Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - November 19, 2021

In this Issue:

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
Thanksgiving Holiday Break Schedule

• Wednesday, November 24 - Half-Day - Early Dismissal (Thanksgiving holiday)
• Thursday, November 25 & Friday, November 26 - NO SCHOOL (Thanksgiving holiday)

Board member Sam Wells says goodbye following two terms

Tuesday night School Board President Derek Sarley presented outgoing School Board Member Sam Wells with a Golden Apple for his service on the school board. Wells served as board president twice during his eight-year tenure on the school board. He was instrumental in the successful 2018 bond election. He was a strong supporter for the development of the Walla Walla Center for Children and Families, he helped facilitate the hiring of Superintendent Smith and was part of two successful Replacement Educational Levies and four state Board of Distinction awards. Board members and Superintendent Smith thanked him for his service and expressed how much they will miss his leadership on the school board.

Walla Walla Public Schools educators comment on recent bond facilities improvements

American Education Week - November 15-19
Saluting our Educators! Walla Walla Public Schools educators comment on recent bond facilities improvements.

Walla Walla High School

Ag Science Teacher Peggy Payne
New Ag Science Classrooms
“Our ag science classrooms/labs provide students adequate space and access to modern technology, which has resulted in increased hands-on activities and increased student participation.”

Band Director Andrew Ueckert
New Music Building
“The new music facility allows us to set up for multiple ensembles. The large practice rooms are perfect for sectionals during class. We have plenty of storage, lockers for instruments, very nice bathrooms and huge windows with amazing natural light.”

Math Teacher Scott Magnaghi
Blue Devil Building
“It’s wonderful to be back in person with students in the renovated Blue Devil building. It has improved technology and learning spaces for kids. Tremendous hats off to our community for all their support!”

PE Teacher Marc Yonts
New Fitness Addition
“It looks amazing! Everything has been upgraded and is really functional. We’ll get more kids interested in strength training and conditioning and hopefully that leads to an active lifestyle.”

Art Teacher Julie Laufenburg
New Art Classroom
“It’s an amazing experience to be teaching in a room specifically dedicated to artmaking. My students also see it, know it and feel it.”

Science Teacher Clayton Hudiburg
New Science Building
“I’m so happy to have a space where I can seamlessly transition back and forth from traditional classroom instruction to lab work. Everything is in one place, with room to do it and a facility that supports 21st Century learning.”

Pioneer Middle School

Principal Kris Duncan
New Main Entrance
“The new main entrance at Pioneer will provide one secure access point to the building, ensuring staff and students are safe. The new entrance will also provide a welcoming atmosphere where students, families and guests are greeted with a friendly face.”

PE Teacher Donna Morris
Renovated 1950’s Gym and New Locker Rooms
“We will be able to expand our curriculum, increase expectations and rigor and provide improved ADA access.”

Lincoln High School

Teacher Riki Wauchek
New Drama Addition
“It’s going to be so nice to have our own theater for practices and performances, while preserving our historic school for generations to come.”

Walla Walla Public Schools Bond Program - Delivering on Our Promise
• All Bond Projects – On Schedule and On Budget

District leaders provide early learning presentation to Senate Early Learning and K12 Education Committee

This week Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith and Walla Walla Center for Children and Families Director Samantha Bowen presented to the Washington State Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. Walla Walla Public Schools was one of only two districts statewide to participate. The Walla Walla Center for Children and Families is considered a model program across the state for early learning programs. WWCCF features a comprehensive center-based model, integration of students with disabilities and coordination of services. 


November Bond Update

The updated Walla Walla High School gym parking lot opened this week for staff and students. The new foot bridge connecting the upper parking lot west of Yellowhawk Creek is also open. This bridge provides easy access to the gym parking lot.

Construction continues on the main academic building renovation and commons. The original commons and the new addition to the east of the 1963 building will reopen this winter. The new music building, new fitness center, renovated Blue Devil building (original Science building) and renovated library are in use.

