2022-23 Accomplishments

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2022-23 Accomplishments


Boston Harbor Elementary recess students jumping

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 2022


OSD Elementary Summer School 2022

OSD Elementary Summer School 2022Over the course of the summer more than 120 kindergarten through fifth grade students participated in the Olympia School District elementary summer school program which took place at both Garfield and Roosevelt elementary schools.


In addition to sharpening their math and reading skills, students participated in ‘Camp InventionOpening in a new window’ lessons from the National Inventors Hall of FameOpening in a new window. Through the activities in “Rescue Squad,” students designed and built zip lines, created glowing flowers using simple circuitry, raced their garbage collecting machines, and developed advertising campaigns to promote conservation and reduce pollution.


After speaking to students throughout the summer, there was a wide range of “favorites” from school. We did our best to catch them all. Here is a sampling of what we heard from students, in their own words; viewing the final project they designed, making the rescue pod, designing their squad pod, sending the squad pods down the zip lines (and counting how long it took), working with brand new art supplies, banging the drums and making music, read alouds, working with a team, games, recess on the new playground, new toys, making new friends, seeing friends from school, the Rooster Dance (Garfield K-1) and of course snack!


Thurgood Marshall MS to get solar panels in new partnership

Thurgood Marshall MS to get solar panels in new partnershipThe Olympia School District is partnering with Olympia Community SolarOpening in a new window to build a new Community Solar installation on the Thurgood Marshall Middle School roof.


The Thurgood Marshall Community Solar Project is planned to begin construction in summer 2023 and will offset the power usage of the school with renewable energy.


The project will include 306 solar panels across the school roof. Puget Sound SolarOpening in a new window will design and install the 150 kw system that will be capable of producing 149 thousand kilowatt-hours a year. This will reduce the school’s energy bill, contribute to sustainable infrastructure in Olympia, and create student learning opportunities about renewable energy.


"We are proud to partner with Olympia Community Solar on the Thurgood Marshall Middle School solar project,” said Olympia School District Superintendent Patrick Murphy. "This project will create learning opportunities about renewable energy for students and aligns with OSD Student Outcome #6. One of the indicators in Outcome 6 states that our students will ‘Advocate for and contribute to local, regional or global improvement by utilizing natural resources in an efficient, sustainable way."



September 2022


McKenny Elementary unveils new Traffic Garden McKenny Elementary unveils new Traffic Garden at ribbon cutting ceremony with students on bikes wearing helmets

Last month McKenny Elementary School had a formal ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of its new 'Traffic Garden'. McKenny was the recipient of a $10,000 grant from State Farm Insurance which helped make this project possible.


A traffic garden is a small-scale network of connected streets with scaled-down traffic features and other roadway elements for educational programs, skills building and active engagement. They help create a small world to ride bicycles, steer scooters and act out pedestrian roles. Children navigate and practice using roadways, intersections and crossings in a safe environment free of motor vehicles. They learn while having active fun and interacting with features and other users.


It took an outpouring of support from the greater Olympia community to bring this project to completion; Safe Kids Thurston CountyOpening in a new window donated 40 helmets, Child Care Action CouncilOpening in a new window and Intercity TransitOpening in a new window supported the project from start-to-finish, the Olympia community generously donated bikes and two wheeled scooters so that cycling safety could include all grade levels, members of the McKenny cycling community (and Walk N Roll representatives) donated their time to maintenance all the bikes before the PE unit was taught. There was even a miniature maintenance garage set up in the play shed!


National Merit Scholarship Program SemifinalistsOHS National Merit Semifinalist in the front of OHS with counselors

Olympia High School recently recognized three seniors who were selected as National Merit semifinalists. National Merit Scholarship Program is a national academic competition for high school students to provide scholarship financial aid to attend college. Students qualify for the program by achieving a high score on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).


In early September high scorers, or approximately one-third of the overall testers, are notified by the NMSC that they qualify as semifinalists. OHS Career Counselor Jennifer Boelts had this to say about these young bears: “Those few who rank among the 1.5 million students who entered the National Merit Scholar Competition have achieved a prestigious level of academic recognition that can provide numerous opportunities. We are so proud of our scholars for achieving this tangible, quantifiable and satisfying achievement. Jonathan is an amazing scholar who is a lightening fast learner, always willing to learn new things in both STEM and beyond. Audrey models excellence both inside and outside the classroom. Owen is a self-motivated natural leader that showcases incredible integrity."


If chosen as finalists, the three OHS students will be considered for one of the three types of National Merit Scholarships; College SponsoredOpening in a new windowCorporate SponsoredOpening in a new window or National Merit $2,500Opening in a new window. The 7,250 awards available have a combined value of more than $28 million. Winners are chosen on the basis of their abilities, skills and accomplishments. Notification of scholarships for finalists begins in late March 2023.



October 2022


OSD board welcomes two new student representativesHeadshots of two new student representatives Ali Owen and Ru'ya Russell

The Olympia School District Board of Directors recently welcomed two additional student representatives for the 2022-23 school year.


Completing the board are Ali Owen, a junior from Avanti High School, and Ru'ya Russell, a senior at Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA). They join the two existing student representatives who took their oath of office in June of 2022 – senior Rahma Gaye from Capital High School, and junior Christine Zhang from Olympia High School.


“Ru’ya and Ali bring unique experiences as students from our alternative high schools ORLA and Avanti that will help inform our supports and strategies for secondary education,” said Olympia School Board President Maria Flores. “The Board is excited to learn from our students and honor student voice in our work.”


Students walk and roll during Walk to School MonthStudents walk and roll during Walk to School Month photo of crossing guard wearing bright vest while student and principal walk through cross-walk

Each year the Olympia School District officially proclaims the month of October as Walk to School Month. Students look forward to walking and biking to school, and this year was no exception!


Several elementary schools scheduled a day this month when groups of students, joined by family members, staff and community partners, met at designated neighborhood locations to walk and roll to school. Even a few family pets joined in on the fun at this year’s Walk N Roll events, coordinated by Intercity Transit and supported by local police and fire departments.


Garfield Elementary Principal Brendon Chertok joined nearly 60 students, family members and community partners on October 19 during the school’s Walk N Roll kickoff for the year. Garfield is one of several schools that continue to partner with Intercity Transit to schedule monthly Walk N Roll events throughout the school year.


The city of Olympia also proclaimed October as Walk to School Month this year. OSD Superintendent Patrick Murphy shared about the school district’s proclamation during a City Council meeting in September and thanked the city and the Intercity Transit Walk N Roll programOpening in a new window for partnering on walk to school efforts. Walk N Roll events will continue at several OSD elementary schools this year.


Christine Zhang of Olympia HS recognized as STEM Rising Star

Christine Zhang of Olympia HS recognized as STEM Rising Star headshot of student with leaves in background

Christine Zhang, a junior at Olympia High School, was recently recognized as a Washington STEM Rising Star awardee for the Capital Region. Zhang was nominated by OHS teacher-librarian Stacy Udo. She was selected for her leadership within the student organization ‘BYHER4HER’ and her commitment to making computer science education accessible in her community. You can find a brief video of Zhang talking about her passion for STEM on the Washington STEM YouTube ChannelOpening in a new window.


