May 2024

Spotlight on Success header 


Superintendent’s Message


Hello Olympia School District families and community,


Patrick Murphy headshot

As a junior in high school, I remember being assigned to read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne in my English class. I vividly recall reading the first page and for the life of me, not understanding much of anything the author was saying. I read the page three times and still didn't get it. The 19th-century New England vernacular was full of flowery language and words I just hadn’t heard. I had a test coming up on the book and, not surprisingly, was stressed. A senior, who had taken the class the previous year, gave me some advice and told me to go get the Cliffs Notes. For those that are old enough to remember, Cliffs Notes were these thin, yellow booklets you could buy in a bookstore. They were essentially short study guides that summarized all the key ideas in a little book. There was one problem. My teacher, Mr. Schaefer, was adamant at the beginning of our unit that no one should use or look at the Cliffs Notes and if he caught you doing so, he’d flunk you on the exam. I was afraid of Mr Schaefer and thought he had extra sensory perception (ESP) or something and would surely catch anyone foolish enough to defy his commands. Needless to say, I did not get the Cliffs Notes and struggled mightily on the exam. However, later on, I did read the Cliffs Notes, and found them to explain very well what I had struggled to understand on my own. It would have helped me significantly. Not only that, but most of the questions on Mr. Schaefer’s exam were taken directly from the Cliffs Notes. No wonder he did not want us reading it.


Many of us older parents might have similar stories about a teacher not wanting us to use calculators or spell check. Maybe you were discouraged from watching the film version of a classic book, or directed not to use the Internet to seek out solutions to a problem posed in a classroom. I suspect that teachers in ancient China probably told their students to not use an abacus, but rather count on their fingers and toes. All of these directives, including Mr. Schaefer’s, were well intended. They are based on the premise that to genuinely assess students, teachers need to know what their students truly know, or as one school district's code of conduct on plagiarism states, “teachers must have access to students’ authentic displays of learning.”


And now teachers work in a time when students can use various forms of artificial intelligence (AI). They can give a prompt to a computer program and get a 750-word essay on the major themes of the Scarlet Letter written in the style of a high school junior in a few seconds.


So what do we do? Should we put up firewalls and create policies banning programs like ChatGPT? That seems like a disservice to our students when they will be going into a world where AI will play an ever-increasing role. As one pundit put it, AI “tools already offer game-changing opportunities to free up our most needed assets: people and time.” We can quickly analyze data to help diagnose diseases, design more efficient structures, better predict weather patterns, or better design lessons and instruction to help students. Those are just a few of the potential benefits.


It’s been said that people will not be replaced by AI, but rather people using AI will replace those who don’t.


I came across an equation recently about problem-solving that went something like this: H+AI+H = S. The “H” stands for human and the “S” stands for solution. It suggests that people need to play a critical role on the front end of problem-solving. We need to understand the context and viewpoints of a situation. By ensuring that information is embedded in the prompt for AI, it better ensures that thoughtful, humane solutions are produced. Human review is essential on the back end to identify potential biases and ensure that any solution is grounded in factual data and palpable and acceptable to those who may be impacted by a decision.


Those “H” moments in the equation mean that a strong education is still as vital as ever and will continue to be. Just like the ancient Chinese wanted their children to have a fundamental understanding of number sense before using the abacus, a foundational understanding of mathematics, scientific methods, history, literature, health, etc.; will ensure that people will be strong, compassionate stewards of the prompts and solutions generated by AI.


We are not sitting back in Olympia waiting to see what happens. More than 100 teachers have already taken part in training on AI in schools with a focus on staff efficiency, data protection and ethics. We are trying to be forward-thinking and devise ways to meaningfully incorporate AI into learning, not replace learning. The State of Washington and OSPI are at the forefront nationally in this work providing guidance and tools to help districts thoughtfully integrate AI and develop policy. We will work with them and our community in the months ahead to develop our own policy in OSD as we expand staff professional development.


Throughout history, technology has always been an accelerant for efficiency. By using AI we have the potential to enhance learning outcomes, be more responsive to our diverse student body, and better prepare our students for the future they will inherit and lead. And, heck, as an added benefit, maybe some confused reader of Nathaniel Hawthorne might even get some much-needed insight!




