Kids are amazingly resilient. School resumed at Cascade Middle School a few days after a police-involved shooting outside the front door to the school. Students returned to school knowing they are loved and protected by the staff, and cared for by each other.
Teachers offered the opportunity for kids to talk about what happened and ask questions. Some also visited the Care Room to talk with counselors or took a moment to pet the Therapy Dogs that visited Cascade.
The community support for Cascade has been heart-warming. St. Mark Church was incredibly gracious, letting us use their property to reunify students and families. Parents stopped in with treats and flowers, encouraging words, hugs, and handshakes.
It has made a world of difference for those affected, and again makes me proud to be a part of the Bethel Family.
Bethel School District is taking a major step in trying to prevent suicide, particularly among young people.
National instructors were brought in to train selected Bethel middle and high school staff – and high school students – on Sources of Strength.
SoS is an evidence-based program that utilizes friends and peers in the prevention of suicide.
60 Staff learned how to be trainers, and 40 selected high school students will be trained as supportive and empowering peer leaders. More high school students will be trained soon.
Local physician Dr. Pilar Bradshaw generously sponsored the training.
By increasing awareness, building skills and openly addressing the issue of suicide, our goal is to provide hope and strength for those who are facing personal challenges.
They pound out songs from Pink Floyd, Paramore, Nirvana, The Ramones, Blondie, and Radiohead.
The Rock and Roll Club at Willamette meets twice a week after school and turns it up loud. With teachers Matt Symonds and John Kreider supporting on guitar and drums, students are learning how to play and perform.
The club gives students a venue, some organization, and a chance to let their creative juices flow with peers who can relate.
Members of the club are now working on new material for a school performance in February. These students are going to continue playing. They can’t help it. It’s Rock and Roll.
Books Of Life
Whether it’s a stone artist in Syria or an elephant caretaker in Zambia, Margriet Ruurs finds people, places and events to turn into subjects for children’s books.
Even her appearance at Irving Elementary is a story, where teacher Nicole Butler first reached out to Margriet 11 years ago trying to get her to the school.
In presentations to Irving 2nd and 4th graders, Margriet encouraged students to write about their own experiences; what they see and who they meet.
She should know, with 40 published books to her credit. Her next book is an early-reader chapter book featuring the Boston Mill, about 40 miles north of Eugene. Hopefully it won’t take another 11 years for Margriet’s return to talk about that one.
A Grand Gift
It’s not every day at $20,000 baby grand piano comes your way. But, students at Cascade are loving the donated Boston Baby Grand that now graces the school’s choir room.
It’s a gift from Dr. Thomas and Megan Wuest, who had the piano stored in an environmentally controlled warehouse before deciding they no longer had room for it.
When Jodi Sommers from Essex Construction heard about it, she directed the family to Bethel and the rest is history.
Most students would have never been able to get close to a piano like this, but now they are loving the sound of this showpiece instrument, and recognizing what a special gift it is.
Kalapuya vs Willamette = Kalamette
The coveted Kalamette (“calamity”) trophy was at stake, so the competition was fast and furious.
When the dust settled, Kalapuya’s ping pong players had beaten Willamette for the second consecutive year, claiming the trophy and bragging rights.
Students at Kalapuya are working the tables during breaks and lunch, while Willamette’s club team practices after school.
Of course, Kalapuya’s principal is having fun with the outcome, labeling the competition as a David vs Goliath tale.
What we know for sure is that there was good fun, good sportsmanship, and a familiar spot for the Kalamette trophy at Kalapuya for another year.
A tradition continues at Shasta Middle School. Their winter Shasta Shines community service event involved students raising money, nearly $5,000.
Hundreds of students then bused to Walmart, buying items for children and families in our community and for Looking Glass, which provides a wide variety of critical social services.
Shasta kids gathered socks, jackets, sweatshirts, underwear, shirts and winter weather related items.
Before the day was over it was in the hands of grateful folks who know first-hand that Shasta Shines.
End Mill Donation
Based on weight alone, this was a giant gift.
The Eugene Springfield Fire Department donated and delivered an old End Milling Machine to Willamette High School. The old ones are the best kind!
It’s basically a giant industrial drill that cuts through metal vertically and horizontally. The Willamette Metals Shop had three end mills but now can accommodate 25% more students for specialty cutting.
Many thanks to our public partners. Their unused space-eater is our school’s treasure.
Recognizing a need, and meeting it. That was the idea behind a community outreach project by 5th graders at Prairie Mountain School.
They are very proud – and they should be – to have surpassed their goal.
Students collected 782 diapers and 2,736 baby wipes and gave them to the Mothers and Children’s Center at the Eugene Mission.
Kids are discovering that just because they are only 10 years old, it doesn’t mean they can’t affect change and be the reason someone smiles.
No rewards were given to anyone for their involvement, except the award of giving.
I’m ready for my 3:30 a.m. drive through the District. When there’s ice or snow I’m on our roads checking the conditions before we make the call about school closures or delays.
You can get news on weather-related school closures first by following me on Twitter at @Bethel_Supt and the District’s Twitter account at @Bethel_Schools.
You can also use the free FlashAlert system and get notified via email or a push notification. FlashAlert is the same system the school district uses to notify local media when there is a weather or emergency-related closure of a school.
Download the free FlashAlert app for push notifications, or click here to subscribe for FlashAlert emails.
And, you can always check our district and individual school websites and tune in to local TV and radio stations for updated information.
We have you covered!
For Mind And Body
They spend just two hours a week at Willamette and two more at Kalapuya. Still, mental health counselors from the CAHOOTS crisis intervention team are meeting high school students in familiar surroundings, making connections, and helping them deal with problems before issues reach the crisis level.
It’s part of expanded mental health services provided throughout Bethel School District:
- Counselors from the Child Center are in nearly all of our elementary and middle schools, and Willamette High School
- School-based Mental Health Specialists from the Bethel Health Center are in our elementary schools
- We have partnered with the UO Counseling program to include interns to work with elementary-aged children and their families
- Looking Glass provides a therapist at Shasta Middle School and Kalapuya weekly, and a Drug and Alcohol Mental Health Therapist from Looking Glass meets with students at WHS
- Doctoral students in the UO’s Counseling and School Psychology program see students at Prairie Mountain and Shasta, and at the Bethel Health Center
- Support groups are created and social skills programs are being taught by Ophelia’s Place
- Student and family wraparound services are provided by Direction Service.
As you see, the District is trying to assist students regardless of the level of assistance they need.
Quietly strong in the classroom and skilled on the basketball court, Shasta 7th grader Braydon Long is motivated to succeed. The award he received was an unexpected byproduct of his everyday effort.
Braydon was honored with the Northwest Scholar Athlete of the Year award by the Dream BIG Foundation, a local non-profit. They say they have two main goals: give back to our community and inspire others to do the same.
You won’t hear Braydon talk much about the honor. He’s the type to let his actions speak for him.
But his family and Shasta are proud of the recognition that he humbly accepted.
The Class Of 2031
When our youngest students put on their home made mortar boards, it was a moment of pride for the kids and parents in the KITS (Kids in Transition to School) program.
Their graduation marked the completion of the 9th year for KITS in Bethel. It was created and piloted here back in 2010 through a partnership with the Oregon Social Learning Center and United Way of Lane County’s Success By 6 Initiative.
Over 16 weeks during the summer and fall, students in KITS have been shown to make significant improvements in the key areas of letter naming abilities, letter-sound knowledge, paying attention and following directions, and solving problems with peers in non-aggressive ways.
Those school readiness skills set our 5 year olds on a path to academic success over the next 12 years.
Eugene is ranked 7th on the list of the top 50 bike cities in America, according to the magazine Bicycling.
Keeping with the energy and tradition around bike riding in our community, Willamette High School has started an after school Bike Repair Class.
They’ve carved out a space in the Willamette Metals building and are learning all about repairing bicycles.
Isaac Johnson from Ding Ding Cycles teaches the class to WHS students, and eventually they will use their newfound knowledge to work on other students’ bikes for free.
The Award Parade
More than $26,000 was handed out in classroom grants to Bethel teachers, courtesy of the Bethel Education Foundation.
The awards came as a surprise, with BEF Board members joined by a small band that marched down school hallways on the way to winners’ classrooms.
The funded grant proposals included Chromebooks, field trips, artists-in-residence, library books, iPads, special classroom materials and much more.
The Bethel Education Foundation was started by a group of active parents in 2009, dedicated to enhancing the education of Bethel children by supporting innovative and engaging experiences.
Still, the BEF could not fund even half of the 93 grant requests. You can help the BEF support Bethel students by donating here.
Graphics, Cooks, And Bots
Robotics, Culinary, and Computer Graphics are all being offered to Bethel 8th graders as after-school Career Technical Education courses.
