June 14, 2019
In this issue:
Congratulations, THS class of 2019!
Levy dollars focus: Extracurriculars vital to students
D&D Club builds creativity, relationships
Elementaries are "Fostering Resilient Learners"
School Board news: Budget, dress code
Freshmen propose environmental action plans
End of year information
New fire standards for paper on walls
District kudos
News briefs
Summer construction preview
Coming up in Bear Country
What's for lunch?

Congratulations, THS class of 2019!
Above: Salutatorian Hitesh Boinpally, right, speaks as Valedictorian Estelle Neathery smiles.
Below: Members of the graduating class listen during the ceremony.
Nearly 540 students received their diploma Thursday evening during the 93rd Tahoma High School Commencement Exercises. For more photos from graduation, visit our Facebook page or Instagram account. Senior awards were distributed in a ceremony last week. For a list of awards, click here.

Salutatorian Hitesh Boinpally spoke using an analogy, saying that after a seed is planted, it must be nurtured in order to grow and change. "It is our duty to extend our prosperity to others," he said. "Tahoma has planted the seed. All that is left is for us to now succeed." 

Neathery thanked her family, the faculty and staff. She asked her classmates to have goals, but not to forget to live and make memories while working hard to accomplish those goals. "Class of 2019, we are an amazing group of students. We are future engineers, fifth-grade teachers, software developers, public health workers, doctors and lawyers. But we are so much more than these things. ... Do not let desires of superficial value sway you into ignoring what you live for, but live for the things that you love. For the people that you love."

School Board President Didem Pierson spoke about motivation and inspiration. The graduates in the class of 2019 are an inspiration to the Tahoma community, Pierson said.

Tahoma High School Principal Terry Duty spoke about the things that bring joy in life, including relationships, kindness and fulfilment. "The only things that matter in life are the lessons that we learn," Duty said. He asked the graduates who plan to serve in the U.S. Military to stand and be recognized, and also lauded the class for their many accomplishments throughout the school year.

The ceremony included a prelude and processional by the Tahoma High School combined concert ensemble and the symphonic winds/wind symphony, as well as a performance of "God Only Knows" by the jazz choir and "Jazz Police" by the jazz band.

Tahoma Superintendent Tony Giurado congratulated the seniors, their parents and the teachers and staff who helped them achieve this goal.

Senior Class President and Vice President Makenna Kilgallon and Megan Bartlett led the graduates in the moving of the tassel before they tossed their caps in the air. As the applause faded away, the song "Celebration" came on and some graduates began to dance as others hugged.
Levy dollars focus: Extracurriculars are vital to students
Editor’s note: Tahoma uses levy dollars to help pay for positions and programs that the state and federal government do not fully fund. This article is the second in an ongoing, occasional series about the ways that levy dollars are spent in the district and how they contribute to the excellent education, safety and well-being of our students.

Student success is built on many things, including experiences outside the classroom. Establishing a connection to school through extracurricular activities can contribute greatly to a successful, high quality education.

Tahoma students have a wide array of extracurricular choices, including sports, drama, music, robotics, and other clubs and activities that are paid for primarily through local levy dollars.

The 2018-2019 budget includes $1,215,000 for extracurricular activities directly from levy funds, along with an additional $110,000 of pay-to-play, and some ASB (associated student body) and CTE (career technical education) funds.

Many students who participate in drama and theater classes and productions say that they’ve finally found a safe space and a sense of belonging, says teacher and director Melissa Bean. “Theatre kids tend to be some of the kindest and most accepting individuals on the planet,” Bean said. “Kids who haven’t been able to find their place find a ‘home’ in our PAC hallway.”

Theater not only offers the chance for connection and belonging -- for some students, it’s the primary reason they show up and attend. “I have many students who wouldn’t have stayed in school had they not been a part of the program. Being involved with drama and music was what actually got them to school,” she added.

Performing on stage (and building sets, stage managing and all the related tasks) helps students build many Future Ready skills, Bean said. “Ken Riggs (music teacher/director) and I have often talked about how ingrained the Future Ready skills are into what we do. In times past, when we’ve been asked to focus on one particular skill, it’s actually been a challenge, because the skills are so intertwined into our process,” she said. “In putting together a concert or a musical or play production, students are practicing literally every Future Ready skill, often without actually realizing it.”  