Patrick Murphy Signature
Patrick Murphy



2024 high school graduation information


2024 high school graduation information

Below you will find the graduation date, time and location information for the Transition Academy, Avanti HS, Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA), Olympia HS and Capital HS.


The Olympia School District will be live-streaming all of these graduations on the OSD Facebook page. Follow our page to receive notifications anytime we start streaming live content so you can watch your favorite graduate walk across the stage and receive their diploma!


  • Transition Academy: June 7 @ 6 p.m. (Capital HS Performing Arts Center)

  • Avanti HS: June 8 @ 12 p.m. (Avanti HS)

  • Olympia Regional Learning Academy: June 12 @ 6 p.m. (Indian Summer C.C.)

  • Olympia HS: June 13 @ 7 p.m. (St. Martin's University)

  • Capital HS: June 14 @ 7 p.m. (St. Martin's University)



Congratulations to WASA Region 113 award winners


Congratulations to WASA Region 113 award winners

Congratulations to community leaders Drew Phillips and Ryan Betz, Jefferson Middle School student Harrison Payne, and Olympia High School student Christine Zhang for being recognized at this year’s Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Region 113 annual awards ceremony.


Approximately 75 people attended the May 22, 2024 event to recognize “outstanding educational administrators and others who have made extraordinary contributions to K-12 education.” 


WASA Community Leadership Award Winners: Drew Phillips and Ryan Betz

The Community Leadership Award is presented annually to community members or groups in recognition of their outstanding contributions to education.

Olympia School District Superintendent Patrick Murphy shared the following about Drew Phillips and Ryan Betz during the awards ceremony:

“Drew Phillips and Ryan Betz are inspirational team builders who helped lead this year’s successful Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy campaign. Drew stepped up to serve as campaign manager, and Betz as treasurer, for Olympia Citizens for Schools. Their enthusiasm and strategic, outcome-driven leadership resulted in a nearly 70% yes vote. Drew and Ryan have also contributed to the success of previous levy campaigns, including the 2022 Technology and Safety Levy, and the Educational Programs and Operations Levy in 2020. Thank you, Drew and Ryan, for all you do for our students, staff, families and community!”

WASA Student Leadership Award Winners: Christine Zhang and Harrison Payne

The WASA Student Leadership Award recognizes outstanding student leaders who have created or played a significant leadership role in initiatives or programs that promote access, equity or social justice in their school and community.

Superintendent Murphy shared the following, submitted by their school principals, about the two Olympia School District Student Leadership Award winners:

Christine Zhang
Senior, Olympia High School

Christine Zhang has worked tirelessly to make her school better. When she promoted a Computer Science program in OSD elementary schools, it evolved into a lobbying effort at the state level to support STEM education. Principal Matt Grant describes her as the most active student representative for the Olympia School Board in all his years. Christine joined the OHS Equity Action Team to focus on inclusive practices and made a dynamic presentation to faculty. She also lobbied the Olympia City Council to initiate a Youth Council to support advocacy for young people, which resulted in a program with a $40,000 budget.

Harrison Payne
Grade 8, Jefferson Middle School

Harrison Payne is an exceptional 8th grade student who represents leadership through his collaborative nature and optimistic engagement. He readily participates in classes and assemblies and assists peers and staff without being prompted. He reflects his strong commitment to inclusivity and respect within our school community. Harrison’s diplomatic approach to working with students and staff models genuine leadership. His dedication to diversity, equity and social justice is evident in every interaction within our school. Harrison’s integrity and cheerful demeanor make him a beacon of hope and inspiration for others. His integrity and work ethic toward continuous improvement assures a promising future.



Free sports physicals clinic June 1 at Capital HS


Free sports physicals clinic June 1 at Capital HS

Free sports physicals will be offered on Saturday, June 1, 2024, for Olympia School District middle and high school students in grades 7-12 planning on participating in athletic programs during the 2024-25 school year.

These sports physicals are open to all OSD students who will be enrolled in grades 7-12 for the 2024-25 school year. A new physical examination is required to be on file with each student-athlete’s school every year.

Free Sports Physicals
Saturday, June 1, 2024
8 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Capital High School Gymnasium (2707 Conger Ave. N.W.)

Please bring completed and signed copies of the Athletic Physical Examination Form with you on Saturday, June 1, 2024. Students can also pick up printed forms at the front offices of their school.

