Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - June 5, 2020

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
Superintendent Smith reinforces district’s We All Belong Here message

By Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith
As we watch our country continue to wrestle deeply with the challenges surrounding race, freedoms and civil rights, it serves a bellwether as to how far we still have to grow as a nation with respect to these matters. Nearly three years ago we found ourselves in a different, albeit analogous situation, as we wrestled with the immigration status and rising discriminatory acts towards those living within our communities. As I reflected back on my comments at the time, it is striking and bothersome to realize they still resonate today.

As I remarked three years ago, our district stands firm in educating ALL students in an environment where racism and injustice are not tolerated. We are an accepting and compassionate district. Through our collective beliefs and actions, we continue to live and model our values. Walla Walla Public Schools is a place where diversity of skin color, culture, religion, sexual orientation, abilities, and ethnicity, are honored and respected in a civil, safe and compassionate manner.

Diversity in Walla Walla Public Schools is a remarkable asset, one that provides a rich and glorious tapestry in the fabric of our local educational program. As such, it has been acknowledged and formally adopted by our district as one of our core beliefs and continues to inform and guide our daily actions and decisions. Diversity is our strength.

To help codify this important belief structure into action, we developed our “We All Belong Here” campaign three years ago (https://www.wwps.org/departments/equity-and-dual-programs/we-all-belong-here). By striving for inclusivity, rising above intolerance, respecting everyone every day, and standing up to injustice, we help ensure a school environment free of prejudice, racism and bigotry. Actions and behaviors, by staff, students, or community members within our school system that do not adhere to these high standards will not be tolerated and will be swiftly addressed.

Our district’s primary focus has always been, and will continue to be student safety and well-being while at school. This can only be realized when we live these values. Together we can ensure a safe and respectful learning environment that guarantees all students, regardless of skin color or other factors, are guaranteed the opportunity to develop into “Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates.”

I would encourage you to visit our website to learn more about our We All Belong Here efforts: https://www.wwps.org/departments/equity-and-dual-programs/we-all-belong-here

District surpasses graduation rate goal two years early 

Students better prepared for college and technical school success

School Board members and Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith held a regular study meeting Tuesday, June 2 to discuss a report on the district’s annual review of graduation rates as part of the Strategic Plan accountability measures.

Superintendent Smith reported more Walla Walla Public Schools students are graduating on time than ever before in modern history according to data released earlier this school year from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Class of 2019. Last year’s on-time graduation rate jumped to 90.3%, which is 9.4% above the state average.

When the 2017-2022 Strategic Plan was established, school board members set a target of reaching an 85% on-time graduation rate by 2022. The district has surpassed this mark two years early, by witnessing its graduation rate jump 14% Blurin just three years.

The district has also closed the gap between student ethnic populations as the Hispanic/Latino graduate rate has grown 16% in recent years, to 89.3%.

“There is virtually no graduation gap now,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “Our Hispanic/Latino rate is 13.6% above the state Latino graduation rate. This is an incredible accomplishment and a testament to our collective efforts around equity, access, and program supports offered to students.”

In addition to graduation rates, the district also monitors post-high school success as measured by the number of students who attend college after high school and how prepared they were to tackle freshman level math and English courses.

“The district’s strategic plan, our dedicated staff and deliberate efforts in keeping students connected and engaged to their school led to this historic data,” said Superintendent Smith.

The district has kept up its post-secondary enrollment numbers, mirroring the state with about 60% of graduates attending four-year, two-year or career and technical schools. Data reveals more and more Walla Walla Public Schools’ graduates entering college are prepared for the rigorous coursework. For the first time since 2013, Walla Walla graduates, who attended two-year colleges directly out of high school, outperformed state percentages in math and English readiness.

Superintendent Smith says by not having to take remedial classes in college it saves students and families significant money and helps them get started on earning credits towards a degree. He said he is proud of district staff for supporting the strategic plan and working collectively to prepare students for college, careers and life after high school.

Governor directive requires district staff to wear masks in some circumstances; local company steps up to help

Governor Inslee’s “Safe Start” proclamation includes a new requirement for district employees to wear a facial covering when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. This directive begins Monday, June 8 for all district employees who work in office settings and other areas where engagement with the public occurs. Walla Walla Public Schools is providing masks for all staff in need. Health Services Director Amy Ruff has partnered with Walla Walla Sew & Vac and Spas to secure the necessary facial coverings.

“It was our goal to provide employees with a quality product while also supporting local business,” said Ruff. “Tara Redberg not only gave us a competitive price, she donated 400 masks that were made by community members to support personal protective equipment needs in Walla Walla. This is a great example of a small business reaching out to support the local community.”

Community feedback pours in on Fall Reopening scenarios

As the district begins studying a variety of scenarios for reopening schools this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear stakeholders want to weigh in on the options. At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith reported approximately 2300 people responded to a preliminary survey seeking feedback on reopening options and considerations. He reported people are passionate about this issue and this survey saw the most responses in recent history.

