Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - June 17, 2022

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
Juneteenth Holiday

In 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday as well as a state legal holiday. This Juneteenth marks the first time the entire country will celebrate this important event since being signed into law.

What is Juneteenth? On June 19, 1865, news finally reached Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved persons were now released from the bondage of slavery. This news arrived two and one-half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the end of the Civil War. Juneteenth honors and celebrates this momentous day in history.

See more on the History Channel    

Last Day of School June 20 (Early Dismissal)

The last day of school for all students is Monday, June 20. All schools follow the early dismissal schedule on June 20.

Early Dismissal Times:
• 11:45 a.m. - Preschool and transitional kindergarten students at the Walla Walla Center for Children and Families
• 11:40 a.m. - Elementary students (K-5)
• 12:25 p.m. - Middle and high school students (6-12) – Note: SEATech dismisses at 12:15 p.m.

The first day of school for the 2022-2023 school year is Tuesday, Sept. 6. Have a great summer break!

Staff Achievement grant recipients named

Walla Walla Public Schools has named its 2021-2022 Staff Achievement Grant recipients. The program started in 1988 to recognize teachers and support staff for superior performance, innovation, exemplary leadership and exceptional service. Staff Achievement Grant recipients, who are nominated and chosen by their peers, receive a $1,500 stipend and five days of paid release time for professional growth activities.

2021-2022 Staff Achievement Recipients

Clayton Hudiburg (Science Teacher – Walla Walla High School)
- Nominators: Mary Burt and Braden Hisaw.

Hudiburg helps lead the school’s Grading Coalition and was instrumental in creating awareness about the impact of grading practices. He has played a critical role in helping staff reflect on their own grading practices. Clayton advises the school’s Green Club and helped secure solar panels for the new science building. He is also trained in AVID, was formerly the head wrestling coach and serves as the Science Department Head.

Jennifer Matson (Lead Behavior Specialist)
- Nominators: Eric Matson, Christy Krutulis, Barb Casey and Maria Garcia

Matson has been an educator for more than 20 years, and has had several roles during her nine years in the district. In addition to being the lead behavior specialist, she also serves as the lead mentor for the new elementary counselors.

Melissa Bates (Green Park Para-Educator in the Life Skills REACH room)
- Nominators: Janifer Sams, Amy Hartford and Esther Angotti
Melissa consistently shows her love for the special needs students she serves in Green Park’s Life Skills REACH room. She has a calm and consistent nature. Melissa led a school-wide National Autism and Downs Syndrome Day which included decorating the halls with colorful posters, artwork and information.

Shari Strickland (Substitute Coordinator – District office)
- Nominators: Susie Golden, Veronica Esparza, Pam Jacobson and Nichole Michels.
In addition to making sure there are substitutes in the building every day, Shari also takes charge in supporting the hiring and training of substitutes. This spring, Shari decorated the district office to show appreciation for all of the substitutes by creating a Hall of Appreciation. More than 40 substitutes stopped by and walked the Hall of Appreciation which featured jokes, puns, WWPS water bottles and candy.

Peggy Payne (Science Teacher – Walla Walla High School)
- Nominators: Kim Cassetto, Clayton Hudiburg and Jessica Johnson
Payne has the unique ability to set and hold high academic standards, tailor educational experiences to individual student needs, and foster an environment of belonging. Peggy has worked in the district for 15 years. She has taught AVID, freshman science, AP Biology, physical science for agriculture, biotechnology and plant biology. Peggy has unbelievable energy and enthusiasm for teaching. Stop in her classroom and students are up on their feet engaged with the scientific method.

“These outstanding staff members have excelled in their craft in supporting our vision of Developing Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates,” said Assistant Superintendent Chris Gardea. “Now in its fourth decade, the Staff Achievement Grant Program is our way to recognize staff who have been nominated by their peers for their exceptional service.”

Health Services Director receives Distinguished Service Award for COVID support 

Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith presented the Distinguished Service Award to Health Services Director Amy Ruff for going above and beyond to support the school district during the pandemic. This award is the first of its kind and serves as the highest honor the district presents to a staff member.

When the pandemic hit in the winter of 2020, no one could predict the impact it would have on our world, let alone a small town school district in Southeast Washington state, said Superintendent Smith during the award presentation at the All Staff End-o-Year Celebration at the Walla Walla High School Commons. He noted fear, confusion and anxiety were commonplace in March of 2020 as COVID took hold of all of district conversations. School buildings were locked, in-person learning came to a screeching halt, distance learning plans had to be developed and the Washington State Department of Health, in consult with the Center for Disease Control, rolled out vast rules and regulations for operating schools.

