The Least Bad Choice
We can agree on one thing: there are no easy answers.
I’ve been waiting for the state legislature to settle on school funding for the coming year, hoping for at least $8.4 billion for K-12 education in Oregon.
Now that they’ve appeared to squeeze out $8.2 billion, it means Bethel should be able to get by with five budget reduction days instead of 10.
With increasing costs (utilities, pensions, etc.) taking a chunk out of our budget, state funding is inadequate and we have to balance the books with reductions somewhere. We decided that fewer days in school is a better option than cutting teachers and increasing class sizes.
Here’s the new calendar for the 2017-18 school year. Note: If we do receive more funding from the state our first priority will be restoring the remaining budget reduction days.
Physical activity and social action combined in Charissa Nelson’s 3rd grade class at Malabon.
As part of a UNICEF program called Kid Power, a sponsor provided each student with a fitbit-style activity tracker.
The more active the students, the more “power points” they earn. The power points unlock highly nutritious food packets called RUTFs (Ready to Use Therapeutic Food) which are given to malnourished children around the world.
Each year Nelson tries to have her students take part in an activity that benefits someone else without personal reward or acknowledgement.
She says students learned a little bit about the world through the educational materials provided by the Kid Power program, and a lot about their own love for helping others.
A Gift From The Ford Family
Willamette High School senior Damaris Garcia-Rios has been awarded a Ford Family Foundation scholarship.
Combined with other scholarships Damaris has earned, the Ford Family Foundation award ensures that all of her expenses will be paid at the University of Oregon.
Damaris just graduated as a full International Baccalaureate student, a member of the National Honor Society, and she will be the first in her family to attend college. She intends to further her studies in the medical field.
The Ford Family Foundation renewable scholarship was created by Kenneth Ford, the founder of Roseburg Forest Products. The program pays for 90% of a student’s expenses and helps those attending an in-state college who would otherwise find it difficult to obtain a college degree without financial assistance.
Having A Blast
They had been working for this moment since winter break. Irving 5th graders wrapped up their math, science and technology project by launching model rockets in front of the entire school.
It took scientific inquiry, invention, innovation, research and development, trouble-shooting, problem-solving, testing, and refining. Students studied gravity, force, friction, acceleration, Newton’s Laws, Bernoulli’s Theorem, and Boyle’s Law. Then they had a chance to blast off!
Auf Wiedersehen Für Jetzt
Addy Fulks is about to be saying her goodbyes. The Willamette High School 16 year old is leaving soon to spend her junior year attending school near Munich, Germany.
Addy has been awarded the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship, a prestigious opportunity funded by the U.S. and German governments. Another WHS German language student, Brielle Waff, won this same scholarship two years ago and she’s now studying German at the University of Oregon.
Her first month will be spent in a German Language camp, then Addy will move in with a host family and immerse herself into school and the culture.
Meanwhile, 13 other Willamette students will spend a few weeks attending school in Germany this summer as part of the German-American Partnership Program. It’s a continuation of years of successful exchanges between WHS and German schools.
Looking Back While Moving Ahead
In its second year, the Bethel Grad Walk has already become a popular tradition. Seniors from Willamette and Kalapuya High Schools wear their caps and gowns and walk through each of Bethel’s other 9 schools. It’s an opportunity to thank the teachers who helped them over the years, and to motivate young students to aim for graduation and beyond.
What I Did On My Summer Vacation
Summer break is a winter in Chile for Willamette social studies teacher Leslie Simmons.
She’s been selected to travel to northern Chile this summer with the Center for Geography Education in Oregon.
Simmons and a small group of Oregon teachers are now exploring the geography, and visiting major cities and small towns, historical sites and geographical regions.
Then the educators will prepare model lessons for use by teachers throughout Oregon.
Simmons has traveled extensively for her studies: Nepal in 1998, Wales in 2001, Botswana in 2006 and Russian, Mongolia and China in 2013.
She uses these travel experiences to enrich her students’ understanding of geographical concepts, saying it brings her curriculum to life.
Class In The Great Outdoors
These are the trailblazers. While Oregon voters approved Measure 99 supporting Outdoor School next year, 135 fifth graders from Danebo Elementary and Meadow View School took part in Outdoor School for the second consecutive year. They showed what the experience could look like for other Oregon students with three days of Outdoor School at Grove Christian Camp east of Cottage Grove. It was an experience the kids won’t soon forget.
Planting The Seed
The secret of the Bethel Farm is slowly being shared.
School field trips this spring brought Bethel elementary students to the Farm, located between Prairie Mountain and Kalapuya schools. A $100,000 USDA Farm to School Grant will introduce even more kids to the Farm next school year.
The City of Eugene and University of Oregon brought a contingent for a tour in June, amazed by what the school district has developed, and eager to make connections with the Farm for UO learning opportunities.
Meanwhile, Kalapuya students have received grants from the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps, paying them to work on the Farm this summer. And a produce-washing station will be installed so the food grown on the Farm can be properly cleaned and used in Bethel school lunches.
Stop and see for yourself; the Bethel Farm is a growing story.
On The Beat
They may not seem like law enforcement-types, but these members of Bethel’s Maintenance crew leapt into action when Eugene Police needed some help.
That’s why Skylar Fairchild, Pat Bradshaw, Terry Thorn and Tim Nash recently received the police department’s Citizen Service Award.
Back in January, the Bethel boys helped EPD corral three teenagers who were spotted hiding out under Willamette’s football grandstands. One of them was an Oregon Youth Authority escapee. The youngsters ran when police were called.
Here’s how police describe the Maintenance crew’s actions, all without leaving the comfort of their trucks:
They used their vehicles to set up a perimeter while continuing to communicate their positions with each other and the officer. They were able to contain the suspects to a limited area until additional officers arrived and took the youths into custody in the backyard of a home. This team displayed an uncanny ability to communicate and work together.
Now the Bethel team has some fancy awards hanging up at work, and a new story to tell.
20 seniors accepted their diplomas as living proof that hard work pays off.
They are Kalapuya’s graduating class of 2017.
All KHS grads leave school with college credit or a real-life internship to help them take the next step toward a career or continuing education.
At commencement staff members talked about each individual senior, sharing their accomplishments along with the challenges that have been overcome.
