Web Mail Login

Kathleen Rodden-Nord, Ph.D.

JUNCTION CITY SCHOOLS UPDATE: Continued from front page

Laurel students and staff had a terrific transition back to school following Spring Break. Students and teachers were excited to get back to learning and everyone enjoyed sharing all the fun activities they engaged in over the break.   Now, the end of the school year is right around the corner, and planning for next school year has already begun!

Our Laurel’s Got Talent show was out of this world. As always, the students’ talents were amazing, heartwarming, and just plain adorable. Mr. Cook did a fantastic job conducting auditions and practices with the students, and they put on a very entertaining show! We thank all of our parents and staff for their support of the students as they showed their bravery in performing their talent to a big crowd.

Laurel’s BINGO Night took place on April 27th at the Guaranty Showroom here in town. The goal was to raise $10,000 to support Outdoor School for our fourth graders; this night served as a huge contributor to funding this enrichment activity. The beauty of this event is that it provided a great opportunity for the entire Junction City community to come together in a fun and upbeat environment as they help to raise funds for this great outdoor experience for our students.

Laurel students had a blast performing at the Empty Bowls fundraiser last week. Our community’s generosity, warmth, and care for one another is truly inspiring, and this is just one of many ways we join hands to support each other. Many thanks to every person who contributed to this very important cause!

Laurel’s third and fourth grade students began taking the Smarter Balanced test this past Monday, April 30th. First, teachers and proctors administered the practice test to allow students to get a feel of what it’s like to take the test; students had a positive experience practicing for this test and we anticipate the rest of the assessment process will be smooth. This year, all test sessions are taking place in the classrooms.  As such, we are working as a whole school to minimize disruptions and interruptions during the test, and the students and teachers at other grade levels are showing great support to 3rd and 4th graders. We are proud of our students, and are excited for them to demonstrate all the ways they have grown academically this year.

April was a busy month at Oaklea Middle School.  Mrs. O’Renick and her husband welcomed baby boy Logan earlier in the month.  We are so excited for her and her family, but we also miss her greatly.  To assist in her absence, we’ve had support from two retired administrators- Steve Jones and Marcy Rice.  We are thankful for the extra support and experience these two offer our staff and students. 

The third trimester is at the midway point and we are working hard to stay focused, stay engaged, and help our students achieve.  Three Oaklea staff members joined six other district staff members to visit schools in the White River School District in Washington in late April.  Oaklea is part of the Rural Schools Network, and it was suggested that we visit and see some of the amazing PLC work that their staff utilize for collaboration, planning, and instruction.  It was impressive to see how that collaboration time can be used effectively.  Our hope is we can use what we’ve observed to better serve students and efficient with time and resources for our staff. 

Oaklea track has had a number of meets so far and we are about half way through the season.  Athletes are competing and training hard in some pretty tough weather conditions.  After much rain and even snow, the team is eager for the upcoming week of sunny weather.  Our coaching staff is working hard to support the large number of track athletes to set personal and maybe even school records.   

During the month of April, Oaklea had two assemblies.  In early April we were honored to welcome the West African Cultural Arts Institute drumming and dance performance.  In addition to the assembly, staff from WACAI spent part of the afternoon training groups of our 8th graders different African cultural dances and to play traditional African drums.  The highlight being the large group of 8th grade students who got up and performed in front of the school.

Our second assembly took place in late April when Oaklea’s fantastic Parent Group kicked off their spring fundraiser with a video presentation regarding our Color Run that will be happening in late May.  Oaklea and JCHS Cheer performed routines for the student body and JC School of Dance also performed.  We are so fortunate to have so many different assemblies for our students that are enriching and often provide opportunities for our students to show case their skills in front of their peers.

Fifth grade is the final planning stages of their carnival to support food for the local community that is taking place the first weekend in June.  Students- along with Mrs. Bean- wrote a group speech and presented at a Tri-County Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast to share the work they are currently doing on the project.  They did amazing and everyone was very impressed. 

Sixth grade students are reading Tuck Everlasting and working on literacy based activities that go with the novel.  Students are also writing professional journalistic articles based on interviews conducted in class.  Thank you to Craig Rothenberger, Katie Barnett (Greenhill Humane Society), and Officer Jackson for allowing the students to interview them.  In addition, sixth grade ArtCore had a lesson on the SHOM of “Express” which had kids learning about Frida Kahlo and empathy.  Students made collage art with a portrait of Frida as a background and glued pictures and words that expressed who they were as people.

A few of our seventh grade students are continuing their work with Michelle Swanson and the PenPal program with students in Lago, Nigeria.  They have created skeleton framework and rough drafts of their letters. 

Eighth graders in science are making a ‘racket’ learning about sound and music right now.  And math students are using art and movement in relation to transformation.  Students get to use their bodies to translate, reflect, and rotate by rolling dice to decide the movement. 

Ms. Woods’ students are starting a unit on determining the difference between public and personal topics with a focus on using art as a means to share personal information in appropriate ways.  Students in Mrs. Kings’s Title I program had a case of March Madness as they learned about how the ‘Sweet 16’ works.  They were able to integrate U.S. geography, research skills, and current events into their work.  Students researched each University, found out the city in which each team plays, what the team mascot is, what the state abbreviation is, and then plotted each team on a U.S. map.  Students then created geography questions for their classmates to answer.  Afterwards they graphed the frequency of mascots finding that three schools are the Wildcats.

Oaklea band students went with Ms. Liechty to Shasta Middle School to observe and perform for other middle school students.  It was a great opportunity to practice performing in front of others while also getting the opportunity to observe how other band teachers run their programs.  Miss Katie of ArtCore continues to offer Art Squad to a number of students during lunch for those that want to expand and do art even more.  We are so fortunate to have the help and support of our ArtCore ‘Weavers’.

Oaklea had four teachers attend the Skillful Teacher workshop in April and we used this month’s early release to deepen our work on student engagement strategies.  ArtCore also paid for multiple teachers to have substitutes so they could work on lesson planning with engagement in mind.  We have spent the year working on student engagement and the results have been transformative.  Thank you to our presenters and to our teachers for the hard work they are putting in to implement the strategies. 

On Monday, April 30th at 6:00 p.m. there was an 8th grade transition to high school meeting at the High School cafeteria; this meeting was very, very well attended and provided an opportunity to get information about JCHS and freshman year, as well as learn about this summer’s Bridge Program for students transitioning from 8th to 9th grades.  We are delighted that we can offer the program this summer, and are very grateful to Stanford University’s Decision Education Foundation for their ongoing support that they provide for this program.

Oaklea’s progress reports will be coming out the second week of May.  We are still working on state assessments and students are working hard to do their best.  We have a number of exciting trips planned for the remainder of the year so stay tuned for information regarding these opportunities.  We have much to be thankful for at Oaklea; students, staff, and the community!

At JCHS, we have been enjoying a variety of spring term activities and we are busy planning for next school year.  Students have just completed the forecasting process for the 2018-19 year; in this process, we emphasized the importance of students working with TEAM teachers to choose courses.  Students are completing a Personal Education profile which serves as a road map toward graduation.  Teachers entered forecasting data during April’s Early Release time, and this information will help us with determining how to assign FTE; we will then work on building the master schedule with support from our counselors and department heads.

Juniors have been busy with Smarter Balanced assessments this month, and testing will continue into May.  We are using a new testing method this spring that has students coming in alphabetically for blocks of time.  This lessens time out of classrooms, and gives students the opportunity to focus on the task for longer periods on test days, but also ending sooner.  We appreciate the flexibility of our staff in this process, as it has been a new way to approach state testing and it seems to be working well.

