Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - Sept. 27, 2019

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
Jeannette C. Hayner park officially opens

Walla Walla Public Schools held a ribbon cutting ceremony Sept. 25 officially marking the opening of Jeannette C. Hayner Park on the campus of Walla Walla High School featuring the world’s largest London Plane tree. Jeannette C. Hayner (1919-2010) was a former influential school board member and Washington State Representative and Senator.

Graduate of Distinction and 1969 alum Michael Murr, in coordination with the Joseph L. Stubblefield Trust, partnered with Walla Walla Public Schools to develop the new park on the west-side of the Walla Walla High School campus.

Although commonly referred to as a “Sycamore Tree,” the London Plane is actually a hybrid offspring of the American Sycamore and Oriental Plane. This century-old majestic tree, when considering its height of approximately 150 feet tall, its crown, in excess of 100 feet, and circumference nearly 30 feet around, outshines the tallest London Plane on record in Europe, planted in 1749 to mark the centenary of the execution of King Charles I. Although the 270 year old European tree is believed to be a few feet taller than the local tree, the Walla Walla tree’s girth and crown dwarfs the Bryanston School Estate tree located in Dorset, England.

Mr. Murr approached the district last spring about developing and funding the project aimed at preserving the massive, historic tree. Fellow 1969 Wa-Hi graduate, and 28 year Walla Walla Community College instructor, Larry Harding served as the project's manager.

“We are so grateful for Mr. Murr and the Stubblefield Trust for their efforts to help preserve such an important piece of our valley’s treasures,” noted Superintendent Wade Smith. “Their financial contribution and advocacy will help ensure the majestic tree is around for generations to marvel at and enjoy.”

The park includes tree protection measures, walking paths, decorative fencing, benches and additional landscaping to highlight the impressive London Plane.

“We are so grateful that the School District shares our view that this magnificent tree should be preserved. The giant Sycamore will now be protected for centuries. Importantly, Jeannette C. Hayner Park, with its meditative quality, just might inspire or change the life of a young student or passerby now and then,” noted Murr.

Walla Walla High School Science Building groundbreaking

• Please join us for our history-making Wa-Hi Science facility groundbreaking. This amazing 18,000 sq. ft. facility features eight fully-functional laboratory classrooms to enhance learning for generations to come.
• Wednesday, October 2 at 10 a.m.
• 800 Abbott Road (Wa-Hi Campus)
• Your Bond Dollars at Work #deliveringonourpromise
• Bond Information: wwpsbond.org
• Follow Us on Twitter @bondwwps

Parent Conference Schedule

Berney Elementary
Tuesday, October 8 - 3:10 to 6:55 p.m.
Wednesday, October 9 - 3:10 to 6:55 p.m.
Thursday, October 10 - 7:40 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.

Blue Ridge Elementary
Monday, October 7 – 3 to 6:35 p.m.
Wednesday, October 9 – 3 to 6:35 p.m.
Thursday, October 10 – 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Edison Elementary
Tuesday, October 8 - 3:10 to 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 9 - 3:10 to 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 10 – 8 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.

Green Park Elementary
Wednesday, October 9 - 3:10 to 6:40 p.m.
Thursday, October 10 – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Prospect Point Elementary
Tuesday, October 8 - 3:10 to 6:55 p.m.
Wednesday, October 9 - 3:10 to 6:55 p.m.
Thursday, October 10 - 7:40 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.

Sharpstein Elementary
Tuesday, October 8 – 3 to 7 p.m.
Wednesday, October 9 – 3 to 7 p.m.
Thursday, October 10 – 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Garrison Middle School
Thursday, October 10 – 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Drop-in, classrooms), 4 to 7 p.m. (Arena-style in both gyms)

Pioneer Middle School
Wednesday, October 9 - 3:45-7:15 p.m. (Drop-in, classrooms)
Thursday, October 10 - 8:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. (By appointment)

Lincoln High School
TBD (Home visits - either two evenings or all day on Thursday)

Walla Walla High School
Tuesday, October 8 - 3:30 to 7 p.m. (Arena-style in both gyms)
Thursday, October 10 - Full-day scheduled conferences (start and end time TBD)

Wednesday, October 9 - 4 to 7:30 p.m. (Drop-in)
Thursday, October 10 – 7:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. (Scheduled - must be booked by Oct. 9)

School Board Regular Study Meeting

• Tuesday, Oct. 1
• 5:30 p.m.
• Anne Golden Boardroom (364 S. Park St.)

Board president discusses Elementary Consolidation Review and Early Learning Expansion Study


As a near-lifelong Walla Wallan, I have seen this community change in many ways over the years. Some of these changes – like the mix of storefronts on Main Street – are obvious and visible. Others emerge only after careful study of long-term trends.

A good example of a less obvious trend is the long-term aging of our population. Walla Walla continues to grow, by about one percent each year, but many of these newcomers are empty nesters or retirees. Combined with the maturing of our own resident population, I, and much of Walla Walla, look significantly grayer than we did a couple decades ago.
The impact of this change has been felt in our schools. Our district now serves 250 fewer elementary students than we did just ten years ago. Though this year’s kindergarten class was slightly larger than its predecessor, the enrollment gap continues as smaller classes move through our system each year. There are many rooms that no longer have classes in them, and five elementary schools can now support an elementary population that previously necessitated six. Reducing the number of elementary schools would not increase the number of children in each classroom.

