Kids these days are eager to learn with technology. Watch as Fairfield Elementary School 1st grade teacher Talor Kirk uses Chromebooks every day for engaging and fun learning. It makes all of us look forward to school starting again in September.
OK, this one was…um…different.
Jill Robinson-Wolgamott, the principal at Prairie Mountain School got some double-takes when she first mentioned a Dirty Dash for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. It turns out their PTO fundraiser was a huge mess, and a big success.
Lessons From The Deep End
Here’s a fun, engaging, and rewarding way to keep middle school students interested in Science until the final days of the school year. Shasta Middle School’s annual Cardboard Boat Races is a tradition that kids have anticipated for 19 years.
A decades-old tradition continues at Willamette High School.
The top academic achieving students have been recognized for their all-around high marks on the SAT or ACT, their GPA, and for completing all the state essential skills for graduation.
The 32nd annual Willamette Scholars Award was presented to 23 seniors at a special dinner in their honor.
Many of them have accepted full scholarships to college where they will study music, engineering, physics, chemistry, agriculture, business, special education and more.
Some will also be playing in their school band, or competing in basketball, volleyball, or soccer.
They Have The Beat
Stacie Wicks is tying music to technology because tech is a language students love.
Fairfield’s music teacher has picked up another grant worth nearly $5,000 to continue expanding technology in her music class.
Grant funds from CenturyLink, combined with three other grants (and $1,000 out of her own pocket,) has allowed Wicks to amass 20 iPads. They’re set up with programs for note naming, rhythm recognition, and music composition like beat boxing.
Students just finished learning about drums and sounds to mix and record their own beat boxing creations on the iPads.
It’s a departure from traditional music education, but Wicks is convinced that technology is the way to reach kids, even in music.
Everyone loves a happy ending.
A dozen Willamette students were identified as sophomores as a group of students with academic potential, but with financial obstacles to college.
Two years later, they have now graduated with $6,000 scholarships, courtesy of ECMC, the Educational Credit Management Corporation program.
It was no cakewalk to the scholarships. ECMC students had to maintain their academics, perform community service, attend monthly meetings, connect with mentors, take entrance exams, plan school visits, and get accepted to a college or trade school.
Many of Willamette’s ECMC Scholarship recipients will be the first from their families to seek post-high school education. It’s their happy ending at Willamette, while another group of sophomores has just been identified to continue the story.
A couple of teachers shared some ideas, and their students are the better for it.
John Kreider walked his Willamette Senior Creative Writing students to Malabon Elementary to work with Johnny Deflaminis’ 4th graders.
The seniors were challenged to explain writing at a 4th grade level, which is trickier than they expected because it tested their own understanding of the content.
The fourth graders were challenged by having to defend their written narrative choices in a one-on-one setting.
Their two meetings became more than writing tips. The WHS students were empowered by learning they can play a bigger role in our community than they may have realized. The 4th graders were eager to learn from their older peers and show what they have learned.
The foundation has now been established for similar connections next school year.
Meeting The Solar Challenge
More than 70 teams came and went, and in the end a group of three Meadow View 8th graders remained on top.
The 22nd annual Solar Challenge welcomed 8th grade teams from schools throughout Lane County. Each of them had built solar powered electric cars out of EWEB kits.
The culmination of the classroom science project had kids racing their cars and designing concept cars.
Makayla Gordon, Taylor Marks and Sarah Nyguen’s car was the fastest time and again, earning the Meadow View girls the first place finish.
Another Meadow View team took second in the Design competition, a Cascade team finished third, and a Shasta team was third in the Art Concept Car category.
Walking The Grad Walk
Everyone agrees this is special. What else can get teachers and grads welling up with tears of joy?
For the 4th consecutive year, seniors from Willamette and Kalapuya High Schools caravanned to each of Bethel’s other 9 schools.
Marching through the halls in their caps and gowns, the students on the Bethel Grad Walk greeted former teachers and accepted congratulations from future grads.
The Fairy Fund
Malabon’s youngest students were there to show thanks.
Kindergartners and first graders visited the SongBrook retirement community whose residents have been supporting the school.
The retirees continue to feed the Ginny Iverson Fairy Fund, named for a former longtime Malabon teacher.
The fund is used to purchase necessities, like shoes for Malabon children in need.
As a show of appreciation to Iverson and her SongBrook neighbors, Malabon students sang songs and were generally being incredibly adorable, which was thanks enough.
Sketching A Message
Kira Morrison likes to draw, but she never dreamed her art would get this kind of exposure.
The Shasta 8th grader entered a sketch into a contest, almost on a whim, and now it’s been selected for a calendar that will be distributed statewide.
