April 2021



Superintendent’s Message


Hello Olympia School District families,


Patrick Murphy headshot

As we head into the last quarter of what has certainly been one of the most challenging years we have ever faced in public education, there are reasons for optimism moving forward. And at the same time, many questions and concerns remain. I have included information below that will hopefully shed light on some of those future questions and concerns.


Combining Cohorts/In-Person Schooling 4 Days a Week

As mentioned in earlier communications, the faster than previously expected rollout of the vaccines and subsequent changes to school guidance (3-foot distancing instead of 6-foot for students) resulted in our recent announcement that beginning this Monday, May 3, we will be combining cohorts at all grade levels and offering in-person learning four days a week for families that choose that option. Given the complexity of the elementary school model (separate remote teachers for remote students), we said it may take until May 10 to get all elementary families who had previously chosen remote-only back to an in-person classroom if they changed their minds. Our elementary team is still working through that process but have made solid progress and will have placements completed for all students and families by that timeline.


Middle and high school teachers have kept their same students, regardless if they were in-person or remote, so accommodating families that have changed their minds has been much easier to manage. Contact your school if you need help in this area.


In-Person Schooling if Thurston County Changes Phases

Middle and high schools have another distinction from elementary in that they fall under different health metrics when determining what level of in-person schooling is recommended. In regards to community transmission of COVID-19, the elementary threshold to combine cohorts is greater than 350 cases per 100,000 residents. However, for schools that serve older students in middle and high school, the threshold is greater than 200 cases. When the governor made his announcement to allow closer proximity in our schools, our case rate in Thurston County was close to 80 cases per 100,000. This week, it is edging closer to that line of 200 cases. Transmission rates is one of a few metrics that our health officials monitor. Others include hospitalizations and positivity rates. I, and other county superintendents, meet with our county health officials weekly. We expect to have protocols from county health officials this weekend that will stipulate how the county will respond to and guide school districts if and when we get to 200 cases. We will share that information when we have it.  In the interim, as stated above, we are moving forward with combining cohorts and 4 days a week of in-person schooling starting this Monday, May 3.


Student Vaccinations

You will see an article in this edition of Spotlight on Success that announces we will be hosting COVID-19 student vaccination clinics. We have partnered with a state-approved vaccine provider to hold Pfizer vaccine clinics for students who are 16 years or older. Like with adults, vaccinations provide a critical extra layer of protection in our fight to stamp out COVID. While our staff have been overwhelmingly vaccinated, Thurston County as a whole has a lower community vaccination rate than many in Washington State. Improving our vaccination rate, along with following safety protocols, will help in our efforts to open our schools up more fully to serve students in-person more frequently.


County health officials have shared that a vaccine for students 12 and older could be available as soon as the end of May. We will keep you posted on that.


Fall 2021 Start Times

Prior to school building closures due to pandemic in March 2020, the school board heard from a citizen’s advisory committee that had been meeting and researching for about a year on the feasibility of moving secondary (high school and middle school) start times later. The work of that committee and the results of two separate community surveys can be found on the district website. Starting school later for adolescents aligns with a growing body of research around sleep patterns for teens and is in effect in many districts across our state and nation. Our school board unanimously endorsed the recommendation to move secondary start times later in the fall of 2021. Interestingly, we have had a little bit of a test run with this change this year as our current hybrid schedule has elementary schools starting earlier between 8 and 8:45 a.m., and secondary schools starting after 9:30 a.m. At our last board meeting in May we will be presenting new proposed start times for schools for the fall of 2021. Our goal is to have no school start before 8 a.m. and none later than 9:30 a.m.  Look for more information prior to the May 27 board meeting.


2021-22 Budget/Staffing

Lastly, you will see an article in this edition of Spotlight on Success encouraging our community to let us know their thoughts for next year’s budget. For the first time in many years, we have the opportunity to enhance and augment staffing and supports in our schools as a result of federal dollars for pandemic response. We want to use these resources wisely in our efforts to “get back to better.” So thank you for filling out the budget survey by the May 7 deadline.


