Election Day is nearly a year away, and here’s why that’s important now.
Members of Bethel School District’s Long Range Facilities Planning Committee are busy studying enrollment trends, the district’s facilities needs, and school bond options. They’ll come up with a recommendation on whether the district should consider asking voters to approve a school bond measure next November.
A series of meetings started in October and will conclude in April. The committee will make a proposal to help me determine what to bring to the School Board.
Bethel last passed a bond in 2012 with a 73% Yes vote. It resulted in two new elementary schools, the science wing at Willamette High School, improved safety and security, updated textbooks and technology, and a whole lot more. See the list of bond projects here.
I’ll keep you in the loop as our committee completes its task.
The Prize Patrol
Giving away more than $22,000 is an incredible experience.
The Bethel Education Foundation’s 10th annual grant award parade surprised 33 grateful, tearful, and cheering teachers. There was at least one grant award winner at each Bethel school.
The 2019 grants will fund requests such as graphic novels, weighted vests, gardening equipment, yearbook cameras, Ozobots, music programs, and cooking materials.
Stop the Bleed
Someone could faint. It was a warning shared at the beginning of the Stop the Bleed training for educators at Malabon Elementary.
According to Homeland Security, Stop the Bleed is intended to cultivate grassroots efforts that encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.
Eugene-Springfield firefighter Nathan Kunasek led Malabon staff through training on the use of tourniquets and bandages, how to pack a deep wound with gauze, and how strategically placed body weight can help control a bleed.
It’s hoped the kits will never be needed.
Life has come full-circle for retired Marine Corps veteran, Bradley Stenson. The Willamette grad has returned to the neighborhood, living right next to Wil-Hi.
Stenson is the latest resident in the Veterans Housing Project, a program that provides affordable housing for military veterans.
Bethel School District owns four of the 11 houses in the Project. They’re across the street from Willamette and have been purchased over the years with the idea of possible future expansion at Wil-Hi. The Veterans Housing Project renovates the homes and St. Vincent de Paul manages the program.
It’s a win for the district as it plans for long-range needs. 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 certainly a win for Bradley, who is grateful for an affordable place to live in a neighborhood filled with memories.
Wild Wild Weather
The wonder of weather captivated Danebo students. An OMSI assembly had kids oohing and aahing about the science behind changes in our weather.
They learned how warm air rises and what happens when it meets cold air (clouds and rain.)
Kids discovered how static electricity is similar to lightning.
And, they saw that when cold and warm water meet, they mimic cold fronts and warm fronts.
The decision to bring the OMSI weather assembly to Danebo was made by the school’s Curriculum Committee. Judging by the kids’ reactions, that decision was a winner.
Master Chef Showdown
Parents, you may not believe this. These kids not only washed the dishes, they created the dishes.
The Master Chef Showdown culminated the 8th grade after-school Culinary course at Meadow View School.
Nine teams of students had to use techniques they’ve learned in class: frying, boiling, searing, etc. They were also judged on flavor, recipe coherence, and presentation.
Broccoli was a required main ingredient as students created dishes from scratch. One team even made their own pasta during the competition.
Among the dishes were a seared Ribeye salad with sesame stir-fried sauce and fries, an omelet with crunchy bacon bits, a fresh slaw with roasted lemon broccoli, rice and beef, and lemon chicken soup.
Ticket To Ride
They lined up for this freebie. More than 600 Willamette students have received a free bus pass, allowing them to ride any Lane Transit District bus at no charge. 50% of the students at Kalapuya High School also signed up.
Bethel’s high school students have become early-adopters of the TouchPass system. LTD is just now rolling out the program after receiving funding from the state, and Willamette and Kalapuya students are the first in Lane County to access the system.
Most of the students chose a card, while some downloaded an app on their phones and then had the school activate the free feature.
Students at WHS and KHS can still get the free TouchPass card or phone app by visiting their school’s front office, and soon Bethel will be rolling out this opportunity to middle school students.
The Tribes of Oregon
This was a combined History, Art, and Culture lesson.
5th graders at Meadow View researched the nine federally recognized Tribes of Oregon. It’s part of the state’s updated curriculum, which makes perfect sense; how can we study the state’s history without including Native Americans?
The research led to students recreating the tribes’ adopted flags. The 5th graders’ pride in their new knowledge is evident in the flags, which are now displayed in the school’s front office.
126 lives saved. That’s how Bloodworks Northwest calculates it.