Bean offered these examples:
  • Collaborative Teammate: Being a part of an ensemble, cast, or crew to make a production happen; without collaboration, it doesn’t happen.
  • Community Contributor: Students are volunteering their time, whether through help with sets, costumes, technical elements, etc., to create our final product; in theater, we focus on creating a safe space and respectful community for all involved.
  • Complex Thinker: So many ways! How to make a set change happen seamlessly, how to approach character analysis, design work, any of the hundreds of little challenges that can pop up in a rehearsal process.
  • Conscientious Worker: Students have to work hard for a production to occur; since there is so much emphasis on team, every “cog in the machine” has to do their part on a deadline, otherwise, we’d never be able to make these large-scale productions happen.
  • Effective Communicator: Theater is all about communication, not only between actors, but between designers to the director, stage managers to their crew, actors and crew with each other. If communication didn’t occur, the overall vision of the team could not be executed.
  • Quality Producer: Our final product!
  • Responsible Decision-Maker: Emphasis on taking care of the voice and body, as well as mental and physical health; finding the balance to be a part of such a large-scale undertaking, but also keeping up with school, family, etc. Also, theater is live. If something goes wrong backstage, students have literally seconds to figure out a safe solution that will keep the show running (Strategic Problem-Solver).
  • Self-Directed Learner: So much of what we do is self-directed, particularly character work and making choices on stage and backstage. While I as a director can share my vision, I leave it to them to bring their own choices to their performance that align with that overall vision. Also, technically speaking, students are constantly having to adapt and learn new technologies, scene changes, quick changes, etc.

 “I could go on for pages, but truly, being a part of a drama program (particularly a full-scale production) gives students the opportunity to practice every Future Ready skill,” Bean said. “It’s woven into everything we do. Most importantly, in my mind, however, the theater is a place where every student can feel safe and accepted.”

When Tahoma graduate Edwin Torres entered middle school, he hadn’t yet come across a sport that he truly enjoyed. A friend invited him to check out wrestling, a move that changed the course of Torres’ life.

Torres stuck with wrestling, although when he moved up to the high school level, he still didn’t have a clear idea of where he wanted to go in life.

“I was able to connect with my coach, Chris Feist,” Torres said. “He was one of those guys who would always be there for me. If you were struggling, he would bring you to the office or have you work in his classroom. He helped you as much as he could. He wasn’t afraid to let you know that he was there for you. He became kind of a mentor.”

Feist recalls the progress of a “shy and quiet middle school boy trying to figure a lot of things out.”

“Though he did not say much in those first few years, it was clear that he was more than our gentle giant and an all-state heavyweight wrestler; he became a team leader and a mentor of elementary school kids on our club team.” Feist said. “The little boys in our junior wrestling program flocked to Edwin. He could be found before and after practices taking time to coach them up on technique or just taking time to play with them.

Torres faced a number of struggles during his high school years, and Feist and his teammates were there to help and support him. That network of care didn’t end when Torres graduated in 2013 -- in fact, it may have even increased. Although he didn’t know where he wanted to end up, he did know that he wanted to continue learning.

“There was no money for college,” Torres recalled, but Feist and other coaches were there to help. They let others in the community know that Torres was the first in his family to attend college, and he was selected as the recipient of the Zach Lystedt Award and Scholarship, which offered $14,000 for his schooling. Torres attended Highline College, but was still trying to identify what direction his career would take.

Feist had a much stronger feeling about his path.

“I remember that right after graduation, we were on the way to a (wrestling) camp, and he was asking me what I wanted to do.” Torres recalled. “He said, ‘You know what I see in you? I see a teacher in you.’”

Torres disagreed, but Feist and others kept nudging him. In 2015, a paraeducator position opened up at Lake Wilderness Elementary and Torres decided to try working with Tahoma students. Pretty soon, he was hooked.

“I was like, this is a pretty fun gig,” he said. “They asked what I thought. I said, ‘This teaching thing is pretty fascinating.’”

Torres went back to school at Western Governor’s University, while continuing to work for the Tahoma School District. He recently earned his teaching degree and has accepted a position teaching fourth grade at Westwood Elementary in Enumclaw.

“One of my proudest moments as a coach and mentor was watching Edwin work toward his college degree in elementary education,” Feist said. “Mr. Edwin Torres is going to be an incredible teacher, coach, mentor and overall community contributor; he has greatness within him.”

Last summer, the Lystedt family asked to meet with him, and gave him an amazing surprise. They shared that he had followed through on their hopes for him, and that they wanted to gift him with another $14,000 to cover the remainder of his college education.

“Without wrestling, I would have never had a mentor like Feist,” Torres said. “Honestly, if it wasn’t for wrestling, I don’t think I would have gone down this path. … I learned how to be coachable, and that if you don’t work hard and try hard, you don’t know what is going to happen.”
D&D club builds creativity, relationships
Members of the Summit Trail Middle School Dungeons and Dragons Club listen to their Dungeon Master during a recent game.

As the bell rings at Summit Trail Middle School, a “train” of four students linked with arms on one another’s shoulders enters Stacey Nunez’s classroom. They “dance it out” for a few minutes while other students trickle into the classroom. Then, club adviser Patrice Lindgren offers a few announcements and calls out “Let the games begin!”

