February 4, 2016 
In This Issue
Shadow Lake students check out new Tiger mascot
Students at Shadow Lake Elementary check out their new Tiger mascot, who has yet to be named. The school is holding a contest to find a name for the mascot; Shadow Lake students have the chance to try to come up with a spirit-filled name.
Boundary review committee tackles big challenge
District shares answers to frequently asked questions about process
Although there has been no action in the boundary review process since the last issue of Tahoma Matters, many parents have expressed questions and concerns about potential changes that will take place in the 2017-2018 school year.

No boundary review process is easy, and this one is more complex than any in the history of the district. Officials believe the parent-led process will work, if the community will give the Boundary Review Committee time to do its work.

"If by magic I could pick up one of our (northern) elementary schools and move it next to the junior high, I would; but these buildings were built when the population was at that end of the district," Superintendent Rob Morrow said. "There are two givens in this process: We can't move the schools and we can't move the people."

At the first Boundary Review Committee meeting in early January, Morrow asked the members to consider their task in this light -- if you had six empty elementary schools, and 3,800 students, what would be the best way to divide those students among those schools? It sounds simple, but as soon as you start considering where most of Tahoma's students live, along with the parameters set forth by the school board, the situation quickly becomes more complicated.

Committee members have been thoughtfully considering all the information they have been given so far, and have asked for additional maps and further details to help them in their research. A professional map-maker has been hired by the district to help create maps that are easier to read and better suited to the project.

In the fall of 2017, the district will have six elementary schools -- the current four (although Lake Wilderness will be completely rebuilt and at two-thirds its current capacity), along with the current Tahoma Middle School and Cedar River Middle School, which will both be retrofitted into elementary facilities. The school board has set aside about $7 million to pay for upgrades and improvements to the schools, with most of the money going toward changes at Cedar River and Tahoma to improve security and to put in playgrounds and equipment. Morrow said he plans to do another set of community information nights late this spring or early next fall, depending on when plans for the new schools are firmed up.

"By then, we'll know what the kindergarten center is going to look like; what the security improvements will entail. We'll have pictures and plans that people can look at," he said. Anyone who missed Morrow's information sessions about the realignment process and district projects in the fall can find recaps here: http://goo.gl/KCQZdD and http://goo.gl/KWClFx 

In an attempt to answer parent and community questions, we are working on a list of frequently asked questions. That document is available here.

The next meeting of the Boundary Review Committee will be at 6 p.m. on Feb. 24 in the library at Tahoma High School. Please note the location has been changed in order to accommodate the expected increase in observers.

Construction workers take pride in Tahoma HS project
Sheet metal worker Scott Van Ditto, father of three Tahoma graduates, is excited to be working on the new THS project. Shown here, Van Ditto works at hanging sheet metal ducts for the ventilation system.
Chris Sexton will have something special to share with his classmates when they get together for their 20th reunion celebration: The 1997 grad is not only among the first to see the new Tahoma High School, he is also helping build it.

The crews on the project include a number of Tahoma parents, and other alumni. We talked this week with Sexton, a commercial plumber, and also with sheet metal worker Scott Van Ditto. Both were brought onto the job by McKinstry, mechanical systems subcontractor for Skanska.
Growing up in Maple Valley just around the corner from the construction site, Sexton used to work at Elk Run Golf Course and graduated from THS in 1997.

"It is pretty cool to be a part of.They needed this. ... It's past due," said Sexton, who volunteers with the THS football team to keep statistics and also helps coach the JV baseball team. He played both sports while attending Tahoma. "I like to give back. That's why I stay involved."

After graduating from Tahoma, he attended Green River Community College with thoughts of becoming a teacher, but decided it wasn't the right path for him and instead followed in his dad's footsteps and became an apprentice in a plumbing union.

Sexton said he typically works on high rise projects in Seattle and Bellevue, but has helped on a number of school construction and expansion projects including Kentridge, Kentwood, Roosevelt and Chief Sealth.

"I like it because you get to work outside with your hands and see your craftsmanship at the end of the week," said Sexton, whose efforts on this day included an emergency shower in a science lab in the main classroom building. The classrooms are big and the systems impressive, he said, noting that he feels the extra taxes he and district residents are paying is money well spent to provide an even higher quality education for Tahoma students.
"I think it's gonna be a great thing for this community."

