Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - May 24, 2019

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
District planning for Replacement Educational Enrichment Levy in 2020

Legislators relax cap and increase accountability

Alarms of financial insolvency have been sounding off from school districts large and small across the state following the approval of the 2017 “McCleary” levy swap and tighter limits placed on local educational enrichment levies.

Based on statewide outcry, legislators realized the arbitrary caps they placed on locally approved levies were too aggressive, and relaxed the cap on how much school districts can collect from local property-tax levies beginning in 2020. However, with the relief comes increased accountability and scrutiny to ensure levy resources are applied only to enrichment activities, reported Superintendent Wade Smith.

In 2017, state legislators voted as part of the McCleary Decision to cap local levy collections for most districts at $1.50 per thousand dollars of assessed value. That has been increased to $2.50 per thousand for most districts in 2020, still far under the $3.81 per thousand approved by Walla Walla voters in 2016.

The levy-lid impact in Walla Walla resulted in a reduction of over $2 per thousand from what voters overwhelmingly approved in 2016, resulting in approximately $6.5 million less in annual operating funds to support student enrichment activities such as fine arts, Highly Capable, Advanced Placement (AP) classes, extra-curricular programs, school safety, and additional staffing to support students. Smith reviewed the new legislation with school board members Tuesday night to explain the steps needed in place to meet the new auditing requirements.

“For decades our Walla Walla voters have overwhelmingly supported these enrichment activities through our local levy," said Smith. "Although the state doesn’t seem to feel the need to fund AP classes, fine arts, and student safety, our voters have spoken loud and clear that is what they expect from their local school system."

The biggest change with the new law is a far more cumbersome accounting requirement and penalties that can be assigned if districts misappropriate local enrichment levy dollars. The district is set to reauthorize their replacement Enrichment Levy to voters in February 2020.

New high school science and math curriculum adopted

Tuesday night, school board members unanimously approved the adoption of new High School Science and High School Algebra Geometry Algebra II curriculum. Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Christy Krutulis made the recommendation following a thorough vetting process which included reviews by the Curriculum Adoption team, public input meetings, materials reviews and pilots. The new curriculum will be implemented this fall. 

District leaders make decision on Walla Walla High School window options following community input 

Walla Walla Public Schools has made a decision on the type of glass and paneling to be used for the Walla Walla High School renovation following a community survey and consultation with design experts.

There was overwhelming support for the frosted bottom panel, option E on the survey. It allows in natural light while obscuring sight inside along the portion of the window closest to ground level. There was a virtual tie between C and D for the top panels, the most tinted options. The district consulted with design experts following the survey results and selected panel D to break the tie based on natural light differences. Option D lets in nearly twice the amount of natural light compared to C, providing the best indoor experience for students and faculty.

The district will be replacing the original windows throughout the campus to improve energy efficiency and safety. The district assembled a demonstration mock-up featuring eight different window options, with varying levels of tinting and visibility for the community to weigh in on. Nearly 200 people participated in the survey.

“Safety experts recommended tinting the top panels and incorporating non-transparent bottom panels to improve safety,” said Superintendent Wade Smith. “We appreciate the feedback we received and are looking forward to replacing the windows with safer and more energy efficient models.”

Partners of the Year named

Walla Walla Public Schools established Partners in Learning Month in May 2010. This month the district sent nearly 150 proclamations and letters of recognition to our Partners in Learning.

“We so appreciate the individuals, businesses, organizations and agencies who partner with the district throughout the year to support our students,” said Superintendent Wade Smith. “We strive to Develop Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates and each of these partners offers unique experiences and opportunities for our students and staff.”

Tuesday night, the district recognized Walla Walla Future Farmers of American Alumni & Friends (Michelle & Staci Humphreys), Walla Walla Valley Early Learning Coalition (Samantha Bowen) and Betty’s Preschool (Betty Lodmell) as 2019 Partners of the Year.

District names Graduates of Distinction

Walla Walla Public Schools names this year’s honorees for the Graduates of Distinction program. They are: Peggy Blize Needham, Class of 1982; Scott Krivoshein, Class of 1983; Mary Lux Stumph, Class of 1983; and Dr. Tony Billingsley, Class of 1993.

