Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - January 26, 2024

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories

Snow make up days announced

Walla Walla Public Schools has announced Friday, May 10 will be the snow make up day for the January 12 school closure. Unless there are additional school closures due to winter weather this school year, the last day of school is now Friday, June 14 (Early Dismissal). This serves as the snow make up day for the January 19 school closure. The dates have been updated on the 2023-2024 school calendar.

Ballots mailed to voters this week

Ballots for the Feb. 13 Special Election were mailed out to voters Jan. 24. Ballots must be returned by Feb. 13. Please remember to vote.

The school district has two levies on the Feb. 13 ballot. The first measure is the Replacement Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) Learning Levy. This is not a new tax as rates remain the same as approved in 2020. Learning levy funds help maintain programs and offerings not funded by the state.

The second measure is a six-year Capital Levy to improve outdoor athletic and activity facilities at Pioneer MS, Garrison MS and Wa-Hi. This short-term Capital Levy proposal is .38 per $1000 and would cost about $3 per month for every $100,000 of assessed value. For a home assessed at $300,000 the annual cost would be $114 per year or $9.50 per month through the six-year Capital Levy time frame.

Visit the district’s website to learn more: https://www.wwps.org/levy2024

Two school levies on February ballot

Have you heard two school levies are on the Feb. 13 ballot? The first levy is the renewal of the district's Educational Programs and Operations Levy (commonly referred to as the "Learning Levy"). This IS NOT A NEW TAX. It is a renewal of the district's long-standing "learning levy," that has been consecutively approved by voters 28 times dating all the way back to 1971. Per state law, this levy requires reauthorization from voters every four years. It replaces the same tax rate overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2020 (73% yes), and provides the same opportunities and experiences Walla Walla students have experienced for decades. It funds the learning and programming that the state's basic funding model doesn't, such as: honors/AP classes, music, art, drama, foreign language, athletics, clubs, activities, classroom technology, school safety, maintenance/custodial staffing, school nurses, counselors, highly capable programs and more. It provides for a large percentage of our district/community workforce, encompassing over 110 full time staff and over 230 part time coaches and advisors. To learn more about the Learning Levy renewal, feel free to visit our website here: https://www.wwps.org/ep-o-learning-levy or review the fact sheet which recently arrived in your mailbox.

The second levy is a short-term capital levy that addresses outdoor athletic and activity improvements that were intentionally not included in the prior 2018 bond measure. As you may recall, one of our community's top expectations was that bond dollars would be prioritized to address classroom/indoor spaces, safety and infrastructure preservation. The community Bond Oversight Committee carefully safeguarded this promise, and as a result indoor classrooms, labs, music, art, drama, career and technical, and other indoor facilities were brought up to current standards. As promised, no bond dollars were used on outdoor athletic/activity improvements. However, the need to address outdoor facilities, many of which are more than 50 years old and/or lack current amenities and safety measures, didn't go away. A 20-member community task force spent months studying the issues and prioritized needs, recommending two levels of possible improvements. In order to minimize impact to taxpayers, our school board chose to proceed with the lower-cost recommendation and has identified grants and outside funding sources to help further reduce costs. As a result, the Capital Levy rate is estimated to be no more than 38 cents per $1,000 (about $9/month for a $300,000 assessed value home), and will automatically expire after six years. To learn more about the short-term capital levy, click here: https://www.wwps.org/outdoor-athletic-and-activity-capital-levy

Ballots will be arriving in mailboxes towards the end of this month. Additionally, both the replacement levy and short-term capital levy are subject to senior citizen (61+) and disability exemptions. To learn more about exemptions, you can contact the Walla Walla County Assessor at: https://www.co.walla-walla.wa.us/departments/assessor/index.php

Remember to vote on February 13.

Transportation aces surprise State Patrol bus inspection

Early Monday morning Washington State Patrol officers arrived unannounced to the district’s Transportation Cooperative for a surprise inspection of the school bus fleet. State patrol officers inspected 11 of 42 buses through a random selection process. WSP inspects for any deficiencies such as lights, buzzers, emergency exits, air brake systems and leaks under the bus. These surprise inspections come once a year in the winter months.

“The outcome was a Superior rating with no buses out of service,” said Transportation Director John Griffith. “Our mechanics and drivers do a great job working together and keeping our buses and kids safe.”

National technology expert helps parents navigate digital landscape by WWPS Technology Integration Specialist Carrie LaRoy

For the 60 plus families that were able to attend the presentation by guest speaker, Jeff Utecht, on the evening of January 11, we were treated with new insight and challenged perspectives. As the Technology Integration Specialist for the school district, I try to be “in the know” and do the right things in terms of regulating my own children’s technology use, but even I walked away questioning some of my ideas and practices. Jeff started the evening by quizzing families on technology of yesteryear (like video tapes and walkmans) compared to images of Fortnight characters and the Minecraft theme song. We all achieved as expected with a clear message that all generations have had their own version of “technology” just in differing formats. And this was his main theme. Our kids are doing all the things we did as kids (socializing, pushing boundaries, etc.) but it just looks a little different.

