April 18, 2019
In this issue:

Community "engages" in school finance discussion
What will Classroom Technology look like?
Cubs cash in on volunteer's financial lesson
Join us for first "Talk with Tony" superintendent meeting
Addressing elementary enrollment issues
THS staff gathers to watch "Angst"
News briefs
District kudos
Spotlight on THS
Coming up in Bear Country
What's for lunch?

Community "engages" in school finance discussion
Parents, community members and staff discuss their ideas about school finances during the second session of Engage Tahoma as staff and School Board members listen. The first two sessions focused on revenue. A second topic, Classroom Technology, will be discussed during engagement meetings on April 30 and May 20. To sign up for those, click here: http://bit.ly/TSDengageTahomaTechnology
Parents, community members and Tahoma staff met April 4 for the second of two sessions about school revenue in the debut of a new district program called Engage Tahoma. Those who attended heard a recap of the finance information about revenue shared in the first session, then broke into small groups to discuss and give feedback about how the district could improve the information it shares -- as well as how it shares facts about finances.

The School Board asked Superintendent Tony Giurado to create Engage Tahoma as a way to involve more community members and as a method for two-way communication, something that has been requested both during Giurado’s listening tour in the fall as well as by other community members.

“In order for us to provide the very best education for our students, it requires a partnership between the community, the schools and the families,” Giurado said during the meeting.

School Board President Didem Pierson thanked the participants and stressed that studies show when communities, staff and families engage and participate together, there is a positive impact on student achievement. “Thank you for your willingness to partner with us,” Pierson said.

Attendees had the chance to ask any follow-up questions that had occurred to them since session 1. One staff member asked for clarification about the district’s assessed value, and why other school districts area able to collect so much more money per student. Assistant Superintendent and Director of Finance Lori Cloud explained that the total amount that a school district collects via a levy measure is directly related to the total assessed value of all property and buildings in the district. Tahoma students have less funding available because there is relatively little commercial development in the district -- particularly when compared to districts such as Bellevue, Lake Washington, Issaquah and Renton.

Another question focused on how district officials decide whether to ask for a levy amount of $1.50 per $1,000 assessed property value or -- should the Legislature raise the amount districts may collect -- or at a higher rate, such as $2.50, or somewhere in between. Tahoma has historically determined the amount based on the need.

The small groups talked about three questions related to school finance and revenue (School Board members and district staff listened, took notes and facilitated). Each small group then reported out a selection of what they considered the most important ideas they had discussed to the whole group. These included:

  • Clarity of how levy funds are spent; also, sharing information about how levy funds are spent year-round.

  • “Humanization” of the needs. For example, don’t just state that levy funds support the MAP and RAP programs; rather, share including a parent/student(s) who benefits from the programs.

  • Simplify the language and presentation of financial information.

  • Dispel the misconception that the state has fully funded basic education at the level of service that Tahoma provides. (For example, the state’s prototypical funding model would fund 1.4 full-time equivalent nursing positions; Tahoma supplements that amount with local levy dollars to have 7.2 FTE nursing positions.)

Middle school student Scott Alvord attended with his mom. Asked why he thinks it’s important to learn about school finances and revenue, Scott said that although most of the information felt aimed at the parent level, he appreciates that his school spends money on providing programs and activities so that students can get to know more peers at school and make more friends. It’s also important to learn about how the system works, he said, because “Then you can give your opinion.” If someone would like a method or decision changed, Scott added, it’s a good idea to learn about it and then ask them to consider a different perspective. 

Scott’s mom, Amy, said she brought him to the meeting after attending the first session by herself. “I like him to see how the community joins together for the betterment of the school district. The main reason we moved here was for the school district.”

In the fall, Engage Tahoma will focus on the expenditure side of the finance equation, with two sessions following a similar format.

Next two Engage Tahoma sessions: Classroom Technology
How is technology used in our classrooms today, and how do we envision using it after the next successful technology levy?

Please join us for two sessions about second topic of this year's Engage Tahoma series: Classroom Technology. The format calls for detailed information at the first meeting and small-group discussion with district staff and leaders at the second meeting. 

