Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - Feb. 3, 2023

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
School Board Regular Study Meeting 

Tuesday, Feb. 7
Walla Walla Public Schools District Office (364 S. Park St.)
5:30 p.m. – Regular Study Meeting
Board Meeting Agendas, Minutes & Recordings: https://meetings.boardbook.org/Public/Organization/997

Walla Walla Public Schools joins world in celebrating Black History Month

Walla Walla Public Schools joins the nation in celebrating Black History Month throughout the month of February. Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.

Learn more at:
Library of Congress 
The History Channel 

Superintendent Smith testifies in Olympia on the importance of early learning

Tuesday, Jan. 31, Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith traveled to Olympia to testify before the House Education Committee on the importance of access to early learning, highlighting programs like the district’s Transitional Kindergarten model, in addition to Head Start, ECEAP and other high quality private and not-for-profit options across the region.

He reinforced to the committee the critical need around access to high quality early learning programs, like the ones offered at the Walla Walla Center for Children and Families (WWCCF). “Walla Walla has been a statewide leader in preschool education, dating all the way back to 1966,” notes Smith. “Providing opportunities to access preschool and other early learning programs has been shown to be one of the most effective strategies in preparing students to enter school. Every dollar we spend in early learning pays back six-fold in costs that would otherwise be required to remediate and catch students back up who are behind.”

Superintendent Smith highlighted Walla Walla Public Schools’ Transitional Kindergarten program that serves identified four-old-year students who do not qualify for Head Start and ECEAP early learning programs. His visit aimed at reinforcing programs like Transitional Kindergarten that will help ensure all students enter school socially, emotionally and academically prepared. Walla Walla Public Schools was one of the state’s earlier implementers of Transitional Kindergarten when the WWCCF opened.

Following Dr. Smith’s portion of the meeting, State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos of the 37th Legislative District, who chairs the education committee, praised Walla Walla’s program as a model for the entire state. Representative Santos and other state legislators visited the Walla Walla Center for Children and Families earlier this school year. She stated during the House Education Committee meeting on Tuesday how impressed she was with the WWCCF and commended the district for its 'exemplary' Transitional Kindergarten program.

Annual Educational Effectiveness parent/family survey closes Feb. 10

Walla Walla Public Schools has teamed with the Center for Educational Effectiveness to administer its annual survey to parents and families of current WWPS students. This anonymous survey remains open until Feb. 10, 2023. EES results provide critical information about how Walla Walla Public Schools can better serve students and their families.

The survey, available in 16 different languages, takes about 10 minutes to complete and can be accessed on a computer using the link below. Please complete one survey per child. Families who have two or more children who attend the same school only one survey is necessary, but they may complete one per child if they choose. A survey link is also located on the district’s website. Those who need help accessing the survey are asked to contact their child’s school.

“As we strive for educational excellence it is important for us to know how our parents and families regard the job we are doing,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “We value your input as we work collectively to realize our vision of Developing Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates.”

EES Annual Family Survey Link

Elementary conferences Feb. 6-9; NO SCHOOL Feb. 9-10 (TK-5)

Elementary parent/teacher conferences are Feb. 6-9. Conferences will be held in person. There is NO SCHOOL Feb. 9 and 10 for TK-5. Visit your child’s school website or the district website to schedule a conference. Contact the school secretary for questions regarding scheduling of conferences.

Nominations due March 15 for Graduates of Distinction

Nominations are now open for Walla Walla Public Schools' Graduates of Distinction program through March 15. This program, in its 23rd year, provides an avenue for recognizing high school graduates of Walla Walla Public Schools. These outstanding graduates have distinguished themselves in their communities and professions. This award also provides a platform to honor Walla Walla Public Schools staff members who were the most inspirational in their lives.

The Walla Walla Public Schools Graduates of Distinction selection committee encourages you to consider nominating a Walla Walla Public Schools graduate for this prestigious award. This program is the highest honor for district graduates.

More information is available online HERE (including nomination packet forms that may be typed and printed)

Should you have questions or need assistance, feel free to contact Walla Walla Public Schools Director of Communications and Program Chair Mark Higgins at 509-526-6716 / mhiggins@wwps.org 

Graduates of Distinction Selection Committee
Mark Higgins, Chair
Doug Bayne
Tera Davis
Roger Esparza
Paul Schneidmiller
Ron Higgins
Ruth Ladderud
Mary Jo Geidl
Susie Golden
Sergio Hernandez
Susan Prudente
Joanne Martin

Graduates of Distinction Award Recipients ~ 1999-2022

James F. Aylward 1946
Richard P. Neher 1949
Karen E. Glover 1968
Dr. Eric Johnson 1968
Michael Murr 1969

Gordon S. Riess 1944
Dr. William C. Dement 1947
Wilber Pribilsky 1951
Philip N. Lane, Jr. 1962
Bruce T. Bjerke 1968

