Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - September 7, 2007

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Wa-Hi above state average in all WASL subject areas
Results from last week’s release of the Spring 2007 Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL testing) reveal areas of strength throughout the district and some areas in need of focus. Wa-Hi 10th graders scored above state average in all subject areas (math, reading, writing, science) -- with science scores tops among Columbia Basin League schools. This year the district will continue to focus on math improvement and districtwide literacy efforts.

“There are many reasons to celebrate, however, there is still a lot of room for system-wide improvement in targeted academic areas,” District Assessment Director Ron Higgins said.

Higgins said next week the district has dedicated time as an administrative leadership team to begin collaborating about how to address areas of weakness. He went on to say the district will identify the reasons for the successes evident at various schools and replicate those efforts at other schools where similar results are not present.

Spring 2007 WASL Highlights:
• District 8th and 10th grade science scores well above the state average. Wa-Hi science scores tops among the Columbia Basin League schools and districts.
• Wa-Hi 10th grade scores are above state average in all subject areas.
• Edison 5th grade and Berney 3rd & 4th grade scores are above the state average in all subject areas, highlighted by 93% of the Berney 4th grade students meeting standard in reading.
• Prospect Point meets AYP in the 4th grade low-income math.
• Garrison and Pioneer 8th grade scores are near or above the state average in all subject areas with 8th grade reading being significantly above the state average.

Areas in need of focus:
• Primary and Intermediate math (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th grade) scores are below the state average.
• Reading scores dipped at a variety of grade levels and schools.

For a complete listing of the district’s Spring 2007 WASL results, visit the state’s “Report Card” website at: http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us

Preliminary enrollment counts up this fall

With the first official enrollment count of 2007-2008 due later today, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Bill Jordan reported to school board members Tuesday night preliminary “head count” tallies are up nearly 200 students from this time last year. As of Tuesday, head count numbers were 6258 compared to 6091 last September 1.

One reason for the bump in enrollment to start the year is the addition of the Columbia Virtual Academy extension of the Homelink program at Berney Elementary. Currently 110 students are enrolled with this number possibly growing as the school year continues.

Jordan noted the district’s 2007-08 budget was based on 5700 Full-time Equivalent (FTE) students. He said by Friday’s official count he’ll have a clear picture on the district’s FTE count. Jordan said he is encouraged by the early enrollment figures and will continue to closely monitor student counts.

Personnel Report (from 9/4/07 school board meeting)
• New Hires
(Certificated) Rich Gwinn, Physical Education Specialist, Sharpstein (.2 FTE)

(Classified) Carol Gallinat, Para-Educator, Prospect Point
Annette Holden, Para-Educator, Prospect Point
Cathy Koehler, Para-Educator, Berney
Sandra Pfeifer, Para-Educator, Berney
Vanessa Prull, Para-Educator, Green Park
Tina Schmatt, Para-Educator, Green Park

• Resignations/Retirements
(Classified) Ronald Gonzales, Bus Driver, 1.5 years
Cynthia Johnson, Food Service Assistant, 7 months
Cindy Nichols, Para-Educator, Garrison, 20 years

• Leave of Absences
(Certificated) Toni Lynn Steele, Reading Specialist, Blue Ridge, 18 years
• Toni will serve as WWVEA President and will continue as .5 FTE Reading Specialist

Transportation scores perfect on bus inspection
Tuesday night Business Manager Aron Rausch recognized the district’s Transportation Department for recently receiving a perfect 100 percent score on its Washington State Patrol bus inspection.Rausch said although the department has an excellent record with inspections, this is the first time Walla Walla Public Schools scored perfect.

He gave special recognition to Transportation Mechanic Colter Mohney for his dedication, experience and attention to detail to help the department meet this outstanding standard. Inspectors test lights, brakes, tires, safety equipment and more during this comprehensive inspection. No unsatisfactory marks were noted on the district’s entire bus fleet.

“In three years as a bus inspector, this was the best inspection I have been involved in,” Washington State Patrol Inspector Michael McKnight said in his recap report to the district.

