Dec. 13, 2018
In this issue:
Robotics students solve space travel challenge
Virtual field trip brings mummies to life
Calling for nominees in Future Ready skills
Technology Model Review nearly complete
District kudos
News briefs
Medical guidelines for school attendance
Spotlight on THS: Winter Art Flurry
Coming up in Bear Country
What's for lunch?

Members of the Maple View "Spud-nik" robotics team work on programming for the next competition in January. The team picked its name based on a mashup of last year's team, "Small Potatoes" and Sputnik, the first satellite to successfully orbit Earth.

Robotics students solve space travel challenge
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 will feature examples of how those skills are being taught in classrooms. This month’s featured skill is Creative Innovator , which can be seen in many Tahoma classrooms year-round. We'll share more examples of Creative Innovator skills from Maple View Middle School teacher Molly Galassi’s social studies students on our website this week.

What if astronauts could stop to refuel during a trip to Mars? If the Creative Innovators on the Maple View Middle School robotics teams were designing for NASA, that’s exactly what could happen. Members of the “Spud-nik” team together tackled this season’s FIRST Lego League robotics challenge: “Identify a physical or social problem faced by humans during long duration space exploration within our Sun’s solar system and propose a solution.”

In the team’s solution, “Galactic Gas Station,” a ship carrying drones would travel ahead of the main mission, landing on an asteroid approximately halfway between Earth and Mars. The drones would mine water and ice to create hydrogen fuel, and the main mission’s rocket could then use its fuel to arrive at the asteroid two times faster before refilling for the remainder of the trip to Mars, the students explained. Power for the drones would come from solar panels.

Creating a product to solve the challenge is one piece of the four-part FIRST competition; also required are the team challenge, the board and the robot design.

“I just love this program. I wish we had more teams,” said teacher Candice Lommen, who coaches the team with teacher Justin Mullen. “It gives kids a community and a place to try their ideas out without being criticized.”

On the day of competition, student teams have three chances with their robot at the challenges on the board. In between attempts, they have the opportunity to talk to other teams about how their programs run, and incorporate some of their ideas if desired.

“That’s what this program is all about,” Lommen said, referring to the innovative thinking and continual revision of programming. “I’ve noticed the thinking level of the kids has changed quite a bit over the last eight years.”

A second team of 11 students from Maple View tackled this season’s challenge to make space travel more sustainable with a product that would grow food in space.

Maple View had 60 students interested in participating in the club this year, but the FLL limits the number of students on a team to 10 (and one alternate), so the advisers had to hold auditions and offer teamwork challenges to the students who wanted to participate, Mullen said.

During an after school club meeting this week, students from the Spud-nik team worked to refine their programming, robot design, and a presentation board about their Core Values. Seventh-grader Sadie M. was building a new arm for the robot that will be able to “grab” a set of wheels and move them.

“I’m layering it to make it strong and making a box so that they (the wheels) don’t roll everywhere,” Sadie explained.

Board captain Shane G. and other team members worked to modify the programming.

“I’m trying to make it so it’s simpler ... so that it’s faster to run,” Shane explained. He also worked to troubleshoot why the robot was turning in a different direction than expected.

In preparation for the next round of competition on Jan. 20 and 21, throughout the afternoon, students repeatedly bring the robot to the competition board, run programs, then return to their computers to adjust the programming.

“Oh, that didn’t work. It turns too much,” one student commented, watching the robot in action. 

Volunteer Joe Burianek has been helping out in the program for the past seven years, since his own son, who is now a senior on the Bear Metal team at THS, was in sixth grade.

“I enjoy working with the students at this level when they’re learning programming,” Burianek added.

Eighth-grader Payton K. emphasized that the team is continually using their core values: collaborative teamwork, innovation, fun and robot design.

At the board while watching teammate Kyle W. test his program, Payton said, “We believe in you!”

The robot completed the run, which the students deemed not quite right -- yet.

“Let’s try again,” Kyle said.

Creative Innovator on staff
When the Tahoma High School staff heard an update about the Future Ready Skills in August and received new posters featuring the areas of focus, teacher Ken Loomis took out his scissors and cut the badges representing each skill out of his poster. Then, he laminated them and put magnets on the back for use in his classroom.

