2021-22 Accomplishments

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2021-22 Accomplishments


Middle school students stand in front of school bus

The Olympia School District is proud of our students and staff who achieve amazing successes every day. In an effort to recognize and celebrate those achievements both inside and outside the classroom, we have compiled a list of academic and extracurricular accomplishments that involve members of the Olympia School District community.


This list is by no means comprehensive, so please let us know if there are additional accomplishments we have missed so we can add them! With your help, we will capture all of the amazing accomplishments in our district and celebrate student achievement, continuous improvement and 100 percent commitment to quality and excellence in all things!



August, 2021


Capital's Moll sisters are national pole-vaulting stars

Amanda Moll pole vaulting

Amanda Moll, a nationally ranked pole vaulter and Capital High School student, was named Gatorade Athlete of the Year in girls track and field for Washington state over the summer. Moll currently holds the national record in pole-vaulting for her age group, with a jump of 14-7. Amanda’s twin sister Hana is also a champion pole-vaulter.


The Gatorade Athlete of the Year is one of a long list of awards and recognitions received by the Moll girls for their pole-vaulting prowess. Both girls hold state and national records, among many smaller awards that Amanda said were too numerous to name all of.


“Amanda and Hana are both amazing athletes, not just in track and field,” said Capital High School Athletic Director Steve Taylor. “They come from a really awesome family and they are both great students and obviously they are a great asset to Capital High School. As things get back to normal with sports around here, hopefully we will get to benefit even more from their leadership skills.”


Amanda and Hana did gymnastics before learning to pole vault. “My mom introduced us to pole vault because when she was in high school she really wanted to do pole vault but it wasn’t available to girls at that time. So we signed up and we just fell in love,” Amanda said.


The Moll sisters train together and enjoy some healthy competition at times. “We definitely push each other to go higher and I always have someone to train with me so that’s fun,” Amanda said.


Training goes all year with the exception of August. Winter is an easier training season and spring is when things ramp up. The girls train about 12 hours a week. Future goals include competing in college and possibly at the professional level.


Nadine Owen named Regional Classified School Employee of the Year

Nadine OwenNadine Owen, the Restorative Room supervisor at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, was recently named 2022 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year by the Capital Regional Educational Service District (ESD 113). Owen was recognized by ESD 113 after being named OSD Classified School Employee of the Year for 2021.


“The selection committee chose Owen for this award because she is fully invested in her students and helps them discover the skills they need to become positive contributing citizens in our community,” ESD 113 said in a press release.


“This recognition means so much to me,” Owen said. “Not only does it give validation to the work I’ve been so passionate about over the course of the last 23 years, but also that fellow educators are seeing the critical importance of trauma-informed and restorative practices. My hope is that this recognition will bring even more awareness to the importance of meeting the needs of our most vulnerable population. Ultimately, allowing all children to have their social and emotional needs met within our school communities.”


Owen designed the Restorative Room to be a calming space where students who are upset or frustrated can reset before returning back to their classrooms ready to learn. Her program has reduced student suspensions and increased students' instructional time.


Her trademarks, according to colleagues, are empathy and kindness, which help her relate to students she works within the school’s Restorative Room.



September, 2021


Capital High School IB teacher Ken JolingCHS’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program nationally recognized

Capital High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program was recently recognized for expanding the program to include IB classes for all juniors and seniors at the school. Capital IB Coordinator Ken Joling has been invited to speak about the program next month at the 2021 IB Global Conference of the Americas.


Capital began “IB for All” in the 2019-20 school year with all juniors and seniors automatically registered for IB classes for language arts. In 2020-21, the program expanded to include social studies.


Juniors take either IB English Literature or IB English Language and Literature, as well as IB History of the Americas. At the senior level, all students remain in IB English. In Social Studies, there are two sections of IB History of the 20th Century and three sections of IB Theory of Knowledge during the school day.


“The idea is not only to create equality of outcome (especially for students and families who are less familiar with navigating the system), but also to raise the standard of pedagogical outcomes for all students,” Joling said.


“There are many tangible benefits of the program such as developing academic skills, being prepared for college and receiving college credit. But perhaps it is the IB Learner Profile -- the soft skills which are developed which align so closely with the OSD's strategic plan -- which provide the most value,” Joling said. “The traits of an IB learner, which are emphasized in every IB class, are to be inquisitive, open minded, knowledgeable, reflective, courageous, communicative, balanced, principled and thoughtful. Who wouldn't want their child to exhibit those characteristics?”