The technology sessions are from 6-7:30 p.m. on April 30 and May 20 at the Central Services Center. 

TES Cubs cash in on volunteer's financial lesson
Students in Carolyn Yue's third-grade class work to draw the front and back of a dollar bill from memory during a Financial Beginnings session recently.

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. In March, we mentioned Responsible Decision-Maker in connection with the Financial Beginnings program, which visited Tahoma Elementary just before Spring Break.

In one room at Tahoma Elementary on a recent morning, a class of third-graders pretended to be quarters. Then, they worked together to create different amounts of money, such as $1, $2.25, $4.50. It was the first exercise in a series of activities designed to give them a better understanding of the world of finance -- from paper money and metal coins to concepts of supply and demand.

Volunteer and TES parent Nick Duben, who works at Columbia Bank in Enumclaw, visited five classes to teach the first session of a curriculum created by the nonprofit Financial Beginnings. The program is taught by volunteers, and was founded in Portland in 2005 to increase financial literacy. In Carolyn Yue’s class, Duben touched on the basics of economics and a shares a bit of the history of currency.

“What is money?” Duben asked the class.

“It’s something you can spend to buy stuff,” one student said. 

“You use money to buy practically everything, but you can’t buy words or air,” another offered.

A third Cub said: “You use money to buy things you need, not things you want.”

Duben shared some details and trivia with the class, such as the fact that nickels, dimes and quarters are all made out of the metal called nickel, while pennies are made out of zinc with copper plating. They also talked about paper bills, which is primarily made up of cotton and linen, in order to increase its longevity.

“Do you know how many times you can fold money before it will start to tear?” he asked. The student guesses ranged from 3 to 300. Correct answer: an estimated 4,000 times, Duben said. “It has to be able to last, and regular paper just wouldn’t cut it,” he added.

They talked about other forms of payment, such as credit cards and checks, then pondered what people used to pay for goods before money was created. Asking for four volunteers, Duben assigned the students imaginary occupations: goat herder, farmer, baker and carpenter. Then, the class talked their way through different scenarios -- how could the farmer get bread for his family; how could the baker acquire wheat to make bread; how could the goat-herder get a house or barn built, and so on.

Other topics and activities in the session included:
  • Think about a $1 bill. Try to draw the front and back of the bill from memory. (Then Duben talked with the class about the numbers and other designations on a dollar bill).
  • How money is earned.
  • The concepts of producers/consumers and supply/demand. After a brief discussion, Duben asked the class to stand up, then presented a scenario such as this one: “What will happen to the demand if we run out of oil to produce gasoline? If you think the supply will go up, move to this side of the room. If you think it will go down, move to that side of the room.” Then, he asked students to explain their reasoning.
  • In the workbooks students received was an activity to complete at home with a parent, guardian or relative, asking how much items such as a gallon of milk, a movie ticket and a gallon of gas cost decades ago.

Five classes had the chance to hear from Duben, including Angela Moore’s second-graders. Moore said her students have learned to count money in math, so she appreciated the chance for them to make real-world connections.

“Students were able to touch real money and brainstorm with Mr. Duben how they actually come to have their own money,” Moore said. “Students talked about how money comes as a gift and some comes from a chore or even running a lemonade stand.”

The class was engaged and interested in talking about money and sharing experiences with their classmates, and the idea of running their own businesses -- particularly lemonade stands, she added.

Duben closed with a piece of advice for Yue’s class full of Responsible Decision-Makers: “My opinion is that you should use money on things you need, and be very careful when you spend money on things you want.”
TES parent and volunteer Financial Beginnings instructor Nick Duben watches as students in Carolyn Yue's class pretend to be quarters and work together to create different amounts of money.

Join us for first "Talk with Tony" superintendent meeting
Superintendent Tony Giurado invites parents at Glacier Park Elementary School to stop by and say hello on the morning of Tuesday, April 30, when he will be at the school from 8:30-9:30 a.m. to chat with parents and community members.

