Sept. 27, 2019
In this issue:

The art of teaching: Bringing geography, culture to class
District programs, projections, funding examined
Leadership students work on culture, community
School Board selects Housing Committee names
Safety Committee holds quarterly meeting
District kudos
News briefs
Coming up in Bear Country
What's for lunch?

The art of teaching: Bringing geography, culture to class
Above: Two of Paige Simoneau's students work on sketching a favorite memory as a rough draft of a larger project. Below: A group of fourth-grade students discuss the ways the two artworks on the screen (from Greece and Seattle) are similar and different.

In Paige Simoneau’s art-STEM classroom at Rock Creek Elementary this week, a group of fourth-grade students brainstormed answers to this question: If you couldn’t go to the store to buy art supplies, what types of materials from nature would you use to create an art piece representing a favorite memory? Rocks, leaves, plants, sticks, flowers, sand, dirt, grass -- the list continued to grow.

Before they began planning how to tell the story of their own favorite memory, the students and Simoneau looked at maps of Greece and Washington state. They compared and contrasted the topography, proximity to water, and talked about what types of materials artists throughout history would have had available. Next, the class checked out a piece of ceramic Greek art and compared it to a Native American woven basket. In a third discussion, students examined a Greek relief sculpture and a totem pole in Seattle.

In her first year of teaching for Tahoma, Simoneau said she is excited to bring elements of geography and art history to her students in art and STEM that she learned during a two-week professional development course in Greece this summer.

As she earned her degree in elementary education, Simoneau enjoyed art so much that she nearly earned a double major. After completing her student teaching at a STEM school in Bend and volunteering with some STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) programming, she had the opportunity to learn this summer through the Center for Geography Education in Oregon, and received funding through the Grey Family Foundation.

While she planned her trip, she didn’t yet know about the job at Rock Creek, so when she was later hired to fill a position that allows her to bring her experience in STEM and STEAM as well as her travels and combine it with her love of art and art history, it was a happy surprise.

“To be able to find a job like this? This is the dream,” Simoneau said. “I’m trying to bring science to art, and art to science." Later this year, students will use the engineering design process to create a model for sculpture. As another example, during last week’s fourth-grade lesson, she taught about the Apollo 11 Mission, then asked her students to look at the history and science as inspiration for an art project about the solar system.

Districtwide, art and STEM were added at the elementary level after surveying parents and completing an elementary model review. Previously art teachers taught at more than one building, and separate STEM teachers taught at more than one building, switching at the semester break. This year, each elementary building has one art-STEM teacher, said Chris Everett, Teaching and Learning Coordinator.

“This is a very enthusiastic and collaborative team,” Everett said. “All our teachers are committed to teaching the elementary art standards, and are finding ways to make them exciting and engaging for students.”

Simoneau said that for RCES fourth-graders, in particular, the connections will help students master two of the art standards:

  • Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.
  • Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.

Principal Chris Thomas said he thinks Simoneau’s experience is a fantastic addition for the Eagles’ art and STEM classes.

On the trip in Greece, each teacher chose an area of interest to connect to the geography the group studied. Simoneau chose art and was glad to have the opportunity to see classic works firsthand.

“I was geeking out,” she said, noting that at one point, she turned a corner and unexpectedly came face to face with the “Charioteer of Delphi.” 

The scope and scale of some of the works was awe-inspiring, and so was the value and respect that the Greek culture and community hold for art and history, Simoneau said.

“Art is important, and it tells stories,” she said. “I hope that is something that will inspire (my students), and I hope I can help them the best that I can.”
During the professional development trip to Greece this summer, Simoneau had the chance to see classic works of art such as the "Charioteer of Delphi" as well as modern work such as this graffiti art in Athens. She says she is excited to discuss the history and geographic connections of art with her students this year.
District programs, projections, funding examined
Board may vote to place potential levy measures on ballot Oct. 22
The path to determining what it will cost to operate Tahoma School District during the next four school years continues, as the School Board and administrators closely examine programs, enrollment projections, anticipated income and spending to determine how best to meet student needs.

New state funding rules require school districts to create four-year budget projections, which the district accomplished as part of the 2019-2020 budget process. Identifying exactly what state funding pays for and what is underfunded or unfunded is at the heart of the school district’s current work to determine how much money is needed from local levies to pay for education programs and services that are not supported by state funding

The School Board has received regular reports from staff and, over the next couple of weeks, will further discuss local levy funding to supplement state funding. The areas being explored are ongoing costs to operate the district, including supplies and utility fees; salaries and benefits for all staff; current and projected staffing needs, based on student enrollment; state and district program priorities; and other factors, including how to maintain current programs. 