These individuals have distinguished themselves in their communities and careers, and they continue to bring honor to the district. Celebrate alongside these accomplished alumni at a reception in their honor on Tuesday, June 4 (details listed below). Listen to their stories and hear who helped shape their lives during their school years.

Date: Tuesday, June 4
Time: 3:45 to 5 p.m.
Place: Walla Walla School District Office (Anne Golden Boardroom)

Board members report Elementary Consolidation Review and Early Learning Expansion study on track

Tuesday night, school board members continued work on their Elementary Consolidation Review and Early Learning Expansion study. The study includes options to address declining elementary enrollment and the need for more early learning programs to support kindergarten readiness and overall school success. Board members reported they believe they are on the right track with the study and appreciate having the necessary time to get stakeholder input, analysis and data. No changes will take place for the 2019-2020 school year. Board members will make a decision in November for implementation in the 2020-2021 school year.

Study Website

2019 Summer Program Offerings

Walla Walla Public Schools announces a variety of summer program offerings. Visit the district’s website for a complete listing.

Summer Programs

Personnel Report (from May 21, 2019 school board meeting)


Heather Babbitt, K-3 Intervention Teacher, Prospect Point Elementary School
Brenda Berumen, First Grade Dual (Spanish), Edison Elementary School
Megan Davin, Third Grade, Berney Elementary School
Ana Diaz Madrigal, Fourth Grade Dual (Spanish), Sharpstein Elementary School
Stephanie Garcia, Spanish, Walla Walla High School
Brooke Kimball, Special Education, Lincoln High School
Melissa Lopez, Dual Kindergarten (Spanish), Green Park Elementary School
Mikayla McFetridge, K-3 Intervention Teacher, Sharpstein Elementary School
Amity Priore, Dual Kindergarten (Spanish), Green Park Elementary School


Caralyn Smith, Special Education, Prospect Point Elementary School, 3 years
- was on a leave of absence for the 2018-2019 school year

Gary LeValley, Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op, 3 years
Esparanza Martinez, Health Room Assistant, Blue Ridge Elementary School, 2 years
Halley McCormick, Para-Educator, Garrison Middle School, 2 years
Shelly Norsworthy, Para-Educator, Lincoln High School, 3 years


Nathan Ferraro, Para-Educator, Garrison Middle School, 12 years
- will serve as a Special Education Teacher at Garrison for the 2019-2020 school year

School Stories
WWHS JROTC holds 100th annual review, change of command and pass in review

Walla Walla High School cadets in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps held their 100th annual review and change of command ceremony Wednesday.

The morning began with drill demonstrations in the small gym followed by the outdoor portion of the agenda. Once cadets moved outdoors, the new battalion commander was promoted and then command of the Blue Devil Battalion was passed from outgoing Cadet Col. Brock Betzler to newly-promoted c/Lt. Col. Luke Matlock.

Awards were presented during the ceremony to: Andrew Schroeder for most improved armed drill team member; Ramon Lopez for most improved unarmed drill team member; Josh Grau for most improved color guard #1 team member; Jacob Carlile for most improved color guard #2 team member; and Ramon Lopez for most improved rifle team member. Trophies for best indoor drill company and best pass in review company both went to Co. B, commanded by c/1st Lt. KaiRhea Gordon.

Lt. Col. Bill Bialozor, Senior Army Instructor, announced that c/Col. Brock Betzler was the winner of the annual Clark Erdman Scholarship. The $1,000 scholarship is presented to the cadet senior who submits the best essay based on a leadership topic selected by the SAI. Judging is done by a panel of JROTC alumnae and military veterans.

Lt. Col. Bill Bialozor also arranged to have Marjorie Penner Saranto help present student cadets with their honors and medals. Marjorie is 100-years-old, and in 1936, she was a member of the first Wa-Hi Sponsors Company. Marjorie spoke fondly of her experiences at Wa-Hi and in JROTC.

SEATech Health Sciences Careers/Pre-Nursing pinning ceremony

SEATech Health Sciences Careers/Pre-Nursing held its Pinning Ceremony Monday culminating the year’s work. More than 250 parents attended. Also this week, students have been sitting for their NNAAP Examination for their Certified Nursing Assistant license.  Instructor Sandy Thomas said students took a two-hour written exam and tested on 5 out 22 skills with a state evaluator. 

