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News Releases
Public invited to dedicate new Walla Walla High School Spirit Bell and Time Capsule - 06/01/23

Ceremony Details
• Date: Friday, June 2, 2023
• Time: 10:50 to 11:45 a.m. (40 to 45 minute ceremony)
• Location: Walla Walla High School Spirit Bell location (north entrance of 1964 original gym)

Public invited to dedicate new Walla Walla High School Spirit Bell and Time Capsule

WALLA WALLA – It was 42 years ago when staff and students gathered at Walla Walla High School on a chilly January day to dedicate the school’s new spirit bell monument project that was designed and constructed by staff and students. During this historic ceremony in 1981, the students also tucked away a time capsule with items of the day to open sometime in the distant future.

The district invites the community to take part in the sequel to this historic event, Friday, June 2 at 10:50 a.m. on the campus of Walla Walla High School for the dedication of the next generation spirit bell monument. Participants will be installing the 1981 capsule inside the new monument in addition to a new time capsule commemorating recent years’ artifacts and memorabilia.

The original monument was replaced as part of the bond renovations. Contractors did an excellent job carefully dismantling the original spirit bell structure and rebuilt it nearby its original location, consisting of a larger time capsule chamber, new signage, and preserved items from the original high school on Park Street when it was demolished in 1976 to make way for the YMCA. Senior classes, over the last three years during construction, have been collecting memorable items of the day to put into a new time capsule to be preserved for the future. The 1981 time capsule is set to be opened at the Class of 2023 50th reunion.

Retired educator Jerry Cummins, who helped with the project in 1981, will share stories about working with the students four decades ago. The district is also reaching out to Wa-Hi Class of 1981 graduates to help put their time capsule back into the structure alongside students from the Class of 2023.


Into the Blue activity allows 9th grade students to connect to Wa-Hi (Photo) - 05/25/23

WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla High School is excited to announce Into the Blue – Service, Fun & Connection is coming to Wa-Hi September 11-14. Into the Blue is a spin-off of the wildly popular Big Blue Weekend event from years past. This free event is for all freshmen and focuses on helping students transition to high school in a fun and supportive environment. Students will spend two days and one night at Camp Wooten following a kick-off celebration at Walla Walla High School. Activities at Camp Wooten will help build belonging, strengthen the school community and engage students in school from the beginning of the year.

“This experience aligns beautifully with our District’s new Strategic Plan, Vision 2030,” says Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “During our listening sessions we heard from students and parents how important it is to support students as they transition to high school and this event will help foster relationships and connection between students and with staff.”  

Volunteers are needed to help make this event a success. There is a specific need for a photographer/videographer and people with specialized outdoor skills and medical backgrounds. Please contact Carina Stillman at cstillman@wwps.org if you are interested in volunteering.

Into the Blue is made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Walla Walla Public Schools Foundation. The schools foundation would like to especially thank Scott & Kim Morasch, The Stubblefield Trust, and the Mary Garner Esary Trust for their support. More information will be coming out in the coming weeks about the event schedule.

If you would like to contribute to the future of this program, please visit www.wwpsfoundation.org  and consider donating to the Into the Blue Fund today. Your gift will help make this incredible program possible for future Wa-Hi students.

Thanks to the foundation and state grants, a similar experience is also being programmed for Lincoln High School students.


Popular Homelink Program to return this fall to support homeschool families (Photo) - 05/23/23

WALLA WALLA – Walla Walla families’ homeschooling their children will have more local options this fall with the return of the Homelink Program. Homelink is a K-5 parent partnership program between Walla Walla Public Schools and the parents/families of local homeschool children.

Students have the option to attend Homelink classes at the Carnegie Learning Center, a convenient downtown location, one to three days per week for in-person Arts, hands-on Science, Physical Education and hands-on problem solving (Brain Games). Students access off campus learning at home from their parent with support provided by WWPS teacher consultants. The program will be housed at the Carnegie Library Building, located at 109 S Palouse St downtown.

