Oct. 24, 2019
In this issue:

Board votes 5-0 to place two levies on Feb. ballot
Committee begins study of student enrollment, facilities
Leaders celebrated during principals month
Superintendent search continues
Future Ready Foundations teaches social emotional skills
"Clue: On Stage" will open Nov. 8 at THS
Shadow Lake PTA, students, community work together
Students conduct social media analysis for business class
District kudos
News briefs
Coming up in Bear Country
What's for lunch?

Board votes 5-0 to place two levies on Feb. ballot
Local funds needed to bridge state funding gaps
Tahoma voters will be asked to decide on whether to approve two levy measures that would pay for classroom technology and a wide range of services, supplies and staffing that are not fully supported through state funding or other sources.

At their Oct. 22 meeting, School Board directors voted unanimously to place two levy measures on the Feb. 11 ballot: a four-year Educational Programs and Operations levy (EP&O) and a four-year Technology levy. The vote is the culmination of months of research and discussion by the board, district administrators, and staff.

“We worked hard,” School Board Director Val Paganelli said. “A lot of numbers, a lot of investigation, and a lot of asking questions. I’m looking forward to the commitment to our community of sharing a lot with them so they can see what went into our decision.”

The EP&O levy would replace a two-year levy approved by voters in 2018. The levy provides funds that support people, programs, supplies and equipment that are either not funded or not fully funded by state education dollars. Staff supported by EP&O funds include school nurses, counselors, principals, custodians, school safety officers, paraeducators, reading and math specialists, substitute teachers, coaches, special education teachers, and food service workers. Programs include athletics, clubs and activities, professional staff development, food service, summer school, and highly capable classes.

Board Director Tami Henkel said the EP&O levy also provides funding for new programs required by the state, such as paraeducator certification training, dyslexia screening, graduation pathways, and closing growth and achievement gaps. Henkel said those and other state-required programs are needed but not all are funded, in part or full, by the state. Because they are mandatory, they must be provided with or without EP&O funding.

“If we don’t get EP&O money, in order to be in compliance with the state we are going to have to take away from something else,” she said.

The EP&O levy would collect $17.4 million in 2021 and would peak at $22.3 million in 2024. The estimated cost is $2 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The current levy costs $1.50 per $1,000. During its last session, the state Legislature recognized the need for school districts to seek additional local levy funding and authorized districts to collect up to a maximum of $2.50 per $1,000. The school board and administrators saw the need to increase levy collections in order to maintain a balanced budget but want to ensure taxes remain as low as possible. Language is included in the levy resolution that requires the district to review levy income each year and “roll back” (reduce) the levy if the funds are not needed.

“We spent a lot of time deciding on what we thought was the absolute right number to go out into the community and ask for,” Director Katrina Montgomery said. “I am very comfortable and confident that we worked through everything we needed to work through and our work was thorough and that this ask is what our students need from our community.”

The Technology levy would reinstate funding that stopped when a renewal levy was turned down by voters in 2018. The school district is currently using reserve funds to maintain classroom technology equipment and support. The levy would collect $3.9 million in 2021 and $4.3 million in each of the next three years for a total of $16.8 million. It would cost property owners an estimated 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2021 and 2022, 42 cents in 2023, and 38 cents in 2024.

Board Director Mary Jane Glaser said the Technology levy amount is the result of work by the board and administrators to reduce levy costs from the first proposal that the board reviewed. 

“Through our discussions and studies, we were able to reduce the ask,” she said, adding that it will still provide adequate funding “for a very respectful technology program for our students and our district.”
Paganelli said the district’s months-long process to define educational technology needs and goals will allow the district to catch up with equipment replacement, maintenance, and training. It also enables teachers to take the next step in their use of classroom technology by providing more support for them as they further integrate technology into curriculum. 

“There needs to be a comfort level with technology not just in our students, but in those who are leading our students,” she said.
Committee begins study of student enrollment, facilities
Group will create 5-year and 10-year plans
At left, Zachary Anderson, a Tahoma High School student who serves as a student representative to the School Board and who also sits on the Citizens Housing Advisory Committee, speaks during the first committee meeting. Keila Jellings, second from right, also represents her peers.

A committee of Tahoma parents, staff and community members began its work on Oct. 16 to explore how to best provide classroom and support spaces for students during the next 10 years.

The Citizens Housing Advisory Committee is reviewing student enrollment growth history and demographic data that includes growth projections. The committee’s task is to create options that the School Board can consider so that students have the facilities they need. 

“We are going to be called upon to really be thinkers,” Tahoma Elementary School Principal and committee co-facilitator Jerry Gaston told the group. “We’re the idea people. … The big picture is what we’re after.”

Most of the first meeting was devoted to providing committee members with an overview of their task, including parameters for the housing plan or plans they will present to the School Board in April. The committee is asked to recommend 10-year housing options that consider the following: 

  • Board policy 3130, District Attendance Areas. 
  • State law, union contracts, board policies. 
  • A variety of student housing options that include a combination of brick & mortar buildings, portable classrooms and possible reconfiguration of teaching spaces.
  • Transparency and accountability.
  • Sustainability of current and future facilities.
  • District property inventory.
  • Long-term continuity of District program locations.
  • Demographic projections.
  • Community impacts.
  • Implications for other District facilities such as Central Services, Food Service, Transportation, Maintenance, and Technology. 