The most recent report given to the board, at its Sept. 24 meeting, focused on unfunded or underfunded mandates from the state for paraeducator certification, dyslexia inclusion, closing growth and achievement gaps, and graduation pathways. District administrators met with staff members whose jobs are focused in those areas to determine how to comply and how much local funding is needed from levies to supplement state funding to do the work. The same approach was taken to look at two large district initiatives: Future Ready and Empowered Learning; and social-emotional learning and mental health. Those programs also would require local funding from levies. The School Board is also looking at overall district funding resources, including the reserve fund balance and how best to use those funds. The fund balance dollars are intended to be used for one-time expenditures and not as an ongoing funding source.

School funding has changed since voters approved a two-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy in 2018. State funding has increased, as a result of the McCleary legislation that was upheld by the state Supreme Court. The state now provides about 84% of Tahoma’s operating budget. Those funds are for what the state defines as basic education, though that description does not fully capture all of the education and support services that Tahoma and other school districts provide to students.

When state funding increased, local EP&O levy funding was reduced by placing a lid on how much school districts could ask voters to approve. Local levy funds provide about $11 million of Tahoma’s current income for school programs and support. Funding for classroom technology ended in 2018, when voters turned down renewal of the four-year technology levy.

The spending in the current budget is $4,888,195 more than anticipated revenue, and the difference will be paid from the fund-balance reserve. Budget forecasts show that if Tahoma continues to rely on reserve funds to balance the budget without a levy, the fund balance would be exhausted by 2021-2022 and result in a deficit unless spending or revenue is adjusted.

The board could make a decision at its Oct. 22 meeting about placing a replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy and a Technology Levy on the Feb.11, 2020 ballot.
Leadership students work on culture, community
Collaborative Teammate skill central to most leadership projects
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 Collaborative Teammate Skill .
Above: Students in Ryan Simpson's introduction to leadership class listen during a lesson this week. Below: Students in Kristen VanHoomissen's leadership class work together to solve an escape room puzzle.
A few years ago, a shift was made in the leadership program at Tahoma High School, to recruit and include students from across a wider variety of interest groups, course pathways and grade levels. At the core of all their work, leadership students work to create a welcoming culture at the school, to connect students with one another and to plan events that foster a sense of community.

“I’m excited to start making a change -- to notice little things and help underclassmen have an even better experience,” said Taylor Tomich, a senior in Kristen VanHoomissen’s leadership class. 

In many ways, the high school’s 344 leadership students work as a team or as committees within the larger team, exemplifying the Collaborative Teammate Future Ready Skill.

“The advanced leadership classes are completely project-based learning. Students in the advanced classes plan, organize, market, and execute close to 30 projects over the course of the school year that include both school and community,” said VanHoomissen, who took over as Activities Director after Dave Peters’ retirement last June. “These projects take place in school hours but also require a significant amount of outside of school hours. For example, there are 16 different committee teams for homecoming and coronation; these teams will put in close to 50 hours of time outside of the school day.”
On one recent morning, members of one of the committees worked on a large, 20-foot decoration for Homecoming. Junior Emma Dazell and senior Emma Davis said that there are several significant challenges to planning a large-scale event like Homecoming. 

“I think communication is a big thing, between the classes and the committees,” Dazell said. 

Davis agreed and added that arriving at a common vision and determining which ideas to execute is also a challenge.

Senior Kole Scott said that both leadership and baseball have helped him develop skills integral to being a Collaborative Teammate. “Pretty much everything we do here is in teams. We talk about our goals when we’re planning.”

Another group of leadership students agreed, but also emphasized the other skills they are learning, practicing and reinforcing through the lessons and via work outside of class. Sophomore Valeria Aguilar Rivera, freshman Hewan Berhanu, freshman Ella Barnett and junior Jocelyn McDonald said they are learning to get out of their comfort zone, working on public speaking and learning how to present ideas clearly, refining social skills and getting to play significant roles in student-led projects and plans.

Asked how leadership skills translate to life outside the classroom and beyond high school, VanHoomissen said her students learn project management and marketing to a specific audience -- their peers. “Much of what the students do throughout the year matches with the typical project management cycle. I want the students to walk into an interview and be able answer questions specific to planning, organizing, marketing and executing large- and small-scale events.”