Gordon L. Jaynes 1946
Ned Lange 1952
Eugene Blattman 1954
Jeanne Parker Miller 1969
Vickie Anderson-VanZandt 1972

Charlotte Wirth 1944
Robert I. Brunton 1953
James K. Hayner 1968

Gene Frank 1946
Mark Anderson 1973
Irene Gonzales 1980

Harold R. Frank 1941
Ned Shafer 1961
Jeffrey Frank Ray 1978

Gerwyn A. Jones 1928
Dr. George Cole Williams Jr. 1947
Michael Maiden 1968

Val Jensen 1947
Dr. Stephen Hayner 1966
AnnRene Joseph 1973

Dr. Neil V. Follett 1944
Barbara D. Johnson 1967

Claro E. Bergevin 1941
Gretchen Miller Kafoury 1959
John E. "Jack" Pelo 1974

R.F. "Dick" Monahan 1958
Daniel DeSiga 1967
Greg Ralston Pepin 1968
Dr. Philip Phillips 1975

Richard K. Knuth, Ph.D. 1969
Mary Jane Towner-Glaser 1971
Tim Donaldson 1979

Edward Aliverti 1950
Lt. Gen. Robert D. Beckel 1955
Larry B. Siegel 1969
Drew M. Bledsoe 1990

John P. Folsom 1962
Jill A. Largent, M.D. 1968
Megan Ferguson Clubb 1974

Carol Minnick Santa 1962
Dan Reid 1974
Craig Nelson 1981

Thomas L. Copeland 1942
Daniel J. Hess 1968
Paul H. Schneidmiller 1970
David Wagner 1993

Judy Chamberlain Holloway 1962
Richard "Dick" Moeller 1963
Carol M. Barker 1974

Gary Hanson 1976
Mark Kajita 1987
Jerry Zahl 1962

Bruce Hunt 1974
Jeanne Eggart Helfer 1977
Richard D. Simon, Jr, M.D. 1968

Terry Atchison 1966
Dr. Randall Kenneth Barton 1971
Dr. Elizabeth MacDonald 1995

Dr. Tony Billingsley 1993
Scott Krivoshein 1983
Mary Lux Stumph 1983
Peggy Needham 1982

2020 – NO PROGRAM (COVID-19)

Elizabeth "Libby" Frazier Class of 1973
Judith Ann Huntington Class of 1964
Garth Lindsey Class of 1962
Mike Monahan Class of 1960
Allison Bingham, PhD Class of 1977
Kathy Covey Class of 1973

Russ Colombo Class of 1974
Deborah Underwood Class of 1979
Mark Thompson Class of 1970
J.P. (Jack) Fredrickson Class of 1952

School Stories
Walla Walla to host MCC 3A Boys Wrestling Tournament

Saturday, February 4, Walla Walla High School will host Kennewick, Hermiston and Southridge for the 3A MCC wrestling championships. Wrestling will begin at 10 a.m. in the WWHS large gym. Cost for the tournament is $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Walla Walla High School students get in free with an ASB card. You may follow the action on the Trackwrestling app or via the web at: https://www.trackwrestling.com/Login.jsp

In addition, Blue Devil Northwest will be live streaming each mat at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSZ7KSNj-LU and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYfRK93WCwo

The top four wrestlers in each bracket will advance to the regional tournament at Juanita High School, February 10 and 11.

Wa-Hi Library-Media Specialist honored at Chamber of Commerce Awards program

Wednesday Walla Walla High School Library-Media Specialist Kim Cassetto was honored at the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce Annual Community Awards program at the Marcus Whitman Hotel for receiving the Hometown Hero Educator of the Year Award, sponsored by Gesa Credit Union. Angie Brotherton of Gesa presented the award to Kim. Joining Kim at her table were students Ava Kirtley and Erin Iverson, who helped coordinate the nomination, her daughter Olivia Cassetto, Mark Higgins and Chris Gardea.

Kim has been an educator for 23 years. She started with Walla Walla Public Schools in 2002. She spent six years as an English teacher at Walla Walla High School before moving on to Walla Walla Community College for the next eight years. Kim returned to Walla Walla High School in 2016 and currently serves as the school’s librarian. Kim has strong technology skills and supports the district’s Technology Department on special projects as needed. Kim is also the school’s National Honor Society advisor. She was nominated by four students, who say Kim is always helpful and encourages them to be their best. All of the nominators stated Kim goes above and beyond to support their learning needs

SEATech Health Science Careers (Pre-Nursing) Program awarded $200,000 Grant

SEATech Skills Center has applied for and been awarded a grant through the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in the amount of $200,000. This grant was available to skill centers for nursing programs to purchase or upgrade simulation laboratory equipment. SEATech’s Health Science Careers program will purchase new equipment, materials and technology to support students in a hands-on learning environment. More than 270 students have graduated from the SEATech Health Science Careers/Pre-Nursing program since its inception in 2014, with about 85% of students earning their state license on their first attempt.

