Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - August 19, 2022

In this Issue:

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
First Day of School

• First day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 6 (Grades 1-12)
• Kindergarten and Preschool start Sept. 9
• Head Start & ECEAP start Sept. 12
• Please slowdown in school zones and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks

Parents asked to complete online Back to School Annual Checklist


This school year Walla Walla Public Schools created an online welcome Back to School Checklist for parents. Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith updated the school board during his Superintendent's Report about this easy to use site for families that allows them to complete all required forms and receive important school information and updates. This year the district is not utilizing paper forms for back to school information. Parents are asked to complete the online checklist for each child by the first day of school.

The first day of school for 1st-12th grade students is Tuesday, September 6. Transitional Kindergarten/Kindergarten students start on September 9 to allow for individual teacher-parent meetings and assessments. Head Start and ECEAP preschool students start September 12.

An important part of the new online checklist packet allows parents to verify their student and family information is correct.

"It is critical that we have accurate contact information for parents so we can communicate important school announcements and reach them in case of an emergency," said Superintendent Smith. "We are asking parents to contact their child’s school secretary if they need help completing the checklist."

Superintendent Smith sent a letter home to parents this week informing them about the checklist and other important district information.

August 2022 Bond Update Video

Bond Update Video 

Construction rolls on at Walla Walla High School, Pioneer Middle School and Lincoln High School as part of the bond program. Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith takes viewers on a tour of all three campuses in this August 2022 video update. All projects remain on schedule and on budget and will wrap up this fall. The district also invites the entire community to ribbon cutting celebrations and tours later this fall.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies & Public Tours

Walla Walla HIgh School
- Wednesday, Sept. 21
- 4 to 6 p.m. (Dick Neher Student Plaza Commemoration will also take place)

Pioneer Middle School
- Wednesday, Sept. 28
- 4 to 6 p.m.

Lincoln HS
- Wednesday, Oct. 5
- 4 to 6 p.m.

Walla Walla Public Schools Bond Program - Delivering on our Promise

Make sure to register your ParentSquare account

Walla Walla Public Schools is now using the ParentSquare platform for district, school and classroom communications (including emergencies), primarily with email, text and app notifications. ParentSquare automatically generates an account for each parent/guardian, using their email address and/or phone number (use the email and phone number that you have provided to your school and is in the WWPS Skyward Student Information System).

Click HERE to register your account.

Make sure you go to My Account and update your notification settings. If you select Digest Mode, messages will arrive at 6 p.m. If you select Instant, you will receive messages right away. Be sure to click on the Text message button so you receive text messages. Also, install the FREE ParentSquare app on your smartphone. Contact your child’s school secretary if you need additional support.

Back-to-School Safety Summit

This week WWPS held its Back-to-School Safety Summit at the Walla Walla High School Commons. School safety teams from across the district conducted tabletop drills and mapped out their plans for the year.

Walla Walla Public Schools meets state Emergency Preparedness requirements outlined in RCW 28A.320.125. The district’s plan focuses on crisis prevention, management and recovery. School Safety Teams reviewed drill and reporting requirements and discussed and role-played several emergency scenarios. This year’s safety awareness communications campaign will continue to stress: See Something, Hear Something, Say Something.

Levy funds help us invest in our Children’s Safety:
• Funds a full-time Walla Walla County school resource officer (SRO)
• Employs Walla Walla Public Schools campus support staff
• Maintains Incident Command System (ICS) teams & emergency plans
• Conducts lockdown, evacuation, earthquake and shelter-in-place drills
• Ensures principals & response team staff are National Incident Management System trained
• Utilizes proactive threat assessment procedures
• Implements research-based bullying prevention program
• Supports Blue Devil Strong, Sources of Strength and Reach Out suicide prevention campaign
• Performs annual trainings/table top simulation exercises (this year police, fire and other first responders will observe drills in the spring to help WWPS improve)

Anonymously report bullying, harassment, threats of violence, suicide, drugs, vandalism, weapons and other safety concerns in the following 4 easy ways:
1. PHONE - 855.976.8772
2. TEXT - 855.976.8772
3. EMAIL - 1057@ALERT1.US
4. WEB - 1057.ALERT1.US

Walla Walla Public Schools awarded $2.25M 21st Century Grant

Walla Walla Public Schools was recently awarded a $2.25M afterschool education grant spanning the next five years through the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative. The 21st CCLC grant award will serve Berney, Edison, Green Park and Sharpstein Elementary Schools starting September 1, 2022. The district will receive a $450,000 annual allocation over the next five years.