Kimberly Allison, Instructional Technology and Future Ready Skills Coordinator, heard about Loomis’ idea, and decided it was a wonderful product that all teachers could use. 

“Ken gets all the credit for being a Creative Innovator,” Allison said. Sets of the magnets for the elementary level version and the secondary version of the skill set are being rolled out now.
Payton K. shows Spud-nik's team display for their "Galactic Gas Station," designed to help astronauts increase efficiency on trips to Mars.
Virtual field trip brings mummies to life
Students in Amy Adams’ social studies classes recently had the chance to see how the ancient Egyptians mummified their dead, thanks to a virtual field trip workshop.

The workshop was through Penn Museum on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which is home to one of the finest collections of Egyptian artifacts in the country and has a long history of sponsoring expeditions throughout the world, Adams said. The museum was founded in 1887 and its collections include artifacts from throughout the history of humanity.

“I first visited the museum in 2017 when I was on a repeat visit to Philadelphia and wanted to see something different than the Revolutionary War history that the city is known for. I enjoyed it so much I returned again in 2018,” Adams said. 

As part of her classes’ study of ancient Egypt, using video conferencing during the workshop, students were able to learn about mummy making from Allyson Mitchell, the Outreach Programs Manager from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
“(Mitchell) used two life-sized models to show the students how the ancient Egyptians mummified, including simulating the removing of the brain, complete with a brain made of Jell-O,” Adams said. “Students agreed that it was the perfect combination of fascinating and gross.”
Students actively participated as a group and as individuals; answering and asking questions. 

“There were lots of opportunities to understand the reasoning behind mummification and the processes used by the Egyptians,” she said. “We were even able to see personal photos from archeological teams currently working on dig sites.”
Sixth-grader Lily A. said that she learned a lot by seeing the process itself and learned the reasoning why the Egyptians did these elaborate ceremonies. She felt the interactive way that the workshop took place led to greater understanding of these people and their culture.
Classmate Addison M. agreed with Lily that seeing the process helped her better understand the Egyptians, and added that she wants to learn more about the Egyptians and also to visit the Penn Museum to see their collection.
The workshops were funded by MVMS principal, Andy McGrath, who felt it was a great opportunity for students to learn more in an interactive way and a way to support teachers as they try out new techniques to excite students about learning. 

“(Mitchell) was able to portray these ancient people in relatable ways to middle school students,” Adams said. “She used a green screen and a variety of props. It was an extremely valuable experience for the students.

For more information:
Students in Amy Adams' social studies class listen during a virtual field trip to the UPenn Museum.
Students in Amy Adams' social studies class listen during a virtual field trip to the UPenn Museum.
Seeking nominees for Exemplary Performance in Future Ready Skills
Do you know someone who’s REALLY Future Ready? Nominations are now being accepted for the Tahoma School Board's Exemplary Performance Award in Future Ready Skills for juniors and seniors. 

This award seeks to recognize students who have grown and developed their ability in a Future Ready Skill over time, as well as showcase their current achievement, and the importance of the skill in their life. 

If you know a current junior or senior who you think demonstrates exemplary performance in one of the Future Ready Skills, nominate them by Jan. 11! Nominated students will be notified immediately and encouraged to fill out a student application, which asks them to submit and demonstrate evidence of their achievement or accomplishment in a particular skill by March 11. Applications will be evaluated and students will be notified in the spring. Students who receive an award will have documented their authentic application of and their exceptional ability in the skill while in high school.
Those selected to receive the award will be honored during their Senior Awards night at Tahoma High School; recognized at graduation through special honor cords; and will receive a digital badge which they may post on social media sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn, allowing them to share their achievement with family, friends, employers, and others, as well as build a positive digital reputation.
Students can be nominated by anyone in the school community or larger local community. To make a nomination, click here. 
Technology Model Review Committee work nearly complete
Technology model review committee members study graphic charts during the Nov. 29 meeting.

Tahoma School District’s Technology Model Review is nearing completion, as a committee of community members, district staff, parents and students create a report that will go to the School Board and help determine classroom technology usage for years to come. The committee has scheduled a final meeting at 4 p.m. on January 10 at Tahoma High School.

At its most recent full committee meeting on Nov. 29, the committee focused on finalizing a list of its beliefs regarding classroom technology, discussed how to measure successful use of classroom technology, and began reviewing model structures for classroom technology.