“Having access to state-of-the art and industry standard equipment will improve learning experiences for students,” said CTE and SEATech Skills Center Director Jerry Maher. “Well-designed simulation-based experiences will be enhanced for SEATech’s pre-nursing students thanks to this grant, preparing students before they start their careers in healthcare. Furthermore, simulated experiences will help to prepare students for state boards upon the completion of the program as they test to earn their state certification.”

According to Maher, through genuine lab experiences, students will be better equipped to improve their abilities and clinical skills, eliminate errors during simulated lab activities before working with patients in authentic environments and repeat the process leading to mastery and high standards of performance.

“By improving student competence and confidence, safe practices and high standards of patient care will result,” said Maher. “This grant is exciting news for SEATech students and for an industry that needs trained professionals to support the health of our community.”

Instructor Sandy Thomas said the pandemic has increased the need for trained healthcare providers. She is thankful those working in the healthcare industry are getting credit for the important role they have in our society.

“Thanks to the pandemic, healthcare staff and nurses are beginning to receive the recognition they deserve,” said Thomas. “We are doing our part to prepare students for their futures in this growing career field.”

We Are Wa-Hi event promotes vast school opportunities

• Monday, February 6
• Come anytime between 6-8 p.m. in the gym
• A light meal will also be provided

The We Are Wa-Hi event encourages 8th-11th grade students and families to explore the many opportunities found at Walla Walla High School. Learn about courses in each department including academic, elective and career-connected options while exploring different pathways to prepare for graduation. Students can also check out the clubs, activities and sports tables to learn more about getting involved.

“If you are an 8th grader and you are excited about starting high school, We Are Wa-Hi is where you should start your journey,” said Family Involvement Coordinator Pam Clayton. “Parents, this is a great place to ask all your general questions and get acquainted with Wa-Hi.”

For 9th-11th graders, We Are Wa-Hi is where they can explore "what else can I do?"

“Maybe there's a class or a club you've been interested in trying but you're not really sure,” said Clayton. “We Are Wa-Hi is the perfect place to check out something new or confirm your direction next year and beyond.”

Big Blue Boosters honor two former Booster board members

Saturday night Big Blue Boosters Vice President Jeff Schulke honored former Boosters board members Kathy Utschinski and Jeff Greene for their years of service. Utschinski, a class of 1986 alumni, is a mother of two Wa-Hi athletes. She served eight years as a Big Blue Boosters board member, including several years as board secretary. Kathy helped organize the first-ever Big Blue Fundraising Dinner & Auction in 2019 and continues to be a generous Big Blue Booster and donor.

Jeff Greene is a father of three Wa-Hi graduates who were all Blue Devil athletes. Jeff served more than five years as a Big Blue Boosters board member, including two terms as board president. He also served as the accounting lead for the first ever Big Blue Boosters Fundraising Dinner & Auction in 2019. Jeff was one of the key organizers in the rehabilitation and construction of the Blue Devil track facility and continues to be a generous Big Blue Boosters donor and sponsor.

Big Blue Boosters are planning their Annual Dinner and Auction for Saturday, April 22 at 5 p.m. at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds Pavilion. All proceeds support Wa-Hi athletics. Tickets go on sale Feb. 1. Visit the Big Blue Boosters website to purchase tickets. https://www.bigblueboosters.org/

Tickets on sale now for Big Blue Boosters Annual Fundraiser

Attention Big Blue Supporters! Tickets are now available for the 3rd Annual Big Blue Boosters Fundraising Dinner & Auction on April 22, 2023. The event will take place at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds Pavilion, with doors and silent auction opening at 5 p.m., dinner served at 6 p.m., followed by a live auction. Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased here: https://bigblueboosters.ejoinme.org/tickets

The Big Blue Boosters of Walla Walla has spent tens of thousands of dollars in the past year to support its athletes. This includes providing basketball shooting machines, gym flooring graphics, bowling lockers, jerseys, t-shirts, sweatshirts, warm-up gear, coach apparel, team meals, sports equipment, sports photography and so much more.

“The goal of Big Blue is to improve the athletic experience for our Wa-Hi student-athletes and coaches, said Big Blue Boosters Secretary Colby Burke. “We raise funds only through our annual auction and dinner, gym sponsorship programs, and generous donations. We do not ask our student athletes to be responsible for fundraising. As the Walla Walla School District no longer charges admission to regular season sporting events, our mission to generate funds for our athletic programs is more important than ever.”

The Big Blue Boosters is a 501c3 organization, and sponsorships and donations may be claimed as a charitable donation for tax purposes. Donations are accepted throughout the year to support our athletes. We thank you for your support!