Kalapuya’s a special place, providing opportunities to students to find success. The Class of 2017 has done just that.
Real Work, Real Results
Graphic Design is among the most popular classes at Willamette High School. Students are learning real-world skills.
Those talents were on display when Wil-Hi and Churchill advanced design classes teamed up in a logo design challenge for two clients.
Kids presented their logo designs to the owners of Waterbury Farm in Eugene and Studio 4, a recording and engineering studio.
In professional dress, the students revealed their proposals, created PowerPoint presentations and displays on backboards, and explained their rational for the design directions they chose.
In the end, logos created by Willamette teams were selected by both business owners.
It’s a big step up from a classroom project, and an accomplishment that the students can legitimately use in their professional design portfolios.
Taking On Water
This is a sure sign for Shasta students that summer is just around the corner. And it may be the world’s most effective way to learn about the Archimedes Principle: “The buoyant force on a body placed in a fluid is equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.”
Shasta 8th graders tried to cover the length of Echo Hollow Pool in the annual Shasta Cardboard Boat races. Success has a fluid definition.
The Final Frontier
She’s flown on four Space Shuttle missions, logged more than 1,200 hours in space, but now here’s an update for the resume for astronaut Wendy Lawrence: she’s taught middle school kids.
For the second consecutive year, Lawrence visited Shasta Middle School science students.
She took time to teach physics and math to Shasta students by using simple toy rockets.
After some pointers on trajectory and lift, kids built their rockets and tried to get them launched as far as possible.
The result didn’t matter as much as the process…and the teacher.
Completion With Distinction
The gym was filled with cheers, but this time it was academic all-stars receiving the acclaim.
Willamette’s annual Academic Awards assembly brought all students into the gym as exemplary students were honored.
Outstanding Business Student, Outstanding Geometry Student, Outstanding IB Student, and so on.
49 individual awards were presented, along with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma candidates, Honor Society members, and more.
All the scholarship recipients were recognized, topped by Kareem Khalifeh’s $250,000 full-ride scholarship to USC.
Academic achievement celebrated by the whole school. How about that!
Rising To The Kidwind Challenge
Willamette High School juniors Helen Lucas and Allison Sanders finished 6th at the 2017 National Kidwind Competition in Anaheim. They were one of 25 teams from across the country to assemble wind turbines and take part in two days of knowledge and skills testing at the American Wind Energy Association’s National Convention.
Lucas and Sanders’ turbine scored high in energy production, and the students tested well on their knowledge of wind energy, including windfarm siting. The students also learned that opportunities for career paths within wind energy are many and varied.
The team’s trip to Nationals was sponsored by EWEB, Bethel Boosters, and several individuals who contributed through Go Fund Me and private donations.
The season can’t start until the song is sung.
The Eugene Emeralds opened the Northwest League baseball season only after Cascade’s Vox Novus choir sang the National Anthem. And because the Ems were playing Vancouver, the a capella group also sang O, Canada.
Vox Novus is an after-school-practice-only choir, so it includes kids who really want to sing.
They belted out the National Anthem at an Ems game last season, and were invited back to perform at the season-opener, which is quite an honor.
Only one in five plastic water bottles makes it to the recycle bin. The rest end up in the landfill, or worse, our rivers and streams.
It will take about 450 years for that plastic to decompose.
That’s why first graders from Danebo, Irving and Meadow View took part in the Monster RE-User program, courtesy of the City of Eugene’s Waste Prevention department.
Students received reusable water bottles back in September, and were encouraged to use their bottle all year long at school and at home.
75% of the kids were still using their bottles in June, and some took a trip downtown and presented to Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis what they had learned. It’s a lesson they will likely not forget.
The Wide World Of Us
Bethel is a happily diverse school district. That is made very clear at the annual Bethel Multicultural Fair, which celebrates our many backgrounds, nations and customs.
Entertainment at the Multicultural Fair included bands, dancers, martial arts, and Chinese Lion dancers.
Families browsed among a selection of food, displays, and colorful dress.
The fair represented some of the many languages and cultures brought to school by students in Bethel, including African dialects, Russian, Korean, Spanish and Chinese.
Thanks go out to the families, local organizations and staff who helped showcase the wide world of culture in Bethel.
After four years of consistently high academic achievement, 21 Willamette seniors were honored at a special awards dinner, the Willamette Scholars Awards.
They combined high SAT or ACT scores with impressive grade point averages, and all of them had met all the Oregon Essential Skills graduation requirements.
They will attend USC, UCLA, BYU, Utah, Oregon, and Oregon State, among others. They will study subjects that include medicine, business, meteorology, fashion, zoology, cinematography, music, and engineering.
It is a very impressive group that can make all of Bethel proud.
Safely navigating the streets on a bike is an important skill all Bethel 5th graders have now learned.
The instruction is part of the Safe Routes to School program, which starts with classroom lessons and culminates with a neighborhood ride.
Wearing orange vests, the 5th graders are tested on merging with traffic, following road rules, and using hand signs.
The annual program is funded by the Oregon Department of Transportation through its support of Safe Routes.
Making A Turn
Their stories are about overcoming obstacles that most of us might find insurmountable. Some of their circumstances would set the strongest person back a step.
The annual Turnaround Achievement Awards recognizes students who have found a tremendous amount of resilience and are getting their lives back on track.
Colleen Bellotti and her husband Mike, the former UO football coach, created the Turnaround Achievement Awards 22 years ago to shine light on students who have walked a sometimes dark path.
Shasta’s Travis Sabine, Cascade’s Hannah Neal, Brenton Mourer from Meadow View, Ryan Stolsig from Prairie Mountain, and Willamette’s Eric Diehl received the 2017 award.
Sincere congratulations to each of them. Well done.
Meeting The Need
$89,000 in scholarships was handed out in a matter of minutes.
In one morning, the Eugene Airport Rotary Club presented college scholarships to dozens of local high school seniors – including five from Willamette and two from Kalapuya – and to 30 college students whose scholarships were renewed after receiving awards last year.
The Airport Rotary works year-round raising money to support local students and educational projects, and Bethel students have been on the receiving end for 21 years.
During that time $144,000 in scholarship money has been awarded to deserving Bethel students. A tip of the cap to the good folks at Airport Rotary.