In addition to offering our summer Bridge Program for incoming 9th graders, we are also planning a new Freshmen Orientation in August.  This will give our 9th graders a half day to spend with staff and upper class mentors before the rest of the student body arrives.  Stay tuned.

Mr. Young and Ms. Marschall visited classrooms during the month of April, and continue to be impressed with the level of engaging activities taking place.  Teachers met with administrators for goal check-in meetings in the past several weeks, and we all continue to focus on monitoring student learning and growth in all areas.

The JCHS Choir performed at the Mountain West Music Festival in mid-April. They received a I (One) Rating.  This is the highest rating they've received in many years, and Mrs. Shepherd is proud of their development and this accomplishment; we are proud of our student-musicians.

The JCHS softball team continues to hold their #1 ranking in class 4A, and took on rival Elmira in a doubleheader last Friday.  Track & Field, baseball, and girls’ tennis continue to compete in league play.  This spring, the JCHS golf team has expanded to serve both girls and boys.  We have three female golfers who will be competing in the upcoming district tournament, along with two males.  The Athletic Department continues to bring in monthly Core Values guest speakers to speak with all athletes about Respect, Integrity, Commitment, Attitude, and Accountability.  We would like to thank Craig Rothenberger for his vision and continued focus on promoting these Core Values as a central tenant of our athletic program.

Prom took place this past Saturday night, April 28th at Paradise Springs and was a huge success! Students had a great time, were safe and were sharply dressed.  Last Friday, we had a morning assembly to hear from candidates running for class office next year.  Finally, on April 25th, our Leadership team organized a JCHS Gives Back day.  Students spent time volunteering as much as 4 hours on campus beautification for all of our schools, as well as community cleanup projects, and landscaping; this work was featured on local television news, and our community was deeply appreciative of these efforts.  We believe in community connection and want to make sure to instill this value in our JCHS Students.  Go Tigers!

Coming up on Tuesday, May 15th at 7 PM at First Baptist Church in Junction City, board members, staff and community members are invited to the annual Education Together Foundation Scholarship Awards dessert.  Each year, ET gives away nearly $100K in scholarships to graduating JCHS seniors and current college students. 

For the past few months, you have been hearing about Oaklea’s fifth graders project studying hunger and food insecurity in our community. They have visited Food for Lane County and now, coming up on Saturday June 2nd, they are planning to host a carnival to raise money for Food for Lane County and the Junction City Local Aid.  The carnival will have a parade, entertainment by student musicians and dancers, food booths, an art show and more.  Lane Arts Council visiting artist Betsy Wolfson is helping to coordinate this effort, and is looking for adult volunteers to serve as student members and to assist in other ways. If you have time and an interest in helping out with this event, please reach out to Oaklea Middle School so they can put you in touch with Betsy.

Earlier in my update, I shared that we had a team of district teachers and administrators who traveled to White River School District in Washington last week. While there, the team learned a great deal about how to implement Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in their schools in order to promote teacher collaboration, professional development, and school improvement.  We also have had a cadre of staff members involved in ongoing trainings from the Oregon Free Masons that addresses many of these same strategies for improving professional practice.  One of the challenges in implementing PLCs is identifying blocks of time when teacher teams can collaborate, plan, review student achievement data and work together.  Related to this challenge, we learned through recent surveying of licensed staff at each building that our teaching staff overwhelmingly supports the addition of ER days- as discussed in the past several board meetings- for the purpose of conducting PLCs and convening teacher leadership teams.  To that end, I would like the ask the board for consensus support to continue working with JCEA to plan for six ER days to be added to next year’s calendar for PLC work district-wide.

Finally, as this school year winds down and we turn our attention to planning for next year, principals are carefully reviewing their program offerings and staffing plans to ensure that we are using our staff in the most efficient and effective ways to address the needs of all our students, K-12.  Our declining student enrollment over the past several years makes adding staff for class size reduction or other purposes nearly impossible, but we are grateful for the additional funding providing by Measure 98 as it will allow us to continue to expand and build new program offerings for our high school students, including a new dual credit course, Education 101, that may lead to a teacher preparation career pathway and support for extended activities such as FFA and other CTE club offerings.   We also are grateful to be able to reallocate FTE from our District Technology and Curriculum and Assessment programs to create a new position to serve as Instructional Technology Coordinator for the district; we are working closely with Lane ESD, surveying our staff, and reflecting on our tech department needs as we develop this position posting.

The April board meeting was held on Monday, April 23rd.  First, special recognition was offered by Board Chair Wendy Waddell, in honor of the upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7th and 11th).  We are blessed to have some of the finest teachers in Oregon working here in our district- please, take a moment next week to let all our teachers know how much they are appreciated!  Next, the board honored Jane Tiebout as the District’s Volunteer of the Month for April.  Since retiring from her position as an instructional assistant at Laurel, Jane has returned to be a volunteer in our classrooms, the media center, the playground, the lunchroom- and anywhere her help is needed!  We appreciate Jane, her helping hands, warm demeanor and boundless energy when it comes to supporting the needs of Laurel students and staff.

In terms of action items, the board approved the consent agenda which included approval of the board meeting minutes from March 19th.  They also approved the hiring of Erika Vaughn as the District’s newest administrator.   Erika is replacing the irreplaceable Tom Endersby, and will serve .75FTE as the District’s Director of Instruction, Assessment and Professional Development.  We look forward to Erika joining the administrative team. 

The board also approved a one-year extension to the length of the superintendent’s contract, maintaining it as a “rolling 3-year” agreement. Finally, the board approved the resignation of elementary structured learning center program teacher Kathryne Kent.  Kathryne (Kat) has served the students of the district for the past year and a half; she has done so very professionally, as she has balanced a full caseload of students with special needs, and directed the work of a great many instructional assistants to keep the program running smoothly and effectively. Her service to our district is greatly appreciated, and we wish her well in the future!

The board then moved to discussion items, the first of which was Principal Corey’s presentation of the annual Oaklea “State of the School Report”.  Mr. Corey shared many, many wonderful things, and overviewed assessment data that demonstrated particular areas where students have grown.  The entirety of his presentation will be attached to the official minutes from the meeting, which are housed at the District Office.

Next, the board heard a financial update from Business Manager Alison Covey. Ms. Covey spoke with the board about the planning process for next year’s budget, and the impact that the decline in student enrollment due to the large graduating class of 2016 will have on our revenue next year. She also queried the board about their interest in having a special board work session to learn more about the district’s “unfunded liability” for PERS and to consider different strategies for managing that liability in both the short- and long-term. 

The final discussion item for the evening was the monthly student enrollment report.  This month, both of our elementary schools gained a new student, but we had a net loss of students district-wide as we lost students at both the middle and high school.  I will be discussing the implications of our student enrollment at our Budget Committee meeting on Monday, May 7th. We do hope this decline in students is short-lived, as plans have been approved to build a 200-unit apartment complex behind Safeway soon, and Bruce Wiechart’s development off of 10th street continues to fill in. 

After the regular session was closed, the board went into executive session to discuss upcoming labor negotiations with our classified employees.  The board will have a brief meeting following next week’s budget committee meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, May 7th at 5:30.  Until next time, GO TIGERS! 


March 2018
Staff and students have just returned from spring break and everyone seems to be rested, recharged, and ready to make the final push to the end of the school year!  There are many exciting things happening throughout the district that are described in greater detail below. This update also includes a report out from the Board’s March 19th meeting. 

