The room gets buzzing with excitement, hope, anticipation, and optimism.
That’s what happens when parents of incoming Kindergartners gather to learn what Bethel has to offer its youngest students, the Class of 2030.
Kindergarten Orientation is a chance for parents to begin preparing for the first day of school. Not only do they pre-register their children for Kindergarten, they also meet the teachers, principal, and counselors.
They hear all about KITS (Kids in Transition to School,) the free program that prepares students – and parents – for a successful start to school.
Parents get a better understanding of Bethel’s PE and Music specialists, the modern technology and new textbooks, the curriculum and positive behavior program, and what a day is like in Kindergarten.
Those who missed Kindergarten Orientation Week can still get the same experience by contacting their neighborhood school. The path to graduation in June 2030 starts now.
Saving Taxpayer Dollars
Just a few years after saving Bethel residents $1,500,000 in taxes, Bethel School District has saved another $780,000 for property owners.
The District has once again refinanced its bonded debt. As a result, Bethel will repay the debt more rapidly than originally anticipated, resulting in fewer tax dollars being spent on interest.
The bonds were used to build new Bethel schools and make dozens of other improvements.
The saving is similar to refinancing the mortgage on a home, with the goal of paying less over the long-run.
Bethel School District saved taxpayers $1.5 million in 2011 by shortening older bonds and securing lower interest rates.
Challenge Of The Automatons
Year two has seen big improvements for the Willamette Robotics teams.
They took first place at a competition at Dallas High School, earning a spot in the state championships next month. The state winner qualifies for the World Championships in Kentucky.
25 students in Chris McGowan’s Intro to Robotics class have split into teams. They started building their robots in September and are learning programming in class.
Students practice during class, after school, basically whenever they have time.
Combining science, technology, engineering, math, and language arts with problem solving and social skills, Robotics is demanding a wide variety of skills from students…and so far, they’re answering the challenge.
Big Band Music
Trophies literally line the walls in the Shasta Band room. And we’re trying to keep up with the latest successes.
The kids just won the West Salem Jazz Festival with 8th grader Luke Turner taking home the Soloist award.
Out of 28 bands at the Oregon Jazz Festival, Shasta’s Jazz Band was selected to perform at the event’s evening concert.
It was an honor to be chosen to perform on the same stage as collegiate musicians from the UO and LCC, as well as Grammy-nominated saxophonist Ben Wendel. Luke Turner was again selected as an outstanding soloist and played tenor saxophone on stage with the UO Jazz Ensemble.
And last month the Jazz Band was invited to perform at the Oregon Music Educators State Conference.
The beat goes on with Shasta’s impressive band program.
No One Eats Alone
You know what it’s like. Middle school lunch is social time. But for some, it can be a lonely time.
That’s why Meadow View School tried teacher Sarah Campbell’s suggestion: No One Eats Alone.
6th, 7th and 8th graders were randomly assigned tables in the cafeteria at lunch, with questions provided as fun conversation starters. (There was a lot of laughing going on!)
It allowed kids to talk to classmates who they don’t usually sit with at lunch. As a result, everyone was included and students started making new friends.
Because of its success, there’s already talk about another No One Eats Alone day later this spring.
Joining The AP Honor Roll
The number of Willamette High School students taking AP (Advanced Placement) classes continues to increase, and the number of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher (and eventual college credit) is also going up.
As a result, Wil-Hi has been placed on the College Board’s District Honor Roll for student access and success.
In order to receive this recognition, the percentage of exams taken by minority students must also be increased or maintained.
Willamette offers AP classes in Government, Calculus, Statistics and Geography.
Wil-Hi’s rigorous coursework offerings are well-known by WHS students. Now they’re being recognized more widely.
Bringing In The Outsiders
The performance was infectious. Andiel Brown and a few members of his UO Gospel Choir performed for the Cascade Middle School choirs and left them energized, engaged, and encouraged.
The UO Gospel Choir has become a nationally recognized program under Brown’s leadership, and Cascade’s Music and Choir teacher Christina Boorman wants her students exposed to the best talent available. That’s why Boorman continues to tap into local resources.
Cascade band students have been taught by Scott McKee, the Bethel Band Festival’s clinician; Kristin Haley, principal flutist from the Eugene Symphony; and Brian Scott, percussionist with the Eugene Symphony.
The professionals’ skill, focus, and love of music is rubbing off.
