Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - April 21, 2023

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
District names Volunteers of the Year

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month. This year’s theme is Volunteering Weaves Us Together. Tuesday night the district named Gricelda Justice, Katharine Curles, Marianne Smith, Christine Lyons and Paula Nichols 2023 Art Regier Volunteers of the Year.

Each April the district presents Art Regier Outstanding Volunteer Awards to volunteers who have demonstrated exceptional service or contributions to the children of Walla Walla Public Schools. This prestigious award was instituted in 1991 as a memorial to “Grandpa Art” Regier. Regier was a retiree who devoted years of service to elementary schools in Walla Walla and epitomized the spirit of volunteerism in education.

Congratulations to these five outstanding volunteers for being added to the long list of dedicated community members who have helped shape the minds and hearts of generations of Walla Walla youth.

See more HERE 


District gears up for annual Smarter Balanced state testing

This April and May Walla Walla Public Schools students in grades 3-8 and 10 are required by the state to take the Smarter Balanced (SBA), or the Washington Access to Instruction and Measurement (WA-AIM) tests in math and English Language Arts (ELA). Students in grades 5, 8, and 11 will also take the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS).

These assessments provide accurate measures of achievement and growth toward college and career readiness benchmarks while challenging students to think critically and solve real-world problems. The SBA in math and ELA are a graduation pathway requirement. Testing gives educators and districts crucial information about how well the district is serving our students.

“In order to achieve the best outcomes for our students, teachers have been using assessment practice tools to ensure students are familiar with the format and content of the state assessment and thus, demonstrate their knowledge and skills,” said District Assessment Coordinator Schumacher. “These state assessments are like academic checkups and help our teachers and parents see how on-track students are, compared to where they need to be, in regard to grade level standards.”

Schumacher says the district also realizes it is important to protect time used for learning in the classroom, thus steps have been taken to minimize the impact on the regular school day.

“In order to minimize the amount of class time lost to testing, students at all grade levels will have a week to complete their ELA assessments and another week to complete their Math assessments,” said Schumacher.
“During these testing weeks, students will still receive instruction in other subjects and participate in specialists’ classes and electives.”

It’s important to make sure students are in attendance during these two testing weeks, so they can get back to their typical learning schedule as soon as possible. Anyone who is absent during their school’s testing day, will need to make it up during the state-established testing window.

For more information on assessments please visit our district website

Spring 2023 State Testing Timeline:

Elementary Schools:
• Science (WCAS): April 24-28
• Math (SBA) and ELA (SBA): May 1-May 19 (including make-ups)

Please check with your student’s school for exact testing days and test order.

Garrison and Pioneer Middle Schools:
• Science (WCAS): April 24-28
• Math (SBA): May 1-May 5
• ELA (SBA): May 8-11

Please check with your student’s school for exact testing days.

Lincoln High School
• Testing over all subjects is May 8-11.

Opportunity:
• Science (WCAS): April 25
• ELA (SBA): May 16 and 17
• Math (SBA): May 18 and 19

Walla Walla High School:
• Science (WCAS): April 25
• Math (SBA): May 15 and 16
• ELA (SBA): May 22 and 23

Walla Walla Online
• Science (WCAS): April 25 and 26
• Elementary and Middle School SBA: May 8 and 9
• High School SBA: May 18-19

Reminders for Testing Day
• Get adequate sleep the night before testing
• Eat a nutritious breakfast the morning of testing
• Come to school with a charged Chromebook (Middle School and High School)
• Earbuds are provided by the district, but students can use their own wired headphones (wireless headphones will not work)


Graduations and End of Year Celebrations

Opportunity and Walla Walla Online Graduation
• Wednesday, June 7
• 6:30 p.m.
• Walla Walla Fairgrounds

Lincoln High School Graduation
• Thursday, June 8
• 6 to 8 p.m.
• Walla Walla Fairgrounds

Walla Walla High School Commencement
• Friday, June 9
• 7 p.m.
• Walla Walla High School

Walla Walla Online 8th Grade Recognition
• Tuesday, June 13
• 6 p.m.
• SEATech Multipurpose Room

Pioneer Middle School 8th Grade Recognition
• Tuesday, June 13
• 7 p.m.
• Walla Walla Fairgrounds

Garrison Middle School 8th Grade Recognition
• Wednesday, June 14
• 7 p.m.
• Walla Walla Fairgrounds


School Board Directors Ladderud and Sarley to seek re-election 

During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, School Board Directors Ruth Ladderud and Derek Sarley announced they will be running for re-election during the November 2023 General Election. Sarley currently serves as School Board President and was elected to the school board in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. Ladderud was elected in 2013 to complete the term and re-elected in 2015 and 2019.


