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May 16, 2022
Helping families stay connected to Bend-La Pine Schools
Abi, a 'Friend to All,' Selected Prom Queen at Bend Senior High
When senior Abi Hamer thinks about Prom night at Bend Senior High School, her eyes sparkle and a giant grin spreads across her face. That’s because on May 7, at the school’s prom at the Bend Pavilion, Abi was elected Prom Queen by her fellow students. 

“I felt happy and excited and everybody cheered for me.”  

Abi, who has Down syndrome, is known for her friendly nature and good humor. 

“Abi is a friend to all. She’s a sunshine spot in the school. She always has a dance in her step,” said Junior Grace Finch, who is Abi’s friend and peer mentor.

Abi says she loves being at Bend High because she likes her kind teachers, especially Mrs. Fleming, and getting to be with her friends. “I like being at Bend High. Kids here aren’t mean. They are nice.” 

Abi is part of the school’s Unified sports teams and outside of school, Abi can often be found in the pool because she loves to swim. She also enjoys bowling, movies and LOVES a vanilla latte. 

Grace says seeing Abi wear the big golden crown feels good. “Abi is a rock star. It makes me feel good for Abi and feel good about our school, where we are accepting and like to celebrate everyone.”
Celebrating the Class of 2022
Our Class of 2022 is pretty amazing! Please help us celebrate these outstanding seniors by sharing a photo, student name, school and a special message about the student:

We will share these celebrations throughout June to honor our graduates.
News & Updates
Taking on Bias in Bend-La Pine Schools
All students should feel welcome and safe in our schools and that means taking a serious stand against bias in all its forms. Any incidents of bias are unacceptable and Bend-La Pine Schools' staff members are working to ensure our schools are safe spaces for all students.

Bias, discrimination and bullying are not new problems. What is new is that this year, Bend-La Pine Schools has updated its bias reporting system to make it easier to report, track, and respond to incidents of bias based on race, gender, religion, LGBTQ status, ability, economic status and more.

One of the many ways we are tackling this issue involves teaching students about what bias is and how to report it through age-appropriate lessons. These lessons are currently being piloted in a few dozen classrooms and at one school this year (see links to draft lessons). This summer, the lessons will be refined based on staff, student and family feedback. The goal is for students across the district to receive these lessons in the fall.

— Kinsey Martin, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Bend-La Pine Schools
Take a look at draft lessons

Want to learn more?
Take a deeper dive into the effort to take on bias in our recent podcast:
Community Invited to Review Foundational Skills Curriculum

Community members, staff and students are invited to share input on the Foundational Skills curriculum, part of English Language Arts, up for approval for adoption during the Bend-La Pine Schools’ Board of Directors meeting May 24. A team of Bend-La Pine Schools’ teachers and staff spent months reviewing options and gathering input from families, staff and students, before narrowing the curriculum options to one recommendation: Really Great Reading.

Community members are now invited to review the recommended option by viewing the materials online or signing up to view the materials in person in Bend or La Pine by May 19.

Review the materials online:

Sign up to review the materials in-person:
New Interim Principals Announced at Two Elementary Schools

Two longtime Bend-La Pine Schools’ assistant principals have been selected to serve as interim principals at two local elementary schools: Erich Brocker will serve as interim principal at Ponderosa Elementary School and Nichole Reiland will serve as interim principal at Pine Ridge Elementary School.

Ponderosa Elementary
Brocker is currently serving as Assistant Principal at William E. Miller Elementary School, a position he has held for seven years. Brocker will begin serving July 1, following Principal Stephen Austin, who is retiring.

Pine Ridge Elementary
Reiland is currently serving as Assistant Principal at Juniper Elementary School, a position she has held for four years. Reiland will begin serving July 1, following Principal Rochelle Williams, who has accepted a new position at the High Desert ESD.

Join Us Thursday and Start Earning $25 an Hour as a New School Bus Driver

Join us this Thursday! Community members are invited to test drive a school bus on an obstacle course, enjoy a free pizza lunch and get a job interview on the spot during interactive transportation job fairs hosted by Bend-La Pine Schools every Thursday for the next four weeks.

Join us: Thursdays May 19 and 26; and June 2 and 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Bend: 501 SE Second Street and La Pine: 16350 First Street, La Pine. Starting pay is now $25 per hour for drivers and paid training is provided to new hires looking to obtain or renew a Commercial Driver’s License. Learn more on our Jobs webpage,, or call 541-355-5700.
Caldera's Lin Hong shares her passion for Chinese Language
“My students have a lot of big dreams and I’m here to help support them.” - Lin Hong, Caldera Teacher
Lin Hong loves teaching Mandarin at Caldera High School and serving as Asian Family Liaison for Bend-La Pine Schools.
Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Lin Hong is hoping to change people’s perceptions about learning Mandarin. The Caldera High School teacher says it’s not as difficult as some folks think. 

“People are terrified of learning Chinese characters, but learning Mandarin is not any more difficult than any other language,” said Lin. 

Lin loves teaching the language and sharing Chinese culture with her students. Lin not only teaches two sections of Mandarin at Caldera, she also leads the Mandarin program at Central Oregon Community College (COCC). On top of that, Lin is also serving as a Asian Family liaison for Bend-La Pine Schools this year. 

Kudos and Celebrations
Bend High Senior Earns Top Scholarship to Columbia University
WOW! Huge congratulations are in order for Bend Senior High’s Malik Friedman, who just earned a full scholarship to Columbia University, as a member of the Kluge Scholar program! This is a tremendous honor given to just a handful of students each year by the Ivy League college based in New York. Malik is planning to pursue African American studies and jazz. 