 The committee will use data from demographer William Kendrick, who was hired by the school district to assemble historic enrollment data and forecasts. Kendrick predicts continued enrollment growth, but at a pace that is slower than in previous years.

In addition to the committee’s work on a long-range plan, a subcommittee will examine how to accommodate enrollment growth at Lake Wilderness and Tahoma Elementary schools, which are nearing capacity and need adjustments for next school year.

Altogether, the committee includes more than 35 parent representatives, staff and School Board members, students, and non-parent community members.
Members of the Housing Committee brainstorm potential solutions to enrollment increases.
Leaders celebrated during National Principals Month
October is Principals Month, as recognized by several national organizations. We thought it would be a great time to thank each of our nine building leaders for their hard work year round on behalf of Tahoma students and staff -- and also a chance to learn a little bit more about each of them!
Cedar River Elementary Principal Fritz Gere, at right, with members of his staff including Registrar Anna Pabisz, Administrative Assistant Jennifer Donohue, library/office secretary Lisa Kelley and Dean of Students Tina McDaniel.
Glacier Park Principal, Shelly Gaston, at left, with former fourth-grade student Erin Kaleb, who is now student teaching at GPES.
Lake Wilderness Elementary Principal Audrey Meyers with her children.
Rock Creek Elementary Principal Chris Thomas shares a story on "Read Across America Day" as students listen while wearing their Dr. Seuss hats.
Shadow Lake Elementary Principal Mike Hanson, front right, with Dean of Students Scott Mitchell; registrar Susan Kelder, Administrative Assistant Shannon Kiefer, and library/office secretary Nicole Smith.
Tahoma Elementary Principal Jerry Gaston, center, with students at recess recently. Gaston has an informative, fun Instagram account under the handle @tahomaleadlearner for those who haven't yet seen it.
Maple View Middle School Principal Andy McGrath and Assistant Principal Robert Talbert laugh during an ice breaker "pinky-swear" exercise at a summer leadership training.
Summit Trail Middle School Principal Sean Cassidy, center, with his son and daughter after the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Tahoma High School.
Tahoma High School Principal Terry Duty with former THS student and artist Iris Scott, who created the painting "Arctos," hanging behind them. Scott graduated from THS in 2002 and now lives in New York.
Fritz Gere, Cedar River Elementary School
Q: How many years have you worked in education? 
A: This is my 27th year

Q: What’s a favorite memory from your time either as a teacher or as a principal? 
A: When a kindergarten student told me he liked the silver paint I put in my hair.

Q: What keeps you in Tahoma? 
A: The laser focus on students’ needs/interests, instructional practice, and growth as learners.

Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? 
A: Rocky Road

Q: Do you have a pet? If so, what kind and what is its name? 
A: A cat named Moozoo

Q: What was the last good book you read (either work-related or for fun)? 
A: The Road to Character by David Brooks

Q: What’s one interesting fact about you that you think parents and students might not know? 
A: I play the piano, particularly classical and ragtime.

Shelly Gaston, Glacier Park Elementary School
Q: How many years have you worked in education? 
A: This is the start of my 23rd year in education.

Q: What’s a favorite memory from your time either as a teacher or as a principal? 
A: I have so many wonderful memories I could share with you, but I will only make you read one. This is a story about a young man who was in one of my fourth-grade classes who did not have many positive memories of school. About two weeks into the start of the year, he changed the calendar on my desk to read “June 20.” He told me that he knew it would be my favorite day because it was the last day of school. I shared that I actually hate the last day of school because it makes me sad when my students leave me. He then explained that he’d never had a teacher who was sad that he was leaving. I was determined to prove to him that I would indeed be sad. I won’t lie and tell you that it was an easy job, but the payoff was worth it! On the very last day of school, this young man gave me the biggest hug and told me that he was really going to miss me. With tears streaming down my face, I looked him in the eyes and said “I told you that I would be sad to see you leave.” His eyes lit up and the smile on his face created one of the most magical moments I have had in all my years of teaching!

Q: What keeps you in Tahoma? 
A: I stay in Tahoma because we all care so deeply about each of our students and work together to ensure their success!

Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? 
A: Pistachio

Q: Do you have a pet? If so, what kind and what is its name? 
A: I have a goldendoodle named Bernie.

Q: What was the last good book you read (either work-related or for fun)? 
A: The last great book I read was “Relationship, Responsibility, and Regulation: Trauma-Invested Practices for Fostering Resilient Learners,” by Kristin Souers and Peter A. Hall.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about you that you think parents and students might not know? 
A: I have travelled to all 50 states and all 7 continents.

Dr. Audrey Meyers, Lake Wilderness Elementary School
Q: How many years have you worked in education? 
A: 20 years

Q: What’s a favorite memory from your time either as a teacher or as a principal? 
A: Too many to name! But I think that we all work so hard as a team to make a difference for kids, and when we see that work have a positive impact on our students, it becomes one of our many favorite memories.

Q: What keeps you in Tahoma?
A: Great people, community, and collaboration.

Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
A: Anything with a lot of caramel!

Q: Do you have a pet? If so, what kind and what is its name?
A: One-year-old boxer, named Leo.