The event is in partnership with Olympia Orthopedic Associates and local healthcare providers.

Please Note: The free sports physical examinations do not replace the recommended “well-child” checks conducted by family health care providers.




Magic teaches students to BAND Together to stop bullying


Magic teaches students to BAND Together to stop bullying

Local and well-known professional magician Jeff Evans recently performed at Roosevelt Elementary School. Through his fun and engaging magic show, he taught students the “trick” to prevent or stop bullies. It was nothing but laughter, smiles, cheers and amazement that filled the gym.

Evans used his impressive skills to make items disappear and multiply to teach the four strategies of B.A.N.D. together.


  • B - Be a buddy, not a bully

  • A - Attitude, avoid, ask for help and treat people kindly

  • N - Nobody deserves to be bullied 

  • D - Don’t join in - when you are a bystander help instead


The message serves as the framework for the entire presentation and the magic illustrates the points with engaging interactions and storytelling. "Bullying is a serious subject, but I try to make my program fun as well as giving students concrete steps they can take to help prevent and stop bullying,” shared Evans.

Roosevelt students learned about the superpower of empathy or being a buddy and not a bully. With magic Evan demonstrated how the feeling of “warm fuzzies” you get by doing something nice are contagious — they grow and multiply.

Evans’ student assistant held one single red squishy ball, aka a “warm fuzzy,” squeezed tightly in her hand. When she opened her hand the “warm fuzzy” had multiplied into two, then three then four. Before the trick was through, the entire bag was full. The students cheered as Evans explained, “those warm fuzzies you shared are now everywhere and it’s a fantastic day, and it started with just one kind gesture, nice word or smile."

Evans explained, “The 'Warm Fuzzy Challenge' is a good example of how I encourage students to take part, asking students to do something nice for someone without being asked at least once a day. They almost always find that not only does it make the other person feel good, but it makes them feel good, too!"

During the entire show students were given the opportunity to volunteer, help Evans share his message and encourage the Roosevelt Ravens to BAND together and not let mean discouraging words “ring their bell.” You are responsible for yourself and your reaction,” said Evans. To demonstrate this tactic, his student volunteers dressed as “bullies” in funny hats and fake muscles and read cue cards of mean words directed at Evans. He responded to each with witty dialogue then handed the “bully” a bell. When they rang it, you could not hear the bell…because Evans wasn’t going to let the mean words ring his bell. 

The fun morning definitely left the Roosevelt staff and students feeling warm and fuzzy and ready to face any challenges that come their way. Thank you to Jeff Evans for sharing your talents and tricks to being a buddy and not a bully.



Board proclaims June 2024 Pride Month


Board proclaims June 2024 Pride Month

The Olympia School District Board of Directors has proclaimed June 2024 Pride Month.

The board took turns reading aloud the one-page proclamation at the May 23, 2024 board meeting. Pride Month shows support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, (Questioning), Intersex, Asexual, and (Agender) (LGBTQIA+) students, families and staff.

In part, the proclamation states that Olympia School District “students, families and staff have the right to be treated consistent with their gender identity and sexual orientation at school.”

It also states that the district is committed to maintaining safe, healthy and welcoming learning environments for all members of our community including transgender and gender-expansive students.

The proclamation notes that the greater Olympia community has been honoring and celebrating Capital City Pride since 1991 and adds “by recognizing Pride Month we affirm that supportive school environments substantially improve the mental health and school engagement of LGBTQIA+ students.”

A copy of the proclamation will be displayed in June at all OSD schools and support buildings.





Genoa Loertscher: ASIA Kakehashi Project

Earlier this school year Capital High School senior Genoa Loertscher was awarded a full scholarship to Japan for 4-months as he was one of two students from the United States (and 59 students selected from across the globe) chosen to participate in the ASIA Kakehashi Project (via AFS Intercultural Programs), "Building bridges between high school students in Japan and Asia/G7 member countries."

The program provides full scholarships from the Japanese Government for high school students to live and study in Japan, while growing their global competence and becoming future leaders.

Genoa is now back stateside and we had an opportunity to sit down with him to find out more about his unique experiences while living in Japan. We hope you enjoy this video, and congratulations Genoa on such a remarkable accomplishment. A big shout-out to the Japanese language program at Capital High School for helping make this dream trip a reality!