The classroom begins to transform into a tapestry of varied, mythical lands populated by hordes of wizards, characters and monsters. At each table, a Dungeon Master (DM) begins to weave a tale, as the other players take a chance with the dice and refer to their character sheets for details, powers and strengths. “I’m the only one here capable of actually killing any (monsters),” one student exclaims. At another table, the DM listens to a player announce her roll, then says “You find 12 silver coins and another letter addressed to Charles.” After the next roll, the DM says, “You’re walking down the tunnel, and you see a trap.”

Dungeons and Dragons requires players to use their imagination. The DM can either follow a published storyline or invent one of their own. Referring to the storyline in the game above, a student explains that they’re on a mission to find the friend of a wizard. “Last week, we had to run for our lives,” the DM says. “It was stressful!”

Asked why he enjoys the game, seventh-grader Jacob S. says: “It’s just a thing some of us like to do. It’s a very social game.”

On this day, Jacob was playing DM, which he explains as controlling how the game goes. “You take what they roll and what the monsters roll, and tell the story of the game,” he says. “It’s all about telling the story. Essentially, the combinations are infinite.”

Watching the excitement on the students’ faces and listening to the cacophony of so many animated voices, it’s easy to see why the new Dungeons and Dragons Club at Summit Trail Middle School was such an immediate hit. The School Board recently approved the Dungeons and Dragons Club as an official ASB Club. Parent volunteer Jordan Sugarman, who works at Wizards of the Coast (D&D producer) and his coworker, Chris Lindsay, contributed players’ handbooks, Dungeon Master guides, character sheets, tactical sheets, dice and time mentoring.

Lindgren and STMS Assistant Principal Paul Gardner expressed appreciation for the donations of materials and time.

Sugarman said he volunteered initially to help out with materials and also to get inexperienced students up to speed and ready to play. An experienced player in his own right, Sugarman originally played when his older brother came home from a garage sale with books and materials in the early 1980s. He played on and off in high school and then lost interest for many years. In 2008 he began playing again, and started working for Wizards of the Coast in 2014.

“I love lots of things about D&D, but I think mostly I love the collaborative and organic aspects,” Sugarman said. “At its core, D&D (and really, any role-playing game) is just a framework for a group of people to come together and tell a story. It's like playing make-believe, but with rules and a referee."
“I hope that playing D&D will give the students a respect for both the fun and importance of good storytelling. I hope they will learn some teamwork skills and empathy as they work together and think about how their character's actions affect themselves and others,” he continued. “I hope they will come away with a little more confidence in their ability to be creative and clever in solving problems.”

Filling the role of DM for one of the club’s groups of beginner players recently, Sugarman speaks in different voices and accents, and weaves a tale to help intrigue the students. 

“Listen, lassie, we’ve gotta kill it (the troll) with fire, or it’s gonna get back up,” he says, in an animated fashion. “What are you going to do, attack?”

In character, Emma M. calls out: “I set the troll ablaze!”

Sugarman continues to paint the scene verbally, describing how a crowd watches the defeat of the troll. There is scattered applause from the crowd, and a man approaches the characters, introducing himself and offering to buy them a round of root beers. The city has been getting a little more violent lately, the man says, and he’s worried about his safety and a friend of his who has disappeared. He wonders, would they be willing to help find his friend? If so, he’s willing to pay them, in gold.

“Yes!” Emma exclaims. “Another quest!”

Dungeons and Dragons Club will be available again next year at Summit Trail. Students who are interested should listen to morning announcements in the fall to get connected.
Club members sculpted small models of their characters out of clay to use on the game board, shown above. Here, a group listens to their Dungeon Master describe a trap ahead in the tunnel.
Elementaries work to "Foster Resilient Learners"
Teachers and staff members at Lake Wilderness Elementary, Shadow Lake Elementary and Rock Creek Elementary have put an added focus on building stronger relationships with students this year, using concepts from the books “Fostering Resilient Learners” (FRL) and “Relationship, Responsibility and Regulation.”

Staff at all three schools spent time at the beginning of the year with associates from the FRL team, and Lake Wilderness recently invited author Kristin Souers to the school, where she spent the day working with staff members and spoke at an evening meeting for parents.

“We’ve had a schoolwide focus on Fostering Resilient Learners this year,” Principal Audrey Meyers said. “We’re really thinking about how we can meet all kids’ needs.”

Sharing a bit about her background with LW parents, Souers said she lived in Washington state before moving to California and learning about gang culture. She wanted to become a police officer, but ended up going back to school to earn a degree in counseling. After working in outpatient care, she worked with Principal Pete Hall to help students at his school. Hall later encouraged her to write “Fostering Resilient Learners,” and contributed to both that project and a second book called “Relationship, Responsibility and Regulation.”

The books talk a lot about how the brain works, how trauma impacts the brain and ways that caring adults can help kids. One cool aspect of all the strategies is that they’re methods that can help all kids, whether they have had trauma in their lives or not, said Shadow Lake Dean of Students Scott Mitchell.

