Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - January 29, 2010

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Additional air quality tests at Blue Ridge Elementary reveal radon levels reduced
Representatives from Fulcrum Environmental Consulting reported Wednesday results from a second round of radon monitoring at Blue Ridge Elementary reveal levels near or below Environmental Protection Agency benchmarks of 4 pCi/L.

Fulcrum Environmental Consulting used two continuous radon monitor devices from January 20 to 27 to do additional testing after initial radon test results showed concentrations above the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) benchmarks. Initial results showed levels exceeding EPA benchmarks occurred primarily in the evening and weekends when the school’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system (HVAC) was not operational.

Wednesday, January 27 radon results: One radon monitoring device was placed in the school’s upper level and it revealed an average of 1.1 pCi/L. The second device was placed in the lower level and it showed an average of 4.1 pCi/L.

“The data clearly shows on a long-term average we are sitting at a 4 in the lower level, which is an improvement from the data collected in December 2009 and early January 2010,” said Ryan Mathews of Fulcrum Environmental Consulting.

Mathews says he attributes the improvement to adjustments being made to the school’s Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system and the school district’s decision to operate the HVAC system 20 hours a day, seven days a week to maintain constant air flow.

“It really confirmed the district’s actions are the appropriate steps and shows the district’s continued resolve in correcting this issue,” Mathews said.

A timeline is being established for a long-term solution to mitigate the radon concentrations. Blue Ridge Elementary will be closed March 5-7 (Parent Conference Week - no school scheduled March 5 due to Parent/Teacher Conferences) to allow Advanced Radon Technologies of Spokane to come on site and begin working on the long-range solution which includes sealing ducts in the school’s HVAC system and installing a radon venting system.

“The goal is to have the radon mitigation system in place and actively working by the end of spring break in April when students return.” Mathews said.

Following installation of the system, further testing will be completed to confirm the radon mitigation system can effectively control radon concentrations and return the school’s HVAC system to a 12 hour cycle. Monitors will remain in Blue Ridge to do ongoing monitoring. Radon tests at other district facilities are underway.

“Radon concentrations are not the same from day-to-day; they are variable,” Mathews said. “There will be Fulcrum representatives in the district approximately every week to continue ongoing monitoring.”

Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. Lung cancer is the only health effect which has been definitively linked with long-term radon exposure according to the EPA.

For additional information, contact Communications Director Mark Higgins at 509.526.6716 or by e-mail at: mhiggins@wwps.org.

School board meeting Tuesday night
Tuesday, Feb. 2
7:30 p.m.
District Office Board Room (364 S. Park St.)
Meeting open to public
Berney and Walla Walla High School recognized for Traffic Safety efforts
Last week Berney Elementary and Walla Walla High School representatives were honored by the Walla Walla County Traffic Safety Task Force during the organization’s annual awards luncheon at the Marcus Whitman Hotel. Berney Elementary, represented by Kindergarten teacher Lori Thomas and Berney parent Sandy Stiller-Patton, received an Educational Outreach award for their efforts funding car seat education programs. Berney has also participated in the Buckle Up For Safety Program each year. Berney staff dedicated their effort TO honor the life of student Vincent Gwinn who was lost last year in an car accident. Michelle Gwinn, Vincent’s mom, was also in attendance as the school’s guest.

“There are several families in the Walla Walla Valley whose children are riding safer because of the efforts of the Berney Elementary family,” Nancy McClenny-Walters, Walla Walla County Traffic Safety Task Force Target Zero Manager. “Thank you for turning your tragic loss into something beautiful and beneficial for others.”

Walla Walla High School, represented by teacher Jillian DeBritz and the Wa-Hi ASB Leadership Class, received a Youth Initiative award for its support of the “Every 15 Minutes Program” over the past 12 years. The “Every 15 Minutes Program” discourages students from drinking and driving.

“Since that first program at Wa-Hi, we have expanded it to reach over 8,000 students in Walla Walla County including nearly 5,000 at Wa-Hi alone,” McClenny-Walters said. “Each year the Task Force and Wa-Hi ASB Leadership work together to reach out to the seniors at Wa-Hi with our simple message - should you now or in the future ever choose to drink alcohol, please, please don’t get behind the wheel-(in other words) Don’t drink and drive.”

Teacher Jillian DeBritz said she has seen the benefits of the program.

“Fortunately, and we’d like to think in part due to the strength of the Every 15 minutes program, there have been no youth fatalities following graduation or prom since it began here in 1998,” DeBritz said. “School administration has encouraged students to participate in the program and have encouraged teachers to be a part of the educational opportunity as well by allowing our officers and paramedics to use classroom time to educate seniors on the possible tragic consequences of driving under the influence.”