Finally, attached with this newsletter are two documents. The first is a “Facilities Projects Funding Sources” spreadsheet developed by our bond Citizen Advisory Committee.  The spreadsheet graphics show that because of the district’s efforts to secure funding through various grants (capital matching grant, CTE grant, seismic grant), energy efficiency grants and loans, and use of Measure 98 and district “200” funds, there is nearly $24 million available in project funding- and of this, only $15.8 million needs to be paid back via the tax payer-supported bond and the district’s energy savings loan payments. Another way of looking at it is that we were able to secure more than $8 million in “free” money which does not have to be repaid, and which will allow our district to make even greater facilities improvements than those addressed in the bond.  Wow!  It will be another very busy summer with respect to construction.  Security vestibules will be built at each of the schools, the high school addition will be in its finishing stages, the seismic work, mechanical system upgrades and residing projects will take place at Oaklea and there will be lighting and water conservation improvements made throughout the district as well.

The second attachment is the board-adopted calendar for the 2018-19 school year.  While many professional activity days, holidays, and record-keeping days are noted on the calendar, the dates for “Early Release” times have not yet been placed on the calendar.  More information about the calendar and the discussion from the board meeting can be found in this newsletter under the “News from the Board Meeting” section. 

Territorial students recently participated in our first “Fresh Food Friday”, where students got to taste “Turtles in a half-shell”, otherwise known as kiwis cut in half, along with a few fresh carrots.  The goal of Fresh Food Fridays is to introduce diverse, in-season produce to students.  Our first Fresh Food Friday was a huge success, with students gobbling up everything on their tray, and even asking for seconds. 

Territorial’s efforts to promote and support health and wellness for all students continued with staff participated in CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Heath) physical education training, on February 28th.  Jennifer Webster from Lane County Public Health focused her training around the CATCH PE goals, which are: students enjoy physical activity, students are engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 50% of class times, students have a chance to participate and practice skills, and students are encouraged to be active outside of class.  Likewise, we reviewed the importance of teacher interaction, providing encouragement, and explaining the benefits of physical activity.  We learned new ways to implement CATCH equipment and curriculum, adapted elimination games so students are not just sitting out, and explored the powerful use of music to engage and motivate movement. 

On March 2nd, students and staff participated in an assembly and a 30-minute school-wide read-a-thon in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  The festivities started with third grader, Chloee Strasheim reading a poem she wrote about the power of books.  Then students in pairs of olders and youngers selected Dr. Seuss books to read to each other.  This year students read 544 books!  This was such a fun way to celebrate Dr. Seuss and the love of reading.  A big thank you to Kindergarten teacher, Pam Nelson for organizing the event!

Also on the 2nd, representatives of the Junction City Soroptimist Club visited Territorial to give each and every child their very own book again this year.  It is such fun to see the excitement generated by this activity as students select a book to KEEP.  Many thanks to the members of the Junction City Soroptimists; we appreciate their continued efforts to support our students and families throughout the year.

The Quick Reading Bobcats qualified to compete in the Regional OBOB tournament held at Thurston High School on Saturday, March 10th.  Although they did not qualify to move on to the State competition, they did an amazing job! They were knowledgeable in the 16 book titles and showed great sportsmanship. TES, along with their coach Wendy Thelander would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication.  

Members of the Eugene Ems staff joined us for our morning Bobcat Assembly on March 12th to kick off their reading incentive program.  Students who meet their reading goal this spring will receive two tickets to an EMS baseball game as well as VIP access to meet players on the field.

TES LEGO League Jr. Teams from Territorial joined teams from Laurel and around the state, showcasing their projects at the State Level Expo held at OMSI on Sunday, March 18th.  Coaches Amy Barnes and Sara Probert have worked with these students throughout the winter as they researched a problem related to the provided theme, improving the journey of water.  Teams were asked to identifying a solution, construct a model and create a project board to explain their thinking. 

Staff used time on March 14th and 15th to complete 2nd trimester report cards, conference with families as requested, and plan for instruction through the end of the year.  Additionally, students spent much of the month of March preparing for the annual Project Fair and Talent Show.

March also afforded us the opportunity to honor our classified staff.  Their dedication and contributions to our school and students is indispensable.  We value the work that they do, and all they do to support our students.  TES would like to thank the classified staff for their kind hearts, warm smiles, and daily efforts that go above and beyond expectations. 

Dr. Seuss Family Fun Night was amazing. Everyone looked great in their favorite book character costume. We invited several key community members to be guest readers. The event was well attended and the students had so much fun exploring books and participating in literacy-based activities.  Many thanks to the Laurel teachers and all the community members who volunteered their time to make this night a success. A special thank you goes out to our outstanding FFN Team for coordinating the event.  To further celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, the Junction City Soroptimist Group came to Laurel on Friday, March 2nd and celebrated with all of our students by gifting a book to each and every one of them. The students treasured those books and were so happy to receive them. Thanks to all of our supportive community members. 

Our next event is the magnificent Laurel’s Got Talent Show, on April 13th! Our music specialist, Alan Cook, has been hard at work preparing for auditions and practice. We thank all of families for supporting this effort at home, as well, by helping students practice for the show. We hope everyone can come out and enjoy our talented students.

Our Laurel Vision focus for March is “Academic Growth”. This is a prime time for us to be talking about personal belief in one’s ability to grow and succeed. We teach kids that they can get smart with effective effort and perseverance. Our brain and intelligence are so malleable, and with high levels of learning we can all achieve our goals and experience excellence. It is important for us to communicate to children that mistakes are proof that we are learning and growing; and failure provides an opportunity for learning and growth. We want to foster strong, confidant learners who are willing to take risk and who are not afraid to try new things.

Laurel’s third and fourth graders are getting ready to take the Smarter Balanced test. Currently, the teachers are administering the practice test to allow students to get a feel of what it’s like to take the test; assessments will begin in mid-April. We hope to conclude testing in both reading and math in a period of 3 weeks. Our students are having a positive experience practicing for this test, and we are anticipating the process to be smooth.

In mid-March, teachers in all grade levels conducted Spring Parent/Teacher Conferences. They met with families and discussed students’ progress and needs. It is always a positive experience for teachers and parents to connect and celebrate success and growth. The staff at Laurel deserves recognition for fostering such a collaborative and positive school culture with a common goal of supporting our students to reach their full potential.

Laurel kids participated in OBOB Regional competition that was held at Thurston High School.  We had three teams competing that represented Junction City School District.  Although our team did not move on to the State competition, we want to acknowledge that the Laurel team did an amazing job; not only were they knowledgeable in the 16 book titles, but they also showed great sportsmanship. If you know any of the kids that participated in OBOB this year, please acknowledge their hard work and dedication.  Encourage them to keep reading and be involved with this program next year.

Recent events nationally and in our district have given us all pause and Oaklea’s message for the month of March is respect.  Oaklea is continuing to look at how we can all do a better job of respecting each other; staff and students.  We often have guests in our building and we’d like to create an atmosphere that is welcoming and respectful.  We also know that many students are dealing with significant issues both at home and school that we must all show more empathy towards.  Our leadership teams, PBIS team, and student groups will continue to evaluate and discuss ways we can support those students who are struggling; we will not turn a blind eye to these students and take any reports seriously and judiciously.

An enormous shout out to Stacey Johnson and the many volunteers that helped host the OBOB Middle School Regional Tournament in early March.  Oaklea hosted 29 schools and all were extremely impressed with how well the tournament was organized.  This is a testament to Stacey and her team.  The Oaklea team finished 6th out of the 29 schools, an impressive showing. 

The track season has kicked off and- along with our outstanding coaching staff- we have a fantastic group of young people participating again this year.  Wednesday March 7th was our annual 8th grade Girls vs. Boys Basketball game.  This event is a fundraiser for the 8th Grade Recognition in June.  The turnout was fantastic and both teams had a blast with many moments of Tom-Foolery taking place.  It was a classic seesaw matchup with the boys pulling off a two-point win in the closing seconds of the game. 