“The purpose of BYHER4HER is to bring computer science classes to every student in the district regardless of race, gender and socioeconomic status”, she said. “It is absolutely crucial that we start exposing younger audiences to computer science to give them the skills they need to succeed in the competitive job industry in the future.


OHS Principal Matt Grant had this to say about Zhang; “She’s a mover and a shaker. Christine shows a passion for computer science unlike anyone I have ever seen. Her drive to make sure all students receive education in basic computer science began with the realization that all future jobs will contain various aspects of these skills. I am impressed with her steadfast commitment to provide STEM to all students in our district. She is destined to leave a legacy for future generations of girls in STEM.”


School board appoints Talauna Reed to District 2 positionBoard members with new appointed member Talauna Reed

The Olympia School Board unanimously agreed to appoint Talauna Reed to fill the District 2 board director position vacated by Justin McKaughan, who resigned effective August 31, 2022.


Reed participated in her first board meeting after being sworn into office at the October 27, 2022 Olympia School Board meeting. She will serve a one-year term through December 2023.


Reed is the Lead Outreach and Advocacy Navigator at Interfaith Works where she works with unhoused community members. In that capacity, Reed facilitates training in Cultural Diversity, de-escalation, restorative justice models, anti-racism and trauma-informed care across multiple organizations and in collaboration with other Thurston County providers. She facilitates meetings in the community where she educates audiences with tools for dismantling white supremacy in order to create a more equitable society.


Olympia School Board President Maria Flores, on behalf of the school board, stated the following: “The content of Talauna Reed’s answers throughout the process, as well as her advocacy and experience working with underserved members of our community, raised her to the top of the applicant pool and was the basis for our decision. During the interview process she showed herself to be a committed and thoughtful advocate for the students of our school district. We look forward to working with her to address pressing equity and inclusion issues in our school district. We believe she’ll be an important voice and partner moving forward.”


Reed has two children who attended Olympia schools. She has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and was named a YWCA “Womxn of Achievement” in 2020 as part of the organization’s annual Olympia event. The YWCA describes the award as a way to amplify and celebrate inspiring South Sound community members as part of its collective work to bring about racial and gender justice.


Featured Photo (above): Talauna Reed is the fourth person from the left. Photo taken during the October 29, 2022, OSD school board meeting where Reed was sworn into office.


November 2022


Salmon studies for Lincoln ES students at Kennedy Creek Lincoln Elementary 2nd-3rd grade students wearing coats and hats outside in group photo at Kennedy Creek.

Last week Angela Hannah’s second/third grade classroom at Lincoln Elementary School took a field trip to Kennedy Creek in Olympia to study the spawning habits of chum salmon. This was the culmination of the classroom’s ongoing work with the Since Time Immemorial Curriculum honoring salmon.


In preparation for the field trip the class studied the life cycle of salmon in our region, the importance of healthy ecosystems, our impact on the environment and the vital impact of community members who work to protect the land and honor the ecosystems. Over the course of a few weeks students were treated to several guest speakers; Morgan Bond, Ph.D., a NOAA Fisheries Biologist, a researcher and an underwater photographer.


Over the course of the next two hours students experienced the beauty of the land and learned about the first inhabitants, whose relatives are still working today, to care for and preserve the ancestral land of the tribes in collaboration with the state and other community partners.


This field trip connected the in-classroom work with the ‘Movers and Shakers’ schoolwide theme. Movers and Shakers relates the ongoing study and connection to social justice work. Throughout the year students have opportunities to learn from (and about) people and organizations working for the greater good. Later in the school year students will have the opportunity to engage in work that they themselves find meaningful.  View photos and videos of the Kennedy Creek field tripOpening in a new window


Capital HS welcomes visiting Japanese students four female high school students sitting at desks in a classroom.

Capital High School is finding unique opportunities to strengthen friendships and create engaging opportunities for cultural exchange and experience. CHS recently welcomed 29 ninth graders (and four chaperones) from Shukutoku Sugamo private school in Japan. After a lengthy 12-hour flight, the group arrived at SeaTac and spent the first few days sightseeing in Seattle and adjusting to the 17-hour time difference. The visiting students were thrilled to experience a day in the life of a typical American high school student.


The visiting students arrived at CHS shortly after 9 a.m. on a Friday (2:15 a.m. Saturday, in Tokyo) and were greeted by Katzer’s first period Japanese 2 class. Students made welcome posters to show hospitality to their guests and bowed to show respect upon meeting. For the remainder of the school day the visiting students spent time with their CHS hosts; attending classes, eating lunch and navigating passing periods.


Their weekend was spent with host families exploring Olympia with many attending their first Friday night football game. Host families provided the visiting students with a glimpse into the Pacific Northwest visiting the Capitol building, checking out local parks, eating at a pizzeria, bowling and taking in some shopping at the mall. CHS junior Genoa Loertsher had this to say about his family's experience hosting; “Hosting was an amazing eye opening experience. Overall hosting a student from Japan has made me more interested in cultures outside of my own. It makes me curious what it would be like to be in his shoes, to be introduced to another way of life and live like people on the other side of the world.”


Transitional Kindergarten Pilot launches in January 

Three preschool age students playing with toys on colorful carpet

We are excited to announce that Olympia School District (“OSD”) will offer a Transitional Kindergarten (“TK”) pilot this coming January 2023! TK provides free full-day schooling for students who have not participated in a regular early childhood program. This program is designed to support students who face barriers to future school success. Students can be eligible to participate in this program the spring semester prior to their kindergarten year.


The TK pilot will be located at Madison Elementary School and staffed by a teacher and paraprofessional using developmentally-appropriate curricula. There will be up to 18 students in the classroom. Applications are now being accepted from across the Olympia School District. Priority access will be given to eligible students from the Madison Elementary School attendance area.


OSD's Transitional Kindergarten program is designed to meet the needs of students who have not had access to a regular early childhood program. Olympia School District is committed to non-competition with community-based regular early childhood programs. We invite Olympia-area providers to visit our website for more information about our program and to learn how to participate in coordinated enrollment.


OSD Transportation earns another perfect score! Side of OHS bus with transportation department, Frank Wilson, Superintendent Murphy

Washington State Patrol inspects school buses in every school district in Washington state twice a year — a surprise inspection of part of the fleet in winter and a scheduled inspection of all buses during the summer. These bus inspections are like a school exam that is strictly pass or fail. A failure would result in a bus being removed from service. Olympia School District Transportation Department aced the test.


On the recent surprise visit by the state patrol, inspectors pulled a random sample of 25 percent of the fleet — a total of 21 buses. There are 120 different issues that can remove a bus from service, ranging from major mechanical issues to more minor things like a missing first aid kit. OSD can proudly say that was not a concern during their inspection, as 100 percent of the buses passed inspection.


