Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - September 8, 2017

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
Walla Walla Public Schools’ new Strategic Plan targets improvement in state test results
State Superintendent Chris Reykdal released results of the most recent state tests on Thursday, Sept. 7. A total of 2962 Walla Walla Public Schools students completed the English language arts exams, 2935 were tested in math and 1323 in science during the April and May state testing window.

The tests administered in Spring 2017 include:
• Grades 3-8 and high school: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests in math and English language arts
• Grades 5 and 8 Measurements of Student Progress in science
• Grade 10: end-of-course tests in biology

Walla Walla Public Schools assessment results indicate the district struggled to meet statewide averages in 3-8 ELA and math, science, and high school ELA. The district exceeded state averages in high school math and graduation rate in addition to a lower-than-average drop-out rate.

Walla Walla Public Schools recently approved a new five-year Strategic Plan. The district’s new Strategic Plan focuses on providing students high quality instruction through aligned and coherent systems while meeting students’ social and emotional needs in a safe and engaging environment. The district’s new Strategic Plan calls for 2.5% improvement per year in SBAC index scores in English-Language Arts and Math for grades 3-8. Professional development for teachers, data analysis, curriculum adoptions and new materials are in place to support this bold success target. The School Board will be measuring the district’s improvement efforts by monitoring success indicators throughout the system. State assessments results are one success indicator continually monitored.

The district is also focusing on lowering chronic absenteeism rates and reducing 9th grade course failures in core content classes as strategies to improving academic achievement. The new five-year road map also calls for more resources to address student social and emotional issues, Latino Outreach, Special Education, student activities and afterschool programs. Middle school soccer teams were added this year and all activities fees were waived for grades 6-8. Additional mental health and behavior specialists were hired this school year and a new Health Clinic specializing in mental health support was opened this fall at Walla Walla High School.

The district’s new Strategic Plan also addresses opportunities to close areas where achievement gaps persist. Steps taken include the hiring of Dr. Victor Vergara to direct Bilingual Education programs and Marilyn Melgoza to coordinate Latino Outreach efforts. A new English Language Development program is also being developed for all English Language Learners.

“There is a lot of energy and optimism as we begin the new school year,” said Dr. Vergara, who was the 2016 Distinguished Latino Educator of the Year in Oregon. “We know we have an achievement gap and are ready to work as a team to engage our students and help them succeed.”

For a complete look at all district state assessment information, visit the OSPI school report card:
(NOTE: Elementary scores are subject to change slightly due to state data entry errors discovered by WWPS. OSPI is correcting the results and will have accurate scores posted in the OSPI Electronic Report Card system soon.)
District follows federal and state guidelines for outside activities in times of poor air quality

Walla Walla Public Schools follows guidelines established by the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), and the Washington State Department of Ecology when determining precautions to take during poor air quality conditions. Walla Walla Public Schools administration and staff monitor the online resource AirNow (www.airnow.gov) and Air Quality Index (AQI) to help guide their decision making around outside activities such as recess, physical education, and afterschool activities. In addition, consultation with the School District Nurse, Washington’s Air Monitoring Network, local health agencies, and other resources may be considered.

General Air Quality Monitoring Procedures:
• (Morning of): The superintendent or his/her designee will announce accommodations or modifications for outdoor/indoor activities for the school day prior to the start of school. This will be announced via email to all staff in addition to other social media communications.
• (Afternoon/Afterschool Activities): By midday, when feasible, the District Athletic and Activities Director or his/her designee will announce accommodations or modifications for all after-school district-directed outdoor activities. Coordination with WIAA, the Mid-Columbia Conference, and other governing activity associations may result in relocated contests, alternative practice areas, and canceling of specific practices and/or events. This will be announced via email to all staff in addition to other social media communications.
General Guidelines:
• When outside air quality conditions reach what is deemed “unhealthy” levels, the district will normally move all outside physical activities indoors.
• When prolonged outside poor air quality conditions are experienced, indoor air quality may also be affected. Supervising adults will initiate appropriate modifications to the activity levels indoors on a site-specific basis due to varying levels of building condition and age of indoor air handling units.

School board preparing stakeholder survey

School Board members conducted a Study Meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5 to discuss surveys they are develping to get input from students, parents, staff and community. The district will collaborate with The Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) for staff, parent and student surveys, while utilizing a third-party research firm for the community survey.

The Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) survey tool allows the district to conduct deep analysis of perceptions and the effectiveness of current practices. CEE surveys are standardized to allow for comparability between schools and districts across the nation. Founded in 1999, CEE partners with over 950 schools in 280 districts in the western U.S. and beyond with a common goal of improving student learning and organizational effectiveness.

Tuesday night, the school board and Superintendent Wade Smith discussed themes and questions for inclusion in the community survey. Organizational performance, fiscal management, transparency and safety and security were among the themes discussed. School board members and Superintendent Smith will continue question development in the coming weeks for the community telephone survey.