On March 8th our band and choir classes were able to perform for the community.  In what I believe might be a first, Oaklea hosted the high school and both schools performed their second trimester concerts at one venue.  The place was packed and it was a fantastic experience. 

Earlier that same day we had an end of the day assembly to allow the band and choir groups to practice for the evenings concert as well as showcase their skills to their peers.  In addition, we used the opportunity to recognize the many different school sponsored student groups and activities that have taken place this school year.  Each group stood when their activity was called; football, volleyball, cross-country, girls and boys basketball, wrestling, OBOB, Robotics.  After each group was called we asked that anyone who was involved stand at once.  It was impressive to see how many students are participating in the many activities we are able to offer.  The image was a powerful reminder to how important and meaningful these activities are to our students and an enormous encouragement to those who aren’t currently participating.  Many of our activities are not open to the younger grades or there would surely been even more students standing.  At the same assembly we hosted the first ever Rubik’s Cube and Cup Stacking championships.  The speed with which all of the contestants could stack cups and solve the cubes was mind boggling. 

We concluded our last day of the trimester with a fantastic Career Day- Into the Future!  Angie Elstone, Rebecca Smith, and our TAG students helped to set this wonderful day in motion.  We had speakers from many different vocations and careers, many having grown up in- or currently living in- Junction City.  Students had the opportunity to listen to presentations and ask questions of four different careers throughout the sessions.  It was a great opportunity to showcase our school to the community and to expose our student body to the outside world of opportunity.  

Fifth grade students are currently gearing up to do their best on the state assessments.  Much preparation has taken place over the past six months to help the fifth graders do their best! 

Sixth grade students have been using math to create coordinate plane art puzzles.  Mrs. Tobin’s third period just finished their Global Issues class.  Students had the choice to research such topics as Ocean Pollution, Climate Change, Homelessness, and World Hunger.  They created Power Points in groups and presented to their classmates.  This allowed students to have some really mature discussions and to dig deep into complicated issues the world is facing. 

Seventh grade science will be delving into cellular transport, witnessing diffusion and the importance of a cell membrane through various labs through color change with gel cubes, dissolve egg shells off of raw eggs, and predict the movement of water (osmosis) depending on the solution.  Some seventh graders will also be using their TEAM time to be Pen Pals with a school in Africa.  They think they’ll start with “A day In the Life of an Oaklea Student.” The idea actually connects to one of next year’s OBOB books, “I Will Always Write Back” by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda. 

Eighth graders in science just finished up Oaklea Derby Day.  Students made derby cars out of recycled materials and had to use some alternative means of motion to get their cars to roll.  This was a fun way to learn about potential and kinetic energy and the transformation of energy from one object to another. 

At the end of each trimester Mr. Surface and Mrs. Cope have some friendly competition.  This trimester finished with a “Winter Olympics” competing in three events; Eclipse Ball, Basketball, and Hockey.  Bethany Hartle volunteered to referee the competitions where great sportsmanship was exhibited by both sides. 

Third Trimester began March 19th -  looking into the final trimester we’d like to remind 8th grade students to get their baby photos in as soon as possible.  We have used the Friday Professional Development to continue our work on increasing engagement.  Staff spent time presenting their survey data from students regarding our work to this date.  In addition, staff had the opportunity to work with AVID reading strategies, math strategies, and Love and Logic training.

In wrapping up the report for March Mr. Corey wanted to again stress the importance of respect and how we must treat each other to really reach greatness.  He shared one of his favorite quotes that is very applicable to the month, “I don’t have to believe what you believe to believe in you.”  This is especially true in a public school as we learn to respectfully consider each other’s different viewpoints and beliefs. 

Thank you so much to the many community members, staff, and students who have helped our school in the past few weeks.  OBOB tournaments and Career Days don’t happen by themselves.  It takes people to get these events done. People who are willing to put themselves out there, take some time from their busy schedules or free time for the betterment of the kids.  We are so appreciative of these people and hope that their spirit of community continues to encourage others to do the same because it will continue to be needed.  We hope all Oaklea students and their families had a restful, rejuvenating, and safe spring break.

Ms. Marschall and Mr. Young are pleased to report that all students- irrespective of their views- conducted themselves peacefully, respectfully, and appropriately during the March 14th student initiated demonstration.  Approximately 100 of our students gathered at the front of campus for 17 minutes, and placed a temporary memorial to honor those who have lost their lives in school violence the past three decades. One of our students sang the National Anthem.  A moment of silence took place, and students peacefully returned to class as instructed.  We would like to thank the JCPD for their support in making sure all students were safe during the activity.  At Junction City High School, we respect the right of our students to advocate for causes that are important to them and support their efforts to do so in an authorized and orderly manner while at school.  We want to express thanks to ALL of our students for the way they conducted themselves, whether they chose to participate or to not be involved.  This really was a shining example of the positive student body culture on our campus.

We kicked off the month of March with Classified Appreciation Week.  We have an amazing classified support staff at JCHS, and depend on each of them daily.  We again want to thank them for the work they are all doing to help us reach and support our kids. We appreciate having a classified team that genuinely supports our students, teachers, and families.  Their work makes a difference in the lives and education of our students, every day.

Breakfast of Champions was held to honor over 25 students for outstanding character traits and leadership.  Parents were invited to come in and celebrate this recognition with our teaching staff.  As noted in the Oaklea update, the JCHS and Oaklea music programs combined forces for a wonderful band and choir concert in front of a packed house at OMS.  Great things are happening in our music programs thanks in large part to our teachers, Ms. Shepard and Ms. Liechty!

Trimester 2 finals took place in mid-March, and the final trimester of the school year has begun.  Spring sports are underway.  State testing in Science started just before spring break, with SBAC for juniors on the horizon beginning in April.  Forecasting for next year's class schedules will begin in April as well.

Finally, it was exciting for our staff members to get to tour the new building during construction the March Early Release time.  We are looking forward to a much more secure high school campus, with resources, space, and aesthetics we can all take tremendous pride in.

Just before break, several licensed, classified, and administrative staff from all four of our schools attended the Masonic Model Student Assistance Program conference.  The 3-day event was paid in full by the Oregon Free Masons and the Grand Lodge of Oregon.  This conference gave our teams tools to strengthen our student intervention programs, specifically for improved attendance and academics, increased graduation rates, and decreased behavior issues.  Our district’s four schools will be working together to vertically align our intervention systems and procedures.  This is truly exciting work that will greatly benefit our students.

I am also thrilled to share that in partnership with Lane ESD, our district, along with several other consortium member districts, has been awarded a “Regional Promise” grant.  The grant will allow the consortium to train teachers to offer the Intro to Teaching 100 dual credit course in multiple high schools, thus establishing a launching pad and a clear trajectory for high school students who are interested in pursuing teaching as a viable career. Dina and I will be part of the grant implementation team, and we have already identified a teacher at the high school who will be supported to undertake the extensive training necessary to offer this college-credit course.  Early surveying of students shows tremendous interest in this area of study.  There will be opportunities for participating students to get involved in the cadet teaching/mentoring program at Laurel, and perhaps to work in our KITs program.  I also hope to work- along with Dina, Liz Bolton and others- to find scholarship support, perhaps through Rotary, ET, Soroptimists, and others.  Such funding would help us to develop a Grow-Your-Own Teacher program that could offer ongoing financial support to students from underrepresented groups who go on to obtain their teaching licenses and then hopefully return to serve in our district. Dina and I are working with a state level workforce partnership group on the Grow-Your-Own-Teacher initiative as well.