Growing In Popularity
Chalk up another remarkable achievement for Kalapuya horticulture students. They planted and grew hundreds of plants that were quickly snatched up by the public at the school’s annual Mother’s Day weekend plant sale.
In their professional-grade greenhouse, KHS students nurtured an impressive array of flowers in hanging baskets. The annual plant sale is becoming a well-known event, and the hanging baskets go fast.
In addition, they sold vegetable starts like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and cucumbers, along with herbs, melons, and nearly everything you would want for your garden.
The $2,000 raised will go back into the school’s program, and will help with KHS field trips around the state.
Leaving Their Mark
The new Fairfield school is already getting a new look. An artist-in-residence guided Fairfield students in the painting of a mural in the school’s main hallway.
The project sprouted from a $1,000 donation from Essex Construction, the contractor that built the new Fairfield.
Matching money came from the Bethel Education Foundation and a school fundraiser.
The artist, Steven Lopez, designed the mural of a Fairfield Falcon with the school’s expectations: Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible, in English and Spanish.
The painting should last long after the students have moved on.
We Are Bethel
The Meadow View and Shasta Jazz Bands took the stage again.
The Danebo Dancers made another colorful appearance.
But new this year to the annual We Are Bethel Celebration was a Bethel elementary choir.
Made up mostly of kids from Irving and Danebo, the elementary choir came together for the first time at the Celebration after working on their songs independently at each school.
Now that they’ve proven that combining school choirs is possible, who’s to say what next year’s We Are Bethel Celebration could bring.
Balancing The Budget, Sharing Your Voice
Watch this video and see what many of you and your neighbors say about education funding.
Then email your legislators (Rep. Julie Fahey and Sen. James Manning…he’s on our budget committee!) and let them know your thoughts. They want to hear from you, and I’m guessing you have something to say.
Bethel needs to reduce its spending to balance the budget for 2017-18, and that can be accomplished by cutting school days. It’s painful, but at least we can protect our class sizes, and we know that is a high priority for families.
We’d prefer smaller class sizes, but revenues from the state do not cover our increasing costs. Here’s hoping the state decides to reinvest in education, for your children and the ones who follow.
Let your voice be heard today!
They blew away the competition.
Willamette’s Helen Lucas and Allison Sanders dominated to win the regional competition in the KidWind Challenge.
The Challenge is an opportunity for students to learn about wind energy, build their own wind turbine fan, and compete to see whose fan creates the most energy and which team has learned the most about wind energy.
The victory gives them a ticket to the national competition in Anaheim later this month.
Generous donors have chipped in to pay for the trip and help this team from Willamette’s Women in Engineering class prove they’re among the best in the country.
Discovering The Code
Kids are being introduced to computer programming and robots in Christina Cox’s 4th grade class at Clear Lake.
Thanks to a Bethel Education Foundation grant, students now have Chromebooks and Ozobots. They are tiny robots that react to the commands programmed on the Chromebook computers.
Students are learning how the Ozobots respond to different codes. They are figuring out that the robots can be programmed to move in various directions or react differently as they travel across colors drawn on a sheet of paper.
Each time the kids are delving deeper into coding. It’s a challenging but fun and rewarding opportunity thanks to their teacher’s creativity and the BEF’s generosity.
Champions In Education
Outstanding educators are everywhere you look in Bethel, but only a select few receive the ACE (A Champion in Education) Awards in a special ceremony at the Hult Center.
The annual awards honor champions in four categories: Teachers, Classified Staff, Administrators and Volunteers.
Bethel’s ACE Awards champions this year are Gina Clark from Fairfield (Teacher), Lisa Bateman, Assistant Special Ed Director (Administrator), Anne Johnstone-Diaz from the Bethel Family Resource Center (Classified staff) and Willamette music supporter Michelle Toney (Volunteer).
Each of them wins $1,000 for the school program of their choice.
Congratulations to these very worthy winners, and a huge thank you goes to the Eugene and Springfield Chambers of Commerce, Oregon Community Credit Union, and other local business sponsors for making it possible to recognize these deserving educators.
Walking And Rolling
Getting kids out of cars and onto their feet has been a challenge, but now there’s progress.
On Walk and Roll to School Day hundreds of Bethel students declined the car and walked, rode a bike or scooter, or roller-bladed to school.
Malabon and Clear Lake principals even met their students nearly a mile away and walked with them to school.
Incentives were waiting for kids who took part, including bike helmets, locks, lights, water bottles, and a scooter to be given away. One lucky student will win a $400 gift certificate to Bicycle Way of Life.
The challenge is to convince students and families that walking and rolling is a good idea every day. Seems like now’s a good time to start!
They call themselves Team Willmira. 5 equestrians from Willamette joined 3 riders from Elmira High School to form a winning combo-team that has advanced to the state Equestrian Championships.
They finished the regular season winning 2 Gold, 5 Silver and 7 Bronze medals on their way to finishing 1st at the district competition.
The team has qualified for five events at state: Drill Performance, In Hand Obstacle Relay, Working Rancher, Freestyle and Showmanship.
With only one senior, Kate Burgett, this group has a chance to be contenders for years to come.
Fun With Fungi
Who knew?! Bethel has won an award for its use of mushrooms.
Yep, shrooms are big in Bethel school lunches, classrooms, and experiments.
Bethel’s very popular and flavorful spaghetti sauce gets its rich flavor profile from large quantities of roasted mushrooms.
Throughout April, Bethel Nutrition Services displayed mushroom boxes in school cafeterias, Over a two week period students witnessed oyster mushrooms emerge and grow out of the boxes.
At Kalapuya High School, students in the Sustainable Agriculture class inoculated White Oak logs with Shitake mushrooms. They’ll grow and be ready to harvest in a month or so. And finally, students were offered marinated baked Cremini mushrooms through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that provides snacks at our elementary schools.
That’s why Bethel’s Nutrition Services department won $5,000 in the Mushroom Council’s Blend the Rules contest. The award money will be used to further Bethel’s Farm to School Program.
Bethel Is Tracktown
A few weeks of training for a few moments of glory, with lots of fun in-between.
That is the elementary and middle school track season.