At the Lake Wilderness parent night, Souers said much can be accomplished through kindness. It’s a concept that fits well with the LWES motto, “Choose kind.”

“We’re bringing human back into education, and remembering: Let’s just be nice to each other and to kids,” Souers said at the LW parent night. “A lot of kids are coming through our doors doing the best they can.”

As educators, parents and as a society, she said, we need to ask, “How do we find the awesome in everyone? ... Every kid needs to be seen with potential; be seen as awesome.”

Students and staff members are at their best when their brains are ready for the day, she said, and shared 10 things our brains need to be “learning ready:” sleep, exercise, healthy eating, drinking water, breathing, being challenged, limiting screens, teamwork, laughter and gratitude.

When brains (kids’ or adults’) aren’t ready to learn, it’s easy for them to melt down. Teachers and staff at Lake Wilderness have added calm-down stations to classrooms and are working to use common language and practices.

Several parents who attended the evening talk said they liked the idea of seeing the awesome in every kid; and expressed interest in seeing the concepts and practices adopted districtwide.

At Shadow Lake, staff members have implemented a few of the FRL ideas. 

“The big thing we talk about is creating caring communities,” Mitchell said. “These are strategies that benefit all kids.”

Partway through the school year, the school’s PBIS team helped implement additional ideas. One of those was to create student reflection books for each staff member. The books have the photo and name of each child the staff member works with, and space for them to add notes about what they know about that child. The goal is to help teachers and staff members focus on their relationships with the students. For example, if they have paragraphs about most students, but only a few words about another, they may need to spend some time building relationship with that student.

Next, the PBIS team created mini problem-solving teams in grade levels, and staff members could brainstorm with their team to come up with additional strategies to help specific students who are struggling.

Last, Mitchell and Principal Mike Hanson asked teachers to spend time on activities that help build relationships, such as class meetings, sharing at the end of the day or restorative circles (when students sit in a circle and problem solve together).

“It’s really about giving teachers toolboxes and empowering them to spend time on relationship-building,” Mitchell said.

As a result of this work, PBIS efforts and other elements, Shadow Lake has seen a 42 percent decrease in office referrals, as well as a significant decrease in student disrespect, Mitchell and Hanson said.

Both Lake Wilderness Elementary and Shadow Lake Elementary receive some federal Title 1 funding, which Meyers and Hanson used to help fund these efforts.

Rock Creek Elementary also did a staff training with an FRL associate, as well as focused follow-up trainings throughout the year, Dean of Students John Schuster said.

“At Rock Creek, we made it a focus this year to learn and understand our children, many of whom come to school every day with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). By focusing on building relationships with all of our students, we have been able to better determine what interventions and supports each child needs,” Schuster said. “Our work has produced positive results including fewer office discipline referrals, to more targeted interventions for individual students.”

For more information about the books and ideas, click here: www.fosteringresilientlearners.org
School Board news: Budget, dress code discussed
Students from Bear Metal, Tahoma High School’s robotics team, gave a demonstration to the Tahoma School Board June 11 to illustrate how their machine can adeptly pick up and toss a ball, as team member Matt Culp prepares to catch. Bear Metal had an outstanding year, advancing to the world championships.

The Tahoma School Board will begin its annual budget process July 16 and plans to adopt the 2019-2020 funding plan on Aug. 6.

The School Board set the budget process timeline during its June 11 meeting. School district staff gather information and assemble a proposed budget for presentation to the School Board each spring. The board then sets a timeline for study and adoption of the proposed budget. Here are the key dates:
  • July 16: Work-study session with budget conversation.
  • July 30: Public hearing about the budget.
  • Aug. 6: Proposed vote and adoption by the School Board.

In other business June 11, the School Board:

  • Heard a report on proposed revisions to the school district’s student dress code. After discussion, the board asked staff to have the proposed policy change undergo a legal review. Board members did not agree with some of the proposed changes and will continue discussion at a future meeting.

  • Were presented with a report on a new Grade 9 science curriculum that is proposed for adoption. The curriculum is called “Engaging in 21st Century Biology” and features textbooks and online access to curriculum materials. The purchase cost is $120,760. The School Board will vote on adoption of the curriculum at a future meeting.

  • Learned from the annual Operations Department report that Tahoma Transportation continues to experience a shortage of drivers and is engaged in new strategies to attract candidates. Transportation also received a high-efficiency rating by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for the second consecutive year and will be awarded $370,048 by the state.

  • Approved a budget extension that reflects teacher and support staff wage increases that were negotiated earlier in the school year. The budget extension moves $2.87 million from the reserve fund balance to pay for the wage and benefit increases.

  • Watched a demonstration by the Tahoma Robotics team, Bear Metal, which advanced to world championship competition this year.