The transportation team's continued success is a combined effort where safety is always the top priority. Mechanics perform thorough full vehicle inspections every 1,500 miles. This occurs when the drivers perform their daily before and after trip checks. The daily checks include both inspecting the inside and outside of the bus. Latches, mirrors, steps, lighting, secured cushions, gauges, emergency exits, brakes and supplies are a few of the items on those checklists. Any concerns brought up by the drivers are quickly passed on to the mechanics for follow-up. They are the definition of a well-oiled machine.


Project Homecoming at Capital High School brings community together Two Students and Counselor each holding a formal gown in front of a table with additional formal pieces at Capital High School

For many students Homecoming and Prom are opportunities to make lasting memories, including dressing up with friends to dance the night away. The cost of that fairy-tale night can often be expensive, preventing students from attending. Capital High School recognized that challenge and found a way to help the students who wanted to attend without the worry of the price tag.


Capital High School Counselor Nicole Sande has since taken over the Pop-Up project and is passionate about providing opportunities for students to participate and look their best. White had this to say about how she has seen the Pop-Up grow over the years; “The CHS staff is wonderful, they are always going above and beyond for the kids. Because of Nicole, and this wonderful community, the Pop-Up Shop continues to be possible. Everyone always comes together and donates to make these events possible. It’s truly incredible to see it all come together!’


CHS Interim Principal Lillian Hunter shared how important this project has become to the student body; ”More than 900 students attended this year's Homecoming Dance. Students were transformed by their beautiful attire. We know that many of those students would not have attended if they had not acquired a garment from the Homecoming selection. For many students, this was their first experience in dressing formally. Our focus on equity and inclusion goes beyond the classroom. All of our students should have access to these types of activities and not be hampered by the ability to find the right garments.”



December 2022


Capital Lakefair Royalty Court: A tradition spanning five decades Capital Lakefair Royalty Court: A tradition spanning five decades Photo of 5CHS Counselor Jenny Morgan, CHS Career Center Office Professional Kimari Helmer, 1957 Lakefair 'First Princess' Gretchen Christopher, current Lakefair Queen (and CHS student) Grace Salapka and the 2023 CHS Royalty Court candidates Malia Kolle and Daynniella Hansen.

Capital Lakefair (widely known as Olympia’s annual summer festival) became a part of our community in 1957. Since that date it has become the centerpiece of summer activities in Thurston County. The Capital Lakefair Royalty Scholarship Program was introduced in 1975 and has since become one of the most recognized scholarship programs in the Pacific Northwest.

Each participating school conducts its own selection process to identify a representative who will then become a Capital Lakefair Royalty Court candidate. Each of those candidates receives a $500 scholarship. The chosen Royalty Court members receives an additional $2,500 scholarship, and the 2023 Lakefair Queen receives an additional $4,500 scholarship.

The Royalty Court candidates will be announced on January 3, 2023, on the Capital Lakefair Facebook page. Christopher has been extended an invitation to join the judging panel which will select the 2023 Lakefair Queen. We wish the best of luck to all participating candidates, you are a truly inspiring group of young students.

Brenda Beck: OSD Classified School Employee of the Year Brenda Beck holding flowers between Superintendent Murphy, and Principal Velasquez

Brenda Beck was recently selected as the 2022-23 OSD Classified School Employee of the Year. Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Beck is not surprised in the least by this news. And for good reason. Beck is described as “the heart and soul of Avanti, a superhero.” She is the first person students and families meet when applying for enrollment and the last person they see when they pick up their diplomas.

Beck’s official title is Avanti High School Office and Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) Manager. In his nomination, Principal Mike Velasquez included quotes from students and staff who care for Beck as she does for them. “What makes her stand out above all others is her humanity; she spreads her warmth, kindness, compassion, generosity of spirit and friendly disposition with all she meets,” Velasquez wrote.

Avanti staff shared their endless appreciation for Beck in their nomination. AHS science teacher Quasar Surprise says, “Brenda is like a heartbeat for the school."

Beck has been a part of the Avanti team for 10 years. She describes the staff as “phenomenal,” and “one of the reasons why I love where I work.” When asked what gives her joy, without hesitation she responded, “The students. Education is the most rewarding job someone can have. We have the privilege of building relationships with students and sharing more than just their education. We celebrate and support them throughout their day.”

Beck was recognized for her accomplishment and presented with an etched plaque at the December 8, 2022 school board meeting, joined by family and friends.

Hansen and Madison bring the Salish Sea to downtown Oly Hansen and Madison bring the Salish Sea to downtown Oly. Storefront display of underwater creatures made by students

Students at Hansen and Madison elementary schools are bringing joy and cheer to the downtown Olympia storefronts this winter with beautifully crafted window displays. These exhibitions were made possible through the Olympia Artspace Alliance, a non-profit organization founded in 2011. The Alliance supports artists in Olympia with exhibition and affordable studio space.

One of its ongoing projects is "Art in Olympia Storefronts," which invites (and encourages) local artists to use vacant storefronts for temporary art installations. The student art displayed from December 2022 through March 2023 combines the creatures and geography of the Salish Sea with the whimsical magic of winter.

"Winter Under the Salish Sea” and “Jelly Town" are two current storefront projects. Art teachers Lindsey Johnstone (Hansen Elementary School) and Graeme Smith (Madison Elementary School) teamed up to provide their students an opportunity to take their creations outside the halls of their schools so the greater Olympia community could bask in their creativity!

Hansen Elementary students have been working on “Winter Under the Salish Sea” as a whole school art project. Students in kindergarten through third grade made clay sea creatures that were hung from the ceiling to add the illusion of swimming through the sea. Fourth and fifth grade students made coral pieces from transparency sheets, cut into circular shapes, and decorated with permanent markers.Then they used a heat gun to shrink and form shapes that resembled stained glass. These were stacked and strung together to create the hanging colorful light-catching coral.

Madison students attached small dyed strips of muslin fabric, made of loose weave cotton, to create tentacles. Next, they attached large dyed strips of the fabric to create an elaborate background tapestry. Not only did students learn how to dye fabric, they learned about the three most common varieties of jellyfish in the Salish Sea and how to represent them using tie-dye techniques.

Avanti art apprenticeship takes flight in January 2023 White framed prints aligned on a table

At the heart of the Avanti High School art program are current teacher Cecily Schmidt and former AHS staff member Evan Horback. Together, they are working on an Arts for All COVID Relief (A4A) grant to pilot an apprenticeship program for students. This program will connect Avanti's incredibly talented senior art students with local artists in the Olympia community.

The objective of Avanti's apprenticeship pilot is to provide mentorship, and increase opportunity, for students to learn professional skills in the arts and design industry. Rather than simply bringing artists into the classroom, Horback, who has been contracted to work as Avanti’s design and arts strategist on this grant project, and Schmidt are aiming to have students learn directly from artists in their studios.