Although a strong majority of the survey takers want schools to reopen in a traditional fashion this fall, some reported they still have fears sending their children to school and working in schools until there is a vaccine. Complete results are posted on the district’s COVID-19 webpage under 2020-21 Reopening Plans tab.

This week planning teams are organizing to look at various fall options and scenarios that have been preliminary discussed by OSPI and other states. The teams will closely study specific details related to how these scenarios impact transportation, custodial duties, nutrition services, health services, technology and other key operational functions.

Superintendent Smith expects to receive more guidance from OSPI this month with final directives from the state and health officials coming later this summer. He plans to have reopening models finalized by July 21 to allow time for communication and preparations for the fall.

Bond projects update

Walla Walla High School
Contractors are finishing the sheetrock on the new science building. The district received approval this week to start closing the ceiling grid and interior cabinetry is arriving next week. The science building project is on schedule for a mid-August finish. The Wa-Hi civil project is underway as most of the campus grounds are under construction.

Blue Ridge Elementary
The Blue Ridge Elementary roof project is nearing completion. The new roof membrane has been installed and local excavation contractor AKey Construction is finalizing catch basins to support the diversion of runoff water from the roof to keep it away from the building.

Pioneer Middle School
Local contractors Nelson Construction Inc. and Royse Excavating are busy prepping for the installation of the temporary multipurpose room. This phase also includes the civil infrastructure work for the seven modular classrooms and restroom facility which will also be housed on west end of the main campus. These temporary facilities will provide a safe and suitable environment for students while construction begins in the fall in the 1950’s wing. Walla Walla Electric is installing the main electrical service on the east-side of the building off Bridge St. Visit the district’s Bond Updates webpage to watch the progress live from the project’s west-side construction camera. There is also an east-side camera to capture the front of the building as the project continues for the next year and a half.

Pioneer Site: https://www.wwps.org/bond/projects/pioneer-middle-school-renovation

Bid Documents and Bidding
The district is finalizing all of the bid documents for both Pioneer Middle School and the rest of the Walla Walla High School project. These documents have been submitted for agency and jurisdiction review and will be completed by the end of this month. The district will put the Wa-Hi project out for bid in August, with Pioneer Middle School going out shortly afterwards.

Visit the district’s Bond Projects update webpage - https://www.wwps.org/bond for current information and follow us on the Bond Twitter feed @wwpsbond for regular updates and photos.

Personnel Report (from June 2, 2020 school board meeting)

• Madeleine Blackburn, Special Education, Lincoln High School
• Krystal Ceron-Tapia, Special Education, Walla Walla High School
• Jessica Vander Pol, Family and Consumer Science, Walla Walla High School

• Kathy Gifford, Administrative Assistant, Business Office

• Kristen Garcia, Second Grade, Blue Ridge Elementary School, 13 years

• Daniel Beaton, Para-Educator, Sharptein Elementary School, 1 year
• Calvin Knight, Assistant Custodian, Edison Elementary School, 5 years

• Hollis Erikson, Social Studies, Pioneer Middle School, 7 years (For the 2020-2021 school year)

Technology drop-off schedule

Walla Walla Public Schools has set the technology return dates for all students that have a district Chromebook and/or Kajeet checked out to them during the COVID-19 Distance Learning Program. Please mark your calendars for the appropriate return date and remember to include the device charging cable.

• Seniors ONLY Tech Return: Thursday, June 11, 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. at their school site.
• Grades 6-11 Tech Return: Thursday, June 18, 7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. at their school site
• Grades 3-5 Tech Return: Monday, June 15, 7:30 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. at the elementary site. Same time as the last packet pick-up/drop-off.

If you have any questions - please contact your school office or the Technology Helpdesk @ 527-3010.

Two more Elementary/Preschool Learning Packet Pick-ups

Monday, June 8 - 7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Monday, June 15 - 7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
(Technology drop off for 3rd-5th who checked out Chromebooks and internet Hot Spots)

NOTE: Friday, June 19 is the last day of school for the 2019-20 school year.

Meals available to all students

Walla Walla Public Schools offers free meals to all children age 1-18, Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The daily meals include a USDA approved sack lunch and breakfast for each child. Pick up meals at whichever site is most convenient. Parents may also pick up meals for their students without students being present. Delivery services will be available on a case-by-case basis as needed.