“Thankfully, the district had Amy Ruff on staff to help make sense of these changing and most challenging times,” said Superintendent Smith. “Her dedication, professionalism and can-do attitude spread across our campuses to help staff, students and parents ease their fears and have a clear understanding of how the district would navigate this worldwide pandemic.”

As a little girl Amy knew it was her calling to serve her country in the military. Amy's father was a career Naval officer and her grandfather helped set up the first medical hospital on Normandy Beach in World War II. Her father wanted her to join the Navy, but she was ready to see different places, having moved to a different base every two years as a child. After graduating from the nursing program at Washington State University, she received a direct commission to join the Air Force Nurse Corps where she would serve for 22 years and climb to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 2003, she was deployed to the Middle East as the medical commander for the deployed combat unit.

Amy says this experience helped prepare her for managing COVID safety operations the past two years. She says nurses have to make decisions in high stress situations, understand public health practices, manage disease outbreaks and keep troops ready to fight and fly. She says operating in a war zone reinforces the need to take care of your people and earn their trust. "People are your greatest resource," according to Amy. "It's a great feeling knowing you are taking care of people and earning their trust. Teamwork is the only way to survive!”

Since the pandemic forced the closure of schools in March 2020, Amy has been managing the district COVID safety protocol operations. She oversees testing and reporting, dashboard case counts, stay-at-home orders, communication with state and local health departments and staff training.

“Amy’s focus has been to keep our doors open and continue serving students and staff,” said Superintendent Smith. “If a principal or anyone else in the district needs something, they know they can call Amy.”

Amy says "Managing the operations during the pandemic was like living in a war zone at times, and I can say that because I was in a war zone. The most difficult part of COVID was not knowing the end game."

It was no coincidence Amy landed in Walla Walla following her military career. One of her sisters moved to Walla Walla in the early 1980s. Eventually her mother, father, another sister and brother would follow to take up roots in the Walla Walla Valley. It was just a matter of time before Amy joined them. Amy was working as a nurse practitioner on Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, CO when the Walla Walla Health Services Director position opened in 2017. She accepted the position and says Walla Walla is now her forever home. She will be retiring this school year but will be forever remembered for helping the district overcome the challenges and heartaches of the pandemic.

2021-2022 School Year Retirees

Congratulations to the following staff who are retiring at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year. These staff have dedicated their careers to supporting the students and families of Walla Walla. We will miss you!

Stacy McPherson, Social Studies Teacher – Walla Walla Online
Diane Mires, Fourth and Fifth Grade Teacher – Walla Walla Online
Grace Ogoshi, English Language Arts Teacher – Walla Walla Online
Darlene Greenwood, Kindergarten Teacher – Prospect Point Elementary
Valerie Vicari, Head Custodian – Prospect Point Elementary
Liz Campeau, Director of Human Resources – Lincoln High School
Jeffrey Townsend, Audio & Video Production Instructor - SEATech
Kathy Bronkhorst, Bus Driver – Transportation
Sarah Zipf, Secretary to Director of Technology - Technology
Mike Braddock, Physical Education Specialist – Garrison Middle School
Mary Erdman, Para-Educator – Garrison Middle School
Laurie Bohnet, English Language Arts Teacher – Pioneer Middle School
Pam Spence, Head Secretary – Pioneer Middle School
Missy Newcom, Speech Language Pathologist – Special Education
Marianne O’Leary, Secretary to Director of Special Education – Special Education
Karen Neher, Intervention Specialist – Lincoln High School
Lisa Braddock, First Grade Teacher – Berney Elementary
Joe Gribnau, Fourth Grade Teacher – Berney Elementary
Kary Boyer Phillips, Kitchen Assistant – Nutrition Services
Debbie Ongers, Kitchen Manager – Nutrition Services
Tensie Lovejoy, Kindergarten Teacher – Green Park Elementary
Ingrid Olsen-Young, Para-Educator - Green Park Elementary
Heraclio Torres, Para-Educator - Green Park Elementary
Loretta Wright, First Grade Teacher - Green Park Elementary
Teresa Martinez, Para-Educator – Walla Walla Center for Children & Families
Lori Dohe, English Teacher – Walla Walla High School
Bob Dutton, Campus Support - Walla Walla High School
Pattie Eagon, Special Education Secretary - Walla Walla High School
Peder Fretheim, Math Teacher - Walla Walla High School
John Golden, Social Studies Teacher - Walla Walla High School
Spencer Iacolucci, School Counselor - Walla Walla High School
Dave Larson, Special Education Teacher - Walla Walla High School
Ron Higgins, Principal - Walla Walla High School
Amy Ruff, Director of Health Services – Walla Walla Public Schools