Malik is a self-described activist who is always trying to figure out how to make our community better. Malik, who is Black and part of the LGBTQ+ community, serves as Vice President of the Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly, is a member of the local student union and works with a variety of mutual aid efforts. They are excited to continue to look for ways to build community in college. 

“I try to help the people in our community that are most vulnerable, most subjugated. I think about how we can all intersect and achieve better futures for all of us. I’m focusing on the stuff that’s most important to my heart.” 

Malik is also excited to go to college in New York because of the city’s great history with jazz. Malik is a passionate jazz musician, playing drums and piano. Heading for New York, Malik says, “It’s incredibly exciting. A bit daunting, but so exciting. I’m ready to keep learning. I’ll be a student for the rest of my life, whether that’s jazz, philosophy … maybe botany! We are curious creatures who love to learn.” 

Malik, we are excited to see where your next steps take you! Congratulations from all of us at Bend-La Pine Schools!
Champions For Students: Mountain View FFA Advisors

Mountain View High educators Jaimee Brentano and Jeff Papke were named Champions for Students during the May 10 board meeting.

These two serve as advisors for the renowned Bend FFA program, which currently includes more than 180 students in high schools throughout the area. It’s a huge program that supports the growth and development of so many students.

FFA is about agriculture, yes, but it’s also about leadership, about public speaking, about teamwork.

Thank you, School Nurses!

Last week we said "thank you" to our 24 school nurses day on School Nurses Day, May 11.

Our school nurses have a lot on their plates! They are charged with drafting health management plans for students, working closely with students and parents to manage illnesses such as diabetes, supporting students who are having mental health issues – and since March 2020 – serving critical roles in the response to the pandemic.

We celebrate these healthy heroes for all they do to help maintain healthy schools and support our students!
Bend-La Pine Schools Hosts First Ever Joint Military Recognition Event
On May 9, we hosted the first ever joint Military Recognition Event to celebrate students who have enlisted to serve in a military branch after graduation. More than a dozen students from high schools across the district attended the celebration at Mountain View High School.

We’re so proud of our graduates who have made a commitment to serve our country by enlisting in the Armed Forces!
Classroom Corner
Music + Screen Time at Three Rivers School

Middle Schoolers at Three Rivers School recently had the opportunity to combine music with screen time during a fun group event involving drums and coding programs.
May the Fourth Fun!

Students in Mrs. Zia's first grade class at R.E. Jewell Elementary celebrated May the Fourth (be with you) after a month-long "Reading Jedi" challenge. Throughout the month, students read biographies of famous historical Americans and made connections to the "Jedi" mind frame of peace, persistence, courage and helping others. They learned how real-life heroes overcame childhood obstacles, demonstrated growth mindset, and made goals to learn skills.

Over at Pilot Butte, the orchestra got into the spirit of May the Fourth with their amazing take on the Stars Wars theme song! Just like Yoda, we’re all ears on this one. Give it a listen below. 
Students Return to Nature for Outdoor School

We love seeing so many photos from our students at Camp Tamarack. Fifth-graders from around the district have been able to spend a full-day day at outdoor school, where they make nature-based crafts, explore the forest and so much more.
News from the Superintendent
Catch up with Supe's On! Podcast

For Teacher Appreciation Week, Dr. Cook headed to a middle school classroom to celebrate two outstanding educators. Cascade Middle School math teacher Brian Kent and special education teacher McKenna Johnsen share what they love about middle school (blunt, hilarious students who keep them young), how working together is building students’ confidence and what’s giving them hope. Plus, find out which of our teachers (who is still teaching today) inspired Kent as a high schooler by making it “cool to know stuff.” Listen now

This episode tackles a serious, disheartening subject: bias incidents in our schools. Superintendent Steven Cook, Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion Kinsey Martin and Assistant Director of Student Services Eric Powell walk listeners through what we are seeing in schools and how our staff are responding. Listeners will learn how many bias incidents have been reported this year, how each report is investigated and what restorative practices are in place to help after an incident. Listen now

Suggest a podcast guest

Superintendent Cook is always on the lookout for his next guest and would love to hear your thoughts. Send us an email with your suggestion:
Dr. Cook Goes Back to Kindergarten

Superintendent Steven Cook spent the day with our youngest students when he served as a substitute teacher at Juniper Elementary School last week. Dr. Cook says the day in kindergarten was a blast.

"I loved watching our students learn and play together and am so grateful for all of our educators who do this critical work every day," said Cook.
Recap of May 10 Board Meeting with Superintendent Steven Cook

Superintendent Steven Cook provides a short overview of what took place at the May 10 Board of Directors meeting including the district's response to bias incidents, Champion for Students Award and more.

Policy Under Review: Share Your Thoughts by May 24
Key Dates
Upcoming key dates and days of recognition:

  • May - Mental Health Awareness Month, Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
  • May 19 - Drive and Apply Bus Driving Event, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Bend and La Pine
  • May 24 - School Board Meeting
  • May 26 - Drive and Apply Bus Driving Event, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Bend and La Pine
  • May 30 - Memorial Day, No School
  • June - Pride Month
  • June 2 - Drive and Apply Bus Driving Event, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Bend and La Pine
  • June 9 at 7 p.m. - Mountain View High School Graduation
  • June 10 at 7 p.m. - La Pine High School Graduation
  • June 11 at 10 a.m. - Bend Senior High School Graduation, Summit High School Graduation
  • June 13 at 7 p.m. - Bend Tech Academy at Marshall High School Graduation
  • June 14 at 7 p.m. - Realms High School Graduation
  • June 16 - Last Day of School
  • June 19 - Juneteenth
  • June 21 - School Board Meeting
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