Construction on Phase One projects at Pioneer Middle School are nearing completion. The renovated 1950's gym, new locker rooms, new auxiliary gym/fitness center, new entry addition, new cafeteria and renovated 1950's wing and classroom addition will be open to staff and students following winter break. Phase Two projects at Pioneer, which include additions to the main building for science and art classrooms, begin this winter. The project will be completed by the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

Progress continues on the 1927 Lincoln High School renovation. This project will be completed by December 2022 or earlier depending on phasing.

Stay Connected!
- Website: https://www.wwps.org/bond
- Twitter: @bondwwps

Personnel Report (from November 16, 2021 School Board Meeting)

Heather Alexenko, Temporary Head Start Assistant Teacher, WWCCF (2021-2022 school year)
Jennifer Apple, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary School
Fahima Grant, Para-Educator, Garrison Middle School
Isaac Hatch, Custodian, Walla Walla High School
Serah Johnson, Temporary Head Start Assistant Teacher, WWCCF (2021-2022 school year)
Peyton Knauft, Para-Educator, WWCCF
Tara Potter, Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op
Gabriela Reyes, Temporary Head Start Assistant Teacher, WWCCF (2021-2022 school year)
Samantha Robinson, Temporary Para-Educator, Pioneer Middle School (2021-2022 school year)
Felipe Salazar, Custodian, Walla Walla High School
Adrian Sandoval, Bilingual Intervention Specialist/Home-School Liaison, Walla Walla High School
Michele Turley, Para-Educator, Sharpstein Elementary School

Kay Cosgrove, Bus Assistant, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op, 3 years
Aly Fazzari, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary School, 2 months
Patricia Harris, Para-Educator, Edison Elementary School, 8 years
Marianne O’Leary, Secretary to Director, Special Education, 33 years
Wayne Weaver, Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op, 2 months

Anna Shafer
• November 5, 2021 – January 2, 2022

District considers establishing foundation

Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith, School Board Vice President Ruth Ladderud and local school trust consultant Elsa Watson shared an update with school board members Tuesday night on the potential of establishing a foundation to support district students and programs. He reported a small group met last spring and summer to discuss the feasibility, logistics and benefits of forming a foundation.

School foundations are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. They can be stand-alone or sponsored under the umbrella of another current non-profit organization such as the Blue Mountain Community Foundation. School foundations are similar to an athletic “booster club,” but instead focus on acquiring resources through grants and/or giving that helps provide enhanced programming or experiences not possible with current state and levy funding. These school foundation organizations partner and collaborate with the district, existing booster clubs, other programs, and related community groups and organizations.

"Establishing a Walla Walla Public Schools foundation provides the district another funding source to advance district initiatives,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “Fundraising strategies would focus on grants currently not available to the school district."

The creation of a foundation enhances experiences and opportunities for students, and professional development of staff. They provide a formal avenue for people, businesses or estates who want to support local schools. School foundations provide a mechanism to apply for and increase grant funding opportunities. If established, fundraising would not compete with other school-related groups or further squeeze local giving avenues. Instead, the foundation would seek grant and other funding mechanisms not currently accessed.

Superintendent Smith outlined next steps in the process. He stressed if established, foundation members and leadership are critical to success.

Walla Walla Public Schools Foundation next steps:
• District leaders will conduct learning meetings with community groups and individuals.
• District leaders will begin recruiting for potential WWPS Foundation Board members and identifying a possible organizational structure.
• Align school foundation priorities with the planned strategic planning process.
• Report back to the School Board later this spring

School Stories
2021 Walla Walla Youth Speak event next week

Seventh and eighth grade students from Pioneer and Garrison Middle Schools will be hosting and participating in Walla Walla Youth Speak Tuesday, November 23. Approximately 90 students will be competing in the event. Students chose topics they deem important, research the issue and study rhetorical devices to help them formulate persuasive speeches. Each student's speech will be roughly one-minute in length with the intended purpose to improve and build on students' writing and public speaking skills.