  • Honored seniors Emily DeBolt and Gabriel Kilwein for their two-year service as student representatives to the School Board.
Freshmen propose environmental action plans
Editor’s note: Each month of the school year, Tahoma asks its teachers and students to place special emphasis on one of the nine Future Ready Skills. Tahoma Matters features examples of those skills. This month, we’re highlighting the Strategic Problem-Solver Skill.

Students in Kelly Jarvis’ classes this week gave presentations to their peers about an extremely relevant topic for anyone living in the area: Action plans for using plants to remediate toxic chemicals in the environment in Maple Valley. As part of a pilot curriculum for ninth-grade biology and earth systems, the students have been studying a unit on the environment and human health.

Jarvis and her students researched Queen City Farms, a 324-acre Superfund Site located off Cedar Grove Road, about 2.5 miles north of Maple Valley. The classes learned about phytoremediation, which is the process of using plants to pick up heavy metals from contaminated soil. They ran a long-term study in class, examined microspills within five miles of their own homes and then each student selected a problem and created an action plan.

The plans students created included: how to remediate toxins in their own backyard; how to combat toxins in the air due to construction; how to better remediate remaining contamination at Queen City Farms; what to do about dumping of contaminated materials that affects area waterways; how to utilize less harmful chemicals at Lake Wilderness Golf Course and more.

Freshman Alexander Pahl researched Queen City Farms. “My possible solution is asking the Washington Department of Environmental Health to come and look at the Queen City Farms site, which hasn’t been touched since 2013,” he said. “The Queen City Farms site needs to be worked on, I believe, to protect wildlife, human life and everyone around here from contaminants.”

As their peers presented their action plans, the classmates in the audience also evaluated their work and presentations.

“They’re researching on their own. They have looked up the cost of soil kits to test the soil to find out what (materials and plants) they would need,” Jarvis said. “They’re completely problem-solving the large picture. … They’re all coming up with different ways to combat this.”

“The students have been extremely engaged,” she added, noting that the pilot was successful. “They have a much higher buy-in to do something about (the problem) because it does affect them. … They’re going further on their own to look up information.”

At their meeting Tuesday, the School Board had a first reading of a new science curriculum for ninth-graders, which Jarvis’ classes have been using as a pilot project.
Top photo: A student's poster about contaminants in local waterways. Bottom photo: Two pamphlets created by students as part of their action plans.
End of year information
As school enters its final week, here are a few scheduling reminders for the end of the school year:
  • Last day of school: Thursday, June 20.
  • Last day dismissal times: Tahoma High School, 10:30 a.m.; middle schools, 10:50 a.m.; Glacier Park, Lake Wilderness, and Shadow Lake elementary schools, 11:50 a.m.; Cedar River, Rock Creek, and Tahoma elementary schools, 12:20 p.m. Breakfast is available to students but no lunches will be served.
  • Extended Enrichment Program: Closes at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 20. Closed on Friday, June 21; reopens for summer program at LWES at 6 a.m. June 24.

High school and middle school families can check their school’s web page for details about orientation and class schedule distribution in late August. The first day of school for grades 1-12 is Sept. 3. Kindergarten begins on Sept. 6.
School summer office hours:
  • THS: Main office is open 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 21-28 and closed in July. The counseling office is open 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 21-27 and will be closed from June 28-Aug. 6. Counseling reopens on Aug. 7, from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Aug. 30. Athletics is open 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 21-28 and is closed in July. It reopens Aug. 5, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Aug. 30. 

  • MVMS: Main office is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 21-28. The office is closed, July 1 through Aug. 9. The office is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (except during lunch the first week, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), Aug. 12-30. The registrar’s office is open June 21 and 24, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (closed from noon-1 p.m. for lunch). It reopens Aug. 21, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (closed for lunch, noon to 1 p.m.).
  • STMS: Main office is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 21-28. The office is closed, July 1 through Aug. 9. The office is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (except during lunch the first week, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), Aug. 12-30. The counseling office is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 21. It reopens Aug. 19-23, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., except for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The registrar’s office is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 21-25, except for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It reopens Aug. 14-16, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., except for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

  • Cedar River Elementary: Main office is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 21-27. Office is closed, July 1-Aug. 9. Office reopens Aug. 12-23 (closed on Fridays), 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 26, 28, and 30.  

  • Glacier Park Elementary: Main office is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 21-27. Office is closed June 28-Aug. 9. Office reopens Aug. 12-23, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (closed Fridays); open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 26-30 (closed Aug. 29). 

  • Lake Wilderness Elementary: Main office is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 21. Office is closed June 24-Aug. 9. Office reopens Aug. 12-23, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (closed Fridays); Aug. 26-30, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Aug. 27).

  • Rock Creek Elementary: Main office is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 21. Office is closed June 24-Aug. 9. Office reopens Aug. 12-23, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (closed Fridays); Aug. 26-30, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Fridays). 