21st CCLC programs are federal afterschool programs that support the creation of community learning centers and provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. These programs help students meet state and local standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math; offer students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs; and provide literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children. Locally, the WWPS programs will focus on increasing academic performance in the aforementioned core content subject areas through literacy and STEM-based opportunities. The program will also focus on social-emotional skill development in the areas of initiative, teamwork, responsibility and problem solving.

Through intentional extra-curricular interventions, enrichment opportunities and family and community events, these programs are also proven to increase students' individual and contextual resilience capacities. Helping Walla Walla Public Schools to lead the implementation of these high quality afterschool offerings are the following community partners:
• Sustainable Living Center - Utilizing the Walla Walla Valley Farm 2 School program, the SLC will engage WWPS students in afterschool outdoor learning spaces, including school garden projects.
• Walla Walla Symphony & Walla Walla Music Organization - These collaborative organizations will teach audio engineering and sound design concepts to WWPS students to facilitate the creation of podcasts and original music compositions.
• YWCA of Walla Walla - The YWCA will implement their high quality Mariposa leadership program for WWPS 5th grade afterschool students. These students will become the student leadership cohort at each site, each year.
• Community Resilience Initiative - In conjunction with WWPS, CRI will conduct an original research study on afterschool participation and its effects of youth resilience.

In addition to the WWPS existing afterschool programs at Prospect Point, Garrison, Pioneer, Lincoln High School and Walla Walla High School, these newly awarded elementary program sites will be managed and directed by William Hammond. Previously serving as the 21st CCLC Site Coordinator at Garrison for the last 10 years, William has successfully engaged hundreds of under-served young people in some of the most exciting afterschool STEM projects and activities, including drones, high altitude weather balloon launches, robotics, Arduino and Raspberry Pi, 3D printing, AR/VR and more.

Within the 21st CCLC Program Director role, William will help ensure that all WWPS students have equitable access to enriching, rigorous, and fun extracurricular opportunities. “We are excited to continue to grow the after school programs throughout the district and the continuation of funding at Berney, Edison, Green Park, and Sharpstein will greatly benefit over 400 students and their families each year at these schools.” said Will Hammond. "This new grant award will provide amazing extracurricular opportunities and support programs for nearly 1000 students and families over the next five years."

For more information about the Walla Walla Public Schools 21st CCLC program, visit: wallawallaafterschool.com

School board approves General Fund budget

Tuesday night the school board approved the 2022-23 school year budget. The General Fund budget is based on estimated enrollment of 5382 FTE with appropriations of $94.2M. The district has trimmed staffing levels in this budget cycle through attrition to adjust to the district's recent lower enrollment trends. This practice will continue as part of the four-year budget plan to ensure a balanced budget. The approved General Fund budget maintains a $7.7M ending fund balance meeting the school board's mandate of a 6 to 8 percent reserve. School board members also approved the state required four-year plan and were briefed on the monthly financial dashboard.

Gesa writes nearly $7000 check from branded debit card program to support local students

Walla Walla Public Schools recently received a $6,769 check from Gesa Credit Union, for the 2021-2022 school year, as part of the co-branded Walla Walla High School debit card program partnership.

Every swipe of a Blue Devil branded Gesa debit card generates proceeds to be used to expand the district's Adopt-a-Blue Devil Program, paving the way for Gesa members to earn funds to support local student programs and activities.