School Stories
Post Season Awards, Seniors Awards, and WIAA Leadership - June 14, 2022 - By Athletic Director Chris Ferenz

The Mid-Columbia Conference has finally announced all-conference teams for Spring 2022. Junior Carson Hutchinson and senior Sam Lastoskie were chosen to the Honorable Mention team for boys golf.

Senior Athletic Department Awards
The following awards were earned by senior athletes in the class of 2022 and announced at the commencement ceremony on June 10.

12 Season Award
The 12 Season Award was introduced in 1999 and it recognizes those athletes who actively participate in 3 sports a year for 4 years. This year there are four seniors who earned the 12 Season Award:
• Participating in Football, Basketball and Track - Logan Ashbeck
• Participating in Soccer, Basketball, and Track - Talia Billingsley
• Participating in Soccer, Bowling, and Track - Jennifer Huntsman
• Participating in Slowpitch Softball, Wrestling, and Fastpitch Softball - Kylie Kemp

Brown Trophy
The Brown Trophy is presented to the Senior boy who has participated in the athletic program and has been outstanding in sportsmanship, school citizenship, and the spirit in which he trains. It is voted on by the head coaches of all boys’ sports, the Principal, and the Athletic Director.

This year’s Brown Trophy winner is Dash Sirmon. Dash has participated in Football, Basketball, and Track. Throwing the javelin as a freshman he placed 6th in the state track meet and was the U-16 national champion. As a junior, he was MCC champion and first team in both the pole vault and javelin. This spring he was named MCC field athlete of the year, earned league and district championships in the javelin and long jump, two events in which he set a school record. At the state track meet, he led the Boy’s track team to the state championship while winning the long jump and javelin, and placing 6th in the discus.

Lawrence Jacky Award
The Lawrence Jacky Award is presented to the senior who has contributed to the development of athletics at Wa-Hi while showing outstanding citizenship and sportsmanship in all phases of school life.
Selection is made by a vote of the faculty here at Wa-Hi.

The winner of this year’s Lawrence Jacky Award is Tallulah Sickles. Talullah has participated in slowpitch and fastpitch softball. In slowpitch softball she was first team MCC as an outfielder and helped the team to their first state tournament in school history. She is a two-time conference player of the year in MCC fastpitch softball while leading the team consecutive conference championships. She is also a two-time, first-team pitcher who led the Blue Devils to a second place finish at the 3A state softball tournament this Spring. She will attend Lewis and Clark College in Portland to continue her career.

Lehnen Trophy
The Lehnen Trophy is presented to the Senior Girl who has participated in the athletic program and has been outstanding in sportsmanship, school citizenship, and the spirit in which she trains. It is voted on by the head coaches of all girls’ sports, the Principal, and the Athletic Director.

This year’s winner of the Lehnen Trophy is Kylie Kemp. Kylie has earned 12 varsity letters in her four years as a Blue Devil. She has excelled in wrestling and slowpitch and fastpitch softball. She has received 7 all-Mid-Columbia Conference awards for her efforts. Two on the wrestling mat and five on the softball diamond. She earned at least one first team award in each of her three sports. As a senior she propelled her teams to three state tournaments which included a 2nd place finish in fastpitch softball and a the first appearance for WWHS in the state slow-pitch tournament.

Additional Spring Athletic Awards for Seniors

IBEW Spring Male Athlete of the Year
• Dash Sirmon

IBEW Spring Female Athlete of the Year
• Tallulah Sickles

MCC Scholar-Athlete Scholarship
• Lauren Adams

Les Schwab 3A Team of the Month for May
• Boy’s Track Team

Wa-Hi Junior selected to WIAA Leadership Team
Soon to be Junior Turner Van Slyke has been chosen to the Leadership through Education, Activities, and Personal Development (LEAP) committee for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. LEAP is a student group organized by the WIAA and is involved with WIAA events, meetings, and community projects. LEAP committee members serve to be the voice of over 225,000 student-participants supported by the WIAA. Turner was one of 8 students selected across the state in the class of 2024 to serve a two-year term. He was chosen based on his application, letters of recommendation, written questionnaires, and video profile. Congratulations to Turner.