Q: What was the last good book you read (either work-related or for fun)?
“All Learning is Social and Emotional,” by Frey, Fisher, & Smith

Q: What’s one interesting fact about you that you think parents and students might not know?
A: I was born in Germany!

Chris Thomas, Rock Creek Elementary School
Q: How many years have you worked in education?  
A: This is my 25th year!

Q: What’s a favorite memory from your time either as a teacher or as a principal? 
A: Too many favorite memories as a principal! Many of them involve classroom visits, witnessing the great work of students and staff. So fun!   
Q: What keeps you in Tahoma?  
A: The community we serve!

Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?  
A: Cookies and Cream

Q: Do you have a pet? If so, what kind and what is its name?  
A: We have a goldendoodle named Rosie.  

Q: What was the last good book you read (either work-related or for fun)?  
A: “The Growth Mindset Coach,” by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley 

Q: What’s one interesting fact about you that you think parents and students might not know? A: I’m a Tahoma graduate 

Mike Hanson, Shadow Lake Elementary School
Q: How many years have you worked in education?
A: 26

Q: What’s a favorite memory from your time either as a teacher or as a principal? 
A: Too hard to choose one! I would probably select one of the more personal meaningful moments where you know that you have made a difference in the trajectory of a student’s life.

Q: What keeps you in Tahoma?
A: The relationships.

Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
A: Vanilla

Q: Do you have a pet? If so, what kind and what is its name?
A: Our English Springer Spaniel – Scooter, and our cat - Neo

Q: What was the last good book you read (either work-related or for fun?)
A: I enjoy Erik Larsen. “Dead Wake” was great.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about you that you think parents and students might not know?
A: I am an unapologetic fan of ABBA

Jerry Gaston, Tahoma Elementary School
Q: How many years have you worked in education?
A: This is my 28th year in our terrific field. 
Q: What’s a favorite memory from your time either as a teacher or as a principal?
A: I collect favorite memories about my job every day. It is truly the best job in the world. Yesterday alone in a 1st grade group students asked how old I was and guessed from 19 to 105! Mid-day I got a surprise visit from a former student who was coming to share he had just graduated with his engineering degree and wanted me to be the first to know! Again, I have the best job anywhere!
Q: What keeps you in Tahoma? 
A: I stay in Tahoma for so many reasons. It is the system that I trusted my own children to be best educated in. It is also an honor to be part of one of the most elite, high performing, successful districts in our state. 
Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? 
A: Any flavor made at Molly Moons
Q: Do you have a pet? If so, what kind and what is its name? 
A: I have an unruly goldendoodle named Bernie. 
Q: What was the last good book you read (either work-related or for fun)? 
A: People often joke with me about my office library, which clearly shows my love of books and reading. In the large collection I just finished “Disruptive Thinking,” which is about becoming a reader. Now I am on to what seems like the next good one titled “You can do anything!”
Q: What’s one interesting fact about you that you think parents and students might not know? 
A: I love to travel with my family, and we have visited all 7 continents and all 50 states. When I am not at school I really enjoy cooking and spending time in the middle of the busy city or up in the mountains.  

Andy McGrath, Maple View Middle School
Q: How many years have you worked in education? 
A: 39 years: 13 years as a high school math teacher, tennis and soccer coach at Renton High School and Lindbergh High School. 26 years as an Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at Eatonville High School; middle school Principal at Eatonville Middle School, Glacier Middle School, Cedar River Middle School and Maple View Middle School.

Q: What’s a favorite memory from your time either as a teacher or as a principal?
A: Honestly, I have too many great memories to count. Generally my favorite memories are from finding different ways to connect kids to school and then watching them work hard to become successful students and productive adults.

Q: What keeps you in Tahoma? 
A: Working as a principal in Tahoma is my dream job. I love the collaborative culture combined with high expectations and high support for both students and staff.

Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? 
A: Chocolate! Is there any other flavor?

Q: Do you have a pet? If so, what kind and what is its name? 
A: I have an awesome yellow lab named Brody. He is 107 lbs.

Q: What was the last good book you read (either work-related or for fun)? 
A: For fun, John Grisham’s “Bleachers.” For work: “Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain,” by Zaretta Hammond.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about you that you think parents and students might not know? 
A: I am the first person in my family to go to college and earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. This is why education is so important to me.

Sean Cassidy, Summit Trail Middle School
Q: How many years have you worked in education? 
A: 21 years in middle school as a teacher and administrator.

Q: What’s a favorite memory from your time either as a teacher or as a principal?
A: The personal friendships and connections that are made over time are always the most cherished memories. To see kids grow and develop over time, possibly even become teachers and principals themselves, is always special. Partnering with parents to create new opportunities and experiences for students both in and out of the school setting. I have been tremendously fortunate to always find hard-working, smart, talented peers to work with in every building who find ways to have fun and enjoy each other in the process of learning about being a better teacher or leader. Staying connected with them over time and continuing to learn from each other has been tremendously rewarding.

Q: What keeps you in Tahoma? 
A: When I came to Tahoma, my daughter, Brooke, and her classmates were in seventh grade. This year, they will be the graduating class. My purpose was to give back and help make the educational experience for these kids as rich and positive as possible. Now having my son, Drew, attend Summit Trail, my commitment is just as strong to continue that long process to making this organization even better every year.

Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? 
A: Chocolate Cherry

Q: Do you have a pet? If so, what kind and what is its name?  
A: Our dog, Radley, is our 3-year-old Aussiedoodle.

Q: What was the last good book you read (either work-related or for fun)? 
A: The last three books I have read this summer have been “So you want to talk about race,” by Ijeoma Oluo, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” by JK Rowling, and “Leaders of Learning” by Robert Marzano and Richard DuFour.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about you that you think parents and students might not know? 
A: I am super big University of Washington fan, even from birth. I graduated from the UW three times (BA ‘96, MIT ‘99, Admin Cert ’04) and am a fourth generation of Husky alumni in my family. I met my wife, Erinn, and some of my best friends while at the UW. It’s a lot of fun to visit and return to walk around campus each fall, to see the new construction and improvements, eat at favorite food locations like pizza at Northlake, burgers at the RAM or Dick’s, coffee on the Ave, and attend football and volleyball games with my family and friends. 

Terry Duty, Tahoma High School
Q: How many years have you worked in education?  
A: This is my 35th year in the Tahoma School District. I moved to Maple Valley from Cheney, Washington after graduating from Eastern Washington University, and have been here ever since. I love our community!

Q: What’s a favorite memory from your time either as a teacher or as a principal? 
A: Watching Iris Scott unveil her painting Arctos the BEAR at Tahoma High Schools grand opening

Q: What keeps you in Tahoma? 
A: It’s my home. I have lived and worked in this community for 35 years. I’ve had the pleasure of watching my three daughters graduate as Tahoma Bears.

Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?  
A: Pralines and Cream, hands down

Q: Do you have a pet? If so, what kind and what is its name? 
A: Chesney (goldendoodle) named after my favorite country singer, Kenny

Q: What was the last good book you read (either work-related or for fun?) 
A: “Educated,” by Tara Westover, a must-read true story

Q: What’s one interesting fact about you that you think parents and students might not know? 
A: I taught science at Tahoma High School for 10 years.
Superintendent search continues
The search for an interim superintendent took a new turn Wednesday, when the Tahoma School Board announced during a work-study session that none of the district’s principals or other administrators applied to fill the vacancy.

The School Board, at its annual planning sessions on Oct. 4-5, chose to fill the position from within by asking principals and other administrators to apply. The interim position would have extended through June 2021 to allow time to adjust to having two new school board members that will be elected in November and to focus on passage of two levy measures in February. That proposed transition also included the option to conduct a formal search for a permanent superintendent.

With no internal candidates coming forward, the School Board revisited the options it discussed during its planning meetings. By consensus, the board chose an option that would bring a retired superintendent or administrator to the position who could step in for the remainder of the school year to oversee district operations and assist the School Board in launching a formal search for a permanent superintendent.

Board President Didem Pierson said she was contacted by potential candidates and said the district also can seek assistance from the Puget Sound Educational Service District to identify interim superintendent candidates.

The board reviewed characteristics it wants the interim superintendent to have, gleaned from a discussion of ideas presented to the board by the district’s department directors and principals. Among the desirable characteristics are: knowledge and experience in supervising, evaluating, and supporting administrators; working with labor unions; facilitating a high-functioning school board; understanding Tahoma’s vision; strong community relations and communication skills that include helping lead efforts to inform the community about the Feb. 11 levies; and the ability to prioritize and make decisions to help the school system function smoothly.

After more than two hours of discussion, the board adjourned into executive session to discuss potential candidates. No immediate decision is expected and the board has not yet set a follow-up meeting.
Future Ready Foundations teaches social-emotional skills
Shadow Lake Elementary Future Ready Foundations teacher Danna Steichen reads aloud out of "Be Kind" during a recent lesson about empathy.
Empathy, emotion management, problem solving and other social-emotional skills are at the core of the new “Future Ready Foundations” class that elementary students throughout the district are attending this fall. 

“The idea for a Future Ready focus was the result of multiple group conversations around connecting the specialist class with K-5 classrooms, creating valuable experiences for our kids, and taking advantage of the wonderful opportunity to take a big step forward in supporting our district vision around Future Ready,” said Shadow Lake Principal Mike Hanson, who helped form the framework for the classes with Glacier Park Principal Shelly Gaston and other staff members. “It was exciting to see the process and where it brought the program.”

Although it is still early in the school year, so far the lessons are going well and there is great energy in the program, Hanson said.

This week at Shadow Lake Elementary, Future Ready Foundations teacher Danna Steichen led students through a lesson about empathy and kindness. After reviewing the meaning of empathy, Steichen read aloud from the book, “Be Kind,” by Pat Zietlow Miller. The class talked about the examples of empathy and kindness from the book, and then discussed how many small kind acts can add up into something big. Then, Steichen showed the students examples of children in different situations, such as being lonely at recess, losing a favorite piece of clothing or winning a soccer game. Together, the students and Steichen talked about how they might show empathy or express kindness to the other children in the examples.

The connections between the new classes and the Second Step social-emotional curriculum are important and help reinforce key concepts, Gaston said.

“Second Step is an important part of our students’ elementary experience. It has been taught by classroom teachers for many years,” she said. “Many of the Future Ready lessons have concepts from Second Step that complement the lessons being taught in class, yet they also incorporate fresh elements of social emotional learning supporting the Washington State SEL standards, benchmarks and indicators.”