The Oregon Health Authority’s Problem Gambling Awareness calendar uses student art on each page.
To her delight, Kira’s drawing was chosen for the calendar.
She received an award from the Health Authority, a $25 award, and the knowledge that thousands of calendars carrying important messages will also feature her creation.
As the school year came to a close, this school garden really began to bloom.
Malabon Elementary’s garden became an outdoor classroom for students this spring.
Working with the School Garden Project, some Malabon kids were able to blend science instruction with the hands-on process of growing food and flowers.
Their school garden now features artichokes, beats, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, garlic, sunflowers, blue and Marion berries, pumpkin, watermelon, zucchini, lettuce, radishes and celery.
Teacher Johnny Deflaminis has been particularly active, installing the irrigation and spending many hours of his own time developing this special space as a sunny classroom for Malabon kids.
(Chrome) Book Builders
Community support is incredibly important for students’ academic success. Support came to Meadow View – Bethel’s second largest school – in the form of a $3,000 check.
Insurance agent and Bethel parent Mike Tingue got a matching grant from State Farm Insurance. Combined with PTO funds, the donation will help build the school’s supply of Chromebooks. The small laptops are used throughout the school and now Meadow View will have six carts of Chromebooks.
They are used for a number of purposes (see this month’s first B-mail story) including science, reading, and research.
It has been an identified goal by the school for three years to build its supply of Chromebooks, making technology more available to its students.
The list keeps growing. 641 students have received more than $780,000 in scholarship money from the Eugene Airport Rotary over the last two decades.
Another seven Bethel seniors happily joined that list, accepting $2,000 scholarships. Eight more former winners from Willamette returned for college renewal scholarships.
The Airport Rotary supports students from the north and west areas of Eugene and the surrounding communities. They are all happy to see Rotary continuing its tradition and adding to the list each year.
Now THIS Is News
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.
Days Of Discovery
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 350.org, an organization dedicated to helping raise awareness around climate change.
Supporting Our Supporters
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.
Advocating From The Heart
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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.
Snow Day Make-Up
We’re pretty sure there won’t be another snowmageddon, so here’s the draft plan for making up lost school days (the School Board makes the change official on April 8.)
The last day for students was supposed to be Thursday, June 13, a half day. Now students’ last day will be Tuesday, June 18th and it will also be a half day. Willamette’s graduation will remain June 7th.
Because Bethel doesn’t have many teacher inservice/No School days throughout the year, we are still above the state requirements for instructional hours, despite the snow. And, during many of our years where we have had to reduce school days because of budget cuts, our district was still above the state requirement for instructional hours.
We understand that the three additional days may conflict with some prearranged family plans. But, in the long run, providing learning time for students is a good thing. Please check in with your child’s school to determine any changes to end-of-the-year activities.
Serving Up A Winner
She is going out as a champion. Martha Humphreys, Willamette’s long-time Culinary teacher, is stepping down as coach after decades leading the competitive program.
She’s leaving with back to back state Culinary championships, and her fourth overall.
The team of Logan Weller, Samantha Thompson, Makayla Schweitzer and Shane Wilder won the state title by whipping up this meal in less than one hour. They could only use two butane burners and no electric kitchen utensils.
After months of practicing making the meal, the Willamette team nailed it when it counted the most.
Now they travel to Washington, D.C. in May for the national competition, where Willamette finished 6th last year. It’s the final go-round for Humphreys, and the taste of victory never gets old.
Uh Oh…Calls From The Office
There were tears of joy, expressions of delight, and many, many thanks. Phone calls like this are powerful.
Meadow View School marked the first 100 days of school with 100 positive phone calls home. Principal Erika Case and Assistant Principal Carmen Adler asked Meadow View teachers to nominate students and share some thoughts on their kids.
It was all about acknowledging students showing growth, kindness, participation, diligence, creativity, innovation, perseverance, and stepping out of their comfort zone.
The administrators were often in tears sharing the comments with parents, who were also in tears hearing this unexpected good news. For some parents, their only previous calls from the school had been bad news.
Understandably, there are already ideas about expanding the phone call idea at Meadow View, and at other Bethel schools.
They are regular kids who love to sing. The Session Choir from Shasta Middle School sang better than all the rest in winning first place at the Clackamas Jazz Festival.
Shasta has competed at the Festival for a dozen years, always receiving high marks; but this was their first victory at Clackamas.
In addition, a pair of Shasta 8th graders received special recognition. Hannah Ford received the Top Soloist Award and Rylie Campbell received a Special Recognition Award for her solo.
The choir will return to the Portland area in May when they bring gifts, toys and music to pediatric cancer patients at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
Bringing Home Hardware
It had been 33 years since Willamette was one of the elite eight teams playing in the state boys basketball tournament.