The informal get-together is another way the superintendent is trying to connect with the community and have conversations to promote better understanding and communication.

The "Talk with Tony" meeting will be held in the school library. Visitors can check in at the main office. Giurado plans to hold similar meetings at other schools in the district in the coming months.

Addressing elementary enrollment issues
This letter was sent to elementary families and Tahoma staff on Friday, April 5:

Dear Tahoma families,

We want to keep you informed about how our district is responding to enrollment concerns next year at our elementary schools, where steadily rising enrollment and efforts to reduce class sizes in grades Kindergarten-3 are creating a shortage of elementary school classrooms.

District administrators this week identified how to address these concerns for the 2019-2020 school year. We believe the solution will cause the least disruption while still providing quality learning and steady progress to reduce class sizes. Our decision came after meeting with the School Board in a work-study session on April 2 to share information and ideas. Of particular concern are our efforts to meet the intent of Initiative 1351, the 2014 law to reduce class sizes in grades K-3.

Tahoma has not yet met the goals of Initiative 1351, but we are well on our way. Our district has gradually reduced the number of students in grades K-3 by about four students per classroom since the 2014-2015 school year. We are working to reduce the average size by about two more students per classroom to meet the state goal, including a further reduction by one student per class in 2019-2020. This will be accomplished by adding about 10 classroom teachers.

Initiative 1351 was approved one year after Tahoma voters passed a construction bond measure to build a new high school and make other facilities improvements. Our district had already planned more classrooms to accommodate growth and a change in kindergarten classes, when the state required full-day kindergarten instead of funding only half-day sessions. Adding more classrooms to meet the goal of Initiative 1351 was not part of Tahoma’s construction bond measure.

Our challenge now is to find a way to continue reducing class sizes when more classrooms are needed to accomplish that goal. District administrators looked at different options for the 2019-2020 school year and decided to make some adjustments that will open classrooms for general education that are now being used for some specialized classes, such as art, STEM and reading assistance. Some of these classes would be relocated to alternative teaching spaces at some locations. As we work through these solutions, we want to ensure that students continue to receive high quality learning experiences, even if the delivery may vary slightly from school to school. We will share details as plans are finalized in each school.

Administrators also decided that there would not be school boundary adjustments or any movement of programs to different schools for next year. Specifically, the Discovery Program will remain at Lake Wilderness Elementary School for the 2019-2020 school year. 

Our School Board and administration have discussed the need for the next phase of long-term planning. We will begin an examination of district enrollment and facilities needs through 2030. Community stakeholders and staff will be invited to be part of the process, which will begin after summer break. As always, we will keep our families and staff informed and involved in these important discussions.

Tony Giurado
THS staff gathers to watch "Angst," discuss strategies
Staff members from Tahoma High School gathered in the performing arts center before spring break to watch “Angst,” a documentary that features students and young adults who share about their experiences with anxiety -- and what has helped them the most. Afterward, teachers, counselors and other staff members heard from the filmmaker and broke into small groups to talk about strategies that can support students who are struggling.

The 56-minute piece by IndieFlix is from Scilla (pronounced Sheila) Andreen, who also produced “Screenagers,” “LIKE,” and other films. In addition to straightforward interviews with children and young adults, “Angst” features mental health professionals who talk about the root causes or core fears behind anxiety. The film offers tools and resources as well.

Anxiety is one of the most common psychological complaints in the world, the film notes. It can range from “normal” anxiety such as nervousness before the first day of school or worries about a test; or, it can become stronger and shift into clinical anxiety. In those cases, the anxiety gets in the way of participating in everyday activities. Many of the students in the film said they experienced symptoms of clinical anxiety for some time before they knew what it was.

Principal Terry Duty said the THS staff agreed that it’s important to learn more about the rising levels of anxiety and mental health issues in the community and their school. 

“The documentary ‘Angst’ helped our staff facilitate important conversations about keeping our mental health awareness up as educators who are often first responders with our students in mental health crisis. We walked away with a strong appreciation that teen anxiety is a real problem in our society and not just a matter of telling our kids to toughen up,” Duty said. “We will continue to learn more on this topic and have committed to further training and resources to help our students deal with this very real problem.”

