Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - April 29, 2022

In this Issue:

(Click on article
to read more)

District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
City visits Green Park for Arbor Day celebration

The City of Walla Walla partnered with Walla Walla Public Schools to plant a maple tree on their campus as part of the annual city Arbor Day Celebration. The City of Walla Walla's Parks, Recreation and Urban Forestry Advisory Board sponsors the annual tree planting program. Students learn the importance of the city's urban forest and how trees improve our quality of life. Students also received saplings to take home and plant. Thanks to the City of Walla Walla for its support of this long-standing Arbor Day program.

School Board Regular Study Meeting

Tuesday, May 3 (Regular Study Meeting)
5:30 p.m.
Location: WWPS District Office - 364 S. Park St.
Board Meeting Agendas, Minutes & Remote Viewing Access 

Sharp receives regional leadership award for supporting school district

Wednesday School Board President Ruth Ladderud and Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith surprised Walla Walla County Department of Community Health Healthy Communities Division Manager Nikki Sharp with the Southeast Washington Association of School Administrators (SEWASA) Leadership Award. She will be recognized at the SEWASA annual banquet in Richland in June.

Sharp has been instrumental in supporting the school district during the pandemic by organizing vaccine clinics in schools, assisting with the district’s testing program and procuring supplies and resources. Sharp has also supported the district over the years through counseling support, mental health resources and suicide prevention programs.

School Stories
Wa-Hi Cinco de Mayo Celebration and Movie Night  

The Walla Walla High School Latino Club is sponsoring a Cinco de Mayo celebration Friday, May 6 for all Wa-Hi students in the Walla Walla High School Commons from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The festival will feature games, music, prizes, karaoke, and the showing of the movie “The Book of Life.”

The Latino Club will also host a food truck from Mi Pueblito and will provide a meal of 2 tacos with rice and beans for the first 175 students who pick up their tickets from the ASB office by May 3.

Ferenz takes reins of the Walla Walla High School Athletic Department

It’s not difficult to spot new Walla Walla High School Athletic Director Chris Ferenz on campus. Standing at 6’7” tall, Ferenz, the former University of California Davis basketball standout, is literally head and shoulders above most at Walla Walla High School.

Ferenz is a 30-year seasoned educator. He has spent the past 21 years at Walla Walla High School as a math teacher, coach and most recently Dean of Students. He also had stops at Okanogan and Anacortes High Schools during his early days of teaching and coaching.

Ferenz was born in San Jose, CA and grew up in Gilroy, CA in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay area. During his high school years, Ferenz attended Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose. He loved basketball and learned at a young age he would have to make sacrifices to get ahead. Bellarmine Prep had a reputation as a basketball powerhouse and Chris wanted to be part of the program. Each day he would board a city bus for the two-hour, one way bus trip to his high school. Chris was taller than most of his classmates, but was considered a “project player” by Bellarmine basketball coaches. His hard work and mental aptitude paid off as he started on the team his junior year and by his senior year made the All-Conference team.

“I finished 68th out 70th in the mile in my freshman year, but my high school coach saw some potential and believed in me,” said Ferenz. “He is the reason why I went into education as a teacher and a coach.”

Basketball opened doors for Ferenz after wrapping up his successful prep career. He received an invitation to play at UC Davis near Sacramento. He played all four years in college and was a starter for three years. Ferenz was named captain in his junior and senior years while earning his degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in biomechanics.

Ferenz’s thirst for competition remained strong following college so he signed to play professional basketball in Australia. He spent two years playing basketball in Australia but his heart began telling him it was time to pursue his career in education and coaching.

Ferenz has an impressive basketball coaching resume, including as the Junior Varsity coach at UC Davis and head boys basketball coach at Okanogan and Anacortes High Schools. Ferenz was assistant head coach for the Wa-Hi boys program for several seasons and last year was the C-team coach. Ferenz took the Walla Walla High School girls basketball team, which featured his daughters Kate and Mikayla, to the state tournament in 2015. Ferenz has also served alongside his wife Michelle, who is the head women’s basketball coach at Whitman College, as a volunteer assistant coach for the Blues the past 21 years.

“Basketball has really helped me find myself,” said Ferenz. “I have met tremendous people and have been able to travel the world. Sports are a great opportunity to grow and learn life lessons.”

Now Ferenz has the opportunity to use his decades of experience to lead the Walla Walla High School Athletic Department. His short-term goals are to get to know the coaches on a deeper level and put a plan in place to support their development. He has a vision of streamlining the transition from middle school sports to high school, supporting the skill development of youth through the community sports programs and getting the alumni and community excited about Wa-Hi sports.

“I am truly honored that I was selected to lead this program and support our coaches and our student athletes,” said Ferenz. “This community has a great history of supporting athletics and I look forward to continuing that tradition by working with alumni, youth sports, middle school sports and activities all the way up to high school.”

