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Feb. 17, 2022
Helping families stay connected to Bend-La Pine Schools.
Third-graders share a moment of inclusion to remember
Today I want to share an experience that filled me with hope and reminded me of the power of kindness. While I was recently working at R.E. Jewell Elementary School, the principal invited me to step inside the music classroom to watch a special performance. 

Music teacher Leslie Johns loves to create musical connections for students throughout the school. When I walked into her classroom that day, I saw a class of third-graders singing Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World.” In addition to singing, the students were also using American Sign Language to sign the lyrics:

“I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.”

At the front of the classroom sat David, a kindergarten student who is hearing-impaired, soaking up the performance. Johns came up with the idea for the older students to learn the signs to the song as a way for the kindergartner to be included in the musical performance. She says the students loved this idea and put their hearts into learning the signs so they could sign along with David.

COVID-19 Updates and Resources
How state lifting school mask mandate will affect our schools
Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will lift the mandatory masking rule (333-019-1015) for schools on March 31. This move effectively gives decision making authority regarding required indoor masking to local school boards.

This means after March 31, Bend-La Pine Schools will strongly recommend and no longer require mask wearing for staff and students, in accordance with our current operational plan, in all buildings and at events, athletics and activities. Bend-La Pine Schools will continue to strongly recommend the use of face coverings in schools in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Some families have reached out to ask, "Why not just take masks off now?" The simple answer is that we cannot violate state laws regarding mask wearing without consequences from the state. These consequences could include legal liability concerns, revoked licenses for educators, fines and loss of funding, all of which could negatively impact the experience of students in classrooms. Bend-La Pine Schools' leadership team is continuing to talk with Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and OHA about how these state decisions affect local schools and families.
What is expected to change (or stay the same) after March 31 ...
Masking on buses may continue

Federal mandates currently require masks on public transportation, which includes school buses. This rule, which cannot be waived by state or local authorities, is set to be reviewed in March by the federal government.
Get Vaccinated Now

The mask mandate is slated to lift in a little more than 6 weeks, giving families and staff a window of opportunity to get vaccinated (or boosted).

Check out our recently updated dashboard to find many opportunities in February for vaccines for those ages 5 and older.
More About Masks

According to OHA, a “face covering” is defined as a cloth, polypropylene, paper or other face covering that covers the nose and the mouth and that rests snugly above the nose, below the mouth, and on the sides of the face.

The following are not face coverings: A covering that incorporates a valve that is designed to facilitate easy exhalation, mesh masks, lace masks or other covers with openings, holes, visible gaps in the design or material, or vents – these items allow droplets to be released.

OHA also recommends against single layer covers (e.g., bandana, gaiter, or scarf) because they generally have limited filtration ability.

Additionally, experts are making new recommendations regarding the types of masks that provide the best protection: BEST - N95, KN95 and KF94; BETTER - surgical mask + cloth mask; GOOD - surgical mask alone; POOR - cloth mask.
News from the Superintendent
Athletic Directors getting back on track
Dr. Steven Cook talks with two athletic directors about the moment everything changed in their worlds, how they handle ever-changing protocols, and the transformative power of athletics. Caldera’s Dave Williams and Mountain View’s Lance Haas share the importance of staying flexible and why they know their work matters for kids. 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:
Feb. 8: School Board Meeting Recap
Dr. Cook offered a breakdown of how the changes in the mask mandate will affect schools, staff and students after March 31.

Lots of reasons to 'Love the Bus'

February is Love the Bus month and to show our support for our outstanding Transportation staff members, Superintendent Steven Cook spent the morning learning more about what it’s like driving one of our school buses. From safety checks at 6 a.m. to fun conversations with students, the ride-a-long highlighted the dedication and importance of our school bus drivers and all of our Transportation Department staff.

Policies Under Review: Every Student Belongs
News & Updates
Upcoming Key Dates

During the coming months, families and students will have the opportunity to learn about many schools and programs throughout the district and, in some cases, to apply for specific options. The following key dates offer families information about the opportunities available to students at Bend-La Pine Schools’ 33 schools including:
  • High School Choice Option Schools (applications due March 1)
  • K-8 Choice Option Schools (applications due March 18)
  • Attendance Area Change Requests (applications due March 1)
  • Inter-District Transfers (contact your home district for specifics)
  • High School Information Nights (March 14)
Note: All in-person events may be cancelled or switched to virtual as health and safety conditions allow. Virtual events will be recorded and can be accessed after the scheduled dates.

Learn more about important upcoming dates:
State hosts event about graduation requirements

In 2021, the state legislature directed the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to review state high school graduation requirements. As part of that work, ODE wants to know what matters most to people about earning a high school diploma in our state. Oregon’s Kitchen Table (, a program of Portland State University, is working with ODE to gather input from people across the state about this topic.

It is important for policymakers to hear about your and your family’s experience in school. What you share will help ODE make recommendations about high school graduation requirements.

Join the Zoom conversation for Bend-La Pine Schools community members on Feb. 246-8 p.m. To attend, participants can register here High School Graduation Requirements Conversation
La Pine student testifies before U.S. Senate about about mental health

Trace Terrell, a student at La Pine High School, testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee about the importance of student mental health this week.