Most students at Capital say they are happy to participate in IB classes because it prepares them for college-level rigor and allows them the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school.


OSD Instructional Coach joins ASCD Emerging Leaders program

OSD instructional coach Casey ChurchCongratulations to Casey Church, OSD Secondary Math Instructional Coach, for being selected as a member of the 2021 Class of Emerging Leaders for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Church was one of 24 distinguished ASCD members to be selected for the honor from a pool of 125 international nominees.


The ASCD Emerging Leader program is a community of rising leaders in education who undergo a rigorous selection process. They are welcomed into a two-year program where they can amplify their work on important education issues and find opportunities to lead from wherever they are in education.


Church is one member of a team of instructional coaches hired by the Teaching and Learning (T&L) Department this year as part of the district’s Academic Recovery PlanOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window.


“Instructional coaches have the unique position of being available to support and plan alongside teachers and teams, without being evaluative,” Church said. “The work of an instructional coach is like the work of any other kind of coach. Most of it occurs behind the scenes in collaboration with those being coached. It is that collaboration that is at the heart of coaching.


“Just as athletic coaches do everything in partnership with skilled, passionate athletes, instructional coaches rely on partnerships with skilled, passionate educators. Good partnerships between athletic coaches and athletes lead to improved athletic outcomes. The partnerships our instructional coaches are forging with educators in Olympia will lead to improved academic outcomes for students.”



October, 2021


Meet Olympia High School Running Phenom Ethan Coleman

Ethan Coleman and the Olympia High School men's cross country teamYou may have seen Olympia High School senior Ethan Coleman running around town in the neighborhoods near the high school, at LBA Park or around Capitol Lake. With a weekly training mileage of 60 miles a week, Coleman does a lot of running on the streets and sidewalks of Olympia.


Coleman, who holds the record for the fourth fastest 2-mile time in Washington state history, always gets his miles in. That’s one of his key ingredients for success. He also focuses on a diet rich in protein and a full night’s sleep, especially in the days approaching a race.


Coleman earned a spot on the national map this past spring, when he logged the nation’s second fastest 5K time. That race led to Coleman being recruited by the University of Notre Dame, where he will attend next fall. Most recently, Coleman took first place at the South Puget Sound League (SPSL) championship meet on October 21. The Olympia Bears varsity men's team also took first place at the event.


McKenny students contribute thousands of hours to the food bank

Students packing boxes at the food bankThe food bank volunteer program has been a part of McKenny Elementary School for five years now. During that time the program has been responsible for packing tens of thousands of weekend food bags and contributing thousands of cumulative hours of service to the Thurston County Food Bank.


“I love this project because it gives our students a safe outlet to serve with their families,” said organizer Mindy Swedberg, a physical education specialist at McKenny. “Our kids get to see firsthand that service is fun, requires teamwork, and also takes a lot of hard work.”


“As students get older they begin to see how their work helps and provides for kids in their immediate community, and how our school community plays a big part in meeting the needs of kids across the country every month,” Swedberg added. “We place emphasis as a school on showing kindness and compassion through our direct work with the Food Bank each month.”


This year, McKenny students and their families have the opportunity to sign up for volunteer time at the food bank during the last Thursday of every month. Each grade level gets at least one opportunity to sign up. This is strictly a volunteer program, not a requirement, students and families elect to volunteer on their own time.


Capital High School Performing Arts Center opens to the public

A view of seating in the new PAC at CapitalStudents, staff and the Olympia community finally got the moment they had been waiting for this month when the doors to the new Capital High School Performing Arts Center (PAC) opened to the public with the inaugural performance of “PUFFS” by Capital High School students on Oct. 21. The opening of the PAC was the culmination of more than two years of construction, which began in the summer of 2019.


“It’s a bit magical when you get to truly see it,” said Capital 11th grader Seth Barrett, who performed in “PUFFS.”


The new PAC is a 26,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility with energy efficient systems and modern technological upgrades. It was funded as part of the 2016 construction bond. There are seats for 517 audience members as well as multiple flexible spaces that can be used for teaching, production and storage. The lobby is filled with natural light and was designed as a transparent space, allowing for art work to be displayed and seen from outside the building.


“Amazing is the word that springs up as the new performing arts center comes alive with music, song and theatre,” said Capital Principal Rosemarie Burke. “An excitement has entered the space for all that is new and the beginning of a new journey for students of the performing arts. The Capital team is thankful for the gift of this beautiful space for CHS students and for our whole community.”