"This is a great opportunity to express my ideas and practice public speaking in front of the community," said Mica Hartman, Pioneer 8th grade student.

Kate Van Cleve, Pioneer Honors teacher says the event helps students think about their future.

"Hearing from our young people gives insight into what is important to this next generation and hope that they will build a better tomorrow for all of us," said Van Cleve.

The event is at The Little Theatre of Walla Walla from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. Due to space limitations, only students and chaperones will be present in the audience, but the event will be live-streamed. The link is available on Garrison and Pioneer websites.

Last weekend for Wa-Hi Fall Drama Production - A Wrinkle in Time

The Walla Walla High School fall drama “A Wrinkle in Time” was adapted for the stage by James Sie from the book by Madeleine L'Engle.

Performances are:
• Nov 19, 20 @ 7 p.m.
• Nov 20 @ 2 p.m.
• No intermission. The show runs approx. 90 minutes.
• Walla Walla High School Auditorium

Tickets are FREE!
It is first come, first serve.

COVID Protocols include masking indoors and seating family groups six feet apart.

American Education Week Staff Spotlights: David Marquez, Lisa Davis, Javier Hernandez, Keven Peck, Jennifer Knowles, Judy Hui

The week of November 15 through November 19 is American Education Week. American Education Week presents all Americans with an opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring every child receives a quality education. This week the district will spotlight staff to show them the appreciation they deserve.

David Marquez
Facilities and Operations Trades Assistant David Marquez was born in Los Angeles, but he was raised in Walla Walla. He graduated from Walla Walla High School in 2009 where he had a passion for wrestling. He considered former wrestling coach Clayton Hudiburg as his most influential educator. David says Mr. Hudiburg has been a positive role model in his life since his high school days on the mat. Clayton was also his freshman science teacher. He says he has been lucky to have been able to coach alongside him as an adult and maintain a close relationship. He still goes to him anytime he needs help or advice. David says Clayton taught him to look at things objectively and that what you get in life, is what you put in.

As a trades assistant, David performs grounds maintenance, assists carpenters, coordinates hauling projects and makes special deliveries. He is also the coordinator for snow removal. He has a pesticide public operator license, is a certified playground maintenance technician and is currently pursuing his arborist certification. David enjoys cooking and is occasionally the district’s BBQ pitmaster for special events.

Marquez says he enjoys giving back to the community and working with kids. He started his career in the district as a para educator for two years before transitioning to Facilities & Operations. He enjoyed working in a school setting but the opportunity to work outside better fit his interests. David coached wrestling at Wa-Hi for eight years as an assistant boys coach and head girls coach. In 2017 he was voted Mid-Columbia Conference Assistant Coach of the Year. Currently he coaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Connection Rio Jiu Jitsu Academy in College Place. He is actively training and competing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has won tournaments around the Northwest. He has been ranked as high as #18 in the world in his weight and age division and competed at the Master (ages 30+) World Championships in Las Vegas earlier this month where he received a bronze medal in a highly competitive field of 74. David’s fiancé Michelle works at Providence St. Mary Medical Center. His daughter Madelyn is a 2nd grader at Edison and his son JJ is in preschool at the Walla Walla Center for Children and Families.

Thank you for taking the time to celebrate district staff who are making a difference in ensuring every Walla Walla child receives a quality education.

Lisa Davis
Berney Elementary secretary Lisa Davis loves being around children and their families. She was born in Seattle, WA and graduated from Mt. Rainier High School in Des Moines, WA and has an Associates of Arts degree from Walla Walla Community College.

Lisa says her Junior High English teacher Mr. Gabrio was her most influential educator while growing up on the westside of the state. She was placed in his 7th grade class and soon he soon became her mentor as her parents were going through what Lisa says was a tumultuous divorce. Mr Gabrio cared deeply for his students and made sure Lisa was in his classes all three years she was on campus. He instilled a love of writing in Lisa through his engaging and funny lessons. He often wove fantastical or funny stories on the chalkboard while the class diagrammed sentences. He encouraged kids to have grit and was using social/emotional learning skills long before they became standards in education. Lisa recalls how Mr. Gabrio coordinated the “Outdoor Club” and took his students cross-country skiing and hiking during weekend outings in the Cascades to introduce city kids to the beautiful Pacific Northwest geography.