The six Avanti seniors that have been accepted into the program completed an application, submitted a sample of work and met all the necessary requirements. Horback shared a metaphor of the program and the process; “Imagine the apprentices as the pilot of an aircraft, and they are being paired with a copilot. That copilot is a local artist who shares similar art interest and style. For 10 weeks the pilot will learn about method, organization, planning and marketing from their co-pilot.” While they prepare for flight the pilots are working closely with Schmidt and Horback as a support team for the apprentices. This sets the lens of expectations and how each student can grow as a pre-professional artist. Once the pilots have completed the pre-flight checks they will lift off in January 2023, to begin this 10 week program which will equate to roughly 25 hours of work.


Oceans, orcas and integrated learning at ORLA 

Painted salmon on construction paper hung on hallway in Olympia Regional Learning Academy

Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) takes every opportunity to make learning engaging and relevant to its students. In Anne Hankins’ seventh grade “Integrated Projects” class, the excitement of innovative learning is front and center.


This year, the schoolwide theme of study is ‘Oceans,’ and Hankins’ Integrated Projects students are passionate for ocean life and conservation. One of their current projects involves applying ratio lessons they learn in math class to scale a photograph using the grid method. They did this by creating a life-size hallway portrait of a 25-foot orca named Tahlequah (J35 in the Orca J pod).


After comparing the sizes we determined that a full grown orca was 36 times bigger than our photograph, so we separated the original image into a grid of half-inch by half-inch squares. We used 55 different 18"x18" squares on the wall to make our giant orca. Then we teamed up to draw each square and assembled them like a puzzle.” Sixth graders also contributed by making 27 brightly colored salmon to represent the number of fish it took to feed Tahlequah and her calf every day.

Seventh grader Wade Jansen spoke passionately about how this project has encouraged him to do more advocacy for orcas. “Orcas are majestic creatures. Honoring them and their habitat is very important. But before we can go out in the world and directly cause change, we have to bring attention to the cause. The orca mural is a great start and it should help bring realization to what we're doing. The mural is a life-size representation that helps people visualize the amount of food intake that these whales require. Hopefully this will convince people to get in on the action and assist the whales, whether it's by donating money, or going out in the real world and making a difference.”

Hankins' class will continue adding to their project with the help of various community resources and connections. In spring 2023 the class will rearticulate a pectoral fin in partnership with the Westport Aquarium, and Shoalwater Tribe.



School board elects new officers in annual reorganizationBoard member Darcy Huffman photo outside

Every year in December, the Olympia School Board elects officers for the coming year during its annual reorganization.


At its December 8 meeting, the board elected Darcy Huffman as this year’s board president and Hilary Seidel as vice president.


Superintendent Patrick Murphy shared a special thank you to Maria Flores for her “steadfast leadership” as board president this past year.


Board members are also appointed annually to serve as liaisons with various community groups and state agencies. This year’s appointments include:



As a reminder, January is School Board Recognition Month. The Olympia School Board will be recognized at the January 12, 2023 board meeting.



January 2023


Centennial Stars shine bright at Science & Engineering Fair

Centennial Stars shine bright at Science & Engineering Fair

More than 150 students participated in the Centennial

Elementary School annual Science Fair this month, making it the largest in school history. Students from various grades presented projects which featured physical biological, earth sciences and various other hands-on science activities.


As families, staff and guests walked through the rows of carefully thought out and beautifully constructed displays, the young scientists were ready and willing to engage visitors by explaining what they had learned and answering questions.


The science fair was just as exciting for the parents who volunteered to help; "Our kids had a lot of fun and loved their review sheets full of positive comments. It turned out amazing. Every parent had a lot of fun and agreed it was such a special event,” said CES parent Andrea Kundar.


The young scientists created more than just a science experiment, they created memories, participated in hands-on learning, had fun and put on one spectacular show. We can’t wait to see what our Stars think up next year!  View our Science Fair Photo Album on Facebook


Pioneer Elementary Celebrates the Lunar New Year

Pioneer Elementary Celebrates the Lunar New Year

Pioneer Elementary School is celebrating the Lunar New Year and it is apparent as soon as you step through the front entrance of the school! There are majestic dragons and delicate lanterns hanging from the ceiling ushering in the New Year. 


When you enter the front doors you won’t be able to miss a seven foot long dancing green dragon that stretches across the ceiling. This remarkable creature was made by students in Bonni Cazier’s and Erin Erbele’s classes. Students created the dragon by decorating paper plates using scrapbook paper, paint, tissue paper and glitter.


“You can really feel the excitement and positive energy when the students enter the building,” said PES Family Liaison Nickie Skoog. “New Year is about reunion and rebirth. People gather to celebrate with family and friends. We couldn't ask for a better place to celebrate.”


This beautiful Lunar New Year tradition has been celebrated for thousands of years, and we are thrilled to see it find a home in the Pioneer Elementary School community. Love it Bear Cubs!


View our Lunar New Year Photo Album on Facebook


Thurgood Marshall strengthens ties in our communityThurgood Marshall strengthens ties in our community

Thurgood Marshall Middle School takes pride in its commitment to continue the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., specifically when it comes to his legacy of service. In 1994 Congress passed the King Holiday and Service ActOpening in a new window. With this Act, Congress delegated the Corporation for National and Community Service (AmericorpsOpening in a new window). Like many of our schools, Thurgood Marshall has a tradition of recognizing Dr. King’s contributions to our society with what they now call their ‘Day of Service’.


On Friday, January 13, the entire TMMS staff and student body spread out across Olympia to volunteer at various locations and organizations. As Dr. King once said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”


“Marshall’s schoolwide Day of Service has become a treasured tradition for our school community,” said Citizen Science Institute (CSI) teacher Thomas Condon. “It has taken all of our staff’s efforts, ideas and sacrifices to make this an on-going special day for all we serve. Our dream is to see that one day, our movement becomes more than once a year, and all schools participate.”


Career Map Meetups Connect Students With Careers

Career Map Meetups Connect Students With Careers

Olympia School District high school counselors are helping students explore career opportunities with monthly ‘Career Map Meetups.’ These meetups have been made possible with the help of Olympia Career HubOpening in a new window, a division of the Thurston County Chamber of CommerceOpening in a new window.


The monthly career-themed connections offer high school students the opportunity to meet directly with local professionals in a particular career cluster. Kimari Helmer, office professional in the Capital High School Career Center, said, “They discuss what their jobs are all about, (a day in the life), their personal path that led them to their profession, what kinds of upward mobility there might be and what training or schooling is necessary or beneficial.” Students can ask questions to aid their exploration of the age-old question; “What do you want to be when you grow up?”


Save the Date: Countdown to Kindergarten March 4, 2023Save the Date: Countdown to Kindergarten March 4, 2023

The Olympia School District welcomes students and families from the Class of 2036 to its annual Countdown to Kindergarten celebration. This exciting and informative event is geared toward parents/guardians who have children entering kindergarten for the 2023-24 school year. Families are encouraged to attend this event to learn about the transition to kindergarten in the Olympia School District.


