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Dec. 17, 2021
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From Superintendent Steven Cook:
Winter break can bring a mix of so many different things. It’s a welcome break; it’s a stressful time away from routines; it’s bonding time with family; it’s a time when loss is felt deeply: all of this can be true. And for those who are struggling, I want to remind you that support is available.  

Earlier this week, I spoke with two of our dedicated school counselors about why this time of year can be challenging for many. They shared that many of our families, staff and students are experiencing grief, losing a loved one or a major change in family patterns and traditions.

Despite the twinkling lights and seasonal music, our counselors reminded us that it’s OK to not feel joy and peace. And, this is key, it’s OK to ask for help. 

Deep Dive: Supporting Student Mental Health Superintendent Steven Cook talks with two dynamic school counselors about why this time of year can be challenging for some families, finding our strengths, how to talk to teens about serious issues and why our students make them hopeful for the future. Thank you to Bend Senior High School’s Christine Ewing and La Pine High School’s Kelsey Jaeckel for sharing your stories and passion for supporting students with listeners. Listen now:
Lava Bear earns prestigious full ride scholarship

On Dec. 1, Sinai Godino-Gomez, a senior at Bend Senior High School, got news that will undoubtedly change her life: Sinai earned a full ride to Duke University, which will cover the costs of tuition, room and board, about $80,000 a year, as part of a prestigious Questbridge scholarship program. 

Sinai waited to read the email with the news until she could be alongside her mom, who Sinai calls her best friend.  

“I took a deep breath before I clicked on the email and just thought, if this is for me, great, if not that’s OK.” When she saw the word congratulations, Sinai and her mom cried and hugged, knowing the huge impact this news would have on all of their lives. 

Sinai, who is the first in her family to attend college, is proud to have earned this scholarship and hopes she can be an inspiration for other students, especially Hispanic females.

Bus Driver Goes Above and Beyond After Crash

We don't throw around the word HEROIC very often, but that term surely fits here.

At the Dec. 14 school board meeting, we handed out a brand new honor: Above and Beyond the Call of Duty. We were inspired to create this award after we heard about the actions of bus driver John Norwood about a month ago.

John was driving the school bus to pick up his students from North Star Elementary - sitting in the turn lane, waiting to turn left. Thankfully the bus was empty that day as John had not yet stopped at the school. That’s when a car going towards the bus, crossed into the turn lane and hit the school bus head on.

The bus sustained substantial damage and was totaled. Thankfully, the high standard of construction for school buses protected our driver and John sustained little injury. The same, unfortunately, could not be said for the other driver. This is when John’s training and character really kicked in.

News & Updates
Reminder: Think Before you Post
Social Media Trends: Recently, schools across the country have investigated a number of reports of damage to bathrooms and furniture, and hoax threats of targeted violence against schools. We take these “challenges” — often issued via text message or posted on social media— very seriously. School leadership and law enforcement partners investigate every tip to ensure the safety of our students, staff and community. Hoax threats can result in both arrest by law enforcement and/or suspension or expulsion by the school district. Hoax threats are not a joke, and they can have devastating consequences—both for the public and for those who post them.

Board Leadership Listening Session Set Jan. 20

The School Board's Winter Board Leadership Listening Session will take place Thursday, Jan. 20 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Caldera High School in Bend. Questions must be submitted in advance and registration is required to attend. Submit a question to Board Leadership and/or register to attend the event by completing this form online.

Attendance is limited to 200. An audio recording will be made available following the conclusion of the event. Interpreters are available upon request.
Free Rapid PCR Testing Available at COCC

No-cost rapid PCR COVID-19 testing is now available on COCC’s Bend and Redmond campuses, thanks to OHA, Deschutes County Health Services, and OHA.

