Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - Oct. 23, 2020

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
Board delays Oct. 26 transition to Yellow Stage AM/PM hybrid model

Tuesday night the School Board delayed bringing preschool through 2nd grade students back for in-person learning Oct. 26 to allow more time for parent, staff, student and stakeholder engagement. School Board President Sam Wells released a statement on next steps.

Message from School Board President Sam Wells:
“Last night the board met for nearly three hours as we reviewed our preliminary decision to transition to the Yellow Stage this coming Monday the 26th. Our deliberations included consultation with the Walla Walla County Health Officer Dr. Jecha and his two colleagues, review of public testimony, analysis of viral trends, and considerable board discussion. We failed to reach consensus on our Oct 26 opening. At the conclusion of the meeting we provided Dr. Smith with the following direction.
• To notify staff and parents of our decision to suspend the October 26th transition to the Yellow Stage.
• We asked him to reach out to WWVEA/Union leadership to review and discuss if our formally-approved metrics/triggers to open up schools should be modified. This became very apparent in light of the information received from the local health officials last night, providing compelling testimony that our current metrics, while established, agreed to and communicated to families many months ago, may no longer be applicable based on current viral understanding.
• To work with staff and WWVEA to develop a parent, staff, and student survey to elicit feedback from stakeholders regarding possible metric modifications and/or other options to consider.
• To work with WWVEA to consider possible modifications to our reopening plan based on staff, stakeholder and health official input.

I want to thank my fellow board colleagues for what was a thoughtful meeting where many feelings, ideas, and perspectives were shared and discussed in an open, transparent, and respectable manner. Thank you all again for your incredible efforts and patience as the Board weighs this important decision.”

Bond Construction in Full Swing

Bond construction rolls on across the district as renovation projects at Wa-Hi and Pioneer MS are in full swing. Walla Walla’s Gillespie Roofing is replacing the original 35-year-old roof on the Wa-Hi Vocational Building, contractors are beginning the 8,000 sq ft addition to the Wa-Hi Performing Arts Auditorium, work on the new fitness addition is underway and the culinary arts addition off the library building is making progress. At Pioneer MS, contractors are focused on renovating the 1950’s wing, gym, office and cafeteria areas.

• Bond Updates Website: https://www.wwps.org/bond
• Follow Us on Twitter @bondwwps

What’s next for Wa-Hi this school year?
- Asbestos abatement and renovation of the Cafeteria/Commons and 1964 Science Building
- Art, pottery, marketing and culinary arts addition on the south-end of the library building
- New 7,000 sq ft Fitness addition on the west-side of the main gym
- New 8,000 sq ft Performing Arts addition on the west-side of the auditorium.
- New roof on the 35-year-old Vocational Building

September Bond Progress Report

Walla Walla High School
• In early September, Jackson Contractor Group completed the new Science Building in time for teachers to use the new building for teaching.
• Infrastructure package is nearly completed.
• The design team completed work on the culinary arts classroom and submitted it to Jackson for review and pricing.
• Jackson initiated the following construction activities: demolition of the Old Science Building interiors; abatement began on the Old Science Building; demolition of the exterior canopy on the Library building; interior demolition of the Library building; set up safe walking pathways for when students return to avoid construction activities.
• The design team began to work through reviewing and approving submittals to ensure the construction activities are in line with the design intent.
• Commissioning activities were ongoing to ensure that new HVAC, plumbing, fire alarm, and electrical equipment were working in the correct manner. Documentation presented to the district.
• Hazardous chemicals were removed from the old Science Bldg and disposed of by Clean Harbors.

Pioneer Middle School
• Nelson Construction installed egress doors in the Library as well as a new doorway into the north wing’s temporary computer room.
• Jackson Contractor Group began to mobilize on site and also initiated getting temporary fence installed to keep students out of the construction area.
• Jackson also began demolition activities which included removing interior walls and items that require disposal. In addition, abatement activities began in order to remove hazardous materials from the structure.
• Architects West and their team began to work through reviewing, responding to, and approving submittals to ensure that the construction activities are in line with the design intent.
• Jackson began work on a construction schedule in order to communicate with the district and Pioneer staff to ensure proper coordination.