Ferenz believes students who participate in school activities like athletics are more successful. He says the lessons learned in sports branches out into job opportunities and positive lifestyles. Ferenz says he is impressed with what he has seen in his first few days on the job since taking over for former Athletic Director Dirk Hansen who resigned his position. Ferenz loves the small town feel of Walla Walla and says he is excited to see great crowds filling the grandstands supporting Wa-Hi athletics.

“Parents and families are investing time in their student athletes and the kids are invested in something they enjoy,” said Ferenz. “I want to make sure I continue to support them in any way that I can.”

Ferenz encourages everyone to come up and say hi at games and at school. You can’t miss him, he’ll be the one towering over the crowd.

Visit the Walla Walla High School Athletics website for sports schedules, links to LIVE streaming games, rosters and team information.

New Opportunity Program website

Check out the new Opportunity Program website. wwopportunity.org. Opportunity program is an off-site alternative learning program that provides students the means to reach graduation. Students enroll in one to four classes at a time, based on their needs, and attend two hours a day, four days a week. During this time students will have weekly one-on-one appointments with a certified teacher to provide lesson plans and instruction.

The Opportunity Program is not bound by quarter/semester schedules which allows students to complete courses at their own pace. The Opportunity Program offers a full range of courses including English, math, social studies, science and a handful of electives.

District Orchestra Festival video

Blue Devil Northwest recorded this week’s District Orchestra Festival. Check out the amazing work of Orchestra teacher Julia Woods and the orchestra students.

Concert Link 

Register now for Summer Sol 

Summer Sol registration is now open. Summer Sol is Walla Walla Public Schools’ FREE summer program. The program is available for all Walla Walla Public Schools students, grades incoming-Kindergarten through 12th grade. The high quality summer program will focus on enrichment, experiential, and hands-on activities at all grade levels. This year Summer Sol is going to be one session.

“We hope that everyone comes for the whole duration,” said Director of Accelerated Learning and Support Brent Cummings. “It is a 4 ½ week program, June 27-July 29 with a lot of really cool enrichment projects, including Carnegie Picture Lab, Walla Walla Valley Farm to School and Shakespeare Walla Walla.”

To register for the program, go to:


Paper copies of the registration form will also be available in the main office of each school. For more information on the program, including specific details about schedule, location, and offerings, visit summersol.org or call (509) 526-6787.

District teams with local parents and University of Washington to help families address mental health 

Christa Robinson, Julie Fox and Tyler Webster say they know what it feels like to not know how to help their child or loved one. And that’s why they are helping to start the conversation.

These Walla Walla parents have seen their children or loved ones struggle with challenges ranging from navigating social and emotional issues to diagnosed mental disorders. One of the lasting lessons of their experiences is how hard it is for parents to find good information and support in helping their children and themselves during the journey.

“It is okay not to be okay, and I hope to break down the stigma and increase mental health awareness,” said Walla Walla trainer Christa Robinson.

All three parents, in partnership with the district and the University of Washington School Mental Health Assessment Research & Training (SMART) Center, are now trained facilitators in the Asking Is Caring program. They will offer in-person trainings for district parents and childcare providers May 10 and 19, with the goal of offering additional trainings and support opportunities starting in the 2022-23 school year.

The trainings, which will have space for up to 40 participants each, will go over the elements of supporting children in crisis. They will help parents identify when their children are struggling and have strategies of what to say to show their children they can reach out for help. Participants will also receive resources such as a workbook for parents to consider proactive steps they can take to prevent their child from acting out while in crisis.

Julie Fox, also a Walla Walla trainer, states "I am hopeful that through this program we can help create understanding that making an effort to have an uncomfortable conversation about mental health is actually much less uncomfortable than the potential discomfort associated with someone who is struggling. Asking really IS caring."

Parents and caregivers interested in attending one of the upcoming Asking Is Caring trainings are required to register ahead of time. Attendee registration information is confidential.

Please use the registration link to register https://bit.ly/askingiscaring

Asking Is Caring is one of several mental health initiatives being supported by the district’s Social and Emotional Learning Team to address student needs. Implementation of social-emotional behavior screening in schools and additional mental health staff being hired through grants and community partnerships also are aimed at assisting students and making mental health resources more available.

Autism Awareness Poster Contest winner

Congratulations to Wa-Hi senior Wesley Gribnau for being selected the winner of the Walla Walla Valley Disability Network Autism Awareness Poster Contest. Wesley received a $100 gift certificate as part of the recognition. Learn more at: wwvdn.org

Wa-Hi FFA students announce dates for this year’s annual Plant Sale

• Plant Sale Dates: Wednesday, May 4 through Friday, May 6
• 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• CTE Vocational Building (parking available on Abbott Road)
• Preorders are available. Click HERE to fill out order sheet 
• Limited number of cedar planter boxes available, with some designed to look like dog houses
• Cash, check or credit card will be accepted

“We thank you for your continued support of our program, our staff, and our students who are working diligently to ensure you have the best possible experience this year,” said FFA Advisor Arch McHie. “This is a great learning opportunity for our students to serve our community in a very positive way each year. “

Special thanks to the following students for managing the inventory: Emma McGuire, Maddie Wilson, Leah Chapin, Lucy Kelly and Will Kytola.