Together he guided parents and kids to create a poster around what makes a good citizen, and then linked those same characteristics to what makes a good digital citizen. He discussed how families should set boundaries on social media and screen time, including parents. He believes all families should create an “Acceptable Use Policy” outlining expectations of screen time, including gaming and social media. Jeff has a hard line of advocating for no technology in kid’s bedrooms overnight, suggesting a family charging station where all devices stay. “Tech free zones” (like the dinner table) should be implemented and adhered to by all (yes parents too!).

Jeff asked parents to sit down with their students and look through their social media to see what kinds of ads are showing up and help them understand how targeted ads can create this false sense of reality and what we should be striving for.

I will be the first to admit, I don’t like when my child watches people playing video games on YouTube. I just don’t get it. But Jeff pushed us to reflect on that viewpoint by linking our fascination with watching games (Survivor, Amazing Race, Jeopardy, etc.) on tv as a pastime. Why would this be any different? I guess at least my kid is trying to learn new strategies and tips from these videos!

I am willing to bet that all who attended took away something. Perhaps something new, or a shifted perspective, or a cause to reflect. I am thankful that someone like Jeff is on the forefront of navigating this digital landscape. The best part is, he will be back in May! He will be hosting another parent/family event this spring. I know I will be back to see him. If you missed this one, you will not want to miss him a second time!


Article - Jeff Utecht On Raising Children with Healthy Social Media & Digital Media Habits 

Video Snippets from a parent night in another district: https://youtu.be/4HWdvDp0fls

Highly Capable Referral Period

Walla Walla School District’s Highly Capable programming provides students of high academic and intellectual ability with designated time to explore concepts in greater depth. The goal of the Highly Capable Program is to encourage the development of higher-level thinking skills. Information on Highly Capable Program services and the 2024 referral process is currently available on the district website. Referral forms are available in all district schools and on the district website.


The annual selection process for in-district students takes place in late winter/early spring. Following the testing and selection process, all parents will be notified in writing of the results of the process.

Students in 2nd and 5th grade took the cognitive abilities screener in November. Results of the screening process, along with other data points, were used to determine which students were recommended to participate in the next steps of the identification process. Parents will be notified the week of January 22 if their student is recommended to move on in the process.

Parents/guardians of students in K, 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade should talk with their child’s teacher(s) at conference time to determine if Highly Capable testing is recommended. Parent/guardian referral paperwork is due by grade level:
• Elementary (K, 1st, 3rd and 5th) are due February 16, 2024
• Middle School (6th, 7th and 8th) are due March 15, 2024

Students identified for Highly Capable programming will begin services at the beginning of the 2024-25 school year. For more information, please contact Casey Monahan. cmonahan@wwps.org / (509) 526-6783.

School Stories
Let’s fill the gym in support of the Unified basketball team Monday, Jan. 29

Wa-Hi’s Unified Basketball team has a home game at Wa-Hi Monday, Jan. 29 at 4 p.m. in the small gym. Unified was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. Players from the Wa-Hi boys and girls basketball programs will be in attendance to cheer the team on. Wa-Hi cheerleaders will also be at the game to support the team.

The basketball team is coached by teachers Steffan Crosby and Damien Daniels under the direction of Special Education and 504 Administrator Libby Thompson.

Community-wide Spanish Book Fair Feb. 6-8

Please join us for the Community-wide Spanish Book Fair at Edison Elementary. This is a great opportunity for all families to purchase a variety of books in Spanish for children preschool through 5th grade.

Spanish Book Fair Schedule
• Location: Edison Elementary School
• Tuesday, February 6 from 3 to 7 p.m.
• Wednesday, February 7 from 3 to 7 p.m.
• Thursday, February 8 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Community Stories

AAUW Book Sale next month

You and your family are invited to attend the 59th Annual AAUW (American Association of University Women) Book Sale at the Marcus Whitman Hotel, Friday, Feb 23, 9 am – 7 pm; Saturday, Feb 24, 9 am – 7 pm; and Sunday, Feb 25, 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.