Students who performed in the PAC for the first time were awed by the facility. “Performing in it feels amazing,” said 10th grader Griffin Landry. “You can see the audience a lot more and when it's hidden in the dark, you feel like the lights are specifically on you and that makes the theater productions feel more real.”


Students mentioned enjoying the new LED lighting and upgraded sound systems. The facility includes many features for musical performances including a new piano, acoustical shells and an orchestra pit. Sound and lighting systems are controlled by touch screen and audio/video is broadcast throughout the building.



November, 2021


Laurie Creighton, beloved OHS volleyball coach, retiring after 43 years

Coach Creighton during a practice serving a ball to volleyball playersNovember 20 marked the final state tournament for Olympia High School volleyball coach Laurie Creighton. Creighton retires this year after 43 years coaching at OHS. In that time, her teams went to state 24 times and won two state titles.


“The two state championships are highlights of my career at OHS,” Creighton said. “Winning both, while the tournament was played locally at St. Martin's (University), was pretty great. Also, helping teams qualify and compete at the state tournament a bunch of times has been really special. I'm grateful to get to do that with this last group of outstanding kids.”


Creighton was so influential in the volleyball program at OHS that the school named the court after her. Creighton Court was unveiled during a ceremony at the school on Oct. 30. She has also been inducted into the OHS Athletic Hall of Fame and the Washington State Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.


"Coach Creighton is the gold standard for professionalism in educational-based athletics,” said OHS athletic director Bob Kickner. “Forty-three years of service to a community is amazing. Her impact on and off the court to young women is immeasurable. She has shown a determined commitment to the female athletic experience since the passing of Title IX in 1972. Her dedication to the craft of coaching and her ability to teach life skills through volleyball has impacted nearly 1,000 student athletes."


Read complete article on Coach Creighton


OSD student artwork featured in downtown Olympia

LP Brown students painting in a classroomArtwork including paintings completed by students from Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA), LP Brown, and NOVA private school was displayed in downtown Olympia beginning December 4.


The project featured a colorful, glow-in-the-dark collage featuring the work of several hundred students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The display will adorn empty windows downtown as part of the mission of the Olympia Artspace AllianceOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window.


Lea Mitchell, an art teacher at ORLA, is the mastermind behind the display, which she calls “A Peaceful Critter Community Living in the Light.” She was approached by members of the art alliance as a private artist but quickly decided this project would be even better for her students. She teamed up with teachers from LP Brown, Lincoln and NOVA.


Capital Grad Kendall Hooper named Olympia Sports Star of the Year

Kendall Hooper poses with a baseball bat as a Capital HS fastpitch softball playerKendall Hooper, a 2021 Capital High School graduate, was recently named Girl’s Sports Star of the Year by the Olympia & Beyond Sports CommissionOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window. She was chosen for her performance in sports as a senior at Capital last year, as well as leadership, dedication, sportsmanship and good school behavior.


Nine other Olympia School District students also were recognized at the event, along with the entire Capital Cougarettes dance team.


“I was truly touched to be named for something that I loved to do and participate in at a high level,” said Hooper, who is now a student at Baylor University in Texas.


As a high school student, Hooper competed in three sports and was president of the school’s Future Business Leaders of America club. She also had a job at Boston Harbor Marina and volunteered as a coach and referee for Little Cougs basketball and Oly Kicks soccer camp. She graduated CHS with a 3.98 GPA.


Ribbon cutting celebrates completion of solar panel project at OHS

local dignitaries cut the ribbon for the new solar project at OHSMore than 30 people, including representatives of the school district, Puget Sound EnergyOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window (PSE), and the community, celebrated a new solar panel installation at Olympia High School during a ribbon cutting ceremony.


The installation of more than 500 solar panels on the high school’s gym roof is part of a partnership between the school district and PSE. The project is part of PSE’s Community Solar ProgramOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window, which adds solar energy to the local power grid from one large location.



December, 2021


Olympia High Grad Hannah Smith performs lead in local Nutcracker

OHS grad Hannah Smith performing in the NutcrackerThose who watched The Nutcracker performance by Studio West Dance AcademyOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window (SWDA) in Olympia this year might have witnessed a little extra magic on the stage. The lead role of Sugar Plum Fairy was performed by 2021 Olympia High School graduate Hannah Smith. Her partner in the performance, Cole McMason as Cavalier, is also her partner in real life.


Smith returned to Olympia to play the role from her current home in San Antonio, TX, where she studies with Decruz Ballet in their pre-professional training program.