Students and young adults in the film describe how they feel during panic attacks, and what tools have worked for them to get through, such as breathing exercises; mentally going to another place far away, such as a beach; writing or drawing; focusing on sounds or using other techniques.

It is helpful, they said, to know they are not alone -- and also for their parents to listen to them and not dismiss their concerns. They also encouraged any teens watching to reach out for help, and emphasized the fact that it does get better.

“Whoever it may be -- there’s someone who cares. … You just have to look for it,” one student in the film said. Another student summed up their struggle with this comment: “Feeling loved helped me get through it.”

The district has received requests from parents to host a viewing of "Angst" for the public; administrators are looking for potential funding options and working on logistics. The film has been screened 1,600 times in 42 countries. Andreen, the producer, spoke with staff members on speakerphone. 

“We need to start talking about the neck up as much as we do about physical ailments,” she said. Three of the most frequently asked questions Andreen receives are:

Q: How do I know whether my kid has general anxiety or clinical? 
A: At the 70,000-foot level, she said, consider whether the anxiety interrupts their everyday lives; and, encourage your student to talk with a counselor, teacher, primary care doctor or other trusted adult.

Q: Why did the film not talk about medication? 
A: The interviews were in the words of the students and young adults, some of whom do take medication; however, the producers did not want to put words in their mouth or put undue emphasis on that when the students wanted to talk about skills and methods they use to persist in the face of anxiety.

Q: My kid won’t talk to me or go to therapy, but there is something going on. What do I do? 
A: Try not to jump in and fix everything for them, Andreen said. Instead, model talking about your own troubles and work to create a listening climate.

In small groups after the film, teachers and staff members brainstormed lists of techniques that they can or do use to help students who are struggling. Then, they reported some of those strategies out to the whole group. Here are a few of those ideas:

  • Mindfulness apps, such as “Calm.”
  • Have a pre-arranged signal with a student so that if he or she needs a moment to step out, the teacher or adult will know where that student will go and when to expect them back (Ex: The student will be in the hallway for 2-5 minutes and won’t go elsewhere or leave the building).
  • Focus on the five senses: What do you hear, how many places can you find the color blue in the room, etc.
  • “Rule of 5:” Help the student recognize the fact that if the problem won’t matter in five years, they shouldn’t spend more than five minutes worrying about it.
  • Get enough sleep, eat well and exercise.

To learn more about “Angst,” to watch clips from the film or for additional resources and information about anxiety, click here.

The high school is hosting an evening event for seniors and their parents about how to thrive after high school, featuring California mental health professional Andy Levander, who has appeared on national TV segments. That event will be from 6:30-8 p.m. on May 16 in the PAC.

If you or someone you know needs help, here are two direct resources for assistance:
Crisis Connections
Crisis Text Line
Text “HEAL” to 741741
Click above for a trailer of the documentary "Angst," from IndiFlix.
Bear Metal competes at Worlds in Houston
Tahoma High School’s Bear Metal Robotics team is in Houston this week, taking on teams from across the nation and the world at the FIRST Championship.

“Our team has been assigned to the Hopper field in Houston, named after Grace Hopper, the computer scientist/mathematician,” the team wrote on their Facebook page. “There will be over 400 teams competing in six divisions at the Houston Championship.”

Practice matches began yesterday, and elimination matches start today. To watch live or follow the team’s progress, click here: www.thebluealliance.com/2046.

During spring break, the Bears came out at the top after the PNW Championship in Tacoma, and also earned the GM Industrial Design Award.

THS We the People heads to nationals next week
Next week, Tahoma High School’s We the People team will fly to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Finals of the contest, which measures their Constitutional knowledge, ability to think quickly and respond with fact-based eloquence. In January, the team won the Washington State Championship and earned the honor of representing Washington state and the Tahoma School District at the national level.

Rep. Kim Schrier recently shared about the THS We the People team with Congress. For a clip, click here.

