May 17, 2018
In this issue
MVMS Space & Flight students build, launch rockets RocketsLaunch
Members of the "Blue Origin" team prepare for their second test flight during class last week at Maple View Middle School.
Students from the Flight and Space classes at Maple View Middle School took to the field last week, to launch 2-liter bottle rockets that they had worked in teams to design and build. Grouped on the grass out past the track and baseball field, the students took turns placing their rockets on the launch pad and using a bicycle pump to add pressure to the bottles before releasing the valve.

"The whole point of this unit is the engineering design process, and working to fix your errors," said Shavon Modin, who teaches the Project Lead the Way class. Students created their rockets using the same basic design: a 2-liter bottle, fins, and a nose cone. Some groups modified their design or added details specifically for the look of the rocket. The challenge calls for students to attempt to build the highest-flying rocket possible; a functioning parachute would earn them extra credit.

"The name of our rocket is 'Clutch'" one group announced before launch. Another group named theirs "Blue Origin" after Jeff Bezos' Kent-based aerospace company.

The team members observed that on their first flight they pushed the nose cone down tighter and it flew higher. Lily O. said their biggest challenge was probably working with a parachute, because theirs never ejected properly.

Team member Madi H. said that she liked the fact that the project allowed variation.

"It's super creative. She gives you the general concept and you can design however you want," Madi said. "Mrs. Modin always has great ideas and makes everything really fun."

A few groups added a paper cutout of a person inside their rocket. One group built a triple-decker rocket, which looked so large that it didn't seem likely to fly high -- however, their excellent test flight proved they had calculated the weight, fins and other elements well.

While out in the field testing their rockets, students had access to duct tape, scissors, and other tools and items needed to make modifications and adjustments in between test flights.

In the classroom, examples of prior students' rockets hang from the ceiling as inspiration; the walls are covered in photos of scenes such as the Boeing assembly line. Project Lead the Way STEM curriculum that Tahoma is now using in the elementary and secondary levels. All Tahoma elementary students are now studying coding and robotics; to read more about that curriculum, click here

Eighth-grader Laina M. said she has enjoyed the rocket unit.

"It explores the engineering design process in a way that actually lets you materialize it. It's not just another seminar," Laina said. "It's not only fun; it's really immersive."

Students at Maple View Middle School test their 2-liter bottle rockets.
Students at Maple View Middle School test their 2-liter bottle rockets.

The student on the left uses a bicycle pump to add pressure to her team's rocket, while the student on the right waits to release the coupler that will launch the rocket.
Tiny origami dinosaurs bring joy to staff, students at THSTinyOrigami
Patricia Morris with some of her tiny origami dinosaurs
Tahoma High School sophomore Patricia Morris creates tiny origami dinosaurs to make students and staff members happy.
Shortly after students and staff started the year in the new Tahoma High School, tiny origami dinosaurs began to appear throughout the building. Someone left one on the circulation desk in the Learning Commons. That lone dino was joined by another and another, until soon it was a herd of delicate, colorful animals.

"We love it," librarian Lora Gillingham said, noting that staff and students stop by to look at the dinosaurs throughout the day. "It spreads joy, and it's delightful."

Initially the artist was unknown, but staff members eventually discovered that the small creations are the work of sophomore Patricia Morris.

"I put out like 20 dinosaurs on the first day of school. I didn't have the idea of anyone noticing that I did it or that people would collect them," Morris said. "I knew that if I left one around (the school), it would make someone happy. It makes me happy that someone else could be happy."

That simple wish to lift the spirits of students and staff members was the impetus behind what Gillingham has dubbed the "tiny origami movement" at the high school. When some students, staff or custodians find the small creations around the building, they sometimes bring them to the library. Other times, they keep them, Morris said.

"It's kind of like a small Easter egg hunt," she added, smiling as her fingers worked to create a Psittacosaurus out of an orange Post-It note. "One time, I put one in a crevice and it stayed there for like three weeks." On Valentine's Day this year, she hid 130 throughout the school -- her record for the most tiny works distributed in one day.

Morris, 15, said she first tried origami as an elementary student.

"In the fourth grade, people would make really cool modular origami," she said, noting that modular origami is a larger piece made up of smaller origami works. "I learned how to do that, and then made Pikachu."

After a break from origami, Morris rediscovered her love for the precise folding more recently. When researching new patterns online, she found a rhinoceros that she enjoyed making, and then a dinosaur -- another interest of hers. She has now made 24 different types of dinosaurs (and similar species such as pterodactyls), and estimates that she has created more than 1,000 altogether. A few other students have contributed small origami dragons, cranes and lillies to the "herd" on the circulation desk, as well.