School board introduces new meeting format

School board members have introduced a new meeting format this school year to allow time for in-depth discussions on Strategic Plan related issues and topics. The first school board meeting of the month will be a Study Meeting. The order of business will include a consent agenda and study item topic. Study item topics will focus on Strategic Plan goals and initiatives. The second school board meeting of the month is a Business Meeting. It is a more traditional meeting with special programs, announcements, reports and citizen comments. Study meetings are the first Tuesday of the month and the Business meeting is the third Tuesday. Both meetings start at 5:30 p.m. For a complete schedule of board meeting dates, visit the WWPS webpage.

Superintendent Smith addresses DACA decision

Email From Superintendent Wade Smith to Staff and Stakeholders (9/5/17)

Colleagues and Stakeholders,
As many of you are aware, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced this morning (9/5/17) the sunset of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) that was put into place during the Obama administration. Come March 5, 2018, individuals will begin losing their status unless congress implements legislation to continue and/or modify the now-expired executive order. Although we have no way to know how many students and families this may affect within Walla Walla Public Schools, one can only assume that this will impact a number of our pupils, their relatives, and other stakeholders.
As I have shared with you prior, our Board, district, and staff stand firm in educating ALL students. We are both a tolerant and compassionate district. Through our collective actions we will continue to reassure our students that Walla Walla Public Schools is a place where diversity of thought, belief, culture, sexual orientation, and ethnicity, is honored and respected in a civil, safe, and compassionate manner. This reminder serves critical as our nation continues her debate over the DACA/immigration policies currently under examination.

Diversity in Walla Walla Public Schools continues to be regarded as a remarkable asset, one that provides a rich and glorious tapestry in the fabric of our educational program. As such, it was acknowledged and formally adopted as one of our core beliefs, and continues to inform and guide both our daily actions and decisions. Diversity is our strength.
As requested from all of you prior, please continue to help safeguard our campus culture so that it remains a healthy one. I would ask that, when appropriate, you reaffirm and re-assure to students that our primary mission has always been, and will continue to be, their safety and well-being while at school. Remind them that we will always do everything in our power to ensure our campuses are ones that reflect and support tolerance, respect, and civility. We will never ask students about their immigration status.

To help codify this important message into action, we developed our “We Belong Here” campaign. This follows a resolution adopted by our Board last February in support of all students. If you notice students in need of support, please direct them to an intervention specialist or counselor at your school. Both Sergio Hernandez and Dr. Victor Vergara have and will continue to provide resources and connections to support students and their families.
Thank you in advance for your sensitivity and understanding toward this situation. Together we can ensure a learning environment that guarantees all students are afforded the opportunity to develop into Washington’s most sought-after graduates.

Personnel Report (from Sept. 5, 2017 School Board meeting)

Jillian James, Math (.4 FTE), Walla Walla High School Opportunity Program
Laurie Schuetze, Special Education, Sharpstein Elementary School
Saydel Wold, First Grade (temporary), Sharpstein Elementary School

Benjamin Bentley, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary School
Elizabeth Butler, Kitchen Assistant, Prospect Point Elementary School
Karli Cortez, Para-Educator, Blue Ridge Elementary School
Gerard Duncan, Para-Educator, Lincoln High School
Kody Duncan, Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op
Ruby Gonzalez, Assistant Secretary, Green Park Elementary School
Juan Hernandez, Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op
Judy Hui, Secretary to Director, Assessment and Student Services
Christine Kirkwood, Health Clinician RN, Walla Walla Public Schools
Joanna Polk, Para-Educator, Berney Elementary School
Kevin Reniche, Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op
Shawn Reser, Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op
David Saranto, Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op
Eugene Thompson, Bus Driver. SE Washington Transportation Co-Op
Tara Wyrembelski, Para-Educator, Pioneer Middle School


Tim Blair, Special Education, Garrison Middle School, (did not begin)
Emily Ward, Special Education, Sharpstein Elementary School, (did not begin)

Jennie Courtney, Health Clinician RN, Walla Walla Public Schools, 7 years
Luz Cuellar, Health Room Assistant, Blue Ridge Elementary School, 1 year
Maria Cuellar, Health Room Assistant, Garrison Middle School, 1 year
Debbie Holt, Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op, 19.5 years
Olivia White, Library Technician, Garrison Middle School, 1 year

Rodney Outlaw, Para-Educator, Lincoln High School, 1 year
- August – October 2017

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Locally, the Walla Walla County Commissioners signed a proclamation Sept. 5 declaring September Suicide Prevention Month for the county. Several activities are planned this month in Walla Walla County to share resources and information on the topic of suicide.