Willamette High School students donated 42 units in the first blood drive of the school year. Each unit donated is divided into three componets: red cells, platelets, and plasma, which can help three different patients.
72 students registered, with 42 able to give blood. Teenagers are often deferred due to a low Iron count or a low pulse.
The Willamette blood drive came at an important time. This is a high-demand season for blood in our area due to surgeries and more people injured in traffic accidents.
WHS students will get another chance to save lives when Bloodworks returns in February.
For The Health Of It
Keeping children healthy and ready to learn. That’s the goal of Bethel’s yearly Health Screenings.
Each fall, all elementary grade students have their vision checked and their teeth examined.
Bethel nurses are helped by dental hygienists and assistants from the Community Health Centers of Lane County. If they spot a dental problem, White Bird Dental Clinic follows up with parents and offers free dental services twice a month at the Bethel Health Center.
And the Bethel Lions Club shows up in force each year, using a Spot Vision Screener that can detect eye issues like near or farsightedness and blurred vision.
So, while the flu is making its rounds, Bethel nurses are looking out for other preventative measures to help kids stay healthy and in school.
This is a real reason to celebrate.
Pilas, an English language literacy program run by Downtown Languages, has recognized all the adults who completed its fall term.
Parents learning English have been coming to Fairfield Elementary two nights a week for 10 weeks. While the adults attend class, their school-aged children have their own English class, and the youngest children take part in Kindergarten-prep activities.
The benefits of the grant-funded Pilas program is clear: The youngest children are preparing for a more successful introduction to kindergarten; students are gaining language skills which helps them in school and socially; and parents’ improved language skills help them economically and they become more involved and engaged in their children’s school.
Pilas will resume in the Spring, continuing the successful partnership with Fairfield and the District.
Lending A Hand
Hunger is a persistent problem, but Bethel students are unfazed.
Willamette High School Leadership students collected thousands of items and stocked the school’s food pantry. Kids in the Sources of Strength class at Meadow View led a campaign, and in a matter of weeks they hauled in 6,000 pounds of food. All of it – and $50 gift cards – went to families in-need. (See video below.)
Irving and Clear Lake also conducted food drives. Malabon students collected products to support families experiencing homelessness. The Shasta Shines project saw students purchase $3,000 in items for Bethel families in need. Giving stores were set up at Fairfield, Cascade and Malabon.
In their own way, each Bethel school has reached out to support the community that has always supported them.
Give And Take
A face-to-face meeting can be powerful and productive. It’s what makes Parent-Teacher Conferences so valuable.
Parents get a chance to hear about their child’s strengths in school, their relationships with adults and other students, any behavior concerns, the special services that are available, and any number of other topics.
It’s also an opportunity for teachers to learn more about their students and families.
Conferences have proven to be a time when parents can reset expectations and become more involved in their child’s education. The goal is to have everyone working together for the child’s successful school experience.
The quality of their work is impressive. A group of Willamette High School students in the Design and Manufacturing class has been building teacher classroom desks.
The desks were designed by senior Tanner Adams and are being built with wood that, before it was donated to the program, was about to be thrown out.
Students are using table saws, band saws, pocket cutters, an in-line boring machine, routers, sanders, pin nailers and screw guns.
It’s the kind of hands-on learning and knowledge that can last a lifetime.
Easing The Tax Burden
Taxpayers, here’s some great news. Bethel School District is saving residents nearly $2 million in taxes by refinancing its bonds.
These are the bonds that were used to build Malabon and Fairfield elementary schools, and Willamette’s Science building.
Similar to restructuring the mortgage on a home, refinancing at lower interest rates means the bonds can be paid off quicker and pay less on interest over the long-term.
Bethel School District has a history of seeking to reduce the tax burden on its residents. Similar restructuring saved Bethel taxpayers $1.5 million in 2011 and $780,000 in 2016.
The current school tax rate for Bethel residents is about 40% lower than what it was 10 years ago.
Bethel has a well-earned reputation for being good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and this refinancing is yet another example of that commitment.
It’s About (More Than) The Shoes
A routine sports physical led to a diagnosis of Hodgkin‘s lymphoma. Willamette freshman has been receiving treatment at Doernbecher Hospital in Portland.
That’s how Zion was selected to take part in the annual Doernbecher Freestyle program. Six young patients teamed up with Nike staff to design special edition shoes as a fundraiser for Doernbecher.