Van Ditto agreed. He and his wife settled in the Tahoma School District somewhat by chance after moving to Renton from the Spokane area in the late '80s. The couple raised three children who graduated from Tahoma: Brandon, class of 2009; Briana, class of 2011; and Shawnee, class of 2014.

"My kids did really well here," Van Ditto said.

Although he had never worked for McKinstry before this project, he spent five months working at Swedish in Seattle with one of his supervisors on the Tahoma job, and was excited to be hired on at the high school in January.

"My kids think it's pretty cool," he said, adding that he enjoyed reconnecting with THS Principal Terry Duty on one of his site visits.

"It's right here in my backyard," said Van Ditto, who now enjoys having a commute less than 20 minutes from the northern edge of the district.

When he and his wife bought their house, their neighborhood was filled with little boys. Now, Van Ditto said, it's filled with girls -- and a whole new generation of Tahoma students.
Commercial plumber and 1997 Tahoma grad Chris Sexton works on installing an emergency shower in a lab classroom at the new THS construction site earlier this week.
Chamber choir to perform original music by THS director
The Tahoma High School Chamber Choir and local semi-professional vocal ensemble "Resonate" will perform a concert including a brand new work called "Spirit Song" by composer and THS choir director Ken Riggs.
The free concert will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9 at the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, near Tahoma Middle School.
Every year the chamber choir performs an extended work, and Riggs said he wanted to compose the music this year because it has been about five years since he had last done so.
"When I compose choral music, I don't usually write the words. Most of the time, I find a poem or a sacred text and write music to go with it. ... I found a poem by Mary Austin and decided to use her poetry as the text for the work," Riggs said. "The poetry definitely had a significant impact on how the music was composed."
Because the poetry mentions a flute and a drum, Riggs composed the eight movements for choir, piano, flute and drum. American poet Austin spent 17 years among the Native American people of the Mojave Desert in the Southwest U.S. She lived from Sept. 9, 1868-Aug. 13, 1934.
As he studied Austin's works, Riggs said a story emerged about young love cut tragically short. Two lovers are separated never to meet again, and the woman draws strength and healing from the land.
Riggs wrote a four-note melody that the flute plays in the opening movement, based on the wording of Austin's poetry, he said. Professional flautist Maya Lewis will perform with the choirs at the concert.
"The students have really enjoyed working on this piece," Riggs said. "Most of the choirs have performed one or more of my compositions in the past, but this is the first extended work of mine these kids have experienced. They've really taken to it, and are sounding great!"
He noted that the church is an amazing space acoustically for choral performances, but that audience noise also carries clearly, so it may not be the best setting for young children.
The two vocal groups will each perform separately, and then will combine along with a few other adult singers to present "Spirit Song."
Courtesy photo
The 2015-16 Tahoma High School Concert Choir will perform along with semi-professional vocal group Resonate next week.
THS athletes sign national letters of intent with colleges 
Ten Tahoma High School students signed national letters of intent Wednesday to attend college as student-athletes. They are: Mia Corbin, soccer, Cal Berkeley; Amandre Williams, football, University of Washington; Hadley Bezon, soccer, Eastern Washington University; Madison Bellmore, soccer, Green River College; Kaitlyn Brantzeg, soccer, Pierce College; Alex Young, soccer, Evergreen State College; Logan Fewkes, baseball, Yakima Valley Community College; Isabella Isgrig, soccer, Northwest Nazarene University; Caleb Brown, football, Idaho State University; Ian Turner, baseball, Mt. Hood Community College.
Rock Creek thanks "Super Dave" with superhero sendoff
Rock Creek Elementary School head custodian Dave Oertel was honored by students and staff at a recent spirit assembly.  Often affectionately referred to as "Super Dave," Oertel is retiring after 33 years with the district. He was a Rock Creek custodian from the time the school opened in 1992. 