As part of Ryan Simpson’s introduction to leadership classes, students will soon complete a 40-day character challenge, during which they’ll be asked to complete a character-building exercise once a day. Some will be light and easy, Simpson said, while others will be more difficult. For example, a dare based in kindness will ask students to "Be an encourager today. Carefully observe those with whom you interact, and identify something positive you can acknowledge. Give at least five genuine compliments based on your observations." An example of a more difficult challenge focused on forgiveness: "Think of someone at school who has hurt you. Go out of your way to smile and say hello to that person, every time you see them. And mean it!"

During class one day this week, Simpson talked with his students about personality as a gift; versus character, who they are, reinforced by thousands of choices they make daily. 

“The more we practice kindness, integrity, honesty -- the more natural it becomes,” Simpson said.
School Board selects Housing Committee names
The Tahoma School Board selected parent representatives for the school district’s Housing Advisory Committee Sept. 24, as each board member drew names from a hat to select 15 people: two committee members and an alternate to represent each of the five School Board director districts. Committee volunteers submitted their names in June, when the district advertised the committee and asked for volunteers. More than 50 parents offered to serve as part of the group.

The committee will begin work in October to craft recommendations to the School Board about how to address rising enrollment to ensure there are adequate school facilities in place. A subcommittee will be chosen from members of the Housing Advisory Committee to look at immediate facility and student-housing needs. The main committee will work on creation of a 10-year housing plan for students.

The committee is expected to have at least seven meetings and bring recommendations to the School Board in April 2020. In addition to parent representatives, the committee will have district staff and School Board members, students, and non-parent community members, for a total of 36 people.

In other business at the Sept. 24 meeting, the School Board:

  • Updated its annual Goals and Targets to reflect targets for the 2019-2020 school year. Among the targets are meeting student housing needs, increasing the student achievement index, ensuring equal access to student programs and opportunities, and decreasing chronic student absences.

  • Reviewed a proposed update to the interlocal facilities-use agreement with the City of Maple Valley, including clarification of usage priorities for school district and city facilities.

  • Heard a report from Superintendent Tony Giurado about a proposed plan for student-parent reunification at schools that would take place after an emergency event. The district’s Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee is putting final touches on the plan, which establishes common practices to quickly and securely reunite students with their family after events that would force closure or evacuation of schools. 

  • Reviewed a proposal to reduce noise levels in the attendance and counseling offices at Tahoma High School by installing glass walls. Additional research is needed to determine whether the proposed changes would be compatible with existing heating and ventilating systems. 
  • Received an update on state assessment scores, which indicate Tahoma students are among the top 20 districts in the state in English language arts, math, and science. The school district will continue to focus on improving student learning growth, so that each Tahoma student makes academic gains. Further student-growth measures will be available in October to help teachers and parents better understand how students are progressing or where they need additional resources.
  • Approved the annual athletic report.
  • Welcomed this year’s student school board representatives: seniors Zachary Anderson and Keila Jellings; juniors Caroline Quevedo and Bailey McCallister.
  • Reviewed the Tahoma Exemplary Award process and history.
  • Reviewed current planning data for a proposed Educational Programs and Operations Levy.
Tahoma's student representatives to the School Board, from left, Keila Jellings, Caroline Quevedo, Zachary Anderson and Bailey McCallister.

We asked the students to share a bit about why they wanted to serve in this position on behalf of their peers. Here are thoughts from two of the representatives:

McCallister: "I chose to apply for the position of a student representative for the School Board as I wanted to learn the process. Specifically, I wanted to grasp the idea of what our district works to achieve. I will utilize my position to connect the student body with the School Board. I hope to bring attention to the underrepresented successes of our school including any clubs, sports, or activities. In essence, I hope to bring awareness to the resources and activities that support a diverse and unique student body.

Anderson: "As a senior, my public education is coming to an end. It’s important to note that I am a senior because it means this is my last chance to do make a real difference as a peer to the entire high school community. ... I saw an opportunity to experience something new, and I took it. In fact I think this is something all my peers ought to do; don’t miss opportunities for something new. As a fellow student, it’s incredibly important to not only serve, but also help my peers, because high school can be awesome or a total drag. I want everyone to feel heard, I want students to break out of 'My voice doesn’t matter' mentality, because it does! ... Take a look at the news and you’ll appreciate just how far young people like us can go. I’m no Greta Thunberg, but by showing others that our voice matters, maybe they (can) be."
Safety Committee holds quarterly meeting
Tahoma’s Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee held its first meeting of the new school year on Sept. 25 and focused on its top goal for the year: Parent-student reunification following an emergency.