Although Morris can make tiny origami using nearly any paper -- even Post-Its or Dum Dum sucker wrappers -- her preferred medium is slightly thicker colored paper that she special-orders in 4-inch squares. The repetition and method of origami is calming, she says, and creating and recreating some of the patterns has become so routine that she can almost create them with her eyes closed.

She says her earliest memory of learning about dinosaurs was when she participated in a second-grade play at a school in California. Morris didn't enjoy the play; however, her love of dinosaurs grew and now she is interested in becoming a paleontologist one day. While she hasn't taken classes about dinosaurs yet, they did have a unit that covered them in biology and she looks forward to the potential of some related classes when she begins Running Start at Green River College.

Morris now makes some of her own dinosaur origami patterns, such as a favorite of hers called the Amargasaurus, a type of sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous period. Another of her preferred species is the Simosuchous, a reptile with an unusually short skull, which she describes as a "cute little pug nose." But her all-time favorite is the Carnotaurus, a unique, fast predator and one of the most complete skeletons ever discovered by scientists, Morris said.

To check out origami patterns of your own, Morris recommends the Origami Resource Center as a starting point.

Tahoma spring sports teams head for postseason SpringSports
Courtesy photo
The Tahoma Bears varsity baseball team will head to the state tournament this weekend.

Tahoma's baseball team finished first in the North Puget Sound League with a record of 15-0, and clinched a berth in the state tournament with a 5-4 win over Kentridge High School on May 8. The team's overall record is 20-3.

"This year's team has been a pleasure to coach," said Russ Hayden, head coach. "This may be the most balanced team I have coached in my 26 years as head coach. We have very good pitchers, including Nick Dazell and Jacob Bacon, who are both 7-0 this season. Offensively our team has a batting average of around .350. On defense, our guys take very good care of the baseball, not allowing our opponents very many extra at bats."

The team's average GPA is above 3.5, which Hayden says makes his job much easier because he doesn't have to worry about players becoming academically ineligible.

The state playoffs begin Saturday at Heritage Park in Puyallup.

"On Saturday our focus will continue to be the same; be focused, make all the routine plays, play with confidence, and expect to win," Hayden said.

On Tuesday, 11 Tahoma players were named to the NPSL All-League Team:  MVP, Nick Dazell;  First team pitcher, Jacob Bacon;  First team shortstop, Mason Fritsch;  First team outfield, Kyle Sherick;  First team outfield, Cameron Green;  Second team catcher, Jake Bishop;  Second team second base, Donavan Yelle;  Second team third base, Grayson Kibby; 
Second team outfield, Adam Paganelli;  Second team designated hitter, Josh Parks;  Honorable mention pitcher, Jake Green;  Honorable mention first base, Brody Magbaleta.

While the regular golf season takes place in the fall, post-season play is completed in the spring. THS golfers Colt Sherrell and Parker Kneadler qualified in the fall for the state tournament. 

This week during the spring qualifier, senior Emma Adkins shot a PR and earned a spot in the state tournament. Also in the spring qualifier, Luke Sherrell advanced to the state tournament and Colby Watkins as second alternate. 

"Our focus will be working on our short games to make sure we put ourselves in best position to score well," boys golf coach Dave Reynoldson said. "I have two seniors who want to make a statement in this year's field and a freshman in Luke who is ready to test himself against the best in the state. If all goes well, we will have a good chance to finish well as a team and individually."

The state tournament is May 22 and 23; girls play in at Sun Willows in Pasco and boys play at Canyon Lakes in Kennewick.

Boys soccer
THS soccer seniors
Courtesy photo
The seniors on the Tahoma Bears varsity soccer team. 

Coach Zackary Pittis reports that the Bears soccer season went very well, and the team tied with Mt. Rainier for first place in the conference. The boys lost to Union HS in a shootout in the district tournament last week.

"It was an emotional season as we were playing with the memory of Garrett Sypole's death (he would have been a senior on our team this year), but the boys responded very well. I was really proud of the effort they put in this season," Pittis said.

The team graduated 12 seniors (9 of 11 starters) last school year, but exceeded expectations in some ways this year, he added. This year, the Bears will graduating eight seniors.

"(We have) a solid core of returners plus some exciting young players ready to move up in the program next year," Pittis said.

Tahoma athletes who received recognition as NPSL Cascade Division All-League players include: Connor Heintz, senior, second team forward; T.K. Saffold, junior, first team midfielder; Tyler Hardin, sophomore, second team midfielder; Jackson Welch, senior, honorable mention midfielder; Zach Schaut, sophomore, honorable mention defender; Collin Gage, sophomore, honorable mention goalkeeper.

