Bethel School District Eugene OR

Bethel B-mail: May 2019


Now THIS Is News

People gathered at a meeting.

The Bethel Budget Committee heard from principals before approving an operating budget that will hire more staff for the coming school year.

There is good news, then there’s great news.

The good news is that our schools will be increasing staffing next school year because of current year increases in the State School Fund and some district expenses coming in lower than projected. Bethel’s teacher-to-student ratio will be it’s best since 2015.

In addition, it is looking likely that the legislature will pass a State School Fund number for the coming school year that’s a bit above the Governor’s Recommended Budget.

The GREAT news is that the Oregon Legislature passed the Student Success Act, providing an additional $1 billion for K-12 education starting in the 2020-21 school year.

It is the first significant financial investment in Oregon schools in many decades and a move in the right direction for our students and our state.
Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


Days Of Discovery

Students at an obstacle course.

An obstacle course is among the many fun activities for students at Outdoor School.

Bethel 5th graders loved this. They’ve just finished taking part in Outdoor School, spending three days and two nights at Grove Camp east of Cottage Grove.

Science and math were integrated into activities like students riding a zipline, taking on a challenge course, investigating owl pellets, and searching via geocaching.

Along the way, they worked on life-long social skills and character traits like responsibility, respect, teamwork, tolerance, and patience.

Mostly, Outdoor School is an active and fun-filled opportunity to learn in a different setting and new surroundings. And, it has created memories kids will have for years.


A Spark Of Art

Kids painting a mural

Prairie Mountain 5th graders work on a large colorful mural with the help of a visiting art teacher.

Every elementary school student in Bethel is experiencing Arts education this spring, courtesy of the Lane Arts Council, Essex Construction, and other generous local supporters.

Together they spearheaded this fundraising effort that is bringing visiting art teachers to all Kindergarten through 5th grade classrooms in our District.

Classes created a color-filled murals or fashioned art from recycled materials.

The Arts education idea started with Jodi Sommers at Essex, the contractor that built the new Fairfield Elementary in 2015. Essex became part of the Fairfield family and Jodi wanted to help more Bethel kids. The Artists in Residence opportunity is doing just that for 2,500 students.


Leaving A Legacy

Children reading books

Fairfield kindergartners love the new books made possible through donations in the name of Wayne Watkins.

Wayne Watkins served as a Bethel School Board member for 32 years. He stepped down in 2011 but never left Bethel. Wayne and his wife Kathy continued to volunteer in the schools.

Sadly, Wayne passed away in January, but he continues to leave his mark in the district. It was requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to support literacy in Bethel schools.

The Bethel Education Foundation managed the funds and created opportunities for Bethel elementary teachers to purchase books for their classrooms. Today kids throughout the district are reading for pleasure, and on the inside cover of many of the books there is a small acknowledgment of the gift made possible by Wayne Watkins.

He would’ve liked that.


Sounds Of Victory

Students holding a trophy.

Willamette’s Jazz Band has earned a couple of first place finishes at competitive festivals this spring, including this one at Pleasant Hill.

It’s been an embarrassment of riches for Bethel music students.

The Shasta Session Choir took first at the Pleasant Hill Jazz Festival. The Shasta Jazz Band also claimed the first place trophy with Brody Gilbert recognized with the Outstanding Soloist Award. The Meadow View Band was right behind in second. Meadow View also took third at the NW Jazz Festival at Mt. Hood Community College.

Shasta’s band then went on the road and was first runner-up in the advanced division at the Bellevue Jazz Festival competing against huge arts magnet schools.

Willamette’s Jazz Band also won at Pleasant Hill as Ryan Helms was named the most outstanding musician of the entire festival.  WHS also finished first at Mt. Hood with Helms, Luke Turner, Sam Prentice and Hunter Wilson recognized with outstanding musicianship awards.

Next is the state championships. Watch out for WHS.


Harnessing The Wind

Kids in front of a fan.

Students tested their wind turbines in front of giant fans as part of the annual KidWind Challenge.

This was not going to be a breeze for the 25 teams of Bethel middle school students. The 6th annual KidWind Challenge is an engaging classroom science project – sponsored by EWEB – that ends with a district-wide competition.

Student teams worked for weeks to create the most efficient wind turbines by experimenting with their blade pitch, length, and shape to create the greatest amount of wind energy.

Then students had to answer questions from staff at the Eugene Water and Electric Board.

The team of Eli Brown, Jayden Owens and Evan Furrow from Shasta claimed first place following their question and answer session with EWEB representatives, when teams were able to show their knowledge about wind turbine design and renewable energy.