The event kicks off at 10 a.m. in the Capital High School Performing Art Center with a presentation by Superintendent Patrick Murphy and Executive Director of Elementary Education Autumn Lara. Families will then move to the CHS Commons to meet school and district staff, tour a mock classroom, climb aboard a school bus and much more.


We cannot wait to meet the Class of 2036! We hope you join us at Capital High School for this joyful event. Additional information will be available soon. For details on enrollment visit our Student Enrollment page on the Olympia School District website.



February 2023


McLane’s Jalissa Jones named OSD Teacher of the YearMcLane’s Jalissa Jones named OSD Teacher of the Year

Every year, the Olympia School District takes great pride in selecting a Teacher of the Year. This year we have the honor of presenting Jalissa Jones, third grade teacher at McLane Elementary School, as our OSD Teacher of the Year.


Jones was nominated by Principal Dannie Clark who had this to say about Jones’s commitment to effective teaching, as well as her priorities to serve every student at McLane; “Effective educators are those who are committed to all students within a school. These individuals participate and lead opportunities to reflect on and strengthen their practice. They are committed to being lifelong learners and that is demonstrated through their engagement with stakeholders, leaning into available learning opportunities and willingness to reflect and listen to feedback as a way to grow and learn. Jalissa exemplifies all of these qualities,” said Clark.


Jones is dedicated to the McLane community as a whole, said Clark. “She plans vertically with younger and older teachers,” Clark said. “Jones plans vertically with all staff, organizing field trips to provide students with real-life experiences that embrace in-class learning. Her commitment to rigorous, engaging learning is demonstrated through her intentionality around the planning and delivery of instruction.”


Jones herself is a lifelong learner and that is evident when you see her ply her trade in the classroom. She utilizes the tools and learning to plan with intentionality. She reaches her students because of the carefully constructed processes as an effective educator. She is always reflecting on her effectiveness. She knows that her learning and growth as an educator will carry over to the success of her students. We eagerly await what comes next in her journey. Jones will be honored in-person during a special recognition at an upcoming Olympia School Board meeting that will be announced on the OSD website and social media platforms (FacebookOpening in a new windowInstagramOpening in a new windowTwitterOpening in a new window). Congratulations Jalissa on being recognized as the 2023 Olympia School District Teacher of the Year!


Olympia Unified 'Packs Hearts' at Olympia HS

Olympia Unified 'Packs Hearts' at Olympia HS

The local Unified Basketball winter season came to a close on Saturday, February 11. To say it ended on a high note does not do it justice.


When Olympia High School advertises Pack the Gym, the students, staff and families deliver. At a recent home game against River Ridge 150 students filled out the student section. Fans held signs for players which read; Cool Breeze, Hammer Time and Let’s Go Bears. The cheers washed down from the second level of seating in the gym to the courtside seats where the OHS Cheer team led the chants. “It was wonderful to see the excitement on the faces of the athletes, mentors, coaches and fans. What a great community event!” said Olympia School District Executive Director of Secondary Education, Elia Alai'lima-Daley.


The Unified Sports programOpening in a new window partners with Special OlympicsOpening in a new window and is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition. The Olympia Bears hosted the final games of the season, joined by Unified teams from River Ridge, North Thurston, Tumwater, Yelm and Black Hills high schools. If you would like to check out the Spring season of UnifiedOpening in a new window stay tuned for their soccer game schedule beginning in April.


Congratulations to all our Unified players for another amazing season, with a special shout-out to our Oly Bears: Caleb Tebbs, Nathan O'Dell, Vienne Potter, Jonah Hammer, Riteesh Kovuri, Rachael Butler, Spencer Wells, Garrett Piedmont, Soren Mjolsnes, Tess Corwin, Head Coach Rebecca Blocher and their many high school partners. Way to go Bears, we are proud of you all!


Artist Nikki McClure makes a virtual visit to McLane ES

Artist Nikki McClure makes a virtual visit to McLane ES

In November 2023 McLane Elementary School participated in the Give a Book drive coordinated by the South Sound Reading Foundation (SSRF). SSRF is a local non-profit organization whose mission is to bring the joy and promise of books and reading to all children in the South Sound.


The goal of the Give a Book Drive is to collect as many donated books as possible. Simple as that. Any school in the South Sound area is welcome to participate. The school that collects the most donated books wins the top prize, a visit from the spectacular (local) artist Nikki McClure.


This year our very own McLane Elementary took home the top prize collecting a total of 2,444 books! By the end of the contest the entire foyer in the front of McLane was stacked with boxes and bags of books. Students were incredibly proud of their donations and the upcoming visit from one of their favorite artists.


  • View our Facebook Photo Album of Nikki McClure’s Zoom visit


Excellence! at the Avanti Exhibition and Talent show

Excellence! at the Avanti Exhibition and Talent show

Avanti High School students showcased their unique individual talents at the Avanti Exhibition Night and Talent show earlier this month. Avanti holds four of these amazing events each year. All students are invited to participate and share their passions, strengths and talents with the community.


After stepping into the Avanti High School foyer, students, families and other guests were welcomed by smiling faces, delicious treats for sale and of course original student artwork. Tables displayed easels of contemporary fine arts, paintings, sculptures, architecture, fashion, and photography. “I really enjoyed getting to see so many different types of art. I loved seeing my friends up on stage showing off their talents. The bake sale was stocked with yummy treats. The exhibition night is always great to attend because there's always so much to see, watch, listen to and eat,” said Avanti High School junior Elliana Sarno.


The remarkable array of talent on display at these events is breathtaking. If you have not attended, mark your calendars for April and June 2023 when the next Avanti Expo will take place. Stop by and grab a treat from the bake sale before taking in all the sights and sounds. You are guaranteed to leave with a full heart and a newfound respect for not only the talent, but the sense of community that makes Avanti High School so special.


If you can’t wait until then, take a peek at our Facebook Photo AlbumOpening in a new window to see some of the remarkable artwork that was on display as well as a few of the thrilling stage performances. Way to Go Boxers! We are so proud of you!


Transitional Kindergarten a Full-Go at Madison ElementaryTransitional Kindergarten a Full-Go at Madison Elementary

Our new Transitional Kindergarten (TK) pilot program is off and running at Madison Elementary School! TK provides free full-day schooling for students who have not participated in a regular early childhood program. This program is designed to support students who face barriers to future school success. Students can be eligible to participate in this program the spring semester prior to their kindergarten year.


Our TK pilot program is located at Madison ES and staffed by a teacher and paraprofessional using developmentally-appropriate curricula. It was quite apparent after about 30 seconds that this was going to be the highlight of our week! Students were attentive, inquisitive, happy, frustrated, chatty and pretty much any other big feeling or emotion you can name. All age appropriate. One thing you could not miss were the smiles on the faces of the 15+ students as they went about their business in the classroom. It was heartwarming. You don’t have to take our word for it, check out our Facebook Photo AlbumOpening in a new window that features photos and videos from our TK classroom!