Kids have been rewarded with two track meets – in April and May – at Willamette’s Wolverine Stadium, with a chance to compete against their peers from other Bethel schools.
The 100 meters, long jump, relay races, 400 meters and softball throw keep the hundreds of kids busy.
And it’s clear that some young athletes have discovered their sport of choice.
Leading With LEED
That beautiful building at Bethel’s flagship school is now a first.
Willamette’s new science and office complex is the first K-12 building in the Willamette Valley to achieve LEED status.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council for evaluating the environmental performance and sustainable designs of buildings.
And here’s more good news. While they’re not easy to see, those solar panels on the roof of the science building are a bunch of overachievers.
Despite the very gray and wet winter we have had, the solar panels are performing about 17% above the anticipated levels, helping Willamette offset about 13% of its yearly energy usage.
A LEEDer, indeed.
On The Safe Side
She will never mention it, so we will.
Prairie Mountain Assistant Principal Jill Robinson-Wolgamott (call her “RW”) has been honored with the PACE Outstanding Service Award for contributing substantially in the area of school safety.
RW is a certified ALICE trainer, and was among the organizers and facilitators of the ALICE safety training for all Bethel staff.
She was a leader in the creation of Bethel’s Emergency Reunification Plan and subsequent staff training for a reunification between students and parents in the event of an emergency.
And RW leads our School Safety Committee in the continued work around school safety improvements. In addition, she has helped train staff in other districts.
Thanks, RW. Bethel students and staff are safer because of your efforts!
Little Women, Big Production
Has there been a more impressive group of performers on the stage at Willamette High School?
The singing, acting and sets for the recent run of Little Women at WHS left people talking.
Wow! Senior Josie Thomas stood out with her professional-caliber voice and convincing portrayal of Jo, one of the four sisters in Little Women.
But there are plenty of accolades to go around with 40 students having worked on the production, both on the stage and behind the scenes.
And for the 5th year in a row, they opened up the orchestra pit for terrific live music.
Congratulations to teachers Tana Walker and Katie Reuter for their leadership in producing a musical that audience members will remember.
Behind The Scenes
We usually only get to see the finished product, but Bethel students in band and choir put in an incredible amount of work. Here’s a look at Cascade’s band getting tips from UO Athletics Band Director Eric Wiltshire in a workshop at the Shasta Invitational Band Festival.
All Dressed Up
People who know my story also know that I could have used a place like Andrea’s Attic or Smyly’s Boutique when growing up.
These two small rooms at Willamette High School provide free clothes for Bethel middle and high school students. They also welcome North Eugene and Churchill High School students.
There are more than 100 dresses (formal and otherwise), along with suits, slacks and shirts, and all of them are clean, new, or very lightly used.
Students just call the front desk at Willamette to make an appointment. Confidentiality is preserved and the clothes are free and theirs to keep.
Dozens of students have used Andrea’s Attic (named for former Bethel School Board member and City Councilor Andrea Ortiz) and Smyly’s Boutique (named for former Cascade counselor Jennifer Smyly.)
You can donate some nice, new, or nearly new clothes, by contacting Chris Ferguson at email@example.com
Chris and his wife Debby started and maintain the rooms, and so many of us are truly grateful.
Paying It Forward
Bethel School District’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Program received a generous donation in loving memory of Mary Jane and John Dellenback (he was the former Congressman from Medford.)
Mary Jane passed away in December, and had asked her friends and family to remember her and her late husband by doing something for someone else in their name – buy a stranger coffee, contribute in some way, or endow a university chair.
Bethel District is grateful to be the beneficiary of the Dellenback family’s good will, and we hope this story will inspire you to do something for someone else, pay it forward, spread kindness, or do something philanthropic.
Seniors at Kalapuya are learning how to save lives as part of their graduation expectations.
After two weeks of studying many of the basics of emergency response in Janay Stroup’s Health Education class, the students’ final exam included 10 different scenarios that test all of their new skills needed to “save” people.
This included scenarios with live volunteers and manikins. Among the skills are how to use an AED, or automated external defibrillator, and perform CPR. A Bethel Education Foundation grant purchased a computer program to help improve the CPR practice.
This is a required class for all seniors. Employers like it on resumes so it adds to their job preparation, but the training also fits within Kalapuya’s larger goal of helping students be civic minded and prepared to help throughout our community.
Doing The Wave
One of the most interesting and engaging field trips is to the Hinsdale Wave Research Lab at Oregon State University. Bethel students have been taking part in a program developed by OSU, and a visit to the lab was the highlight of their studies. Watch the video and you’ll understand why.
Walk On The Right Side
These are some serious lessons being taught. Life and death lessons.
2nd and 3rd graders are learning the fundamentals of crossing a street or a parking lot.
It’s part of the Safe Routes to School program, which encourages students to consider more walking and riding to school.
The two-day training ends in a neighborhood walk as kids prove they can cross the street, manage where there are no sidewalks, and stay safe on their commute.
The class is free to any Bethel school.
The Duck Walk Returns
The ducks returned to Prairie Mountain School. Each year a mother duck lays its eggs in the interior courtyard at the school and then is escorted to a nearby wetland. Kindergartners get to line the halls to witness the quick transition to the wild.
The Story Behind The Story
Yes, there really is more to this story.
In the end, Shasta Jazz Choir students Mariya Dolph, Da’Mauryay Wright, and Sarah Phifer received Outstanding Vocal Solo Awards at the Clackamas Vocal Jazz Festival. The choir came home with a 2nd place trophy.
Now the rest of the story. Due to a wrong turn the choir arrived at the festival just 10 minutes before their performance.
Proving that middle schoolers can move fast when they need to, the choir got off the bus, changed clothes, gathered themselves and started singing.
Given the circumstances, second place is pretty amazing, huh?! The Pleasant Hill Jazz Festival is next. Directions should not be a problem.
How The Garden Grows
With the return of spring comes the resumption of gardening classes at Clear Lake Elementary.
Folks from the School Garden Project provide the lessons for 5th graders, delving into the science of gardening.
The School Garden Project also arranged for volunteers to prepare Clear Lake’s extensive garden area. Representatives from Eugene Alternative Realtors cleared out old growth, removed weeds, brought in new mulch, and prepped the garden beds for the upcoming classes.