“We are so grateful to our Tahoma village,” adviser Gretchen Wulfing said after the state competition, thanking Tahoma staff members for helping the team with run-throughs, encouragement and support. “These students have been working since June 2018. Their awesome work ethic has been inspiring, and their performance was exceptional.”

This year’s team includes: Leah Billings, Hitesh Boinpally, Jeremiah Briere, Mahek Buddhdeo, Jacob Burianek, Aidan Callen, Victoria Chung, Melinda Day, Emily DeBolt, Elizabeth Diaz, Drew Fleming, Jacquelyn Gaither, Joshua Hren, Makenna Kilgallon, Gabriel Kilwein, Madeleine Magana, Sierra Muehlbauer, Estelle Neathery, Madeline Nielsen, Emma Percival, Laura Pierson, Joseph Ribera, Christina Ring, Bryana Rogers, Eric Rogers, Laena Tieng, Adam Wengreen and Anika Wilson.

Track and field shines at invitationals
The Tahoma High School Bears track and field team is off to a quick start this season, with wins at three invitational meets. Their successes so far this year include:
  • Girls won Pasco Invitational for the fourth straight year. Boys and girls also won the Combined Team trophy for the fourth straight year
  • Boys and girls teams won Arnie Young Invitational
  • Boys and girls teams won Liberty Invitational
  • At the nationally ranked Arcadia Invitational in California:
  • Zachary Klobutcher was 2nd in pole vault with a school record of 16’ 1”
  • Aliya Wilson finished 6th in the 100m and 8th in the 200m
  • Alisha Wilson finished 4th in the long jump with a school record of 19’ 2.5”
  • The 4x100 relay team of Adaji Osaro-Igwe, Alaina Brady, Alisha Wilson and Aliya Wilson placed 3rd
“There have been some great performances by so many kids,” said Jeff Brady, who coaches the girls team. “The conditioning that these athletes put in during the off season is really starting to show. We have a few more dual meets before going into the post season and we are all really excited to see the hard work pay off.”
To follow the team, visit their website here.

THS will host first District Art Invitational
Tahoma families and community members are invited to the first Tahoma District Art Invitational from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at Tahoma High School.

“We are very excited to have this new tradition,” said THS art teacher Jennifer McCoy, who is also the district visual arts teacher leader. 

The event will feature art from all schools except Summit Trail Middle School (because they already had their own show planned); along with music by THS alumnus Trevor Lind, and snacks provided by the high school PTA.

CRES parent-teacher group seeks president
The Cedar River Elementary PTO is in need of a president (or two co-presidents) to run its group next school year.

Please email president@crespto.net if you would like to learn more about what the position entails or for other information.

Tickets on sale now for May 3 basketball showdown
The Harlem Wizards are once again coming to Maple Valley to test their skills against those of the Tahoma Teaching Jedi, in a benefit game at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 3. 

Presented by the Tahoma Schools Foundation, the game will feature the Harlem Wizards’ Broadway team, which last took on the Jedi two years ago.

A Fan Fest featuring carnival-type games, concessions, bouncy house fun and more will be available from 5-7 p.m. before tipoff.

Tahoma High School’s “Les Misérables” opens May 3
Tahoma High School Drama Club will present “Les Misérables,” the school edition, at 7 p.m. on May 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11; and, 2 p.m. matinees on May 4 and 11. All shows are in the performing arts center at THS.

Based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel of the same name, "Les Misérables" follows the life of Jean Valjean on his journey to redemption. Set in France in the early 19th century, this beloved musical explores themes that are still relevant today, including the power of love and compassion, social and political unrest, unrequited love, and standing up for what you believe in. Recommended for ages 8 and up due to mature themes, some mild language, and violence.

Melissa Bean is the director for the musical; Ken Riggs is the music director; and Indeah Harris is the choreographer. The musical is by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonber.

Tickets are $5 for children; $10 for general admission.

Classified employees will “Stuff the Bus” for food bank
The Tahoma chapter of the Public School Employees of Washington will host their annual "Stuff the Bus" event from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 4 at the Lake Wilderness Village QFC.

