|Comprehensive study outlines how far behind most district outdoor athletic and activity facilities are
Walla Walla High School Athletic Director Chris Ferenz, several coaches and parent representatives unveiled a comprehensive report three years in the making to school board members Tuesday night detailing significant inadequacies of most of the district’s outdoor athletic and activity facilities. Since 2019, WWPS coaches and staff have been meeting regularly to review current school amenities, research league and regional facilities, and prioritize improvements necessary for Walla Walla students. A comprehensive analysis of facility comparisons and research has been performed of all district schools in the Mid-Columbia Conference. The study finds most of Walla Walla Public Schools’ exterior athletic components are in need of substantial renovations or improvements in order to maintain safe and adequate facilities.
The report noted Walla Walla High School is the only school in the Mid-Columbia Conference without a multi-sport, turfed stadium. Despite multiple, costly maintenance resurfacing projects, Garrison Middle School and Walla Walla High School tennis courts are crumbling away. Grass soccer fields can’t hold up to the hundreds of athletes now participating and softball and baseball facilities do not have lights causing Walla Walla students to miss a combined 100 days of school during the spring alone.
“Over the last two decades, through community donations and district maintenance funds, we have tried our best to make improvements to our sixty-year-old courts and ballfields,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “Despite the generosity from many and our school board, we have fallen significantly behind every other school in our league, and are continuing to fall even further behind.”
The current state of district outdoor athletic and activities facilities has been years in the making. The last time any bond or levy dollars were used for outside athletic improvements on any campus was when Walla Walla High School was originally constructed over 60 years ago. Rather than asking for voter-approved bonds or levies to improve outdoor athletic facilities, WWPS has leveraged community donations, Booster Club support and basic education maintenance dollars to try and keep up with extra-curricular facility improvements. Superintendent Smith says that improvement like Murr Park, constructed over 20 years ago, and the high school track, now eight years old, were examples of incredible community support. However, remaining outdoor fields, courts and amenities are in need of significant capital improvements to match todays programming needs.
“Ever other school in the MCC boasts state-of-art outdoor athletic and activities facilities for their student athletes,” said Superintendent Smith. “As promised, our highly successful 2018 bond program focused on taking care of classrooms, science labs, performing arts, fine arts, and other indoor critical facility needs across the district. This is what our voters told us to focus on and that is exactly what we did. However, that does not mean the need to address outdoor amenities went away.”
Comprehensive Study Findings of Current WWPS Outdoor Facilities:
• Walla Walla High School is the only school in the league without a multi-sport, turfed stadium where football, soccer, track, marching band, PE and other community use can practice and perform. The district pays $100,000 per year to access Borleske for 4-5 evening football games. Visiting teams dress down on the bus or in batting cages (the locker rooms were condemned over 40 years ago), and baseball improvements to the stadium over the years have made it even more problematic for football players and spectators.
• Walla Walla High School’s 60+ year old tennis courts are on the verge of being unplayable as the substructure has completely failed. Despite the board investing nearly $100K in a new topcoat surface on the high school courts three years ago, large cracks as wide as a tennis ball in some areas have already returned across all five courts. Garrison Middle School tennis courts, also a half-century old, are in a similar state.
• Walla Walla High School’s soccer program is the only one in the Mid-Columbia Conference that doesn't have access to a lighted, turf field. Most MCC schools maintain two, lighted soccer complexes for their programs. Without turf and access to a lighted complex, parents are forced to choose which of their children to watch as junior varsity and varsity are forced to play at the same times, and fields quickly deteriorate due to overuse.
• Walla Walla High School is the only school that does not have lighted baseball and softball fields, which would allow the school to start its games in the after school afternoon and end in the early evening. As a result, Walla Walla students miss hundreds more class hours than their league counterparts.
• Pioneer Middle School is the only middle school in the entire league still running on a cinder track. All 15 middle schools in Tri Cities boast all weather tracks.
• Without access to artificial turf fields, WIAA rules will require home playoff games in sports such as soccer and football be played in the tri-cities rather than on our home site.
• Walla Walla High School’s JROTC program desperately needs a Raider Obstacle Course so students can compete with other schools in this important event.
• Porta-pottys often double as changing rooms as outdoor facilities and lockers do not exist on any site.
A link to the full presentation can be found HERE
• Develop an Outdoor Athletic and Activity Facility Community Advisory Committee consisting of parents, community members and stakeholders
• Review, research and prioritize needs
• Identity costs to make improvements
• Investigate and propose funding options
• Provide committee progress update to the district in April with a final recommendation in May
“We have a lot of work ahead of us and are in the process of developing an independent Outdoor Athletic and Activity Community Advisory Committee,” said Superintendent Smith. “Our focus will be to develop pragmatic improvement solutions that attempt to deliver equitable and comparable outdoor athletic and activity facilities with similar-sized schools to maximize student access, safety, engagement and pride.”
|New residency program helps aspiring special education teachers get certified
Walla Walla Public Schools is partnering with the Walla Walla Valley Education Association and Washington Education Association on an innovative residency grant program to provide aspiring special education teachers a local pathway to realizing their dreams of teaching.