This reality is why the Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors launched an in-depth review and outreach process in March focused on potential elementary reconfiguration. We have also been studying the possibility of repurposing an elementary school into a community-wide early learning center / community hub.

At this point, though no final decision has been made, the board has settled on a preliminary determination to move forward with plans to repurpose Blue Ridge Elementary as the new Early Learning Center. Among the many studies commissioned, the full board carefully considered and deliberated the following: 1) current student enrollment, attendance patterns, and school demographics, 2) community population trends, including future areas of growth in the community, 3) in-depth facility analysis, including site visits by Board members, 4) consultation with early learning experts, 5) public surveys and multiple testimony opportunities, and 6) financial efficiencies through administrative and overhead savings that can be redirected to students/classrooms through consolidation.

The purpose of this last round of communication is to engage our community about the process of study we’ve completed and to seek any final factors that should sway this decision.
We know that adjustments such as this can be difficult, particularly for the families, teachers and support staff who will be transitioning schools. That’s why the board decided to take nearly a full year to study and implement any change. We wanted the administration and the community to have ample time to plan a transition that would support every student and staff member.

We also recognize that there is tremendous opportunity in a new early learning center that serves the entire community. Numerous community studies and our own kindergarten readiness data point to the urgent need to improve access to pre-kindergarten learning and related services. The Walla Walla Community Council’s “Education as a Path to Economic Growth,” the Early Years Taskforce, and Community Conversations “Early Learning Study,” all point to a need for an early learning hub / center to help our valley prosper educationally and economically.

Based on all our studies, Blue Ridge is the obvious – and in some ways, only – location for this new hub. More than half the classrooms in the building already house preschool classes. It is also the only facility in the district that is set up to meet the needs of federal and state-funded preschool programs without significant – and expensive – remodeling.
Continued community engagement takes place this fall, with the Board making our final decision in October for a 2020-21 school year implementation. Absent any surprise findings between now and the October decision to move forward, the Board’s next step will be to begin a comprehensive process over the winter and spring months to review and modify school boundaries to reflect our efficiency efforts, while maintaining current class sizes.

Our district vision is “Developing Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates” and the board is keenly aware that decisions like this must be carefully thought through. As a collective Board, we will continue our efforts to be transparent in our operations and encourage parents, community, and faculty to continue to engage with us in these important decisions. For more information, please visit our Early Learning Expansion/Elementary Consolidation link on our website.

Ruth Ladderud, School Board President

Pioneer Middle School Toy Gun Incident

Walla Walla Public Schools has received inquiries this week regarding a threat-related incident that occurred Tuesday at Pioneer Middle School during student dismissal time. As confirmed by the Walla Walla Police Department this morning, a parent of a Pioneer Middle School student, while in the process of picking up their child, also had two other youth in the vehicle. While stopped at the school’s crosswalk, both youths in the back of the car made threatening gestures with two, orange toy Nerf guns, towards other students.

Eyewitnesses reported the matter when it occurred and the district immediately notified WWPD, who promptly responded. The district learned Thursday that the two youth who made the inappropriate gestures are students of the Walla Walla Public Schools. Police report no arrests were made. As with any threats of violence, the district will follow policy and procedures to ensure the safety of their students, staff, and visitors. The district is proud of its staff, students and parents for following Hear Something, See Something, Say Something procedures.

No School Days in October

• No School – Friday, Oct 4 (Teacher In-Service Day)
• No School – Thursday, Oct. 10 (Parent/Teacher Conferences)
• No School – Friday, Oct. 11 (Parent/Teacher Conferences)

School Stories

Taste Washington features locally grown food

Walla Walla Public Schools will be celebrating Taste Washington Day, October 2 in its school cafeterias. This year the district will be featuring five local fruits and vegetables. Plouts from Key Farms, Watermelon from Bellinger Farms, Cantaloupe from Bellinger Farms, Cucumbers from R&R Produce and Empress Plums from Edwards Farms. This is an excellent opportunity for students to enjoy some of the great produce available in the Walla Walla valley.

Family Fun Night Event at Edison

21st Century Community Learning Centers is partnering with Community Resilience Initiative and a few other organizations to put on a Family Fun Night for Edison Elementary Families on Thursday, October 3. There will be activities and games for the entire family from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Edison Elementary. 

SEATech students support 2019 Grand Fondo. Walk, Run or Cycle to #FINISHCANCER

SEATech students in the Health Sciences program volunteered at Grand Fondo 2019 by taking blood pressure of participants and supporting the First Aid Center. Students are on their way to becoming Certified Nursing Assistants.  All funds raised stay local to benefit the Cancer Center Fund of Providence St. Mary Foundation. 

Community Stories
City Parks & Rec Weekly Update

• Lacrosse Stick Night – Free Drop-In for ages 8-16. Mondays & Thursdays 5:30pm to 7pm at Vista Terrace Park. No experience necessary. Equipment provided.
• Fencing – Beginning Classes for ages 9-18. Cost is $60. Saturdays starting in October. Equipment provided.
• Pumpkin Carving Contest - Free for ages 3-12. Thursday, October 24th 5:30pm to 7:15pm at Super 1 Foods. Pumpkins provided by Super 1 Foods. Pre-registration is available, but not required.
• 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:
• Web: www.wwpr.us
• Like us on facebook: www.facebook.com/wallawallapr
• Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wallawallapr/

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