Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - March 29, 2007

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Spring Break - April 2-6 (NO SCHOOL)
Classes resume Monday, April 9. Have a safe and happy spring break. The district’s central office will be open during during Spring break (8 a.m. to noon -- 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
Yonts promoted to Garrison Middle School Principal
Florian takes Garrison Assistant Principal position

Tuesday Walla Walla Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rich Carter announced he is promoting Gina Yonts to Principal of Garrison Middle School. Yonts will replace longtime Principal Jim Sporleder July 1 following his decision earlier this month to take the vacant Alternative Programs Principal position.

Garrison Middle School Dean of Students Esteban Florian was promoted to the school’s assistant principal position made vacant by Yonts’ move to principal. Both Yonts and Florian will be on one-year interim contracts.

“This is a great opportunity for two of our administrators to take on new leadership roles and have an even greater impact on our school district,” Superintendent Rich Carter said. “They both have a deep passion for children and learning. We will support them to ensure they have successful transitions in their new positions.”

Yonts is in her fourth year as Garrison’s Assistant Principal. She has 12 years experience as an intermediate grade level teacher at Berney Elementary School in Walla Walla. She completed a K-12 Principal’s Internship Certification program through Washington State University. Yonts earned her Master of Education Degree with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction from Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, ID. She completed her undergraduate studies at Central Washington University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education. She holds a K-8 Elementary Education endorsement and a K-12 Reading Endorsement.

Florian has been employed in the district for 10 years and is in his second year as Garrison’s Dean of Students. His previous district experience includes working as a Reading Specialist, Transitional Bilingual teacher, and English as a Second Language teacher. Florian earned Bachelor degrees in Spanish and Elementary Education from Walla Walla College and a Master of Education and Administrative Credential from Washington State University.

For more information about the hiring of Yonts or Florian, contact Communications Director Mark Higgins at (509) 526-6716 or by e-mail: mhiggins@wwps.org.

Wa-Hi art projects advance to state
Ariel Bermoy and Joanne Coleman of Wa-Hi are among the 34 winners of the ESD #123 Regional High School Art Show. Selected from a field of 530 entries, their works will travel to the late April state competition, sponsored by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. They will be on display in the Old Capitol Building in Olympia from April 20 through May 31. Awards will be presented on May 18.

Ariel is a senior and his entry was entitled “The Truth - Red ‘n Black.” Joanne is a junior and her entry was entitled “No. 5 in Motion.” Both are students of Julie Wallace, who says Ariel is very good at expressing his opinion on the world around him and Joanne is very well rounded in the field of art, participating as a performer and visual artist..

You can see all of the ESD award winners on the home page of the ESD #123 website. The link is www.esd123.org.

Wa-Hi Music groups receive superior ratings at regional festival
Congratulations to the Wa-Hi Treble Ensemble, Chamber Singers, and Concert Choir for receiving superior ratings last week at the Columbia Basin Music Educators Association Large Choir Festival.

Senior Kelsie Davisson also received an invitation to sing Soprano in the Oregon Bach Festival Youth Chorale this summer. She was one of only 80 singers nationwide to be selected.

Wa-Hi JROTC cadets shine at Oregon competition
Senior Amber Criss ranks among best precision shooters in country

The Walla Walla High School JROTC “Blue Devils” Cadet Battalion marched into town to compete, and brought back the hardware in competition at Prineville, OR, held March 10-11.

“We’re really proud of these kids, they worked hard and kept up their tradition of success,” said retired Army Lt. Col. Gary Banks, who coaches the drill teams and serves as senior advisor for the Wa-Hi JROTC program. “Cadet Lt. Col. Darci White, the Blue Devil Battalion Commander, captured 2nd place in the drill team leader category. The women’s unarmed drill team captured 2nd place in a field of seven teams; the women’s color guard took 4th in a field of nine teams.”

The Blue Devil shooting team was right on target, too, according to their coach. “Our precision team took first place by outshooting their nearest competition, the team from Madras, Oregon, by more than 100 points,” said shooting team coach, retired Army Master Sgt. Gerry Taylor. “That’s especially noteworthy considering that two of our key team members weren’t able to be in Prineville and two of our other shooters stepped up to the plate for us. Cadet Private Logan Heater was especially impressive in stepping up because he placed 5th overall in the precision category using the gear and air rifle he normally uses when shooting as one of our sporter team members.”