ASIA Kakehashi Project Program Link:



Don’t forget June 5 is OSD ‘Night at the Rainiers’


Don’t forget June 5 is OSD ‘Night at the Rainiers’

Join us for OSD “Night at the Rainiers” on Wednesday, June 5, 2024, at Cheney Stadium as the Tacoma Rainiers take on the Reno Aces (RNO). This year the first pitch will be tossed out by Garfield Elementary School Behavior Tech Denise Pigue at 6:05 p.m.



For ADA Accessible seats, please contact [email protected]



Thurgood Marshall MS students give back to their community


Thurgood Marshall MS students give back to their community

Thurgood Marshall Middle School students dedicated a full school day in April to helping others.

The School’s Legacy Day/Day of Service on April 19 began with an inspirational morning assembly featuring Nisqually Tribal Cultural Educator/Culture Keeper and Government Liaison Hanford McCloud. The guest speaker is also a renowned cedar weaver – a skill he learned from his mother when he was 12 years old and which he passes on to younger tribal members and students of all ages in the Olympia area, said Olympia School District Native Education and Tribal Relations Program Manager Sandra Gordon. TMMS Associated Student Body Vice President Kora LaRock invited McCloud to the school to speak with students before they embarked on giving back to their community both on and off campus.

After the assembly some students were bused to activities around the community such as helping at the local food bank, library, gardens, farms and reforestation areas, while others remained at Thurgood Marshall to complete a wide variety of service projects.

On-campus projects included: Making cat toys out of yarn and dog rope toys out of recycled t-shirts, as well as creating dog and cat blankets out of fleece to donate to the local animal shelter; filling gallon baggies with toothbrushes, nail clippers and other basic toiletries, knit hats, granola bars and socks to give to a local organization that serves individuals who are houseless; designing cards with uplifting messages to give to children in area hospitals and those in assisted living facilities; creating wind chimes out of colorful beads and recycled materials including fallen sticks or tree branches that students could give as gifts of their choosing; painting positive messages on rocks to gift to teachers and/or place around the community; pulling weeds and laying new bark around the school campus; building wooden picnic tables to place at the middle school to accommodate students when they sit outdoors; and making winter hats and scarves for a local shelter that serves people who are houseless.

Seventh grader Mikhael Rodriguez, who participated in filling the care kits for those who are houseless, summed up the day by saying, “I love this project because this bag can go to someone who needs it the most. I love that they don’t have to live a hard life.” Sixth grader Layla Espinueva added, “I love helping people. Doing this project, I can help them with much more than money.”




Olympia School District: Summer Meals Program


Olympia School District: Summer Meals Program

This summer free lunches will be available at two Olympia School District schools. Lunch will be available to anyone 18 years old and younger. Meals will be served in the school cafeteria and signage will be posted directing visitors to the cafeteria entrance.


Beginning Monday, June 24, through Friday, August 16, 2024, lunches will be available on-site at Garfield Elementary School and at Roosevelt Elementary School from 12 to 12:30 p.m. No pre-order of lunch is necessary. Meals must be eaten on-site, and no grab-and-go meals will be prepared.


  • Roosevelt Elementary School: 1417 San Francisco St. N.E., Olympia, WA, 98506

  • Garfield Elementary School: 325 Plymouth St. N.W., Olympia, WA, 98502


USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

View the USDA Nondiscrimination Statement on the OSD Child Nutrition Services webpage.



Save the date for the 2024 Spaghetti Bowl!


Save the date for the 2024 Spaghetti Bowl!

Mark your calendars for September 6, 2024, and plan to be at Ingersoll Stadium to cheer on the Capital Cougars and Olympia Bears football teams at the 2024 Spaghetti Bowl. This cross-town gridiron match is a long-running tradition and OSD is excited for the next chapter of this fun rivalry.


The 'Spaghetti Feed' will take place prior to kick-off in the Olympia High School Commons (time will be announced at a later date). Game day and spaghetti dinner tickets will be available to purchase later this summer.


We hope to see you on September 6 as we support both the Capital and Olympia High School football programs! Go Cougs! Go Bears!



Thank you teachers!


Thank you teachers!