March 2023


Education Support Professionals Week 2023

Education Support Professionals Week 2023

It takes hundreds of support staff (many working behind the scenes) to keep our schools safe and our students learning their best. The week of March 13-17 we celebrated Education Support Professionals Week throughout our district.


A big shout-out to all our support professionals: office staff, paraeducators, grounds and maintenance crews, administrative professionals, athletics staff, technology workers, custodians, transportation crew, nutrition services, family liaisons and every other staff member who contributes to making our schools great places to learn!


Included below are links to Facebook photo albums that we published during Education Support Professionals Week from all the schools and buildings across our district. We did our best to capture as many of our amazing staff as possible!


Education Support Professionals Week Photo Albums:



If you have not yet had a chance to follow us on any/all of our social media platforms (FacebookOpening in a new windowInstagramOpening in a new windowTwitterOpening in a new windowYouTubeOpening in a new window), please do. We would love to help keep you in the loop of what is taking place in and around our district!


Recess running programs build healthy habits and friendshipsRecess running programs build healthy habits and friendships

As the doors flung open to the Centennial Elementary School playground, students rushed outside intent on seizing every minute of their morning recess. Only instead of stopping to climb the big toy, go down the slide, twirl on bars or shoot hoops, most headed straight for the school’s grass field.


To date, 321 students have completed at least two miles and earned a foot charm and chain. Collectively, they have run 3,246 miles.


“Star Striders is definitely a popular recess activity for many of our students,” said Centennial Principal Shannon Ritter. “Some students run, jog or walk almost every day, and some students only participate once in a while. Either way, they are having a great time exercising. A sweet unexpected benefit of Star Striders has been the new friendships that have blossomed as a result of a shared interest in running. We are also fortunate that so many parent volunteers are out encouraging students as they punch their lap cards. A huge thank you to Mrs. Draper for finding creative ways of building lifelong healthy habits for our students.”


Similar programs at other schools

Several other OSD elementary schools have similar recess run/jog/walk programs and provide incentives such as plastic foot charms or wooden tokens, lanyards, medals, certificates, trophies and/or T-shirts. Boston Harbor Elementary, which has had a long-running Track Stars program coordinated by parent volunteers, Garfield Elementary Track Stars program, where students are invited to run twice a week and receive charms for miles run and recognition certificates at the end of the year. At Pioneer Elementary, 137 – more than one third – of the students schoolwide have participated in Track Stars, logging a collective 1,595 miles this year school.


At McKenny Elementary School, each student who completes at least five miles in their recess running program has their name added to lists displayed on a wall near the school gym — one for five miles, 10 miles, and so on in 5-mile increments. The wall of fame, officially called “The One Hundred Mile Club,” also features a colorful painted mural of children running, jogging, or rolling in a wheelchair on a track with a backdrop of trees, sky and mountains.


“The reason why I ran so much was because it was fun and sort of addictive, but I felt like that is what I was meant to do,” he said. It also helped, Landon said, that recess teachers told him he was ‘an inspiration for other kids to run.’


Landon logged 505 miles total in elementary school and earned 101 colorful plastic feet – so many that he had to add an extension to his chain so they would all fit. Landon has continued his love of running as a sixth grader this year at Washington Middle School, participating in cross country and also participating in McKenny Elementary School's Running Club.


Capital HS teacher Kristina Cummins receives highest honor

Capital HS teacher Kristina Cummins receives highest honor

We are proud to announce that Kristina Cummins of Capital High School has been named to the Washington State ThespianOpening in a new window Hall of Fame. “I'm truly honored to be selected by the Washington State Thespians to join their prestigious Hall of Fame. Being a part of this organization has shaped me as a theater educator. Through Washington Thespians, and as the Co-Chapter Director for the past eight years, I've had the opportunity to attend many educator conferences, participate in Leadership Summits, advocate on Capitol Hill in WA D.C., and provide opportunities for students throughout Washington to participate in our Thespian competitions and State Festivals,” Cummins said.


The Thespian Hall of Fame was established in 1990 and recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to theater education for 20 or more years. Induction into the Hall of Fame represents the highest honor awarded by the Educational Theatre Association to theater educators. Each year, new members are inducted at the EdTA Theatre Education Conference, celebrating the impact they have had in shaping lives through theater education.


Cummins' impact on students far exceeds the lights of the stage. The students that have passed through her program have made just as significant an impact on her. “They are my Tony Awards. I believe I have the best job in the world.” She has the privilege of witnessing personal growth and success from the front row — moments like when a freshman student who could barely speak loudly enough to be heard is now confidently performing dramatic moments on stage as a senior, or when the cast rallies together to persevere in stressful moments when the unexpected happens on stage. “The image of 80 beaming students from the cast and crew taking a bow on the stage to a standing ovation affirms the power of theater,” Cummins explains.


Cummins, along with Co-Chapter Director Steward Hark, received their awards during a teacher luncheon at the Washington State Thespian Festival on March 17 at Western Washington UniversityOpening in a new window. The Washington State Thespians Hall of Fame honors both Thespian Troupe Directors and non-Thespian adults.


Bravo Kristina Cummins for inspiring those around you with your passion and changing lives through the power of theater.


Student-run ‘Lunch buddies’ brings Bulldogs togetherStudent-run ‘Lunch buddies’ brings Bulldogs together

Sixth grade can be hard. The transition to middle school can be overwhelming. Not having all of the people around that you’ve spent the last six years of your life growing and learning with can be a bit of a shock to the system. The Lunch Buddies program at Washington Middle School is here to help!


The idea for Lunch Buddies began to take shape in Lauren Troyer’s science classroom at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year. Students were tasked with an assignment; pick an issue they would like to address and create a project (featuring a slideshow presentation) about how they could help resolve or address the issue which they selected.


WMS sixth graders Madeline Hartley, Cecil Pingrey, Rylee Sinor and Dylan Willoughby came together to try and find a way to bring their student body together and offer opportunities that they believed to be a necessity for their class and others. Next thing you know, Lunch Buddies was born.


“Lunch buddies is open to anyone that would like to attend, not just sixth graders who are new to the school. We don’t want anyone to be afraid or nervous to meet new people, and this makes it a little easier,” Pingrey and Sinor explained.


“Our goal is to continue this next year as seventh graders, and that the other grades will see the impact it makes and hold their own lunch buddies group. Maybe every school in the district will see the benefits and join in on the project at their schools!” said Sinor.


This is a perfect example of four brave middle school newcomers taking a chance, making a difference and bringing new opportunities for community back to our schools. Love all of this. Great work Bulldogs!