  • Shadow Lake Elementary: Main office is open 1-3 p.m. June 21 in Portable 1; June 24-27, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Office is closed June 28-Aug. 11. Office reopens Aug. 12-30, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (closed Aug. 29). 

  • Tahoma Elementary: Main office is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Office is closed June 28 to Aug. 9. Office reopens Aug. 12-23, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (closed Fridays); Aug. 26-30, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed Aug. 28). 

  • Central Services Center: Open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 24-Aug. 30; 8 a.m. to noon on July 3; closed July 4 and 5.
New fire standards for paper on school walls
School interiors may look a little different next year, as Tahoma School District adopts new rules for displaying teaching materials and artwork to meet fire standards.

Representatives of Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority met recently with the Tahoma Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee to explain fire safety rules that pertain to posters, decorations, banners and any flammable material placed on walls or ceilings. Firefighters also clarified rules about fire doors, which are designed to slow the spread of smoke and flames. Any door that has a manufacturer’s label indicating that it is a fire door cannot be propped open unless it is controlled by an automatic release system.

The following rules will go into effect Aug. 1 for all Tahoma schools:

  • Maximum of 50% per wall can be covered.
  • Includes fire retardant materials.
  • Fire retardant spray is NOT allowed.
  • Multiple layers of paper/artwork/teaching materials are OK.
  • Built-in, windows, walls are all considered part of the wall.
  • Cut out for electrical outlets is OK.
  • Maximum of 10% of Ceiling can be covered.
  • No covering of light fixtures.
  • Hanging items are included in 10%.
  • No tissue paper.
  • Nothing within 8 inches of sprinkler head.
  • Do not hang from sprinkler head.
  • 18 inches required from top of cabinet to ceiling.
  • Cannot camouflage exit doors.
  • The door needs to look like a door and act like a door.
  • Electrical panels are not to be covered. 
School Board recognizes 2019 retirees, resignees
The Tahoma School Board recently honored employees who are retiring or resigning with 15 or more years of service.

Those recognized at the meeting included: Robert Bennison, Cedar River Elementary; Jim Bergum, Tahoma High School; Patricia Carrell, Lake Wilderness Elementary; Sue Chase, Cedar River Elementary; Susie Davidson, Lake Wilderness Elementary School; Earlene Deleon, Maple View Middle School; Barbara Dena, Lake Wilderness Elementary; Russ Hayden, Tahoma High School; Renee LeMay, Glacier Park Elementary; Sandy Markus, Tahoma High School; Jeannie Merrick, Shadow Lake Elementary; Marie Page, Tahoma High School; Dave Peters, Tahoma High School; Denise Strom, Glacier Park Elementary; and Ginny Tubbs, Tahoma High School.

Also retiring or resigning but not able to attend the ceremony: Pam Burkhalter, Tahoma Elementary School; Paul Campbell, Summit Trail Middle School; Lisa Cutler-Frankum, Glacier Park Elementary; Mary Davies, Cedar River Elementary; Lea Del Pilar, Lake Wilderness Elementary; Carolyn Eley, Maple View Middle School; Rosanne Fairweather, Maple View Middle School; Kimberly Kellogg, Transportation; Joanie Kokoczka, Rock Creek Elementary School; Karol Norton, Maple View Middle School; Debbie Naughton, Tahoma Elementary School; Chuck Orser, Glacier Park Elementary School; Cheryl Paulson, Summit Trail Middle School; and Walt Szklarski, Central Services Center.

Thank you, each, for your contributions to Tahoma students, staff and our community!

For individual photos and biographies of those who attended the School Board meeting, click here.

Tahoma Special Olympics shines at state meet
Athletes from Tahoma schools recently competed in the Special Olympics Spring Games at Pacific Lutheran University, King County Aquatic Center, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord. More than 2,200 athletes from across the state of Washington competed in swimming, track and field, powerlifting, soccer and cycling. 
Results included: 
  • Brianna B.: 100-meter dash, silver; 400 run, silver
  • Coltin P.: 50 guided walk, silver; 25 guided walk, gold; softball, gold
  • Ethan R.: 50 guided race, silver; 25 guided race, silver
  • Jordan H.: 400 walk, gold; shotput, silver; 200 walk, fourth
  • Serenity S.: 400 run, silver; running long jump, silver
  • Teegan C.: 100 dash, sixth; softball, fifth; 200 dash, bronze
  • Sawyer W.: 100 dash, fourth
  • Liam W.: 100 dash, silver; shot put, fifth; 200 dash, gold; 4x100 relay, silver
  • Brian R.: 400 run, gold; 200 dash, fourth; 4x100 relay, silver; mini javelin, gold
  • Caleb M.: 400 run, bronze; 200 dash, silver; mini javelin, fifth
  • Owen S.: softball, silver; 200 dash, gold
  • Cohen S.: 50 dash, fourth; standing long jump, silver
  • Carter T.: 50 dash, silver; 200 dash, gold
  • Sawyer W.: 200 dash, gold; 4x100 relay, silver
  • Jake L.: 200 dash, bronze; running long jump, bronze
  • Jordan P.: 4x100 relay, silver