In the photo, RCES Principal Fritz Gere listens while Oertel addresses students and staff.
Tahoma HS band students win contest
Tahoma band students competed last weekend in the Green River Music Educator's Association senior solo and ensemble competition at Auburn Riverside High School.  Pictured here are, back Row: Matthew Scarry, Aaron Sturgill, Isabelle Mucke, Caleb Hays, Dylan Gallez, Christopher Willers and Marius Falconeer. Front row: Bradley Bjorn, Cameron Plett, Ian Callen, Nicolas Merle.  Not Pictured: Jordan Binder, Michael Hogg. First place winners who will proceed to state in April include Merle on tuba, Callen on euphonium and Plett on french horn.  Second place winners included the Con Spirito Brass Quintet: Falconeer, Mucke, Gallez, Callen and Merle.  Third place winners were Bjorn on alto saxophone and Hoag on trombone.
Two teams with Tahoma students compete in state robotics competition

Two teams made up of Tahoma students competed last weekend at the FIRST Lego League State Championship at the Kent ShoWare Center.

For its second year, team "Beam On!" returned to the competition. The team is made up of fifth- through seventh-graders.

This was the "Seattle Rainbots'" first year in this level of competition; they moved up from the Junior First Lego League. 

The challenge this year was called "Trash Trek Challenge," and teams are scored on how their robot performs in the field, their research on ways to reduce trash and encourage recycling, and their project to solve a specific problem regarding trash and recycling.

About 600 teams competed and 30 proceeded to the state level.
Courtesy photo

Team Rainbot coaches: John Brady and Mark Castelluccio.  Students in b ack row: Benjamin B., Benjamin C., team captain Shane C.  Front Row: Brian C., Yash B., Daniel C.

Courtesy photo
Team "Beam On!" from left to right: Phoebe C., Coach Tang Cheam, Lucy C., Mallika S., Nikita C.,  Maya C., Elizabeth O., Cara L., Stella R., Emily C., Coach Teresa Cheam.
Shadow Lake Elementary awarded cash prize for sustainability
Usagain recently presented Shadow Lake Elementary with a check for $50 for winning third place in the state for participating schools. The Usagain program provides bins to collect clothing, shoes, purses, old towels and other items. The company repurposes and recycles all of the materials, and also pays the school a small amount of money for the materials by weight. A selection of students received the check at the presentation. Top row, left to right: Stina R., Caroline P., Katie C., Tanner P., Finn K., Hailey C., Payton K. Bottom row: Brooklyn G., Lucy C., Katie D., Ivah R., Meghan L., Molly W.
Bond Oversight Committee receives update
Members of the district's Financial Oversight Committee met last week with school district staff to hear how bond-funded projects such as the high school and Lake Wilderness rebuild have been progressing. Both projects are within budget, and the high school is considerably under budget so far. The high school budget is about $165.3 million and the LWES budget is $42.9 million.

In addition, both are on schedule to open in the fall of 2017. The current timeline calls for a groundbreaking ceremony for Lake Wilderness on June 16.  In case you missed the most recent version of the LWES plans, they can be seen here in a previous issue of Tahoma Matters: http://goo.gl/XPUfp1

The committee also heard about renovation plans for the current middle schools, which will be retrofitted into elementary buildings; and for the current high school and junior high, which have some modifications and a few improvements made. The total for all those projects is estimated at $7.6 million, which will also come from bond proceeds.

Tahoma faculty to perform in benefit concert
Hearing your own music teacher perform live in concert is a fun opportunity for Tahoma kids that happens once a year at the Tahoma Music Faculty Concert in memory of Mary Lou Harting, former Tahoma music teacher.  This year's concert is at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5 at Tahoma Middle school, with a suggested donation of $5 for admission.

The special guest star this year is Steve Sogura, Tahoma maintenance staff member and Elvis Presley impersonator.

All proceeds benefit scholarships for Tahoma High School senior music students. The concert is sponsored by the Maple Valley Creative Arts Council.

Kindergarten registration approaches
At each Tahoma elementary school, kindergarten registration will happen earlier than usual for the 2016-17 school year.

Registration week will be Feb. 22-26, 2016. All-day kindergarten applications will be due in early March. To register your child for kindergarten (beginning on Feb. 22), visit the office at the individual school he or she will attend. If you are unsure which school you are assigned to, call our Transportation Department at 425-413-3220.

A lottery to select students for the available all-day kindergarten seats will take place in March and parents will be notified by April.  If you know a family with a student who will be in kindergarten next school year, please share this information.

District presents LWES plan to City Council
Superintendent Rob Morrow attended the Maple Valley City Council on Monday, Jan. 25, to present the preliminary plans for the rebuild of Lake Wilderness Elementary School.