Many years ago, Tahoma convened a large group of stakeholders that helped identify which skills are paramount for success after school. The result of that work was the creation of the district’s Future Ready initiative. 

“Staying focused on these wide-ranging skills provides our students the opportunity to gain experiences that are readily applicable outside of the classroom,” Hanson said. “We are excited that there is a clear focus around Future Ready. There are also some important differences between buildings and grade levels that require teachers to be flexible in meeting the needs of their kids."

Because of facility differences and schedules, the frequency and duration that grade levels see this specialist are not identical from building to building, so the flexibility is important in that regard as well, he noted.

The curriculum was created by Maret Unruh, who last year was working as an instructional coach in the district’s Teaching and Learning Department and who is now an assistant principal at Tahoma High School. In order to cater to the specific needs of younger and older elementary students, the curriculum is created for similar lessons in kindergarten and first grade; and different lessons for grades 2-3; and grades 4-5.

“We looked at all of the Future Ready skills and began to imagine, knowing that the classes would be in the library, which skills would allow us to create an experience that was purposeful, meaningful and intentional,” Unruh said. “We also realized that at the younger grades, social-emotional skills are Future Ready skills. … I think one of the things that we recognize is how much our social-emotional learning needs to be a part of our everyday experiences with our kids, and that it can’t just be a drop-in lesson here and there, or it won’t have the lasting meaning that we want it to have with our kids -- even more so now that we are working with students who come to us with adverse experiences and trauma. Part of being trauma-informed is helping students to have the right tools to express how they’re feeling, be more mindful of how they’re feeling and be not only more successful learners, but also more collaborative and empathetic.”

The lessons are rich in quality literature, multimedia such as songs and videos, and movement, she added. Feedback from teachers thus far has been very positive. The Future Ready specialists leading the classes are certificated teachers, who will continue to get together throughout the year to discuss the lessons and work together on the evolution of the program.
Whodunit? "Clue: On Stage" will open Nov. 8 at THS
Cast members from "Clue: On Stage" rehearse earlier this week. The cast and crew's hard work to prepare, along with costumes, sets and special effects, promise a show full of thrills, humor and intrigue.

In just a few weeks, the stage in the Tahoma High School Performing Arts Center will play host to the recreation of a famous dinner party. The guests? Colonel Mustard, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet, from -- you guessed it -- the classic board game, Clue.

Presented by the high school drama program, the play features all the intrigue of the original game, with added comedy and clever lines. The audience should keep their eyes peeled when the lights go out, expect the unexpected and keep count of the bodies -- not to mention Ms. Body!

“ I selected this play at the request of students who really wanted to do it,” director Paul Rempfer said. “It’s a murder-mystery based on the movie and board game of the same name. Comedic timing is the element that really stands out, and it is a good skill for young actors to master.”

The play "Clue: On Stage" opens on Nov. 8, and the show lasts about 90 minutes. Rempfer said it’s difficult to give an exact age recommendation due to adult themes, but noted that older children may enjoy the slapstick comedy.

“It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with these students,” Rempfer said. “They are working very diligently and are excited to have an audience."
Showtimes include 7 p.m. on Nov. 8, 9, 15 and 16; and 2 p.m. on Nov. 9 and 16. Tickets are on sale now at brownpapertickets.com  

A few of the cast members spoke with us, to share their thoughts and a few sneak peeks. Here are their comments:
  • Freshman Kat Fox (“the Motorist”): “I wanted to try out because I love the board game; and because I’m new to the school and I wanted to get into the drama program to acclimate as soon as possible. I think (the play) is funny because of the ridiculous ways people die. The characters are very over the top in the most hilarious way possible, and it’s beautiful!”
  • Fellow freshman Emma Meldrum (“Singing Telegram Girl”): Asked about her part, Meldrum said, “It’s really good comedic timing with one joke,” and noted that she’s the only person who sings in the show. Her favorite part is Mrs. White’s speech. “She does a rant. It’s so emotional and dramatic!”
  • Sophomore Sarah Pinter (“the Cook”): “I’ve had an interest in theater since I was little,” Pinter said. She took a break from drama for a few years to dance, then decided to audition for this play. “I thought I would try it again, and here I am! … I like this play because it’s different from anything I have done before.” Asked what the most challenging aspect is, Pinter said, “I feel like the cook is a scary person, and I have a hard time portraying a menacing person.” Her favorite moment in the play is when the characters reveal their secrets. “It’s very funny -- and, yeah, it’s a murder mystery, but it’s light-hearted at the same time,” she said.
Shadow Lake PTA, students, community work together
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 how those skills are being taught in classrooms. This month’s skill is Community Contributor.

This Saturday, for the second year running, a group of Shadow Lake Elementary families, PTA members, staff and community volunteers will gather to continue improvements on the school’s new upper parking lot area. It’s the epitome of a Community Contributor project, and one that many members of the school community and the larger community will benefit from.

In 2018, a Make a Difference Day grant was awarded to the PTA to grade the area of the upper parking lot to level and open it, as well as removing an old shed, many blackberries and invasive species, and undergrowth that blocked a clear line of sight between the main SLES parking lot and the new upper lot at the southwest corner of the site. Native trees and shrubs were preserved. They also improved the path from the asphalt parking lot to the upper lot, and spread gravel in the new parking area, which is about 7,200 square feet and allows about 25 additional parking spaces. In addition, volunteers put in native plants such as Maidenhair ferns, Native Columbine and Pearly Everlasting, particularly along the path that connects the two lots.