Rausch also introduced new Transportation Director Steve Olson to school board members. Olson, who was the Director of Transportation for the Bellingham School District prior to coming to Walla Walla, said he is proud of the department and is excited about finding ways to further improve. Olson has extensive experience in school bus maintenance, operations and scheduling.

Wa-Hi’s Jillian DeBritz named September’s Staff Spotlight Employee of the Month
Congratulations to Walla Walla High School’s Jillian DeBritz for being named this month’s Staff Spotlight Employee of the Month. As a Social Studies and Leadership Teacher (ASB) and Head Volleyball Coach, Jillian’s upbeat and positive attitude helps her instill a sense of value and hope for a bright future in the teenagers she works with.

Name: Jillian DeBritz

Job Title: Social Studies Teacher, ASB Advisor, Head Volleyball Coach

Place of work: Wa-Hi

Years in district: 3

Birth place: Arcata, CA

High school: Enumclaw HS, Enumclaw, WA

College: Whitman College

Favorite Food: Anything with chocolate, peanut butter, or peanut sauce (not necessarily all together!)

Favorite movie: 50 First Dates, The Phantom of the Opera, 8 Seconds

Favorite band (or music): Coldplay

Favorite book: A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Catcher in the Rye

What I love most about my job: The opportunity to build meaningful relationships with teenagers, to invest in their lives, and to instill in them a sense of value and hope for their future.

Hobbies: Reading, napping, leading Young Life, spending time with the people I love.

Most memorable life experience: This summer, marrying my best friend and the best man I’ve ever known!

Something no one else would know: I have a twin brother named Bryan, but we look and act nothing alike!

High School Task Force to tour schools
School board member and High School Facilities Task Force Co-Chair Cindy Meyer briefed her fellow school board members Tuesday night on progress made by the recently formed action group. Meyer reported the task force met in June and will meet again September 27. They are also scheduled to take a three hour tour of Wa-Hi and Lincoln High School prior to this month’s meeting.

Meyer said the district has assembled a dynamic group of Walla Walla leaders to help study district high school needs and issues. She said this group’s interests, passions, and expertise will provide key insight to this study.

The work of the High School Facilities Task Force will be organized into three phases. First, the group will answer the question -- “What is?” Next, they will reflect on -- “What Should Be?” in relation to a successful high school experience. The group will then determine the best strategies for narrowing the difference in Walla Walla. Staff and public input will be gathered along the way as the group completes its work. Recommendations will then go to the school board for consideration and possible action plans.

High School Facilities Task Force Members
Cindy Meyer: Co-Chair
John Rowley: Co-Chair

Darcy Weisner
Scott Krivoshein
Lawson Knight
Jim McCarthy
Mike Pettyjohn
Jim Hayner
Cindy Widmer
Clint Gabbard
Mindy Meyer
Jim Sporleder
Max Carrera
Everett Knudson
Nanqi You
John Butenhoff
Dave Warkentin
Ruth Russo
Ruth Ladderud
Carrina Stillman
LaDessa Smelcer
James Payne
Dick Cook
Jim Sanders
Jody Schneidmiller
Rob Ahrens

Queen guitarist salutes Pioneer Middle School student’s LEGO music video
A Pioneer Middle School 7th grade student has a rock n’ roll Hall of Fame admirer. Queen Guitarist Dr. Brian May recently saluted Peter Tucker’s animated LEGO’s music video on his personal website during an August 24 posting (http://www.brianmay.com/brian/brianssb/brianssb.html.). Set to the group’s legendary song Bohemian Rhapsody, May compared Tucker’s work to famous filmakers such as Disney and Spielberg.

Thus far Tucker’s video has had thousands of online hits. Peter’s Video Link: (Note: Some scenes are intended for more mature audiences) -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_15G_tIl38&mode=related&search

Peter’s parents: Kerri & Jeff Tucker. Kerri is a French teacher at Walla Walla High School.