Community Spanish Book Fair at Edison Elementary Feb 7-9

Walla Walla Public Schools is hosting a Community Spanish Book Fair at the district’s Dual Language School Edison Elementary Feb 7-9. Edison Elementary Library Media Specialist and LAP teacher Martin Telstad, Elementary Library Cataloger Tara Jasper and Pioneer Middle School Library Media Specialist Sara Strickland are helping organize this public event. Telstad says a variety of books in Spanish, targeting children preschool to grade 5, will be available for purchase.

“We need your help to spread the message around our region to make sure all families know they can access this opportunity to purchase books in Spanish,” said Telstad. “We want to make sure all of our students are represented and have access and the opportunity to purchase books in the language they are learning in school or are speaking at home.”

Telstad says finding books in Spanish in bookstores or online can be challenging. His hope with the Spanish Book Fair is to educate the community about the opportunities to borrow books from libraries, and also have the chance to purchase fun and interesting books in Spanish.

“We would like all of our students to work towards biliteracy, so this is a great opportunity to support this endeavor,” said Telstad.

Community Spanish Book Fair
• Edison Elementary School (Coordinator: Martin Telstad, mtelstad@wwps.org)
• Tuesday, February 7 / 3 to 7 p.m.
• Wednesday, February 8 / 3 to 7 p.m.
• Thursday, February 9 / 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A Spanish Book Fair for middle school students will be held at Pioneer Middle School in March.

Community Stories
City of Walla Walla Library hosts Wednesday evening family time

Did your family make a resolution to read more together this year? Can't make daytime library story times because of work and school conflicts? Join Walla Walla Public Library every Wednesday at 6pm for Evening Owls Story Time, a new story time program for working families. Pajamas are welcome! This story time program repeats as Early Learners' Story Time the following Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

Did you also make a resolution to learn or improve your Spanish skills this year? Walla Walla Public Library has you covered there, too! Teens and adults are invited to Community Spanish every Friday 4:30-7pm for conversation, games, and other language-learning activities in a no-pressure environment.

AAUW annual book sale Feb. 24-26

Community members are invited to attend the 58th Annual AAUW (American Association of University Women) Book Sale at the Marcus Whitman Hotel, Friday, Feb 24, 9 am – 7 pm; Saturday, Feb 25, 9 am – 7 pm; and Sunday, Feb 26, 9 am – 4 pm. Children (14 and younger) each receive one free book from the extensive children’s section (Picture and Chapter Books). There is also a Young Adult category, featuring books for 12 to 18-year-olds, with more adult themes than children’s Chapter Books. The Book Sale’s approximately 40,000 books are divided into more than 40 categories. Prices range from $1.00 to $4.00 for most titles. Picture Books are $1.00 and Chapter Books are $1.00 for paperbacks and $2.00 for hardbacks. The Collectible Books section featuring rare, collectible books are priced individually. Credit and debit cards will be accepted, along with checks and cash. Proceeds from the sale fund local scholarships for women returning to college, and local educational projects and events.

Camp Fire Afterschool Program Update

Our theme for the week of 2/6 - 2/10 is Superbowl Week. Campers will engage in football-themed activities and spend a little extra time in the gym trying out the sport for themselves.

February as-needed registration is open. Register online at https://www.wwcampfire.org/programs. Pre-School Camp Fire at the Center for Children and Families has lots of spots open.

We've started planning for Summer Camp, which will come with lots of fun volunteer opportunities. Email natalie@wwcampfire.org if interested in volunteering or joining the summer staff substitute list. If you're planning on sending your child to summer camp, make sure to join our email list for scheduling and location updates at https://www.wwcampfire.org/.

Parks and Recreation Update

• Youth Volleyball Camp February 4-March 4 – Grades 4-8. Cost is $50. Space is limited!
• Toddler Dance Party – Ages 6 months-10 years. Cost is $10.
• Mother/Son Superhero Bash February 11 – Open to all ages. Cost is $20 per Mother.
• Beginning Ukulele – 10 years and up. Cost is $45-$60
• Father/Daughter Ball March 4 – Open to all ages. Cost is $20 per Father.
• St Paddy’s Day Dash – Ages 5 and up. Cost is $15-$25.
• Blue Mountain Girls Softball – Grades K-6. Cost is $40-$50.
• Youth Baseball Spring Training Hitting & Fielding Camp. Grades 3-8. Cost is $90.
• Fencing - 8 years and up. Cost is $20-$75.
• Veterans Memorial Pool 2023 Season Passes are on sale! Prices increase the 1st of each month until May when they are full price.

Do you have the 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

For more information or to register, please visit our website at www.wwpr.us. If you have questions, feel free to contact the Parks & Recreation Office at 509-527-4527, recreation@wallawallawa.gov 

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