The plans call for the new building to be built behind the current buildings, at the back of the property. There will be approximately five to six acres of open space available, and school district officials are willing to discuss with city officials the possibility of the city developing ball fields on the available land.

"This might be the next step in the evolution of the school district and the city working together," Morrow said.

Maple Valley legislators invite community members to meeting
Community members are invited to join legislators at a meeting to ask questions and share concerns. The meeting is from 10-11 a.m. on Feb. 20 at the Greater Maple Valley Community Center.

Representatives Chad Magendanz and Jay Rodne are scheduled to attend, to talk about what has been happening this legislative session and listen to residents.

Children's Christmas Gift Program was a success
Staff at the Maple Valley Food Bank and Emergency Services recently wrote to thank Tahoma staff, students and families collected gifts for their contributions to the Children's Christmas Gift Program.  Each Tahoma school and Central Services participated in the gift drive.

"We are so grateful to have received thousands of wonderful gifts," wrote Angela Wilhelm, project coordinator for the food bank. "You helped make the holidays brighter for local children in need. Thank you for your tremendous support of our Children's Christmas Gift Program."

The donations helped the food bank create a gift center stocked with new toys, presents and gift cards for registered clients. Parents were able to select about four gifts per child plus stocking stuffers for 927 children.

Through food and monetary donations, the food bank was also able to provide the makings for 1035 traditional family dinners for clients.

"Friendship Week" celebrated at Tahoma Junior High
Tahoma Junior High's Leadership and Be the Change teams hosted "Friendship Week" Jan. 19-22. Students chose the theme "I have a dream" to highlight messages from Martin Luther King Jr. -- particularly regarding kindness and inclusivity.

The week kicked off with each student and staff member receiving an individualized note with a quote from King. Cards were placed on the windows and up the main staircase, and students were invited to find and take their card.

During lunch, quotes about equality, acceptance, and treating others with respect were placed on each table for kids to read and discuss. Each morning during announcements, a clip of King's "I have a dream" speech were played, or a famous quote was read aloud.

The week concluded with an "I have a dream" activity at each of the three lunch periods. Students were given the opportunity to think about their dreams to make Tahoma Junior High a happy place for everyone. Students recorded their dreams on gold stars, which were displayed on posters in the hallways.
Tahoma Junior High leadership students who helped plan "Friendship Week." Some of the cards are visible on the wall behind them.
Spotlight on Rock Creek Elementary
Rock Creek student leaders attended last week's school board meeting to serve refreshments in honor of School Board Appreciation Month. The student leaders are, from left, secretary Ava M., historian Megan S., president Ellie R., vice president Slayton C. and treasurer Madison D. Board members, from left, are Bill Clausmeyer, Didem Pierson, Tim Adam, Mary Jane Glaser and Tami Henkel.
Construction at a glance
Looking northeast at the main, three-story classroom building, where considerable work is now happening on building systems inside the structure. Windows should begin to be installed later this month.
What's for lunch?
Coming up in Bear Country
FRIDAY, Feb. 5
Faculty Music Benefit Concert, in memory of Mary Lou Harting, 7 p.m., Tahoma Middle School.
Glacier Park Elementary PTSA '80s dance, 6:30 p.m., GPES
Lake Wilderness Elementary PTSA family fun night, 6 p.m., LWES

Tahoma HS Chamber Choir and Resonate vocal ensemble, 7 p.m., Shepherd of the Valley Church

Shadow Lake Elementary fourth-grade concert, 6:30 p.m., SLES

MONDAY, Feb. 15
No school, districtwide for midwinter break, Feb. 15-19

MONDAY, Feb. 22
Kindergarten registration week, districtwide, Feb. 22-26. All elementary sites.

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State and federal compliance: Tahoma School District provides equal educational opportunities and treatment for all students in all aspects of the academic and activity programs without discrimination based on race, religion, creed, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. RCW 49.60 Law Against Discrimination: The district will provide equal access to school facilities to the Boy Scouts of America and all other designated youth groups listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society. District programs shall be free from sexual harassment.
Tahoma Matters staff: Wendy Castleman: wcastlem@tahomasd.us
Tahoma School District  | http://www.tahomasd.us
25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Rd. S.E.
Maple Valley, WA 98038