Community members are invited to help PSE employees stuff the bus with donations for the Maple Valley Food Bank and Emergency Services. Items needed include canned and packaged food, school supplies, personal hygiene items, household cleaning supplies and new/gently used children's books.

Sexual health curriculum nights planned
Parents and guardians are invited to attend sexual health curriculum nights by the following levels:
  • High School Sexual Health Curriculum Night: Wednesday, April 24, Tahoma High School Future Ready Center, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Middle School Sexual Health Curriculum Night: Monday, April 29, Central Services Center Board Room North Side, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Registration open now for Maple Valley Bear Run/Walk
Community members are invited to register for the 36th​ annual Maple Valley Bear Run/Walk 5K. It will be held at Lake Wilderness Park during Maple Valley Days on Sunday, June 9. 

The Bear Run/Walk is a fun community event that promotes health and fitness and also raises money for the Tahoma Cross Country team. Due to generous sponsors, kids 12 and younger do not need to pay the registration fee; however, there is a $2.50 handling fee. Children 8 and younger must be accompanied by a registered adult or participant who is 13 or older. Each participant who registers by May 31​ is guaranteed a T-shirt.  

The school with the most participants will have bragging rights and a big Bear Run stuffed bear to display through the next year! Sign up, get moving and have fun: http://www.maplevalleybearrun.com/

Bunco night will benefit Backpack Buddies
Community members are invited to attend an evening of bunco to support Backpack Buddies of Maple Valley, which is a nonprofit organization that helps provide food weekly to Tahoma students who would otherwise be hungry over the weekends. 

The event is at 5 p.m. on April 26 at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Maple Valley, and includes an evening of bunco play, a catered dinner and dessert bar. Gift basket raffle tickets and wine tokens will be available for purchase. Tickets are $25, and are available at www.eventbrite.com (search “Backpack Buddies”).

On March 26, the School Board approved moving ahead with renovation work at Shadow Lake Elementary School. The $2.6 million project will start when school is out June 20 and continue through the end of August. Some of the details we shared previously were outdated. Here is the updated information:

The existing kindergarten area will be reconfigured to create four classrooms instead of three by reorganizing office and storage space. The library will be reconfigured and new carpeting will be installed. The main entrance will be relocated to the southwest wall (facing the parking lot) and will feature a security vestibule in the area that is currently used as a meeting room adjacent to the main office. Portions of the main office will be reconfigured. Security cameras and improved access controls will be installed. Carpeting, counter tops, floor tile, and wall coverings will be replaced in some areas of the school, as needed. Painting will be done in certain areas of the school, as needed. New signage will be installed.
Spotlight on THS: Student job fair
Tahoma High School on Wednesday hosted its first student job fair, for those interested in summer jobs and for seniors seeking employment after graduation. About 30 area employers hosted booths, and students attended with resumes in hand to talk with representatives from companies, branches of the military, the city and the school district.
Students talk with representatives of Johnson's, Gates Painting and other local companies during the THS job fair.
One booth that had a consistently large crowd was Neighborlady Cheese, which offered students samples as well as information about jobs.

TUESDAY, April 23
Tahoma School Board meeting, 6:30 p.m., Central Services Center

FRIDAY, April 26
Bunco for Backpack Buddies fundraiser, 5 p.m., Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. Tickets: www.eventbrite.com (search "Backpack Buddies")

SATURDAY, April 27
Tahoma District Art Invitational featuring students in kindergarten through 12th grade, 5-7 p.m., Tahoma High School

TUESDAY, April 30
Engage Tahoma: Classroom Technology session 1, 6-7:30 p.m., Central Services Center. Register here: http://bit.ly/TSDengageTahomaTechnology

  • Tahoma Schools Foundation hosts Harlem Wizards vs. Tahoma Teaching Jedi: Fan Fest at 5 p.m.; game at 7 p.m. Tickets at tahomaschoolsfoundation.org
  • Tahoma High School Drama presents "Les Miserables," at 7 p.m. (Additional shows May 4, 9, 10, 11). Tickets at www.tahomadrama.org

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