With gratitude,

Patrick Murphy Signature
Patrick Murphy



OSD vaccination clinic


Vaccine clinic scheduled in May for students 16 and older

The Olympia School District will host a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinic for students 16 and older on May 12 and 15 at Capital and Olympia high schools. Second-dose vaccine clinics will be held at both schools in early June.


All district students 16 and older may sign up for the Pfizer vaccine. Avanti High School and Olympia Regional Learning Academy students 16 and older may get vaccinated at either the Capital or Olympia high school clinics.


To sign up for the clinics, parents and guardians of students who will be at least 16 years old by May 12 will be emailed a link on Monday, May 3 to the state sign-up system called PrepMod. Parents and guardians may sign up their child for the first-dose Pfizer vaccine, and pick an appointment time and place. By signing up their own child, this grants parent/guardian permission for the vaccination.


The clinics will be offered between 2 and 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12, and between 8 a.m. and noon on Saturday, May 15. The Pfizer vaccine is a two-dose regimen. The district will offer 2nd dose vaccine clinics on June 2 and June 5.


Questions about the vaccine clinics may be emailed to [email protected].



Olympia HS Artwork


Olympia High School student artists win state and local awards

There has been a lot to celebrate in the art world at Olympia High School this spring as eight OHS students earned awards at two contests -- the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Art Show and the Capital Region Educational Service District (ESD) 113 High School Art Contest. In total eight students were recognized at the district contest and moved up to state, where three won awards when judged against submissions from across Washington state. This is the third consecutive year that OHS has had at least one winner at the OSPI Art Show.


At the state level, students Cecelia Baldwin, Ryan Cunningham and Yuki Kondo each earned $200 prizes for their artwork. Those students were also recognized at the district level, along with classmates Sarah Swanstrom, Ella Hubbard, Sofia Benford, Ethan Castro and Whitney Sederberg. Two of the students earned scholarships to Central Washington University: Whitney Sederberg for $2,000 and Ella Hubbard for $3,000.


Baldwin, who’s piece “Wednesday Afternoons” won a state-level prize, said her project was related to a theme she has been focusing on all year. “The art I’m making this year is primarily focused on locations and environments that I think shape and define me,” she said. “This particular piece is in reference to a tradition my friends and I used to have, where after school every Wednesday we would go to a local coffee shop.” Baldwin plans to study art history and preservation in college next year.


Cunningham, who also won a state award, incorporated seashells and paper mache in her project “Big Blue Whale.” “I’ve always loved the ocean in general, growing up on the west coast, so I’ve always enjoyed creating art of sea creatures and I’ve really been getting into unconventional materials this year,” Cunningham said. In addition to winning the state prize, Cunningham earned a $63,000 scholarship to attend the Art Institute of Chicago next year.


A photograph taken during a family trip to Japan is what inspired the piece “Summer Days,” said Kondo, who also won a state award. “There were many things that I wanted to incorporate such as the getas and hanaos on each of our feet and the beautiful manhole unique to the location we visited,” Kondo said. “I’m ecstatic that there were people who saw not only the piece itself, but the emotions and work behind it. It is a painting that I am very proud of.”


Career & Technical Education (CTE) Art Teacher Josh Everson said he is proud of the art program at OHS, led by himself and Ceramics and 3D Art Teacher Katie Jahner.


"The art department at Olympia HS is centered around professional experiences for young artists,” Everson said. “We practice skills and techniques, but students also learn and experience opportunities, applications, contests, and scholarships that help them in the next steps of their life. These experiences bleed seamlessly into other pathways and prepare students for a variety of life challenges. Katie Jahner and I both agree that our favorite part of teaching art is working to understand students more personally and using the therapeutic nature of art making to help the emotional needs of students, especially in 2021.”