The shoe design program is wildly popular with shoe collectors. The first pair of Zion’s shoes was signed by basketball legend Michael Jordan and sold for $23,000.
The Freestyle program has been a thrilling and uplifting opportunity for Zion and the other Doernbecher patient designers.
There’s nothing quite like being there. Bethel 6th graders have been traveling to the coast range to experience Salmon Watch.
Kids take their classroom studies into the wild, learning more about watershed ecology at Whittaker Creek in this annual field trip.
Here’s a glimpse at Meadow View students, among the first to take the Salmon Watch trip this fall.
The Chicken Project
The eggs came before the chickens in the Kalapuya Chicken Project.
Kalapuya High School students are raising a variety of chickens for the Bethel Farm next door.
They invited second graders from Prairie Mountain School to walk over and watch the hatching. Now the project has Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, Delaware, and Wyandotte varieties of chickens.
They will be self-sustaining. Eggs can be used in Kalapuya cooking classes, while the chickens will provide manure and natural pest control at the Farm.
Finally, any leftover eggs will be available for the weekly Bethel Free Farmers Market at the Farm.
Best Of The Best
It’s almost embarrassing. Willamette’s Jazz Band will not only be represented on the All-State Jazz Band, they’ll dominate it.
Seven WHS musicians have been chosen for the All-State Honor Bands, six of them for the Jazz Band.
Sophomores Caleb Davis and Jay Veach, juniors Christian Ruiz Martinez and Luke Turner, and seniors
Eric Deaton and Sam Prentice make up one third of the All-State Jazz Band.
They’ll play at the Oregon Music Education Association Conference in Eugene in January.
Junior Jacob Stevenson was selected to the State Symphonic Band and was also invited to play in the Western Invitational Band Clinic Honor Band in Seattle.
Band On The Rise
Not to be outdone by the Willamette Jazz Band, the Meadow View Jazz Band has been coming on strong.
They were invited to play at the Oregon School Boards Association state convention in Portland, where they received a standing ovation from hundreds of school board members and administrators.
Meadow View’s band has been making a name for itself in recent months. They finished third at the NW Jazz Festival at Mt. Hood Community College in May, they performed at the Bethel Education Foundation fundraising breakfast last month, and they’ve also been asked to play at the Oregon Music Education Association state convention in Eugene in January.
We hear you, Meadow View!
The 1Million Project
Nearly 80 new cell phones are in the hands of Bethel high school students, free, courtesy of the 1Million Project.
The idea behind the 1Million Project non-profit organization is that free, mobile, high-speed connectivity is a powerful teaching and learning resource.
Students with limited or no internet access at home are provided a free Samsung phone, 10GB/month of free high-speed wireless data, free hotspot capability on the phone, unlimited domestic calls and unlimited texts, and free care and tech support.
The phone and data are theirs for as long as they are enrolled in Willamette or Kalapuya high schools.
Eligible students were identified through a school-wide survey. Those who believe they might qualify for a 1Million Project phone should contact their high school counselor.
Providing A Lift
This is the kind of surprise teachers and students can get behind.
Kalapuya High School received two grants from Northwest Community Credit Union’s Project Community.
Naz Zydycryn was surprised with a giant check for $1,100. His Hot Sauce Club (students make hot sauce from peppers grown at the Bethel Farm) is looking to help students sell their sauce as real business start-ups.
Rich Dambrov received $1,450 to purchase new bee keeping suits, including gear for young students to wear during their field trips to the honey bee hives at the Farm.
Out of 370 submissions for Project Community grants, there are just 68 winners, and Kalapuya’s are the only ones awarded in Bethel.
Teriyaki Chicken and Rice and Oregon Gourmet Grilled Cheese topped the menu on Oregon Harvest Day.
For the 7th consecutive year, all the school lunches throughout the district on Oregon Harvest Day consisted solely of products from Oregon farmers, dairies, growers, mills, vineyards, and our own Bethel Farm.
Oregon Harvest Day is an annual opportunity for Bethel’s Nutrition Services department to highlight the abundance of fresh, healthy, tasty and locally grown foods typically served in our school meals.
According to Kindergarten teacher Briony Mcfarland, the kids’ reviews of the lunch included, “The grilled cheese sandwich was yummy,” “I liked the chicken and rice,” and “I tried the (roasted red) beets and I kind of liked them and kind of didn’t.”
Barker Book Giveaway
As a local author of children’s books, Maryl Barker has long been interested in engaging stories for young readers.