March was a tough month in terms of our District losing several long-time staff members. Earlier in March, long-time Laurel Elementary teacher Patsy Loera passed away- her service was held in Eugene and several current and former staff members were able to attend.  While Patsy retired from teaching many years ago, she continued on as a Spanish-language translator/interpreter for our district up through last year.  Patsy was especially cherished by our Latino families, as she made it her mission to ensure that our English as a Second language students had tremendous support and encouragement to succeed in our schools. Patsy was incredibly generous, and often gathered and donated school supplies and craft supplies for the students at Laurel.  Remembrances can be sent to the Education Together Foundation, in her honor.

Also, many of you have already heard the sad news that long-time Laurel Elementary IA Brenda Paull passed away just before spring break.  Brenda was beloved, and spent virtually her entire career with our kindergarten program at Laurel. She touched the lives of all who were fortunate enough to work with her and she is fondly remembered by so many kids who got to visit her farm for a field trip or who loved to hear her read stories to the class.  Brenda's daughter, Jennifer Paull, is a sixth-grade teacher at OMS, and Brenda has several grandchildren who still attend our schools.  I know our staff will "wrap around" Jenny and the kids to be sure they know how much Brenda was loved.

Finally, in staffing change news, there are a few action items the board will be considering tonight, including the retirement of Tom Endersby. Tom has been a fixture- and an asset- to our district in a variety of capacities for decades. He will be missed tremendously, but he has agreed to stick around JC and will be an “on-call” administrator substitute for us next year and perhaps beyond.  We will be posting for his replacement soon; the position will be renamed and called “Director of Instruction, Curriculum, and Professional Development”.  We also will likely make a few adjustments in the duties described for this position as well as that of the Special Programs Director position held by Katie Bradford.

We also want to offer best wishes to Laci Nedel, our tech department assistant. Laci has accepted a similar position with the Creswell School District, the community in which she lives.  Our administrative team is stepping back a bit and reflecting on how we might fill the position differently, as our technology needs have changed a great deal over the years and we want to be strategic about the job description and the eventual hire.  Laci is scheduled to begin her work with Creswell following spring break; we likely will not fill the new position until this summer. In the meanwhile, our tech department director, Bob Adair, will be authorized to bring in some contracted time to support the department.

Now, turning to news from the March 19th board meeting, first on the agenda was “Special Recognition”.   The March Volunteers of the Month were nominated by Junction City High School. Lisa Silbernagel and Aimee Corey were honored for all the work they have done for the annual Tiger Auction. The Auction was recently held at Shadow Hills and raised over $40K to support high school student activities, sports, clubs, and special projects. 

The board next heard a brief report from our auditor, Matt Graves of Paully Rogers.  Matt presented the District’s 2016-17 annual audit, and once again, the firm issued a “clean” report with no findings. 

In terms of action items, the board approved the consent agenda which included approval of the board meeting minutes from January 22nd and February 23rd.  They also approved the retirement of District Special Projects Director Tom Endersby, and the resignation of Laurel Elementary 3rd grade teacher Mark Navin, who will be returning “home” to the UK at the conclusion of this school year. 

In other action items, the board provided consensus approval for JCHS Varsity Baseball Coach Tony Starvos to take his varsity baseball team to compete in a tournament in California over spring break.    Also, Athletic Director Craig Rothenberger was in attendance to review the co-op agreement with Monroe School District for the tennis program.  The board approved the agreement for one year, and asked Coach Rothenberger to develop a clearer set of criteria for any future co-op requests, including requiring that the request be at the behest of a neighboring district’s athletic director, board, or superintendent, and not in response to an individual parent’s request to co-op.

The board then moved to discussion items, the first of which was consideration of the District’s partnership with the Junction City Police Department regarding the School Resource Officer (SRO) position.  We are wrapping up year 4 of our Inter-governmental agreement with the City of Junction City regarding our School Resource Officer Program.  For the past 4 years, our district has committed $20K annually to the program, while the balance of the costs was born by a Federal “COPs” grant for the first 3 years of the program.  Due to some budget challenges the police department is facing, it appears that the City would not be able to offer any general fund support to continue the program. However, after several conversations with both Chief Morris and our SRO, Office Ken Jackson, it also appears that we may be able to approach the situation creatively by developing a post-retirement “work back” agreement with Officer Jackson.  Such an agreement would require an additional district financial commitment of up to $20K- with a total annual cost to the district not to exceed $40k.  We would work with the SRO to maximize his time on days when students are in school, and at events that require his attendance.  His time would be solely at the direction of the district, except in rare cases of true emergency when he may need to be a part of a larger law enforcement response. The City would offer in-kind support in terms of his vehicle, uniform and equipment, liability insurance, training, and so on.  The board offered support for the program, and directed me to verify with our business manager that we would have the ability to provide this additional $20K in funding for the program, and to work with the Chief to enter into a new IGA that would begin in the 2018-19 school year.
Next, the board had a discussion of possible “Inclement Weather Make-up Days”.  Having had only one snow day and one weather-related delayed start this year, I recommended to the board that neither the February or March inclement weather make-up day be utilized and that there will be no need to make up days this school year. 

One of the board’s parameters for the calendar committee for 2018-19 was to continue to “build in” 2 days for possible inclement weather make up into the calendar. The calendar committee’s recommended options were presented to the board later in the meeting; while most of the options developed by the committee do fulfill that board parameter, one option builds one day into the school year and one day at the conclusion of the school year. 

Next, JCHS Co-Principals Dina Marschall and Brian Young presented the board with the high school’s “annual report”.  A copy of the report will be attached to the official minutes for the board meeting, but the big “take away” was that our high school’s graduation rate continues to be much higher than the state average.  One of the biggest causes for celebrating was the 100% four-year graduation rate achieved by our Latino students! 

Principal Young and I then led a discussion about our District’s school safety plans, which have been developed in consultation with law enforcement and based on the “I Luv You Guys” foundation’s model which is endorsed by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.  Brian Young and Ken Jackson will attend an “Alice trainer certification” training in August- adjustments to our school safety plan may or may not be implicated as a result of that training.

Lock out and lock down drills are regularly conducted at all four of our schools, and law enforcement is often present to give feedback at debriefing.  We have more work to do on reunification procedures, and training our staff, students and parents in those procedures.  We have developed a threat assessment team and protocol; law enforcement partners with us on this effort as well.  We are working with Oregon State Police to roll out their school safety tip line in our community- so stay tuned for that.   Our bond work, once completed, will add extra security at each school. Every school will have a new “vestibule” that will create a secure entry point.  Communication systems will be enhanced, and we will finally have a high school campus with one single point of entry rather than 80+. 

The board then had a discussion about the 2018-19 calendar, and ultimately adopted the calendar that is attached to this newsletter.  Most of the discussion centered around the issue of scheduling for Early Releases.  Several months ago, I asked the board for the “green light” to explore with JCEA the possibility of adding 6 more “ER” days beginning with the 2018-19 school year.  This was in response to widespread staff interest- as expressed in several rounds of contract negotiations, staff surveys and more- in having more professional development time built in to the school year. 

The district developed- and shared with JCEA leadership- a plan that would add 5 minutes to each student contact day which would then be mostly offset by additional non-student time on the new ER days.   After adjusting for the six additional 90-minute blocks of ER time that teachers would be without students, it appeared that there would be a net increase in daily student contact time of less than 2 minutes a day at the elementary level, and less than a minute a day at the secondary schools.   (According to Oregon’s school law guru Nancy Hungerford, an increase of 3 minutes or less per day is considered “de minimus” and does not trigger a need to bargain- that is, the District could go ahead and make the change without association agreement.)  Having said that, while the District suggested this change in the interest of our teaching staff who have requested more PD time- the district made clear to the association that we would not intend to unilaterally impose this change unless it was supported by JCEA. 