View all of the award-winning artwork in a Facebook photo album.



OSD Panorama Survey


Please take School Supports and Environment Survey

Last fall, families participated in a survey based on their experience with their child’s school. Like the data gathered in fall, the survey linked below will be used to determine the level of progress made in different schools and will inform planning going forward as we work towards meeting the district's Student Outcomes, developed as part of the strategic planning process.


In addition to specific questions about distance learning, there are more general survey questions about topics such as family-school communications and school climate.


Please take a few moments to complete this survey. Survey responses will be anonymous. Use the link below then select your child’s school from the dropdown menu and the survey will begin.


You may complete a survey for each child enrolled in Olympia School District or for each school in which you have children enrolled. Your time and feedback are greatly appreciated and will be used by your school’s principal to inform planning for the 2021-22 school year.


The deadline to complete this family feedback survey is 8 p.m. on Friday, May 14.



If you have questions about accessing the survey, please email [email protected].



OSD Secondary students


High school students transition to hybrid in-person learning

It has been a busy past month across the Olympia School District as high school students were welcomed back into our buildings during the ongoing transition to hybrid in-person learning.


It was wonderful to get back out to our high school buildings as students in grades 9-12 began hybrid in-person learning. Here are some pictures (and short videos) we captured over the past month:



Be sure to check out the OSD Facebook Page as we continue to push out new content as we gear up for the end of the 2020-21 school year!



Student attestation


Don’t forget your Student Wellness Screening (Attestation)

To ensure the well-being of students and staff, we want to remind families that the district requires parents/guardians to screen their student’s health daily before the student boards the school bus and/or arrives at school for on-site learning or activities.


We also require parents/guardians to complete a monthly attestation form in Skyward Family Access when their student first starts on-site learning/activities, and again at the start of each month thereafter. The form attests parents will complete the daily wellness screening, including checking their student for symptoms of COVID-19 before they come on campus.


The attestation form may be accessed in Skyward Family Access via a computer or mobile phone app.



Remember, too, that in addition to the family’s daily health screening, each student will have their temperature checked and be observed for symptoms upon entry at all OSD schools daily. Students who don’t pass the school’s daily symptom screening will be isolated and sent home.


Thank you for your cooperation in adhering to this important daily screening and monthly attestation process, and for keeping your students home from school if you answer yes to any of the questions on the wellness screening.



Student Online Enrollment


2021-22 Online Enrollment Available

Follow this link to enroll your student online for the 2021-22 school year.


If you live outside of the Olympia School District, please do not attempt to register your student using the New Student Online enrollment process. Instead, please visit our OSD Transfers webpage or call the district office:


  • Families with elementary students, please call: (360) 596-6113.
  • Families with secondary students, please call: (360) 596-8545.


PLEASE NOTE: If you have ever had a student enrolled in the Olympia School District, please do not enroll your new student using the New Student Online enrollment process. Instead, please login to your existing Skyward Family Access account and click on the button labeled, New Student Enrollment.


If you have forgotten your Skyward Family Access login information, please click here for instructions for retrieving your information.


This screencast tutorial will walk you through enrolling a new student online via Skyward Family Access.



ORLA Graduate Profile


April Pigue, Distinguished Grad, ORLA Class of 2018

April Pigue loves the Olympia School District so much that, after attending pre-k through graduation here in the OSD, she didn’t want to leave. So, upon graduation from Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) in 2018, she took a job as a paraeducator at Garfield Elementary School. It was fitting that Pigue became a paraeducator. Her mom, Denise Pigue, is also a paraeducator at GES.


Pigue began accompanying her mom as a volunteer in schools when she was in eighth grade. “It became one of my favorite things to do,” she said. “Working with kids has become a big passion of mine. I enjoy building relationships with all the kids I see on a day-to-day basis. I really enjoy watching them get older and start figuring out who they are as a student and a person. It's an honor to be a small part of their journey.”