“This innovative program provides successful candidates with a full-year of residency in various Walla Walla Public Schools special education classrooms,” said Human Resources Director Mindy Meyer. “This partnership creates the opportunity for someone with a bachelor’s degree to earn a salary and full benefits while gaining instructional skills, pedagogy and a teaching endorsement.”
Residents will begin their learning this summer with in-person and hybrid classes. In August when teachers return to their classrooms, residents will begin working with their mentor teachers.
“One of the unique aspects of this program is that residents will get four quarters of experience in both elementary and secondary schools,” said Meyer. “Many special education teaching experiences, like most teaching experiences, often give student teachers exposure to only one or two types of classrooms or grade levels.”
This new residency provides candidates with four unique learning experiences: resource room, intensive support, behavior, and general education. Not only does this give residents a wide experience, it also prepares them for any potential special education positions in the future in Walla Walla Public Schools, according to Meyer. Residents will be part of a WEA cohort and will be able to learn from other residents and teachers in the Mukilteo and Federal Way school districts.
The residency provides opportunities for district staff to be instructors and potentially serve in other roles. The grant also provides additional supports so a resident who might not be able to receive a teaching certificate through other routes due to potential barriers, like finances and program access, has the opportunity to become a certified teacher. Residents also get a full-year of residential experience. The WEA Residency Grant also provides a majority of the tuition and other supports.
“This provides residents with customized training and WWPS with new special education teachers who have more preparation, both in the classroom and in the Walla Walla way.”
The WEA program’s first cohort began accepting applications on March 20. Admitted residents begin summer coursework in June 2023 and will enter the classroom in September 2023. For more information, visit https://www.washingtonea.org/ or contact the Walla Walla Public Schools Human Resources Department at (509) 527-3000.
|Informational meeting planned for Grades 6-8 Science curriculum adoption
Walla Walla Public Schools is updating its grades 6-8 Science curriculum as part of the district’s ongoing adoption cycle. The adoption process started in the fall and the proposed materials will go before the school board for adoption on May 16. Staff in the Teaching and Learning Department are hosting an informational meeting Wednesday, March 29 from 5:30-6:30 pm in the Anne Golden Boardroom at the district office.
This meeting is open to the public and a great opportunity to learn more about the materials being recommended for adoption. There will be time to ask questions, view materials and provide input about the proposed curriculum program. Materials will also be available to view from Monday, March 27 through Monday, April 10 at the district office and online.
Links to view resources online:
Contact Curriculum Coordinator Casey Monahan with any questions: email@example.com
|Kindergarten and Early Learning Roundup April 12
Save the Date! Walla Walla Public Schools will host the Kindergarten & Early Learning Roundup at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds, April 12 between 3:30 to 6 p.m. If you have a child entering kindergarten or an early learning program like Transitional Kindergarten, Headstart and ECEAP this fall then this event is for you.
• Wednesday, April 12
• Walla Walla Fairgrounds
• 3:30 to 6 p.m.
• Meet principals, teachers and staff from your child’s new school
• Learn how and when to register for school
• Learn about Birth-to-5 options and resources for your child
• Visit community and school booths for information and resources
• YouTube video
• Website: https://www.wwps.org/departments/family-engagement
• Event Information: Pam Clayton: firstname.lastname@example.org / (509) 526-6781
|2023-2024 Kindergarten Dual Language Program Applications now accepted
Walla Walla Public Schools is now accepting applications for the Kindergarten Dual Language Program for the 2023-24 school year. The Dual Language programs are offered at Edison and Green Park Elementary Schools. Sign up HERE
The goal of the program is to ensure that all students who participate achieve proficiency in both Spanish and English. Please consider the following as you decide if dual language is the right choice for your child:
• Your child is comfortable in a variety of educational settings;
• Your child has already expressed an interest in different people, places and things;
• As a family, you will support learning a second language through school attendance, participation in school events and practice of both languages in your home.
