Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - Feb. 8, 2019

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories

Weather related sports and activities cancellations (Feb. 8-10)

All WWPS events, activities and playoff competitions scheduled for out-of-town for Feb. 8-10 are cancelled due to inclement weather. All Walla Walla Public Schools events and activities scheduled for in-town Feb. 8-10 are on schedule at this time. Any in-town event/activity cancellations this weekend will be communicated as those decisions are made.  

Conferences & Holiday No School Days

• No school: Feb. 14 and 15 (parent/teacher conferences)
• No school: Feb. 18 (Presidents Day)
• Classes resume Tuesday, Feb. 19

Board to lead community conversation to address elementary enrollment declines and early learning needs

School board members discussed a recent preschool expansion grant, early learning center, elementary enrollment projections and facility capacity during Tuesday’s monthly study meeting. The bulk of the discussion centered around how to address the district’s trend of declining elementary enrollment numbers, down 248 students in nine years.

“Class counts that used to range between 450-500 students per grade have gradually receded to sizes ranging from the 380’s – 410’s,” reports Superintendent Wade Smith. “In just a few short years, while maintaining our current ~25:1 avg elementary student to class ratio, this will result in nearly 30 empty general education classrooms across our six elementary schools.

State, regional and local experts are also predicting stable enrollment over the next 10 years. Superintendent Smith says this enrollment trend has resulted in significant financial challenges for the district.

“Not only has the ‘McCleary Levy Swap’ negatively impacted Walla Walla disproportionately, as our elementary student count has continued to wane, we have strayed further and further from the state’s funded prototypical model.”

Board members considered two options for addressing these issues. Option One called for possible changes to take effect during the 2019-2020 school year and Option Two delayed it one year.

“The Board reached consensus that greater outreach and input into the necessary changes outweigh the financial impacts for one year,” said Smith.

The board will begin a comprehensive process to glean vast stakeholder input as the district develops an implementation plan for Fall 2020 to best meet student learning needs and district operational interests.

Grant funds full-day preschool expansion to enhance kindergarten readiness 

Walla Walla Public Schools’ youngest learners in the Head Start/Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) Preschool are getting a boost in their educational services thanks to a state grant and new partnership with Educational Service District (ESD) 123. The recently announced ECEAP award will add 30 preschool slots and expand most services to full day, five-days-per-week programming beginning next fall. Currently the district’s 234 preschool students only receive ½ day, four-days-per-week programming through a blended state (ECEAP) and federal (Head Start) funding model due to financial limitations. The expanded preschool program will now be available to 264 qualifying students at Blue Ridge Elementary, with a majority now receiving full-day services.

“Many qualifying families are unable to participate in the current program due to their inability to find morning or afternoon daycare and Friday coverage,” said Superintendent Smith. “The full-day, five-days-per-week program will relieve that challenge, provide enhanced learning opportunities, and also make it more cost effective to ensure busing is available to all of our families.”

Analysis and outreach from local organizations including the Walla Walla Valley Early Learning Coalition, Community Council and Walla Walla Early Learning Taskforce reveal a need for more early learning services based on the lack of sufficient preschool opportunities and limited access to related services. As identified in the 2018 Walla Walla County Community Health Report, four of Walla Walla’s six elementary schools fell below the statewide average for kindergarten readiness, pointing to a need for the increased services.

ESD 123 will serve as the primary service provider for the ECEAP Program at Blue Ridge. The ESD 123 partnership has also opened up the opportunity for WWPS to apply for a recently announced Head Start Duration grant to provide supplemental funds to increase program hours as well for qualifying students. This funding opportunity will allow the district to further expand and improve services for preschool students. The district will learn in the coming weeks if it will receive the additional Duration funding, but early indication reveals that the award is likely, according to Smith.

“The Duration Grant, if awarded, will ensure long-term funding and solvency for the Head Start program for current and future students,” said Smith. “Our goal is to serve all qualifying families and ensure our preschool students are kindergarten ready when they enter our Walla Walla Public School system.”