Q & A with Peter Tucker (as he reflects on his feedback from Queen Guitarist Dr. Brian May)

What inspired you to make this video?
I began to listen to Queen music in the springtime, and soon, I became a fan. I had seen some LEGO videos on the Internet, and I wanted to make my own. So I decided to merge LEGOs with my favorite band.

How long did it take you to create?
This video in particular took about two days, including editing and capturing footage.

How many videos have you created?
So far, I have created nine Queen LEGO videos, and I am currently working on my tenth. I expect to continue creating these videos far into the future.

What software did you use to make the video?
I used a free stop motion program called AnimatorDV Simple+.

How did you learn these skills?
I learned these skills very briefly somewhere around 2003. My dad told me about a way to make videos of toys or other objects moving by themselves. Naturally, I was very excited. He showed me how, and I made a few videos. With a little experimentation a while afterwards, I started on my first video when the summer of 2007 began.

Why did you choose Queen?
I bought the album “a Night at the Opera” in the late springtime. I listened to it and ended up really liking it. I became a Queen fan and began buying more albums. There are very few Queen songs I do not like. In fact, I loved this band so much that I wanted to do something special with their songs. They are, after all, my favorite band.

How did it make you feel to have Brian May respond?
It was a shock to hear it! I was checking on my video, hoping I might have a few comments posted on it. One post in particular said that Brian May – my all time favorite rock guitarist ever - had posted it on his blog. Curious, I checked his site. Sure enough, there was a link to my video on there. Not only did he put it on his site, but he praised it as well! It was about the only thing on my mind for the rest of the day.

What did Brian May say about the video?
He said that he was expecting the “usual mildly entertaining nonsense” when he was given the link. But he “reeled in shock” when he watched it, and compared it to the work of famous filmmakers such as Disney and Spielberg.
He also said it deserved an award.

How did May find out about the video?
His guitar strings supplier watched the video and sent him the link.

How did you create the scenes? Explain the video making process
First I listen to the song, and then record the time each section or verse begins, to match up with the song well. After that, I look at each section, keep the amount of footage needed in mind, and start filming. The process of creating the video itself is called stop motion, or single frame animation. To make the characters appear to move about on their own, you take a picture of them, move them to the next desired position, take another picture, move them to the next desired position, take another picture, and so on. For each video, I have to have the LEGO characters in literally thousands of poses!

Next I take the video or videos to an editing program—Adobe Premiere Pro in my case—where I add the music and credits, and trim the clips as desired so that they match up with the song better. I also add effects to the video when needed. After that, I combine it all into one movie, and then it can be viewed on the computer or uploaded to YouTube. Due to size limitations, videos on YouTube must be only 320 pixels by 240 pixels. However, my original videos—before I compress them—are 720 by 480 pixels: the perfect size for viewing on a TV screen if I put my videos on a DVD (which I have done before.) In other words, the original videos have higher quality.

How many hits has your video received online?
Last time I checked, somewhere in the 22,000s. Lately, I’ve been looking at it occasionally to see how many views it has. At the beginning of yesterday (August 27) it had 11,000 hits. At the end of the day, I checked again to see that it had acquired 7,000 more! As I am writing this, my video hasn’t even been up for a week yet.

What do you want to do when you grow up?
I have no idea right now.

Do you plan on making a career using technology?
I think I probably will, since I’ve always been fascinated by and drawn towards computers and video games and such. I sometimes even program my own video games!

What other hobbies and interests do you have?
In my spare time, I enjoy drawing in “anime style”, reading, writing stories, making stop motion videos, reading manga (Japanese comics,) and programming computer games.

What have your friends said about the video?
Only one of them knows about it. He says that he thinks most of my other videos are better, and also that he feels like he’s “friends with a famous guy.” I helped him make a LEGO video once, too. In a couple of videos, my sister has helped me greatly. For example, in my Under Pressure video, she did half of the directing and nearly all of the set building! She also helped build the main setting in Bohemian Rhapsody. She built the main layout, and I added on to it a little.