Garfield Principal Brendon Chertok said the school is lucky to have Pigue there. “April is a fantastic employee,” Chertok said. “She has developed a strong, genuine rapport with students and is consistently a great support to other staff. She is often seeking ways to help others, including myself. She has contributed to our culture and environment in various positive and constructive ways.”


Pigue transferred to ORLA from Olympia High School after missing an excessive amount of school during her 10th grade year due to health issues. That year, Pigue suffered from viral myocarditis, a condition which causes heart failure and is usually related to a viral infection. Pigue spent three weeks in the hospital fighting the infection and then two months at home recovering. When doctors finally cleared her to return to school, they advised that she should only attend for three hours per day. Although Pigue fully recovered, her high school credits did not. She transferred to ORLA for the flexible schedule and opportunity to catch up on her class credits.


“Looking back now, transferring to ORLA was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Pigue said. “My teachers and peers were so supportive and welcoming, especially after everything I went through personally. With ORLA being a much smaller school than most, I was given so many additional opportunities to try new things and I was able to really start finding out who I was as a person. I was able to find my voice and find my confidence, and I am forever grateful to ORLA for doing that for me.”


As a student at ORLA, Pigue served as head editor of the student yearbook. She also managed the student cafe and worked as a teacher’s aide in her science class. Her skills editing the yearbook and helping in the classroom allowed her to practice skills that she uses in her current job as a paraeducator today.


“I used what I learned in my yearbook class to create a yearbook for Garfield the last two years and I have been able to use what I learned from my art classes to teach after-school art classes for grades K-5,” she said. “And, most importantly, I am able to use the voice and confidence that I discovered at ORLA to work well with colleagues and students as well as advocate for them.”


Pigue recalls one former ORLA teacher, Taryn Veloni, for having an especially large impact on her. “She took me under her wing and went above and beyond to help me in every way possible,” Pigue said. “She looked at me and saw me as a strong person before I ever believed it. I was a quiet, reserved kid. She gave me the confidence to become someone that could not only stand up for myself but stand up for others, which in turn helps me advocate for the students I work with today.”


Veloni remembers Pigue fondly. She advised Pigue while she ran the student store at ORLA and saw how kind and gentle she was with younger students and those she managed. “She has the most patience out of anybody I’ve ever seen,” Veloni said. “And when it comes to younger kids it seems like she was made for it. She just has endless amounts of compassion and patience.”


Pigue has many fond memories from all of her many years as a student in OSD. Among her favorites was attending Camp Cispus with her classmates during fifth grade. “I remember it being a time when all the kids in our class got along and had the time of our lives,” she said. “I loved the songs and the walk to Angel Falls.”


Another important lesson Pigue learned from her school years was not to focus too deeply on test scores. “You are more than a test score,” she said. “Academics are important but a score doesn’t define you -- it doesn’t define your intelligence level. Everyone learns differently and that's okay. Another piece of advice I would say is don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. You know yourself the best, you know how you learn best, you know how much stress you can take, you know what's good and what isn't for your mental health. Do what’s best for yourself, always. Don’t let school burn you out.”


Budget Survey


Complete 2021-22 budget survey by May 7

Each spring as the district plans the next school year’s budget, students, staff, parents/guardians and community members are asked to share their priorities for how the district should spend its local and state resources.


This year, we ask that participants complete several short sections of an online budget survey to help us plan for the 2021-22 school year. The deadline to complete the survey is 11:59 p.m. on Friday May 7, 2021.


After some initial baseline questions, participants are asked to prioritize items that could be funded with new state and federal money that has been set aside for school districts to help students recover from the pandemic. This one-time funding is designated specifically to help students with their learning acceleration and emotional well-being recovery.


Additionally, the online survey asks participants to prioritize budget items that are typically funded every year and to identify improvements.