Nearly 50 graduates earn Seal of Biliteracy

Walla Walla Public Schools announces 49 seniors from the Class of 2022 received the highly acclaimed Washington state Seal of Biliteracy. This Seal recognizes public high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English. These students receive special medals, as well as notations on their high school diplomas and high school transcripts indicating they have earned the Seal.

"Not only is the Seal of Biliteracy a prestigious recognition of our students' abilities in more than one language, it is a true game changer” said Director of Equity and Dual Programs Dr. Julie Perrón. “The Seal of Biliteracy opens doors, creates connections and offers our students multiple opportunities to engage with the world and be successful in post-secondary pursuits."

The students who received this special recognition are:

Walla Walla High School:
Lauren Adams
Emiliano Quentin Avalos
Alex Bacilio Hernandez
Talia Corie Billingsley
Tiffani Carrillo-Villegas
Rosa Isa Ceja Lopez
Gisselle Serrano Colin
Esmeralda Ruby Cortez
Andres Elijah Dankel
Leyza Diaz
Annemarie Claire Dorland
Elbert Espana Espana
Regina Estrada-Flores
Abdiel Garcia
Mizraim Garcia Escobedo
Alejandra Edith Gomez
Sofia Rose Groff
Amilia Amia Gutierrez
Michelle Hidalgo Ramos
Kian Forrest Hudiburg
Allen Cruz Ibarra-Sanchez
Olivia Allier Isenhower
Serena Kate Jacob
Alora Lynai Jones
Abigail Mariela Lopez
Ximena Lopez Martinez
Alexa Martinez
Diego Edwin Martinez De Santiago
Kiara Areli Martinez
Camila Mejia
Angel Nunez-Rico
Bryan Joel Osorio
Ana Cristina Pedroza Velasquez
Katye Azeneth Perez-Nieto
Bradyn Michael Perron
Nolan Thomas Porter
Brianna Paola Ramirez
Joel Ellis Redman
Roberto Luis Rodriguez
Andres Rojero
Jaquelin Ruiz-Ibarra
Natalia Briett Salazar
Consuelo Sarmiento
Rosalinda Villagomez
Edward Vu
Genevieve Fiona Zanger

Opportunity Program:
Jaqueline Escobedo
Kenneth Salazar

Lincoln High School
Jorge Olivos-Hernandez

Wa-Hi Athletics Summer Youth Camps

HEAD COACH: Adam Berg - wabbasketball@gmail.com
When: Tuesday, July 5 to Thursday, July 7 from 12-2 pm
Location: Pioneer Middle School
Who: Incoming 4th graders to 8th graders
Cost: $20 (Includes a free t-shirt)
Sign up: FamilyID 

HEAD COACH: Morgan Arreola - wacheer@wwps.org
When: Monday, July 11 to Wednesday, July 13 from 1-3 pm
Location: Pioneer MS
Who: Incoming 1st through 4th graders
Cost: $30 (Includes shirt and bow) we will have the kids come to a football game and cheer with the girls on the sideline during second quarter (game date to be announced), they will learn cheers, dances, and stunting
Sign up: Family ID (not available yet)

HEAD COACH: Dana Evans - wagsoccer@wwps.org
When: Monday, August 1 to Wednesday, August 3 from 5-6:30 pm
Location: Reser Field or Murr (TBD)
Who: Incoming 3rd graders to 8th grades
Cost: NONE
Sign up: FamilyID 

HEAD COACH: Greg Lupfer - glupfer@wwps.org
When: Thursday, June 23 to Saturday, June 25 from 1-3 pm
Location: Wa-Hi Football Field
Who: 3rd - 8th Grade
Cost: NONE
Sign up: FamilyID 

Community Stories
FREE Summer Programs at the Walla Walla Public Library

No-cost, fun & educational programs begin June 21st at the Walla Walla Public Library. Events happen daily, including story times and Terrific Tuesdays featuring music, theater, crafts, and more! For older kids 10 and up, Creative Explorations
includes art & maker classes, the TikTok Book Club, 3D printing, an open sewing lab, and more hands-on activities just for teens & tweens.