Now, she’s putting her books in students’ hands…for free.
Barker is donating a set of three books and an accompanying CD to each Bethel first grader. The Gracie’s Great Adventures series of stories have special meaning to Barker. Gracie was her dog and the subject of the stories that she read to children during classroom visits.
These days during classroom visits Barker brings her dog Max, who is the subject of her newest book.
Strengthening The Supporters’ Supports
This has become a powerful program in our high schools and middle schools.
Sources of Strength is a suicide prevention program that uses peer support to redirect thinking, particularly among young people.
A refresher course of SoS adult advisor training has taken place in Bethel, which adopted the program last year, starting with middle and high school staff and high school students.
Sources has since been introduced in all Bethel middle school grades. A curriculum is now being developed for the elementary level.
By increasing awareness, building skills, and openly addressing the issue of suicide, the district’s goal is to provide hope and strength for those who are facing personal challenges.
A Check Run
The big check is appropriate for the large donation.
The BEF was founded in 2009 by a group of active and dedicated parents for the purpose of enhancing the educational experience of Bethel students.
It has invested more than $160,000 in Bethel schools by backing projects and supplying classroom grants.
That’s something SELCO can support.
Beyond Their Differences
Meadow View middle schoolers got out of their comfort zone.
As part of a Beyond Differences activity, 5th through 8th graders sat at lunch with fellow students they didn’t know so well. Kids in the Sources of Strength student group facilitated table conversations in the culminating event to Bully Awareness Month.
The goal is to help end social isolation by empowering students to become activists, enabling them to change the sometimes cruel culture of middle school.
The positive focus at Meadow View is primarily on prevention rather than intervention. Students are learning that they have the power to initiate change, beginning with how they treat each other at school and online.
The lunchtime Know Your Classmates activity was the first of three initiatives planned at Meadow View this school year.
Skill Builders: A Bold Move
We’re breaking new ground for the benefit of children. That’s why Sarah Doty is the new face at Fairfield Elementary, part of a pilot program embedding Skill Builders in each Bethel elementary school.
Sarah and the other Skill Builders could literally change the trajectory of children’s lives.
A Skill Builder is a Qualified Mental Health Associate trained by Direction Service to work one on one with children. They help students de-escalate and teach the skills kids need to better regulate their emotions.
Skill Builders also hope to connect families to wrap-around support services outside of schools.
This is in response to the increase in escalated emotions among students the last few years, particularly among our youngest children.
There’s anecdotal evidence that Skill Builders are already making a difference in the lives of our students. I’ll keep you posted.
One On One
Nancy Read wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. Now retired, she heard about the new Middle School Mentor Program starting in Bethel and knew this was how she could make a positive impact in the community.
It’s a pilot mentor program at Shasta and Cascade middle schools that pairs dedicated volunteers with middle school students who would appreciate talking with a trusted adult.
The mentoring is designed to facilitate one-on-one conversations during lunch, once a week. The intent is to improve socialization skills, self-esteem, attendance, and students’ outlook on life.
Nancy Read is among the mentors happy to have discovered this program. You can have the same opportunity; to request an application to the program or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cooking With A Pro
Her resume is pretty amazing.
Susana Sharp has been an Executive Sous-Chef in charge of a $3 million budget and has led kitchens around the world in luxury hotels and Michelin star restaurants. With a Masters degree in Contemporary Fine Dining, she’s studied in Spain, Dominican Republic, and Hong Kong.
But, to Meadow View’s 8th graders she is simply Ms. Sharp.
Susana and co-teacher Lee Ann Erickson are leading Meadow View’s after school Culinary class twice a week. It’s part of Bethel’s 8th grade CTE (Career Technical Education) program that also includes Digital Design and Robotics.
Students have already made Thai Curry Soup with Shrimp; Crab, Pork and Veggie Wontons; And Chicken Alfredo and Pasta Primavera. At the end of the course there will be a Master Chef Showdown where kids use a mystery ingredient and come up with their own recipe based on what they’ve learned.
All the 8th grade after school courses in Bethel lead into similar CTE programs at Willamette High School, but Meadow View 8th graders would be advised to soak up all they can from Ms. Sharp.
Knowing The Code
It’s a six week crash course that has grabbed kids’ attention.
The Coder in Residence program underway at Malabon Elementary matches a female computer professional from the workplace with 4th and 5th grade teachers to lead a hands-on robotics and computer programming curriculum.