The committee’s model beliefs include:

  • Empowered Learning: “Technology is used in authentic ways to design experiences that challenge, engage and empower students to deeper levels of learning and demonstrating that learning.”
  • Future Ready Skills: “Students skillfully use digital tools to support and reflect upon their acquisition and demonstration of the Future Ready Skills, both inside and outside of school.”
  • Future Ready Plan: “Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, students build a vision for their valued, viable, and successful future – actively exploring, refining and planning their next steps.”
  • Access and Equity: “Students and staff have the tools, skills, and opportunities to leverage technology to improve learning and productivity. Efforts ensure that initiatives support the diverse/particular needs of different students, staff members, classrooms, and buildings in an equitable way.”
  • Sustainability: “Technology decisions are made considering identified aspects of sustainability and align to district goals and priorities.”

In addition to the three full-committee meetings, the Technology Model Review has included subcommittee meetings that are focused on specific elements of classroom technology. All of the work so far will be reviewed and refined in the final meeting as part of the group’s final report. After that, the district’s Technology Advisory Committee will get to work on drafting a new plan for technology use in the district.

The committee has studied standards for educational technology use that are published by the International Society for Technology in Education. That information has provided a solid foundation for the committee as it crafted proposed expectations for Tahoma.

Once the proposed district technology plan is completed, the School Board can evaluate technology needs as part of its deliberations over how to fund it, including consideration of a technology levy in 2020.

Jeff Brady named coach of year
The Washington State Cross Country Coaches Association recently named Tahoma High School cross country coach and teacher Jeff Brady as one of its coaches of the year.

“Congrats, Coach Brady -- and, as he would point out -- (to) all of the cross country coaching staff,” Athletics Director Tony Davis said. Brady has won numerous accolades in the past, and always says that the awards reflect a strong program and fellow coaches, including Anne Hobson, Jodi Hoffbuhr and Brian Martinez.

The new award will be presented at an association meeting.

Shadow Lake, MV Library featured in radio podcast
As part of its podcast series, “People, Places and Stories,” KIRO radio recently featured Shadow Lake Elementary and the Maple Valley Library. The piece shares about the partnership between the school and the library, and their joint family night events.

“In Maple Valley, the library has particularly deep connections to local schools,” host Feliks Banel says.

Banel interviews students and parents, along with Shadow Lake Dean of Students Scott Mitchell and Maple Valley Children’s Librarian Sharon Chastain. He tells the story of how the idea for Family Library Night came out of Mitchell’s own childhood visits to the library with his parents (also teachers).

“I think that the biggest thing (about Family Library Night) is that it brought our school community together outside of the school,” Mitchell said.

The Family Library Nights include fun games, scavenger hunts, a photo booth, snacks, stories, crafts, a raffle, information about the library and more. While Shadow Lake’s Family Library Nights are hosted solely for Shadow Lake students and families, there are events that are open to all elementary families such as the Lifting Literacy events that are a partnership between the library and the school district. The next one of those larger events is at the library from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 26, featuring Steamboat Studio.

Tahoma students participate in Hour of Code

Students in some classes throughout the district participated in the worldwide Hour of Code event last week, programming through the website. Hour of Code is organized each year in recognition of Computer Science Education week and is a computer science initiative meant to bring students and families together to code for one hour.
A student in David Aaby's class at Rock Creek Elementary works on solving programming challenges during Hour of Code last week.
Some of Aaby's students had previously worked at programming using's "Dance Party" game; last week, they had their choice of challenges.

Community invited to annual concert
The Maple Valley Community Choir will perform their annual concert, “Here We Come A-Caroling,” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14 in the performing arts center at Tahoma High School. The program will also feature the THS Concert Choir and the THS Treble Choir.

All three groups will perform a variety of holiday and winter music. There is a suggested donation of $5, which will go toward the purchase of new music for the group and a stipend for the director.

Tahoma Job Fair in January
Looking for a job? Consider joining us on Team Tahoma!

The district is hosting a job fair on Monday, Jan. 7, from 1 to 3 p.m. and from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at Central Services, 25270 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Road S.E. Open positions include contracted and sub food service, bus drivers, custodians, EEP (before and after-school childcare), playground assistants, substitute teachers, emergency sub teachers and paraeducators. 

