Bethel School District Eugene OR

Bethel B-mail: April 2019


Supporting Our Supporters

Group photo in front of a house.

Volunteers, donors, and organizers of the Veterans Housing Project dedicated another Bethel home for use by returning Vets.

We’re only a school district, but we are able to do something about the issue of affordable housing.

It began with an idea from Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz seven years ago. Today, the Veterans Housing Project has 10 houses in the area that are managed by St. Vincent de Paul and serve as affordable rental homes for returning Vets.  

Bethel School District owns three of the 10 houses in the Project. They’re across the street from Willamette High School are were purchased over the years with the idea of possible future expansion at Wil-Hi.

Rather than get into the rental business, the district agreed to let the Veterans Housing Project renovate the homes and make them available for Vets transitioning back into civilian life.

It’s a win for the district as it plans for its students long-term. It’s a win for the neighborhood as the homes are renovated. It’s a win for the greater community as more affordable housing is being made available. And, it’s a win for the Vets who are being supported after supporting their country.

Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


Advocating From The Heart

Willamette senior Jarod Doerner met with Governor Kate Brown and Representative Julie Fahey during Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor Appreciation Week. Jarod’s advocacy started as an Eagle Scout project but has become much more.

Jarod Doerner was on death’s door. He went from being a normal 7th grader at Shasta Middle School to spending months at a Stanford hospital waiting for a life-saving heart transplant.

Five years later, Jarod’s a senior at Willamette and going strong after receiving the transplant that was necessary because of a previously undiagnosed genetic heart condition.

Now he’s become an advocate. Jarod was the driving force behind House Bill 4019, which recognizes the second week of April as Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor Appreciation Week.

Today, with Representative Julie Fahey, Jarod is pushing for legislation to improve donor registration and the teaching of organ donation to Oregon 9th graders.

His work in the state capitol makes Jarod think about becoming an Oregon lawmaker, maybe even Governor. It’s a long way from those frightening times five years ago.


Considering The Senses

Principal Jill Robinson-Wolgamott in the new Sensory Room at Prairie Mountain. The school is trying to meet the varying needs of students with this specially-prepared space, which includes a roller squeeze machine.

Break spaces, refocus rooms, and calming areas all serve the same purpose: to provide an environment for students to be able to calm themselves, collect their emotions, and relieve their anxiety before returning to class.

Prairie Mountain School now has a more intensive space: the Sensory Room. It’s designed for students who may have Behavior Support Plans or specific needs addressing behavior. The room has just been opened after months of research and consultation with experts, and will be part of students’ daily schedule.

The Sensory Room has screened fluorescent lights and a new calming paint color. The room is filled with items, including a roller squeeze machine, crash pad, mini trampoline, therapy sling swing, therapy balls, punching bag, balance beam, a fiber optic room, and tactile items such as water beads, sand, beans, and play doh.

Data is being collected on which sensory items stimulate or calm students. The staff is excited to have this room as a resource to help students help themselves self-regulate.


To Germany and Back

Two students posing for a photo.

Seniors Isaiah Cornutt and Addy Fulks spent part of their high school careers in Germany.

They are back on home soil. Willamette seniors Isaiah Cornutt and Addy Fulks had been attending school in Germany.

Addy spent her entire junior year near Munich. She was awarded the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship, a prestigious opportunity funded by the U.S. and German governments.

Returning to Willamette was an adjustment, but she’s maintaining the international flavor at home with her family hosting an exchange student from Spain.

Isaiah spent the first semester of this school year at Willamette’s partner school, the Gabelsberger Gymnasium in Mainburg. He was originally in Mainburg as part of a Willamette student group summer visit.

Another WHS student trip is set for this summer, continuing the Wil-Hi German Language program’s enriching experiences for Bethel students.


Many Cultures, One Community

Chinese Lions Dancers

A closer look shows mixed reactions to an up-close and personal introduction to the Chinese Lion Dancers at Bethel’s annual Multicultural Fair.

You know it’s an event when the Chinese Lion Dancers perform.

The troupe made an appearance at the 6th annual Bethel Multicultural Fair, held this year at Malabon Elementary School.

The Fair featured a colorful representation of our Bethel families, including performances and artwork by Bethel students.

Local flavors were offered with food from Yi Shen, Burrito Amigos, Sushi Island, Sweet Life, Chapalas, Falling Sky, and Empire Buffet.

Booths were set up for a wide range of local organizations, and students had passports stamped while visiting the tables.

The Multicultural Fair continued its wonderful celebration of cultures, customs, experiences and community.


Design And Dash

Students racing electric cars

An hour’s worth of laps started the 2019 Electrathon season of racing for students in Willamette’s Industry and Engineering class.

This much is clear: knowledge gained in the classroom is directly related to results on the racecourse.

The annual EWEB Kilowatt Classic featured student-built electric “Electrathon” go-carts, racing through a parking lot at Lane Community College.

Willamette students design, engineer, weld, wire and…yes…duct tape their own cars and race them against cars from other schools.

The WHS students are in the Industry and Engineering class, where they pick up all the skills necessary to be able to build and race a car.

Willamette has long been a leader on the Electrathon racing circuit, known for insisting that students – not teachers or advisors – do the hands-on work.

Fewer schools are supporting this type of program, but WHS is determined to spread the word about its career benefits, and the downright fun involved.


Staff vs Students (and Ducks)

Group photo of students and staff.

After the friendly competition, Shasta students and staff posed with UO athletes from the O Heroes program.