“The Nutcracker that SWDA puts on every year is a really large scale production in a real theater with a stage crew, and lighting crew, and scene changes, and a couple hundred dancers, so being able to perform like that again was so fun,” Smith said. “My boyfriend, Cole McMason, who is also with me here in Texas at Decruz Ballet, was also asked to come back and perform the role of the Cavalier, the prince who dances with the Sugar Plum Fairy. It was a really easy decision because I already dance with him so much and we were able to rehearse over here before we came. I'm really thankful I had the opportunity to guest as Sugar Plum.”


Meet OSD Classified School Employees of the Year 2021-22

Nguyen Phan, Cathy Shea and Scott BoeScott Boe, Paraeducator, Hansen Elementary

Patience is perhaps the most important quality that makes Scott Boe well equipped to work with kids, he said. Boe, a paraeducator at Hansen Elementary, gets opportunities to showcase his patience regularly -- when solving playground disputes during recess, directing traffic before and after school, and coaching struggling new readers.


Cathy Shea, Office Administrator, Washington Middle School

Although there’s a lot of paperwork and administrative tasks to handle in the office at Washington Middle School, office administrator Cathy Shea said her primary job is customer service.


Nguyen Phan, Lead Custodian, Pioneer Elementary

At Pioneer Elementary School, lead custodian Nguyen Phan is like a constant ray of sunshine, colleagues say. His attitude is always positive and he likes to spread good cheer among everyone he crosses paths with. For example, every Friday Phan sends out an email to all school staff wishing them a good weekend.


OSD buses earn perfect score on surprise inspection

OSD mechanics pose in the sunshine in front of a school busThose working in the OSD Transportation maintenance department never know precisely when the Washington State Patrol might stop by for their annual winter surprise inspection. Their goal is to always be ready.


The buses were definitely ready earlier this month when WSP inspectors stopped by unannounced. OSD earned 100 percent passing.


Inspectors pulled a random sample of 25 percent of the fleet – a total of 22 buses. The inspection included mechanical function, all exterior and interior areas, and safety items. Major things like faulty brakes can cause a bus to go out of service. Buses can also be taken out of service for things like not having enough bandaids in the first aid kit or a piece of metal sticking out on the side of the bus that could snag a student’s jacket.



January, 2022


The front of Garfield elementaryMr. Mo, improves Garfield ES attendance with walks to school

It’s a half-mile walk from the local apartment complex to Garfield Elementary School. Sometimes, especially on the rainiest and windiest days, students aren’t quite motivated to bundle up and head outside early in the morning. Sometimes they oversleep. And sometimes, while getting themselves ready for school in the morning, they don’t manage their time quite effectively.


Thanks to Garfield Family Liaison Mo El-Sokkary (“Mr. Mo”), most of those students make it to school on time anyway. If the students aren’t ready to begin their walk in the morning, Mr. Mo has been known to go knock on their door or call their parents. Sometimes, he’ll begin singing loudly outside their apartment door, which usually causes kids to run outside in a mixture of giggles and good-natured embarrassment.


Younger students report that they feel safer walking to school with Mr. Mo. “Walking without an adult makes me sad and scared,” said a kindergarten student, who added that he doesn’t know the rules about when to cross the street.


ChickensAvanti urban gardening program expands with addition of chickens!

When many people think of a soothing and snuggly animal to pet, puppies or kittens come to mind. But at Avanti High School, students are learning that chickens can be just as fun, thanks to a new chicken project which began at the school this year.


The chicken project is the brainchild of Avanti senior Ruby Catterson, who was able to convince school and district leaders that chickens would be the perfect addition to the school’s already established urban agriculture program. Catterson’s family has been raising chickens since they were 8 years old. One school day, they brought a chicken to Avanti to show their peers in the urban agriculture program and an idea began to form.



February, 2022


OSD’s Joe Dyvig named music educator of the year

Joe Dyvig teachingJoe Dyvig, who serves as both the OSD music coordinator and a music teacher at Olympia High School, has been recognized as the 2022 Chinook Region Outstanding Music Educator by the Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA)Opening in a new windowOpening in a new window Executive Board. He was presented the award on February 18, 2022, during the 2022 WMEA annual state conference.


Students in Dyvig’s class at Olympia High School were ecstatic when the news broke.


“Mr. Dyvig has always been devoted to his students and to the performing arts, and this is evident in the successes that the OHS Music Program has had in recent years,” said senior Camille McLean.