The committee heard a report from district staff who attended a state school safety conference in Spokane last summer, where they received information and training about parent-student reunification.

Family reunification “is the first step to recovery” following an emergency, said Superintendent Tony Giurado. During the school year, committee members will refine the plan and practice it before implementing it as part of the district’s overall safety and emergency preparedness plan. The goal is to establish practices that ensure every student is safe and accounted for as they are reunited with parents after a school emergency. Once it is implemented, it will become standard practice at all schools and is designed to be flexible in order to apply to a wide range of situations.

The committee meets four times during the school year to discuss safety and security issues. In addition to school principals, safety and security staff, and district administrators the meeting is attended by police and fire district representatives.
Shadow Lake community celebrates ribbon cutting
Shadow Lake Elementary students Isabella S., Jillian Y. and Inha P. cut the ribbon to celebrate the completion of the renovations at their school, as Superintendent Tony Giurado and School Board Director Mary Jane Glaser hold the ribbon. The ribbon cutting and celebration were part of the school's annual open house event on Thursday.
AP Scholars recognized by School Board
On Sept. 17, the Tahoma School Board recognized the 2019 Tahoma High School Advanced Placement Scholars during a ceremony in the performing arts center. The AP Scholar award is granted to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP exams. The AP Scholar with Honor award is granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams. The award of AP Scholar with Distinction is given to students who receive an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams. Tahoma's National AP Scholars earned an average score of at least 4 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams. Two THS students also earned the AP Capstone Diploma, which means they successfully completed both AP Seminar and AP Research courses in addition to at least four other AP exams in any subject.
Four students were recognized as National AP Scholars: Rohit Tripathy, Emiri Nishizawa, Emma Nickel and Djanaya Esiong. Nishizawa and Nickel also earned the AP Capstone Diploma.
AP Scholars with Distinction recognized included: Bret Berry, Dane Bowman-Weston, Katerina Bruhl, Matthew Bruneel, Brooke Cassidy, Carolyn Crowder, Grace Denison, Shelby Ellis, Djanaya Esiong, Issabella Huser, Zachary Minniti, Emma Nickel, Gage Nickel, Emiri Nishizawa, Clair Riordan, Mallika Sansgiri, Aidan Schatz, Abigail Seely, Kirsten Standahl, Jasmine Tran, Rohit Tripathy, Jack Wagner, Ryleigh Weston.
AP Scholars with Honor included: Samantha Bailey, Josephine Barnhart, Alaina Brady, Claire Cunningham, Hunter Helms, Rachel Kloepfer, Hannah Knauss, Sarah Kropelnicki, Saanvi Mehrotra, Elsa Miller, Alexander Mollinary, Abigail Moore, Suzanne Smith-Stoe, Sarah Ward, Alexander Weiss, Justin Williams, Abigail Wooster, Janey Yee.
Tahoma's AP scholars included: Kayla Anthony, Jayson Barber, Riley Barlett, Caroline Binder, Thomas Brannon, Devin Brown, Joshua Brown, Vanessa Burdge, Alyssa Callahan, Nikita Chepuri, Madison Collins, Shane Conley, Jazmin DeVore, Devan Deyerin, Cora Fairbanks, Thomas French, Mikell Fuller, Anthony Ghimpu, Charles Gray, Anna-Maria Hessler, Leon Hong, Caitlin Hunt, Joseph Jenne, Andrew Johnson, Brandon Jones, Neil Khanal, Justin King, Isabel Kirkham, Guthrie Kuester, Emma Laskarzewski, Julia Lats, Koby Mao, Nicolas Mazziotti, Aidan Mercado, Adel Mosyagin, Hannah Neuberger, Alicia Norgate, Luke Oriolt, Daniela Perezchica-Tran, Morgan Remick, Madeline Rose, Sarina Sanjay, Kole Scott, Brooklyn Shipley, Victoria Sims, Brandt Smith, Samantha Solomon, Alexandra Stan, Justin Straub, Emily Tanner, Marie Vandenbosch, Parker Wichelmann.

THS teacher recognized by SHAPE Washington
Tahoma High School teacher David Keniston was recently selected as the 2019 Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year by SHAPE (Society of Health and Physical Educators) Washington. 

Keniston was hired by THS this year, after working in the Renton School District previously.