She has worked for district for 20 + years and has performed a variety of classified jobs. She drove a school bus for four years and in-between routes was a substitute para-educator working playground duty, in classrooms, in kitchens and as a one-on-one support staff member. She also operated the in-school suspension room at Walla Walla High School for three years. During the summers, she would fill-in for the technology secretary and eventually moved to the technology department as the Library Media Secretary, sending video tapes and other visual resources to schools. When the library collection was disbanded as VCR’s were being phased out, she joined the staff at Berney in 2008-09 and has been happily there ever since.

Lisa believes in helping support the community, she and her husband have been foster parents twice in recent years. She has always volunteered to be part of the PTA at her children’s schools and is currently serving on the Dixie school board. Lisa is a strong believer in Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports training. She enjoys watching students who have struggled in school get the support they need to develop into competent adults. She says it is a wonderful reward for holding consistent expectations each day and gives her a great sense of pride and accomplishment knowing she played a small part in student growth.

Outside of work, her favorite place to be is in the kitchen trying new things. She loves to garden, read and craft and says any ocean beach is her ultimate happy place. Lisa and her husband blended their families 20 years ago. They have five children with four of them living out of state. She looks forward to playing with five adorable grandchildren when they travel.

Javier Hernandez
Pioneer Middle School Intervention Specialist Javier Hernandez was born in Jungapeo, Michoacan, raised in College Place and Walla Walla and graduated from Walla Walla High School in 2002. He went on to earn an Associates of Arts degree from Walla Walla Community College and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a minor in history from Washington State University (WSU). He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in teaching through WSU Tri-Cities.

Javier says education is the most rewarding career. He enjoys being part of students’ progression and supporting them to overcome their barriers and challenges. Javier considers his father, longtime former district employee Javier Hernandez, Sr., as his most influential educator. His father came to the United States as an immigrant who worked in agricultural fields, canneries and the lumber industry. Javier says his father never stopped dreaming of someday serving families and students in the community of Walla Walla. His father’s endeavor to guide and support disadvantaged students and families in Walla Walla inspired Javier to look up to him. Javier says his father always stressed -- “Lo que hagas en la vida siempre da lo mejor de ti. Whatever you do in life always give your best.”

Another educator who has influenced Javier’s life is Sergio Hernandez. Even though they are not related, Javier considers Sergio to be part of the family since he has known him since he was 7-years-old. Javier says Sergio has guided and supported him throughout his professional career. Javier appreciates Sergio’s wisdom and counsel in helping him be successful professionally and personally.

Javier says former Sharpstein Principal and Assistant Superintendent Laure Quaresma has been a tremendous influence in his life. He says it was a privilege to work for two amazing, devoted and talented educators -- Donna Keyt Austin and Terry Morgan. Both educators taught him patience with elementary students. Javier also has fond memories of working with Wa-Hi Principal Ron Higgins. When Ron was the assistant principal at Pioneer Middle School, Javier learned strategies from him to better assist students academically, socially and emotionally as an intervention specialist.

Javier gives back to his community as volunteer soccer for Parks and Rec the past eight years. He considers himself a nature lover and enjoys taking his dog to rivers and lakes. You will often find Javier taking long walks or hikes with his wife and kids. Javier and wife Leticia Pedroza have three children; Dennise Hernandez - senior at Wa-Hi, Javi Hernandez - junior at Wa-Hi and Josue Hernandez - 1st grader at Edison Elementary School.

Keven Peck
Walla Walla High School Digital Photography teacher Keven Peck was born in Lincoln, NE. His parents grew up in the small SE Nebraska city of Falls City. They relocated their family to Spokane, WA when Keven was a child and he graduated from Shadle Park High School in 1981. He stayed in Spokane for his undergraduate studies earning a bachelor’s degree at Whitworth University. Keven received his teaching degree from Western Washington University and has a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Northwest Nazarene University.