Many thanks to EWEB for its continued support of this popular program.


Oh, So Close

Students holding plates of food.

The last competitive culinary team for teacher Martha Humphreys finished 16th in the nation.

The kitchen got hot for the Willamette Culinary team with 46 schools from around the country cooking up a storm at the ProStart National Championships.

Willamette’s Culinary team had already won the Oregon state championship – for the second year in a row.

In Washington, D.C. for the national competition, the WHS team made some uncharacteristic miscues and still finished 16th in the country. That’s an indication of how close they were to taking the national title.

This was the last go-round for long time Culinary teacher Martha Humphreys. She’s stepping down as Willamette’s coach after many years in the kitchen and back-to-back appearances at Nationals. She leaves Wil-Hi’s competitive Culinary program as the one to beat in Oregon.


Immersed In Science

Kids sucking water with eye droppers.

Danebo students use eye droppers and get up close to look for critters in pond water as part of the EWEB Discovery Lab.

Using an eye dropper to suck up pond water? That is officially fun for second and third graders.

The EWEB Discovery Lab gives kids that opportunity to create their own ecosystem in a test tube by capturing pond water, tiny aquatic plants and water fleas.

The portable lab rotates among Bethel elementary schools. The grade 2/3 lab features a number of engaging stations for students to get hands-on learning through energy and water-related activities.

 Each year a different lab is available to our schools, courtesy of a generous EWEB grant.


Hard Work Rewarded

Students receiving a scholarship award.

In a scene that is getting familiar, WHS senior Lauren Hansen receives a scholarship, this time from the Kiwanis Club.

This is scholarship season and Willamette senior Lauren Hansen is in the thick of it.

She was one of the two winners of the 2019 Eugene Marathon Scholarship.

But, hold on. She’s also received scholarships from the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Bank, the Kiwanis Club, the Eugene Education Association, the Eugene Opry, and the Elks Club.

Lauren has been working for months submitting scholarship applications, but she’s spent years building her academic resume at Willamette.

After college she’ll end up back to school; Lauren wants to become a Special Education teacher.


Volunteers For Vets

Swarming the property in their red shirts, volunteers from Keller-Williams Realty and their business partners helped renovate a home for returning veterans.

There was a sea of red at the Veterans Housing Project home across the street from Willamette High School.

Close to 100 volunteers from Keller-Williams Realty and their business partners turned out for the RED (Renew Energize Donate) Day of Service.

They tackled the landscaping, replaced the roof over the garage, gutted the bathroom for renovation, built a deck, renovated the kitchen, an even completed some electrical work.

The house is across the street from Willamette High School and is owned by Bethel School District for possible future growth. For now it will be used by the Veterans Housing Project, providing affordable housing for a returning military veteran.


The Gift Of Literacy

People around a table with books.

Having providing the funds to purchase books for every incoming Bethel kindergartner, members of the Eugene Airport Rotary Club add a sticker to each book.

Every year all of Bethel’s incoming kindergarten students is given a new book, and each year a donation from the Eugene Airport Rotary Club helps to make it possible.

Rotary members add a sticker to each book to mark their support of the Gift of Literacy.

Students who are now in high school received a book when they entered kindergarten, courtesy of the Rotary.

And the club’s support of Bethel students continues to grow. They are about to distribute nearly $110,000 in scholarships to 79 local students, many of whom are Willamette and Kalapuya seniors or recent grads.


Catching The WanderBUS

Students stading around a semi-truck.

Willamette students gathered around the WanderBUS, a German traveling exhibit touring the nation. The Willamette visit was its only stop in Oregon.

A traveling exhibit packed into a semi-trailer brought a bit of Germany to Bethel.

The WanderBUS pulled into the Willamette High School parking lot and expanded into an exhibition hall, welcoming students to learn about Germany in a fun and interactive way.

It’s part of a special program organized by Germany’s cultural institute, the Goethe Institute, and the German Embassy in the U.S.

The bus is in its third month of a nationwide tour of high schools and universities, and the Willamette visit was its only stop in Oregon.


Earth Day Artists

Kids holding certificates

Prairie Mountain students were recognized for their art work in the annual Earth Day poster contest.

Five Prairie Mountain 5th graders were award winners for the annual Earth Day Poster contest again this year. 

Vanessa Contreras, Alisa Lawler, Charlotte Brooks, Evan Miranda and Zach Sanders were recognized at the award ceremony and gallery viewing at the downtown Eugene public library. The community was able to see the posters and congratulate the students.

The contest was sponsored by, an organization dedicated to helping raise awareness around climate change.

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