Personnel Report (from Feb. 5, 2019 school board meeting)

Dana Chandler, Principal, Prospect Point Elementary School, 4 years

William Bialozor, JROTC, Walla Walla High School, 11 years
Michele (Mell) Gribnau, Kindergarten, Green Park Elementary School, 27 years

Nathan Gibb, Para-Educator, Garrison Middle School, 2.5 years
Tara Hooker, Para-Educator, Blue Ridge Preschool Programs, 1 year
Tim Lyon, Para-Educator, Pioneer Middle School, 1 month
Leslie Moreno, Para-Educator, Blue Ridge Preschool Programs, 3 months
Tom Vicari, Head Custodian, Garrison Middle School, 31 years

Tyler Comstock, Speech Language Pathologist, Special Education, 5 months
• .2 FTE leave of absence for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year

Graduates of Distinction nominations now accepted

Nominations are now open for the district’s prestigious Graduates of Distinction program. Nominations for this year’s recipients will be accepted through March 15. Please consider nominating an outstanding graduate or encouraging someone you know to submit a nomination. Recipients will be honored prior to the June 4 School Board meeting.

Purpose of the Award
The purpose of the Walla Walla Public Schools Graduates of Distinction program is to provide an avenue for recognizing high school graduates of Walla Walla Public Schools who have distinguished themselves in their communities, professions, or careers; and to honor the Walla Walla Public Schools staff members who were the most inspirational in the lives of those individuals.

Who may nominate?
Anyone interested in Walla Walla Public Schools.

Eligibility for nomination
• Must have graduated from high school in the Walla Walla Public Schools at least 10 years prior to nomination.
• Need not be a current resident of Walla Walla.
• Need not be present to accept the award, but will make a concerted effort to be present or send a representative to accept the award.

How to nominate?
Forms: Fillable PDF nomination and supporting letters forms are available online at: www.wwps.org (Graduates of Distinction page) or in hard copy at the District Office, 364 S. Park St. – Walla Walla, WA 99362. Mail or hand deliver the completed hard copy nomination form and three supporting letters by March 15 to:

Walla Walla Public Schools
Attn: Mark Higgins, Director of Communications
364 S. Park Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362

Better Together Series presents Healthy Relationships discussion 

• Monday, Feb. 11
• 5 p.m. (dinner)
• 5:45 p.m. (childcare and presentation)
• WWPS District Office (364 S. Park St.)

Special Education Director Libby Thompson and Walla Walla Valley Disability Network Director Cyndy Knight invite parents with special needs children and district staff to the next Better Together series presentation addressing Healthy Relationships.

Theresa Fears, MSW from the Arc of Spokane will be in Walla Walla to present “Healthy Relationships – the secret sauce to a good life”. Theresa is the developer of the Healthy Relationships curriculum for youth with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Her curriculum is taught at various Spokane/Cheney school districts and has been evaluated as a state-wide sexual abuse prevention curriculum.

The training will include a free family dinner at 5 p.m. and a presentation at 5:30 p.m. District Para-professionals will be providing free childcare and Spanish translation will be available.

The Better Together Learning Series is for both parents and educators, and brings the latest research to Walla Walla, ultimately helping our children and students in special education reach their highest potential.

We look forward to seeing you and value your input. To RSVP and to learn more, visit the WW Valley Disability Network website: wwvdn.org

Winter Parent Conference Schedule

Tuesday, February 12 from 3:30-7:15 p.m.
Wednesday, February 13 from 3:30-7:15 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 from 8:00 am -3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 12 from 3:30-7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, February 13 from 3:30-7:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 from 8:00 am-3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, February 13 from 3:15 -7:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 from 8:00 am -7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 13 from 3:15 -7:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 from 8:00 am -7:15 p.m.