This year was different. Led by coach Chad Carpenter, the Wolverines finished second in the very tough Midwestern League. Then they dominated in two playoff wins to reach the 5A tournament at Oregon State University’s Gill Coliseum.
Playing three games in three days, the Wolverines came away with a 5th place trophy.
It’s an accomplishment that has eluded Wolverine players for decades. Due to the groundwork laid this season, a return trip to the tournament should come sooner than another 33 years.
Battle Of The Books
A love of reading brings them all together. The challenge of competition makes it even more fun.
The annual Oregon Battle of the Books – OBOB – culminates months of reading for Bethel students.
Teams of four (and sometimes an alternate) read 16 designated books and try to recall the most minute details in the stories.
In OBOB, they are questioned about those details in a quiz show format and it is always impressive how much the kids remember.
Hundreds of students throughout the district battled for the right to represent their schools at the regional competition.
Even those teams which saw their OBOB season end in the county-wide competition were happy to be around fellow book lovers. And most are already reading the 16 designated books for next year’s OBOB.
Brush For School Success
Can this be true? Kids excited to brush their teeth?
In all, 20,000 kindergarten through third grade students throughout Bethel and Lane County received the kits that include a bag, floss, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a timer so kids know how long to brush.
The effort is all about keeping kids healthy and in school.
Children with oral health problems are more likely to be absent from school and to struggle with academic performance.
Supporting good oral habits is also helping children with success in school.
The Pageant With A Purpose
She’s headed to the Air Force Academy but Elise Freese might have been floating on air after winning Willamette’s Wolverine Pageant.
With a message of Not All Heroes Wear Capes, the 26th annual pageant included skits, costumes, testimonials and interviews.
The crowning of Freese culminated months of fund raising and rehearsing, and then more fundraising. The contestants – three boys and six girls – brought in more than $20,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.
The money is intended for the neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric ward at PeaceHealth’s Riverbend hospital. The cause is why the Wolverine Pageant has lasted this long.
Completing The Connection
CTE – Career Technical Education – is alive and well with Bethel’s 8th graders. They are now starting the third trimester of after-school offerings of Robotics, Culinary, and Digital Design courses.
Their classes are directly linked to similar but more advanced courses at Willamette High School.
To confirm that connection, 8th graders finishing their Digital Design course at Prairie Mountain visited the Advanced Digital Design class at Willamette.
8th graders got to see the state of the art computers, learn about the advanced students’ work, and ask questions of their older peers.
The enthusiasm and excitement is likely to carry over to when the middle schoolers walk through the doors as Willamette students in a few more months.
A Lift Up From Down Under
They come back every three years. High school students from the Ringwood Secondary College in Melbourne, Australia, spent three days in Bethel, staying with Bethel families and performing on stage for Willamette students.
It’s the start of their performing arts world tour. In six weeks, the 30 students travel from Willamette to Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, the Czech Republic, Singapore, and Indonesia.
The visitors shadowed students at Willamette for two days before hopping a flight to Toronto.
The Willamette connection came through a common connection at the University of Oregon, then one thing led to another. Look for another visit from our friends in three years.
Join The Party
Free books and free pizza add up to free fun. That was the idea behind Danebo’s Family Fun Reading Night.
After the feast (thanks to Papa’s Pizza,) kids and parents moved throughout the school, experiencing the different reading activities in each classroom such as having their pictures taken with fun reading-related props and story-time inside a makeshift tent,
A similar event was taking place at Irving’s Family Literacy Night Camp-In.
It included campfire songs, a tented reading area, bookmark making, literacy games, and a free camp-style dinner.
Children, parents, and reading. It’s a combination worth promoting.
Where ESSA Meets The Road
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden has been in the middle of the Washington, D.C. discussions about a Green New Deal, the government shutdown, the Russia investigation, the farming of hemp, and actions by the Saudi Arabian government.
Education funding and graduation rates are what brought him to Kalapuya High School.
Wyden is on the Senate committee that rewrote ESSA – the Every Student Succeeds Act, formerly No Child Left Behind. ESSA includes funds for schools like Kalapuya which are trying to improve graduation rates.
The Senator heard that students come to KHS lacking the credits needed to graduate. Kalapuya offers numerous creative, meaningful and rewarding opportunities to regain high school credit so dedicated students can earn a diploma.
Wyden talked with a small group of students before taking questions from the entire student body. KHS was grateful for his visit, but more appreciative that he listened.
More Promises Made…And Kept
The funds from Bethel’s 2012 Bond measure are nearly gone. Careful spending has made it last this long.
Among the most visible final bond projects is the new seating in Willamette’s Powers Auditorium. Some of the seats are uniquely-sized and need special orders, but most of the seats have been replaced.