Staff will be available at the job fair to answer questions and assist with the online application process. For more information about positions and requirements, visit our website here, or call 425-413-3456.

New method of career exploration for middle school
All Tahoma eighth-grade students will have the opportunity to use a new online application called “Career Planner” in their STRETCH classes soon. The program offers exciting new ways to explore post-high school options for further education and careers, said Dawn Wakeley, executive director of Teaching and Learning.

Students begin by answering 60 questions, using a series of images and brief descriptions that students choose from in order to establish what their future interests might be. That information remains as part of their Career Planner data throughout their high school career. Students can adjust their preferences at any time to reflect their current reality.

Using data from their career assessment, students can begin to explore potential careers, details of the kind of work being performed, and what training and education are required. They can also look at future earnings for their career interests, along with job opportunities in cities around Washington state, and cost of living in those areas.

“It is a complete set of information about any job you’re interested in,” Wakeley said.

Parents can log into Career Planner to see for themselves how the program works. Staff members are setting up a “sandbox” trial area of the application for parents. All parents will receive an email about the new program, and also an invitation to two evening sessions to learn more about it, on Monday, Dec. 17 and Wednesday, Jan. 16. Both sessions will be held in the Board Room at Central Services Center from 6-7 p.m.

Schools collected many gifts for children in need
Tahoma school buildings and departments recently participated in the annual Children’s Gift Program organized by the Maple Valley Food Bank & Emergency Services. Altogether, Tahoma students, families and staff members donated 113 large bags full of toys, along with a large stack of gift cards.

“We are so grateful for all the support you give us here at the Maple Valley Food Bank,” said Sigurros Welborn, program and volunteer coordinator at the food bank.

The gifts and gift cards will be distributed to families in need during the food bank’s yearly event that allows clients to choose presents and clothes for their children.

Tahoma health care students host Dec. 29 blood drive
Future health professionals from Tahoma High School will host a blood drive on Dec. 29 at Safeway, Four Corners. HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) is partnering with Bloodworks Northwest to host the drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Blood donors can make appointments in advance by emailing HOSA Club President Emma Nickel at Drop-in donors are welcome as well.

Reminder: Register for kindergarten, “READY!” program now
Preregistration for children who will enter kindergarten in the fall of 2019 remains open through Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Click on this link and Tahoma School District will mail a registration packet directly to your home in January.

Preregistered families will receive our monthly Tahoma Kindergarten Learning Connections newsletter delivered via email.

Families are asked to bring their completed registration packets to their elementary school between January 22 and 25 to finalize their child's registration. Families will receive a free copy of the Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines book.

Registration is also open for the “READY! for Kindergarten” program, which helps parents and caregivers prepare their children for a happy and successful school experience. The workshop includes three 90-minute sessions, each with a different theme. Parents receive a binder with 26 age-appropriate targets, resources, toys and games, and training on how to use the resources.

Workshops will be at Lake Wilderness Elementary School on Jan. 16, March 6 and April 3. The cost to participate is $150 for materials (a $200 value). Payment is due by Jan. 11. Full and partial scholarships are available to those who qualify.

More information about the program is available here:

Or, to register, click here:

Seeking volunteers for middle school Future Ready Day
We are excited to announce plans for this school year’s Future Ready Day at the middle school level. For those familiar with this day, there are a few changes. Primarily it will no longer be on the same day as the high school program. This year the middle level Future Ready Day will be on Jan. 18, 2019. What has not changed is the opportunity for students to hear from a variety of people from diverse career paths and gain a better understanding of the skills and aptitudes needed to be successful in high school and beyond.
For Future Ready Day, all students grades 6-8 (Maple View Middle School and Summit Trail Middle School) will participate in lessons and presentations to help them learn more about careers and planning for the future. Students will have the opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers working in different career pathways. Speakers will be asked to share their story of how they ended up in the job they are doing as well as a sense of a typical work day, skills needed to be successful and where and how to find more information about each career. Students will also work with their classroom teachers to complete a Future Ready passport and reflect on what they have learned and can do now to best position themselves for the future.
If you have participated as a presenter in the past, we hope you will save the date and be available this January. We are also looking for additional dynamic presenters, especially those who work in STEAM careers (Science, Technology, Math, Art & Design, and Engineering), as well as military, law enforcement, health sciences and the trades.
If you would be willing to work with our students and are available on January 18 please contact:

Loretta Baker, Summit Trail Middle School, at or 425-413-5693
Patty Stillmaker, Maple View Middle School, at  
Nurses offer medical guidelines for school attendance
Keeping children healthy is a goal parents and district staff members can partner on to help children learn better when they are here at school.