Meal Service Pick Up Locations
• Sharpstein Elementary (Howard St side)
• Blue Ridge Elementary (South side entrance – back of school)
• Garrison Middle School (front of school)
• Prospect Point Elementary (near bus loop along Howard)
• Berney Elementary (near staff parking along School Ave)
• Edison Elementary (front of school)
• Green Park Elementary (near gym entrance)
• Lincoln (4th St side)
• Vista Terrace Park
• Washington Park
• Veteran’s Memorial Park

Meal Service and Delivery Questions:
Pamela Milleson, Nutrition Services Director
(509) 527-3016 / pmilleson@wwps.org

School Stories
Watch Graduation ceremonies LIVE

Walla Walla High School
Virtual Video Ceremony
• Friday, June 5, 7 p.m.
• WWPS Facebook - www.FACEBOOK.COM/WWSCHOOLS & Spectrum cable channel 191. Special thanks to the City of Walla Walla for allowing us use of their cable channel.
• Radio: KGDC 1320 AM & 92.9 FM

Drive-Through Diplomas and Photos
• Friday Afternoon, June 5
• Wa-Hi - Students have a socially distanced option of a drive-through diploma pickup and photo the day of graduation.

Family Drive-In Showing
• Tues & Wed June 9-10, 8:45 p.m.
• M-F Drive-In Theater - Private showing of the commencement video for students and families.

Lincoln High School
• Lincoln HS held its ceremony June 4. Soon the district will upload the ceremony video file to its YouTube page so everyone can watch the recorded ceremony.

Opportunity Program
• Friday, June 12, 6:30 p.m.
• Virtual (video link on wwps.org) - https://rebrand.ly/grad2020

Middle Schools plan virtual meetings to welcome incoming 6th graders

Garrison and Pioneer Middle School principals and staff are excited to welcome new incoming 6th grade students via a series of virtual tours.  Links will be sent out to parents on School Messenger and posted on school websites

Zoom Virtual Meeting Schedule:

Thursday, June 11
• Welcome 6th graders video release (Links on school websites and social media pages)

Monday, June 15
• 1:00-1:50 p.m.: Dual Language specific questions
• 6:00-6:50 p.m.: Highly Capable/Honors specific questions (Garrison MS)
• 6:00-6:50 p.m.: Dual Language specific questions (Pioneer MS – for those who could not attend at 1 p.m.)

Tuesday, June 16
• 3:00-3:55 p.m.: Special Education specific questions
• 6:00-6:55 p.m.: This session will be in Spanish only

Wednesday, June 17
• 2:00-2:55 p.m.: Music (Choir, Orchestra and Band) specific questions
• 4:00-4:50 p.m.: No specific programs but all questions and inquiries are welcome

Walla Walla Union Bulletin features Garrison MS students for making finals of NPR podcast contest

By Jeremy Burnham, Reporter – Walla Walla Union Bulletin

Walla Walla Union Bulletin reporter Jeremy Burnham recently connected with Garrison Middle School students Ava Hall and Carley Newton about making the finals of a nationwide student podcast competition put on by National Public Radio. Click HERE to read Jeremy Burnham’s article. 

GEAR UP summer virtual programs

In partnership with Walla Walla High School, GEAR UP is hosting a variety of virtual summer programs for 9th & 10th grade students. Summer programs include Washington Business Week, Choose Your Own Adventure with Paradigm Shift, a leadership retreat with WSU, a book club and tutoring. We have great summer activities for parents and guardians as well. For more information email wahigearup@wwps.org or call Rachel Hicks at 619-693-4109.

Lincoln High School student artist earns state honor

Lincoln High School student Peyton Knauft was honored during the 47th Annual Superintendent’s High School Art Show held virtually this year for the first time, for her “Pollens Patterns” submission. Knauft won the Professional Educator Standards Board award. This group will pay Peyton $200 to purchase her award winning artwork.

The show, sponsored by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), celebrated the work of high school artists from around the state. For the first time in its nearly half-century history, the show featured art from disciplines beyond visual art, including a short film, a Shakespearean monologue, and a reading of ekphrastic poetry — poetry written about pieces from the show.

“The annual Art Show is one of my favorites of the events we host at OSPI,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to celebrate the talented student artists who have been brave enough to share their artwork with us.”

Community Stories
Summer Parkways 2020 

Despite COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings, which means no physical presence, the Summer Parkways event will go on this year. Instead of just one day of activities, you can participate by joining in the Summer Parkways Scrabble and the Summer Solstice Spin challenges to get out, get active and earn entries to win great prizes for three full weeks!
For all the details, visit the Summer Parkways Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/479705132938961/

Additional information: info@slcww.org

City of Walla Walla Parks and Recreation update

• Registration for Fall Youth Soccer and NFL Flag Football opens on Friday, June 5.
• The pickleball courts, skate parks, and r/c track are open and use is permitted in accordance with phase 2 of the Washington State Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
• The Pottery Painting Studio will resume operation on June 25.
• All Walla Walla Parks & Recreation programs and facility reservations are cancelled or delayed through June 21. It is our intention to resume spring programs, open facility rentals, and Veterans Memorial Pool in phase 3. The Parks and Recreation office and Carnegie, including the Pottery Studio, are currently closed to the public.

Please visit our website at www.wwpr.us for updated information regarding recreation programs as it becomes available. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Parks & Recreation Office at 509-527-4527.

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