Now after the first trimester the three CTE classes are rotating among Bethel schools.
Robotics lets students build their own bots and teaches some computer coding.
Culinary gives 8th graders important introductory information on food safety while encouraging them to cook delicious dishes at school.
And students in Computer Graphics are learning design techniques while using professional quality computer programs.
The classes lead directly into similar popular courses at Willamette High School.
The Tooth And Nothing But The Tooth
All Bethel students from Kindergarten through 8th grade have a reason to smile.
Whitebird Dental and the Community Health Centers of Lane County are providing free dental services to keep children’s teeth free of cavities. Students can’t learn to their fullest potential if they’re dealing with serious dental problems.
So dental hygienists are offering fluoride varnish and sealants – at no cost – for students at every elementary and middle school.
Fluoride is painted on the teeth to help strengthen tooth enamel. Sealants are a thin plastic coating that protect the molars from decay.
Working together, Community Health Centers and WhiteBird are effectively reducing the incidents of tooth decay and helping to keep kids in the classroom.
On The Big Stage
Their reputation as a Music school is well earned. Nearly 75% of the students at Shasta Middle School are in Band or Choir.
That’s why they reserve the Hult Center every December for the school’s annual Winter Concert.
Eight different Shasta bands and choirs took the stage, the same stage where some of the biggest names and talents in the world have performed.
The students’ singing and playing will improve as the school year progresses, but the Winter Concert is unequaled. It is the one time when all the Shasta groups perform at the same place for the same memorable event and in such an outstanding venue.
It’s how memories are made.
Rake And Run
They go looking for targets. Properties they could quietly approach without drawing any attention.
Willamette’s Leadership Students then swarm the place, rake all the leaves, and haul them away.
The annual Rake n’ Run had more than 20 students awake and out the door early on a Saturday. They raked up the leaves from 10 properties, mostly at homes belonging to folks who have difficulty managing the leaves on their own.
It’s an annual event that brings community service down to a basic level: volunteers performing a task for free for the benefit of the community.
A Fish Story
When the leaves fall, Salmon Watch calls Bethel 6th graders out of the classroom and to the water.
Salmon Watch is a hands-on education program that helps students understand the importance of salmon conservation and watershed management.
Lessons in the classroom are tied to activities on the riverbank at Whittaker Creek in the Coast Range.
6th graders study the life cycle of a salmon, the parts of a salmon, and the conditions they need to thrive.
Sampling water from Whittaker Creek, students identify bugs, determine the water’s temperature, and test its clarity, oxygen, and PH levels.
Salmon Watch has been going on for 25 years, creating a whole generation of Bethel students who are better informed about a species that is so important to Oregon’s ecology.
A Nightmare In My Closet
A child confronts the nightmare lurking in his closet and discovers that it’s not so terrifying after all.
The Tears of Joy Theatre used a puppet production to address the issue of overcoming childhood fears. Students at Danebo Elementary were incredibly engaged in the puppet show as they heard a lesson about looking beyond the surface.
Based in Portland, the Tears of Joy Theatre says for 45 years its mission has been to produce, develop and present puppet theater that celebrates the diversity of world cultures, and to teach children and enrich their lives by helping them experience, create and perform art with professional artists.
The students at Danebo were clearly enriched by the performance, and maybe now can better deal with their own monsters in the dark.
Service Above Self
This is in recognition of the many hours she has spent organizing and shepherding the Oregon Battle of the Books program at Fairfield Elementary.
Jamie Bamford, Fairfield’s Media Coordinator, has been honored with the Paul Harris Award by the Southtowne Rotary.
They know about Jamie’s efforts because Rotary club members volunteer at Fairfield.
The Paul Harris award was named after the founder of the Rotary Club. It’s presented to individuals in recognition of long and meritorious service to the community.
Jamie Bamford’s service has been supporting Fairfield students, and the award is well-deserved.
From School To Home
Something as simple as a blue book bag is connecting school work with study at home.
Danebo Elementary wanted to encourage students to do school-related projects at home. They had to start with making sure everyone had access to supplies, including markers, pencils, glue sticks, rulers and erasers.
Last year Lithia Toyota in Springfield donated the funding for the bags and supplies, then the bags were presented to happily surprised students.
This year Phil Cavanagh from Farmer’s Insurance, Dorinda Daws of Northwest Community Credit Union, and an anonymous donor provided the funds to buy the bags and supplies.
Danebo made sure each student has a bag and that creates a real sense of school pride. The blue bags are also a sign that learning at school continues at home.
A Solid Foundation
$26,415. That’s how much the Bethel Education Foundation will be handing out in a few weeks to teachers who applied for classroom grants.
The funded projects will enhance the learning experience of students at all Bethel schools. But, the BEF wants to do more.
The group is examining an idea to start and sustain an Electrician Training program at Willamette High School. It would give students a head start into a trade that provides steady, family wage jobs.
Founded in 2009 by a group of dedicated and determined Bethel moms, the BEF will also continue its popular grant program. On November 28th they’ll surprise 23 teachers with grants up to $1,500.
You can help the BEF help our students: Donate here.
The Good Word
A simple idea has become a big success. Willamette teacher Molly Schulze wanted to create a more friendly, welcoming and pleasant learning environment in her classes.
So, she had her English students decorate their own envelopes that now cover a wall in her classroom.
Every week or two students are encouraged to write a short message of support to a classmate. Schulze reviews the cards, drops them in the individual student envelopes, and kids read them privately during the next class.
The comment cards have worked. Students know each other better, are more polite and kind (to each other and their teacher,) and some have said it’s now their favorite class.
Just simple comment cards. That’s all it took. How about that?
It’s all the rage on this elementary school playground.
Gaga Ball is pretty simple, like a kinder and gentler dodgeball played in an octagon. Anyone touched with a ball below the knee is knocked out until there’s one person remaining.
Danebo Elementary pioneered the game in Bethel after last year’s 5th graders played it at Outdoor School. Members of the Fairfield Church of the Nazarene built the octagon as a community service on the Day of Hope in August, and kids have been packing the pit ever since.
The word is Gaga is Hebrew for touch-touch, meaning players touch (or slap) the ball and hope that it touches someone else.
The game keeps kids active, everyone has a chance to win, and disputes are worked out with a rock-paper-scissors. No wonder Danebo students have gone gaga over this one.
Sowing The Seeds Of Peace
Trained mediators are teaching Bethel students how to resolve conflicts, enhance communication skills, and improve socialization.
A Seeds of Peace grant from the Center for Dialogue and Resolution has brought mediator training to Malabon, Meadow View and Cascade. Willamette and Kalapuya are still to come.
5th graders at Malabon were the first to give it a try. The entire grade took part in the 6-hour training that includes the concepts around peer mediation, role playing, and practice at resolving differences.
The programs teaches how to intervene and help peers who are having disagreements, and how to resolve conflicts in ways that consider everyone involved.
It’s a life skill that can lead to individual growth and an improvement in the climate school-wide.
It’s takes some courage to get up on stage and start riffing jazz notes. Bethel middle and high school musicians took part in a Sunday Learners Jam at the Jazz Station in downtown Eugene.
It was the idea of Prairie Mountain music teacher Jessika Smith, who is a professional saxophonist, composer, and band leader.
Band students throughout the district were invited and after preparing by studying a dozen songs they performed with the house band, which included an opportunity for solos.
Bethel students are being given exciting, real-life musical experiences, which only reinforce what they are learning at school.
On The Safe Side
No one likes the fact that these lessons even exist. Everyone hopes the training is never needed.
At least twice a year each Bethel school takes part in Lockdown drills. Many schools pair the training with earthquake and fire drills.
Bethel School District was the first in Oregon to have all staff trained in the ALICE safety protocols: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
We’ve also created training videos for middle/high school and elementary students. Teachers are provided age-appropriate scripts (K-3, 4-5, 6-12) to better uniformly teach students what to do in the event of a major emergency.
Bethel is trying to be prepared for a worst-case scenario, and doing its best to make sure the lessons never have to be put into practice.
Early Career Connections
Students are volunteering to stay after school. Robotics, Culinary, and Digital Design courses are being offered for Bethel 8th graders. Kids were surveyed and selected these three courses as part of the state’s Measure 98 funding for CTE (Career Technical Education) courses.
Bethel chose to use the state funds to create unique opportunities for 8th graders, courses that intentionally feed directly into established CTE programs at Willamette High School.
All Bethel 8th graders will get a chance to take Robotics, Culinary and Digital Design because the courses will rotate among the schools after each trimester.
Real World Studies
As if the school year wasn’t busy enough, Willamette chemistry teacher Angie Weyand spent six weeks during the summer on two externships at So Delicious and Forrest Technical Coating paint shop.