Submit your application by dropping it off at the district office, email, mail or online. The Equity and Dual Programs Department will add the completed application to its list of applicants. Staff will verify the student’s registration with district kindergarten registration, and communicate important information to families. Please note that you must complete the district kindergarten registration, as well as the dual language application. If you have any questions about this process, please contact the Equity and Dual Programs Department at 509-526-6791 or email Yolanda Herrera at: email@example.com
|School Retirees Appreciation Week
March 20-26 is School Retirees Appreciation Week. Walla Walla Public Schools salutes all school retirees for dedicating their careers to support Walla Walla children. School retirees promote public education, advocate for retired educator benefits and often volunteer in their local schools. Governor Jay Inslee released a proclamation honoring all school retirees.
|Boeing hiring fair produces job offers for SEATech students
This week representatives from The Boeing Company held a hiring fair at SEATech’s Advanced Manufacturing & Welding Technology program. Students received an overview of current jobs available at Boeing related to manufacturing. Seniors were allowed to conduct an interview as part of the process and eight were offered positions on the spot. These positions start at $20 to $21 per hour with the potential to earn nearly $50 per hour within six years. Instructor James Polson said Boeing also offers a full benefits package including retirement. He said the company is looking to hire 4000 new employees to keep pace with the demands of its busy production schedule.
“The students will receive their official offers in about a week that detail each position's compensation,” said Polson. “Each student was offered multiple positions, and I believe all of my seniors will eventually be offered jobs.”
The Boeing Company is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, telecommunications equipment, and missiles worldwide. SEATech has had a relationship with Boeing for several years and continues to regularly produce potential employees for the company.
|School board honors wrestlers and cheer team
In 2018-2019 Walla Walla Public Schools started a new tradition of honoring state champion individuals and teams at a board meeting. Students and teams qualify for this recognition by finishing in the top three at state for athletics, music, drama, FFA, FBLA, debate, JROTC and any other state qualifying activities. This is an opportunity for these outstanding students to be recognized by the Superintendent and School Board.
Tuesday night Wa-Hi wrestlers and cheerleaders were honored for their state competition performances.
Cheer Team - Coach Morgan Arreola
The Cheer Team, coached by Morgan Arreola, finished third at state in the 3A/4A Non-Tumbling Small category and third place in the 3A Game Day Medium category. Morgan says these athletes don’t just worry about themselves and how well they will compete. They are always thinking about how loud they can get the crowd behind the football team, or how many friends they can get to go and support the basketball team.
She was very proud of the Cheer Team for helping get more students to travel to the away basketball games to support the team. These young ladies also support the student body during assemblies and other school functions. They are always willing to visit an elementary school or local business to help promote the school. Morgan says this is the most unselfish, hardworking group of athletes she has coached to date and wants everyone to know how much they are appreciated. The cheer team consists of:
Morgan Arreola, Head Coach
Jordyn Thrall, Asst Coach
Wrestling - Coach Jacob Butenhoff
Both of the student-athletes recognized at the March 21 school board meeting made history in Walla Walla this year.
Freshman Kylie Whitaker finished her season with a record of 40-10. She is the first freshman in school history to place let alone take as high as 3rd in the State 3/4A Mat Classic. She is also the new record holder for most single season wins in school history with 40 – and 22 of those wins by fall. Coach Butenhoff says Kylie is a true ambassador of the sport and is also active in volunteering her time coaching youth wrestling. He says Kylie has become the hero of many little girl wrestlers.
Senior Mateo Caso is a two-time state placer. In 2022, he took 3rd at state and became a state champion in 2023. The last state champion at Wa-Hi was Shane Anderson 27 years ago in 1996. Mateo is the current record holder for most career wins at 109 and most wins in a single season with 45. He holds 2nd place in single season pins at 28 and career pins with 60. This year Mateo received team awards of Most Valuable, Team Captain, and The Sievertsen Award. The Sievertsen award is voted on by the coaching staff and given to a student-athlete that emulates the core beliefs of Devil Style Wrestling - Resilience, Toughness and Family. Coach Butenhoff says he is thankful for Mateo's contributions to the Wa-Hi wrestling family and looks forward to watching him excel in the next stage of his journey. Mateo is weighing his options on wrestling at the collegiate level next year.
Also both Kylie and Mateo were 1st team all-conference for their respective weight classes -- Kylie at 120lbs and Mateo at 152lbs. Mateo was also the "Upper-weight Wrestler of the year" as voted on by the MCC coaches.
Congratulations again to all these outstanding students. Your efforts and dedication model our Vision of Developing Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates.
|Wa-Hi ASB receives Building Belonging Award
Tuesday night school board members honored the Walla Walla High School Associated Student Body with a Building Belonging Award. The Building Belonging Award is a student recognition program aligned to the district’s "We All Belong Here" unity message promoting a civil, safe and compassionate learning environment. The "Building Belonging" Recognition Award recognizes students who promote activities that create and sustain a sense of belonging, fairness, and justice for all students. Equity and Dual Programs Department Director Dr. Julie Perron coordinates the Building Belonging Award program.