The Tahoma High School Bears fastpitch team is 14-0 in league play and will play their first district game at 4:30 tomorrow against Todd Beamer High School at the Kent Service Club Ballfields. For details, click here.

Girls tennis
The tennis team racked up a record of 9 wins and 5 losses in league play.

Track and field
Both the boys and girls track and field teams earned first in the North Puget Sound League, and will compete in the district tournament today and Saturday.

For updates, follow them on Twitter here or check out their website here.

District kudosDistrictKudos
Bear selected for state scholarship
Kyle Sherick
Kyle Sherick

Tahoma High School senior Kyle Sherick is a recipient of the Smart Choices Scholarship, awarded by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. Sherick, an outfielder for the Bears baseball team headed for the state playoffs, and Katie Henneman of Tonasket High School each will receive a $5,000 scholarship.

"I was pretty excited," Sherick said. "I didn't think I would get the grand prize."

The scholarship, sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Washington and Les Schwab Tires, is awarded for achievement in academics, athletics, and community service.

Sherick, who was selected as a first-team outfielder by the North Puget Sound League this season, has won seven varsity letters at Tahoma, including four for tennis and three for baseball. He is a 4.0 student, has earned 25 college credits, and is a member of the National Honor Society. His service to the community includes participation in the Northwest Harvest Fights Hunger Program, Maple Valley Food Bank, and a memorial wreaths program to honor military veterans.

Sherick plans to attend Seattle University next fall, where he will continue to play baseball. He has been a three-year starter and leadoff hitter for the Bears baseball team. "The scholarship couldn't have gone to a more deserving young man," coach Russ Hayden said.

Tahoma Elementary goes purple for MPS
Principal Jerry Gaston with fifth-grader Rebecca.
Tahoma Elementary School Principal Jerry Gaston shared this photo of himself and fifth-grade student, Rebecca, who has MPS (

"Today (May 15) is national awareness day for this condition," Gaston said. "She and her mom asked that I share with the TES community, and many of us wore purple and ribbons today in support of Rebecca! What a great and supportive community we have at TES!"

Junior will be summer resident at museum
Tahoma High School junior Emily Clark was chosen to participate in the Washington Aerospace Scholars (W.A.S.) Summer Residency program. Clark's academic performance on the W.A.S. Phase One Curriculum qualified her for the residency program, which is designed to connect high school juniors with educational and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Phase One curriculum is designed by NASA and the University of Washington, and students were able to register to earn five UW credits if they completed it successfully. Phase Two is a six-day experience that will be held at the Museum of Flight during three sessions in June and July. In each session, student teams work together to plan a human mission to Mars with support from professional engineers/scientists, university students and certificated educators. They also receive briefings from aerospace professionals, tour engineering facilities and compete in hands-on engineering challenges.

Student and teacher applications for the 2018-19 program year will be available starting August 2018 at

THS students recognized for artwork
Tahoma High School students Julia Magalhaes and Kaylee Decker received honorable mentions for their artwork during a recent Congressional Art Competition hosted by U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert.

There were 57 pieces submitted by high school students from throughout the Eighth Congressional District; the winning piece, Addeline Piippo's "Gold," will hang in the U.S. Capitol for the next year. Piippo attends Bethel High School.

Elementary students sell lemonade for PTO donations
A group of seven students held a lemonade stand for two days in their neighborhood, and gave all their profits to the Cedar River Elementary Parent Teacher Organization. 

The group raised $130, and presented the PTO with their donation.

Denise Wagner, treasurer for the group, said she was surprised and touched by the students' thoughtfulness.