Keven says school was always important to him and he considers two former teachers as the most influential educators in his life. Claudia Halseth was his high school art teacher. He says she was honest and fair, and understood sometimes kids need consequences and sometimes they need grace. Spike Grosvenor was a professor and coach figure at Whitworth University and a person Keven says truly believed in him. He also told Keven what he needed to hear, and not always what he wanted to hear. They maintained a friendship for many years until Spike’s passing. This relationship positively impacted his life and the lives of many others.

Keven has taught art and photography during this 32-year career at Walla Walla High School. Walla Walla High School has been his first and only teaching job and he has coached there for three decades. He has experience coaching soccer and football and is currently the Girls Head Tennis coach.

Keven says he decided to go into teaching and coaching because it allows him to connect with all types of learners and positively impact their academic and athletic journeys. He was recruited to play soccer at Whitworth University. Over time, he found people cared as much or more about what he could do in the classroom than they did about what he did on a soccer pitch. Keven says the students and professors he was surrounded by inspired him to be better academically. This support had a profound impact on Keven.

Keven and is wife Allison have two adult children, Presley (m. Kyle Foust) and Gerrod, and a grandson Ryder. Presley works at True Salon and manages their coffee stand. Gerrod is working on his master’s in music performance at the University of Oregon. Keven and Allison own a coffee stand - Walla Walla Daily Grind. Allison works at Dama Wines and manages the coffee stand as well. Keven enjoys traveling and is always equipped with his camera. He stays busy, but says when life gives him a chance to slow down he likes to tinker in his backyard space.

Jennifer Knowles
Green Park Elementary Physical Education Teacher Jennifer Knowles was born and raised in Walla Walla. She graduated from Walla Walla High School and went on to receive an Associates of Arts degree from Walla Walla Community College. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Walla Walla College (University) and her master’s degree from Eastern Washington University.

Jennifer considers former Pioneer Middle School counselor Jim Deeney her most influential educator. He was also her AAU basketball coach. She says he loved the students he worked with and shared that love and enthusiasm with her. He was the first person that talked to Jennifer about being a teacher. After being encouraged by Mr. Deeney, she wanted to follow in the path of educating students.

Jennifer has worked for Walla Walla Public Schools for 25 years. She also has experience in the district coaching middle school basketball and high school volleyball. She says she loves working with kids in the gym and encouraging them to stay active.

Jennifer is passionate about her community. She is active in the Cowboy Church Drill Team and has performed at the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days. She enjoys spending time with her family, riding horses and crafting.
Jennifer is married to City of Walla Walla Deputy Fire Chief John Knowles. They have two boys; Mason (21) and Brady (18).

Judy Hui
Human Resources Administrative Assistant Judy Hui was born in Hong Kong but moved to the United States with her parents and older brother when she was two and a half. She was a Berney Bulldog, Pioneer 49er and a Walla Walla Blue Devil. After graduating from Wa-Hi, Judy attended University of Washington and double-majored in Spanish and Business Administration with a focus on marketing.

After graduating from UW, she lived in Asia from 2006 - 2016. The first two years were in Taiwan. She traveled, and took mandarin courses at National Taiwan Normal University. She taught English to children for a half year at HESS International Educational Group. The next eight years she lived in Malaysia where she and her late husband operated a small trading business. They imported a line of Taiwanese professional salon products distributed throughout Malaysia. She had a hands-on role in this small business of less than 10 employees. Judy was responsible with tasks including inventory management, shipping logistics, bookkeeping, storekeeping, delivering and debt collecting. She said it was interesting, but not her passion.

Judy says she can’t pinpoint one single educator as being the most influential because she feels each teacher has helped shape her in a different way. She loves being colleagues with some of her former teachers.