“Parents remain the primary instructional provider, with Homelink teachers providing guidance and support,” said Homelink Director Tom Porter. “Homelink supports homeschooling families through classes, curricula, equipment and more.”

Students may meet with highly qualified teachers on campus up to three days a week, depending on the student’s grade level, the student/family schedule and other considerations. Staff and families collaboratively work together to create a personalized Written Student Learning Plan.

“Homelink has a library with a wide variety of books organized and labeled according to the reading level,” said Porter. “Families can also access all district adopted curriculum as well as propose alternate curriculum choices that support the Written Student Learning Plan.”

Homelink Program Highlights:
• Families are partnered with a certificated teacher.
• The certificated teacher will help families pick the curriculum, track progress, and support families.
• Students check in weekly with the certificated teacher for their attendance.
• Parents conference with certificated teachers once a month.
• Optional on-site enrichment classes are offered.

Home School Parent Input Survey
• Please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey: https://forms.gle/UVcF9pdxBXk4ry8U7

• Valery Gentzler - Teacher
• Tressa Baker - Teacher
• Mary Burt - Science Teacher
• Tom Porter/Rob Ahrens - Director
• Sonia Towes – Secretary

Information Night Planned
• Tuesday, May 30
• 6 p.m.
• Opportunity Program (1917 E. Isaac Ave, Walla Walla, WA)

Homelink Information
• Contact Sonia Towes: stowes@wwps.org  /  509.526.2060.

WEBSITE - https://homelinkww.org/


First electric school bus arrives in Walla Walla (Photo) - 05/18/23

WALLA WALLA - The first of three electric school buses for the Walla Walla Public Schools Transportation fleet arrived in Walla Walla this month. Walla Walla Public Schools is one of the first school districts in eastern Washington to add electric school buses to its operating fleet.

Community members are invited to get a close up look at this new modern marvel during a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday, May 30 at 10 a.m. at the SE Washington Transportation Cooperative (1162 Entley St., Walla Walla, WA 99362).

The district received an award from the Department of Ecology for its "Air Quality Clean Diesel Electric School Bus Grant” to fully fund the three electric buses and charging stations. Walla Walla Public Schools has partnered with Columbia Rural Electric Association to provide incoming power for the charging stations.

Electric school buses lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce school operating expenses, create green manufacturing jobs, and support a more resilient grid powered by greater amounts of renewable energy. They have one-third of the moving parts of a diesel-powered bus and will require less maintenance. An electric bus can travel around 300 miles on a full charge in ideal driving conditions. School bus drivers and mechanics are receiving additional online and in-person, hands-on training from the bus dealer, Schetkey Northwest Bus and Van Sales.

Walla Walla Public Schools will begin using the electric school bus in late May for local bus routes. The remaining two buses are expected to arrive over the summer and will be operational next school year.


Attached Media Files: WWPS_Electric_Bus.jpg
Walla Walla Public Schools names 2023 Graduates of Distinction recipients (Photo) - 05/15/23

WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla Public Schools names this year's honorees for the Graduates of Distinction program. They are: Norm Passmore – Class of 1972; Mary Vixie Sandy – Class of 1978; Steve Bughi – Class of 1978 and Tera Watts Davis – Class of 1998. This is the highest honor bestowed by the district.

These individuals have distinguished themselves in their communities and careers, and they continue to bring honor to the district. Celebrate alongside these distinguished alumni at a reception in their honor on Monday, June 5 (details listed below). Listen to their stories and hear who helped shape their lives during their school years.

Date:  Monday, June 5, 2023
Time: 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Place: Walla Walla High School Commons (800 Abbott Road)
NOTE: This event is open to the public.

For more information, please contact Mark Higgins, 526-6716, mhiggins@wwps.org


Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors Regular Business Meeting: May 16, 2023 - 05/12/23

Supporting documents are available via the following link:  https://meetings.boardbook.org/Public/Organization/997
Board of Directors Meeting Schedule & Information:  https://www.wwps.org/district/information/school-board/board-meeting-schedule

Vision 2030 Strategic Plan charts promising future for Walla Walla Public Schools (Photo) - 05/10/23

WALLA WALLA – Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors approved the Vision 2030 Strategic Plan after nearly one year of substantial community, staff, student and stakeholder engagement. Vision 2030 focuses on ambitious levels of learning for all, relevant and rigorous learning experiences, a culture of equity and belonging, and family and community partnerships.