“It’s cool to see the kids using (the path). I hear kids asking their parents to use the trail,” said Mike O’Brien, the parent who has been spearheaded the project. O’Brien has a background in biology and is a Native Plant Steward with the Washington Native Plant Society.

The city of Maple Valley provides funding for the projects, and Rotary awards the funds. Volunteers come from service groups, scouting troops and the community at large to participate in the “National Day of Doing Good.”

Ankie Stroes, who leads the committee that oversees the projects, said they are happy to support the work at Shadow Lake. The committee is gave grants to nine projects this year; and a total of 18 projects are planned.

"Currently I have placed 251 volunteers and expect that to go up on Saturday," Stroes said.

The total awarded is $5375 this year. 

"We love coordinating this event each year," she added. "It has been a part of our community fall events since 2002."

Church pastors wrote letters of support, in recognition of the partnership that Maple Valley Church has with Shadow Lake Elementary (and Cedar River Elementary). The church often allows families to use their parking lot as overflow parking during large events, and, in turn, uses the school parking lots when they have need.

“As with many schools, parking is often a challenge,” Shadow Lake Principal Mike Hanson said, noting that these improvements have gone a long way toward alleviating some of that pressure. “Our PTA has been instrumental in making this happen.”

In addition to the Make a Difference Day funding, the PTA is providing a $1,000 contribution, some of which may be used to purchase additional native plants for the site, he said. This Saturday’s project will include additional grading and removal of invasive species as well as disposal of debris from prior work parties on the site. The contractor’s daughter attended Shadow Lake about 20 years ago and was pleased to help out, O’Brien said.

“It’s just neat to see the community help and work on something together,” he added.

Anyone who would like to help out on Make a Difference Day may attend the community breakfast at 8 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Greater Maple Valley Community Center, where project assignments will be given out. 

Community Contributor at Cedar River
Kindergarten teacher Jules Brandsoy shared this photo of one of her students practicing his Community Contributor skills.
Hudson M., a kindergarten student at Cedar River Elementary School, helps make sure lunch cards are ready when his peers come into the classroom each morning, taking action to serve the common good of his class as a Community Contributor.
Students conduct social media analysis for business class
One recent afternoon, a panel of local business owners from the Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce visited Tahoma High School to hear a series of social media strategy pitches from students. Backed by research, the students analyzed and critiqued current use of social media by local businesses, offered suggestions about platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and shared specific ideas for content creation.

The project was part of “Social Media for Business,” a new class taught by Lindsey Habenicht. There are more than 100 students in four sections this semester; three sections are being offered second semester.

Christie Armitage, one of the partners at Maple Valley Pediatric Therapy, had the chance to hear from her son, Tyler, about her business’ social media presence.

“I was very impressed with this assignment and the excitement Tyler demonstrated completing it. He shared his work with both my business partner and me after the assignment was complete,” Armitage said. “ He suggested that we expand our social media presence to Instagram as it is a popular platform right now, and we were only utilizing Facebook and Twitter. Tyler also suggested targeting younger families as to build a longer-lasting relationship.”

“While we don’t do much advertising we are taking his suggestion and starting an Instagram page,” she continued. “We are bound by HIPAA rules and regulations so we cannot post pictures of our clients, but we do a lot of staff team building and that will be fun to share with our clients.”  

For the assignment, students were asked to choose a local business from the Chamber directory, assess their current activity on social media, then propose a new, specific social media strategy to help them meet their organizational goals and reach their target audience, Habenicht said.
“It was great to see some students choosing family businesses, family-friends’ businesses, businesses they currently work at or industries they are passionate about,” she said. “These connections made students more invested and – best part – allows them to continue learning!”

Luke Sherrell chose Dynamic Computing Services, his dad’s business. He talked about the target audience, and gave some specific recommendations for content and said they should consider adding Instagram to their current accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Gary Sherrell, who sat on the chamber panel, said he enjoyed the feedback.

Social media consultations are in high demand in the marketing arena, and the skills Habenicht’s students are using will enable them to consult and make money in the field in the future.

Asked about some of the most interesting or notable suggestions the presentations included, she said, “I think we could learn a lot from our students. They are so creative and intuitive about what kind of content resonates with consumers! We talk a lot in this class about how social media is not a selling platform, it’s a relationship building platform. You have to provide value to customers before asking them to buy!”

“One of my favorite suggestions was from Sloane Wichelmann who presented on Buds and Blooms. As flowers are often gifted to people as an act of kindness, she suggested that Buds and Blooms create a ‘Random Acts of Kindness,’ video campaign, where they would share the feel-good stories of people doing nice things for other people (beyond giving flowers!). Of course, flowers would be intermittently featured, but a campaign like this looks to build relationships first and was simply brilliant.”

Other notable suggestions stemmed from this generation’s obsession with quick, DIY, tutorial-style videos, she said. 