“Mr. Dyvig always makes orchestra so fun with his jokes,” said freshman Chloe Song. “He's a great inspiration to all of us and as a freshman, I'm super glad that I'll continue to have him as a teacher for the next three years. He's always really patient with us and is an amazing music educator. You can sense his passion for music and his dedication to make our orchestra the best it can possibly be through his teaching.”


Dyvig’s influence on music education in Olympia stretches far beyond the walls of OHS, as he also oversees the music programs for all 19 district school buildings.


Olympia High School Literary Magazine wins national award

The editors of the VerveOlympia High School’s literary magazine is one of only two statewide to earn an excellent rating in a recent competition.


The 2021 edition titled “Verve,” which features a collection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and artwork, received the top honor from the 2021 National Council of Teachers of English Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines program.


Literary Magazine is a student-led club at OHS that publishes an annual collection of student work. Submissions are accepted from students throughout the school and edited by members of the club. The magazine title changes each year based on the theme and contents, as well as the cover art.


“We all work very hard throughout the year to produce a quality book compiling the best student art and writing OHS has to offer,” said Literary Magazine lead designer Ethan Brickell.


Verve is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “The spirit and enthusiasm animating artistic composition or performance.”


“We thought ‘Verve’ went well with the vigor with which students were creating while stuck at home during the pandemic and with the striking image of the ostrich on the red background,” said Literary Magazine adviser Carolyn Gilman.


The 2021 edition was unique in that it was created remotely during COVID-19 school closures. The pandemic provided student authors and artists with plenty of material, as well as extra time to work on the publication, editors said.



March, 2022


Olympia High School senior wins Princeton Prize in Race RelationsElla Sherin

Olympia High School senior Ella Sherin has been awarded the prestigious Princeton Prize in Race RelationsOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window. The honor, sponsored by Princeton University, recognizes high school students who have undertaken significant efforts to advance racial equity in their schools or communities.


Ella is one of only 29 recipients chosen for the honor nationwide, and she represents the Seattle/Portland Region. She will receive a $1,000 cash award and is invited to participate this spring in a Symposium on Race.


During the virtual symposium, Ella will have the opportunity to meet and learn from other Princeton Prize recipients from across the country engaged in racial justice work.


"Her passion and understanding for her culture, her drive to make changes in our system and her ability to take a leadership role in our school community are unprecedented in my 20 years as principal of Olympia High School,” Principal Matt Grant wrote in his nomination letter.


Read the full story about Ella Sherin. Opening in a new window


Capital junior Rahma Gaye wins state debate championshipRahma Gaye

It was probably the passion in her voice that the judges noticed first. Rahma Gaye, a junior at Capital High School, recently won state champion in the Washington Interscholastic Athletics and Activities Speech and Debate Tournament with her speech, “What’s in a Name?” The speech talks about her experience of being a young Black Muslim woman in America and the need for more positive representation.

Rahma spoke from the heart, showing both deep feelings and humor. “I think as a judge, you look at the amount of feelings somebody has,” she said. “You also have to be interactive and put some jokes in there.”

This is Rahma’s first year participating in speech and debate. When she began working on her speech back in the fall, debate club advisor Jonathan Moore knew immediately it was something special.

"Rahma's speech was one of the most powerful I have heard in my life. I was immediately moved the first time I heard it," Moore said.

The actual text from Rahma’s speech is now being closely guarded from publication. She plans to use it again for the national competition in Kentucky this June. Between now and then, she may make some minor edits, but essentially it will remain the same - her personal reflection about what it means to grow up as a Black, Muslim woman in America.

Even after winning the state championship, Rahma remains humble. She remembers freezing upon hearing the news she had won. “I was really shocked,” she said. “There were so many really good speeches and it took a moment to settle in, like is it really me? Are you sure?”


Sweat, dirt, and laughter during Thurgood Marshall’s Day of ServiceStudents working outside for Marshall's day of service

Hundreds of Thurgood Marshall Middle School students made the community a little brighter this spring as part of the school’s annual Day of Service.

This was the first time that students have been able to take the project out into the community after two years of pandemic-related closures and cancellations. Students were divided into nearly 20 teams and visited locations throughout Olympia completing outdoor projects such as planting native plants, removing invasive species, clearing trails, garden maintenance and more. Some students also did service projects on campus.

Eighth grader Hailey Damerow worked with a team in the middle school’s garden to transplant 300 plants and build five garden beds. “It is really beneficial and rewarding for us to be able to work on all these tasks,” she said. “After we were finished I felt a lot of satisfaction. In one day we got a lot of work done. I loved seeing the garden get cleaned up.”