Bethel’s no-frills approach has given the district a lot of bang for the buck. It’s allowed some wish-list projects to be realized, including replacement lockers in the WHS girls locker room, restroom improvements, playground repairs, updated window shades, and HVAC controls.
Being frugal with taxpayer dollars, investing in facilities and security, and providing tools for student success; Bethel made promises to voters and those promises are still being kept.
Why did the students cross the road? No joke. They did it to practice the pedestrian safety lessons they’ve been learning in class.
Prairie Mountain second graders held hands as they crossed Terry Street in pairs, under the watchful eyes of their classroom teachers and instructors from the Eugene River House Outdoor Center.
Pedestrian safety includes safe walking, crossing streets and intersections, and the importance of road awareness.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young children, and 20% of these fatalities are child pedestrians.
The pedestrian safety course is taking place in second grade at all Bethel elementary schools.
The Path To Graduation
Success in high school starts in kindergarten, but it gets very real in 8th grade.
That’s why Willamette High School staff visited Bethel 8th graders and their parents during On The Path to Graduation nights.
The hour-long presentations spelled out what is waiting for future Wolverines at WHS, and how to find academic success.
Willamette is already increasing access to its popular CTE (Career Technical Education) courses, providing more counseling and mental health supports, and is implementing AVID, Wolverine 101 and Sources of Strength to prepare students for success.
By connecting with 8th grade students and parents, Willamette is laying the groundwork so that high school will be meaningful, engaging, exciting, relevant, and a little less scary for all students.
A Worthy Cause
Out of the goodness of their hearts, members of the Eugene Airport Rotary Club raise funds all year to help worthy causes, especially projects that benefit children.
That brought them to Cascade Middle School, where music teacher Christina Boorman accepted a $1,000 check from the Airport Rotary.
It will be used to provide sheet music for students and repair instruments.
Not that Cascade expects this gift, but the Rotary Club has made similar donations to the music program every year for more than a decade. Just out of the goodness of their hearts.
Re-purposing Old Junk
They arrived with cars and trucks loaded with unused, unneeded and unwanted items.
The community’s recyclables were then given new life through Willamette’s 10th annual Recycling Round-up.
National Honor Society students – under the direction of teacher David Novak – collected huge boxes full of computers, monitors, printers, phones, cardboard, appliances, toys, clothing, and miscellaneous items that had been collecting dust.
St. Vincent de Paul and NextStep Recycling hauled away the recyclable items and will find new use for them or recycle them properly and avoid the landfill.
All Together Now
Hundreds of Bethel band students had the chance to size each other up and show how well they can play, before joining forces as one giant band.
The annual Bethel Band Festival brought together the district’s middle school musicians with the Willamette High School band.
Each school received individual feedback from Joe Ingram, the guest conductor and a legend of sorts in Bethel. For years, Joe lifted the Shasta band program to new heights, where it still stands today.
Then the schools combined forces on a series of songs.
It’s a special annual opportunity, and it’s the music that brings them together.
Feeding The Farm
The Bethel Farm keeps growing. More than 160 trees and shrubs – valued at more than $1600 – have been donated to The Farm.
The native trees and shrubs will form a hedgerow on The Farm to create habitat for pollinators, an opportunity for education with Bethel students who visit The Farm, and assistance to the fruiting plants on The Farm.
Cynthia Lafferty from Doak Creek Nursery in Lorane has gifted The Farm with plants in the past.
This latest donation includes Blue Elderberry, Rose, Red Twig Dogwood, Douglas Spirea, Pacific Ninebark, Serviceberry, Twinberry, Oceanspray, Ponderosa Pine, Oregon Grape, Cascara and Alder.
Thanks to Doak Creek the Bethel Farm will become even more welcoming to critters and kids.
Celebrating Their Community
It’s one of their favorite events of the school year. Buddy Day at Meadow View is a great way to bring the school’s K-8 community together with students in the upper grades partnering with the elementary classes.
The latest opportunity to match older students with younger children focused on the values of kindness and friendship through the theme of school unity. Students worked together to create messages of kindness that were turned into tree leaves for their large paws-i-tiv-i-tree.
The collective art project was a fun and meaningful sign of the unity at Meadow View, from K through 8.
We know our systems work. It’s been proven that students who are trained will follow teachers’ directions in the event of an emergency.
That’s why another round of ALICE safety training has recently been provided to more Bethel staff.
Nearly every Bethel employee has taken the ALICE training.
The district is committed to safety; schools are continuing to practice lockdowns so everyone is familiar with the procedures. Our age-appropriate safety training videos have helped.
But it would be fine if we never again have to put all this training to use.
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.