In our monthly meeting with association leaders the week prior to this board meeting, JCEA leadership responded that while they had not queried their membership about this possible change, the JCEA leadership team was not in support of the additional 6 ER days as the additional PD time would be directed by administration (as our current ER days and PD days are) rather than teacher-directed or available for additional planning time.   Therefore, next year’s calendar will have the current number (7) of ER days built in, but will not have additional ER days. Those 7 ERs will appear on the final version of the calendar which will be published in the next couple of months.

The final discussion item of the evening was to notify those in attendance that we are again reviewing and potentially revising our procedures and forms regarding bullying and harassment.  Prevention of discrimination, bullying, harassment, cyber-bullying and more is a focus of our district guidance and counseling program; responses to and consequences for such behaviors are addressed in our student handbooks.  We do have our policies and reporting forms posted in the “parent resources” section of each website, but after we complete our update, we likely will place a “hot button” to all this information on the front page of each school’s website. We also will include resources that help to define what is bullying versus mean or rude behavior, as well as other resources and contact information that might be helpful for families.  Student, parent and staff input on this handbook, our district processes and our reporting forms is welcomed and encouraged.

After the regular session was closed, the board went into executive session to discuss upcoming labor negotiations with our classified employees.  The board will have their next meeting on Monday, April 23rd, and our first budget committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 7th at 5:30.  Until next time, GO TIGERS! 


February 2018
The end of the second trimester is fast approaching and Spring is around the corner.   This week, March 5th through 9th is Classified Employee Appreciation Week.  We are truly blessed by the service of these hardworking, vitally important members of our staff.  Parent groups, administrators, and licensed staff throughout the district are finding lots of ways to express appreciation to our district’s secretaries, custodians, instructional assistants, food service workers and others during this week.  If you have not already done so, please take a moment and thank a member of our classified staff.

Construction activity on the high school addition is picking up steam, and we are deep in the planning stages for the safety and security upgrades for Territorial, Laurel, and Oaklea, as well as the seismic upgrades at Oaklea and the energy efficiency upgrades throughout the district- whew! Most of these improvements will take place over the summer, which means that our buildings and grounds will be somewhat inaccessible to staff and community members during summer break.  Everyone will return for the 2018-19 school year and I am sure will be thrilled to find even more improvements to our schools.

Now, on to news from around our District, followed by a brief overview of last Monday’s (2/26) Board of Directors’ meeting.

Laurel’s Vision focus of the month is “Responsible Citizens.” As a Laurel community, we all want our children to grow up to be responsible citizens. We encourage them to learn to think and act with respect for themselves and for other people. While we teach them to pursue and care for their own well-being, we also urge them to be considerate of the needs and feelings of others. We place great emphasis on how our actions contribute to building our school community, and that in order to keep our culture positive, we need to be thoughtful about our own impact on the community. We also specifically focus on how to be responsible citizens at home, in the community and at school.

Classified Appreciation Week is this week, March 5-9! Our licensed staff members are preparing to celebrate our classified employees. It is so powerful when you pause and think of the important roles they play and the huge impact they have on our ability to experience success in our jobs. NO words can express our gratitude and appreciation for the monumental, positive impact they have on kids, Laurel and the community.

We are running the first round of 3rd and 4th grade SBAC practice testing on chrome books for the first time. By using the chrome books instead of just the computer lab, we are anticipating our testing period will take only 3 weeks instead of 7 weeks as it has in the past.

Family fun night was March 2nd! It was going to be a “Dress Like Your Favorite Children’s Book Character Night.” Staff and students were invited to dress up like their favorite character the entire day on Friday, March 2nd. During the evening event, community members read all-time favorite Dr. Seuss books, in addition to playing games, door prizes, crafts and much more.  It was to be a marvelous night filled with fun and love of reading. We also took this opportunity to raise some funds for our Positive Behavior Support Program, and sold dinners in the cafeteria to support this cause. While all that fun was going on, we had our book fair open for students and their families.

We also are excited to be planning for our second annual Spelling Bee for Students 1st-4th grade. There is nothing like seeing kids get excited about learning new words in a fun and enriching way. A big thank-you goes out to our magnificent volunteer Jackie Peterson for organizing this event from A-Z. The kids will be competing on April 5th. Hope to see you there.

Territorial students completed the Winter Easy CBM Benchmark assessments this month, with teachers meeting to review data February 12th.  While we saw great growth across grade levels in Reading and Math Measures, we want to make sure that we are setting up ALL students for success.  TES teachers collaborated to identify specific strategies to support student learning and growth in core subjects going forward with an eye toward moving our “some risk” and “high risk” students up at least one level on the Spring Benchmark scheduled for May.  

The annual Grandparent’s Day Tea was a great success- we estimate that 215 grandparents and special guests joined a child or two or three for tea and pastries February 9th.   Entertainment was provided by Territorial students, directed by Music teacher Amy Burrow.   Each class performed a song or instrumental selection for their guests.  Festivities wrapped up with students and grandparents visiting a photo booth to commemorate the day, before stopping off to shop at the Scholastic Book Fair, and then wrapping up by making puzzle piece frames that stated, “I love you to Pieces!”  Many “thanks” to our faithful TPA volunteers and Territorial Staff, all of whom worked very hard to make this a memorable day for students and grandparents alike.  I would also like to thank our third graders who helped ready our flowerbeds prior to the arrival of our special visitors.

On February 13th, Territorial students participated in a “Most Recycled” Valentine’s Day box contest.  Students gathered various items; such cardboard, pop lids, and even past homework assignments to construct fabulous creations.  The entries lined the main hall for all to see.  The creations ranged from sports cars to unicorns.  It was a fun sight to see. 

Fifteen Territorial students participated in the Oregon Battle of the Books Program this year, with two teams continuing on to the District competition held on February 15th at Oaklea Middle School, ultimately, one team from Territorial qualified to move on to the regional competition to be held March 10th again at Oaklea Middle School.  

Earlier this month, Territorial fifth graders visited the Science Factory in Eugene where they took part in a hands-on astronomy exhibit.  They wrapped up their field trip by planting Camas bulbs near Autzen Stadium as part of our ongoing partnership with the Willamette Wetlands.  Fourth grade also went on a field trip this month.  They visited Oregon State University on February 23rd to take part in a special greenhouse presentation.  While at OSU, students were also able to learn about wind power, and the DNA of strawberries. 

Speaking of greenhouses, strawberries, and Camas bulbs- Territorial students have been hard at work readying our garden beds.  In spite of our cool weather, we have been able to get snap peas and Camas bulbs planted.  Needless to say, Territorial is eager for spring.

For the shortest month of the year we sure had many exciting events, activities, and a whole lot of learning taking place at Oaklea Middle School.    Our PBIS plan of using “green” Tiger Stripes has been a success with many students cashing in daily for fun supplies and snacks.  It appears that the program is generating the most interest from the younger grades so we are researching what would entice the older students even more.  The extra costs for this program is made possible with the cooperation and generosity of the Oaklea Parent Group and the donation from local insurance agent, Mr. Pasterick. 

The second and final round of Digital Storytelling had their showcase February 14th; thank you to Miss Olive for many weeks of helping our students learn such valuable tech industry skills.  OBOB had their competition at Oaklea on February 15th, with two groups; “The Shadows of the Library” and “The Book Bombz” continuing on to compete at regionals the first weekend in March.  “The Book Bombz” have gone to regionals three years in a row now and are THE team to beat at the 6-8 grade level!  7th and 8th grade students enjoyed a chance to get crazy on the dance floor at an after school dance on Friday, February 23rd.