Wa-Hi’s Unified Blue Devils program receives Building Belonging Award

Tuesday night school board members honored the Walla Walla High School Unified Blue Devils Program 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.
The Walla Walla High School Unified Blue Devils Program is a student-led club providing the leadership component of the school's Unified sports, which is a part of Special Olympics. This group of students, with and without disabilities, promotes inclusion and belonging by supporting Unified robotics, basketball, soccer and sponsor activities for students of all abilities. They promote and recruit students of all abilities to play and work together through our Unified program.

The club leadership is represented by students of all abilities. The Unified robotics program built and programmed three robots and competed against Garrison Middle School. The school's basketball team played Othello, Moses Lake and Grandview during the winter season. The soccer team is practicing and will play Othello and Grandview later this spring. Currently, the group is planning WWHS' Unified Inclusion week that will be held the last week of May. The week will include lessons on inclusion during Advisory, a pledge for students to sign at lunch, bracelets for inclusion and a lot of fun activities to promote acceptance and inclusion at Wa-Hi. This is the first year of Unified sports at Wa-Hi. This Blue Devils club is growing and is a great addition for promoting inclusion on campus.

Instrumental in starting Unified:
Staff: Libby Thompson, Krystal Ceron, Chris Ferenz
Students: Katlin Presler, Sydney Tureman, Dannika Stilson, Aiden Arevelo, Israel Saldana, Sophia Ceron, Hayden Baynes, Molly Knight, Abigail Castellano, Jasmin Noland, Damien Daniel, Derrek Bergevin, Sophie Beam, Felicity Matson, Adan Romero Jimenez, Paige Morrisette, Jake Nelson


Outdoor Athletic and Activity Facility Committee continues study to address aging facilities

Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith shared an update on the district's Outdoor Athletic and Activity Facility Committee during Tuesday’s school board meeting. This group has met twice to begin work toward providing a recommendation for a long-term solution to address the district's aging outdoor athletics and activities facilities. Visit the Outdoor Athletic and Activity Facility Committee website for updates and more information. 

Committee Membership
Jimmy Duede, Parent of Indoor Athlete
Doug Hayes, Soccer, Track, MS FB
Scott Shields, Soccer, FB
Julio Tapia, Youth Soccer
Stephenie Bowen, Softball
Lawson Knight, Soccer, Track
Dewight Hall, Softball, Baseball
Denise Isenhower, Tennis
Kelly Belcher, Baseball, Football
Robert King, Soccer, Football, Track, Baseball, Booster Club Treasurer
Mark Thompson, At Large
Mike Monahan, At Large
Phil Shivell, Football, Track
Scott Krivoshein, At Large
Stacy Bergevin Softball
(Chair) Don Davis, Parent, Booster Club President
(Vice-Chair) Andy Coleman, City Representative
Colby Burke, Soccer, Softball, Booster Club Secretary
Tim Wooster, JROTC
Jaime Tiscareno, Youth Soccer

Support/Advisory Members
Dr. Wade Smith, Superintendent
Heath Gardner, Consultant
Chris Ferenz, Athletic Director
Robert Foster, Facilities Director
Michael Kay, Former Director/Advisor
Dean Lodmell, Volunteer Consultant
Kathy Mulkerin, School Board Representative


School board honors Wa-Hi Dance 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 the Wa-Hi Dance Team was honored for its state competition performances.

The Walla Walla High School Dance Team, led by first-year head coach Brooke Cinnamon (Perkins), Class of 2019, traveled to Yakima March 24 to compete in the WIAA State Dance/Drill Championships. The team earned a 3rd place trophy in the 3A dance category.