Wa-Hi ASB helps organize school assemblies, coordinate school elections and promote monthly recognitions. These students also assist with 8th grade campus visits, help promote Unified basketball and soccer games, support school dances and so much more. Special thanks to ASB Advisor Shayna Hutchens for her leadership and dedication in supporting these outstanding students.
|Two Wa-Hi students selected to attend National FFA Next Gen Conference
Congratulations to Walla Walla High School students Kenny Gabel and Rem McBride for being selected to attend the National FFA Next Gen Conference: Power, Structural and Technical Pathway. Participants will experience new and emerging ideas, trends, and products; cutting-edge technology; sustainability and more. In addition, they will delve into literacy and advocacy as well as diversity, equity and inclusion, all while exploring various careers in the pathway. This conference is open to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. Participants are selected through a competitive application process.
“It is a great opportunity for them,” said Teacher & FFA Advisor Jessica Johnson. “Kenny’s mom Kelly works at the district’s print shop and Rem’s mom, Pamela, is a retired Wa-Hi science teacher.”
|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!
|Tickets on sale now for FFA Blue and Gold Shindig
Walla Walla FFA Alumni and Friends announce tickets for this year's Blue and Gold Shindig are now on sale! Join us for a night full of fun!
• Saturday, April 29
• Walla Walla County Fairgrounds Community Center
• Dinner at 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
• Single Dinner Tickets - $30
• Reserve a table for your family (8 tickets included) - $250
• Buy Tickets Here: https://buytickets.at/wallawallaffaalumni/852065
• All proceeds support the local FFA Chapter
• For more information: http://wallawallaffaalumni.weebly.com
• Call Staci if you have questions: (509) 386-3484
|Camp Fire Afterschool Program Update
Our theme for the week of 3/27 - 3/31 is Bugs & Butterflies week. Campers will enjoy making paper butterflies and learning about different types of bugs.
We have lots of as-needed and daily registration spots open at our Pre-K Camp Fire program at the Center for Children and Families. Register for CCF or other sites here: https://www.wwcampfire.org/programs
We're already gearing up for Summer Camp, and we have some exciting updates coming in April. Make sure you join the Camp Fire Parent Newsletter to stay in the know: https://www.wwcampfire.org/contact
If you are interested in donating to help support Summer Camp or even sponser a camper, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a check to the Camp Fire office: 414 S Park st.
|Little Watts Family Show at Power House Theatre
Gesa Power House Theatre welcomes Little Watts Family Show performer Duke Otherwise on Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m. Duke Otherwise is a playful wordsmith, a spirited performer, a skilled guitarist and captivating tap-dancer. Using his distinct baritone, he sings his hilarious and imaginative songs that all ages will delight in together. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for youths 12 and under.
|Carnegie Picture Lab workshop Saturday – Your Art, Your Voice
Carnegie Picture Lab will be presenting a workshop entitled “Your Art, Your Voice” at the Walla Walla Public Library on Saturday, March 25 from 10am until 12pm. At this workshop, students will create a graphic novel to tell their story as their animal self! Artists will be on hand to walk them through character development, storytelling, and developing dynamic layouts. Copies of the finished work will be produced and kept on display at the library! This free workshop is designed for 3 rd – 8 th grade students, but additional activities will be provided for younger artists.
“Your Art, Your Voice” is the 2023 theme of Youth Art Month, an annual observance each March to emphasize the value of art and art education for all children and to encourage public support for quality school arts programs.
For more information about this event, please contact Carnegie Picture Lab at 509- 526-6921 or email@example.com
Camp Invention returns to Berney this summer
ACamp Invention® is coming back to Berney Elementary! After earning rave reviews from campers, parents and educators, this action-packed program is returning with a brand-new program, Wonder! From July 10 to July 14, 2023, children in grades K-6 will collaborate with friends to take on fun, hands-on STEM challenges, from building a mini skate park and planning a celebration to launching a pop-up shop and transforming a robot into a stuffie. Each experience inspires creativity and boosts confidence. Visit https://invent-web.ungerboeck.com/programsearch/moreinfo.aspx?event=39786 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your spot.
|City Parks & Rec Update
• Youth Fishing Derby – Ages 14 and under. FREE.
• Toddler Dance Party – Ages 6 months-10 years. Cost is $10.
• Blue Mountain Girls Softball – Grades K-6. Cost is $40-$50.
• Pickleball For Youth – Ages 9-16. Cost is $60.
• Beginning & Intermediate Ukulele – 10 years and up. Cost is $45-$60
• WW Soccer Alliance Skills Clinic – Ages 7-12. Cost is $65.
• Adult Softball League (Men’s & Co-Ed). Ages 16 years and up. Team fee is $920.
• 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, email@example.com