Tuesday, February 12 from 3:30-7:15 p.m.
Wednesday, February 13 from 3:30-7:15 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 from 8:00 am -3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 12 from 3:00-7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, February 13 from 3:00-7:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 from 8:00 am – 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 12 – Arena style conferences in both gyms from 3:45-7:15 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 – Classroom drop-in conferences from 7:45 am-3:15 p.m. (lunch break from 11:30 – 12:00)

Wednesday, February 13 – Classroom drop-in conferences from 3:30 pm-7:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 – Scheduled conferences from 7:45 am – 3:15 p.m.

Tuesday, February 12 – Classroom drop-in conferences from 3:15-7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, February 13 – Classroom drop-in conferences from 3:15-7:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 – Classroom drop-in conferences from 3:15-7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 13 – Drop-in conferences in the gyms from 3:30-7:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 – Scheduled conferences and GRCs from 7:45 a.m.-3:15 p.m. (lunch break from 11:30-12:00)

Wednesday, February 13 – Drop-in conferences from 3:30-7:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 14 – Scheduled conferences from 7:45 a.m.-3:15 p.m. (lunch break 11:30-12:00)

School Stories
Garrison Principal featured in video welcoming next year’s 6th graders

Garrison Middle School Principal Robert Elizondo has been busy planning for 5th grade transition in preparation of serving next year’s 6th graders. Parent nights, school visits, peer mentoring and other events highlight the plans. He recently completed a quick video showcasing his school’s 5th grade transition plan.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHZ6q0xd7Vs

Garrison MS 5th Grade Transition Plan Outline:
Important Dates:
• 1st Friday of each month: Coffee w/ Principal
• March 18: Parent Night @ Prospect Point
• March 19: Parent Night @ Blue Ridge
• March 20: Parent Night @ Sharpstein
• June 3: Step Up Day – 5th graders visit Garrison

Transition Highlights for February, March and April:
• Garrison Middle School administrators, counselors and leadership students will visit elementary schools to provide information to 5th grade students about their transition to middle school.
• Information letters and registration forms will be mailed home to parents/guardians.

At Garrison Middle School, students can:
• Earn high school credit in Spanish, Algebra, Geometry and Dual Language
• Explore and perform in band, choir & orchestra
• Compete in sports with no pay to play fees
• Join after-school programs (Millennials, GM Success, STEM & intramural soccer)
• Explore STEM and computer literacy courses
• Take a full range of Honors level courses
• Benefit from interventions and support in Reading, Math and English Language Development

New Edison crosswalk flashing light improves safety

This week, City of Walla Walla crews installed a new rectangular rapid flashing beacon at Edison Elementary to improve safety at Alder and Bridge Streets. The bright flashing lights will alert motorists to be careful and yield to pedestrians. The project is a partnership between the City and WWPS and linked to Goal 4 of the district’s Strategic Plan addressing safety.

Congratulations to the Wa-Hi Instrumental Program

The Walla Walla High School Instrumental musicians traveled to Richland High School and competed in the Columbia Basin Music Educators Association’s Solo & Ensemble contest this past Saturday. Each student and ensemble performed in front of an adjudicator and received a rating of I, II, III, IV, V, with I = superior rating and V= poor. The top three musicians in each category (winner, 1st alternate, 2nd alternate) are ranked, with the winner going on to compete in April at the State Solo & Ensemble Competition in Ellensburg.

Wa-Hi Regional Solo & Ensemble Standouts

Flute Solo:
• Winner: Thomas Kaminsky

Small Woodwind Ensemble:
• Winner: Thomas Kaminsky-Flute, Keeli McKern-Clarinet, Blake Averett-Piano

Piano Solo
• Winner: Blake Averett

Large Brass Ensemble:
• Winners: Wa-Hi Brass Quintet – Rebecca Whitehurst-Trumpet, Owen Peterson-Trumpet, Ryan Watilo-Trombone, Braden Holgate-French Horn, Ezekiel Thompson-Tuba

Clarinet Solo:
• 1st Alternate – Keeli McKern

Viola Solo:
• 2nd Alternate – Adelaide Snow

Wa-Hi graduate breaks University of Idaho scoring record
Congratulations to Walla Walla High School Class of 2015 Graduate Mikayla Ferenz for breaking the all-time women’s basketball scoring record at the University of Idaho. Mikayla led the Blue Devils to state her senior year. Her father Chris is a teacher at Walla Walla High School and her mother Michelle is the women’s head basketball coach at Whitman College.

