history. 

Her team, Team Lacerta, received an award for the most cohesive team. Keep your eye out in the local news in the upcoming years. You may just hear about an astronaut named Brooklynn Yeates accomplishing a great feat in outer space.



Check out our first day of school photo albums on Facebook

First day of school 2019We were able to get out to a number of our schools for the first day of school on September 4, snapping a few photos. These photos have been posted to the Olympia School District Facebook account in two separate photo albums (see links below). Do you recognize any of these smiling faces?




Subscribe to school calendar events on your mobile

Olympia School District App.Interested in being kept up-to-date with all the happenings in your child's school? We've got you covered! You can now "subscribe" to any of our school's calendars, on your mobile, and know exactly what events are upcoming.

Gone is the need to constantly check your school's website calendar or call the school directly for questions regarding their schedule of events. To keep track of upcoming events at your school, you can "subscribe" to any of our school’s calendars using an iPhone or Google Calendar. Simply navigate to your school's homepage, click on the "Calendar" quick link and you're ready to go.

Detailed instructions with YouTube screencasts for both iPhone and Android can be found on our district website.

We hope this is a useful tool. If you have any questions please feel free to call the Olympia School District Communications Department at (360) 596-6103.



Now accepting OSD Classified School Employee of the Year Nominations

Classified School Employee of the year 2018The Olympia School District is accepting nominations for one or more staff members to be honored as OSD Classified School Employee of the Year.

The program recognizes the work of classified staff members who have made a positive difference in their profession. All school and support building employees who are categorized as "Classified" staff are eligible for nomination. Nominees should be employees who consistently demonstrate outstanding work performance, professional leadership and collaboration.

Please include in your written nomination specifics of how well the staff member meets the following state Classified School Employee of the Year criteria:


  • The educator (classified employee) has the respect and admiration of their community.
  • The educator (classified employee) collaborates with colleagues, students and families to create a school culture of respect and success.
  • The educator (classified employee) is a leader who makes connections between their daily work and student success.


Please complete this online nomination form and submit by 4 p.m on Friday, October 11, 2019. A committee will review the applications and select the individual(s) to be recognized.



The individual(s) chosen will be eligible to compete for the regional Classified School Employee of the Year selection process. The winner at that level advances to the state Classified School Employee of the Year selection process.

Submit your nomination



October is Walk to School Month

WalkNRoll 2019The Olympia School District has proclaimed October 2019 as Walk to School Month.

The district proclamation states that “walking or biking to school offers an opportunity to build activity into a child’s daily routine, improving health and increasing students’ readiness to learn in the classroom.”

Kerri Wilson, youth education specialist for Intercity Transit, says, “The WalkNRoll program is a really fun event that creates community around the school.”

Hansen Elementary School kicked off this year’s first WalkNRoll event on September 11 with about 60 students participating, as well as Hansen ES staff and members of the community. Nine more WalkNRoll events will be held throughout the 2019-20 school year with six Olympia School District elementary schools participating: Pioneer, Garfield, Hansen, Centennial, McKenny and Roosevelt.

The district proclamation also states that, “parents, school employees and community leaders can make a lasting impression among our community’s youth by modeling fun, safe and healthy behavior by accompanying students on Walk to School events.” Kimberly Moore, a third-grade teacher at Hansen Elementary School says of the event: “Having firefighters, police officers and other community folks attend gives students a chance to build connections in a positive, fun atmosphere. I love watching the students laughing, walking and talking; such a great way to start the day!”

Students at participating schools walk and ride their bikes to schools with their friends and family's to be greeted by the staff upon their arrival at school. At Hansen Elementary, WalkNRoll mornings include Assistant Principal Scott Nye announcing the event over the intercom and inviting teachers to join.

Monica Lloyd, a third-grade teacher at McKenny Elementary School, is an avid cyclist and also an enthusiastic supporter of the WalkNRoll program. She said she enjoys sharing stories with her students about the bike races she participates in during her recreational time. She explains to the students about the workouts she does to prepare to race and how the classroom “workouts” in English Language Arts and math are similar. What a wonderful way to connect the hard work in sports to the classroom!

When safe walking is available, students are encouraged to walk or ride bikes to school to improve their health, increase readiness to learn and learn about pedestrian safety.

International Walk to School Day will be celebrated on October 9.



Follow us on district social media

OSD Social MediaWe invite all Olympia School District families, friends and community members to follow our social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

On our Facebook page, you will find emergency district communications, photos, videos, event postings, and content highlighting students, faculty and accomplishments. On Twitter, we tweet emergency district communications, photos from schools and reminders for upcoming events. We also retweet valuable content from organizations in the community.

The district Instagram account features photos and short video clips from schools, classrooms and events throughout our district. Our YouTube Channel is where we share videos of students and schools from throughout our district.

Here is a collage of photos we shared on the first day of school. If you haven’t followed us yet, be sure to “like,” “follow” and “subscribe” to stay informed about district news, events and more.