Community Stories
American Association of University Women – Walla Walla Branch honors 10 high school senior females

The American Association of University Women—Walla Walla Branch honored 10 juniors from area high schools for their work in Science, Technology and Mathematics on Monday, April, 18, 2022, at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Current AAUW President Mary Cleveland welcomed everyone, gave an overview of AAUW’s purpose and mission and the local activities and fundraisers the organization sponsors during the year. She also encouraged the high school students to study STEM fields in high school and college.

High Schools in our branch area include: Walla Walla High School, Lincoln High School, College Place, Touchet, and WWVA. The following young women were honored at the virtual ceremony: Lily Franklin, Sydney Franks, Mia Rolph, Treshawna Janson, Zoe Leonhard, Iris Ortiz, Emily Hilbert, Tanya Luna, McKenna McMackin, and Tiana Tran.

AAUW was founded in 1881 to promote education and equity for women. The Walla Walla Branch was chartered in 1921 and currently has over 200 members. Membership is open to men and women who hold a two year degree or higher from an accredited college or university.

According to AAUW Walla Walla branch Scholarships Chairperson Michelle Higgins, “During the past two years, our plans were altered due to COVID, but we continued our tradition of recognizing outstanding Junior female high school students in the areas of Science, Technology, and Mathematics. These are areas where women are traditionally underrepresented and AAUW is working to encourage young women to explore these fields, including Engineering, as options for their future careers.”

Camp Invention is coming back to Walla Walla 

Berney Elementary School is pleased to host the Camp Invention program again for children entering 1st through 6th grade. This exciting, weeklong summer adventure provides opportunities for open-ended, hands-on exploration of science, technology, engineering and more! Rotating through a variety of exciting activities each day, children have fun collaborating with friends, thinking creatively and inventing their own solutions to real-world challenges. The camp runs July 11-15 from 9am-3:30 pm each day. David Solis, teacher at Berney Elementary, is the Camp Director. Availability is limited, so visit invent.org/mylocalcamp to sign up.

Register using SUM15 by May 18 to save $15 off the $245 registration fee. Scholarships are also available. Please contact dsolis@wwps.org for more information about how to apply. We are also looking for high school leadership interns. If interested, please contact Mary Burt at mburt@wwps.org

Class of 2022 Baccalaureate

Save the date for Class of 2022 Baccalaureate on Monday June 6 from 7-8pm at Blue Mountain Community Church at 928 Sturm Ave. Traditionally, this is a faith- based celebration of the high school experience and a send off to what the graduates are doing next. Senior students share reflections on their lived experiences as some seniors share their musical talent. All parents and family members and friends of graduates are welcome. An informal reception with cookies will conclude the evening. All graduates are encouraged to wear their blue gowns but not their caps (save that for actual graduation). If you have any questions, please contact Susan Prudente at (425) 503-2879.

Walla Walla Public Library plans Children’s Book Day event

Walla Walla Public Library invites all community youth to El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) also known simply as “Día,” Saturday, May 7 from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at the library at 238 E. Alder Street in Walla Walla. This celebration of children and literacy, a national initiative of the American Library Association, will feature craft projects, guest readers, book giveaways, and delicious food.

The Walla Walla Public Library celebration will emphasize Mexican culture in our community, including art and craft projects inspired by artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, paper flower making, music, and Amate bark painting. Tamales and fruit will be served on the Alder Street lawn from 1:00-2:00 p.m.

Guest readers will perform read-alouds at 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Door prize book giveaways will continue throughout the event, every half hour from 10:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
• Please do not attend this event if you are feeling unwell or have any symptoms of illness.
• Visit the library calendar at https://www.wallawallapubliclibrary.org/calendar for more community programs, follow our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WWPL99362/ , or call 509-527-4550.
• Questions? Contact Liz George, Young People’s Librarian, at egeorge@wallawallawa.gov, or 509-524-4431.

Parks & Rec Update 

We are hiring! Parks & Recreation is looking for those interested in seasonal, part-time or full-time employment. Positions open in Park Maintenance, Recreation, and Aquatics. Positions available for those 15 years of age and over.

• Blue Mountain Boys Baseball. Open to grades 6-10. Cost is $60.
• Warrior Soccer Academy. Open to boys and girls ages 5-11. Cost is $50.
• Blue Mountain Girls Softball. Open to grades K-6. Cost is $40-$50. SPACE IS LIMITED.
• Adult Softball League (Men’s and Co-Ed). Cost is $920 per team.
• Lifeguard Training open to ages 15 and over. Cost is $190.
• Summer program registration opens Monday, May 9.

Parks and Recreation App! Easy access to game schedules, program registration and more! Download it from your App Store/Google Play Store - Walla Walla Parks and Rec

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, recreation@wallawallawa.gov or parks@wallawallawa.gov.

Unsubscribe me from this list