Students enjoyed nine weeks of garden instruction in the fall, and will take part in nine more weeks this spring.
They’ll be tending to lettuce, peas, beans, kale, strawberries, and tomatoes which have annually been served in Clear Lake’s school lunch program.
Kendama at Clear Lake
A traditional Japanese ball and cup game, Kendama has taken off at Clear Lake. Introduced by former Clear Lake student and current Willamette junior Gordan Mindoro, Kendamas can now be found on the Clear Lake playground at recess every Friday. Students recently enjoyed learning from the big kids at an after-school event where a wide variety of skills was on display.
Learning By Doing
This lesson for students was also an opportunity to teach other teachers.
Prairie Mountain’s Amanda Zacharek is part of the Content in Context SuperLessons, a UO professional development program for 3rd – 8th grade Lane County teachers.
It’s all about teaching science and math through projects, and that’s why teachers from other districts were in her 4th grade class watching students learn about water and water filtration.
A grant from the Bethel Education Foundation purchased the materials for the filtration project, and the kids were definitely engaged.
The project-based learning was working in Amanda’s class, and because her lesson was watched by visiting teachers, you can expect to find more project-based learning going on in other classrooms, too.
Welcoming The Class Of 2021
It was difficult to tell who was more excited, current Bethel 8th graders or their parents.
At Willamette High School’s 8th Grade Parent Night kids and adults learned all about the high quality Career Technical Education programs, International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement classes, electives, clubs and other opportunities waiting for students at Wil-Hi.
Hundreds of parents and students visited with teachers, talked with advisors, toured the school, and narrowed their course choices for freshman year.
Most students had already signed-up for their preferred classes, but they had a chance to make changes to their wish lists after learning more about their many exciting options as 9th graders.
What’s With The Tweeting?
Don’t worry, Bethel. I am not (yet) known as someone who goes on Twitter rants. But I do tweet when there’s something the greater community would find interesting, helpful, inspiring, or just plain informative.
Follow me: @Bethel_Supt
It’s quick, personal, transparent, immediate, unfiltered and free. Twitter can build connections and remove barriers, and that’s important for a school superintendent trying to communicate with her families.
I promise not to waste your time, but whether it’s a snow day announcement, a student’s achievement, a current event, or even a word of thanks, I try to share it through a tweet.
And no rants allowed.
Although he’s only in the 6th grade at Meadow View School, Bryce Newell was on the JV Chess team at Willamette High School.
He’s only been playing for 6 months after a friend showed him how.
Since then, Bryce has been searching the internet and teaching himself, joining the Sunday quad competitions at Willamette, and taking on his 3rd grade brother Leland who’s also giving chess a try after seeing his big brother’s interest.
The high school students have welcomed him onto the team, although Bryce declined an opportunity to join them at the state tourney where the JV team finished first in the Open division for the second year in a row.
But Bryce is highly competitive, and really likes the strategy involved in chess. Remember, you read about him here first.
Keep Calm And Play On
This is how an idea becomes reality.
Jenifer Gerlach was awarded a grant from the Bethel Education Foundation, and now she’s awakening minds and calming young bodies.
The Prairie Mountain 4th grade teacher used the grant to purchase an electric keyboard for her classroom.
Gerlach plays gentle music for her students to calm them down after recess, prepare them for focused thinking on math, and during quiet work times.
An accomplished pianist, she got the idea for the few minutes of soothing tones after visiting the classroom of Malabon teacher Johnny DeFlaminis, who softly strums a guitar for his students.
She says the piano music creates an instant calm among her kids, and she’s read research on the relationship between music and students’ ability to learn.
All Gerlach knows for sure is that it works for her kids, and she’s happy to have found another tool to help her students learn.
To Moscow And Back
After three days of student performances, workshops, clinics and concerts, Willamette’s Topnotchers choir headed home from Idaho with a first place trophy.
The annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho in Moscow welcomed schools from Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon and Canada.
Wil-Hi’s singers, led by Choir Director Katie Reuter, were recognized as among the best choirs on hand. Judges remarked on their blend, style, tuning and even their choice of music.
The trip to Idaho is the biggest of the year for the Topnotchers, but not the last.
They’ll be taking part in festivals in Pleasant Hill, at the Hult Center, and in the District choral competition, with more opportunities to let their voices be heard.
Try It Thursday
Some dive right in, and others give it the stink-eye and hustle past.
Try It Thursday offers new, healthy, nutritious, tasty and fresh foods for Bethel students each month. It’s up to them whether they try it.
In February it was Barley Bean and Corn Salad. Kids at all Bethel schools have also been introduced to foods like roasted edamame, rainbow potatoes, and lentil soup.
The Try It Thursday feature is now in its third year. It’s an attempt to expose students to healthy side dishes that primarily consist of vegetables and whole grains.
It might not be a surprise that the older students are more adventurous when it comes to tasting the new foods. We’ll see how they do in March with Honey Roasted Brussel Sprouts.
Still More Promises Made…And Kept
A much-anticipated safety improvement is nearly complete at Danebo Elementary.
The ends of the school’s open breezeways are being secured with walls and doors. They’ll be unlocked before and after school, but during the day all visitors will be funneled through the office in order to access the school.
Closing off the breezeways will also prevent after-hours trespassers.
Meanwhile, powder-coated iron fences have sprouted at Willamette, Irving and Shasta schools, which feature multiple separate buildings. The fences will provide a perimeter barrier at each campus.
School safety enhancements were promised to voters through the Bethel Bond measure, and those promises continue to be kept.
After The Ribbon-Cutting
The contractors that built the new Fairfield Elementary School didn’t just walk away after the school was opened. They’ve also made a connection with the kids in the new school.
Essex Construction recently made a $1,000 contribution to the Lane Arts Council to sponsor an artist in residence at Fairfield.
A matching $1,000 came from a Fairfield pencil sale, the Bethel Education Foundation, and the school’s PTO.
Now Fairfield is figuring out the very best way for a professional artist to spend a few weeks in the school.
Thanks to Essex for the generous donation…and for the beautiful new school!
All The Buzz
It began as just a whim, and now look what’s happened. Hailey Koontz entered Meadow View’s annual Geo Bee for the first time and to her surprise won the school-wide contest.