If You Can’t Stand The Heat…
It could be their year. After having won the state championship in 2005 and 2007, the Willamette Culinary team is poised to take home another title.
If practice makes perfect, this team should be contenders. They’ve been making their gourmet meal over and over again since November.
In one hour, using propane-fueled burners and only scratch ingredients, they’re making handmade Ravioli filled with Shitake and white button mushrooms. Seared Coho salmon with pan-roasted root vegetables. And a small French cake with caramel, apple, cranberry and chocolate.
The Oregon ProStart Championship is February 19th, and in teacher Martha Humphreys’ 40th year, this could be Willamette’s turn again.
Opening New Doors
This might signal the start of something special. 11 young students from Beijing visited Eugene to learn more about American education, spending three days at Prairie Mountain School.
That included time in Rachel Hsieh’s 4th grade class. Rachel is multi-lingual, and Cantonese is her native language.
The visitors taught their Prairie Mountain peers the Chinese art of paper cutting. They made lanterns that coincided with the Lantern Festival, which is part of Chinese New Year.
The Chinese students fit right in, and to an unsuspecting visitor they seemed to be part of the class. Language was not a barrier because the kids from Beijing were practicing their English, which was already very good.
This connection could lead to a Sister School relationship and future visits to Prairie Mountain, and maybe – someday – a visit by our students to China.
Once Is Not Enough
After nine years it’s becoming an anticipated annual event. Willamette’s Recycling Round-Up again collected an impressive amount of reusable household items from the community.
A St. Vincent de Paul truck was filled with clothes, mattresses, exercise equipment, stoves, dishwashers, furniture, lamps, bikes, kitchen appliances, and toys.
Students loaded five large industrial-sized boxes with 3,300 pounds of TVs, monitors, computers and other electronics that had been taking up space in homes and garages.
It will all be recycled or reused by St. Vinnie’s and NextStep Recycling, thanks to WHS teacher David Novak and students from the National Honor Society.
Partners In Protection
When Eugene Police Officer Mark Hubbard is on patrol, he’s never alone. Hubbard recently brought his partner to visit the third graders at Prairie Mountain School.
Mr. Kato is a three year old Belgian Malinois, Hubbard’s newest K-9 companion. Mr. Kato is a smart, hardworking and energetic police dog, yet he was friendly enough to be petted by all the students.
Kids learned that Mr. Kato can climb over a six foot fence, wears up to four collars, can be lowered from high places with a harness, and is incredibly obedient.
By welcoming the pair to their school, the 3rd graders witnessed in real life what they’ve been studying in class about animals helping people.
Firefighters To The Rescue
This came at just the right time, when we experienced a real cold spell. Local firefighters dropped off boxes of new children’s coats made possible through the Operation Warm program.
The firefighters union paid for the 55 coats, ordered them in a broad range of colors and sizes, and then worked with the Bethel Education Foundation for distribution to kids.
Bethel’s Homeless Liaison, Donna Butera, took over from there. The coats are being given to students in need throughout the district.
Word is the kids love their new jackets, which provide a sense of pride and confidence while keeping the children bundled up and ready for school.
Outdoor School Returns
Voters recently approved Outdoor School for Oregon 5th or 6th graders, starting next school year. But Bethel is ahead of the pace.
For the second consecutive year, more than 100 Bethel 5th graders will attend Outdoor School for three days in the spring.
It’s being made possible in part by a $9,000 donation from the Bethel Education Foundation.
The BEF wanted to support teachers from Danebo and Meadow View who did all the grunt work and fundraising last year to deliver a three day outdoor school experience for their students.
And it didn’t seem fair to wait another year for state funding to kick in, so the BEF stepped up and helped what is essentially an Outdoor School pilot program for the rest of the district.
What teachers and students learn this spring will be applied for more Bethel students taking part in Outdoor School in the spring of 2018.
For The Kinders
These folks have done so much for Bethel students, and they’re not done yet.
Members of the Eugene Airport Rotary Club donated a couple thousand dollars so every incoming Bethel kindergartener could receive a free book.
Parents took them home from Kindergarten Orientation, and more books will be available for the kids once they get pre-registered for school.
Rotary members received a little surprise when they were recently preparing the books for delivery; a class of Kindergarteners from Clear Lake Elementary marched next door to the District office to thank the club members for their work.
For years the Airport Rotary has funded tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships that have been awarded to dozens of Willamette and Kalapuya students.