Candlelight Vigil for Suicide Prevention Awareness
Tuesday, September 12
7 p.m.
Land Title Plaza.

safeTALK suicide prevention training
Tuesday, September 26
5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
College Place High School.
This training is free and open to all adults from Walla Walla, College Place and surrounding areas. A great opportunity for parents and community members. The link to register is https://www.eventbrite.com/e/walla-walla-safetalk-training-tickets-37129014883?aff=ebdsorderfblightbox.

New Awareness Campaign Reach Out
Campaign a partnership with Tangent Media
- New website and Facebook page: http://reachoutww.org/ https://www.facebook.com/reachoutww/.
- The goals of these sites are to share resources, encourage folks who are struggling with suicidal thoughts to reach out for help, and encourage others to reach out to anyone they think may be struggling. We want to break down the stigma of mental health illness and mental health challenges. Our workgroup’s goal is to gather partners throughout the region and to combat suicide as a community.

Suicide Prevention Work Group
- Meets on the second Friday of each month at 9 a.m.
- Meetings held in the training room upstairs at 314 W. Main Street
- Anyone who is interested in participating can contact Jessalyn Waring for further information - jwaring@co.walla-walla.wa.us

Washington State Launches Attendance Awareness Initiative

With more than 16 percent of Washington students chronically absent, September has been named Attendance Awareness Month. Chronic absenteeism is described as missing 10 percent of the school year — or about 18 days — for any reason. Nationally, five million to 7.5 million students miss nearly a month of school every year. Washington is currently ranked second worst in the nation, based on the U.S. Office of Civil Rights federal data collection.

Walla Walla Public Schools set a goal to reduce Chronic Absentee rates from its current mark of 16 percent to 10 percent by 2021-22 to ensure all students fully benefit from their education by attending school regularly. Attending school regularly helps children feel better about school—and themselves. Consistent attendance will help children do well in high school, college, and at work.

• Starting in kindergarten, too many absences (excused and unexcused) can cause children to fall behind in school.
• Missing 10 percent (or about 18 days) increases the chance that your student will not read or master math at the same level as their peers.
• Students can still fall behind if they miss just a day or two days every few weeks.
• Being late to school may lead to poor attendance.
• Absences can affect the whole classroom if the teacher has to slow down learning to help children catch up.
• By 6th grade, absenteeism is one of three signs that a student may drop out of high school.
• By being present at school, your child learns valuable social skills and has the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with other students and school staff.
• Absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with school work, dealing with a bully or facing some other potentially serious difficulty.
• By 9th grade, regular and high attendance is a better predictor of graduation rates than 8th grade test scores.
• Whether your child is excused or not, absences add up. As few as two absences a month can affect student performance.

School Stories
Air Quality impacts Wa-Hi Sports schedule

Smoke from regional wildfires is impacting air quality and game schedules for Wa-Hi sports. Visit the Walla Walla High School webpage for schedule changes and updates:

GEAR UP helps prep students for ACT exam; Activity supports district goal to improve ACT scores

WSU GEAR UP and Walla Walla High School will be partnering with Sage College Prep Services to offer a series of classes to help Walla Walla High School students prepare for the October 3rd ACT. The classes will be held on consecutive Saturdays in September and will cover all required sections of the ACT test.
Sage Instructor, Rich Quadrel, Ph.D. founder of Sage College Prep Services will review core content and help students learn special test taking strategies specific to the ACT;
• Triage the question
• Put material in a useful and understandable form
• Ignore irrelevant issues
• Manage their time and work efficiently

The ACT is a standardized college readiness assessment test that measures a student’s skills in five core areas: English, math, reading, science and an optional writing portion.
This year Walla Walla Public Schools has set a target goal to increase ACT composite scores by 2.1 points. WSU GEAR UP and Sage College Prep Services are excited to partner with WWPS with this goal. ACT Test Prep Courses will be held Saturdays September 9, 16, 23 and 30th. Students will have the opportunity to select either a morning session (8-12) or an afternoon session (1-5.) These test prep courses are a $900 value and all course registration fees will be paid for by WSU GEAR UP.

Community Stories

2017 Ability Walk and Roll September 30

The Walla Walla Valley Disability Network presents the 2017 Ability Walk and Roll Saturday, Sept. 30 at Eastgate Lyons Park form 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Join individuals with special needs and/or disabilities and those who love them during this walk and roll along Mill Creek to Tausick Way and back (approximately 1 mile). Lunch, medal and activities are included as part of the registration fee of $10 per person. Children under the age of three are free. For more information and registration forms, visit: www.wwvdn.org.