Elementary buildings stuff principals’ offices with cereal
Lake Wilderness Principal Audrey Meyers pretends to be overcome by all the cereal that families and staff donated for the Maple Valley Food Bank. Lake Wilderness collected the most cereal during the recent drive.
Cereal boxes spill out of Tahoma Elementary Principal Jerry Gaston's office during the recent cereal drive. Gaston came up with the idea for the students at each school to attempt to fill the principal's office

Five of the elementary schools recently held cereal drives to help stock the shelves at Maple Valley Food Bank & Emergency Services before summer starts. 

“To say the cereal drive was a success would be an understatement,” said Sigurros Welborn, program and volunteer coordinator for the food bank. “This will greatly help our clients with the summer coming up and kids home.”

Altogether, the drive filled nine large bins with cereal. The school that collected the most was Lake Wilderness Elementary, which filled 3.5 bins.

Summer lunch program planned
The Maple Valley Food Bank & Emergency Services will offer “PB&J in the Park” this summer, in partnership with the Maple Valley Library’s Lunch Bunch Story Time at Lake Wilderness Park.

At noon each Wednesday from June 26 through July 31, the food bank will provide free lunch while librarians share stories.

The food bank will have a tent between the Lake Wilderness Lodge and the swimming area at the park.

King County: TSD named a Sustaining Green School District
Tahoma School District was recently named a 2018-2019 Sustaining Green School District by the King County Green Schools Program, which recognizes districts that have improved their conservation practices, and involved students in conservation and outreach efforts.

In general, Sustaining Green Schools have been recognized as Level One (waste reduction and recycling), Level Two (energy conservation), and Level Three (water conservation) King County Green Schools.

Parents will receive test score reports soon
State testing results are nearly complete. Teaching and Learning staff will be sending out score reports to families next week.

Parents and guardians will receive two email notifications, one for math and one for English/Language Arts. After opening the email, parents/guardians will be able to click on a link to download their child's scores. Score reports for science will not be returned until the end of August.

Have fun in the water but be prepared
 King County health, recreation and law enforcement agencies have teamed up to remind residents to be aware of drowning risks when swimming in area lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound. The following information is offered to help people enjoy their water experiences safely:
  • Every swimmer should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when there is not a lifeguard present or when boating, tubing or rafting. For children 12 years old and younger, it’s the law on all vessels less than 19 feet.
  • Learn CPR. Ensure all family members know how to swim before going in the water.
  • Swim in areas with lifeguards. If lifeguards are not present, wear a life jacket.
  • Never use alcohol, marijuana or other impairing drugs during water and boating activities.
  • Watch children closely when they are in or near any type of water; stay within touching distance of small children at all times.

Dangerous conditions – River recreation is inherently dangerous. There are no lifeguards on duty
and conditions are always subject to change. With the Cascades snowpack from winter beginning to melt, rivers in King County will have cold, fast flows throughout the summer. Rivers have both
deep pools and shallow stretches where rocks and gravel shift seasonally, changing the nature of local
swimming holes. In some areas, shallow water will seem warm but any moving or deep water will be very cold, which could result in cold water incapacitation or hypothermia.

When planning a boating or floating trip:
• Always tell someone your route and when and where you expect to put in and take out.
• Never float a river alone and, if possible, make sure there is at least one craft with oars
in your group in case a rescue is needed.
• Bring a dry bag with food, water, and warm clothes.

For more information and sources of life jackets visit the King County Rivers Safety Page at
www.kingcounty.gov/riversafety or search for the “Washington State Parks Lifejacket Loaner Map.”
Coupons good for 25 percent off the regular price of any life jacket in stock at Big 5 Sporting Goods is
available through the Seattle Children’s Drowning Prevention Network at www.seattlechildrens.org/dp.

Students, staff participate in Maple Valley Days
The members of the Tahoma High School girls track and field team, which won the Washington State 4A Championship this year, were selected as the 2019 students of the year. Teachers Ginny Tubbs, Marie Page, Dave Peters and Russ Hayden were selected as the 2019 staff members of the year. Also pictured are Brett Habenicht, citizen of the year, and Carl Bonnell, police employee of the year. 

Tahoma students and staff members enjoyed taking part in the Maple Valley Days parade, festival and Bear Run last weekend. 

For more from Maple Valley Days, visit our Facebook page or Instagram account.

Learn more about community field and court use
The high school receives a number of inquiries about using tennis courts and fields.