Trace is a volunteer with YouthLine, a peer-to-peer crisis line. He shared his own experiences as well as stories of students he's worked with during the years and urged senators to take action.

"If there’s anything I want to leave with you today, it’s this: Teens are talking — and we need you
to listen."

Read Trace's full testimony or watch the hearing online (Trace speaks at the 51 minute mark).
Kudos and Celebrations
Mountain View Student Artwork Honors Black Americans
“I hope when people walk by this door they see that beauty comes in all different colors and sizes. I want everyone to feel at home when they are at school.”

Mountain View High School sophomore Honey Walk spent many hours brainstorming and creating this artistic door to the school’s Media Center in honor of Black History Month. The artwork includes three-dimensional texture, shiny laminated red lips, a colorful quilted headscarf and clothing made up of black and white pictures of historical Black Americans.

Honey loves working on artistic projects in the school to make the school more beautiful and to highlight different cultures. This project was a collaboration with the school’s media center, which also has many other displays honoring Black Americans including quotes, short biographies, bookmarks and a book display.

Honey says she feels at home at Mountain View, where she is a member of the Student Council. “I love to learn and love to find out new things and feel independent.”

Congratulations, Honey, on this awesome, beautiful display! We can’t wait to see what you do next. 
Champions for Students: Art Teacher Pat Roberts

Superintendent Cook and the board honored longtime art teacher Pat Roberts during the Feb. 8 Board Meeting. Pat has served for nearly 30 years at Pilot Butte Middle School, where she has inspired thousands of students to tap into their creativity and find their own voices. In fact, you can see the artwork of some of Pat’s talented students hanging in the boardroom tonight.

Pat is known as an inspiring and creative teacher who makes great connections with students. She loves teaching middle school students in particular, as she says it’s a time for students to try new things, experiment and find their passions.

Band Director Earns Top Honor from State

Cooper Ottum, band director at Summit High School and Pacific Crest Middle School, recently received the 2022 Outstanding Early Career Music Educator Award from the Oregon Music Education Association (OMEA) for his exemplary work with students and the community. Ottum is one of just two award recipients from across the state.  
“It was an honor to be recognized by OMEA for the inaugural year of this award,” Ottum said. “I am proud to be committed to teaching performing arts at Summit and Pacific Crest and am privileged to work with fantastic students and colleagues at both schools.”

Spotlight: Three New Elementary School Counselors
In honor of National School Counseling Week, we checked in with three school counselors serving at Rosland Elementary, La Pine Elementary and Bear Creek Elementary, to see how the year is going. School counselors Sally Brown, Jared Larson and Toby Abraham-Rhine are new school counselors at the elementary level, beginning their roles at the start of the year. 
Jared Larson is in his first year at La Pine Elementary, a school counselor for a total of seven years. Jared said the favorite part of his role is making connections and relationships with students, “When I build those relationships, this is where kids can trust, open up, and I can help them with the needs that they have.”
Toby Abraham-Rhine has been a school counselor for 36 years, beginning her role at Bear Creek this year. She said she enjoys connecting with children and listening to them and offering hope. “It is most gratifying when the ‘light goes on’ and a student has a revelation or you see the stress leave their eyes. Even though I can’t solve the bulk of the situations brought before me, there is often a small step toward healing just by sharing it aloud in a safe space.”
Rosland Elementary’s Sally Brown was a longtime teacher who later transitioned into a school counseling role and she says she is absolutely loving it. “The best part of my day is working with students to become the best version of themselves. I get to do a little bit of everything since I teach in the classroom, run small groups, and do individual check-ins. I feel blessed to be a part of the amazing, caring, and dedicated community that we have here at Rosland Elementary.”
Classroom Corner
Loving this view!

Check out this creative map of Bend, created with repurposed milk cartons and other objects. Do you see your house or favorite local landmark? Kindergartners at Bear Creek Elementary School created this 3D map of Bend as part of their community study.
Valentine's candy + math= FUN!

Students at North Star Elementary celebrated Valentine's Day with some conversation heart graphing. Combining candy with an interactive fun math project is a quick way to our hearts!
Play house construction is serious work at Bend High

Bend Senior High manufacturing students are in the process of building shed play houses. Once complete, these play houses will be decked out with all the comforts of home including T111 siding, electrical (lights and outlets), drywall, baseboard trim and hardwood flooring!
Key Dates
Key Dates and Days of Recognition

  • February – Black History Month
  • Feb. 21 – Presidents Day, No School
  • March Music in our Schools Month; Women's History Month;
Youth Art Month; National Nutrition Month
  • March 1 – Attendance Area Change Requests Due; Choice Option High School Applications Due
  • March 6-13 – Classified Employee Appreciation Week
  • March 8 - Bend-La Pine Schools' Board of Directors meeting - watch online:
  • March 13 – Daylight Savings
  • March 14 – High School Information Nights
  • March 18 – Choice Option K-8 Applications Due
  • March 21-25 - Spring Break, no school
Resources for Families
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