Other shooting honors at Prineville, near Bend, Ore., went to Sporter Team members: freshman Blake Walters, 2nd place, marksman level; junior Alex Hedine, 3rd place, expert level; junior Cody Nordheim, 3rd place master level. Precision Team members swept the top 3 positions: freshman Elliott Holt, 1st place; junior Geoff Lewis, 2nd place; junior Cole Smith, 3rd place; and Logan Heater in 5th place.

The Wa-Hi shooting team captain didn’t compete at Prineville. She was shooting in the Offhand (standing) Position Junior Olympic meet in Colorado Springs, Colo. Cadet Major Amber Criss, executive officer of the Wa-Hi JROTC cadet battalion, finished in the top one-third of women’s air rifle shooters from across the country.

“It was a tremendous experience to be there among an entirely new level of competition with the best shooters across the country. This event really helped me get ready for the JROTC National Finals next month at Fort Benning, Georgia,” Criss said.

Wa-Hi cadets compete in drill and shooting meets that include Army, Navy and Marine Corps JROTC programs from the 14 schools in the Cascade Division of the 32-school Northwest Conference. The Blue Devils will host the Cascade Division drill and shooting championships at Walla Walla High School on Saturday, April 21. The all-day event is open to the public and there is no admission charge.

Student projects on display at Explorer Program open house
Wednesday elementary Explorers students showcased their long-term projects during a drop-in style open house.

Third grade students prepared individual National Park Projects. It was an excellent way for visitors to help plan their summer vacations by learning more about a variety of parks. Fourth graders created individual “Geology Museums in a Box” projects. This was an excellent opportunity for guests to visit a Natural History Museum without having to leave Walla Walla. Fifth grade students spent time in the shoes of a famous artist and prepared a personal narrative from each artist’s point of view.

Hundreds of Pioneer students spend night shooting hoops
Last Friday more than 100 Pioneer Middle School students participated in an all night 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Students started at 8 p.m. Friday evening and played until 8 a.m. Saturday. More than 60 games of basketball was played among 32 teams during this annual “lock-in” event. Parents and staff volunteered to chaperone.

In addition to basketball, students watched movies, listened to music and played volleyball, video games, board games, and ping pong all night long. Sleeping areas were provided for those in need. Pizza was served at midnight, a snack at 3 a.m. and breakfast at 7 a.m. Parents and staff commented on how well behaved the students were throughout the event.

Wa-Hi students place 12th in national WordMasters competition
A team of students representing Walla Walla High School recently won highest honors in this year’s WordMasters Challenge, a national competition for high school students requiring close reading and analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry. Participating with 572 high school teams from all across the country, the school’s eleventh-grade team tied for twelfth place in the nation in the year’s third meet, held in February. The team was supervised by Julie A. Gaffney.

Several of the school’s students who won honors for individual achievement included: Freshman Tory Henderson, sophomores Tom Callister and Jeff Ladderud, juniors Melissa Eastman and Sarah Hicks, and senior Helen Reich. In addition, freshmen Arthur Fretheim and Bethany Wright and seniors Kaori Graybeal and Chris Schulz earned honorable mention. More than 55,000 students from across the country participated in the meet.

The premise behind the WordMasters Challenge is that attentive reading and sensitivity to language are among the most important skills students acquire in school. The questions posed by the WordMasters Challenge ask students both to recognize the emotional and/or rational logic of a piece of writing and to notice the ways in which a writer’s style shapes and shades his meaning. Because the WordMasters Challenge is a classroom activity and not a college-entrance exam, however, it can be a learning experience, not just a high hurdle. After completing a Challenge, classes are encouraged to talk about the texts and the answers to the multiple-choice questions, and are also given additional topics for open-ended discussion and/or written response.

The texts for the third WordMasters meet this year were a Time Magazine opinion piece by James Poniewozik (for 9th and 10th graders) and a short story by E. B. White (for 11th and 12th graders). The students will participate in one more meet during the coming months, and medals and certificates will be presented in June to those who achieve and/or improve the most in the course of the year.