The day of service was inspired by the principles of Martin Luther King Jr.’s message that life’s most persistent question is 'What are you doing for others?' said Principal Condee Wood. ”We believe that happiness comes from being part of something bigger than ourselves,” she said. “Middle school years are important formative years where identities are shaped. We believe that students who feel connected to their community, and engage with the community, stay engaged.”


Olympia HS students visit NASA

At Olympia, students in Andrew Woodridge’s design and fabrication class earned a trip to Houston, Texas to present a project design to NASA as part of the NASA HUNCHOpening in a new window program. Using a 3D printer and magnets, the students designed a replica of the International Space Station that can be used as a museum display.

NASA’s Design and Prototyping HUNCH Program is a way for students of all skill levels to develop innovative solutions to problems posed by life on the International Space Station. Many of the projects are items personally requested by the International Space Station crew to help ease living conditions aboard the station, giving students the opportunity to really make an impact on the lives of astronauts.

Students partner with mentors at NASA Research Centers across the country to develop their designs. The best are chosen to present at a design review. The final winners may get an opportunity to see their designs created and used by NASA.


Capital and OHS students invited to EgyptOlympia robotics students from Olympia and Capital receiving an award

The Olympia Robotics Federation, a combination of students from throughout the district, competed this month in Auburn, WA and won the prestigious "Technology Innovation Award" for its hard work in starting and supporting a First Lego LeagueOpening in a new window robotics team in Cairo, Egypt. The students have been working together to mentor their counterparts in Egypt for much of the school year.

Future plans for the partnership involve possibly traveling to Egypt to train Egyptian staff and students in the next level of robotics (metal based bots). Four representatives from the team will compete for the next level of the Technology Innovation Award at the Pacific Northwest Regional Championship.


Olympia School District winter season state champions

OSD schools have captured at least five high school state championships in Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and other statewide competitions so far this season. Choir events will take place in April.

Olympia High School

  • In boys basketball, the varsity team was named academic state champions with a combined 3.786 GPA while also taking 3rd place in the WIAA state.
  • In boys swimming, senior Tony Ponomarev won a state championship in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 50.27 seconds.
  • In the Knowledge Bowl, the OHS team won the state championship.
  • Olympia senior Asher Coppin was named the WSWCA Wrestling Academic State Champion in the 132 lb weight class.


Capital High School

  • In debate, junior Rahma Gaye won the state championship with her speech, “What’s in a Name?” The speech talks about her experience of being a young Black Muslim woman in America and the need for more positive representation.
  • In pom, the Capital Cougarettes took the state championship.



April, 2022


Roosevelt Elementary School students design green homeRoosevelt students pose with their project

Two Roosevelt Elementary School students spent the past several weeks as architectural designers, thanks to a student-led Inspiration Project assigned by their teacher, Spencer Olmsted.

Maebel Johns, grade 5, and Lara Choi, grade 4, worked as a team on their project -- a green residential building model at a scale of 1:24. The building includes three bedrooms, a reading nook and a “living wall" – an entire wall designed with living plants growing on the surface.

“A green building design is a type of house that is beneficial for the environment and also includes plants,” Lara said. “And not with a paved driveway. It’s better for the environment to have different driveway materials so there’s zigzaggy wooden stuff or gravel,” Maebel added.

This green building design included concrete because of its thermal stability. There are native plants throughout the property on the building itself and a waterfall cascades down from the third floor. The inside is lit with modern, LED lighting.

The challenge was something that Mr. Olmsted issues to his students every year: complete an “Inspiration Project” and make it come to life. Students are told to pick their own research topic and then present their findings to the class in whichever format they prefer. Some students complete slideshows, videos and artwork. All are encouraged to take a deep dive into the material.


Avanti, Olympia HS students win top awards in OSPI state art competitionThe track to Ukraine - digital art OSPI award winner

Olympia and Avanti high school students took home a total of five awards this year during the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) annual art showOpening in a new window. A total of about 20 winners were chosen from across the state, and OSD students took about 25 percent of the awards!

From Avanti High School, junior Adelyn Krone is the first Avanti student in eight years to win a state art competition award. Her digital art design “The Track to Ukraine,” was intended to make people expand their worldview and consider the beauty of all cultures throughout the world. Since she was a little girl, Adelyn has been enchanted with her Ukrainian and German roots – studying the traditions, cultures, dress, language and history of her ancestors. She continues to follow current world events.