She learned that the process for making frozen desserts and paint are similar. Weyand’s plan was to create a chemistry lesson about the similarities and differences in how the two products are created.
It’s all about giving students experiences that connect the content being taught in the classroom with real world applications.
Weyand’s externship was made possible by Elevate Lane County, a coalition of 16 school districts, industry, and economic development dedicated to connecting students to careers in high-demand, high-wage jobs.
A Friend Indeed
State Senator James Manning was just elected to a four-year term as Bethel’s advocate in the Legislature, but he wears another hat: Supporter of Kalapuya High School.
It was in that role that Manning presented refurbished laptops to Kalapuya students Nathan Tena, Delaney Aguirre and Orion Trent.
They were among a dozen KHS students who wrote short essays that described their future career ambitions, explaining how owning a computer would help them on their path.
Manning contacted NextStep Recycling and before long he had three laptops to award. KHS is continuing to work with NextStep so that all 12 students who took part receive their own computer.
We are grateful for friends like these.
Every Day Matters
Attendance matters, that includes Kindergartners and especially 12th graders.
Being absent just two days a month means a student will miss about a full month’s worth of school by the time June rolls around.
Kids simply cannot learn – and cannot keep up – if they are not in school. Chronic absenteeism (missing 10% or more school days) is an early indicator that a student will eventually drop out.
While our schools are reminding students and families about the value of being in school, Bethel has joined other school districts in promoting improved attendance throughout the county.
Look for billboards along Beltline, highways 126 and 58, and other busy roads.
Finally, students who are absent not only miss school, they are missed at school. Attendance matters to everyone.
Going With The Flow
Now, this is a field trip!
Kalapuya High School students paddled 32 miles down the Willamette River, from Salem nearly to Portland.
Navigating tandem and triple canoes for three days, students covered small rapids and swift moving water while keeping an eye out for Osprey, Bald Eagles, Kingfishers, and Blue and Green Herons.
Their service-learning project was coordinated by the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps with Oregon State Parks and Willamette Riverkeepers.
Students camped on the riverbank, weeded and mulched native plants in a restored river floodplain, and even went elbow-deep into mud to harvest Wapato bulbs, a Native American food source that the students roasted over a campfire.
Along the way they learned about the ecological impact of intact waterways, and were enlightened on the historical uses of the river.
The Piano, Man
It’s not an every day occurrence. A parent calls and says he wants to make a donation to the Shasta band program…what do you need?
In no time, a new Kawai UST-9 piano was carefully delivered to the school’s band room. This institutional (school) piano is a big step up from Shasta’s 1950’s Wurlitzer.
The proof is in the sound. Students are already amazed at the difference, agreeing that it is a significant upgrade.
The generous donor wishes to remain anonymous, but wished to help the program as a show of thanks for what it did for his child, who thrived in the Shasta band program.
Start With Hello
December will be the 6th anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Several family members of the victims founded the Sandy Hook Promise, and one of its efforts is to end students’ social isolation in schools.
Leadership students at Cascade Middle School decided they should take part in Start With Hello Week, the organization’s project to reduce social isolation and reduce school violence.
Each day of the week had special events promoting inclusion and kindness. One day featured Mix It Up at lunch. Another day included rewarding kids who committed random acts of kindness.
It’s a Cascade student-led effort to reach out to all students and make them know that they belong and are noticed.
The Outdoor Classroom
This is the place for kids to kids learn about soil science, weather, pollination, engineering, plant growth, microorganisms and decomposition.
All 472 Bethel 4th graders will get introduced to the District’s hidden gem, the Bethel Farm, this fall or next spring. Teachers and students consistently say it’s one of their favorite field trips.
There’s a cooking activity using Bethel Farm produce and locally sourced veggies. And, students learn a farming task, typically harvesting or planting.
They also discover the ecosystem within the Farm, including owls, bats, mice, insects and microorganisms.
Community members are welcome to volunteer during the field trips or the Farm’s harvest season by emailing Amy Ropp.
Paying It Forward
A teacher changed the course of her life. That is why Heidi Gerlach is back on the stage at Willamette High School where she starred just a few years ago.
After Willamette, Gerlach quickly earned a pair of degrees from Eastern Oregon University and returned to Bethel to be closer to family. She was also invited to work alongside her impactful WHS drama teacher, Tana Walker.
Gerlach credits Walker with being a positive influence, recognizing and encouraging the skills that made Gerlach love the theater.
Now she is able to give back to her teacher and the theater program by being Co-Director of the upcoming WHS production of My Very Own Story.
Too often teachers have no idea how much they influence students. Heidi Gerlach is letting everyone know by shining the spotlight. Take a bow, Tana.
The Backup Plan
More than 130 community members turned out for the test of EWEB’s first Emergency Water Distribution Station.
In a partnership with Bethel School District, EWEB has boosted the output from the Bethel Farm’s well so they can tap into the well in case a major emergency interrupts normal water service.
The test was an unqualified success; the system works. EWEB also gave away 3-gallon water jugs as incentives to get folks to participate in the test.
Proving it can work at the Bethel Farm, EWEB will now move ahead with plans for more emergency water stations around the community.
Walking & Rolling
More than a thousand students – kids at every school – took part in the annual Walk & Roll Challenge.
Kids walked or rode their bikes, scooters and skateboards to school. In large groups and small, with siblings, friends, parents or teachers.
The event reminds everyone of the simple joy of walking to school, the health benefits of regular daily activity, and the need for safe places to walk and bike. And, it reduces the number of vehicles on the road and weaving through school parking lots.
Students were rewarded with incentives, and they received reminders that walking and rolling to school can be an everyday experience.
Math In Real Life
A grant-funded project is helping to answer this familiar student question about math: When will I ever use this?
The Willamette Math department is working with the CTE (Career Technical Education) department to demonstrate math’s application in real world – and real work – situations.
Geometry students toured Western Shelter in Eugene, and measured one of the company’s tent structures.
On a daily basis staff at Western Shelter use their knowledge of angles, area, and planes, the same subjects that students are learning in Geometry class. The company provides tent-like structures for natural disaster response, wildland firefighters, the military, and other important customers worldwide.
The Willamette project is proving math’s application to actual jobs and valuable skills.
The Arts Education Challenge
Some strong Bethel School District supporters have raised more than $14,000 to bring Arts Education to every Bethel elementary school. They’re about halfway to their goal.
And, here’s a challenge from restaurant owner and Bethel parent Martha Schuetz.
Off And Running
It has been a terrific start to the school year in Bethel. Each of our principals says so. The teachers I’ve talked with agree. I have also received numerous comments from excited parents.
There is a definite positive air of anticipation and eagerness to learn.
And we have seen an increase in enrollment. Willamette is boasting a large freshman class and some of our schools are not able to accept any transfers.
One thing remains consistent: your school and District staff are working hard. They unfailingly put our children first. It is not uncommon to see them at work at night and on weekends.
It is shaping up to be a great year, and I am honored to be a part of this Bethel Family.
More Promises Made…And Kept
The 2012 Bethel School Bond is continuing to bring improvements to the District. Thanks to incredibly careful spending Bethel was able to make the bond dollars stretch even further than promised, meaning more needs can be addressed.
This summer bond money paid for carpet replacements at Irving, Meadow View and Prairie Mountain schools.
More new student textbooks have been delivered, roofs replaced, additional security cameras at every school, new clocks have been installed, parking areas repaired, a fire alarm system updated, signage improved, fire sprinklers installed, and the Bethel Farm received a much-needed fruit and vegetable washing station. That’s only this summer!
And thanks to Bethel voters, there’s more to come…
Fresh From The Farm
The minds of Bethel students are being fed in the classroom, and their bodies are nourished with premium food in the lunchroom.
Fresh vegetables from the Bethel Farm are now being served in the cafeterias at every Bethel school.
Cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and honeydew melons were the first to make their way to school salad bars.
The Bethel Farm is located between Kalapuya and Prairie Mountain schools, and serves as a working classroom for agriculture, sustainability, solar energy, and healthy cooking.
The fresh veggies from the Farm bolster Bethel’s already strong reputation for offering locally grown foods in school meals.
Carving A Reputation
Tom Lindskog. On the Food Network?
Willamette’s Woods and Metals teacher has some secret talents he shares every fall.
Lindskog is a master at carving pumpkins. His skills attracted the attention of the folks at the Food Network, which produces a show called Halloween Wars.
Tom was one of the team members competing on the show. They even videotaped him in class at Willamette last spring.
He can’t share any of the top-secret details of what happened, but Wil-Hi’s master carver can been seen on September 30th, at 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. on the Food Network’s Halloween Wars.