Appointments via 
Mondays - Fridays, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., in front of the Coats Campus Center, 2600 NW College Way, Bend

Curative will text and email results to individuals within 1-2 hours of their test. Tests are available to anyone, regardless of their place of residence or age.
Vaccine Opportunities for Ages 5-11 Continue

Interested families can find information about COVID-19 vaccination opportunities in Central Oregon for residents age 5-11 using a dashboard with local clinic dates and times.

The information was shared thanks to efforts and coordination from Bend-La Pine Schools and local health care providers after the announcement from the CDC and FDA of the authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for those ages 5-11. 

Learn more:
Dec. 14: School Board Meeting Recap
This recap from Superintendent Steven Cook includes information about retire/rehire process, how alternative learning options are serving our communities, a new partnership with Deschutes County, a financial report and new approved policies, including one stating that guns are no longer allowed on school campuses. Watch now.
Snow is here: Do you know if school is in session? Watch short clip for details
Snow is here! In this short clip, learn how we decide whether to delay or close schools during inclement weather (staff hit the roads at 3 a.m.!) and find out how to learn about those decisions as soon as they happen. Featuring Transportation Director Kim Crabtree and Superintendent Steven Cook.

Sign up today for BLConnect: and My Stop:
New: Public process for policies, regulations under review
Classroom Corner
Engaging activities and learning happening every day in our schools
Intensives Week at Realms High

It’s Intensives week at Realms High School, which means students are taking a break from regular classes to do a deep dive into all sorts of interactive academic offerings, from fermentation cooking to eco-friendly sewing to learning about service dogs. What a fun and engaging way to learn!
Things are heating up in La Pine Middle School

Students in Mr. Haney’s Foods Class are learning how to make some tasty treats and dishes from cookies to lasagna and pot stickers! YUM!
Schools dive in to computer science, coding

At Juniper Elementary, Bend-La Pine Schools’ technology magnet school, the entire school recently celebrated Computer Science Education Week with a full week of engaging, hands-on activities like learning basic coding and designing computer programs.

"Coding challenges me and it’s fun." 

Kudos and Celebrations
Students champion changes to menstrual product access in schools statewide
Students in the Design Justice class at Bend Senior High School are celebrating a tangible victory for a long-championed project, as free menstrual products are now in place at schools throughout Bend-La Pine Schools and now being installed in schools across the state.

For more than two years, Bend Senior High students advocated for this project, testifying before state lawmakers on behalf of the Menstrual Dignity Act and, after the law’s passage, helping design and edit a toolkit to implement the new guidelines.

Bend Senior High sophomore Isobel McDonald has been part of the effort by students and says it’s gratifying to see the dispensers in place.

“It's exciting to work on projects where we get to see real time results. The menstrual product dispensers, which provide free tampons and pads, are creating equity and providing a product that all students can access easily, which hasn't always been the case. The process of working to bring dispensers to the district and to also work on the state law has been really rewarding,” said McDonald.
Champion for Students: Multilingual Department
During the Dec. 14 Board Meeting, we honored our Multilingual Department and their outsized contributions to our schools with our Champion for Students honor.

The Multilingual department, represented by family liaison Liz Vargas, and ELL specialist Carole Nase, as well as Director Kinsey Martin, helps to connect our multilingual families with our schools in many different ways and their efforts make a powerful, positive difference, in particular for many families who have been historically underserved.

We have nearly 45 staff members serving in this department, including over 30 specialists, 8 liaisons, as well as other roles like instructional coaches and professional translators. Between them all, staff on this team speak 7 languages fluently, and the team includes native speakers of English, Spanish, Finnish, Persian, and Mandarin.

Key Dates
Key Dates and Days of Recognition
  • Dec. 20-31 – Winter Break
  • Dec. 25 – Christmas
  • Dec. 26 - Jan.1 – Kwanzaa
  • January – School Board Appreciation Month
  • Jan. 1 – New Year's Day
  • Jan. 9 – National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day/SRO Appreciation
  • Jan. 11 – School Board Meeting
  • Jan. 17 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
Resources for Families
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