Dance Team Roster:
Seniors
1.Chloe Moon
2.Haven Brackner

Juniors
3. Ashlee Villegas
4. Zoe Phavong

Sophomores
5. Janae Martinez
6. Petra Darcy
7. Yvette Corona
8. Gelen Gonzalez
9. Allison Snider

Freshman
10. Saralee De Leon Lara
11. Brooklyn Christopher
12. Paulina Rodriguez

The Blue Devils Dance Team had their highest finish at State since 2017 (4th). Brooke says the team worked extremely hard all season long..This year Coach Cinnamon reintroduced competition to the Wa-Hi Dance Team for the first time in four years. Brooke says her goal for the team this year was to get them to state, and says the team quickly realized it was a possibility. They had several long practices and changed the dance routine choreography several times before making it to state. She says she doesn’t think the team had any idea how good they were and what they were capable of. In advance of going to state, Brooke told the team "you already did the hard work, now it's time to show them what you worked so hard for." She says to say she is proud of the team is an understatement. These kids not only started competitions again for the first time in four years but they placed Top 3 at state for the first time in 11 years.

Brooke says this team of student-athletes are the most humble, kind and selfless people you could ever imagine. And she couldn't be more excited to continue building this program alongside these hard working students.


District welcomes new Director of Fiscal Services

Walla Walla feels like home to the district’s new Director of Fiscal Service Janette Jeffris who grew up in the small town of Peshastin, WA near Leavenworth in Chelan County. Janette says she loves the small town feel of Walla Walla without it being too small.

During her high school days, Janette was a cheerleader and active in all aspects of school life. She attended Northwest Nazarene in Nampa, ID following high school where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting and business administration. She also holds a Master’s Degree in business administration from Western Governors University.

Janette has 10 years professional school finance experience, including stints at North Central Education Service District in Wenatchee, Othello School District and Wenatchee School District. She is replacing Nancy Taylor who will retire this fall.

Janette is married and enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her husband Nick. You will often see Janette walking her dog and staying active. She loves to travel and has been to Europe three times. She says she is excited to be part of Walla Walla Public Schools and looks forward to getting to know staff and students.


Kindergarten and new student enrollment and Open Enrollment continues through April 28

Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten enrollment is open for families that have four or five-year-old children. Open Enrollment for the 2023-2024 school year is also open. Priority is given to families who complete the open enrollment paper work during the first two weeks of the period, April 17-28.

Application for dual language programming is currently open as well. Click link for programs available to Walla Walla families. Enrollment Process, Open Enrollment and Choice Transfer Information 


Golden Onion grant recipients named

Congratulations to Erika Helm (Edison Elementary), Jennifer Golden (Garrison Middle School), Genie Huntemann (Walla Walla High School) and Rachel Eng (Walla Walla Center for Children and Families) for being named 2023 Golden Onion award recipients. Each of these educators will receive $700 to use for classroom and instructional improvements.

Longtime Walla Walla resident and one-time teacher Sue Gillespie and her husband Mike established the “Golden Onion Award” to provide school supplies, equipment and professional development funds to Walla Walla educators. The “Golden Onion Award” is presented annually to district teachers representing elementary, middle school and high school grade levels.

The Gillespie Teacher Development Fund is a component fund of the Blue Mountain Community Foundation. Mike and Sue say they are honored to support these dedicated Walla Walla teachers.


School Stories
JROTC rifle teams compete at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Western Regional Championship

Walla Walla High School’s JROTC Precision and Sporter Class Rifle Teams competed at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Western Regional Championship in Sandy, Utah last weekend. Ten competitive marksmen from the Blue Devil JROTC Rifle program received invitations to the two day rifle match that included 20 shots from each of three firing positions; prone, standing and kneeling.

On the first day of competition, the precision team was led by Cadet Captain Tristan Scott who fired a 564 out of 600 possible points. Other precision shooters competing were Cadet Lieutenant Micah Vawter, Cadet Major Benjamin Nelson, Cadet Major Maximus Malone and Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Kaden Kerr. At the close of day one the precision team ended on a score of 2227. The sporter team fared well on the first day of the match, the leading scorer being sophomore Cadet Sergeant Spahira Rynaski with a 525, followed close behind by teammate Cadet Lieutenant Aviella Wilson at a 519. Cadet Master Sergeant Clayton Johnson, Cadet Master Sergeant Chanze Martz and Cadet Command Sergeant Major Gerardo Soto rounded out the team, producing a total score of 2042.