“I want my art to create a clear bridge between our distant, misunderstood worlds – between our very defined cultures, so we may be able to understand the countries we know little to nothing about,” Adelyn said.

From Olympia High School, award winners included senior Jacob Reeves for his piece “Old Capitol,” a watercolor that began as a sketch and was inspired while he was waiting at an intersection. It illustrates, in detail, the historic old Capitol building in Olympia following a snowstorm. The building is now the main office for OSPI.

Olympia HS junior Leila Chavez won for her painting “Mt. Tahoma,” a brightly colored, whimsical portrayal of one of Washington’s most iconic features of natural beauty – Mount Rainier. The mountain was formerly called Mount Tahoma by Northwest Native Americans who lived in the region. “I drew inspiration from seeing the mountain at sunset,” Leila said. “I love the way the colorful and illuminated sky reflects off the mountain.”

Olympia HS senior Ella Sherin won an award for art that is both beautiful and functional. Traditional and Contemporary Hand Drum is a working drum made with rawhide and cedar, then painted with acrylic. The designs represent the Cowlitz Native American Tribe, of which she is a member.



May, 2022


Roosevelt’s Spencer Olmsted named a finalist in national award

Spencer OlmstedSpencer Olmsted, a 16-year veteran teacher who has taught 4th and 5th grade at Roosevelt Elementary School for six years, is one of four Washington State teachers in the running for one of the nation’s most prestigious teaching awards – the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST). He was nominated for the honor by a former Roosevelt student. Following his nomination, Olmsted undertook a rigorous process to complete a portfolio of his work.


Anyone who observes Olmsted’s classroom can quickly see why his teaching will catch the attention of our nation’s education leaders. It’s not easy to keep the rapt attention of a roomful of 10- and 11-year-olds during a regular mathematics lesson on story problems. Olmsted’s students aren’t listening and taking notes. They are pondering, strategizing, digging deep into their memory banks, looking for loopholes, and sometimes even arguing. It’s all encouraged.


“Mr. Olmsted encourages us to take things to the next level and so that’s what we do,” fourth grader Lara Choi said.


Avanti students riding bikes in the streetAvanti partners with Walk-N-Roll to offer bicycle safety PE class

This Spring, Avanti High School students in Physical Education (PE) are participating in a bike and pedestrian safety education program through a partnership with Intercity Transit’s Earn-A-Bike classOpening in a new windowOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window. Students are learning safe habits on the road and are provided with bikes, helmets and basic bicycle care tools. After successfully completing the program, students may choose to keep their bikes.


For the first several weeks of class, students studied traffic rules related to pedestrians, bicycles and automobiles. They practiced routine bicycle maintenance tasks and practiced skills to walk safely, gain experience riding a bicycle and learn how to safely cross an intersection on foot.


On a recent sunny day, about 20 Avanti students finally set out onto the streets. Riding in a neat line and dressed in bright layers of neon yellow and orange, the students were confident and capable as they steered onto the streets of downtown Olympia. Avanti teacher Nikki Winkley, along with representatives from Walk-N-RollOpening in a new windowOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window, took up the front and the rear of the group.


“Walking and bike riding are types of lifelong physical activity, as well as a great way for students to rely less on others to take them where they want to go,” Winkley said.


The bicycle class idea was initially inspired because Winkley had to get creative about PE offerings while the Avanti High School gymnasium was under construction. As it turned out, students were thrilled with the course offering. Many participants said they would take the class again if it were offered, and that they preferred it to more traditional PE offerings.



June, 2022


Jefferson students posing with their wooden fishCommunity partnerships benefit Jefferson MS students and salmon

Students at Jefferson Middle School got a lesson about local conservation efforts and jigsaws during a recent salmon project in woodworking class. Students used jigsaws to cut out large Chinook salmon shapes in plywood, which will then be painted and auctioned off to benefit the Nisqually Reach Nature CenterOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window.


Jefferson woodshop teacher John Chernoff volunteered his classroom for the project after hearing about the effort while networking with the Olympia Woodworkers GuildOpening in a new windowOpening in a new window.


“I thought what a cool thing to blend the local woodworkers, students and a nonprofit group that needs support,” Chernoff said. “And this sort of project is perfect for students who are just starting out with woodworking, because it’s a skill builder, it’s kind of fun and it’s connecting kids, other kids, and something that’s outside the district.”