Then, with no expectations, Hailey sailed through a written test to earn an invitation to the state Geo Bee finals later this month. All this occurred without any preparation.
The soft-spoken 8th grader’s interest in geography has been through history’s relation to places. Her general background knowledge got her this far, but now that she’s in the state Geo Bee finals Hailey will begin to actually prepare for the competition.
For a 13 year old who enjoys learning more than competition, studying for the bigger stage should not be a problem.
The waiting was the hard part.
Malabon’s PTO raised all the money – nearly $15,000 – and Bethel’s maintenance department did all the installation work, but the students were helpless.
Kids could only stand and watch longingly as their new playground structure was put into place. They were tantalized for more than a week while the ground was cleared, cement was poured, and the structure was bolted together.
Finally they were allowed to climb aboard. It was probably the most exciting unveiling since their new school was opened a year and a half ago, and now the Malabon playground feels complete.
Plans are already being made for going to college in the fall.
Karen Wiant, Director of the College and Career Center at Willamette, takes students on three spring trips: to Eugene colleges, schools in Portland, and to colleges in the mid-Willamette Valley.
The idea is to expose students to public, private and community colleges in differing communities of the state.
They’re also finalizing plans for next month’s Career and College Knowledge Night. Wiant is adding a jobs fair/career component to the event.
Along with representatives from colleges and universities, business owners and professionals will be on hand to actually hire employees, talk about career paths, explain their businesses, and help with skills on how to land a job.
The event will also feature a give-away of three $500 scholarships. Plan now for that April 27th event at Willamette.
There’s nothing like it for building community within a school. Buddy Day at Meadow View School paired up older kids with younger children for a variety of fun and engaging events.
8th graders read Dr. Seuss books with kindergartners, and it was difficult to determine who loved it more; the older students who had a chance to serve as mentors, or the 5 and 6 year olds who clearly look up to the big kids in school.
Because it happened on Read Across America day, many of the activities focused on literacy. But groups also worked on science experiments, made their own books, took taste tests while graphing the results, and created origami.
Buddy Day is a great idea that continues to build closer school communities throughout Bethel.
The Malabon Way
Promoting positive behavior is an ongoing goal at all Bethel schools, and now Malabon Elementary is trying something new.
After studying behavior data, Malabon staff set out to teach empathy to students school-wide.
Kindergarten teacher Windy Leona and groups of her students visited every class in the school and introduced the concept of empathy.
They practiced with scenarios and taught how to solve problems peacefully.
Now they’re considering ways to continue supporting the school-wide campaign, like posters in the hallways and talking points for teachers in the classroom.
The Malabon Way will take time, focus and perseverance, but the lessons can last a lifetime.
We Have A Health Center?
Do you know about the Bethel Health Center?
Hundreds of Willamette High School students visited the Bethel Health Center recently. It was part of an introduction to the services the Health Center provides for all Bethel students.
Health Center Awareness Week was an opportunity to invite students in Wil-Hi’s Health classes to tour the facility, which is located inside Cascade Middle School.
And a number of students had no idea the Health Center – opened in 2011 – even existed, let alone what services it provides.
The Health Center’s Youth Advisory Committee is trying to help change that, with continued outreach efforts at Willamette and beyond.
So, let the word go forth: the Bethel Health Center is open and ready to serve.
Pageant With A Purpose
With a dozen students on stage and double that number working behind the scenes, the annual Wolverine Pageant culminated months of effort by Willamette students.
They spent countless hours fundraising for the Children’s Miracle Network, visiting babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and rehearsing for the pageant.
Brandon Wang was crowned the winner, with Kareem Khalifeh being recognized with the congeniality award
When all was said and done, the Wil-Hi students had raised more than $21,000 for CMN in what will certainly be one of the most memorable experiences of their lives.
The Giver Receives
Presidential recognition doesn’t happen every day, so it was an honor for Alexa Whitehead to learn that she qualified for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.
The Willamette senior has been a dedicated volunteer for the American Cancer Society, putting in hundreds of hours.
Alexa made the connection with the American Cancer Society after her grandmother died of the disease.
The nature of volunteer work is not designed to attract attention, but Willamette principal Mindy LeRoux wanted to share Alexa’s award publicly to honor her work and encourage others to take part in volunteer service.
Making The Cut
They were so close! Willamette’s Culinary team, always among the best in Oregon, wound up 5th at the state ProStart Championships.
They tested themselves by cooking up a challenging meal: Pan-fried Coho salmon, handmade ravioli, and a French almond cake dessert.
They had to do this in one hour on a pair of propane burners and no electric utensils or appliances.
Under the leadership of veteran teacher Martha Humphreys, Willamette Culinary teams have won state titles twice before, in 2005 and 2007. And they were close again this year.
Congrats go out to Parker Hansen, Jared Ralls-Clark, Dylan Cunningham, Ty Van Lith, and Taylor Woolett.
The room gets buzzing with excitement, hope, anticipation, and optimism.
That’s what happens when parents of incoming Kindergartners gather to learn what Bethel has to offer its youngest students, the Class of 2030.
Kindergarten Orientation is a chance for parents to begin preparing for the first day of school. Not only do they pre-register their children for Kindergarten, they also meet the teachers, principal, and counselors.
They hear all about KITS (Kids in Transition to School,) the free program that prepares students – and parents – for a successful start to school.
Parents get a better understanding of Bethel’s PE and Music specialists, the modern technology and new textbooks, the curriculum and positive behavior program, and what a day is like in Kindergarten.
Those who missed Kindergarten Orientation Week can still get the same experience by contacting their neighborhood school. The path to graduation in June 2030 starts now.
Saving Taxpayer Dollars
Just a few years after saving Bethel residents $1,500,000 in taxes, Bethel School District has saved another $780,000 for property owners.
The District has once again refinanced its bonded debt. As a result, Bethel will repay the debt more rapidly than originally anticipated, resulting in fewer tax dollars being spent on interest.
The bonds were used to build new Bethel schools and make dozens of other improvements.
The saving is similar to refinancing the mortgage on a home, with the goal of paying less over the long-run.
Bethel School District saved taxpayers $1.5 million in 2011 by shortening older bonds and securing lower interest rates.
Challenge Of The Automatons
Year two has seen big improvements for the Willamette Robotics teams.