Community invited to Wa-Hi Farm Day

• Farm Day at the Walla Walla High School farm
• Friday, May 24
• 3:30-5:30 p.m.
• Families are invited to visit the school farm at Wa-Hi and learn about livestock and agriculture

JROTC Military Ball celebrates accomplishments 

Walla Walla High School cadets in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps recently held their annual Military Ball. The evening was dedicated to recognizing excellence among cadets in the program and announcement of the Blue Devil Battalion leadership next year.

• SAI Leadership Award - Maxwell Wooster, Daniel Girardin, Zachary Gray, and Gabrielle Neagle;
• JROTC Distinguished Service Award - Shandra Fine, Paige Lockwood, Dakota Buman, and Katherine Thompson;
• Washington Army National Guard Award - Jarek Hamm;
• Reserve Officer’s Association Award - Sonia Soto;
• Assn. of the United States Army Award - Johnny Leal;
• 82d Airborne Division Award - Nancy Aguirre;
• Daughters of the American Revolution National Defense Committee. ROTC Medal - Cara West;
• Sons of the American Revolution Award - Trenton Janson;
• American Veterans ROTC Recognition Award - Josh Grau;
• American Legion Award - Madeline Steinle, Keven Edelman, and Nicole Hunter;
• Veterans of Foreign Wars JROTC Citation and Award - Ryan Piekos;
• Military Order of the World Wars JROTC Award of Merit - Brett Ferguson;
• Scottish Rite of Freemasonry JROTC Achievement Award - Zed Kincheloe and Luke Matlock;
• Non-Commissioned Officers Association Award - Brandon Walters;
• Mike Dunham Distinguished Leadership Award - Cara West and Brock Betzler
• Distinguished Cadet Award - KaiRhea Gordon and Cadet Brock Betzler;
• Superior Cadet - Cassidy Hanson, Ramone Lopez, Luke Matlock, and Cara West.

The final business of the evening was the announcement of the Blue Devil Battalion chain of command and staff for the graduating class of 2020. Those positions and selectees include:

Company Commanders (all will be Cadet First Lieutenants): Braden Holgate, Keven Edelman, Jake Baldwin-Nunan, Ramon Lopez-Gutierrez, Annabelle Towsley, Daniel Girardin. Company First Sergeants will include Ayden Lanphear and Dezzaria Martz.

Next year’s Executive Officer will be Cadet Major Aria Reeves; S1 (Personnel): c/Captain Mikayla Schille; S2 (Security & Intelligence): c/Capt. Zachary Gray; S3 (Operations & Training): c/Capt. Zed Kincheloe. He will also serve as Armed Drill Team Commander. S3 (Operations) c/1st Lt. Keifer Jackson; S4 (Logistics & Supply): c/Capt. Canon Salazar, and Assistant S4 c/1st Lt. Bryan Garcia; S5 (Public Affairs): c/Capt. Nick Patterson; S6 (Technology): c/Capt. Josh Hunter; S8 (Battalion Activities): c/Capt. Hailey Johnson; S9 (Battalion Recruiting): c/Capt. Gabrella McDonald; S10 (Battalion Fitness): c/Capt. Jarek Hamm. Hamm will also command the IAED Team and Fitness Team; S11 (Drill & Ceremonies): c/Capt. KaiRhea Gordon, who will also command the Unarmed Drill team and serve as Honor Guard Commander. The Rifle Team captain will be c/Capt. Dakota Buman.

The new cadet battalion commander will be c/Lt. Col. Luke Matlock. The Command Sergeant Major will be Josh Grau, who will also command Color Guard 1.

May CTE newsletter

Click HERE to read the May CTE newsletter.

Wa-Hi music students receive honors for musical

The following members of the recent Wa-Hi spring musical production Seussical the Musical received Honorable Mention status from the 5th Ave.Theater adjudicators of Seattle:

Honorable Mention:
• Outstanding Music Direction (Overall/vocals)
• Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Collin Gabriel as Horton the elephant
• Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Featured Ensemble Role: Isaac Swanson as Mr. Mayor
• Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Group: The Whos

Actual Nomination:
• Pit orchestra members received a Nomination for Outstanding Orchestra

“The 5th Ave.Theater adjudicated 128 musical productions this school year and to receive an Honorable Mention means essentially top 16 and an actual Nomination is top 8 or 9 depending on the category,” said Music Coordinator Roger Garcia. “The awards presentation ceremony will take place at the 5th Ave.Theater in Seattle on June 3.”