“David is a prime example of what a true leader and role model is in our profession,” said Mary Trettevik of SHAPE. “This award is well-deserved.”

Community preparedness fair is Saturday
Community members are invited to the Emergency Preparedness Fair from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 at Rock Creek Elementary. 

The event includes the chance to check out emergency response vehicles, preparedness demonstrations, informational displays, vendors and more.

Sponsors include: The City of Maple Valley, the City of Covington, the City of Black Diamond, Tahoma School District, King County Sheriff's Office, Maple Valley Fire & Life Safety, Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, Maple Valley CERT and ARES, Soos Creek Water and Sewer, Cedar River Water and Sewer District, Covington Water District, Maple Valley Farmers' Market, Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Maple Valley Community Center.

Contact nurses using building nurse email addresses
Parents and guardians who need to email the nurse at their child’s school are asked to use the following email addresses (they can also be found on the Health and Safety page of each district website). This will ensure that if a sub is filling in for one of our nurses, your important health questions and information will be able to be accessed by the correct staff members. Thank you for partnering with us!

If you have other questions or need assistance with a health matter, please contact Tahoma Nursing Coordinator Jennifer Lyons at 425-413-3488 or

Cedar River Elementary:
Glacier Park Elementary:
Lake Wilderness Elementary:
Rock Creek Elementary:
Shadow Lake Elementary:
Tahoma Elementary:
Maple View Middle School:
Summit Trail Middle School:
Tahoma High School:

Join us for “Saving & Paying for College” Night
Tahoma families with students in grades pre-K through 12 are invited to an event with information about saving and paying for college. Two concurrent sessions will happen during the event, which is from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Tahoma High School on Oct. 9.

1. For families of students in pre-K through grade 11 in the performing arts center, we'll discuss topics such as:
Current & future costs of college
Value of education
Saving strategies
The value of having a plan
529 Plans
Types of financial aid
Expected Family Contribution
Student Loans
Tax opportunities
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

2. For seniors and their families only, financial aid experts will offer a help session for the FAFSA/WASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid / Washington Application for State Financial Aid).

King County Elections encourages citizens to register to vote
Earlier this week, it was National Voter Registration Day. Are you registered to vote?

If you have moved recently and need to register at your new address, or if you have not registered in recent years, here’s a link to King County Elections (you can also register via U.S. Mail or in person if you prefer not to do so online):

There are several local positions up for election in November, and the Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Candidate Forum from 6:30-8:45 p.m. on Oct. 17 in the performing arts center at Tahoma High School.

National Voter Registration Day was created in 2012 as a nonpartisan day to help citizens exercise their right to vote.

Suicide prevention resources shared
In observance of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline '1-800-273-TALK (8255)' World Suicide Prevention Day earlier this month, we shared these resources on social media, and we would like to share them again here:

Five action steps to help someone who may be suicidal:

"Be the One to Help Save a Life" call for action:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio: 1-888-628-9454

Crisis Connections

Crisis Text Line
Text “HEAL” to 741741

Teen Link, which offers peer counseling from teens who are trained in crisis intervention. Teen Link is available from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. by calling 206-461-4922.

Tahoma School District also offers a tip line, called Safe Schools Alert, which can be used to share information about students in crisis. It can be found here (and also under the quick links on each district/building website):

FRIDAY, Sept. 27
Tahoma Elementary PTO Movie Night, 6:30 p.m., TES

MONDAY, Sept. 30
Cedar River Elementary Book Fair, Sept. 30-Oct. 4, CRES
Tahoma High School Homecoming Coronation assembly, THS

*CANCELED (will be rescheduled): "Talk with Tony" informal meeting with Superintendent Tony Giurado at Maple View Middle School

"Gabbing with Gaston" informal meeting with Principal Shelly Gaston at Glacier Park Elementary School, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Cedar River Elementary open house, 6:30 p.m., CRES

FRIDAY, Oct. 4
Tahoma School Board Work-Study Session, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Lake Wilderness Lodge

Homecoming football game, Tahoma vs. Todd Beamer High School, 7 p.m., Maxwell Stadium at Maple View Middle School

Tahoma School Board Work-Study Session, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Lake Wilderness Lodge

Tahoma High School Homecoming Dance, 8-11 p.m., THS

Tahoma School Board meeting, 6:30 p.m., Central Services Center

Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum, 6:30 p.m., THS PAC

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:
Tahoma School District | 425-413-3400 | Visit our website
25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Rd. S.E., Maple Valley, WA 98038