See more HERE
Edison students raise funds for Blue Mountain Humane Society

Congratulations to Edison Elementary students for raising $782.66 for the Blue Mountain Humane Society through their “Pennies for Paws” fundraiser. The funds will help the Humane Society keep the animals healthy and happy during the winter months.

“A huge thank you to our families for supporting this effort, and our student leadership “Dream Team” for facilitating this event,” said Principal Dr. Julie Perron.

Garrison Middle School students put art skills to use refurbishing robotics lab cart

Garrison Middle School students Rosilyn Duckworth and Elizabeth Reinecke recently volunteered to rehabilitate the robotics lab computer charging and storage cabinet. Taking their inspiration from stacked Lego® Bricks, Rosilyn and Elizabeth planned the project’s design and developed a plan to paint the cart. The duo sacrificed their personal time and came to school on a Saturday to disassemble, clean and paint the aging computer cart in primary colors. Afterwards, they spent several lunch periods painting the Lego® logo on the front. Their artwork enhances the classroom décor for all students and showcases their effort and creativity.

“The completed project is a reflection of the girls’ selfless service to their school,” said teacher Mike Bertram. “Their outstanding work and volunteer spirit exemplifies the Garrison mission statement: We Believe, We Respect, We Inspire.”

Chamber Singers perform with acclaimed singing group

This week the Wa-Hi Chamber Singers participated in the Symphony Series Concert at Cordiner Hall featuring a joint performance with The King’s Singers. The King’s Singers are a British a cappella vocal ensemble founded in 1968. They are named after King’s College in Cambridge, England, where the group was formed by six choral scholars. Learn more about The King’s Singers: https://www.kingssingers.com/

“I am really glad our students were able to perform with The King’s Singers,” said Choral teacher Colleen Hatch. “The concert was incredible and a once in a lifetime experience.”

The students agreed.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Chamber Singer Jerry Ladderud.

Community Stories
AAUW Book Sale February 22-24

You and your family are invited to attend the 44th Annual AAUW (American Association of University Women) Book Sale at the Marcus Whitman Hotel, Friday, Feb 22, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb 23, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb 24, 9 am – 4 p.m. Children (14 and younger) each receive one free book from the extensive children’s section (Picture and Chapter books). There is also a Young Adult category, featuring books for 12 to 18-year-olds, with more adult themes than children’s Chapter books. The Book Sale’s approximately 40,000 books are divided into more than 40 categories. Prices range from $.50 to $4 for most titles. The Collectible Books section featuring rare, collectible books are priced individually. Credit and debit cards will be accepted, along with checks and cash. Proceeds from the sale fund local scholarships for women returning to college, and local educational projects and events.

City of Walla Walla announces opportunity for student exchange trip to Italy

The Walla Walla/Cannara, Italy Sister City Committee is sponsoring an exchange trip for two local students to Cannara, Italy, from June 12-26.  While staying with a host family, you can participate in cultural events, learn ancient history, and acquire a sense of daily life in a small village.  Transportation and lodging costs are provided.  For applications materials and more information, email Judith Johnson at jsj@bmi.net

Great Explorations event features STEM adventure for area girls

On Saturday, March 9, AAUW’s Great Explorations in Education will present “Reach Beyond the Stars,” a science, technology, engineering and math adventure for 5th through 8th grade girls at Whitman College from 9:00 a.m. to 2:45 pm.