City Library Update

• All kids grades 4 & up are invited to help design an interactive salmon exhibit at Walla Walla Public Library, Saturday January 27th 11am-1pm. Led by Dr. William Bares, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Whitman College, participants will learn about challenges faced by salmon in Mill Creek and design a prototype salmon prop that will ultimately be part of a real immersive exhibit at the Water & Environmental Center at Walla Walla Community College. Grades 4 & up register at wwpl@wallawallawa.gov with participant name & grade, parent contact name, and phone number; or call 509-527-4550.
• Walla Walla Public Library welcomes WaHi alumnus and WWCC student Anyla Dior McDonald as she presents Big Idea Talks: Blacknificent, Thursday February 1 6:30pm-8:00pm at Walla Walla Public Library, 238 E. Alder Street in downtown Walla Walla. Anyla will speak about her experiences growing up in Walla Walla as a black youth and her motivations for writing her most recent work, "Black Joy & Black Tribulations: Poems, Short Stories and Essays."
• Back by popular demand every Wednesday at 3:00 p.m., Big Feels Yoga helps kids & caregivers connect their feelings to their bodies every Wednesday as we learn to "work it out!" with instructor Jen Crane.
• Every Wednesday from 5:30-7:00 p.m., Bilingual Baby Zone offers young children and caregivers a chance to connect in Spanish and in English, with a bilingual Spanish/English story time at 6:00 p.m.
• Do you love to strategize, dominate opponents, and stretch your mind muscles? Join us every Saturday for the WWPL Chess Club, hosted by teen volunteers at 11:00 a.m. Whether you're a casual player, grand master, or total newbie, chess is for everyone & all levels of play are welcome. Come experience the Community, Competition, & Culture of the world's most dynamic game!
• Find a full listing of library programs and events at www.wallawallapubliclibrary.org or call 509-527-4550.

Walla2Hoops 7th and 8th grade boys AAU basketball teams win Mid-Columbia Challenge 

Congratulations to the Walla2Hoops 7th grade and 8th grade boys AAU basketball teams for winning the Mid-Columbia Challenge Tournament in Tri-Cities Jan. 21.

“This was definitely our best performance yet,” said 7th grade Coach Jose Chavira. “We went undefeated on the weekend. The championship was a close game till the end.”

The 7th graders were also the Mid-Columbia Fall League Champs by going 6-0 in the Fall Season. Both the tournament and league are state qualifiers.

W2Hoops 7th Grade Boys Team
Jose Chavira, Coach
Luis Chavira
Brock Ashley
Brayden Shivell
Graeson Parsons
Colton Davis
Brandon Frye
Logan Hale
Julian Reed
Mason Kubrock
Braiden Martindale
Titus Hodgins

W2Hoops 8th Grade Boys Team
Coach Aaron Grimm
Coach Austin Roberson
Jax Pemberton
Carson Hayes
Jake Warwick
Lincoln Heinrich
Carson Hand
Kalama Roberson
Gabe Swanson
Cristian Tapia
Cameron Grimm

About Walla2Hoops AAU Basketball Club
The 2023-2024 AAU basketball season runs from October 2023 to March 2024. The club consists of approximately 21 teams and nearly 200 athletes grades 2-8. Players represent Walla Walla Public Schools, College Place Public Schools, Assumption Catholic School, Touchet School District, Rogers Adventist School, Dayton School District, Pendleton, Waitsburg School District, Weston School District, St. Basil Academy and homeschool students.

Walla2Hoops is a 501C3 Non-Profit basketball club which operates under the umbrella of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Walla2Hoops provides an enriched basketball environment with a mission to create a positive competitive culture focused on developing character and basketball fundamentals.

City Parks and Rec Update

• Mad for Laughter Yoga – Open to all ages. FREE.
• Father Daughter Ball (Disney Princess Theme) – February 10. Open to all ages. Cost is $25.
• Mother Son Superhero Bash – March 2. Open to all ages. Cost is $25.
• St Paddy’s Day Dash – March 16. Open to all ages. Cost is $20-$35.
• Pre Tee-Ball – Open to ages 3-5 years. Cost is $40.
• Youth Baseball Spring Training (Hitting, Pitching, & Fielding Camp) – Open to boys and girls grades 3rd-8th grade. Cost is $90.
• Blue Mountain Girls Softball – Open to girls Kindergarten – 6th Grade. Cost is $45-$55.
• Youth Spring Lacrosse Academy – Open to boys and girls in pre-school (4 years) – 3rd grade. Cost is $40.
• Youth Volleyball Camp – Open to boys and girls grades 4th–8th. Cost is $50.
• Walla Walla Soccer Alliance Skills Clinic – Open to boys and girls ages 6-11 years. Cost is $60.
• Adult Softball Leage (Men’s, Women’s, Co-Ed) – Ages 16 years and up. Cost is $580-$920 per team.
• Veterans Memorial Pool Passes on sale. Family Pass $150, Youth/Senior/Veteran $55, Adult $65.
• M.E.L.T Fitness – Ages 12 years and up. Cost is $12-$40.
• Fencing – Ages 8 years and up. Cost is $20-$75.
• Pottery Studio Helpline SoupPort Bowl donations are open. $10.89 each.

Youth scholarships available. Visit www.wwpr.us or the Parks and Recreation office to apply.

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.

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