The Adopt-a-Blue Devil program ensures all district students, from transitional kindergarten to 12th grade, regardless of income or family circumstances, have the resources to fully participate in school-sponsored programs, activities or academic experiences. Examples of how the Adopt-a-Blue Devil Program funds can be used include providing musical instrument supplies for students in need, purchasing cleats for soccer if a family can’t afford them, covering the cost of Advanced Placement exams for students who qualify for free and/or reduced lunch, and eliminating fees associated with industry certifications for families in need.

“We continue to seek ways to remove barriers for students to participate and engage in all of our school programs and activities,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “Our strategic plan challenges the school district to support the social and emotional needs of all students in a safe and engaging manner and this partnership with Gesa directly aligns with this initiative.”

Visit the district’s website to learn more about the Adopt-a-Blue Devil Program

The Wa-Hi Visa Debit Card joins Gesa’s suite of other high school co-branded affinity debit cards across Washington State. Visit any Gesa Credit Union branch to get a Wa-Hi Visa Debit Card.

Afterschool Program Performance Report - 30/30 Reading for Success

Brent Cummings, former Director of Accelerated Learning and Support who was recently promoted to the Director of the Walla Walla Center for Children and Families, briefed the school board on an exciting program offered last spring to jump start elementary reading skills. The 27 day afterschool program targeted 115 students, primarily in grades 1-3, who were one to two grade levels behind in reading, based on i-Ready scores. The students worked with para-educators for 45 minutes after school in small group settings at all five district elementary schools. Cummings said the results were positive.

"The kids who came had more growth than the kids who didn't participate in the program," said Brent, referring to the 83 students who attended regularly. "Academically this was very beneficial over a short period of time."

The $21,000 program was funded entirely from the two-year, $1.0M ESSER III grant the district received last year. Cummings said this is a good value for the results witnessed. He recommends continuing the 30/30 Reading for Success in the fall after the i-Ready assessment is completed.

"Since the initial data from the spring demonstrated a faster pace of growth and more 'stretch growth' among Reading for Success students, implementing a fall program will provide an increased data set to see if results are mirrored," said Cummings.

He suggests engaging the same targeted students in consecutive or multiple Reading for Success offerings during the course of the year. He said staffing availability could be a challenge, but believes utilizing local tutors and even volunteers could be a solution. Cummings said the district could consider a similar model for math as well.

Personnel Report (from August 16, 2022 School Board Meeting)


Neida Campa, Bilingual School Counselor, Green Park Elementary School
Tresa Reibel, Credit Retrieval Teacher, Walla Walla High School
Hannah Slominski, Middle School ALE Teacher, Lincoln High School

Mercedes Becerra, Para-Educator, Sharpstein Elementary School
Laura Bryant, Head Start Assistant Teacher, WWCCF
Macey Ewell, Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op
Christina Gutierrez, Head Start Assistant Teacher, WWCCF
Ashley Kiesecker, Para-Educator, Sharpstein Elementary School
Brian Lopez-Salazar, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary School
Nathaniel Paine, 21st Century Site Coordinator, Lincoln High School
Samantha Robinson, Para-Educator, Walla Walla High School
• Samantha was a temporary para-educator for the 2021-22 school year
Heather Stearns, Head Start Assistant Teacher, WWCCF
Alejandro Varela, Custodian, Walla Walla High School
Tracy Walmsley, Para-Educator (Temporary), Edison Elementary School/Green Park Elementary School
• Tracy was a temporary para-educator for the 2021-22 school year


Ron Higgins, Principal, Walla Walla High School, 37 years

Melissa Oakland, LAP Teacher, Green Park Elementary School, 3 years
Terry Klinefelter, History Teacher, Lincoln High School, 25 years

Lane Avery-Fairbanks, Bilingual Para-Educator, Pioneer Middle School, 1 year
Yasamin Ayatollahzadeh, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary School, 5 months
Gladys Coley, Kitchen Manager, Garrison Middle School, 12 years
Eric Odem, Technology Specialist, Technology Department, 1 year
Jeff Ratliff, Custodian, Edison Elementary School, 8 years
Julissa Virrey Soto, Assistant Secretary, Green Park Elementary School, 1.5 years