“We are really pleased with our sporter team’s performance today” Said team captain Nelson after Friday’s match “Everyone on the team was well over 500.”

On the second day of competition, Vawter led the team, shooting a career-high score of 571 followed by Scott with a 569 and Nelson at 560. The team ended the day in 7 th place overall with a score of 4484.

“Vawter’s performance today is very encouraging ” said WAHI Rifle Coach Mark Mebes after the conclusion of shooting on Saturday. “My entire precision team is graduating this year except for Vawter. It will be vital to have his experience next year as we rebuild.”

In the sporter category Wilson led the team on Saturday with a 528, followed by Rynaski at 520 and Soto with a 516. With everyone on the sporter team scoring above a 500 the Blue Devils improved the second day by producing a 2056, bringing their two day total to 4098 and putting them in 11 th place in the west.

Over the next few weeks the CMP will host regional matches in Ohio and Alabama that, when compiled nationally, will rank high school-age rifle teams vying for a berth at the CMP National Championship held in Camp Perry, Ohio this summer. The Blue Devils return home this week to await their national ranking and a possible invitation to nationals in July.


Walla Walla teacher named to Washington State Council of the Social Studies Board of Directors

Congratulations to Opportunity teacher Donnetta Elsasser for being named to the Washington State Council of the Social Studies Board of Directors. The election results were announced at the Spring Conference. Members of the Board of Directors serve the organization and help lead the social studies education community in Washington State.

“My representation of our area of the state is especially vital since we have no social studies specialist at the ESD, and no one who advocates for social studies specifically,” said Elsasser. “I believe passionately that high quality social studies education needs to be accessible to every child in our state.”

For more information about the Washington State Council of the Social Studies and our mission, please visit their website at www.wscss.org.


FFA Plant Sale dates announced

Walla Walla High School students and staff in the FFA program are having their Annual Spring Plant Sale May 3-5 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the CTE building lawn area. Parking is available in front of Wa-Hi’s CTE building on Abbott Road. Cash, check or credit card will be accepted. For more information contact Teacher Arch McHie - amchie@wwps.org


Garrison Middle School Student Summit provides opportunity for student voice

This week Garrison Middle School held its first Student Summit aimed at creating a safe and inclusive learning community. The students, along with Guiding Coalition members, analyzed this year’s student survey data to identify causes and offer tangible solutions that will aid in developing a better system for all learners. The students shared their stories and perceptions about the importance of creating welcoming, safe and affirming spaces for all learners.

The summit focused on key structures and practices that can cultivate supportive school environments to promote a sense of belonging and physical, emotional, and identity safety, according to Principal Kim Doepker.

“The goal of the summit was to create a school where everyone feels welcome, and the student's analysis of the survey data was an important step in achieving that goal,” said Doepker.


Elementary students show off talents during The Orchestra Sings concert

Monday morning district 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students traveled to Cordiner Hall on the campus of Whitman College for The Orchestra Sings concert with the Walla Walla Symphony. Students had been preparing for this day since the fall by learning a variety of music during music class. Students were able to sing, dance and play their recorders during this annual event. Monday’s event was the first since 2020 due to the pandemic. Thanks to the Walla Walla Symphony, Whitman College and district music teachers for providing this amazing event for Walla Walla students.



Tickets still available for Saturday’s Big Blue Boosters Annual Fundraiser

The 3rd Annual Big Blue Boosters Fundraising Dinner & Auction is 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 can still 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


Community Stories
COCOA announces Juneteenth Jubilee

COCOA would like to invite everyone in our community, especially families with children, to come to the Juneteenth Jubilee on Saturday, June 17, 2023. The event will take place in Washington Park from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Our celebration of joy and the end of enslavement in America is FREE and ALL ARE WELCOME. We will have FREE food, beverages, games, music, crafts, and more. We hope you join us! Follow us on Instagram (wwjuneteenth) and Facebook (cocoawwv).