April 2023


We Got Next: JMS staff vs. students in hoops showdown

Jefferson Staff vs. Student basketball gameThe Jefferson Middle School gymnasium was absolutely packed for their annual tradition, the staff vs. students basketball challenge. JMS students filing into the gym were dressed for the occasion as the ‘Fun Friday’ theme was Tourist Day and students were wearing their finest Hawaiian shirts, flowered lei’s, fanny packs, sunglasses and large brimmed hats. The excitement and anticipation for the upcoming spring break was palpable and students brought their “outdoor voices” inside to cheer on their classmates as they squared off against their teachers in a highly anticipated showdown.


STAR Night brings LP Brown community together

LP Brown Star Night

The stars were shining bright at the first ever ‘STAR Night’ at LP Brown Elementary School. The entire purpose of the evening was to bring families in the LP Brown community together for the love of literacy. LPBES Dean of Students, Callie Jones, spearheaded coordinating this event, while staff helped make it a reality. “School is a place where every family and student can find a sense of belonging, and nights like STAR Night show how school can be the hub of a community for families," said Jones.


Families who took part in the evening events left with full stomachs, new favorite books and wondering what new stories they might find during their next trip to the library! LP Brown Elementary School Principal Sean Shaughnessy had this to say about the evening, “STAR Night was such a huge success for our community. We had over 450 students and family members participate, some came dressed as their favorite storybook characters, and we all came together to celebrate our love of reading!”


‘No Hate Tour’ brings remarkable aerial display (with a message) to CHS

Capital High School No Hate TourCapital High School’s gymnasium could almost have been mistaken for an X Games arena earlier this month. In the center of the gym was a large table top ramp, an eight foot tall quarter pipe ramp rested close to the wall and uptempo beats reverberated through the gym as BMX riders Zach Newman, Logan Place and Wesley Hark dropped in and dazzled students as they arrived in the gym. Dane Beardsley performed some incredible balancing tricks. Master of Ceremonies Dan Sieg rocked the gym with introductions and engaging dialogue throughout which included discussing bullying issues. Sieg had two “asks” for the students. First, was to enjoy the show, second, was to make all the noise! “The team appreciates loud people and positive energy, the louder the crowd the higher the jumps!”, said Sieg.

The ‘No Hate High School Tour’ is composed of professional BMX riders performing gravity-defying stunts while delivering a message of hope and courage. The No Hate Tour, now in its 23 year, is an incredibly impactful educational program that uses the energy and excitement of action sports to deliver critical bullying prevention tools, techniques and information to students in a relatable, peer-to-peer manner. The program features top BMX stars performing high-energy action sports while speaking to students about their own experiences. Specifically, they focus on bullying, overcoming obstacles, being an ally, inclusion, kindness, surrounding yourself with positive influences, problem-solving and mental health awareness.

May 2023


Teacher Appreciation week photo students with Teacher at WAMS.Teacher Appreciation Week is being celebrated throughout the Olympia School District Monday, May 8 through Friday, May 12.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy read a proclamation at the April 27 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.


OSD Ice Cream Social honors retirees and school advocates

Ice cream socialThe annual Ice Cream Social, held last month at Capital High School, was a sweet mix of ice cream and awards. The spring tradition honors the current year retirees, as well as school advocates of the year and Olympia Education Association honorees. More than 200 employees, students, friends and families filled the Capital High School commons to celebrate colleagues and volunteers.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy opened the event with a special welcome to attendees. He gave special thanks to OEA President Jodi Boe, the Child Nutrition Services team for providing ice cream and toppings, and Washington Middle School teacher Brian Morris and students enrolled in the Tech Arts Enterprises Marketing and Manufacturing class for designing and hand-crafting custom wooden pens for the retirees.

Olympia School Board President Darcy Huffman and Director Talauna Reed recognized district retirees, thanking them for their years of service on behalf of the entire district. Next, each of the 19 schools presented their “Laurie Dolan School Advocate of the Year” award. Principals honored each volunteer with a speech about the many contributions they have made to benefit the students and assist staff. Lastly, Boe presented Nikki Winkley, a teacher at Avanti High School, with the OEA Educator of the Year award. Boe also announced that Kelly Boyer, a teacher at Olympia High School, received the OEA Gary Brown Award.

We would like to thank all those who attended and wish our retirees the best in their many new adventures.


My Dream, My Journey - Mi Suen, Mi camino

Several students from Capital and Olympia high schools, and Jefferson and Washington middle schools, were recently invited to attend the Migrant-Inclusive Youth Conference at South Puget Sound Community College.

The “My Dream, My JourneyOpening in a new window” conference offered an opportunity for migrant youth to uplift their unique identities, learning styles and cultural wealth through hands-on sessions. Some sessions explored post-secondary pathways and provided tools and ideas for students to apply during their High School and Beyond Plan development.

“The Aztec Cultural workshop provided a powerful connection to the students’ ethnic heritage through an ancestral dance,” said Nancy Swanson, OSD Bilingual Family Engagement Specialist. The Indigenous dance, also known as “Danza Mexica,'' includes moves that honor ancestors, the cosmos, deities and more. The instruments used during the presentation included drums, flutes, maracas and shell ankle rattles called chachayotes. The dancers wore elaborate regalia featuring feathers, beadwork and impressive headdresses. “All students were captivated and mesmerized by the moves, the sounds and the smell (copal burning) surrounding them. The message the leading dancer offered students was that of hope for a brighter future through education,” explained Swanson.


OSD Night at the Rainiers for the Win!

Rainiers baseball game photo in stadium of smiling family with Rhubarb the Reindeer Olympia School District returned to “T-Town” last month for Night at the Rainiers for the first time since 2019. A record number of 300 OSD guests were in attendance at the historic Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. Superintendent Patrick Murphy threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and the Washington Middle School choir, directed by Stacy Brown, performed a stunning rendition of the National Anthem. This year we were excited to have Olympia High School’s very own Pepper Bear and his pal Salty join the always entertaining Rhubarb (featuring Epic Sax Gorilla) in entertaining the crowd.

With the sun setting the evening ended perfectly with the Rainiers pulling off a 7-6 walkoff victory in extra innings against the Sacramento River Cats. It was a fun night of friends, food and baseball. Thanks to all who joined us and a BIG thanks to the Tacoma Rainiers, Washington Middle School choir, Pepper Bear and Salty for another memorable game!


June 2023


End-of-year Facebook photo albums from across the district

The last two months of the school year are always a whirlwind, and this year was no exception. We are so grateful to have been able to get out to so many schools for so many different events to capture photos and videos of all the end-of-year happenings and excitement. 


Lincoln Elementary School: Home of the Movers and Shakers

Lincoln Movers and ShakersEach school year at Lincoln Elementary is accompanied by one of three schoolwide themes; ‘What Connects Us, ‘Sense of Place’ or ‘Movers and Shakers.’ These themes rotate through every three years and include an area of focus for the school throughout the year. This year the theme was ‘Movers and Shakers’ and the area of focus was Social Justice.