Walla Walla High School Cheerleaders plan Kids Cheer Camp
Saturday, January 30
Registration: 9 a.m.
Camp time: 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Walla Walla High School Gym
Cost is $20 (includes a t-shirt)
For Grades K through 5th
Participants will perform during halftime of the Wa-Hi girls basketball game later that night.
For more information contact, Cathy Rasley: (509)520-3887

Walla Walla High School Varsity Sports Weekend Highlights

Boys Basketball vs. Eisenhower
Friday, Jan. 29th
7:30 p.m.
Wa-Hi Gym

Girls Basketball vs. Eisenhower
Friday, Jan. 29th
7:30 p.m.
Location: Eisenhower HS

Boys Basketball vs. Hanford
Saturday, Jan. 30th
7:30 p.m.
Location: Hanford HS

Girls Basketball vs. Hanford
Saturday, Jan. 30th
7:30 p.m.
Wa-Hi Gym

Boys Swimming vs. West Valley
Saturday, Jan. 30th
11:00 a.m.
Location: West Valley HS

Big Blue Boosters to present Bledsoe and Derby professional athlete awards tonight
Walla Walla High School’s Big Blue Boosters Drew Bledsoe and Dean Derby will be presented Professional Athlete Alumni Awards at halftime of the Wa-Hi vs. Eisenhower boys basketball game tonight at the Blue Devil gym.

After graduating from Walla Walla High School, Bledsoe went on to play quarterback at Washington State University and then moved on to the National Football League where he had an all pro career.

Derby graduated from Walla Walla High School in 1953 where he excelled in football, basketball and track. He went on to the University of Washington and was a stand-out football player where he still holds the record for the longest run from the line of scrimmage, 92 yards. He played cornerback in the National Football League for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings.

Last week the Big Blue Boosters honored Wa-Hi graduate Eric O’Flaherty who is currently signed to pitch for the Atlanta Braves. Tip off tonight is at 7:30 p.m.

AAUW plans annual book sale
The American Association of University Women- Walla Walla organization is planning its 35th annual book sale February 19-21 at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center. Thousands of gently used books in more than 30 categories will be up for sale. Proceeds fund scholarships and educational projects for women and girls. Community members are also encouraged to donate books.

AAUW Book Sale Schedule
Friday, Feb. 19 - Noon to 9 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 20 - 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 21 - 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Call 522-5007 or 526-3232 for information, drop box locations or pick-up. To learn more, visit: aauw-wallawalla.org.

Facilities task force members reflect on building tours
Wednesday afternoon members of the Community Facilities Task Force met to continue its work of updating the district’s long-range facilities plan. Members reflected on their tours of Edison Elementary, Pioneer Middle School, Walla Walla High School and Lincoln Alternative High School.

They also reviewed the 2002 facilities committee report and discussed the findings. District principal were recently surveyed to get their input on facilities needs at their schools. Task Force members reviewed the comments from principals and discussed how they related to the 2002 study. Dan Reid of Opp and Seibold General Construction has agreed to continue chairing the Community Facilities Task Force as the district seeks to update its long-range facilities plan. The Community Facilities Task Force is comprised of community members, parents, school board members, teachers, support staff and administrators.

Reid is a charter member of the Community Facilities Task Force which was formed in the Spring of 1995. This group has developed two comprehensive plans in the past and has weighed in on facilities related decisions since its inception.

Reid is coordinating a series of meetings to research district facilities and ultimately make recommendations to the school board for future consideration. Follow the work of the Task Force online at: http://www.wwps.org/community/community_facilities_taskforce.htm to track the progress of the group.

Dan Reid (Chair), Opp and Seibold Construction
Jim Dumont, City of Walla Walla Parks and Recreation
Darcey Fugman-Small, Woodward Canyon Winery
Mary Koch, Retired Educator
Jim Peterson, Walla Walla Community College
Pat Johnston, WWPS - Chief Financial Officer
Karen Carman, Parent Representative
Craig Sievertsen, Parent Representative - Banner Bank
Melito Ramirez, WWPS Intervention Specialist
Gay Buissink, Teacher - Wa-Hi Business Education
Jim Sporleder, Principal - Lincoln High School
Kim Lyonnais, City of Walla Walla - Development Director
Allan Gillespie, Owner, Gillespie Roofing
Ruth Ladderud, Whitman College
Scott Krivoshein, Investment Broker, Raymond James
Dan Hess, Lawyer - School Board Member
Jerry Zahl, Walla Walla Farmers Co-Op

Lowell Schneider, Plant Facilities Director
Dan Johnson, Facilities Support Director
Dr. Rich Carter, Superintendent
Mark Higgins, Communications Director
John Evans, Architects West
Kay Schisler, Task Force Administrative Assistant

Rob Blethen, Publisher, Walla Walla Union Bulletin

Nationally recognized artist shares talents with Garrison students
Walla Walla native and nationally recognized artist, Daniel DeSiga, spent Thursday and Friday at Garrison Middle School working with students and sharing his artistic talents. His inspirational story, as well as the opportunity to create abstract paintings, was shared with students throughout the day. DeSiga has artwork on display at the Smithsonian Institution and is known for his Farm Labor Movement artistic creations.