Using Lego Mindstorm robots, the program promotes problem solving, collaboration, and effective communication while building students’ computer science skills and comfort working on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) projects.
The combination of computers, robots and elementary students has become a winner. The program, offered by the Lane Education Service District, has already been in more than 50 classrooms throughout the county, including classes at Prairie Mountain and Fairfield.
A Trip To Remember
Kids climbed into bee suits or harvested corn kernels and popped them moments later. It was clear this field trip was something different.
The field trips to the Bethel Farm are hands-on opportunities to learn, discover, delight and amaze.
Each Bethel elementary school’s 3rd or 4th graders are coming to the Farm this fall or next spring.
The Bethel Farm is a valuable source of healthy fruits and vegetables for Bethel school meals.
And, when children get a close up look at a live honey bee hive or press fresh apples for cider, the Farm transitions from a production garden to an effective outdoor classroom.
Sit Down With The Senator
It’s a chance not many people ever have; a meeting with a U.S. Senator to problem-solve a current national issue: the rise in vaping among young people.
Nate Tena from Kalapuya brought a personal perspective to the student round table meeting with Senator Ron Wyden. As a former smoker, Nate knows how easy it is to start and what it takes to quit.
Students, including Willamette’s Megan McCoy and Ethan Hand, gave Senator Wyden an idea of the scope of the problem in our area. They also offered proposals on how to address it, including an increased tax on vaping products, social media campaigns featuring youth voices, and banning flavored vaping products.
Nate also mentioned the support provided Bethel high school students who have access to drug and alcohol counselors.
Wyden says he wants to reconvene the group at some future date. Nate and the others will be ready.
On The Road Again
On the surface, it seems so simple. But, every year a new class of students learns something new: how to safely navigate streets and paths while on a bike.
5th graders at Danebo, Irving and Prairie Mountain took part in Bicycle Safety classes this fall. Students at other schools will get their chance in the spring.
It’s like their first Drivers Ed course. Kids learn about using hand signals, right of way, and how to make sure a bike is ride-ready.
Under the leadership of the staff from the City of Eugene’s River House Outdoor Center the classes culminate with a neighborhood bike ride, where students get a chance to put practice to the pedal.
A Center For Learning
Students arrive at their scheduled time and go through the process.
Malabon’s Skills Learning Center (SLC) helps students identify their emotions and learn how to manage their feelings.
Students go through some calming breathing exercises, then select one of the six calming centers: Reading corner, rice table, fidgets, fish tank, art, and dark space.
A 6 minute timer keeps them on schedule as the kids identify which tools in the SLC are effective in helping them self-regulate their emotions.
A Malabon staff member checks the student out and gathers data to share with classroom teachers so they can build a similar soothing environment in their classroom’s Calm Corners.
It’s just the beginning of the SLC at Malabon but so far, as a teaching tool, the results are promising.
Backing the BEF
More than 150 folks poured in to the Meadow View gym to show their support for Bethel kids.
The annual Bethel Education Foundation breakfast raised more than $25,000, and served as an opportunity for community members to learn more about the District, the BEF, and our students.
The BEF has provided more than $200,000 to support classroom initiatives, and this year alone the Foundation has received more than a quarter million dollars in grants to continue supporting Bethel programs like Skill Builders, Artists in Residence, Kids in Transition to School, and high school food pantries.
The BEF has more big ideas in the works. If you’d like to help, click here to donate.
Walking And Rolling
They came to Danebo Elementary in all modes: on foot, in buses, and riding scooters, boards and bikes.
Walk and Roll to School Day saw students getting out of their cars and trying other transportation to and from school.
All Bethel schools took part in this annual nationwide event, encouraging students to commute in groups as a walking school bus, or with friends and classmates.
Each middle and elementary school had a table with incentives for those who took part, like drawings for scooters and skateboards. Willamette included a drawing for bike lights and locks.
Incentives help ideas become habits, promoting healthy and effective choices for transportation among Bethel’s 5,400 students.
Roots of Empathy
Isn’t he adorable?! Five month old Dylan is a tiny teacher at Fairfield Elementary.
As part of the Roots of Empathy program, Dylan will help to raise levels of empathy in children, resulting in more respectful and caring relationships and reduced levels of bullying and aggression.
Each month, students in Jenni Muzzana’s first grade class will be learning about Dylan’s development and identifying his feelings. Continue reading
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.