Three OSD students selected as National Merit Semifinalists

OSD National Merit Scholars 2019Three Olympia School District students were named as National Merit Semifinalists out of 1.5 million juniors who applied. The mission of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation is to “recognize and honor the academically talented students of the United States.” Each year, students throughout the United States who meet the rigorous qualifications for this scholarship program are selected as semifinalists.

Paloma Sharangpani, a senior at Capital High School, is one of three Olympia School District students selected for this honor. Her future plans include a desire to attend a small college and major in English. “Talking about books all day sounds super fun,” Sharangpani says. She praises her teacher, Amelia Young, for encouraging her academically and in her pursuit of the National Merit Scholarship. “I’ve had Miss Young for two years and she’s, like, the best teacher. She is super caring and asks how we’re doing with college stress.” Paloma is looking forward to writing her essay which she will submit to qualify for the National Merit Scholar award.

Quinn Murry, a senior at Olympia High School, also was selected as a semifinalist. He is looking forward to majoring in biology at college. He credits his teacher, Ed Bassett, a recently retired biology teacher, with his interest in biology. “It’s because of his class I’ve decided to go into the biology field. It was my first taste of biology. His class was really fun and helped me get over my more perfectionist aspects of my work.” Quinn also credits his Physics and Robotics Teacher Alex Steinkamp. “Mr. Steinkamp is an amazing teacher in general and always really happy. It’s nice to come into a class with a smiling face,” Quinn says.

Gabriella Larsen, a senior at Olympia High School currently enrolled in the Running Start program, was excited to learn of her placement as a semifinalist. “I knew my PSAT score. I wasn’t too surprised, but it was nice to know I was a semifinalist.” She is still exploring the world of college classes and is waiting to decide on a major. “Once I’ve had a chance to take a wider variety of classes in college, I’m hoping to figure out what I’m interested in,” Gabriella says.

Congratulations to our three Olympia School District semifinalists!

Photos (from top to bottom): Paloma Sharangpani, Quinn Murry and Gabriella Larsen)



Drive with caution around school buses

OSD School BusWith the start of the school year, buses are back on the road. Practicing caution and following the law while driving when school buses and children are present is essential for the safety and protection of our kids.

Remember that cautious and safe driving applies even when a school bus isn’t visible. It’s crucial to drive carefully near bus stops, in school zones and anywhere there are kids walking to and from school.

Olympia High School students and some Olympia Police Department officers created an informative video on bus safety rules of the road. Please do your part to keep kids safe and watch the video here.



Olympia HS student selected as Top Young Innovator

Nidhi Krishna KumarOlympia High School ninth grader Nidhi Krishna Kumar has been selected as one of the top 300 middle school scientists in the country. The Broadcom MASTERS competition had more than 2,300 applicants. “I was really excited when I found out. I’ve been placing every year in science fairs, both regional and state. But to know that my work is being recognized nationally is a big deal,” Nidhi says.

Nidhi’s science fair project was originally presented at Jefferson Middle School in April 2019. “I built a device which I nicknamed ‘Cura’ which means ‘care’ in Latin,” Nidhi says. This automated greenhouse control system has three sensors: soil moisture, temperature, and humidity and luminosity. “These are the four factors that affect climate the most,” Nidhi says. The data is ultimately uploaded to an app that Nidhi created. “If you have Wi-Fi, you can monitor your greenhouse from anywhere in the world,” Nidhi says. Each monitoring system is set up to regulate the greenhouse, such as the water pump turning off and on when humidity reaches a certain level.

When asked what her future plans are, Nidhi replied: “I definitely want to go into science and technology. I’ve loved science as long as I could remember. When I was little, my mom used to max out her library card checking out science books for me.”

Her teachers also played a key role in encouraging her over the years. “Every single one of my teachers every year has had a big influence on me, helping me grow as a person, and in science. I feel like this past year the teacher who impacted me the most was my Jefferson Accelerated Math & Science (JAMS) teacher, Miss Zieske.” Amber Zieske says of Nidhi: “It was my pleasure to have Nidhi in my classes for two years. She is an excellent student who is passionate about math and science.”

Applicants were judged on the creativity and originality of their submitted science fair projects, as well as on relating Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) principles to the real world. Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade entered their science projects in Society-affiliated fairs around the country.

We look forward to seeing what other ingenuity and accomplishments Nidhi will succeed at. As Zieske says so well: “Nidhi works very hard and is so deserving of this recognition. The whole Jefferson staff congratulates you, Nidhi!” Congrats from the whole district. What a wonderful accomplishment.



Upcoming Events



  • September 25 - 50-minute Early Release



  • October - Disability History Month
  • October 2 - 50-minute Early Release
  • October 8 - Parenting Workshop: Managing Your Parental Response
    • Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) at 6:30 p.m.
  • October 9 - 50-minute Early Release
  • October 11 - No School: Teacher In-Service 
  • October 14 - Board meeting: Knox Administrative Center
    • 111 Bethel St. NE at 6:30 p.m. 
  • October 16 - 50-minute Early Release
  • October 22-25 - Half Days for K-8 Fall Conferences 
  • October 23 - 50-minute Early Release (HS) 
  • October 28 - Board meeting: Capital High School at 6:30 p.m. 
  • October 30 - 50-minute Early Release



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:

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