34 THS athletes sign Letters of IntentLettersOfIntent
Thirty-four Tahoma High School athletes were scheduled to sign Letters of Intent to play college sports on Wednesday afternoon. Above, from left are baseball players Kyle Sherick (Seattle University), Jacob Bacon (Columbia Basin College), Kevin Fokkema (Dordt College), Nick Dazell (Harvey Mudd College), Josh Parks (Centralia College), Jake Green (Pierce College), Adam Paganelli (Tacoma Community College), and Ryan Shipley (Big Bend Community College). 
From left are fastpitch player Kiera Shipley (Southern University), basketball player Ady Clabby (Bellevue College), volleyball player Hannah McPhetridge (North Idaho College), and volleyball player Karlee Lewis (Pierce College).
Football players from left, James Mathews (Linfield College), Kaleb Leonard (Laney College), and Tayvian Williams (Laney College).
At left, Ashlyn Hohn will play golf and basketball at Bellevue College. Kione Gill will wrestle at Clackamas Community College. Not pictured is Colt Sherrell, who will play golf at the University of Idaho.
Soccer players from left are Connor Heintz (Linfield College), Brooke Asbury (Eastern Washington University),  Katelyn Reeves (Bellevue College), Danielle Neilsen (Bellevue College), Abigail Despain (Seattle Pacific University), and Karly Stokes, who will play soccer and lacrosse (George Fox University). Standing are Natalie Wright (Yakima Valley College) and Payton Yantzer (Green River College). Not pictured is Grace Wooten (Concordia University in Portland).
From left, swimmers Bridget Duven (Pacific Lutheran University) and Abby Mattern (Linfield College).
From left, Breanna Glover, who will run cross country and track for Dartmouth College, Dawson Besst, who will run cross country and track for Colorado State University and Kylee Swartz, who will run track for Green River College.
News BriefsNewsBriefs
Roof repair, other School Board business
Maple View Middle School's roof will be cleaned, repaired and re-sealed this summer to ensure that it will last another 20 years.

The Tahoma School Board approved the work at its May 8 meeting by awarding a contract to Garland/DBS Inc. The company will apply a waterproof coating called White-Knight Plus to the 89,000 square foot roof and repair a portion of the Maxwell Stadium roof. The board approved spending $1,023,598.44 for the entire project.

In other business May 8, the School Board:
  • Selected names of volunteers to serve on the superintendent interview panels May 25. Using a blind draw, the board selected Laura Meyers and Elaine Chu as the parent members; Melissa Bean and Martina Morgan as teacher representatives; and Robert Bernard and Alan Eades to represent support staff.
  • Offered thanks to the volunteers who campaigned in support of the Educational Programs and Operations levy that was approved by voters in the April 24 election.
  • Postponed further discussion about establishing advisory committees on finance and school safety until the full school board can meet. Board member Val Paganelli was absent from the May 8 meeting due to a family commitment. The topic was added to the board's inquiry tracking system and will be addressed later this year.

Erin Jones visits THS Activists for Change group
Erin Jones talks to THS students during an Activists for Change meeting
Erin Jones, a former Tacoma Public Schools administrator who ran for State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016, spoke during a lunch hour meeting of the THS Activists for Change group.

Parents, community invited to "Jazz Nite" tomorrow
The jazz bands from Maple View and Summit Trail middle schools and Tahoma High School would like to invite you to the annual "Jazz Nite" concert, at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 18 at THS.

This marks the first year for this event in the new auditorium; the concert will also feature special guest artist Darren Motamedy, who will fly up from Las Vegas for the event. Motamedy is a saxophonist, flutist and composer who has released 12 smooth jazz albums since his debut, "First Generation" in 1989. Two of his albums have been selected as Jazz Album of the Year. Motamedy has performed with artists such as Kenny G, Jeff Lorber, Tom Scott, Ronnie Laws, Steve Oliver, Gerald Veasley, Paul Taylor, Marion Meadows, and has also performed for the Seahawks, Mariners, SuperSonics, Bill Gates and for the Russell Wilson Foundation. His current album, "Live a Special Day" is receiving kudos from fans across the globe.

Admission is free, and the directors have a surprise planned that you won't want to miss!

Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee reviews new plan
Tahoma School District's Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee is reviewing an updated emergency plan that will be put into effect next school year. The plan provides guidance to staff and students in the event of an emergency. The revised plan was constructed over the past year by members of the committee, led by Tahoma High School Safety Officer Karin Weihe.

The committee, which has representatives from every school and department as well as local law enforcement, fire district, and parents, held its final meeting of the year on May 2 and will resume meeting in September.

Rock Creek families, staff gather for fun with reading, math
A student and parent play a pattern game during family night
A student and parent play "Walk the Dogs," a game that helps players practice counting and multiplication during the recent family reading and math game night at Rock Creek Elementary. Students who attended were also able to select a new book to take home.

Third-grade teacher Andy Planellas, right, and STEM teacher Michelle Hagen, left, play "HedBanz" with a student during the game night. Teachers, reading & math specialists, Principal Chris Thomas, Dean John Schuster and other staff played games with students.

Computer science, software engineers wanted at THS
Volunteers who work in the computer science or software engineering field are wanted for the TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program at Tahoma High School.The Microsoft Philanthropies program recruits, mentors and places passionate high tech professionals into high school classes as volunteer instructors.