Oh, This Will Never Work
Okay, whose idea was this? 5th graders and kindergartners sharing a playground?
It was a happenstance in scheduling that put Fairfield’s big kids and little ones together at recess.
To everyone’s surprise they turned out to be a perfect match.
The 5th graders have taken on the role of playground assistants, helping the kindergartners on the equipment and making sure everyone is included and following the rules.
The 5 and 6 year olds look forward to being on the playground with their new older friends.
As we said, it was great planning!
Marching Off To Math
Every other day six Cascade Middle School students leave school for the one block walk to Willamette, where they take high school Geometry.
These kids have accelerated through the middle school math program since they came to Cascade as 6th graders.
Willamette students have welcomed the Cascade kids, including 7th grader, Wyatt Hurlimann.
Cascade students, and a handful from other Bethel middle schools, attend WHS for some courses each year and often are the top students in their Geometry classes.
A Journey For Geography
It was yet another summer of adventure for Willamette teacher Leslie Simmons. She took part in field study and a conference in South Korea.
An Advanced Placement Geography teacher at Wil-Hi, Simmons studied the territorial and geographical naming issues that have persisted on the Korean peninsula since the end of World War II. She presented a paper at the conference that she wrote on geographical naming issues in Eugene.
The Northeast Asian History Foundation sponsored the all-expense paid opportunity.
A summer of worldwide travel and study has been a common occurrence for Simmons, who has had other all-expenses paid study trips to Chile, Nepal, Wales, Botswana, Russia, Mongolia and China.
Spreading Joy at Shasta
The congregation from the Joy Church provided plenty of joy to the folks at Shasta Middle School.
85 church volunteers swarmed Shasta before the school year started.
For the second consecutive summer they spread bark in the gardens, replaced three well-used benches, painted the breezeways, and even brought a professional arborist to trim trees.
Church volunteers are making plans to return for some touch-up painting, and are already talking about coming back next August.
A Path To Fitness
90 tons of gravel – five dump truck loads – has been poured and packed into place to create Danebo Elementary’s new running path.
The quarter mile loop around the field next to the school provides a running track for PE and a walking path for the community.
Danebo used funds from a CATCH (Community Access to Child Health) grant to purchase the gravel and Bethel’s Maintenance staff did all the work.
The path should last for many years, and many miles.
Fun At The Farm
Gardening, cooking, arts and crafts, and enjoying fresh food. It was all part of the program at the Bethel Farm’s summer camp for 4th and 5th graders.
Bethel kids helped harvest potatoes, onions, beans and beets. They made natural dyes from vegetables, and ground their own flour for pizza that they baked with ingredients harvested from the farm.
Kalapuya and Willamette High School students served as camp counselors, and partners from the OSU Extension Service led nutrition and cooking classes.
Here’s a slide show of the first Bethel Farm Summer Camp.
Meals To Go
While school was out for the summer, Bethel’s Nutrition Services staff was keeping children fed.
Under the coordination of Prairie Mountain’s Cary Weeks, nearly 9,000 free lunches were served at State Street Park, Irwin Park, and four Bethel School District sites.
Sack lunches with a milk and fresh veggies from the Bethel Farm hit the spot.
Another 2,500 free breakfasts were also served to local children.
Bethel School District has been providing the free lunches for years as part of the USDA Summer Food Program, but this was a significant expansion of the District’s involvement in keeping kids fed.
Honoring Those Who Serve
Marking the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Cascade Middle School Leadership students brought a muffin basket with a card to surprised firefighters at Bethel’s Eugene Station 7.
It was a simple but heartfelt message of thanks for their service.
Although school has only been in session for six days, Cascade’s Leadership kids already have big plans for the school year. They include the Sandy Hook Promise program’s Start With Hello Week, in which students reach out to and include those who may be dealing with social isolation.
A Star In The Making
You have to watch this. Recent Willamette grad McKayla Webb was already known as a Renaissance student:
* On track to earn her full International Baccalaureate diploma
* Engineering, designing, welding and racing her own Electrathon car
* A two-time state wrestling champ!
But, hold on…McKayla also has serious musical talent. Here’s the song she wrote for and performed at Willamette’s graduation.
Sink Or Swim
Here’s a tradition like no other. Paddling a boat made of cardboard. Naturally, the kids love it.
Shasta Middle School 8th grade science students carefully climb aboard their cardboard creations and splash from one end of Echo Hollow Pool to the other.
Sinking is the fun aspect of failure.
The boat races are part of their studies, including learning about the Archimedes Principle: “The buoyant force on a body placed in a fluid is equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.”
If sinking and swimming helps bring that idea to life, than this is a lesson well-learned.
What Goes Around, Comes Around
Here’s the story.
Superintendent Chris Parra helped a UO Doctoral student with his dissertation, refusing to accept any compensation.
Instead, that student found a way to pay it forward. He made a significant contribution to a Donors Choose project at Clear Lake Elementary.
Teacher Christina Cox is using books to demonstrate strong writing and language techniques, along with storytelling and character development.
The Donors Choose contribution helped her purchase more “mentor texts” for her students. As a result, her Clear Lake students are blossoming as writers and readers.
What goes around…
Singing With Heart
There was a tremendous outpouring of giving from the community, so Shasta Choir students were able to bring a massive supply of new toys to the young patients and their families at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.
The Shasta Choir has made this an annual event. They put on a half-hour performance at the hospital and presented the gifts for the staff to distribute.
Later they broke into a street performance at the bus/train depot for the wider public.
The choir members take pride in giving back, and it’s always a surprise how many of the students have had experiences with Doernbecher.
Doing The Grad Walk
For the third consecutive year, Bethel seniors enjoyed a full day of congratulations, emotional reunions, inspiration, and turning back the clock.
The annual Grad Walk took graduating seniors walk through all the Bethel schools to see former teachers and encourage young students to keep their eyes on the prize…the high school diploma, and beyond.
Next Stop: Kindergarten
They were off the charts on the cuteness scale.
Bethel’s youngest graduates took part in a personalized commencement ceremony marking their departure from Preschool Promise at Danebo Elementary.
Preschool Promise is a United Way program that gives children access to a high-quality preschool.
Bethel School District partners with United Way, the Early Learning Alliance, and Family Connections of Lane and Douglas Counties to offer the program for our pre-kindergarten students.
Art For Art’s Sake
Students were happy to stay after school at Cascade Middle School. They had a chance to take some Art lessons from teacher Meghan Hollis.
The goal was to create pieces for the annual NewArt Northwest Kids competition at the UO’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
As a result, a pair of Cascade 6th graders’ art was selected to be displayed in the museum all summer.
Hailey Clay and Hunter Martin created beautiful paintings, then they had the additional honor of joining other Cascade students on a tour of the art show to see their pieces on display.
Inside Bethel’s Outdoor School
Next school year all Bethel 5th graders will be taking part in Outdoor School. This spring Meadow View and Danebo students laid the groundwork for the rest of the district.
They spent three days and two nights at Grove Christian Camp in Dorena. Kids learned about plants and people, water, animals and soil. And there was some fun along the way.
Rotary Delivers Again
The Eugene Airport Rotary Foundation handed out more than $100,000 in scholarships to local high school seniors and continuing college students, including students from Willamette and Kalapuya.
Willamette’s Jeremy Golliher, Ruben Gonzalez-Lopez, Rene Nagy and Roberto Perez, and Kalapuya’s Donae Borchers, Bailey Deverell and Grandon Overton each received $2,000.
Former scholarship recipients also came back for another $1,000 each, including WHS grads Allison Cook, Emily Eckart, Damaris Garcia-Rios, Megan Lloyd, Maggie McCausland, Kelsey Meng, Robin Nagy and Anna Swanson.
Loads of thanks to members of the Eugene Airport Rotary, a consistently effective and caring group.
Each year for 12 years Kalapuya High School has given out $5,000 to deserving non-profits.
The Community 101 grant funding comes from the Oregon Community Foundation and are intended to enhance student engagement in their community, polish their public speaking skills, increase their critical thinking, model philanthropy, and bring about positive change.
Kalapuya students advertise the grant opportunity, review the grant applications, interview the finalists, and then award the funds. They also have to break the bad news to non-profits whose applications are not funded.
The Making Of The Bands
Students’ creative buzz filled the music room at Fairfield.
Thanks to a grant from Northwest Community Credit Union, kids were composing songs right up to the final days of school.
Working in teams and using a GarageBand app on iPads, students created 8-bar songs. They chose the percussion instruments and rhythm patterns, a guitar chord progression and a keyboard melody.
Tying them all together, Fairfield kids ended the school year by sharing their new songs with classmates.
Learning by doing is true, especially in Music class.
In a few weeks they’ll be studying bioengineering, forensic psychology, computer science, medical anthropology, music, foreign languages, and more.