Danna Jones, Para-Educator, Edison Elementary School, 11 years
• 2022-2023 school year

Javier Hernandez, Intervention Specialist, Pioneer Middle School, 14 years
• August 22, 2022 – December 9, 2022 – Complete student teaching

Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days – August 31 to September 4

Stop by the district’s Information Booth at the Education Building during the fair. Pick up a free book for your child and all your back-to-school information. The information station is open from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Education Building is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. See you at the fair!

School Stories
District Continues to Provide Most School Supplies for Families

Most school and classroom supplies will continue to be provided for all Walla Walla Public Schools students and families throughout the 2022-23 school year. For elementary-aged students there is no expectation that families procure specific school supplies, cleaning/hygiene products, or other classroom materials for their child. Middle and high school students are asked to only bring a limited set of individual supplies with them to campus.

See below for a summary of district-provided and family-provided items:

Preschool/Head Start
• Head Start provides all school supplies (e.g. pens, pencils, markers/crayons, glue, tissue, or other classroom supplies)

• WWPS provides all school supplies (e.g. pens, pencils, markers/crayons, glue, tissue, or other classroom supplies)
• Families provide: Backpacks

Middle School/High School
• WWPS provides composition notebooks.
• Families provide: 3-ring binder with loose paper, writing utensils (pencils/pens) and a backpack

NOTE: If families need support with purchasing items, please contact your child’s school and ask for the intervention specialist.

Free admission to all Wa-Hi home games and drama productions

Attention Blue Devil fans! All Walla Walla High School home games and drama productions are now free for everyone to attend. The decision to drop all ticket fees aligns with the district’s Strategic Plan initiative of engaging the community in school activities.

“We want the community to come out and support our students, coaches and advisers,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “Most community members no longer have children in schools so it’s not easy for them to stay connected with the school district. Sports, music performances and theatrical events are a great way to bring people together and celebrate our collective accomplishments.”

Senior citizens will no longer need their Gold Cards to get into games at no cost. Anyone wishing to attend home athletic contests for free simply needs to show up. Parents/guardians must accompany all middle and elementary aged children while in attendance. Some theatrical events, like drama productions and musicals, will require pre-registration to ensure seating capacities are not exceeded.

“Our Strategic Plan continues to guide our decisions and we are proud to put these initiatives into action,” said Superintendent Smith. “We remain committed to reducing barriers to engage in our schools and are proud of our school board’s commitment toward community involvement in our schools.”

Visit the Walla Walla High School Athletic Department’s website for game schedules and information or our Fine and Performing Arts Events Calendar 

Back to School Vaccine Clinic

• Edison Elementary (1315 E. Alder)
• Thursday, Sept. 1
• 2-4 p.m.
• Open to ALL WWPS students needing required immunizations for school. Optional COVID vaccines will also be available for ages 5 and up.

School Open Houses

Berney Elementary
• Tuesday, August 30, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Edison Elementary
• Tuesday, August 30, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Green Park Elementary
• Tuesday, August 30, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Prospect Point Elementary
• Tuesday, August 30, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Sharpstein Elementary
• Tuesday, August 30, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Garrison Middle School
• Tuesday, August 30, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Pioneer Middle School
• Tuesday, August 30, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

• Freshman/New Student Orientation- Tuesday, August 30, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Lincoln High School
• Wednesday, August 31, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

• Tuesday, September 13, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Music Boosters donate grand piano to Walla Walla High School

Walla Walla Public Schools Music Coordinator Roger Garcia was all smiles this month as a Steinway B grand piano was delivered to the Walla Walla High School Performing Arts Auditorium thanks to a generous donation from the Music Boosters. The $24,000 used piano was purchased from a church in Salem, OR following nearly two decades of fruit sale fundraising by the Music Boosters.