Teacher Appreciation Week was celebrated throughout the Olympia School District Monday, May 8 through Friday, May 12.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy read a proclamation at the April 25 school board meeting designating the week as Teacher Appreciation Week.

The proclamation states in part that teachers serve in partnership with parents to ensure the appropriate education for all children; provide opportunities for students to develop basic skills for success in life and work, connect with the world around them, and experience the realization of high expectations and the fulfillment of steps toward achievable goals; and inspire students to think strategically and to integrate experience and knowledge to form reasoned judgments.

Thank you to our OSD community that took time to honor the incredible educators who inspire, support, empower and shape young minds daily. Our deepest gratitude to our amazing OSD staff spread out across 19 buildings districtwide. We appreciate you all so much!







2024 OHS senior Cole Wilson awarded National Merit Scholarship


2024 OHS senior Cole Wilson awarded National Merit Scholarship

On May 8, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced that Olympia High School senior Cole Wilson had earned a prestigious National Merit $2,500 scholarship. Wilson will graduate in about two weeks, and joins 2,500 students from around the country to earn the Merit Scholar designation.

Wilson’s process began in October 2022 when high school juniors took the PSAT/NMSQT, which served as the initial screening of more than 1.3 million program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named Semifinalists. Wilson was one of five students from OHS announced in September, 2024. “I was excited when I heard about the scholarship, financial aid has been a huge part of my decisions and all scholarships really help,” explained Wilson.

The final 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from the pool of more 15,000 outstanding finalists in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program. Winners in each state are judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation's graduating high school seniors.

Wilson was selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors who evaluated information submitted by the finalists and their high schools. Wilson plans to attend Washington State University in the honors program to double major in Computer Science and Computer Engineering with a mathematics minor.

In addition to the National Merit Scholarship, Wilson also received the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship, Elks Club scholarships at the local, state, and national-level, the Odd Fellows scholarship, the Jay Elder Creativity award from the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound, the Olympia Tumwater Foundation scholarship, the Dean's Engineering Scholarship and a Top Scholars scholarship at WSU, and four years of tuition at WSU due his status as a National Merit Finalist.

Join us in congratulating this remarkable student as he sets out on his future as a Olympia High School 2024 graduate and future WSU Cougar.

If you or your student would like to learn more about the National Merit Program, contact your high school college and career office.



Olympia School District: Summer School 2024


Olympia School District: Summer School 2024


High School Summer Program

Summer school is open to all students who will be in grades 9-12 in the 2024-25 school year, as well as to current seniors (Class of 2024) who need additional credits to graduate.


  • Classes will be held from Monday, July 8 through Thursday, August 15, from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

  • All courses utilize computer-based instruction and students will work remotely but will be provided opportunities for in-person support and assessments 

  • Tests must be completed in person at Olympia Regional Learning Academy

  • Students should plan to work approximately three hours per day

  • The deadline to register is Friday, June 28, 2024. 


Please check with your counselor to verify which courses you need to take.

Visit the Summer School 2024 webpage for additional information. The registration form for the high school summer program will open at 8 a.m. on June 10, 2024.

Elementary School Summer Program

This program is free of charge and open to current Olympia School District students. At this time, students must be recommended by their teacher to attend.


  • Classes will be held Monday through Thursday from Monday, July 8 through Thursday, July 25, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (time subject to change)

  • Grades 1-4, current OSD students who are reading below grade level or need additional support

  • Registration is limited due to staffing and facilities

  • Elementary locations: Roosevelt Elementary School (eastside) and Garfield Elementary School (westside)

  • Lunch will be provided at no cost (11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

  • Transportation is not provided


If you are interested in the program please speak to your child’s teacher to discuss if they feel that your child should be recommended to attend summer school.



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 Paula Perryman, 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:


James Whitehead, Title IX Officer

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506

(360) 596-8545

[email protected]


Autumn Lara, Executive Director of Elementary Education

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506

(360) 596-8534

[email protected]


Ken Turcotte, Section 504 and ADA Coordinator (Students)

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506

(360) 596-7530

[email protected]


Starla Hoff, ADA Coordinator (Staff)

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506

(360) 596-6185

[email protected]


Scott Niemann, Affirmative Action Officer and Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506

(360) 596-6185

[email protected]


Paula Perryman, Director of College and Career Readiness

Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506


[email protected]


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