It makes sense. They have been diligent for four years, the top scholars in nearly every class.
23 Willamette seniors were recognized at the school’s 29th annual Scholar Awards.
They received the honor based on GPA, SAT or ACT scores, and completing their state Essential Skills.
Now the scholars are off to continue their education with a strong foundation in success.
Champions In Education
The teacher who helps other teachers become better at their craft. The classroom assistant who connects with students and families. The volunteer who has no grandchildren of her own, but considers the 425 at her school part of her family.
This year, rather than a community-wide recognition event at the Hult Center, Bethel’s ACE Awards were presented as surprises at each champion’s school.
Irving’s Debbi Holte was honored with the Teacher award. Debbi welcomes other teachers as part of the district’s Demonstration Classroom project, modeling excellent teaching techniques.
The ACE Award for Classified staff goes to Adriana Alvarez. Her ability to build trusting relationships with parents and students is making a real difference in students’ education.
And “Grandma Genee” Heinz has spent all day, every day, for 12 years volunteering at Malabon Elementary. She’s seen a whole generation of kids come through, students she considers her own grandchildren.
Congratulations to all these deserving ACE Award winners who were each presented with $1,000 to be used for the school program of their choice.
Career Day has a different tune when folks from the Grammy Museum are presenting.
Music industry professionals talked with Willamette students about careers in the music entertainment.
They offered the kind of advice they wish they had when starting out.
Students were told to always be looking for opportunities to perform because it’s the best path to success in music.
There was matter of fact straight talk such as don’t expect immediate success, it’s okay to struggle, and stick with what makes you happy rather than what you think might make your rich.
That’s sound advice regardless of one’s career path.
The Bike Show
Some were there for the obstacle course. Others were clearly there for the free bike tune-ups. And prizes kept a few folks around.
Another Bike Rodeo drew a large crowd at Meadow View School. Staged by Safe Routes to School, the event was an effort to encourage alternate transportation to and from school, including on bikes, scooters and skateboards.
Ding Ding Cycles offered the bike tune-ups, volunteers helped with the obstacle course, and Mother Nature provided the great weather to help reintroduce kids to a healthy way to commute.
Healthy Teens Night – The Good And Bad
Creating solutions and providing resources for teenagers needing mental health services. It’s one of the most difficult health challenges we face today.
Bethel’s Healthy Teens Night was an attempt to start that conversation. We hosted guests from Lane County Public Health, Ophelia’s Place, the Trauma Healing Project, and the REV Youth Leadership. They offered some options and insights for parents and guardians.
Yet, only a very small number of parents showed up, although those who did had a chance to get into depth with presenters, and listened and learned about the emotional, psychological and social realities of young people today.
It’s not the final answer to this difficult health challenge, but it’s a start.
Creating The Game Creators
Students are learning how to develop video games at Willamette High School. Teacher Matt Symonds was recently able to bring in the owner of a local video game company to expand students’ knowledge.
Vance is from Cercle Games, and has multiple projects that have reached “Top Games” lists on international platforms.
He introduced a new piece of free software that will be integrated into the curriculum for the Video Game Design class.
It’s all leading to the start of a Computer Science class and formal career pathway at Willamette in the fall.
Going Brain Bowling
Language arts, literature, math, science, history, geography, fine arts, and general knowledge.
Those are the subjects kids had to study to prepare for the annual middle school Brain Bowl.
The Jeopardy-like contest featured 28 7/8 grade teams from middle schools throughout the county, and a team from Shasta won it! They edged a team from Cascade Middle School in a tie-breaker.
The Shasta kids had been practicing during lunch for more than two months, and it was quickness on the response that won it.
Congratulations to team members Olivia Harris, Lily Halbrook, Dinya Khleif, Anthony Silva, Danny Mugleston, Jay Veach, Austin Campbell, and coach Allison Bradshaw.
Our Celebration Of Cultures
A magical display of colors, music, languages and lives mixed at Bethel’s annual Multicultural Fair.
Prairie Mountain School welcomed hundreds of people celebrating the diverse cultures represented in our community.
Among the popular performers were the Chinese Lion Dance Troupe sponsored by the Chinese American Benevolent Association. The active and entertaining lion dance is believed to bring good luck, prosperity, and happiness. It sure brought smiles and applause from all ages of the audience.
Others providing entertainment and awe at the Multicultural Fair included the West African Culture Arts Institute drummers, the U.S. Taekwondo College, Eugene Taiko drummers, and dancers from the Eugene Chinese School.
Recipe For Success
Willamette’s Culinary Team was cooking, finishing 6th at the national competition in Rhode Island.
The team was ecstatic with the outcome after aiming for a top-10 finish among the 46 teams from around the country and Guam.
Wil-Hi’s state championship team impressed the judges with their teamwork, sanitation, handmade pasta and the preparation of their pan-seared halibut.
Congratulations to teacher Martha Humphreys and team members Cole Barnhardt, Jessica Barnhardt, Tyler Livingston, Shane Wilder and Taylor Woolett. They represented Willamette, Bethel and Oregon well.
All That Jazz
There’s no shame in being humbled. After all, this is a festival that brings together the best in the northwest.
It’s understood that taking part in the annual Bellevue Jazz Festival near Seattle is a time for students to learn where they stand, and see how much more they have to improve.
Then Shasta’s Jazz Band went out and won the thing!
Being honored with a first place finish anywhere is the very best way for the band to wrap up a terrific school year, but taking the title at Bellevue is a moment the students and Band Director Mike Reetz won’t soon forget.
A Moment With The Gov
Thousands of students visit the capitol building in Salem each week. It’s not an everyday occurrence that the Governor has time for a sit down conversation with kids.
It happened to Meadow View 8th graders during their field trip to the capitol.
Before they knew it, Governor Kate Brown was taking questions from students who were invited to relax on the floor in her office.
Being able to connect the state’s highest political office with a real person is a powerful way to make social studies come to life.
New Faces In New Places
We are happy to share the news that after a thorough search, Tasha Katsuda and Kee Zublin have been selected for Bethel’s two very important soon-to-be open Curriculum Director positions. They will provide leadership in the areas of instruction, curriculum, assessment, and student learning across the District.
Tasha is the current principal at Spencer Butte Middle School. She is the former principal at McCornack Elementary, did district-level work overseeing federal Title programs, and was a classroom teacher of English language arts, Social Studies, Math, Science, Leadership, and electives. Tasha stood out with her knowledge of elementary and middle level instruction, curriculum and supports.
Kee has been with Bethel since 2006, first as a highly regarded teacher at Kalapuya, then as interim principal at KHS and assistant principal at Willamette High School. Kee has worked at the district-level as a Math TOSA, has taken part in state-level assessment work, and led our district-wide initiatives to develop and implement new classroom assessments to measure individual student growth.
The two Curriculum Director positions were held by long-time Bethel administrator and teacher Brian Flick, who is retiring in June; and Christy Gill, who has been an Administrator on Special Assignment, covering the position left vacant by the retirement of Lori Smith four years ago. Christy will be moving to Title I teacher at Prairie Mountain.
Growing Their Own
Organic vegetable starts, hanging fuchsia baskets, and perennial flowers were snatched up at the annual Kalapuya Mother’s Day Plant Sale.
Nasturtiums, pansies, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, lilies, and herbs were some of the plants available at Kalapuya High School.
They were all grown by students using the school’s industrial-quality greenhouse, where kids get their hands dirty to learn about agriculture.
All the proceeds to go right back into the Kalapuya program.
With A Little Help From Our Friends
Safe Routes to School is doing what it can to promote biking to school as a healthy and easy alternative for Bethel students.
Bethel’s SRTS coordinator Bob Beals managed to scrape together enough money to purchase a bike cover at Shasta Middle School.
Then Beals visited the fire station next door and discovered that firefighters were happy to help install the cover. Together they had it built and the bike racks in place in no time.
Now, Shasta students have a locked and covered bike parking area thanks to SRTS and our friendly neighbors.
The Big Cheese
For someone in his position, Jesus Mendoza’s visit to Bethel was way under the radar.
The USDA’s Regional Administrator for Nutrition Programs, Mendoza oversees programs throughout the west coast and the South Pacific.
At the Oregon Department of Education’s request, he came to Eugene to visit Bethel and get a close-up look at the Bethel Farm.
Mendoza talked with Kalapuya students who lead the Farm’s 4th grade field trips and who work at the Farm during the summer.
Then he helped distribute lunch at Prairie Mountain School, encouraging young students to try the kale salad, before sitting down to eat with the children.
The visit was an honor for the District and it’s top-notch Nutrition Services program.
Earth Day Messengers
Inspiration and creativity were on the wall at the Eugene Downtown library.