Classrooms he visited included Marie Spalding’s and Sara VanDonge’s 6th grade dual literacy class, Marit Nierman’s 7th grade literacy block, Gayle Kinman’s fine arts exploratory class, and Grace Ogoshi’s 8th grade classes. DeSiga was a recipient of Walla Walla Public Schools 2009 Graduate of Distinction.

Art Regier Outstanding Volunteers of the Years Award nominations accepted
Nominations are being accepted through Friday, March 26 for the Art Regier Outstanding Volunteers of the Year Award. Recipients will be recognized at the April 20 school board meeting. Nomination forms are available at all Walla Walla Public Schools and the district office.

Criteria for selection may include the following:
1. Exceptional service or contributions to the children of Walla Walla Public Schools
2. Unusual dedication
3. Demonstration of care, compassion and empathy

Recipients of the Art Regier Outstanding Volunteer Award will be honored with a plaque to display at their home or place of business, and their name will be permanently affixed to a memorial plaque in the school district’s board room at 364 South Park Street. For more information, please call Communications Director Mark Higgins 526-6716.

Science outreach program assists middle school teachers, valued by district
By Whitman College Communications Dept.

Whitman’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Outreach program sponsored another event on campus recently, for middle school teachers. Frank Dunnivant, associate professor of chemistry, led an entertaining and informative workshop titled “Water: That Cool Liquid!” and discussed the evolution of water on Earth, the physical properties of water and why those properties (such as hydrogen bonding) make water so unique and allow life to flourish.

Following the presentation, teachers participated in hands-on activities that illustrated the properties of water, such as magnetizing a balloon next to a stream of water to illustrate the polarity of water or manipulating magnetic water molecule models to teach capillary action or the structure of ice. The science outreach program enables participating teachers to borrow these kits to use in their classes, courtesy of HHMI grant funding. The attendees for this workshop were teachers from Garrison Middle School, Pioneer Middle School, Sager Middle School in College Place and Assumption Elementary.

In the fall, Jim Russo, associate professor of BBMB, led a workshop on “Emerging Viruses,” and Kurt Hoffman, professor of physics, is scheduled to lead a session on physics in April.

“We are fortunate to have three local colleges as partners in education, and it was a welcome opportunity for us to join Whitman in the science outreach program,” said Linda Boggs, Assistant Superintendent of Walla Walla Public Schools. “It brings together experts who can learn from each other, all the while knowing students will be the beneficiaries. Further, having had the opportunity to work with Mary Burt last year as a science teacher for WWPS, I knew that she would help provide the best opportunities for her former colleagues.”

Dorn testifies on Reforming the Math and Science Graduation Requirements
OLYMPIA - State Superintendent Randy Dorn testified in front of the House Education Committee on Tuesday in support of his proposed legislation to reform the math and science high school graduation requirements.

This year’s ninth graders, the class of 2013, will be the first to be required to pass four state exams (reading, writing, math and science) in order to graduate. House Bill 2195, co-sponsored by House Education chair Rep. Dave Quall, proposes to delay the math requirement by two years and the science requirement by four years. Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee chair Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe has co-sponsored a similar bill in the Senate (Senate Bill 6553).

Dorn is asking for the math graduation requirement to be moved back to the class of 2015 to better align the testing system with the new math learning standards. For example, this year’s ninth graders who are taking Algebra I won’t be able to take the end-of-course exam in that subject until 2011 because the exam is not available this year.

“You’ve got to be fair to the students, and the timing of this simply doesn’t add up,” Dorn said. “In 2011, we have new math learning standards, we have new math exams and we have new graduation requirements. You have all these things happening at once and that’s putting a lot of strain on the system, and it’s the students who will bear the brunt of that strain.”

Dorn is also proposing a two-tier system in math where students can pass with a score of Basic or Proficient. Those students who pass with a score of Basic on both exams must earn two credits of math after 10th grade to fulfill the math requirement.

The current math graduation requirement for the class of 2013 requires three credits of math and a score of 400, or Proficient, on the state exam. That’s equal to the minimum college-entrance requirement for most state colleges and universities, which require three math credits and a math score of 470 or better on the SAT, according to the Web sites of the Higher Education Coordinating Board<http://www.hecb.wa.gov/> and College Board<http://www.collegeboard.com/>.

“Our math requirement is one of the most stringent in the United States,” Dorn said. “If you don’t pass at Proficient, you’ll be required to take four years of math. I feel a two-tier system is the fairest route.”