The fish were cut from resurfaced plywood that was donated to the organization. They were then handpainted in various artistic designs by local artists. Some of the fish will be sold at the auction, and some will be used at a separate fundraising event. Other fish may be hung at the nature center location or used in displays.


Christian Dailey holding the door open at CapitalCapital HS graduate Christian Dailey ‘glows up’ in four years

Christian Dailey, a 2022 Capital High School graduate, will never forget the scrawny, shy, awkward freshman he said he felt like when he first entered the doors at Capital High School in 2018.


“You didn’t even really see me because I was so socially isolated. Maybe only three or four people knew who I was,” Christian recalls. “I didn’t really like people all that much. They scared me, to be honest. I’m getting flashbacks to strength training class. That was terrifying to my freshman self. Everyone was like giants to me.”


Christian didn’t know it at the time, but things were about to take a drastic change. Looking back now, he calls it his big “glow up.” Christian graduated from Capital as arguably one of the most well-known and well-liked kids in his class. How did he achieve that? It was as simple as holding open the school’s front door.


“I just really like seeing everyone’s faces in the morning and having that feeling of making people’s days brighter,” Christian said. “As it went on there were a lot more smiles, a lot more verbal gratitude."


At the graduation on June 17, Capital Spanish teacher Joseph Alonso spoke about Christian. “There’s no better example of kindness than our own Christian Dailey,” Alonso said, to loud applause from the crowd. “Every morning, Christian would stand at the front doors of our school wishing us all a good day. I was so touched by how such a simple but powerful act of kindness made me feel that I began to model Christian, wishing everyone that I saw in the mornings a good day too. Thank you, Christian. It makes a difference. And you made a difference.”


WASA award winners pose for a photoCongratulations WASA Region 113 award winners

Congratulations to Olympia High School student Bea Wilhelm, community leader Joe Ingoglia, and Executive Director of Secondary Education Mick Hart for being recognized at this year’s Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Region 113 annual awards dinner.


More than 100 people attended the May 25, 2022 event to recognize “outstanding educational administrators and others who have made extraordinary contributions to K-12 education.”


Following is information shared during the WASA awards dinner:


WASA Student Leadership Award: Beatrice (Bea) Wilhelm

The 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.


Olympia High School ninth grader Beatrice Wilhelm exhibits natural leadership through her consistent support of others. The 14-year-old, who was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 5 and has been wearing a torso brace since second grade, started an Olympia chapter in 2020 of the international “Curvy Girls Scoliosis Support Group.” Bea brings girls with scoliosis together monthly to raise awareness, support one another and organize fundraisers to provide “Higgy Bears” – specially made stuffed animals for children with scoliosis – to a local hospital. Bea is described as a competent, reliable and supportive individual who is respected by her peers and teachers.


WASA Community Leadership Award: Joe Ingoglia

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


Joe Ingoglia is an inspirational team builder who, as campaign manager for Olympia Citizens for Schools, helped lead the last three successful Olympia School District election campaigns. Ingoglia’s enthusiasm and strategic, outcome-driven leadership contributed to the success in 2018 and 2022 of a four-year Technology and Safety Levy, as well as a four-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy, approved by 70 percent of OSD voters, in 2020. For nearly 20 years Ingoglia has given back to the community in leadership roles with Boys & Girls Clubs, most recently as Director of Organizational Development with Boys & Girls Clubs of America.


WASA Retirement Award: Michael “Mick” Hart

The WASA Retirement Award honors service to the profession.


Mick Hart is retiring this month after 44 years in education – 38 of those years in public schools, including 16 years in public school administration.


Most recently, Hart served three years as the Olympia School District Executive Director of Secondary Education. Before that he worked as an assistant principal at Olympia High School, a teacher at Reeves Middle School and various other teacher and leadership positions.


He is known for cheerfully greeting everyone he sees by name, and he also plays a mean electric guitar, as well as acoustic guitar, banjo and ukulele in “The Mick Hart Band.”


Hart said he will miss the daily interactions with colleagues, students and their families. In retirement, he looks forward to spending time with his family which includes his wife, Kim, as well as five children, their spouses and 14 grandchildren. He looks forward to visits to Kauai and playing music late into his 80s, like Willie Nelson.


In addition to the annual awards presented, the WASA event program included recognition of WASA members who have served 20 years. Olympia School District administrators receiving the 20-Year recognition include Executive Director of Human Resources Scott Niemann and Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Capital Planning Jennifer Priddy.



Please submit accomplishments to communications@osd.wednet.edu. Photos are welcomed and encouraged!