Award-winning posters by a pair of Prairie Mountain 5th graders were among those put on public display as part of the Earth Day poster Contest.
Katie Askew and Teah Brandt completed their posters in class and then learned that they’d won awards. Katie earned an Inspiring Action award and Teah was honored with a Creativity Award.
It was part of an assignment to show the students understood some of the impact of climate change. Each of them won a gift certificate to a local art store.
And, Teah is keeping busy; she’ll represent Bethel at the Lane County Spelling Bee this month.
Walking & Rolling
Every Bethel school took part in the Walk and Roll Challenge, with hundreds of students walking, biking, skate boarding and scooting to school.
Kalapuya and Meadow View even had events for the entire week to encourage kids to get out of their family cars.
Safe Routes to School also arranged to have Isaac Johnson from Ding Ding Cycles provide free bike tune-ups at Meadow View, Prairie Mountain and Willamette where free bike helmets were also given away.
Nothing wrong with using a few incentives to help create healthy habits.
The Addams Family On Stage
Uncle Fester, Morticia, Gomez, Lurch, and Wednesday were all there. Willamette’s annual spring musical was a good one: The Addams Family Musical.
Nearly 50 students in the cast, crew and band had been rehearsing since February to bring you this musical comedy. It centered around being truthful, keeping secrets, and self-reflection.
Drama teacher Tana Walker continued the recent tradition of including a live student band in the orchestra pit for this musical.
There were strong turnouts for the three-day run, concluding with well-deserved standing ovations for the performances.
Challenge In The Wind
Bethel’s annual KidWind Challenge brings 8th graders together to test their classroom-made wind turbines and determine which creates the most energy.
The annual event combines science, math, hands-on learning and real-world problems, and is made possible through a grant from EWEB.
Watch this video to get an idea of what the KidWind Challenge offers students.
Champions In Education
Here’s the hard part: selecting just four winners out of so many deserving nominees.
The annual ACE (A Champion in Education) Awards is now accepting nominations in four categories: Teachers (licensed staff), Classified staff, Administrators and Volunteers.
It’s the 13th consecutive year that the ACE Awards will recognize the incredible work of Bethel staff and volunteers. The stories shared in the nominations are inspiring. The dedication displayed by the staff and volunteers is humbling.
Our thanks to the Eugene-Springfield business community under the leadership of Oregon Community Credit Union, which sponsors the event.
A winning nomination requires some work, and the deadline is April 29th.
The deserving winner in each category will receive a handsome plaque and $1,000 to be used for the school program of their choice.
The Ultimate Field Trip
Now, this is how to stage a field trip.
Kalapuya students have returned from a nine-day field study backpacking through the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
Students explored slick-rock slot canyons that narrowed to inches, formed by thousands of years of wind and rain.
They explored the petrified burnt orange sandstone canyons, learned about the geologic history of the Colorado Plateau, and studied the plant and animal adaptations that define desert ecosystems.
Students also delved into the contemporary debates that surround grazing rights, oil exploration, and the federal designations of National Monuments.
A Day In The Life
How quickly we forget what it’s like to be a high school student.
That’s why seven Willamette teachers and counselors spent a week immersing themselves in the bell-to-bell student experience: going to class, doing the homework, taking the tests, giving presentations, using the student restrooms, eating with teenagers, and socializing during breaks.
It’s a repeat of Wil-Hi’s Day in the Life experiment two years ago that opened eyes and increased teachers’ level of empathy for students while improving their own instruction.
Enhanced student engagement, more welcoming classrooms, improved relationships and collaboration in class; it was all reported by staff who spent a week as students.
Teachers will share their experiences in another video coming soon, with revelations from the adults who survived as teenagers for a week.
Emma’s Amazing Adventure
Emma Phipps, 4th grader at Meadow View School, and her uncle Rob Anderson have turned her real life story of adopting her dog into a book: Nala’s Adoption Adventure, now available on Amazon.
It started with Emma using Google Docs to write stories about animals. Uncle Rob suggested writing a real book, and they were off.
After school and on weekends they brainstormed, outlined the book, created a storyboard, hired an illustrator from Russia over the internet, and submitted the completed book to CreateSpace on Amazon. The book isn’t printed until it’s ordered, saving on up-front publishing costs.
Nala’s Adoption Adventure is the true story of the adoption of Emma’s dog. The book contains links for folks who want to adopt an animal.
There’s no telling if the book will take off, but It’s been a fun, challenging, and exciting experience for Emma. In addition, a portion of the profits from each sale goes to helping animals.
Hall of Fame
Brooke was a four-time Big Sky outdoor high jump champion, the only Weber State athlete in any sport to win the same event all four years. She still holds school records in the indoor and outdoor high jump.
She was an All-American indoors, and competed in the NCAA Championships twice.
These days Brooke’s on her toes helping to provide medical care for Bethel students and staff at the Health Center. Stop in and see her and the terrific team at the Bethel Health Center (entrance on the north side of Cascade Middle School.)
On The Radio
No one wants to talk about this, but 6th grade students at Prairie Mountain came right out and said it. Now it’s being shared on local radio stations.
Scoop the Poop is the message being broadcast as Public Service Announcements.
Prairie Mountain students studying water quality and healthy watersheds created their own PSAs to encourage dog owners to clean up after their pups.
The City of Eugene selected two teams’ messages to help prevent dog waste from making its way to streams and rivers. Now the voices of Mitul Ramani and Caiden Hanna, and Le Tran and Hayden King can be heard on local radio stations.
It’s been a lesson on the direct link between classroom studies and real world issues.
Unsere Deutschen Freunde
Enrollment at Willamette High School grew by 16 after spring break.
Students from Mainburg, Germany attended classes for two weeks as part of the German American Partnership Program (GAPP).
They’re from the same town where 12 WHS students traveled to take part in a similar exchange last summer.
The German visitors stayed with generous host families, experienced the Oregon coast, visited the UO, and even volunteered at Food for Lane County.
The guests gave presentations in Willamette classes about their culture and school life, and then it was time to return to Germany.
The exchange has been taking place for 13 years, and some lifelong friendships have been made.
Science To Go
Discovering how water makes turbines move, what creates static electricity, and how to move magnets. It’s why they call it the Discovery Lab, portable science lessons for hands-on learning at the elementary grade level.
Meadow View School students had an entire gym filled with stations featuring paper cup windmills, magnet mazes, UV bracelets, and more.
A whole generation of Bethel students has experienced the traveling science labs. For 18 years an EWEB Education Grant has been providing the kits’ supply funds, supporting teaching and learning in the areas of energy and water.
There are 12 program areas covered in the EWEB grant, something for every age student from kindergarten through high school.
It was more of a status report than a competition. Shasta’s Session Jazz Choir took part in the Clackamas Vocal Jazz Festival in Portland.
The choir received high marks in Musicianship and Stage-Presence and happily placed 3rd in the highly competitive middle school division. They also had the opportunity to work with some of the finest clinicians in Oregon, so it was a valuable learning experience.
The Session Choir has taken part in the Clackamas Festival for 12 years, and they’ll soon perform at the annual Pleasant Hill Jazz Festival.
Now there’s a new gig they have scheduled in May that could be the most rewarding event of their year: a trip to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland to sing for the kids who are receiving medical treatment.
Following The Path
Ana de la Paz, Rachel Camarena, and Adriana Alvarez are on their way. All three Bethel Educational Assistants are part of the Pathways Program, with a goal of becoming a classroom teacher.
Pathways is a joint effort by Bethel, Eugene 4J and Springfield school districts, with LCC, UO, Pacific and Northwest Christian Universities.
Together they identify and support potential teachers who speak multiple languages and are culturally diverse. Candidates receive scholarships from $2,500 – $15,000 toward their studies to become teachers.
We need teachers who speak multiple languages and can diversify our teaching staff to better reflect our student population.
Ana, Rachel, and Adriana are on their way to doing just that.
Sowing The Seeds Of Peace
Training students how to help other kids settle disputes and avoid conflicts sounds like a good idea.
That’s why Bethel partnered with the Center for Dialogue and Resolution to bring in professional facilitators to teach mediation skills to students.
A Seeds of Peace grant provided training of small groups of kids at Willamette, Kalapuya, Cascade, Prairie Mountain, Meadow View, Malabon and Danebo schools.
Students even came in on no-school days for the training. Now kids from different peer groups are helping to mediate disputes and prevent conflicts. At Prairie Mountain and Cascade they’re leading school-wide positive climate campaigns.
The work has been well-received, and more training is being planned.
A Pageant With Purpose
And, the winner is…children! The Wolverine Pageant also managed to crown Bellamie Curyea as the winner of Willamette’s 25th annual school spectacle. It culminated months of pageant rehearsals and fundraising by WHS student contestants and their organizers.