I must thank my dad for a lot of things. He taught me the process of making these videos, he gave me a room in the house to use as an office, he bought me a Windows Vista computer, he gave me a high quality camera to use (after my first two videos were shot with a webcam,) he found the software for me to use, and so much more!


Walla Walla Rural Health Community Partnership once again teams with Walla Walla Public Schools
Walla Walla Rural Health Community Partnership was awarded a second year of grant funds by the Washington Health Foundation in conjunction with their Healthiest State in the Nation Campaign. Last year the Partnership hosted a series of health fairs in the community and schools designed to engage parents and students in healthy behaviors. In addition, a series of classes called Lifestyle Management Courses were offered to educate people on lifestyle change.

This year, the Partnership will continue to help coordinate health fairs in the community and WWPS. The first health fair will be held at Blue Ridge Elementary on Thursday, October 4, 2007.

Additionally, the Partnership will be offering an ENHANCED version of Lifestyle Management that focuses on delivering
information in an interactive way. These courses will continue to be available to WWPS staff, families and community. This year, children and parents will be able to participate together in hands-on activity that reinforces healthful choices including diet, stress management and exercise. “Approaching Healthful Living by Example: A 1-Day Seminar for Community Mentorship” is scheduled for Saturday, October 6, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. This Seminar will prepare mentors in our community to instruct others on healthful choices.

Any questions about Partnership activities or scheduled events can be directed to their coordinator: Christa Guerrero. Email her at christina.guerrero@wwcc.edu or call 529-1113.

Wa-Hi Career and Technical Education teachers make sign for Lincoln High School
Earlier this year Walla Walla Public Schools board members approved changing the name of the district’s alternative high school from Paine to Lincoln. Recently Wa-Hi Career and Technical Education teachers Dennis DeBroeck and Bob Maib collaborated to create a new sign for the school -- thus covering up the old Paine name.

“Bob spent three straight days building our new Lincoln Alternative High School sign,” Principal Jim Sporleder said. “He had it done so that the first day of school the sign was up and our staff and kids were excited about it. He did a beautiful job and wanted our kids to see that we have a lot of support from a lot of people. It was a great gift!”

DeBroeck volunteered to help create the letters for the sign through a computer generated program. Maib spent more than 30 hours of his own time making the sign, according to Sporleder.

Representative Walsh dedicates new regioanl parent resource center
Thursday State Representative Maureen Walsh joined the staff and partners of the Washington State-Parent Information and Resource Center (WA-PIRC) to dedicate the program’s second PIRC site at Blue Ridge Elementary School.

This event marks the second site dedication for the WA-PIRC program, with the kickoff event having taken place in Pasco on August 8. In addition to Walla Walla and Pasco, WA-PIRC sites are opening in Basin City, Connell, and Othello. The Washington State-Parent Information and Resource Center has been established as part of a $3.9 million grant allocated to Columbia Basin College Foundation by the U.S. Department of Education, with Educational Service District 123 serving as the Lead Agency for this program.

PIRCs in each state throughout the nation will provide training, information, and support to parents, state and local education agencies, and local communities. Representative Walsh currently serves on the Early Learning and Children’s Services committee and maintains improving the quality of early learning programs as one of her top priorities. The WA-PIRC program strives to provide families with resources and information to better prepare their children for school.

Walla Walla Parent Center features:
• 8 computers w/printers (internet ready)
• Educational videos
• Books and brochures (parenting, substance abuse, etc)
• Parenting classes and support groups

Speakers at the PIRC Dedication:
• Representative Maureen Walsh
• Dave Warkentin, President, Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce
• Kristin Eby, on behalf of Senator Maria Cantwell
• Veronica Esparza, Blue Ridge PTA Co-President
• Donna Painter, Walla Walla Head Start and Early Childhood Education Assistance Program Director
• Doug Barram, Director, Commitment to Community
• Dominick Elia, Mayor, City of Walla Walla
• Linda Boggs, WWPS Assistant Superintendent
• Rich Carter, WWPS Superintendent

For more information, please call 509-544-5700 or 888-547-8441 or visit www.esd123.org.