They took first place at a competition at Dallas High School, earning a spot in the state championships next month. The state winner qualifies for the World Championships in Kentucky.
25 students in Chris McGowan’s Intro to Robotics class have split into teams. They started building their robots in September and are learning programming in class.
Students practice during class, after school, basically whenever they have time.
Combining science, technology, engineering, math, and language arts with problem solving and social skills, Robotics is demanding a wide variety of skills from students…and so far, they’re answering the challenge.
Big Band Music
Trophies literally line the walls in the Shasta Band room. And we’re trying to keep up with the latest successes.
The kids just won the West Salem Jazz Festival with 8th grader Luke Turner taking home the Soloist award.
Out of 28 bands at the Oregon Jazz Festival, Shasta’s Jazz Band was selected to perform at the event’s evening concert.
It was an honor to be chosen to perform on the same stage as collegiate musicians from the UO and LCC, as well as Grammy-nominated saxophonist Ben Wendel. Luke Turner was again selected as an outstanding soloist and played tenor saxophone on stage with the UO Jazz Ensemble.
And last month the Jazz Band was invited to perform at the Oregon Music Educators State Conference.
The beat goes on with Shasta’s impressive band program.
No One Eats Alone
You know what it’s like. Middle school lunch is social time. But for some, it can be a lonely time.
That’s why Meadow View School tried teacher Sarah Campbell’s suggestion: No One Eats Alone.
6th, 7th and 8th graders were randomly assigned tables in the cafeteria at lunch, with questions provided as fun conversation starters. (There was a lot of laughing going on!)
It allowed kids to talk to classmates who they don’t usually sit with at lunch. As a result, everyone was included and students started making new friends.
Because of its success, there’s already talk about another No One Eats Alone day later this spring.
Joining The AP Honor Roll
The number of Willamette High School students taking AP (Advanced Placement) classes continues to increase, and the number of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher (and eventual college credit) is also going up.
As a result, Wil-Hi has been placed on the College Board’s District Honor Roll for student access and success.
In order to receive this recognition, the percentage of exams taken by minority students must also be increased or maintained.
Willamette offers AP classes in Government, Calculus, Statistics and Geography.
Wil-Hi’s rigorous coursework offerings are well-known by WHS students. Now they’re being recognized more widely.
Bringing In The Outsiders
The performance was infectious. Andiel Brown and a few members of his UO Gospel Choir performed for the Cascade Middle School choirs and left them energized, engaged, and encouraged.
The UO Gospel Choir has become a nationally recognized program under Brown’s leadership, and Cascade’s Music and Choir teacher Christina Boorman wants her students exposed to the best talent available. That’s why Boorman continues to tap into local resources.
Cascade band students have been taught by Scott McKee, the Bethel Band Festival’s clinician; Kristin Haley, principal flutist from the Eugene Symphony; and Brian Scott, percussionist with the Eugene Symphony.
The professionals’ skill, focus, and love of music is rubbing off.
If You Can’t Stand The Heat…
It could be their year. After having won the state championship in 2005 and 2007, the Willamette Culinary team is poised to take home another title.
If practice makes perfect, this team should be contenders. They’ve been making their gourmet meal over and over again since November.
In one hour, using propane-fueled burners and only scratch ingredients, they’re making handmade Ravioli filled with Shitake and white button mushrooms. Seared Coho salmon with pan-roasted root vegetables. And a small French cake with caramel, apple, cranberry and chocolate.
The Oregon ProStart Championship is February 19th, and in teacher Martha Humphreys’ 40th year, this could be Willamette’s turn again.
Opening New Doors
This might signal the start of something special. 11 young students from Beijing visited Eugene to learn more about American education, spending three days at Prairie Mountain School.
That included time in Rachel Hsieh’s 4th grade class. Rachel is multi-lingual, and Cantonese is her native language.
The visitors taught their Prairie Mountain peers the Chinese art of paper cutting. They made lanterns that coincided with the Lantern Festival, which is part of Chinese New Year.
The Chinese students fit right in, and to an unsuspecting visitor they seemed to be part of the class. Language was not a barrier because the kids from Beijing were practicing their English, which was already very good.
This connection could lead to a Sister School relationship and future visits to Prairie Mountain, and maybe – someday – a visit by our students to China.
Once Is Not Enough
After nine years it’s becoming an anticipated annual event. Willamette’s Recycling Round-Up again collected an impressive amount of reusable household items from the community.
A St. Vincent de Paul truck was filled with clothes, mattresses, exercise equipment, stoves, dishwashers, furniture, lamps, bikes, kitchen appliances, and toys.
Students loaded five large industrial-sized boxes with 3,300 pounds of TVs, monitors, computers and other electronics that had been taking up space in homes and garages.
It will all be recycled or reused by St. Vinnie’s and NextStep Recycling, thanks to WHS teacher David Novak and students from the National Honor Society.
Partners In Protection
When Eugene Police Officer Mark Hubbard is on patrol, he’s never alone. Hubbard recently brought his partner to visit the third graders at Prairie Mountain School.
Mr. Kato is a three year old Belgian Malinois, Hubbard’s newest K-9 companion. Mr. Kato is a smart, hardworking and energetic police dog, yet he was friendly enough to be petted by all the students.
Kids learned that Mr. Kato can climb over a six foot fence, wears up to four collars, can be lowered from high places with a harness, and is incredibly obedient.
By welcoming the pair to their school, the 3rd graders witnessed in real life what they’ve been studying in class about animals helping people.
Firefighters To The Rescue
This came at just the right time, when we experienced a real cold spell. Local firefighters dropped off boxes of new children’s coats made possible through the Operation Warm program.
The firefighters union paid for the 55 coats, ordered them in a broad range of colors and sizes, and then worked with the Bethel Education Foundation for distribution to kids.
Bethel’s Homeless Liaison, Donna Butera, took over from there. The coats are being given to students in need throughout the district.
Word is the kids love their new jackets, which provide a sense of pride and confidence while keeping the children bundled up and ready for school.
Outdoor School Returns
Voters recently approved Outdoor School for Oregon 5th or 6th graders, starting next school year. But Bethel is ahead of the pace.
For the second consecutive year, more than 100 Bethel 5th graders will attend Outdoor School for three days in the spring.