Blue Ridge Elementary
• Roof and landscaping projects nearly completed.


School Stories
WIAA Sports update

Superintendent Smith reported during Tuesday night’s school board meeting the Governor’s Office and Washington State Department of Health issued new guidance earlier this month for returning to education-based sports and activities. Superintendent Smith said District Athletic Director Dirk Hansen is developing plans based on this new state guidance to allow district athletes to resume some level of activities. More information will be coming out soon.

Honoring the history of Blue Ridge Elementary

The district developed a beautiful wall display in the main hallway of the former Blue Ridge Elementary to honor the school’s four-decade legacy. The display features photos of the school during construction in 1981-82. It features a narrative of the school’s history and significance in the Walla Walla Valley. The city road sign formerly mounted on 9th Street is incorporated in the design as well. The “Faces of Blue Ridge,” featured originally on the walls of the school’s main entrance, were also captured in the design to preserve this important piece of Walla Walla’s history. Special thanks to local businesses Wilson Design Company and Integrity Design for collaborating on the project. 

Whitman College students develop YouTube “Story Time” channel to promote literacy

Story Time is a new YouTube channel developed by the Student Engagement Center at Whitman College with a goal of instilling a love of reading in school-age children. The “Story Time” channel is populated with videos of college students reading books. The program teams with another volunteer program called Bilingual United to provide readings in Spanish as well. Whitman College sophomore Claire Weissman is the program’s leader this year. She wanted to get involved to create connections between college students and elementary school-aged students.

“The hope is for this resource to provide children a way to connect with Whitman College,” said Weissman. “We want to continue supporting the students’ love of reading and to help fill the extra free time brought on by the pandemic.”

Weissman is a Computer Science major. She says reading is one of her favorite hobbies.

“I love any chance I can get to escape into a world different from my own,” said Weissman. “Reading aloud or being read aloud to is an amazing way to create connections and a way for Whitman to reach out to Walla Walla.”

“Story Time” YouTube Channel

Community Stories
Governor Inslee has declared October 26-30 as Media Literacy Week in Washington

To find free resources developed by Washington state educators to use with students during this week, visit the Action 4 Media Education website at https://action4mediaeducation.org/resources/for-educators/, the NW Center for Media Literacy website at https://depts.washington.edu/nwmedia/curriculum-development.php , or the Media Literacy/Digital Citizenship group at the WA OER Hub at https://www.oercommons.org/groups/digital-citizenship-media-literacy/1104/?__hub_id=1

A more complete list of Media Literacy and Digital Citizenship resources is available at: https://edtech1.ospi.k12.wa.us/course/view.php?id=3

Remember to Vote – Ballots due Nov. 3

Ballots for the November 3 General Election have been mailed and must be postmarked by Nov. 3. Please remember to vote.

Contact the Walla Walla County Elections Office for additional information:

Walla Walla County Elections
363 Orchard St.
PO Box 2176
Walla Walla, WA 99362

Reach Out group seeks community feedback on substance abuse and mental health

Reach Out Walla Walla is conducting their yearly survey to understand adult concerns facing teens in Walla Walla. This survey will be given in every county and will assess concerns around substance use/abuse and mental health for our community’s youth. The survey is anonymous and should take no more than five minutes to complete. Results will be shared with the public in the spring of 2021, prioritizing concerns for our youth.

Please take a few minutes to help Reach Out by completing this survey. For more information contact Peggy Needham at pneedham@co.walla-walla.wa.us or call (509) 524.2654.


Reach Out Walla Walla está en el proceso de realizar su encuesta anual para comprender las preocupaciones de los adultos que enfrentan los adolescentes en Walla Walla. Esta encuesta se realizará en todos los condados y evaluará las preocupaciones sobre el uso/abuso de sustancias y la salud mental de los jóvenes de nuestra comunidad. La encuesta es anónima y no debería tomar más de 5 minutos para completarla. Los resultados se compartirán con el público en la primavera de 2021, dando prioridad a sus preocupaciones por nuestra juventud.
Tómese unos minutos para ayudar a Reach Out completando esta encuesta. Para obtener más información, comuníquese con Peggy Needham
al pneedham@co.walla-walla.wa.us o llame al (509) 524.2654.

Enquesta en Español

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