All materials are supplied and all library programs are FREE; learn more on our website, call us at (509) 527-4550, or visit the library at 238 E. Alder Street, across from Goodwill (parking is available in the Poplar Street parking lot; please follow detour signs.)

The Little Theatre announces audition dates for The Little Mermaid

Auditions for the production of “The Little Mermaid” will be held for local children entering 1st through 12th grade on Tuesday, June 28, from 10 a.m. to noon (please plan to stay for the full two hours) at The Little Theatre of Walla Walla, 1130 E Sumach Street. REHEARSALS will be held Tuesday through Friday, June 28–July 1, 10 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. This year’s show is tuition-free thanks to a grant from our benefactors, 100 Women Who Care. PERFORMANCES will be Saturday, July 2, 3:00 and 5:30 p.m. at The Little Theatre of Walla Walla, tickets are $10. For more information, call 509.876.2316 or go to www.ltww.org

Wa-Hi senior receives $1000 scholarship from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 

Congratulations to Walla Walla Class of 2022 graduate Tiffani Carrillo for receiving a $1000 scholarship from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church as part of the congregation’s outreach program. Sandra Blackaby presented the check to Tiffany at the June 2 Wa-Hi Latino Club meeting on Thursday, June 2.

Tiffany has been part of the WA-HI Latino Club since her freshman year and has been involved in the club’s County Fair activities, AAUW Book Sale set up and other service projects, as well as the Skyline Adventures/Ski Bluewood Program.

Recently, Tiffani realized that she has a passion for education and wants to be an elementary school teacher. After graduation from high school, she plans to attend Walla Walla Community College and then Washington State University, Tri-Cities to finish her degree.

During the presentation, Tiffani expressed her appreciation to the St. Paul’s Church Scholarship Program to help support her future education. Sandra Blackaby also stated that this scholarship is renewable for up to five years as Tiffani progresses through her college education. This is the second year that St. Paul’s church has provided a scholarship to a member of the WA-HI Latino Club. In 2021, a scholarship was awarded to Perla Olmos-Alfaro.

Color Our Community On Awareness plans Juneteenth Jubilee at Pioneer Park

• Sunday, June 19
• Pioneer Park, Walla Walla
• 9 to 11 a.m. (non-denominational service)
• 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (music, vendors, dancing and more)
• More details online: https://www.cocoawwv.org/juneteenth/

Communities in Schools job openings

Communities In Schools of the Blue Mountain Region is seeking to fill two full-time Student and Community Advocate positions that will be based in Walla Walla Public Schools. These school-based positions identify and coordinate community resources, volunteers, and partnerships to address the identified academic, social, and emotional needs of youth (and their families) who face individual and systemic barriers to academic success. This is done through developmentally appropriate, culturally sensitive interventions, services, and supports. The Student and Community Advocates work closely with the administration, counseling, and student support teams in their school.

Parks & Rec Update   

Summer program registration is open!
Recreation Programs
• Swim, Play, Discover Camp open to ages 5-10 years. Free to those who qualify for our scholarship program. Email recreation@wallawallawa.gov for more information.
• Fall Youth Soccer open to boys and girls grades K-8th. Cost is $50 ($60 after July 1).
• Golf Lessons open ages 7 years and over. Cost is $48.
• NFL Flag Football open to boys and girls grades K–8th. Cost is $50.
• Pickleball for Youth Ages 10-16 years. Cost is $65.
• Summer Cemetery Tour July 9 - open to ages 12 years and over. Cost is FREE.
• Symbol Quest open to all ages. Cost is $15-$40.
• UPlay open to ages 7-12 years. Lunch is included. Cost is FREE. Register onsite.
• Youth Sports Camps and more!

Aquatic Programs
• Discover Scuba open to ages 10 years and over. Cost is $60.
• Dive Camp open to ages 10-18 years. Cost is $35. No experience required.
• Hatha Yoga open to all ages. Cost is $12-$180.
• Sea Monkeys open to ages 6-16. Cost is $45. SPACE IS LIMITED.
• Stretch and Move open to all ages. Cost is $14-$80.
• SUP Yoga open to ages 15 and up. Cost is $25-$35.
• Sweat & Swim Boot Camp is open to ages 16 and over. Cost is $14-$76.
• Swim Lessons, Session 2 July 5-14 registration opens on 6/24. Open to all ages. Cost is $31.

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 

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