“Many students cited familiarity with a product as a key decision-making factor when it comes time to purchase, so they wanted to alleviate any misunderstandings or questions through video content that brought people ‘into the business’ (without them ever having to step foot inside)!” Habenicht added.
Three volunteers from the Chamber participated in the panel that listened to the student pitches, along with three business leaders from the community.

“Overwhelmingly, I heard that students were excited for this project. As a teacher, that’s the best thing I can ask for. While they were nervous leading up to the panel presentations, I know that this provided them with incredible, real-world experience that will carry them well past high school,” she said. “It was so inspiring to see them flourish!”
"Papa Bear" statue dedicated to former superintendent
From left, School Board members Tami Henkel and Mary Jane Glaser, former superintendent Mike Maryanski, and School Board President Didem Pierson at the dedication of the "Papa Bear" statue on Monday.
The city of Maple Valley had this plaque made to dedicate the "Papa Bear" sculpture.
The drums played, horns sounded and pompoms sparkled Monday as former Tahoma superintendent Mike Maryanski was honored in the dedication of the city’s “Papa Bear” sculpture, which is at the roundabout on SE Tahoma Way on the east side of Tahoma High School. The sculpture was selected and funded by the City of Maple Valley and the Public Arts Commission.

School Board member Mary Jane Glaser, who worked with Byron Mucke, one of the founding members of the city’s Public Arts Commission to help bring the project to fruition, spoke at the dedication ceremony. The city purchased the piece, and Colorado artist Dan Ostermiller sculpted the artwork, which was installed in January. 

The piece needed a name, so Glaser asked if they would consider calling it “Papa Bear,” which was Maryanski’s nickname during his time as superintendent, from 1993 until he retired in 2014. Glaser credited Maryanski’s efforts to secure funding for the high school, including $4 million in state funds to purchase the Tahoma High School site. “He was a huge part of the collaboration going to Olympia” and asking Legislators for funding.

“We felt naming the sculpture was a fitting tribute to Mike Maryanski, who devoted his entire career to this district,” Glaser said, noting that Maryanski was known for encouraging an atmosphere of collaboration. “Please recognize a wonderful man who has brought so much to our school district and our community, Mike Maryanski.”

Speaking briefly to the crowd, Maryanski said that he has several grandchildren who have attended Tahoma schools.

“It would be nice if they could come around and see that their granddad had a little bit of something to do with this,” he said, gesturing to the new high school, and the city’s adjacent Summit Park fields and skate park. “Thank you so very much for this.”

The plaque states that the statue is “Dedicated to Mike Maryanski for his service to the Tahoma School District and commitment to the education of our children.”

Before the speeches, members of the Tahoma High School marching band, drum line and cheerleading team performed for the crowd; and bear claw pastries were served. 
Trillium grants Inclusive Employer Award
Kyndahl Carlson, who orchestrates purchasing for the Teaching and Learning Department, was recently awarded Trillium’s Inclusive Employer Award for 2019.

Trillium Employment Services is a nonprofit organization committed to integrating people with intellectual disabilities into the workforce.

Carlson said the award came as a surprise, and is really in recognition of the district’s relationship with Trillium. According to a statement from Trillium, Carlson and her team “have made outstanding contributions to building an inclusive workforce and providing advancement opportunities for employees with disabilities.”

 Initially, the district’s Special Services Department was looking for staff members to work with Transitions students. Carlson participated in that program for a couple of years, and then about three years ago, Trillium and the district partnered to bring in a graduate of the Transitions program.

“She is a great team member,” Carlson said of the employee. “She can really look for mistakes and helps with processing different orders that come in and general office duties. She works really hard, and pays attention to detail like nobody’s business.”

City, district leaders meet to discuss legislative issues
City Councilor Linda Olson talks as members of the City Council, School Board and elected state representatives and others listen during a recent meeting.
Tahoma School Board directors and senior administrators participated in a joint meeting of local and state government representatives to discuss the upcoming session of the state Legislature on Monday, Oct. 21.

Also attending were Maple Valley City Council and staff, Maple Valley Fire and Life Safety commissioners and staff, and 5th District state Sen. Mark Mullet and representatives Lisa Callan and Bill Ramos.

School Board directors discussed state funding gaps with the legislators and identified education priorities for the upcoming session, including the lack of equity in local levy funding that hampers districts like Tahoma that have a limited tax base.

“Our school system and our students are not being funded at the same ratio as our neighboring school districts,” Board Director Mary Jane Glaser told the legislators.

Sen. Mullet acknowledged that Tahoma is not receiving the same level of funding as many surrounding districts but also praised the district for its success.

“You guys have a lot to be proud of,” he said. “What you’re getting done, even though you have $1,000 less per kids, it shows.” Mullet, Callan and Ramos said they see the need for funding fixes and will work with Tahoma to address them.

Other topics discussed during the meeting included the need for more state highway funding in the Maple Valley area to relieve traffic congestion, including work that is underway on SR 18, and more funding for fire districts that face increasing risks of wildfire as a result of climate change.

Community invited to free showing of “Angst”
Tahoma High School will host a free community showing of the documentary "Angst," which explores anxiety, its causes and effects, and what we can do about it.

The film will be shown at 7 p.m. on Nov. 6 in the performing arts center at THS. High school parents please note: As mentioned in the email sent home, all high school students will see the documentary at school on Nov. 5 or 6. The film company states that "Angst" is recommended for ages 10 and older. We received further clarification from district administrators who have viewed the film and believe the appropriate viewing age is 12 and older.