“I am beyond thrilled as this has been one of my major goals since taking the position 16 years ago,” said Garcia. “The piano has a beautiful walnut finish and is in excellent condition.”

Garcia says the Steinway will be housed in a special cabinet on the stage of the auditorium for the Wa-Hi Choir and other performances. The school’s current Yamaha Baby Grand will be moved from the auditorium to the choir room of the new bond-funded Music Building for rehearsals and practice sessions.

A local piano tuner is scheduled to come to Wa-Hi to service the piano later this month. The piano broker who secured the purchase will come back in two months to make sure it is working properly.

“This is a significant improvement for our program and I can’t wait for the students to see it on the first day of school,” said Garcia. “This piano will sound so much better and enhance the experience of our music students. We can’t thank the Music Boosters enough for this amazing gift.”

Cummings named to lead Walla Walla Center for Children & Families

Brent Cummings has been named the Director of Walla Walla Center for Children & Families following an extensive selection process. Cummings replaces Samantha Bowen who recently accepted the statewide Executive Director of Early Learning for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The Walla Walla Center for Children & Families provides early learning services for youth and parents as a coordinated and comprehensive community learning hub located in the former Blue Ridge Elementary School. Programs include four-year-old kindergarten (Transitional Kindergarten), Head Start, ECEAP and a host of community and agency partners. Established in 2019, the center represents a decades-long community quest to help ensure all children enter kindergarten socially, emotionally and academically prepared.

"I am deeply honored and excited to continue to serve Walla Walla students and families in this leadership role,” said Cummings. “The opportunity to work with our youngest learners and their families is a special calling. Through the dedicated work of our tremendous teachers, educators, building staff and community partners, we will continue to expand upon the significant academic and social wellbeing foundations already established at the Walla Walla Center for Children & Families."

Due to his extensive grant management experience and program development skill set, Cummings was tapped two years ago to oversee the coordination and delivery of the district’s extensive federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund dollars to help address the impact of COVID on students. The district’s Summer SOL program, afterschool initiatives, and development of community partners such as Communities in Schools, are just a few of Cummings’ most recent accomplishments. Prior to his current position, he served as the district’s Director of 21st Century Afterschool Programs for eight years.

Cummings holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana where he also earned All-Academic Honors while playing on the men’s basketball team. Cummings and his wife Audra, a Walla Walla High School graduate and former district teacher, have four young children.

Community Stories
The Health Center offering FREE sports physicals for middle school students

• The Health Center is offering FREE sports physicals
• Thursday, August 25
• Location: The HUB (534 S 3rd Ave)
• Open to Pioneer and Garrison Middle School students
• Parent permission required forms as well as the sports physicals form
• Forms: https://www.thehealthcenterww.org/ Go to “Scheduling" on the home page.
• Under scheduling, select "Medical" and fill out both the "Appointments" and "Sports Physical Form."
• There is also a Spanish version to accommodate Spanish-speaking families.
• Questions: 509.525.0704

Walla2Hoops AAU Basketball Club announces skill development opportunities and tryout dates

Walla2Hoops AAU Basketball Club continues to invest heavily in its skill development program available at no additional cost to all registered players.

“It’s extremely important for the development of the players in our program to participate in the activities we make available at no additional cost as part of your club membership,” said President Matt Price-Huntington. “Players/parents are asked to look at the calendar dates below and do everything possible to make them a priority. The competition across our region continues to grow and we want to help provide our players the skills to keep pace. “

Sunday Shooting Clinics
• August 21 and 28
• 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
• Pioneer Middle School

Tryout Prep
• Players entering grades 3-8
• August 22-26
• 3 to 8 p.m. (times by grade level, youngest to oldest)
• Garrison Middle School
• Register Now – https://w2hoops.sportngin.com/register/form/350028865

2022-2023 Tryouts
• Sunday, Sept. 18
• Walla Walla High School
• Times (TBD)

NOTE: Be sure to check the website and your email because sites and times can change!

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