Please submit one survey per person



InterCity Transit Yard Signs


Students winning artwork featured on traffic safety yard signs

Congratulations to students Josie Bremner and Joslyn Kruse, whose winning artwork has been printed on traffic safety yard signs that will be distributed next month to interested community members to make Olympia a safer place to walk and roll.


Bremner, a student at Olympia Regional Learning Academy, and Kruse, of Olympia High School, are two of three Thurston County student winners in an InterCity Transit Yard Sign Art Challenge held last fall.


The goal of the project is to encourage drivers to slow down to improve safety, especially in neighborhoods where students walk or ride bikes to school. The sign project is a partnership between Intercity Transit’s Walk N Roll program, Target Zero Thurston Task Force, Safe Kids Thurston County and the Olympia Police Department, and funded by a State Farm grant.


Pick up a free yard sign at drive-thru events in the parking lot at the following four distribution events in Olympia:


  • May 11, Jefferson Middle School; 4-6 p.m.
  • May 13, Garfield Elementary School; 4-6 p.m.
  • May 18, Reeves Middle School; 4-6 p.m.
  • May 19, Roosevelt Elementary School; 4-6 p.m.


To learn more about the traffic safety campaign, visit the InterCity Transit website.


Winning student artwork featured above: Joslyn Kruse: Olympia High School (center) and Josie Bremner: Olympia Regional Learning Academy (right).


OSD Calendar


OSD School Board approves 2021-22 calendar

The Olympia School District Board of Directors has approved the school year calendar for the 2021-22 school year.


This calendar includes districtwide holidays and events. School-specific events are not included, so be sure to check school websites/calendars for specific school-related events and activities.



OSD School Board


Candidate filing week is May 17-21

People interested in vying for one of two Olympia School Board seats on the November General Election ballot may submit an application online during candidate filing week May 17-21, 2021.


The two Olympia School Board positions up for election on the November 2, 2021 General Election ballot are:


  • Director District #3, currently held by Leslie Huff; 4-year term.
  • Director District #5, currently held by Scott Clifthorne; 4-year term.


People interested in serving on the school board may file in one of three ways:


  • Online: Starting 9 a.m. May 17 through 4 p.m. May 21 at ThurstonVotes.org
  • By mail: May 3 through May 21 (must be received at the Thurston County Auditor’s Office, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. S.W., Olympia, WA 98502 no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 21)
  • Drive-thru or In-person: May 17 through May 21, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Thurston County Auditor’s Office, 2400 Evergreen Park Drive S.W. Olympia, WA 98502


For more information about filing for a seat on the Olympia School Board, visit the Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division website. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, reside in the district for which they are filing and be a registered voter at the time of filing. There are some judicial exceptions; for more information, contact Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division at (360) 786-5408.


A Primary Election will be held on August 3, 2021 if three or more people file for a board seat, followed by the General Election on November 2, 2021.


A map showing the boundaries of the five Olympia School District director districts is posted on the Thurston County Elections Division website. Additionally, people interested in running for a board seat may enter their home address to locate their director district on an interactive map.


Other resources for potential school board candidates include the 2021 Candidate Guide, a new “Serving on Your Local School Board” webpage on the Washington State School Directors Association website, and a Candidate Filing Workshop Video on the Thurston County Auditor’s Office website.



Upcoming Events


  • May 3-7: Teacher Appreciation Week
  • May 7: Deadline to submit 2021-22 budget survey
  • May 13: OSD Board Meeting in-person and online via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.
  • May 14: Deadline to submit School Supports and Environment Survey
  • May 20: Board Work Session online via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.
  • May 27: OSD Board Meeting in-person and online via Zoom at 6:30 p.m.
  • May 31: Memorial Day (No School)



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:

Title IX Officers

  • Autumn Lara, Executive Director of Elementary Education: [email protected], (360) 596-8534
  • Michael Hart, Executive Director of Secondary Education: [email protected], (360) 596-8545


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.