May 2021

SOS Header


May 2021


Superintendent’s Message


Hello Olympia School District families,


Patrick Murphy headshot It seems we say this every May, but it is particularly true this year, that it is hard to believe we are coming to the end of the school year. It goes without saying that this school year has been one of the most challenging we have faced, but we are coming out of it stronger and better positioned to serve all of our students and families going forward.


Our school board just approved our reopening plan for the 2021-22 school year. Thanks to an infusion of federal support dollars, we are enhancing our staffing and supports in our schools to better ensure both the academic success and the health and well-being of our amazing students. I want to again thank everyone who contributed to the creation of that plan through participating in focus groups, completing surveys and giving feedback to the district.


Next year we look forward to getting back to full-time in-person learning, five days a week. At the same time, we are excited to apply what we have learned during this past year as we launch a Virtual Academy of Olympia (VAO) for those families that may choose to have their students continue to learn remotely. More information will be coming out about the VAO soon.


Finally, this is the time of year that we celebrate our graduates. The Class of 2021 will go down in history as the one that took on the brunt of COVID-19. The resilience, grit, compassion and commitment that they have honed over these last 15 months will serve them well in whatever post-secondary endeavors they choose to pursue. I love the fact that we will be resuming some of our cherished traditions like having our seniors visit their elementary schools before graduation. Graduation is a time to celebrate not only our seniors, but also to recognize all who have supported them in their journey: parents, families, relatives, friends, and former teachers and staff. So congratulations Class of ’21, and my heartfelt thanks and admiration to all of you who have nurtured and taught them along the way.



Patrick Murphy Signature
Patrick Murphy



Washington MS Student Hayden P


Finding fame, friendship and fun producing WMS weather series

There’s something delightfully quirky about Hayden Palmer, a seventh grader at Washington Middle School. His friendly nature, charm and dry sense of humor make him a popular kid with both his peers and teachers.


This school year, Hayden began appearing in a weekly weather series on the “Bulldog News” school video production. His feature, called “Where in the World is Hayden P?” or “Witwhip” for short, is both witty and educational.


Hayden, who is currently completing school remotely, films the show by himself at home with a phone set up on a tripod in front of a green screen. Media Arts Teacher Marc Coyner helps him find a background image and writes a basic script for him. Hayden gives an overview of the weather for the week, and also challenges students to guess where the image behind him was taken. Inspiration comes from the old television series “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego.”


“You’ll see that Hayden throws in his own whimsy with graphics and videos,” Coyner said. “They are silly, but fun.”


Hayden, who is autistic, is the first student in the Developmental Learning Classroom (DLC) at Washington to have their own recurring feature in the “Bulldog News.”


“Hayden has consistently reached beyond a host of expectations while dealing with the difficulty and stress of school schedule changes, remote learning, and more during the last year plus,” said DLC teacher Lucas Claussen. “His tenacity, individual motivation, commitment and creativity in putting together his weather segment for WMS and the “Bulldog News” never ceases to impress his classmates and staff here at Washington. It is hilarious as well!"


Coyner, who had Hayden in his class last year, noticed Hayden’s continued interest and skill in filmmaking and asked him to take on the weather series. “For me, Hayden is technically very proficient and takes pride in his work,” Coyner said. “He feels a real sense of ownership and doesn't want to let his community down.”


“It’s been a lot of work, but very rewarding”, Hayden said. He’s always trying to come up with new and creative ideas and he enjoys the appreciation of his classmates. “It was pretty good for me to handle. I never gave up,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be more fun.”


Hayden’s future plans include hopefully moving to Hollywood one day to pursue acting. “My big dream was to star in a film.”


Watch all of the “Where in the World is Hayden P?” video installments on the Bulldog Productions YouTube Playlist.



Walk n' Roll at Roosevelt ES


Community partners team to promote bike and pedestrian safety

Students can learn about traffic safety and street design this summer while walking or riding their bikes on a small-scale version of the city’s street system that will be painted with chalk at two elementary schools.


Pop-Up Traffic Gardens

A “Pop-Up Traffic Garden,” featuring various road types including one- or two-lane streets, crosswalks and roundabouts, will be painted with liquid chalk designed to last for one week each at Garfield and Roosevelt elementary schools.


There will be signs on how to maneuver around the traffic garden and information on how to earn prizes while practicing pedestrian and bicycle safety skills.


“The Traffic Garden provides school students with a resource, creates a public recreation site for families, and can help reinvigorate neighborhoods as a physical, educational and public art piece,” said Danielle King, grants manager, special projects, and Safe Kids Thurston County coordinator.