Together they raised close to $25,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.
Willamette’s is one of 16 area pageants that creates school pride, builds lasting friendships, and raises funds to provide supplies and equipment for the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center pediatric unit.
A $20,000 grant will soon send Kalapuya High School students out in the field for a mapping project with the Army Corps of Engineers.
The grant from the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund will provide handheld Geographic Information System (GIS) computers via a partnership with the National Science Foundation. It will be administered through the Bethel Education Foundation.
Kalapuya students will assist with a comprehensive mapping of invasive species and culturally important plants around Fern Ridge Reservoir. They will also monitor the ecological restoration projects KHS students have completed in recent years.
They will stream the GIS data back to the Army Corp, getting literal hands-on training with emerging GIS technology, which could be a new career path.
Kalapuya’s is one of only 14 projects in five American cities funded by the latest Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund.
Artist In Residence
The talent on display is impressive.
Willamette senior Rylee Schuch has been awarded First Place at the LCC High School Art Show.
The painting is beautiful, and there’s more that makes it really interesting.
Rylee’s watercolor was painted on a “found background” – an old map donated by a history teacher.
Rylee is an Advanced Fine Arts student working towards her Advanced Career Endorsement.
Playing To Learn
This event is an annual highlight for some school bands from throughout the state.
The Shasta Invitational Concert Band Festival welcomed 17 school bands to perform before expert clinicians.
One of the most appreciated aspects of the Shasta event is the opportunity for bands to get one-on-one learning time from the clinicians. The experts give sophisticated tips on the bands’ performances, identifying small but important improvements to their music.
Shasta’s is among the largest invitational concert band festivals in Oregon, and it’s been going strong for more than 20 years.
To College And Careers
It’s true. In only their second year of competition, Willamette’s Robotics team has captured a state championship.
It’s a testament to the students and their Robotics instructor Chris McGowan. They put in extra time to get their bots built and programmed, then practiced maneuvering them with remote controls.
Programs like Robotics can capture a student’s interest in Engineering and Computer Programming, enhancing what’s taught through a textbook.
We’re proud of the kids who brought home some hardware at the state championships. We’re even more pleased to see so many students becoming engaged in Robotics and its related fields, perhaps leading to a career they previously had not considered.
Continuing School Safety
You see in the news each week about another school shooting. It’s why all Bethel schools conduct safety drills. More than the usual fire drills or earthquake drills, Bethel schools practice lockdown procedures multiple times each school year.
Our teachers have scripts that remind students of the scenarios and protocols for a severe emergency. That allows all Bethel students to have shared expectations. We also created age-appropriate safety training videos that teachers can share with students to prepare for lockdown drills.
Back in 2014 Bethel was the first district in Oregon to train all staff in the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) safety concepts. It is important knowledge on procedures we hope are never used.
Whipping Up A Winner
11 years since Willamette’s last state championship, the WHS Culinary Team is preparing for another appearance at the Oregon ProStart Culinary Competition. Here’s a quick look as Taylor Woolett, Tyler Livingston, Cole Barnhardt, Shane Wilder and Jessica Barnhardt practicing to prepare a 3-course gourmet meal from scratch in one hour using only two propane burners.
UPDATE: WHS has won the state championship! They will travel to Providence, Rhode Island in April to compete against the champions from all the other states in the country!
A Quilt Of Kindness
It started as pieces of butcher paper and white cardstock triangles.
When they were finished, Meadow View students had created a giant Kindness Quilt made up of adjoining triangles.
Students wrote, drew, painted, and otherwise decorated their individual triangles with pictures, poems, messages, and images of hope and kindness.
They matched up with students from another grade level and worked in 2-person teams.
The completed project serves a reminder of a fun and meaningful day for students, and a long-lasting message to carry on the values on the quilt.
Start Your Engines
How they’re able to do this is pretty impressive.
Willamette students design, engineer, weld, test, and race three-wheeled go-cart style battery-powered vehicles. Taking on students from other high schools, Willamette’s Electrathon teams go wheel-to-wheel all spring in Oregon and Washington.
The Industry and Engineering program at WHS is a perfect example of CTE (Career Technical Education) courses that provide students with real-world hands-on learning that can lead to a career or further study.
Come see the cars for yourself. The first race of the season is Saturday at LCC. The flag drops at 11:00 a.m. and it’s free for all spectators.
It’s About The Books
There were costumes, arts and crafts, storytelling, and all of it based on books.
Danebo Elementary’s Literacy Night had something for everyone, with reading as the central theme.
Students and their families had a chance to make fun bookmarks, use goofy props in a photo booth-style set-up, and share the love of reading through storytelling.
Activities were tied to specific books, like making aliens where books about outer space were featured.
Everyone went home with a Dr. Seuss book bag, a book of their choice, and a pizza coupon. Free food, entertainment, and souvenirs. Danebo knows how to do it right!
Willamette High School’s new Mock Trial Team came within a whisper of advancing to the state competition.
The strong showing at the regional competition at the Linn County Courthouse is encouraging for Wil-Hi’s young legal minds because this was their very first competition.
The team’s impressive performance is the first tangible result of having an Intro to Law class as part of the school’s Social Studies curriculum.
Congrats to team members Kiana Abarca, Natasha Abarca, Tylan Britten, Dorena Glynn, Jared Doerner, Ashley Reinoehl, Jason Dardis, Jasmine Ortega, and the only senior Andrew Connor. Coaches are teacher Dain Nelson and Clinton Tapper, of Taylor and Tapper Attorneys.
She is an acclaimed author of novels for kids, and she loves sharing her techniques with children.
That’s why Rosanne Parry held an assembly and then a writing workshop at Meadow View School.
The Portland writer is notable for her award-winning novels and for the fact that she prefers to write in her backyard tree house.
Parry explained that she likes to take real-life events and build fictional stories around them.
Meadow View students took notes, asked good questions, and left thinking more deeply about their storytelling because they heard it first-hand from a writer they admire.
A Chamber Choir
This opportunity doesn’t come along every day.
Willamette’s Topnotchers choir was invited to the Oregon capitol building to sing America the Beautiful to open a session of the state senate.
Senator James Manning, a Bethel resident and big Bethel believer, welcomed the Topnotchers to his home away from home.
Their moving rendition of American the Beautiful brought a standing ovation and an invitation to come back any time.
The experience also proved to be a team-building experience for the choir members, who were outstanding representatives of WHS and Bethel.
Walking The Talk
Callyn and Maren Widmer have gotten used to this. The sisters join their mom and a couple of friends walking to and from Meadow View School every day.
Their commute is quick and easy, only a quarter mile. Walking also keeps them safely away from the overflowing school parking lot where cars and pedestrians are in a daily dance. Walking means fewer cars added to the parking lot scrum.
Parents are encouraged to consider having their children walk or ride bikes to school in groups like the Widmer’s. It’s called a Walking School Bus.
Changing habits can be a challenge, but the Widmers are one example that it can be done. They are now full-time walkers, rain or shine.
Bethel Band Festival
Five Bethel schools, 350 students, side by side under the direction of Dr. Rodney Dorsey.
The Director of Bands at the University of Oregon took is all in stride at the guest conductor for the annual Bethel Band Festival.
Dorsey worked with each school band separately, then brought them together for a powerful series of songs.
It’s an annual opportunity for the younger musicians to show what they can do, and also see what the future could hold as high school band members.
Back On The Farm
The Bethel Farm has broken ground on the community garden plots that had been in the planning phase of the Farm’s development.
The Farm has partnered with Huerto de la Familia in an effort to reach more Bethel families and offer opportunities on the farm.
The 15 x 15 plots offer Bethel families the opportunity to grow food for themselves at a very low cost: $40 annually and $15 for low-income residents.
In order to help families be successful with their garden, all the gardeners will take a “Seed to Supper” intro to gardening class.
For more information, please contact Danielle Hummel at email@example.com.
Buddy Day Is Back
“This was the greatest day ever!” A second grader at Danebo shared that enthusiastic declaration after his Buddy Day activity with a kindergartner.
Danebo’s Buddy Day had a kindness and friendship theme, with teams of students school-wide creating beautiful sections of a giant mural.
Kids chose different medians of art such as crayons, watercolors, pencils and mixed craft supplies, with the plan to put them together in sections, display them in classes, and eventually join all the class projects as one giant mural.
It’ll be a lasting reminder of that greatest day ever.
The chance to perform with an internationally known band on stage at the Hult Center? A group of Willamette band students jumped at that invitation.
Matuto, a band from New York known for its fusion of jazz, bluegrass and Brazilian music, came to Willamette and worked with a select group of students in the IB (International Baccalaureate) Music class.