“Our classroom defined ‘Movers and Shakers’ as people who make change for the common good,” said Michael Stine, fourth/fifth grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary. “We were inspired by a group called Students RebuildOpening in a new window, who develop international fundraisers to raise money for a specific cause. This year their focus was called the ‘Welcoming Refugees Project.’ Our kids worked on welcoming postcards for refugees to submit to Students Rebuild and it really spurred interest in immigration and folks who were refugees. We spoke about how to be a welcoming community to people who are forced to leave, or choose to leave, their home country. Each student chose an immigrant or refugee they identified as a ‘Mover and Shaker’ to be the focus of their research.”

Research looked a bit different depending on the grade level. For the older students (fourth and fifth grade) they begin their ‘Movers and Shakers’ research at the start of the school year, as it is an area of focus throughout the year. The younger students (kindergarten and first grade) don’t begin leaning into theme work until after winter break, as there isn’t as much “research” to do at that level. The themes are a part of classroom lessons.

Class of 2023 graduation livestream recordings

Graduation season for the Class of 2023 has officially wrapped up and all of our senior classes have walked across their respective stages.

If you were unable to attend one of our five graduation ceremonies this year, or didn’t catch the livestream, you can find all of our graduation livestream recordings linked below. You will also find robust photo albums from all of our high school graduations. Congratulations to the Class of 2023!

Class of 2023 Graduation Livestream Recordings


CHS graduate builds literacy with lending libraries

CHS Eagle ScoutThere has been much to celebrate in the past few weeks for Capital High School 2023 graduate Alexandria (Alex) Weber. Last week Weber turned her tassel from right to left along with her 2023 CHS classmates, marking another achievement for this incredible student. Weber is not just a Cougar, she is also an Eagle. In addition to graduating from high school while attending Running Start and working, she continued a legacy as a recipient of the highest rank of Scouts BSA, Eagle Scout. Becoming an Eagle Scout takes years of hard work, service and determination. Weber is the definition of hard work — “a go-getter” as described by Jefferson Middle School Principal Jane Allaire.

Weber joined Scouts BSA in 2019 with the encouragement of her biggest mentor and role model, her grandmother Suzanne Thoreson. “She wanted me to find ways to connect with other people and she knew Scouts would also give me skills I would need in my future,” said Weber.

One requirement to become an Eagle Scout is to complete a project that benefits the community. When deciding on her project, she said she wanted to give access and foster something she loved, leading by example. She decided to create a free lending library book house at four different OSD schools.

“I chose this project because the Olympia School District has done so much for me as a student,” she said. “I attended McLane Elementary School, and I was really excited to be able to give back to them. I wanted my project to be centered around kids, but also something that helped the community. I loved reading in elementary school, and what better way to encourage reading than (with) fun little free lending library book houses!”


Generations rock Ingersoll at the 2023 Band Bash

Band Bash 2023The 2nd Annual OSD Band Bash held last week at Ingersoll Stadium was an epic celebration of ‘Band’ in our community. The event featured more than 700 OSD student musicians in grades 5-12 and their amazing OSD directors.

To start the concert fifth grade students played five well-loved familiar songs. Spectators and upperclassmen joined in for the final number, “Power Rock” by Michael Sweeney, clapping along to the beat of "We Will Rock You.” The middle school group conductor roared to the front of the group dressed as a Tyrannosaurus Rex and led the performance of the Jurassic Park theme song. Finally the extraordinary high school combined band showcased their skill and experience playing the whimsical and wild “Backlash,” by Katahj Copley.

If that wasn’t enough of a colossal display of talent, the invitation to perform was extended for the finale to former band members, parents, grandparents, older siblings, aunts and uncles. Together the group played “Louie Louie,” the musical phenomenon made famous by the Kingsmen in 1963.

The concert was a spectacular hour-long performance shared by generations that left the crowd singing and humming as they left the stadium.


Avanti student shares cultural pride, encourages others to do the same

Avanti Student Spotlight weaving.Avanti High School sophomore Nico Archer carries on tradition and family mottoes with a goal to encourage others to follow their dreams.

Archer's ancestral name is Sealth-eetsa, named after Chief Sealth (Seattle), descending from his second oldest daughter, Jenny Sealth. Archer is a Puyallup Tribal Member and Nisqually-Skokomish-Suquamish-Duwamish descendent. This amazing Avanti student is the first in the Olympia School District and surrounding areas to earn high school world language competency-based credits in tribal Lushootseed Language (Archer completed Lushootseed 1 and Lushootseed 2). Archer often uses the saying “hard work pays off,” and this talented student is the definition of that proverb.

Archer is an accomplished weaving apprentice, learning from generational teaching. Archer’s mother and father are master artists in fiber weaving, wool spinning and woodworking and teach at the Evergreen State College Longhouse & Education CenterOpening in a new window. Archer shares the same love for educating, carrying on the legacy by teaching weaving and sharing lessons with the next generation and interested students of all ages. Archer participates with the Salish Weaving Association Youth Council. This opportunity provides Archer opportunities to explore the career path of education and volunteer work. “After high school I’m interested in possibly becoming a teacher like my Mom,” said Archer.


Congratulations WASA Region 113 award winner Eowyn Latham Grubbs

WASA AwardCongratulations to Eowyn Latham Grubbs, an Olympia School District parent and “tireless advocate for students,” for being recognized with a Community Leadership Award at this year’s Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Region 113 awards dinner.

More than 100 people attended the May 24, 2023 event to recognize outstanding educational administrators and others who have made “extraordinary contributions” to K-12 education. The Olympia School Board also honored Eowyn during the June 22, 2023 board meeting.

Olympia School District Superintendent Patrick Murphy shared the following during the WASA awards recognition:

“Eowyn has been a tireless advocate for students, especially students with special needs. We thank her for testifying at the Legislature this year in support of special education funding. Last year, she helped to launch a districtwide parent group for families, students and staff supporting OSD students with disabilities from birth through post-high school. Eowyn also received the ‘Laurie Dolan School Advocate of the Year’ award from Roosevelt Elementary (last year) for keeping equity at the forefront of her work, including coordinating a sensory path at the school. On behalf of all of our students and families, thank you, Eowyn, for your unwavering support.”


Two OHS graduates earn prestigious National Merit Scholarships

OHS National Merit ScholarshipsIn May, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced that two Olympia High School students earned prestigious National Merit $2,500 scholarships. Audrey Shen and Jonathan Holcombe, who graduated this week, are among 2,500 students from around the country to earn the Merit Scholar designation.

Their process began in October 2021 when high school juniors took the PSAT/NMSQT, which served as the initial screen of 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.

The final 2,500 Merit Scholars were chosen from a pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists in the 2023 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.

These two Olympia High scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors who evaluated information submitted by both the finalists and their high schools.

Join us in congratulating these remarkable students as they set out on their future. Shen plans to attend the University of Washington this fall. Holcombe plans to attend Harvey Mudd College in California. Both have interest in studying computer science. Way to go Bears!




Please submit accomplishments to Maria Betts. Photos are welcomed and encourage