Prior to COVID, Judy liked volunteering at the kids’ schools when they had afterschool activities. Her favorite experience was manning the cotton candy machine one year at the Berney carnival and seeing all those hungry little eyes waiting to get to the front of the line. She hopes these activities will resume soon.

Judy started working in the school district because she wanted a similar schedule with her children. After meeting her colleagues and witnessing the drive they have for improving the education system, she became hooked. Judy loves being a part of the support system for our staff and administrators.

Judy has two children. They were both born in Taiwan. Cliff is in 5th grade at Berney, and Maddy is in 3rd grade at Edison. Judy says it takes a village to raise kids, and her parents are her village. They are always there helping with pick-ups, drop-offs, appointments and more.

Judy enjoys the outdoors, especially taking her children on hikes. She also enjoys running, playing board games, and catching up with friends over a nice cup of coffee.

Community Stories
Walla2Hoops AAU basketball team qualifies for State Championships

Walla2Hoops AAU Basketball Club’s 4th grade boys team qualified for the State Basketball Championships at the 15th Annual Hermiston Autumn Kickoff Classic Nov. 13-14. The team finished second in the Hermiston tournament to earn a berth to state in Spokane in March.

4th Grade Boys: Curtis Pumphrey (Head Coach)
Jefferson Bicknell
Tytus Bockert
Devon Boyd
Carter Bryant
Quentin McCauley
Kasen McGhan-Kezele
Kellen Meliah
Case Pemberton
Parker Pumphrey
Carson Stocking

“We are so happy to have our teams playing basketball again after taking last year off due to COVID,” said Walla2Hoops Club President Matthew Price-Huntington. “The hard work paid off for these boys and we are hoping more Walla Walla teams will qualify for state as the season rolls on.”

Walla2Hoops is a 501C3 Non-Profit basketball club which operates under the umbrella of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Walla2Hoops provides an enriched basketball environment with a mission to create a positive competitive culture focused on developing character and basketball fundamentals. For more information about the club or to provide donations for the scholarship program, contact: walla2hoops@gmail.com

Whitman America Reads/America Counts

Last week eight Whitman America Reads/America Counts (ARAC) tutors gathered for professional development training sponsored by Walla Walla Public Schools.  Erin Dorso, Teacher Induction Coordinator, Alex Esparza, Behavior Specialist and Kristen Duede, Mental Health Specialist fielded scenario-based questions from Whitman students pertaining to their role as one-on-one and small group tutors, supporting K-5 learners at all five WWPS elementary schools. ARAC interns develop relationships with students to promote the learning process. They also need to develop skills to transition a student from academic disengagement to productivity and from apathy to curiosity during a given work session together.  The ARAC program is a federally-funded work-study program that allows college students to gain experiential learning in public school classrooms while also earning money to invest back into their education.

The Health Center offers variety of services for students

The Health Center of Walla Walla, located at WaHi, Lincoln HS and Pioneer Middle School, provides free medical and mental health services for students.  If students need sports physicals or vaccines, or are experiencing non-emergency headaches, eye problems, skin problems, stomach problems, breathing issues, sleep problems, joint or muscular pain, anxiety, cold symptoms or cough, sore throat or reproductive health issues, they or their parent(s) can contact THC using this link:  https://forms.gle/xTrhEBAD7By6ketVA  to request an appointment at their local school. Parent permission is required for students under age 18. Appointments are available Monday through Friday and providers will help with referrals if additional care is needed.

YMCA youth basketball registrations open

Registration is open through January 7. Players will practice fundamentals weeknights and perfect their skills during games. Games run every Saturday, January 29 through March 5. Team practice times will be M/W or T/Th at 3:30PM, 4:30PM, 5:30PM, or 6:30PM (dates and times will be assigned as teams form).

• Boys League open to grades 1st-8th
• Girls League open to grades 1st-4th
• $60 per player.

Interested in becoming a volunteer coach? Contact the Y's Sports leaders:
• Director Heber: hcampechano@wwymca.org
• Assistant Director Seandalynn: sfaleagafulu@wwymca.org

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