Setting the tone for this year’s event will be Dr. Liz MacDonald, a 1995 Wa-Hi graduate and NASA scientist, who will be the keynote speaker at Cordiner Hall. Her presentation, from 9 to 10 a.m., is open to the public.

Liz received a NASA scholarship to attend the University of Washington for her undergraduate degree; she earned a PhD. from the University of New Hampshire and then worked for nine years in satellite national security at the Los Alamos National Laboratory – all by the age of 37. She currently works in NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She leads a citizen science project called Aurorasaurus (http://www.aurorasaurus.org/), which uses citizen science and social media to predict the Northern Lights, which can even be seen in Washington. In 2018, she announced the discovery of a new aurora called STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement).

Liz has been studying the glitter of the Northern Lights for 20 years, and it never ceases to amaze her. In addition to doing citizen science and outreach such as keynoting this Great Explorations, Liz does some amazing high-tech space physics. She has also led teams that build instruments to measure charged particles in the space environment for NASA and DOE satellite and rocket missions. Outside of work, she enjoys skiing, hiking, and poetry. In 2018, Liz was named a Walla Walla Public Schools Graduate of Distinction.

After the keynote presentation, girls will have the opportunity to attend three workshops offering informal, hands-on experience with careers that utilize science, technology, engineering and math. These workshops will give the girls an opportunity to meet and form personal contacts with women in these exciting careers. There will be 30 workshops to choose from, with intriguing titles such as “The Telltale Heart,” “Getting Cheeky,” “Snap, Crackle, Pop,” “Eye Spy,” “Toothpicks and Gumdrops,” and “Can You Think Like a Planet?”. Topics include art in science, space physics, robotics, all variations of biology, entomology, veterinary medicine, blood typing and many more.

Brochures with registration forms will be mailed and available at schools and the YWCA after February 4. Pre-registration is required and, this year, online registration is a new and preferred option (www.gewallawalla.com). The fee to attend is $5 and includes a lunch including fruit and water. Scholarships are available. Registration forms need to be received by March 6 or until classes are full.

For more information on registration or scholarships, please contact Carol Morgan, 520-9977, or e-mail questions to gewallawalla@gmail.com

Great Explorations is sponsored by the American Association of University Women Walla Walla, Whitman College, Walla Walla Public Schools, and the YWCA. Financial support is received from J.L Stubblefield Trust, Yancey P. Winans Testamentary Trust, Mary Garner Esary Trust, George T. Welch Testamentary Trust, Blue Mountain Community Foundation, and Clara and Art Bald Trust. A special thanks also goes out to the Whitman College Computer Science Department, Dr. Janet Davis and the Senior Capstone Project for developing and creating the online registration website. For more information on this press release, please contact Kay Schisler at 509-386-5413.

Blue Mountain Youth Football announces sign-ups open for Junior Blue Devil 7-on-7 league

• Register now for Junior Blue Devil 7-on-7 football for students in grades 1-11
• Click here to sign your child up: wallawallayouthfootball.com
• Practice will start the first week of March
• Cost is $50 per player
• Teams compete in the 7-on-7 passing league. All games are played in the Tri-Cities

City Parks & Rec Update

Scholarships available for youth programs. To apply stop by the Parks and Recreation office at 55 E Moore St.
Mother Son Super Hero Bash – Ages 3 years and up – February 9 - $15 per Mother - Space is limited
Walla Walla Shootout Soccer Friendlies (9v9) – Birth Year 2007 – 2010 - $300 per team
Blue Mountain Girls Softball – Ages 5 – 12 (age as of 12/31/18) - $40 - $55
Spring Softball Skills Clinic – Ages 5 – 13 - Sunday, March 23rd – see website for times - $35 - Pitching and catching clinic - $15
St Paddy’s Day Dash 5k/10k - Sunday, March 17 @ 10am - $12
Youth and Adult Art Classes taught in Spanish - $12 - $80
2019 Veterans Memorial Pool Passes are on sale!

For more information on these programs or to register, please go to www.wwpr.us
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