Dorn is proposing a delay in science until the class of 2017. He is asking the Legislature to adopt end-of-course exams in science as the state readies for new science standards. Those standards would first be assessed in spring 2012, when the possible new end-of-course exams would debut.

In addition, Dorn doesn’t believe students should be held accountable to a science graduation requirement until science is taught in school every day like reading, writing and math. Results on a recent survey of science teachers by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed that Washington had the highest proportion of fourth-grade teachers in the nation (20 percent) teaching less than one hour of science a week. Only 8 percent of Washington fourth-grade teachers reported teaching science four or more hours in a week.

“We know we are very inconsistent when it comes to science instruction,” Dorn said. “If we are going to be serious about science and have a graduation requirement, we must assist school districts in buying the right curriculum, providing professional development and setting aside the time to do the proper instruction.”

For additional information, please see Superintendent Dorn’s original announcement<http://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2009/WSSDAConference.aspx> from November 2009 on reforming the state math and science graduation requirements.

Garrison and Pioneer students premiere student produced documentaries
Garrison and Pioneer Middle School 6th, 7th and 8th grade students recently submitted documentaries in the annual C-Span documentary contest for students. This year’s contest theme: A Challenge America Faces or A Strength America Has. Garrison students had 13 teams and Pioneer had 17 teams participate in the contest.

“All students pledged to work a considerable amount of time out-of-class gathering statistics and compiling research, writing narrative script to accompany the video, selecting music to demonstrate how they felt about the topic, strengthening camera skills, acquiring b-footage and filming video, interviewing both professional and peers and learning appropriate editing software to put it all together,” said Pioneer Middle School Explorer teacher Dan Calzaretta.

A film festival will be held February 12 at the Walla Walla High School Auditorium where documentaries from both schools will be premiered. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. A special thank you to Brent Cummings, Garrison’s Millenials Director, who provided unbounded amounts of technical expertise and support.

Please click below to see a documentary on:
Drug abuse: http://studentcam.viddler.com/videos/watch.php?id=ecb35f87
Gangs in America: http://studentcam.viddler.com/videos/watch.php?id=5e0a82ed
Wasted Food: http://studentcam.viddler.com/videos/watch.php?id=6959eef1
Cyber Bullying (youtube link) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e8m5u2Vwc4
Child Abuse: http://studentcam.viddler.com/videos/watch.php?id=3548b434
All the videos produced by the Pioneer students can be seen on the Pioneer Explorer webpage at:

C-Span Contest Film Festival Schedule
Date: Friday, February 12
Location: Wa- Hi Auditorium
Time: Since we have so many films we will show them in groups
6th grade (Pioneer only): 4:30-5:15 p.m.
8th grade (Mrs. Clearman’s 8th grade Social Studies class): 5:15-6 p.m.
7/8 grade Explorers (Pioneer and Garrison): 6:00-8 p.m.

Learn more about the middle school Explorer program online: Pioneer Explorer Website at http://sites.google.com/site/pioneerexplorers/ - Garrison Explorer Website at http://resources.wwps.org/garrison/bclearman/

Women’s Rights Exhibit Opens At Kirkman House Museum
Catharine Paine Blaine
Seneca Falls and the Women’s Rights Movement in the State of Washington
January 13 – April 18, 2010

Kirkman House Museum invites inquisitive minds of all ages and interests to experience our new exhibit: Catharine Paine Blaine: Seneca Falls and the Women’s Rights Movement in the State of Washington. Take a guided tour of the museum for a glimpse into the daily life of a nineteenth century woman and the struggles she faced as she not only fought for equality but also handled the grueling day-to-day tasks of the Wild West. The exhibit presents an historical context to the struggle for suffrage alongside seldom seen pieces in the Kirkman House permanent collection, including an entire room devoted to hands-on experiences for kids.

The exhibit is open during regular museum hours Wednesday – Saturday 10 A.M. – 4 P.M. and Sunday 1 – 4 P.M. General admission is a suggested donation of $5 for adults and $3 for students & seniors. Group and class tours are encouraged; please make advance arrangements by calling 509-529-4373.

Pioneer 6th grade students take a stance against bullying
This week the district’s Bullying Prevention Specialist Mark Thompson worked with 6th grade students from Pioneer Middle School on definitions related to bullying and harassment and why it’s important to be respectful and model civility.

Students participated in fun table activities during the program which challenges them to learn more about their classmates and themselves. This is the second year Thompson has organized student activities to address bullying and harassment as a part of the Safe and Civil Schools program.

Classroom Close-Up features Green Park teacher
This week Green Park first grade teacher Wes Sanders is featured as part of the district’s Classroom Close-Up series. A fun, information filled newsletter will be posted on the district website next week — (www.wwps.org).

A public service announcement radio spot featuring Sanders is now playing on regional stations.