The Tahoma Schools Foundation paid for this viewing.

If you would like to learn more about the documentary, please visit https://angstmovie.com/.

Nominations open for Highly Capable program
The nomination period is open for students currently enrolled in grades kindergarten,1, 3, and 4 to be identified as highly capable. Nominations will be accepted from Nov. 4 through Dec. 2. The nomination forms are available in both English and Spanish.

All second-grade students will be screened/tested for possible highly capable services in their home schools in December 2019. Therefore, there is no nomination process for second grade students. 

To locate more information about the highly capable programs available in the Tahoma School District and nomination forms, please visit our website.

Remember to vote
Voters in King County should have received their ballots in the mail for the Nov. 5 election. 

For information about what’s on the ballot, registering to vote (possible online through Oct. 28 or in person until Election Day), replacing a missing or damaged ballot or other election answers, click here: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/elections.aspx.

Ballots can be mailed for free or deposited in the secure box in the parking lot at Rock Creek Elementary, Hobart Food Market or at one of these locations.

Registration now open for READY! for Kindergarten
Parents of children ages 2-5 are invited to register for the READY! for Kindergarten workshops, which help prepare children for school success. 

The program teaches parents how to help their children learn through play, using methods such as “counting all day” (tickling in patterns, counting buttons or the number of people ahead of you in line at the grocery store) and other specific ideas, materials and toys.

Workshops are scheduled at Lake Wilderness Elementary for three dates, from 6-7:30 p.m. on Jan. 15, March 4 and April 1; and are organized by age range for parents of children ages 2-3; 3-4 and 4-5. Childcare is available.

The cost of the workshops is $150. Scholarships are available, and are provided by Maple Valley Rotary. Materials that parents parents take home include a binder of age-appropriate learning targets, resources and materials/toys such as special puzzles and games to help parents teach their children through play-based activities.

For those who would like to learn more, here are two videos:

Or, click here for additional information on the district website.

Middle school play opens Nov. 8
Theater students from Summit Trail and Maple View middle schools have been hard at work preparing for their fall play, “Drew Knight, PI: Case of the Missing Tarts,” which will show at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 and 9 and also at 2 p.m. on Nov. 9. The performances will be on the stage at Maple View Middle School.

Here’s a description of the play from the Tahoma Junior Drama Boosters website:

“The Queen of Hearts' tarts have been stolen and heads will roll if the culprit is not found! Drew Knight, PI is on the case. She has a list of suspects that she intends to interrogate. So, off she heads to; Penny Loafer Lane, Rub-a-Dub-Dub Drive, Pumpkin Place Ln, and the Fair at Horner’s Corner. Everywhere she goes the same name keeps coming up, ‘Jack!’ Will this case be cracked before heads roll? Drew Knight, PI extraordinaire is on the case!”

Tickets will be sold at the door, and credit cards will be accepted. Ticket sales will begin 45 minutes before the curtain; seating will begin 20 minutes before the curtain. Prices are $7 for students and seniors; $10 for general admission and free for children 5 and younger.

The play is written and directed by Cheri Ayres-Graves.

Benicio, Lucia to perform next week
Attention, fans of Benicio Bryant and Lucia Flores-Wiseman! In case you missed the news, Lucia and Beni will perform at the “Art Beat” fundraiser hosted by the Maple Valley Creative Arts Council. The event is from 7-10 p.m. on Nov. 1 at the Lake Wilderness Lodge.

The event will also feature performances by Ashraf Hakim, and Jessie & Mat Siren; as well as heavy hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction, art dash (similar to a dessert dash, but with works donated by artists) and more.

For tickets or further details, visit the MVCAC website here.

"Spooky good" literacy event at MV Library Saturday
Families with children from birth through age 12 are invited to the first "Lifting Literacy" event of the school year, from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Maple Valley Library. Please join us for trick-or-treating around the library, games, snacks, prizes, free books and Halloween stories (stories at 10:30 a.m.). Tahoma reading specialists will be also available to talk about your child's particular needs. 

It will be a spooky good time!

Lifting Literacy events are sponsored by the Maple Valley Library Guild and the Maple Valley Rotary. For additional dates in this series, please see the flyer posted in the event discussion.

Note: The library guild's big book sale will also be happening during this event, so families are invited to stop in and shop while at the library. Proceeds of the sale support programs such as Lifting Literacy.

FRIDAY, Oct. 25
Cedar River Elementary School PTO "OttumnFest" family fun night, 6 p.m., CRES

Shadow Lake Elementary School costume dance party, 6:30-8, SLES

Tahoma Elementary School PTO Fall Dance, 6-8:30 p.m., TES

Lifting Literacy at Maple Valley Library (see brief above; costumes encouraged), 10 a.m.-noon, Maple Valley Library

FRIDAY, Nov. 1
Future Ready Day at Tahoma High School

Election Day

Tahoma High School parent-teacher conferences, 5-8 p.m., THS

Tahoma High School parent-teacher conferences, 4-7 p.m., THS

Free community showing of the documentary "Angst," 7 p.m., performing arts center, THS

MONDAY, Nov. 11
NO SCHOOL, districtwide, in observance of Veterans Day

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