GEAR UP announces summer offerings

GEAR UP is partnering with Walla Walla Public Schools this summer to offer a number of summer programming opportunities for the classes of 2022-2023 (current 8th and 9th graders.) Camps are filling up fast so sign up soon to reserve your student’s spot. Summer program kick off is Monday June 24.
• June 24-28 Sports Science Camp - with a trip to the WSU Sport Science Department, a campus tour of WSU Pullman and lunch on campus
• July 8-12 Powered by Math - with a trip to Ice Harbor Dam and a sub lunch at Firehouse Subs in Burbank
• July 22-26 CSI Walla Walla - with a trip to WW County Courthouse and the Pendleton Crime Lab and a lunch at Big John’s in Pendleton
• August 5-9 Fly Away with Math - with a trip to the WW Airport and Air Traffic Control Center. Includes a Subway lunch
• August 5-23 Algebra Readiness Camp .5 Elective Credit available to all students
• August 19-23 Brain Games - daily lunch included

Community Stories
Summer Parkways event planned June 2

Summer Parkways, also known as Open Streets, are popular events that are happening in many US cities because they promote physical activity, build community, and support the local economy. By closing streets to motor vehicles, they become places where people of all ages, abilities, income levels and backgrounds can come out and improve their health in a fun and engaging way.
• Summer Parkways event - June 2 from 1 to 5 p.m.
• Alder Street, from Park St. to Roosevelt St. will be closed to vehicles
• Local businesses and organizations, SPWW volunteers and the WW Parks & Recreation Dept. will offer a wide variety of family friendly movement-centric activities, a bicycle safety event, free healthy snacks and fun.

City offers free summer lunch program

The City of Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Department invites area youth for the FREE summer lunch program June 17 to August 9. Summer lunches are for youth ages 1-18. The Summer Meals program is sponsored by the USDA. Text “food” to 877877 to locate a food site near you or visit www.wwpr.us

Dance Center presents Evening of Impressionism

The annual end of year, all studio ballet recital of The Dance Center will be on Saturday, June 1 at 7 p.m. at Cordiner Hall. For this “Evening of Impressionism”, Idalee Hutson-Fish, Phyllis Rothwell, Ashley Akacich and Brooke Perkins have created classical ballet pieces based on a piece of art from the Impressionistic era. They have been inspired by the art of such greats as Degas, Monet and Van Gogh. The tiniest of 3 year olds to graduating seniors will be represented on stage. The Danza Classica Ballet Company will also present several works including a piece choreographed for them by guest artist Kevin Jenkins. Tickets are available at Earthlight Books and at the door. $20 reserved seating, $15 General admission.

City Parks & Rec Update

• Lacrosse Class/Camp - Grades 1 – 8 - $40 - $60
• NFL Flag Football July 1 – August 8 – Grades 2-8 - $55
• Youth Fall Soccer – Ages 5-14 - $50 until June 30
• Pickleball for All – 16 and up - $45
• Little Kicks Soccer – Ages 3-5yrs - $46
• Youth Golf Lessons – Ages 7-16yrs - $46
• Youth Art Classes – Ages 5-13yrs - $20
• Free Youth Track and Field Clinic – Grades K – 6
• Gentle Yoga – Ages 12 & up - $44+
• Parent-Little Yoga – 0-4mths $44
• CJoy Yoga in the Park – 12 and up - $40+
• Swim Lessons 3mths and up - $35
• Sea Monkeys Swim Team - $77
• Hatha Yoga – Ages 12 & up - $40+
• Free All Comers Swim Meet – All Ages – August 10
• Sweat & Swim Boot Camp – Ages 12 & up - $40+
• Adaptive Swim – All Ages - $2 per session
• 2019 Veterans Memorial Pool Passes are on sale!
• Scholarships available for youth programs. To apply stop by the Parks and Recreation office at 55 E Moore St.

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