They filled the gym, not knowing that some Ducks would be on hand.

Shasta’s annual Staff-Student basketball game raised money for 8th grade end of the year activities.

Beyond the action on the court, the surprise attraction was the group acting as coaches for the Shasta students; University of Oregon athletes from the football and track programs.

The star attraction was Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert, who just a couple of years ago was competing against Bethel students.

He was among the nine representatives of O Heroes, the volunteer organization for UO athletes.

They coached the kids, gathered donations, signed autographs and happily posed for a lot of pictures.

Big thanks to the big men and women on campus, theirs and Shasta’s.


Solutions Are Not A Problem

Representing their school, these Willamette students finished second at the Regional Math Competition.

Try this: Given that the vertex of the parabola y = x2 – 20x + c lies on the line y = ½x + 1, find c.

That’s the kind of question the Willamette Math Team tackled while claiming second place at the Lane County Regional competition.

Team members Hailey Boyd, Noah Clayton, Carson Grossmiller, Ella Carlson, Jeremy Bond, Andrew Patrick, Paige Willis, and Dakota Mason competed in three events; Solve That Problem, Quiz, and Relay.

Freshman Jeremy Bond and sophomore Andrew Patrick won the Algebra 2 Level Quiz and have an opportunity to challenge themselves in the state competition at Portland State University.

The students were nominated for the team by their math teachers, and went to the competition not sure what to expect.

Finally, the answer to the problem posed above?  106.  Of course.


By Invitation Only

Band instructor conducting student musicians

Guest clinician Ron Bertucci worked with Cascade Middle School students as part of the Shasta Invitational Concert Band Festival.

It’s been a staple at Shasta Middle School for decades. The Shasta Invitational Concert Band Festival remains the largest invitational event in Oregon for middle school concert bands.

18 bands bused in to perform and then learn. The musicians received feedback from respected clinicians who worked one-on-one with each band to improve small details that result in big improvements.

Hearing suggestions from a respected professional is sometimes accepted more clearly than when similar coaching comes from a band teacher. That’s one reason why the Shasta Invitational is always on the calendar of so many strong band programs.


5 Responses to Bethel B-mail: April 2019

  • I would like to hear the spin on how it’s ethical for a school district to own residential housing. And if this comment board has any integrity, this will not be censored.

    • Hi Lenny,
      No spin needed. The Bethel School Board – as many forward-thinking school boards – has always carefully considered future district needs. They would be negligent not to. Our biggest school is Willamette, and while its campus is large compared to our other schools, it is also very constrained. If the district needed to build, say, additional classrooms on campus not only would it need to find a location for the building, but the district would also be required by city code to provide more parking. The school is already unable to accommodate all the parking requests from staff and students at WHS, and there’s no place else to go without sacrificing other facilities and programs. Having options, even across the street, allows for the possibility of future expansion at Willamette, should that become necessary. Again, that’s only an example.
      The only available property adjacent to Willamette is residential housing, and in order to secure land next to the school the district has purchased homes as they’ve become available, using CET funds. It is not the district’s desire to become landlords. Nor is it prudent to tear down perfectly usable housing, which is how the Veterans Housing Project comes into play. The program truly has been an improvement to the neighborhood, with the homes renovated by volunteers, businesses, and the Eugene-Springfield Homebuilders Association. The district receives no funds from the project, nor does it have to provide any maintenance. Rather, the property is being maintained and managed by the program, while returning Veterans have access to affordable housing.
      Funding for the purchase of the land comes from a Construction Excise Tax that is levied on new residential and non-residential development in Bethel. The Legislature made CETs possible for school districts in order to help cover the cost of new or expanded facilities as they relate to development in their communities. There are limitations on how the revenue from the tax can be used, including land acquisitions, equipment, engineering, construction, etc. It cannot be used to pay for staffing or anything related to personnel.

  • In a time when our children’s classrooms are in crisis and we continue to hear that funding is ALWAYS an issue, it doesn’t seem fiscally sound to be purchasing property at this time. We need to address the fact that our class sizes are way above the state norm. Our district does not have adequate resources to help the children with mental health issue, nor do they have the resources to enrich the students that come to school each and every day ready to learn. These students are our future leaders of society. We need to give them an opportunity to excel. In our current model, we seem to be focusing on our highest behaviors and lowest academics. I am all for helping people find affordable housing, but our district needs to keep their focus on education our youth. We need to reduce our class sizes and offer the best possible learning outcomes for our students, despite the fact that our state has not figured out a way to adequately fund our schools.

    • Hi Holly,
      We appreciate your concern and agree that class sizes are too big and there is a continued need for additional mental health providers. Please understand that property acquired for future district growth is purchased with revenue from a Construction Excise Tax placed on new development in our district. These CET funds cannot, by law, be used for hiring more staff, and hiring more staff is the only way class sizes can be improved. CET funds can only be used for land acquisition, engineering services, construction, etc. Thank you for your concern for all Bethel students, and thank you for reading B-mail.

  • I sure enjoy seeing how our Bethel Students are rising to the challenges they face now, and in the future. I am not only referring to such things as exchange students learning a different language and culture, or the complex math problems our students solve.
    I am very happy to see the electric car classes, and races, are continuing to be part of the curriculum. As a night custodian at the time, I enjoyed sharing in the successes of our high school students.
    As a night custodian in other schools over the years, I celebrated with students in the elementary schools, the junior high, as well as the high school, as they achieved their successes in art, music and other subjects.
    Yup. I am proud of our Bethel students and staff.

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