Some of our students are at a greater risk for acquiring infections due to their physical limitations and medical conditions. Parents and physicians must be notified early of exposure to communicable diseases in order that preventive treatment, if needed, can be administered promptly.

Since students work and play in close quarters, our guidelines for remaining at home need to be considered before sending your child to school.

General rules are:
  • Any student with a fever (temperature above 100 degrees) should be kept home and observed for other symptoms for at least 24 hours after temperature is normal (without fever-reducing medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin). Students with diagnosis of strep also need to be on antibiotics for minimum of 24-48 hours before returning to school.

  • Any student with vomiting during the night or more than twice in a 24-hour period should be kept home until symptom-free.

  • Any student with watery diarrhea should be kept home until symptom-free.

  • Minor sniffles are not usually enough to keep your student home. But, if your child is irritable, lethargic or taking over-the-counter medicine for cough or nasal discharge, they probably won’t be able to function well in a classroom.

  • Any student with infected or red, watery eyes, should be kept home until diagnosed by a healthcare provider, or until the child is symptom free.

  • Any student with an undiagnosed skin rash or open, infected sores should be kept home until diagnosed by a healthcare provider, or until it is resolved.

  • Any student who has a medical procedure done under anesthesia or sedation should, in most cases, remain at home for at least 24 hours.

  • Students should not have live lice at school and if discovered at school, the parent will be notified to come and pick up their student. Please notify your school nurse, who will help you and maintain confidentiality.

Please report any significant illness to your student’s teacher or to the nurse. If you have any questions or wish to discuss health concerns with the nurse, call the school during school hours.

It is very important to keep the school office informed of your current home, work and emergency phone numbers.

Thank you, parents, for working with us to keep your children and our staff members healthy and helping us prevent the spread of illness!

-Tahoma School District nurses
Spotlight on THS: Winter Art Flurry
Student and faculty artwork was on display last week during the Winter Art Flurry, an annual show at Tahoma High School. Pieces from photography, digital art, 3D modeling, ceramics, 3D commercial sculpture and other mediums were featured during the evening show.

Another, juried art show is planned for later this school year. We'll share details about that event when they are available.
A piece of art created digitally and then cut out using a laser cutter.
One of the pieces of artwork on display during the THS Winter Art Flurry. Students in 3D Modeling design these works digitally, in three layers, then they are cut out by laser.
A piece of art created digitally and then cut out using a laser cutter.
Another of the three-layered, digitally created pieces on display, this one by sophomore Ella Piksa.
Top, "Low Battery," created by junior James Goetz. Bottom: "Mr. Smiley," photographed by senior Gena Tom.
Titled "City Sunrise," this photograph is by junior Rebecca Johnson.

Tahoma High School Band Winter Concert, 6:30 p.m., performing arts center, THS

FRIDAY, Dec. 14
Cedar River Elementary PTO Holiday School Dance, 6-8 p.m

Glacier Park Elementary PTSA movie night, "The Polar Express," 6:30 p.m., GPES gym

"Here We Come A-Caroling," annual Maple Valley Community Choir and THS choirs concert, 7 p.m., performing arts center, THS

Lake Wilderness Elementary PTSA Family Movie Night, "The Polar Express," 6:30 p.m., LWES

Rock Creek Elementary PTO Family Fun Night Holiday Cookie Decorating, 6-7:30 p.m., RCES gym

Cedar River Elementary PTO Holiday Breakfast Fundraiser (open to community), 8-11 a.m., CRES

TUESDAY, Dec. 18
Tahoma School Board meeting, 6:30 p.m., Central Services Center

Tahoma High School choirs Winter Choir Concert 2, 7 p.m., performing arts center, THS

MONDAY, Dec. 24-FRIDAY, Jan. 4
NO SCHOOL, districtwide, for Winter Break. School returns on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019

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