It’s being made possible in part by a $9,000 donation from the Bethel Education Foundation.
The BEF wanted to support teachers from Danebo and Meadow View who did all the grunt work and fundraising last year to deliver a three day outdoor school experience for their students.
And it didn’t seem fair to wait another year for state funding to kick in, so the BEF stepped up and helped what is essentially an Outdoor School pilot program for the rest of the district.
What teachers and students learn this spring will be applied for more Bethel students taking part in Outdoor School in the spring of 2018.
For The Kinders
These folks have done so much for Bethel students, and they’re not done yet.
Members of the Eugene Airport Rotary Club donated a couple thousand dollars so every incoming Bethel kindergartener could receive a free book.
Parents took them home from Kindergarten Orientation, and more books will be available for the kids once they get pre-registered for school.
Rotary members received a little surprise when they were recently preparing the books for delivery; a class of Kindergarteners from Clear Lake Elementary marched next door to the District office to thank the club members for their work.
For years the Airport Rotary has funded tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships that have been awarded to dozens of Willamette and Kalapuya students.
Another Snow Day?!
There have been a lot of questions, so I’d like to explain how Snow Days are determined.
When snow or ice is in the forecast, I constantly check the National Weather Service website for details, then I’m on the road at 4:30 a.m. driving through Bethel neighborhoods. The supervisor from First Student (our bus service provider) and some bus drivers are on the roads as well, evaluating driving conditions.
Our Maintenance Supervisor checks the conditions at our schools, and I’m on the phone with superintendents in Springfield and Eugene 4J about their roads because many of our staff live in those areas and need to be able to get to work.
In the end it all comes down to student safety, and the decision has to be made before 6:00 a.m. so parents can try to make plans if we call for a Snow Day or 2-Hour Delay.
I’d prefer to have children in school all day, every day. And sometimes it feels like a no-win decision because someone is always going to be unhappy.
But keeping children’s safety in the forefront has allowed me to sleep at night, if only for a few hours at a time.
A Parade For Winners
The smiles, cheers, and tears of joy never get old.
37 Bethel teachers were surprised with grants by the Bethel Education Foundation. The teachers received up to $1,500 for student programs, everything from technology to trips and rockets to robots.
The teachers didn’t know that the BEF was coming, but they heard the small Shasta student band marching down the halls and leading the grant parade into their classrooms. In all, $35,000 in grants was given away to the deserving educators. Take a look:
You can help continue these efforts by donating to the BEF. Click here.
The Coaches Come Calling
Oregon’s new football coach Willie Taggart piled some of his staff into a pair of SUVs and pulled up to Willamette High School, complete with a police motorcycle escort.
It was part of their whirlwind tour of local high schools as the new staff introduced themselves to principals, athletic directors and football coaches. Making connections is extremely valuable to college coaches.
The UO staff learned a little about WHS, posed for pictures, flashed the O, and were on their way. Now Wil-Hi is on their map as the coaches leave no stone unturned looking for future football talent.
The Perfect Storm
The storm Mother Nature threw at us on December 15th was both beautiful and destructive. It also kept Bethel Maintenance crews incredibly busy. Here’s a look and the storm’s impact in Bethel.
Delayed but not deterred, Shasta students waited out the snow storms and went shopping for women and children at WomenSpace.
The shopping spree took place during Winter Break after the snow postponed the original plans.
This was the school’s winter version of the Shasta Shines Service Projects, regular events for students and staff that are geared to giving back to the community and the school.
Shasta received a generous $2,000 donation from GloryBee Foods, and kids raised an additional $1,700. WomenSpace provided a list of needs such as toiletries, socks, underclothes and gloves, and Shasta students did the rest.
Some of the shopping was also done for a handful of Shasta families who needed a little help during the holidays.
It’s Better To Give
This is a tradition that Fairfield families have learned to anticipate. The Spirit of Giving Store at Fairfield is a bonanza of books, clothes, toys, and thousands of other items for students to select as gifts for their families.
The Spirit of Giving Store is a creation of retired teacher and uber-volunteer Chris Ferguson and his wife Debby. They work year-round soliciting donations that help make the store possible.
Each Fairfield student was given a big shopping bag, and the youngest students were matched with 5th grade buddies to serve as helpers.
The snow days before winter break moved the big shopping opportunity to January, which didn’t seem to bother any of the kids one bit as they happily filled their bags with gifts.
An extra measure of safety is now visible at Willamette, Shasta, and Irving schools. A six foot powder-coated fence is going up at each school to better secure each campus.
At Danebo Elementary the open breezeways are being closed off with a wall and lockable doors. That will stop the free flow of foot traffic during the school day, and after hours.
These traffic control measures are helping each school meet the standards of safety that’s common at today’s schools, which call for visitors to go through the front office before being able to access the rest of the campus. School safety was not much of an issue back when Willamette, Shasta, Irving and Danebo were designed and built.
This enhanced security measure is made possible by the Bethel bond, the measure that was passed by Bethel voters with a 73% Yes vote in 2012.
The Water Works
Have you tested the water in your house for lead? Probably not, but every single potential drinking water source in our schools has been tested and a number of fixtures have been replaced.
You remember the urgency around the lead-in-school-water-supply testing back in June. We found that only 5% of the 866 possible drinking water sources needed attention.
We also discovered that doing these tests and repairs has been costly, close to $50,000 that the district had not budgeted for.
The state is offering to pick up some of the costs, but we’re using reserves – savings – to pay our water-testing bills. You can imagine if every household was suddenly expected to conduct its own water tests and was not prepared for the cost.
So, drink the water with confidence when you’re in our schools. EWEB’s McKenzie River water never tasted so good.
Serious About Science
Determining what textbooks should be used in our schools is quite an undertaking.
That process is now underway as Bethel looks to update its Science curriculum.
A select group of 25 teachers and administrators from all grade levels has begun meeting to examine the next generation science standards adopted by the state.
They’ve created an additional evaluation tool that’s deeper than the state’s standards and are now looking at possible science programs.
The group will examine four or five adoptable programs and have it narrowed down by April in order that Bethel students will have the very latest Science textbooks next fall.
Purchasing the new curriculum is all made possible by the 2012 Bethel bond measure.