2023 Suicide Prevention Walk – Together we can STOP Suicide in Walla Walla

• Wednesday, May 24
• 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
• Macy’s Parking Lot (119 E. Alder St.)
• 35+ organizations
• All are welcome


Camp Fire Afterschool Program update

Our theme for the week of 4/24 - 4/28 is April Showers Bring May Flowers. Campers will learn about the rain cycle and participate in crafts and activities inspired by the flowers that bloom in the spring.

We are hiring a new Executive Director. Job description and application instructions can be found here: https://www.wwcampfire.org/employment

If you feel inspired to donate to help support Summer Camp or even sponser a camper, donate via our GoFundMe at https://gofund.me/3e39a156 or send a check to the Camp Fire office: 414 S Park st. Any contribution, no matter the size, is appreciated!

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 Registration for May opens today. Registration for Summer Camp opens Friday, 4/28.

We are looking for Summer Camp subs. This is a really fun opportunity to make a little extra money over the summer. 

We are also looking for volunteer presenters for Summer Camp. Email natalie@wwcampfire.org if you're interested.


City Library Update

You're Invited! Prime Time Reading Open House at the Walla Walla Public Library, Tuesday, April 25th @5:30PM - 7:00PM, 238 E. Alder St., Walla Walla
• Join other Spanish-speaking families for dinner, stories and conversation.
• Discover the resources the library has for Spanish-speaking students.
• Sign up to be part of a six week series of dinner and stories, next school year.
Questions? Place contact: Young People's Librarian, Liz George: egeorge@wallawallawa.gov, 509-524-4431.


Save the Date for the 26th Annual Ducky Derby

Duck Race and Family Festival to Support Local Youth and the Prevention of Child Abuse

The 26th annual Community Bank Ducky Derby will be held on Saturday, May 13, at Mill Creek on the Walla Walla Community College. The duck race will begin at 2 p.m. during the Family Fun Festival that will run from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Last year’s Fun Fest was cancelled due to inclement weather, but the committee is committed to holding the event this year.

This annual community event is generously sponsored by Community Bank and organized by the Walla Walla Exchange Club Foundation. Proceeds from this event go toward child abuse prevention and support many programs that benefit youth in the Walla Walla Valley and surrounding areas.

The highlight of the event is the race of approximately 20,000 little yellow plastic ducks down a stretch of Mill Creek. Community members are encouraged to purchase Ducky Derby tickets (one duck for $5 or five ducks for $20) for a chance to win one of approximately 20 prizes generously donated by local businesses. Prizes will be awarded to the individuals who hold tickets with numbers matching those of the first ducks to cross the finish line.

Over $60,000 in guaranteed prizes will be awarded, with the featured prize being a $10,000 cash prize donated by Walla Walla Valley Honda. Regardless of whether you win a prize or not, each ticket is a winner in that a $5 ticket stub is good for a free ice cream at Baskin & Robbins and a $20 ticket stub is good for a free small Blizzard at Dairy Queen.

Ducky Derby tickets are available to purchase from any Exchange Club member, at community events such as the Spring Fling and Downtown Farmer's Market, and at designated ticket outlets: Any Exchange Member, Albertsons, Blue Palm Frozen Yogurt, Community Bank, Downtown on Alder, Community Bank, Hwy 125, Falkenberg Jewelers, L&G Ranch Supply, PFI Mart - Isaacs Ave, Super One, Walla Walla Daily Grind, Walla Walla Valley Honda, or wherever you can find Matt Mahan!

Last-minute tickets may be purchased before the race at the Family Fun Festival at Walla Walla Community College on May 13.



Return to the River Salmon Festival

• Come celebrate our natural resources
• Saturday, May 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• WWCC (by the ballfields along Tausick Way)
• Salmon releases at noon, 1 & 2 p.m.
• Lamprey and native fish on display
• Hands-on activities like fish printing, relay races, obstacle course, demonstrations, free face painting and more


City Parks & Rec Update

• Toddler Dance Party – Ages 6 months-10 years. Cost is $10.
• Beginning Ukulele – 10 years and up. Cost is $60.
• Adult Softball League (Men’s & Co-Ed). Ages 16 years and up. Team fee is $920.
• Pickleball – Ages 9 years and up. Cost is $30-$60.
• 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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