Fifth grade students have been working on Native American story performances.  In science, they have been working in project-based-learning groups to research, design, and present a sustainable landscaping plan using native plants to attract wildlife back to an abandoned homestead.  This month fifth grade students have successfully partnered with Food For Lane County and are working on how to approach businesses for donations/ selling advertising space, constructing a budget, asking for help through meaningful questions, learning how to collaborate on Google Drive, learning how to open a checking account, planning carnival booths, working as a team, and other aspects of setting up an event.  Wow!

Sixth grade has been working with JLI (Journalistic Learning Initiative, a University of Oregon program) which implements journalism strategies in classrooms to empower student voice and academic success.  Mrs. Doggett’s classes have been working with one of our art weavers to create proportional ratio art work of elephants and giraffes to connect to the African unit throughout 7th grade.  These students have been stretching and exploring by learning new skills and art history while at the same time working on perseverance and developing a new craft which are part of the 8 SHOMs (Studio Habits of Mind).

7th and 8th grade students have been working on the Oregon CIS (Career Information System) program.  Students set up portfolios, take an interest test and find out about jobs in Oregon related to those interests (including what sort of skills and education and pay to expect, as well as real-life costs around the state).  Mrs. Johnson’s science classes will look at their cheek cells under a microscope after they have learned microscopy techniques including wet mount, prepared slides, oil immersion, and two staining techniques.  Students in Ms. Woods social skills class have been practicing skills for group work (listening behaviors, how to disagree respectfully, how to work through problems that arise, etc.).  The goal is for the groups to work together to make Rube Goldburg Machines.  They have started their design plans this week and next week they will wrap up the planning process and start building their prototypes.  Oaklea’s Choir was part of close to 500 participants in Springfield at the “Just Sing It” Middle School Choir Festival.  Students in PE are having a great time playing “Eclipse Ball”, a mixture of volleyball, badminton, and tennis.  Ask your kids about this new game and how they are enjoying it!

In middle school sports:  Boys 7th and 8th grade Basketball has wrapped up.  All four teams have improved a tremendous amount over the past two months.  Wrestling finished at districts with a number of wrestlers placing.  Track is right around the corner and we had initial sign ups during lunch this past week.  95 athletes signed up so far, but it’s not too late for more to come out!  There was a track parent meeting at 6:00 pm in the Oaklea cafeteria on March 6th.  
We have an early release the last Wednesday of the month, February 28th where we will continue our theme for the year of “engagement”.  Teachers have really taken to heart the lessons, ideas, and concepts and have woven them into their classrooms.  At our January 31st early release Val King led the teachers in training around selective grouping and strategies for getting all students engaged and connected in a lesson.  We’ve also coordinated with ArtCore to provide all teachers at Oaklea with half a day of more training and planning.  We are very thankful to ArtCore which paid for the substitute teachers over the course of three separate days.  In addition, we’ve been training our Instructional Assistance each month as well.  Rachel Gibbons, Behavior Specialist from the LESD, has been integral in the planning and training of our IAs.  All of this work increases student learning while at the same time decreases student discipline issues, a win-win for all. 

State science assessments for grades 5th and 8th are happening this month.  Mathematics and English Language Arts testing will start later in March.  Those two subjects will be tested in all four grades so Oaklea’s testing lab will be busy from now through early June!

Trimester two finishes on March 14th followed by no school the 15th and 16th for record keeping and professional development. 

Oaklea would like to recognize Jeff Starr as our volunteer of the month for February.  Coach Starr as he is affectionately called, dedicates time to students in different ways.  He volunteers to coach Oaklea’s Cross Country Team and trains athletes interested in the sport of running throughout the entire year.  Oaklea’s track program has seen record numbers of participants which is a direct result of Coach Starr’s positivity to students as our track coach.  He founded the JC Spirit Running Club that meets and runs weekly (open to all in the community) which many of our students participate in.  In addition, Coach Starr has started a Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Oaklea that meets weekly.  Coach Starr is a super awesome and outstanding coach, teacher and disciple of young amazing life champions (to use some of his own phrases).  One can’t help but smile and feel great about themselves after only a few minutes with Coach Starr.

As February came to a close, we are excited for March.  Principal Corey would like to share how thankful he is for all the support of the community, parents, city workers, police department, district office staff, and staff at Oaklea for their continued combined efforts to support the growth of our student body.  It has been said it takes a village to raise a child.  What an awesome responsibility. 

At Junction City High School, we kicked off the month of February celebrating National Counselors month.  We would like to thank our high school counselors, Brian Miller and Courtney Madsen, as well as our district psychologist, Dr. Sue Menen-Jessing, for the work they do each day for our kids.  Social and emotional well-being is essential for building connections and success in school, and we could not do this work without our amazing counseling team.  On that note, Dean Sikes visited with our entire student body on February 2nd, and students made a commitment to choose life toward the end of the “You Matter” assembly.  Students heard a powerful message of hope, and then debriefed with TEAM classes and teachers.  We continue to build a network where ALL of our students on campus have a trusted adult they can turn to if they are struggling, or have someone else they are concerned about. 

Winter conferences were held in the cafeteria to begin the month, as parents and students discussed midterm grades with teachers.  Students are beginning to prepare for the upcoming AP exam circuit, and our juniors are preparing to take the Smarter Balanced assessments this spring.  We also have several seniors finishing up their Essential Skills requirements by either taking one more round of SBAC exams in the area they need to demonstrate proficiency, or completing work samples with teachers. 

In athletics and club activities, we held a Pep Assembly on February 8th to showcase every team competing this winter term: Robotics qualified for the State tournament this past weekend, OHSET, Chess Team, Swimming, and Speech & Debate have completed or are wrapping up their seasons; JCHS qualified the most wrestlers to the State meet in over a decade with 8 wrestlers competing (the team brought home an 8th place finish in 4A and Bob Lee was voted Regional Coach of the Year).  The boys basketball team fell just short of playoff qualification with several close losses in league play.  The Lady Tigers basketball team just wrapped up a Sky-Em league title with a championship victory over Cottage Grove.  Liz Bolton was voted in as league coach of the year, and Maddie Mehlbrech was the player of the year.  The girls hosted a State playoff game this past Friday and did not advance, but what a wonderful season they had!

The Tiger Auction was a huge success!  We would like to thank the co-coordinators, Aimee Corey and Lisa Silbernagel, as well as the countless individuals on their team who volunteered to pull this event off.  This year’s auction took in….wait for it…just over $40,000!!!  That money will greatly benefit our athletic teams, clubs, and other programs for our students.

Melanie, our student rep, talked to the board all about Val-o-Grams, and all agreed this was one of the most remarkable groups of seniors ever.  They generated over $1600 for their AP Lit trip.

Finally, lots of meaningful Professional Development is taking place.  Our science department sent two teachers to the NGSS regional workshop at the Lane ESD this month, as we prepare for new science curriculum and assessments next year.  Six JCHS teachers and Mr. Young are now participating in the Skillful Teacher workshops.  This is a multi-session program geared toward enhancing instructional techniques, management, and making student thinking come alive.  Mrs. Buenau continues to develop her new Computer Science program, and other teachers are involved in the Willamette Promise program, bringing new ways for students to earn college credit.  Ms. Marschall and Ms. Lucir will be attending a CTE conference with all the other schools that received the Culinary Arts grant.  This is an exciting time for our staff and students!