Tabitha’s Closet offers formal wear for Homecoming and Prom

- Tabitha’s Closet is a place for students to borrow formal wear for Homecoming and Prom
- Telephone calls accepted Sept 10 with the appointments beginning Sept. 11
- 1420 S 2nd Ave
- 509.730.1126
- Open by appointment only (Monday-Friday)

Picture Lab volunteer workshops scheduled

“Looking for a fun way to become involved in your child’s classroom? Become a Carnegie Picture Lab volunteer and help bring art history and art creation lessons to Walla Walla’s elementary schools. This nonprofit organization schedules a visit to each classroom three times a year.

If you would like to become one of our volunteer teachers or assistants, please plan to attend ONE of the following volunteer training sessions:
• Wednesday September 20 from 10 -11:30 a.m.or 5:30-7:00 p.m. or
• Thursday, September 21 from 10 – 11:30 a.m.

*Held at the Carnegie Picture Lab Studio at 515 E. Main Street, downtown Walla Walla
Visit us at www.carnegiepicturelab.com
Write: info@carnegiepicturelab.com, or call: (509) 526-6921

Dress a Living Doll event October 14

• Dress a Living Doll, now known as Clothes for Kids, annual Spaghetti Feed and Style Show
• October 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Assumption Church
• Information: Kay Barga - bargabk@charter.net

City Parks and Recreation Update

Youth Fall Soccer Referees - Paid position. $10-$18 per hour. You choose your schedule. Also accepting volunteers.
Fencing - Ages 10-17 - Beginning - $38 Intermediate/Advanced - $48
Guitar - Ages 12 & Up - $40
Ukulele - Ages 12 & Up - $40
NEW! Ukulele & Guitar Jam Session - Ages 12 & Up - Free
Pencil Portraits - Ages 14 & Up - $30
Mat Cutting - Ages 14 & Up - $30
Watercolor - Ages 16 & Up - Beginning - $81 Intermediate/Advanced - $104
Nia - Ages 12 & Up - $40 & Up
Bellydancing - Ages 12 & Up - $65

For more information on these programs or to register, please go to http://www.wwpr.us
Like us on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/wallawallapr

Whitman College Science Outreach and Student Engagement Center present Sharing Books, Talking Science

• Sharing Books, Talking Science by Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz
• Sign up here: https://goo.gl/forms/rzSL4vkgzHY7LVZH2
• Next Generation Science Standards, and with guidance from Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz
• With Sharing Books, Talking Science you’ll have the tools and confidence to infuse curriculum with scientific thinking and explore ideas with your students...even when you aren’t teaching science.


September 15 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Coffee and light dinner will be served.
Hall of Science Room 151

September 16 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m
Coffee and light refreshments will be provided.
Hall of Science Room 151

Clock hours are available
Books will be for sale at the event.

Walla Walla to honor Batman actor Adam West September 19

Walla Walla is honoring legendary actor Adam West Tuesday, Sept. 19. The Adam West Day event includes a showing of West documentary “Starring Adam West”, a Q&A panel, music, food, contests, an official lighting of the Bat Signal, activities for kids, and much more.

The Adam West Day schedule of events:
● Q&A panel at The Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Walla Walla with Ruben Procopio, an American animation and comic book artist, animator, and sculptor, who West once called his personal sculptor.
● A showing of the documentary “Starring Adam West” at the Gesa Power House Theatre in downtown Walla Walla.
● Official lighting of the Bat Signal in the evening.
● Live music and kids activities in the downtown Walla Walla Plaza.
● The Adam West Experience, a joint effort of downtown Walla Walla businesses. Each participating business will display a bat sticker that indicates its involvement, which could include a special, a giveaway, or a drink or food item named in West’s honor. An award will be given to the three downtown businesses with the best decorations.

For more information on planning a trip to Walla Walla, go to visitwallawalla.com. For more details on Adam West Day, visit: https://www.facebook.com/adamwestday/.

“Big Idea” Speaker Series, Fall 2017

• Presented by the American Association of University Women and the Walla Walla Public Library
• 7 to 8:30 p.m. Walla Walla Walla Public Library, 238 East Alder

Sept. 28 - Ode to the Harvesters: Examining Current Agricultural Labor Issues in Washington State

Oct. 26 - Hanford: Myth & Reality? A Current Look at the Cleanup

Nov. 30 - Suicide Prevention & Youth Mental Health: The Positive Impacts of School-Based Health Clinics.

More Information:
Marilyn Hawkins, AAUW, mhawkins@prhawk.com, (509) 876-8202
Jennifer Reading, Walla Walla Public Library, jreading@wallawallawa.gov, (509) 524-4435

YMCA offers childcare and part-time employment

Are you in need of After School Childcare? Check out the YMCA After School Program at www.wwymca.org OR 509-525-8863

Are you interested in part time employment? Check out the YMCA job opportunities at www.wwymca.org OR call 509-525-8863

Additional Information: Katie Svilich
Childcare Director
Walla Walla YMCA
509-525-8863 Ex106-Office OR 124-Classroom

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