“The Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors defined a clear and affirming direction for the future of our school system based on extensive engagement with stakeholders,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. “This is an exciting time for students, staff, and the community of Walla Walla as we build upon our vision of Developing Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates.”

Walla Walla Public Schools inclusive six-phase strategic planning development process started last spring involving multiple layers of outreach, including ThoughtExchange electronic discussions, multiple surveys, 50 face-to-face listening sessions, 21 separate focus group meetings in English and Spanish, and a Strategic Planning Community Summit.

“We are committed to ensuring Walla Walla Public Schools students graduate prepared for today’s competitive world, whether college or career bound,” said Superintendent Smith. “Vision 2030 affirms the community’s collective expectation for a world-class education for all students.”

Below are the goals statements for Vision 2030. Each goal has detailed strategies to ensure goal outcome targets are met.

Goal #1: Ambitious Learning for All

• WWPS prioritizes a districtwide culture where staff collaborate with their peers to ensure high quality instruction, analyze and respond to student learning needs and maintain a collective sense of urgency around high achievement for all.

Goal #2: Relevant and Rigorous Experience

• WWPS commits to ensuring all students will receive a relevant and rigorous educational experience, where every senior graduates with 21st century-skills and a post-secondary plan to enroll, enlist or attain gainful employment after high school.

Goal #3: Culture of Equity and Belonging

• WWPS ensures an equitable educational experience where all students feel a sense of belonging and voice as they develop connections with peers and adults in a safe, supportive, inclusive and culturally responsive learning environment.

Goal #4: Partnership with Family and Community

• WWPS leverages family, community and business partnerships in order to enhance student learning and their educational experience.

“These strategic initiatives will result in increased student performance, rigorous course offerings for all students, a districtwide culture of belonging and additional opportunities to engage families in the school experience,” said Superintendent Smith. “As the district begins to implement the four goals of its new Vision 2030 strategic plan, students, staff and community will begin to take notice of the collective improvement efforts.

WEBSITE: https://www.wwps.org/strategicplan


Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors Regular Study Meeting: May 9, 2023 - 05/05/23

Supporting documents are available via the following link:  https://meetings.boardbook.org/Public/Organization/997
Board of Directors Meeting Schedule & Information:  https://www.wwps.org/district/information/school-board/board-meeting-schedule

District receives clean state fiscal audit (Photo) - 05/04/23

WALLA WALLA - This week district officials received word the annual state financial and accountability audit for the 2021-22 fiscal year was again strong. Issued by the Office of the Washington State Auditor, who is required to review school district financial statements every year, the report noted that there were no significant deficiencies, no material weaknesses, and no instances of noncompliance in the district's internal controls over financial reporting.

The audit exit report noted, in all the selected areas that were audited, district operations complied, in all material respects, with applicable state laws, regulations, and its own policies, and provided adequate controls over the safeguarding of public resources.

Additionally, reviews of major Federal programs within the district's jurisdiction also noted the same. As a result, an unmodified opinion was issued with no findings identified. Auditors once again called this audit as good as it gets during the exit conference with the district's financial team and school board representatives. This year’s results mirror the findings from last year.

“It is critical that our taxpayers and community maintain trust in our financial controls and accountability,” said Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith. "This free and clear audit confirms our continued efforts around fiscal accountability and transparency under our school board’s oversight and administrative protocols. A history of strong audits like this has helped the district secure outstanding bond rates, helping save the taxpayers money over the life of school bonds through lower interest rates.”

Director of Fiscal Services, Nancy Taylor, who oversaw the business department for the district throughout the audit period, credits her staff for their tireless efforts, as well as the school board for their established policies and financial controls.



Attached Media Files: Dr_Wade_Smith.jpg