The Pop-Up Traffic Gardens will be available for daycare groups and other community organizations to use on weekdays, and to community members on evenings and weekends, on the following weeks:


  • July 11-17: Garfield Elementary (by the play shed)
  • August 1-7: Roosevelt Elementary (by the play shed)


Free bike helmet giveaway

In advance of the Pop-Up Traffic Gardens, bike helmets will be distributed at no cost to students from families in need on two dates next month. A limited number of helmets will be available for children 1-18 years of age. Helmets will be distributed:


  • June 15: 2-5 p.m. Garfield Elementary (by the play shed)
  • June 17: 2:30-5:30 p.m. Roosevelt Elementary (by the play shed)


Several community organizations have teamed to support both the Pop-Up Traffic Gardens and helmet giveaways, including Safe Kids Thurston County, Intercity Transit’s Walk N Roll, Olympia Police Department, Target Zero, Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation, and the Traumatic Brain Injury Council of Washington.



Bigfoot sculpture


Roosevelt student creates rendition of Bigfoot for class research project

After several weeks of diligent research, Roosevelt Elementary School fourth grader Harper Jurss can tell you Bigfoot’s preferred habitat, its eating preferences, what it looks like and when it was first sighted. But she’s still not sure if it exists.


Harper began researching cryptid creatures as part of an “Inspiration Project” assigned in teacher Spencer Olmsted’s class at RES. Cryptid is defined as an animal that has been claimed to exist but never proven to exist. Students were told to pick their own research topic and then present their findings to the class in the format they preferred. Many students did slideshows, some made videos and some did artwork.


Harper created a sculpture rendition of Bigfoot. Her research showed that the first reported sighting of Bigfoot was in the early 1900s. Bigfoot was said to live in dense forests that are near water, preferring a habitat similar to the Pacific Northwest. It is most often spotted running or walking upright on two legs and is said to eat both meat and plants.


If Bigfoot does exist, there is likely more than one of them, Harper said. Bigfoot would be one of a small species of similar cryptid creatures.


Harper’s rendition, named Fhil, shows a Bigfoot in its teenage years, she said. Full grown, Bigfoot is believed to measure somewhere between seven and eight feet tall. Historical photos show that it has a prominent nose, no visible neck and broad shoulders.


Harper used a variety of materials in her sculpture including sticks, leaves, moss, lichen, clay and fake fur, which she burned to look more natural. Her Bigfoot looks rugged, strong and very human-like.


“I think it's so cool that some people think this creature exists and others don't,” Harper said. “That's why I decided to do this project in the first place. The goal of this project for me was to show my interpretation of how Sasquatch looks and lives.”


The project was Harper’s first experimentation with clay. Although she ran into some challenges along the way, she persisted. “It was a really fun project but also very difficult,” she said. “When I first made his face it all fell off because it was too dry and cracked.”


After completing her project, Harper isn’t any closer to deciding whether Bigfoot exists or not. She’s open to the possibility, she said, but is waiting for evidence.


“If people came up to me and said researchers found out that there really is evidence this creature exists, then I would believe them,” she said. “There are so many animals out there that we’ve barely researched or that haven’t yet been discovered.”



OSD Summer Meal Program


Free grab-and-go summer meals available June 22 - September 3

Free grab-and-go sack lunches, as well as breakfast for the following day, will be available at selected school and community sites starting on the last day of school Tuesday, June 22, 2021.


Note: June 22 is a half day of school, so breakfast only (no lunch) will be served on OSD school campuses. Grab-and-go lunches will, however, be available after school is dismissed at the five schools listed below (Centennial, Garfield, Hansen and Roosevelt elementary schools, and Olympia Regional Learning Academy).


Youth 18 years old and younger, and any current OSD student older than 18, are eligible to pick up a grab-and-go meal. No identification is required in order to pick up a meal and no pre-order of a lunch is necessary.


The summer meal program will be held at the following sites:


  • Centennial Elementary - 2637 45th Ave. S.E., Olympia 98501
  • Garfield Elementary - 325 Plymouth St. N.W., Olympia 98502
  • Hansen Elementary - 1919 Road Sixty-Five N.W., Olympia 98502
  • Roosevelt Elementary -1417 San Francisco St. N.E., Olympia 98506
  • Olympia Regional Learning Academy - 2400 15th Ave. S.E., Olympia 98501
  • Ashwood Downs Apartments - 1900 Ashwood Downs Lane S.E., Olympia 98501 (off of 18th Avenue S.E. and Hoffman Road S.E.)
  • Evergreen Vista Apartments -1209 Fern St. S.W., Olympia, 98502
  • The VFW Post 318 parking lot (across from Aztec Lanes) - 2902 Martin Way E., Olympia, 98506


Summer meals will be distributed from 12 noon to 12:30 p.m. on all weekdays except on July 5. 2021. No meals will be served on this day in observance of the Independence Day Holiday.


USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

View the USDA Nondiscrimination Statement on the OSD website.



OSD Graduation Schedule


Class of 2021 Graduation Schedule & Live Stream Information

Dates and times have been finalized for all of the 2021 Olympia School District high school graduations (see below). Due to the nature of our non-traditional, social distancing graduation ceremonies, things continue to look a little different this year. That said, we are thrilled to be able to livestream all five of our graduations on the OSD Facebook page so that families, friends and community members can partake in the festivities.


Included below are graduation specifics for each school's ceremony. Please remember, to view any of our graduation livestreams you simply visit the OSD Facebook page at the times indicated below. We will start the livestream roughly 15 minutes before each graduation ceremony kicks off.


Be sure to Like/Follow our page to receive automatic notifications when we ‘Go Live’. We hope you are able to tune in and enjoy the celebrations!


  • Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA): Wednesday, June 9 (6 - 7:30 p.m.)
  • Transition Academy & Project Search: Friday, June 11 (6 - 7:30 p.m.)
  • Avanti High School: Saturday, June 12 (1 - 4 p.m.)
  • Olympia High School: Friday, June 18 (4 - 10 p.m.)
  • Capital High School: Saturday, June 19 (10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.)



OSD proposed bell times


Feedback welcome on planned 2021-22 school bell times

The district welcomes questions and comments from students, staff, parents and community members on new bell times planned for the 2021-22 school year.


The new bell schedule was presented and discussed at the May 27 Olympia School Board meeting. Plans are to implement the new school start and end times when school opens in September (see new start and end times planned for this fall on the district website).


The district will be working in partnership with its union leaders on the implementation of the new bell schedule.


If you have questions or comments about the bell times planned for 2021-22, please email [email protected]. The district will feature frequently asked questions on the district website.



Micro homes with NewMarket students


Olympia students help build micro homes for local homeless

Five Olympia School District students are helping keep our city’s residents warmer and safer at night thanks to a micro home project in partnership with the City of Olympia and numerous other local organizations.


OSD students Jorden Bevens, Bryan Loarca, David Hill and Daylan Stevenson of Capital High School, and Dairic Hunt of Olympia High School, helped build many of these micro homes. They worked in tandem with students from various other schools in the YouthBuild program at the New Market Skills Center. New Market is a consortium of local school districts that provide essential technical educational training.


Micro homes are being placed in Olympia at the sanctioned camping area known as the Downtown Mitigation Site. Installation began this spring, and there will eventually be 60 micro homes in total.


Each micro home is 10 feet by 10 feet, taking up about as much space as a tent while allowing the occupant increased safety and protection from the elements. Every unit has a locking door, insulated walls, floor, roof and window. The construction deters pests and smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors are installed in each unit.


“I am supportive of this program and knowing that those students have contributed to alleviate some of the social barriers that we have in our community is really a positive,” said Pat Cusack, OSD Director of College and Career Readiness.


“The micro homes project allowed me to practice basic construction skills that I will need in my future construction career,” said Hill, one of the students who participated. “I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride knowing that I am doing something to help solve the homeless issues in Olympia.”


The students were involved in every aspect of the construction, including framing, siding, painting, flooring, roofing, hanging the windows, doors and trim.


“I can tell you from my perspective, they have been developing great entry level construction and employability skills,” said New Market teacher Matt Newton. “They have also become a part of something bigger than themselves. I hope that they can build off the positive community involvement and continue working to help be the solution for a serious and real problem in our town.”



Olympia School District offices


Six people file to run for two Olympia School Board seats

Six candidates have filed to run for two Olympia School Board seats up for election this year. Candidates who filed for the Olympia School Board by the May 21, 2021 deadline and have remained in the race since then include in alphabetical order:


School Board Director District No. 3

  • Mark Boyer
  • Darcy Huffman
  • Gary Landis


School Board Director District No. 5

  • Scott Clifthorne
  • Rebecca Cornelius
  • Don Mitchell


Nonpartisan elections, such as city council or school board, will appear on the August 3, 2021 Primary Election ballot if three or more candidates file for office. Both Olympia School Board races have three or more candidates and will be included in the Primary Election.


Ballots for the Primary Election will be mailed on July 14, 2021. The two candidates who garner the most votes in both races will compete for the board seats in the November 2, 2021 General Election.


For more information about the upcoming elections, including voter registration information, visit the Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division website.



Olympia School District 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.




Upcoming Events




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.