For more information about use of the school facilities, to check the public calendar, or to schedule use for a group, click here.
Funeral, reception for former teacher Bill Pringle
Former Tahoma High School teacher and U.S. Army veteran Bill Pringle died recently. Pringle taught social studies and led Japan Club for a number of years at Tahoma High School from 1972 to 1996. 

"Bill Pringle was one of my favorite teachers. I was inspired by his passion for teaching and his commitment to his vocation,” said Brett Habenicht, president of the Greater Maple Valley Veterans Memorial Foundation.

A funeral and reception will be held on Tuesday, June 25. The committal service will be at 3 p.m. at Tahoma National Cemetery, with the Patriot Guard Riders and Puyallup VFW Post 2224 officiating and supporting. Bernie Moskowitz, chief bugler at Tahoma National Cemetery, will sound “Taps.” A reception will follow from about 3:30 to 6 p.m. at Maple View Middle School. 

“Let’s fill up Tahoma National Cemetery on June 25 in a powerful show of love and support for this beloved military veteran, educator and friend,” said Cary Collins, vice president of the Greater Maple Valley Veterans Memorial Foundation and Tahoma teacher.

All are welcome to attend both events. The reception will be informal, and will offer an opportunity for Pringles’ friends, students and colleagues to reconnect and share their memories.

School supply help offered; donations accepted
The Maple Valley Food Bank & Emergency Services will once again organize a School Supply Backpack Program, serving residents of the Tahoma School District, Covington and Maple Valley. Families may register for assistance through the program from July 16-Aug. 15 at the food bank, 21415 Renton-Maple Valley Road S.E. Distribution will be from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday Aug. 20-29; and also from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Anyone who would like to contribute to the program may donate new backpacks and school supplies by Aug. 16. For a list of drop-off locations or more information, visit www.maplevalleyfoodbank.org

Save the date for Tahoma’s yearly mattress fundraiser
The Tahoma Robotics Booster Club and We the People Foundation will partner on their fifth Mattress Fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Tahoma High School.

Over the past four years, the mattress fundraiser events have raised more than $42,000 for the two programs. The event offers new, name brand mattresses such as Simmons, Beautyrest, Englander and more with full factory warranties. All mattress sizes are available, as well as varieties including firm, pillow-top, memory foam, and others. In addition to mattresses, the event will offer bed frames, luxury pillows and protectors.

For more information visit bit.ly/Beds4Tahoma5

Bear Metal offers summer camps
Bear Metal is hosting its 8th annual robotics camps, with two options this year.
  • Camp 1 is for students entering grades 3 - 5. It will be held from July 8-12. The cost for this camp will be $220. Here is the link for Camp 1.
  • Camp 2 is for students entering grades 6 - 8. It will be held from July 15-19. The cost for this camp will be $250. Here is the link for Camp 2.
Shadow Lake improvements top list of summer projects
Shadow Lake Elementary School this summer will receive the second phase of improvements financed by the 2013 construction and remodeling bond measure. The first phase paid for a new playground and play field. The final phase will focus on classrooms and security features.

The main office will have a different look because the entrance will be moved and reconfigured to create a security vestibule. Security cameras also will be installed throughout the school and campus. Elsewhere, the kindergarten area will be reconfigured to add a classroom in space now configured as three small meeting rooms. The remodeled kindergarten area will have four classrooms along with its own hallway and bathrooms. Other changes at Shadow Lake include painting, carpeting, and wall covering replacement in several parts of the school.

Glacier Park Elementary will receive an emergency generator that can provide power when main energy sources are disrupted. Glacier Park is the only school in Tahoma School District that does not have an emergency generator.

Tahoma Elementary School will install an additional portable building, which has two classrooms. It will be placed adjacent to the two existing portable buildings. Work will begin on replacement of the school’s septic waste system, which includes installation of new collection tanks and relocation and installation of a new drainfield.

Tahoma High School’s outdoor athletic facilities will have some work done to repair the surface of the running track and tennis courts. Settling has occurred beneath a portion of the track, which requires excavation, soil stabilization, and resurfacing. A portion of the tennis courts will be resurfaced to make permanent repairs where damage occurred earlier this year when a vehicle lost control while traveling on Kent-Kangley Road SE, crashing through a fence and onto the tennis courts.

District maintenance staff and contractors will complete a lengthy project to re-key door locks in every school to improve security.

Last day of school for grades K-11. Dismissal times are: Tahoma High School, 10:30 a.m.; middle schools, 10:50 a.m.; Glacier Park, Lake Wilderness, and Shadow Lake elementary schools, 11:50 a.m.; Cedar River, Rock Creek, and Tahoma elementary schools, 12:20 p.m. Breakfast is available to students but no lunches will be served.

Summer office hours: Please see article above

What's for lunch?
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: wcastlem@tahomasd.us
Tahoma School District | 425-413-3400 | Visit our website
25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Rd. S.E., Maple Valley, WA 98038