Then, that night the band welcomed the WHS students onto the Hult Center stage to join in the final songs of the concert.
That could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the Willamette students, or maybe just the beginning of their musical careers.
This was a first. The Willamette Chess team hosted the State Championship Tournament when the original host school had to back out.
Chess team advisor Mike Myers put together a team of volunteers, utilizing his extensive knowledge of how to run a good tournament.
The two-day tourney welcomed 140 students from 16 schools around Oregon. And after the trophies were handed out – including a second place for Willamette’s JV Open team – the chess has continued at WHS.
8th graders are already attending Willamette’s Wednesday after-school practices, and Sunday meets are continuing at the school through June. There’s more at http://blogs.bethel.k12.or.us/mmyers/
Party Like A Kindergartner
These kids know how to celebrate! Kindergartners in Jacquie Bratland’s class at Irving had been counting the days for this opportunity.
The 100th day of school is a big deal – and a big number – for kindergarten students. They marked that milestone the way 5 and 6 year olds might.
Students counted out 100 fruit loops and made necklaces. Jewelry that looks good and tastes good…what could be better?! Kids also counted out 100 snacks and had a celebration at the end of the day.
Kindergartners wore 100th Day crowns and had a special visit from Zero the Hero, the masked crusader who has been made famous in books and song. For our youngest students, celebrating at school doesn’t get much better than this.
Preparing For The Big Move
Advancing from 8th grade to high school is a giant leap for some students. Bethel’s 8th graders got an early introduction to Willamette High School with a tour of classrooms and a peek at particular programs during the school day.
The orientation was followed by an evening event with parents and the opportunity to learn more about specific courses.
Preparing students for the transition to high school starts in their 8th grade classrooms, where teachers continually emphasize the need for students to work on their responsibility, perseverance, and time management skills.
Expectations change in 9th grade, and the road to high school success for the Class of 2022 is paved with good preparation.
The Governor With A Mandate
Oregon has a Kid Governor, and he had a message on a stop at Prairie Mountain School: Stop bullying.
11 year old Dom Peters was “inaugurated” in January after being elected by fellow 5th graders from around the state. 5th graders at Prairie Mountain watched the inauguration live online.
As Oregon’s Kid Governor, Dom has no real authority but he does have a voice.
Now he’s spreading the message that students need to be kind to each other and work together. Like a true politician, he has his own blog. And at his school in Brooks, near Salem, Dom started a Super Kind Helpers’ Club to identify and stop bullying.
Sharing that message with students around the state would make his term a success.
A Place To Call Home
This really happens.
Imagine as a high school student you’re worrying about where you’ll sleep, where your next meal will come from, how you can wash your clothes or take a shower.
Getting homework done, completing an assignment, or taking part in clubs or sports fall way down your priority list. Too many high school students in Bethel are living like this.
It’s why we’re celebrating the opening of the St. Vincent de Paul Youth House for high school girls.
Although it’s in south Eugene, Bethel girls will be living there, too. Homeless and at-risk girls ages 16 to 18 will receive the secure housing, casework, mentoring and other resources they need to stay in school until graduation.
Now we’re working with St. Vinnie’s to create a similar facility in Bethel for boys. It’ll be a lifeline for students and a valuable addition to our community. Stay tuned.
Fly Eagles, Fly
From Willamette High School to the Super Bowl championship!
Just nine years ago Spencer Phillips was quarterbacking the Wil-Hi football team. After playing small college football, he was a volunteer coach at the high school and small college level for three years, sometimes not knowing where his next meal would come from.
A bit of serendipity in 2016 led to a meeting with new Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who ended up offering Spencer a job as Coaching Assistant, Pederson’s right hand man.
During the Super Bowl Spencer helped with defensive game cards and joined the quarterbacks in identifying nuances that could help the Philadelphia offense.
When the Eagles won the Super Bowl, he joined family and girlfriend Keely Bertak (WHS ‘10) for an emotional on-field celebration.
Spencer is grateful for the support he’s received from so many people during his journey, as evidenced by the nearly 500 text messages waiting on his phone after the game.
And, a final bit of good news: he’s just received a well-deserved promotion to Assistant Quarterbacks Coach.
The New Cool In School
No One Eats Alone is a program that makes inclusion “the new cool in school.”
Middle school students at Cascade and Meadow View learned about social isolation and how they can help ensure no one is left lonely at lunchtime.
Teachers received a curriculum, courtesy of Trillium, and prepared kids for No One Eats Alone Day. They learned how social isolation can have a negative impact on a student’s health and academic performance.
8th grade facilitators encouraged 6th graders to join groups at lunchtime and engage in discussions. Students also talked about ways to continue taking action to reduce social isolation at school.
One way is the next event: No One Learns Alone.
Job Skills For The Real World
A presentation from Archimoto, a local start-up company that makes electric cars, included the job skills they’re looking for in employees.
It wasn’t a big leap to envision the Willamette students working for Archimoto.
Because, while CTE classes are becoming all the rage, Career Technical Education courses have been a staple of the curriculum at Willamette for decades.
CTE courses at Wil Hi are offered for college credit in Digital Arts, Business Management, Health Occupations, Multimedia Arts, Design and Manufacturing, Culinary Arts, Metals, Digital Manufacturing and Robotics, and Early Childhood Education.
WHS students have the opportunity to learn valuable and marketable job skills so they graduate ready for a career or continuing education.
From Beijing To Bethel
They live half a world away, but there’s not a world of difference between them.
Students from Beijing visited Shasta Middle School again. It’s an exchange that’s been going on since before these students were born.
Shasta’s principal Brady Cottle and a Bethel contingent returned the favor by visiting Beijing four years ago and learned how they approach public education.
The students from China spent time in classrooms, performed in the choir room, played games in the gym, and questioned each other about their everyday lives.
It turns out they share common interests in cell phones, pop stars, and shopping. Go figure.
Robotics On A Roll
Willamette’s Robotics program is beginning to make a name for itself.
A few weeks after two teams from WHS shared first place at the West Salem Robotics Tournament, Willamette hosted a Robotics competition of its own for 38 teams from a dozen schools in Oregon and California.
A Wil-Hi team claimed second place, and now they’re all gearing up for the state tournament in Salem this spring under the leadership of teacher Chris McGowan.
Here’s a quick look at the WHS Robotics competition.
Bringing The Best To Bethel
More than 150 of the best chess players will soon descend on Willamette High School for the State Chess Tournament.
Wil-Hi’s coach Mike Myers stepped up to host the tourney after problems developed with the initial host site.
Willamette’s chess team seems to be peaking at the right time. Although standing third in the Midwestern League, Wil-Hi has beaten the first place team…twice!
If there’s a Cinderella story this year, WHS would be happy to play that role.
They could use a little volunteer help with the state tournament on March 2nd and 3rd. Contact Mike Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org
More Of A Good Thing
For the fourth year in a row, the Shasta Jazz Band was invited as one of the exceptional bands to perform at the evening concert of the Oregon Jazz Festival.
While the Festival is not a competitive event, three Shasta players were also awarded Outstanding Musicianship awards.
And eight Willamette High School musicians were selected to perform in the Festival’s All-Star Big Band with renowned guest trumpeter Terrell Stafford.
It was another big night for Bethel students at the Oregon Jazz Festival, and a tradition we’d like to see continue.
The Road To Success
Time is flying by, and soon they’ll be on their way to a high school diploma.
That’s why students at Prairie Mountain School – and their parents – turned out for the Path To Graduation Night.
Administrators, counselors and students from Willamette High School explained what it’s really like in high school today; the electives, course work, challenges, expectations, and potential pitfalls.
The event became a real eye-opener for many parents and students because high school in Bethel offers so much more than some folks realize.
Rounding Up The Recyclables
Folks have been squirreling away an amazing amount of electronics. A lot of it was turned in at Willamette’s annual community-wide Recycling Round-up.
National Honor Society students accepted old VCRs and TVs, computer monitors and radios.
Exercise equipment that must have seemed like a good idea at one time. Old mattresses that weren’t good enough for the guest room. Styrofoam, hairdryers, coffee makers and cell phones.
It was all collected and taken away by St. Vincent de Paul and NextStep.
The annual event is one of the reasons why WHS was named a national Green Ribbon School Award winner in 2014.
On The Safe Side
Not all the learning in school is confined to the classroom.
All Bethel second graders are learning to look both ways, multiple times, before crossing a street.
Clear Lake kids were the first in the district to take part in this spring’s Pedestrian Safety Education made possible by Safe Routes to School.
This is an important lifelong skill, and if it helps more students start walking to school then that’s an additional benefit.
The education that starts in the classroom and ends with a neighborhood walk will continue with Bethel’s other 2nd graders next month.