The experts bring their subject knowledge into the classroom, where they join a Tahoma teacher in a team teaching model. The program provides training, curriculum and support for the volunteers and the classroom teachers.

Tahoma High School has applied to this program for the 2018-19 school year. We are looking for volunteer Teaching Assistants (TAs) to assist the classroom teacher in teaching "AP Computer Science A: Introduction to Java Programming," which is based on the University of Washington's CSE 142 course. These classes will be held first period so that volunteers can get to their regular jobs.

Anyone who is interested may contact Marty Barber, Tahoma's CT
E director, at or submit a volunteer application at . For more information about TEALS, visit their website

Registration open for robotics camp sessions
The Bear Metal Robotics Boosters will offer three sessions of summer camp this year, for campers ages 8 to 14. During the camp, student counselors will teach attendees how to build a robot in groups using VEX robotics parts and programming. Participants will be given a game to play with specific tasks to score points much like what members of Bear Metal do during the year, but on a smaller scale. On the fifth day of camp, campers will compete against each other in a small competition that family and friends are invited to watch.
Sign-up forms for each camp available here:

*Camp session #1 for students entering grades 3-5, June 25 to June 29 ($200):
*Camp session #2 for students entering grades 6-8, July 9 to July 13 ($220):
*Camp Session #3 for students entering grades 3-5, July 16 to July 20 ($200):

Questions may be sent to Or, for more information, visit

Public invited to meet, hear superintendent candidates May 21
A full day of interviews and meetings for three superintendent finalists concludes with a public session in the Tahoma High School performing arts center, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 21. Candidates will answer questions submitted by staff and community members.

The three finalists will be chosen from a field of candidates who applied for the position as part of a national search to find the next Tahoma School District superintendent, following the retirement of Superintendent Rob Morrow June 30. A group of semifinalists will be interviewed by the School Board on Saturday, May 19. The finalists then will be invited to participate in an all-day interview process on Monday. Three interview panels, which include parents, students, staff, community leaders, administrators, and School Board members, will question the superintendent candidates. Candidates also will tour the school district.

Following Monday's interviews, the School Board will receive feedback from the interview panels and then will begin deliberating to determine which candidate will be offered the job. A final decision is expected by May 24.

Annual Bear Run & Walk open for registration
Bear Run poster
Students, families and community members are invited to participate in the 35th annual Maple Valley Bear Run/Walk 5K during Maple Valley Days on Sunday, June 10. The event is a fundraiser for the Tahoma Cross Country team.

Children ages 12 and younger can participate for free, thanks to sponsor Tab Wizard (there is a $2.50 handling fee per participant, however). All children ages 8 and younger must be accompanied by a registered adult or participant age 13 or older.

The Tahoma school with the most participants will earn the chance to display a large Bear Run stuffed bear throughout the school year (it's currently at Rock Creek, which won this challenge last year).

Anyone who registers by May 30 will receive a T-shirt.

The run starts at 9 a.m.; registration is from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. To register, click here:
Coming up in Bear CountryBearCountry
Mr. Tahoma Pageant, 6 p.m., Tahoma High School

, May 18
Cedar River Elementary Three Piggy Opera, times vary, CRES
District Jazz Band Night, 7 p.m., Tahoma High School
Elementary track meet (track students from all six elementary schools), 3 p.m., new Tahoma High School
Shadow Lake Elementary PTA spring carnival, 5 p.m., SLES

MONDAY, May 21
Summit Trail Middle School band concert, 7 p.m., STMS

Tahoma High School band concert, 7 p.m., THS

Spring Future Ready Day, grades 9-11 early release at 11:45 a.m. Senior oral boards begin at noon.

FRIDAY, May 25
NO SCHOOL, districtwide (unnecessary inclement weather makeup day)

MONDAY, May 28
NO SCHOOL, districtwide, for Memorial Day

Rock Creek Elementary PTO carnival, 5 p.m., RCES
Shadow Lake Elementary PTA spring carnival, 5 p.m., SLES

FRIDAY, June 1
Tahoma Elementary PTO carnival, 5-8 p.m., TES

What's for lunch?LunchMenu

The Tahoma School District does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination: 

Title IX Officer
Director of Human Resources
25720 Maple Valley Highway
Maple Valley, WA 98038
ADA Coordinator
Director of Human Resources
25720 Maple Valley Highway
Maple Valley, WA 98038
Section 504 Coordinator
Director of Special Services
25720 Maple Valley Highway
Maple Valley, WA 98038
Tahoma Matters staff Wendy Castleman:
 Tahoma School District | 425-413-3400 |