I had the pleasure of attending an Open House several Saturdays ago to celebrate the new “Ophelia’s Place” program that is located in Junction City, across from Laurel Elementary in the Dutch’s Field House.  Our District has a long-standing relationship with Ophelia’s Place- for a number of years, they have offered assemblies to our middle school students, professional development trainings for our staff, and individual and small group counseling for girls in need of support.  Now, we will have our very own Ophelia’s Place here, serving girls ages 10 through 18 every day after school.  We are so excited to have OP in our community, and so grateful to the Soroptimists International of Junction City for making this dream a reality.

School Safety- the horrific mass shooting in Florida has caused public schools across the country to reflect on crisis response protocols and school safety plans.  In our District, we have worked closely with the JCPD to develop standard response protocols and train students and staff in responding to various emergency scenarios.  Our “Active Shooter” protocols are based on the “I Luv U Guys” foundation’s work- which was developed in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and others.  We also have had several staff members attend “ALICE” trainings; our SRO Ken Jackson and JCHS co-principal Brian Young will be attending a workshop in August so that they can be certified ALICE trainers for our district.  We also are connected with the Governor’s Task Force on School Safety and have had training in their new “tip line” and will be rolling that out to our student body and our community.  One of the initiatives that the Task Force is seeking to fund is to develop a secure data-base of blueprints of every Oregon school’s floorplan- we have already provided our floor plans, as well as master keys to our partners at JCPD.  We also have security camera systems at 3 of our 4 schools, and “panic button” alarms at all 4 that signal law enforcement in the event of an emergency.  Finally, the work that is being done at all of our schools, thanks to the support of our voters, will allow us to make each of our buildings more secure by creating a security vestibule at each entrance which will enable us to control access to our schools.  We are tremendously grateful that the $4M capital matching grant we received will allow us to finally have a unified high school campus, with one single point of entry for the school rather than the 80+ points of entry that currently exist.   The bond will also enable us to improve our telephone communication systems at each of the schools, and our Blackboard Connect parent notification system is a huge part of keeping our parents informed, in real time, in the event of an emergency. 

Finally, we know that our student leaders at the high school are feeling called to action on the issue of school shootings.  Our high school administration will be working closely with these students, and their classmates, to be sure that their acts of expression and free speech are conducted in as safe, respectful, non-disruptive, and educative manner as possible. 

Now, turning to news from the February board meeting, first on the agenda was “Special Recognition”.

Our board honored our Classified Employees for their special week, March 5-9.  The education of youth is essential to the future of our community, state, country, and world.  Classified employees are the backbone of our public education system.  They are the heart of the educational process; they are part of our community; they work directly with students, educators, parents, volunteers, business partners, and community members and our community depends upon and trusts them to serve students.  Our classified employees, with their diverse talents and true dedication, nurture students throughout their school years.  We so appreciate our classified staff; we couldn’t do what we do for kids without you all.  From us to the classified staff, thank you very much!

The board also took a moment to recognize our District counseling team and district’s school psychologist in honor of National School Counselor week that took place earlier in February.  Junction City School District’s counselors are actively committed to helping students explore their abilities, strengths, interests, and talents as these traits relate to career awareness and development.  They help parents focus on ways to further the educational, personal, and social growth of their children.  Our counselors work with teachers and other educators to help students explore their potential and set realistic goals for themselves.  They seek to identify and utilize community resources that can enhance and compliment comprehensive school counseling programs and help students become productive members of society.  Comprehensive developmental school counseling programs are considered an integral part of the educational process that enables all students to achieve success in school.  The Junction City School District Board of Directors wants to take a moment to thank our District’s counselors: Laurel & Territorial’s Miranda Linville, Oaklea’s Angie Elstone, and Junction City High School’s Brian Miller and Courtney Madsen, and our District’s School Psychologist, Sue Menen.  Thank you all for your commitment to our students, their parents, and our staff.

I would also like to acknowledge the work this group does to help us provide support to our neighboring districts in times of crisis.  As you might remember, our District sent members of this team to Roseburg to assist in the aftermath of the UCC shooting several years ago and just last week, some members of our team were dispatched to the Bethel School District to provide crisis response support at one of their schools.  

The board also was so pleased to honor Oaklea Middle School track and cross country Coach Jeff Starr as the District’s Volunteer of the Month.  More information about the many ways that Jeff positively impacts the kids of Junction City can be found in the “Oaklea News” section above.  Those in attendance at the meeting also enjoyed hearing from Student Representative to the Board, Melanie Handby.  Melanie shared out about activities at JCHS, including the Leadership program’s recent Val-o-Grams event.  Melanie does an outstanding job keeping the board and community informed about the work of our student leaders at JCHS.

The board also heard a brief report from Junction City Education Association President, Steve Tedrick. Steve expressed concern, as a parent and a staff member, about the district’s plan and preparedness for a school shooting.  Some initial discussion ensured- as described above- and there will be further discussion on this topic at the March board meeting.
Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm deChase Miksis who also reported out for the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).  That team provided highlights from the February CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. Also discussed were the efforts underway to coordinate other summer bond projects for student safety and security in all four of our schools, as well as coordinating projects and budgets related to the seismic grant for Oaklea and energy savings funds projects that we will be undertaking throughout the District.  

With respect to action items at the Board meeting, the Board acted to approve the Probationary / Contract / Temporary Staff list for 2018-19. They also approved maternity leave for Joy O’Renick, assistant principal at Oaklea Middle School, beginning April 2, 2018 and returning after 12 weeks, and approve the resignation of Gene Newbold, 5th grade teacher at Oaklea Middle School, effective the end of the 2017-18 school year.  The retirement of Steve Beard, Life Skills teacher at Junction City High School, effective the end of the 2017-18 school year was sadly accepted by the board.

The board also approved the Lane Education Service District Local Service Plan 2017-19 Year 2.   Lane ESD Superintendent, Tony Scurto, spoke with the board about the Local Service Plan 2017-19, year two, at the January board meeting.  The board’s final action item of the night was to approve the 2018-2019 Open Enrollment guidelines.  Principals have reviewed class sizes and have provided their recommendations for the maximum number of students to accept under Open Enrollment at each building and grade level.  The information has now been posted on our websites and applications will be available on our website and at all our schools as well as the District Office beginning March 1st,.  Applications will be accepted through March 31st.

After the regular session was closed, the board went into executive session to discuss upcoming labor negotiations with our classified employees.  The board will have their next meeting on Monday, March 19th, and school will be in recess for Spring Break the entirety of the last week in March.  Until next time, GO TIGERS! 


January 2018
It has been a fabulous start to 2018 in the Junction City School District!  Students and staff returned from Christmas break happy and well-rested and are now back and immersed in the learning process.

Construction of the high school addition is in full swing; we are refining our plans for the upgrade of the culinary arts classroom, thanks to a $300K+ “CTE Revitalization” grant from the Oregon Department of Education. We also are busy planning for summer work that will occur at all four of our schools- and are excited to be able to “braid” funds- along with our bond funds- from the 4-million-dollar capital matching grant we received, the 1.5-million-dollar seismic retrofit grant we received, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy savings funds so that we can stretch our bond dollars farther and achieve great results for our community’s investment in our school facilities. Please remember that the District has a “Citizens’ Advisory Committee” whose charge is to provide oversight and communicate with our community about on-going capital improvement projects.  The CAC meets monthly, presents a report to the board, and publishes updated project and budget information that is disseminated locally, available on the District’s website, and on a rotating display in our schools and some local businesses.  If you have more questions about this group or the information that they have developed, please contact the District Office and we will put you in touch with the convener for that group.

Now, on to news from around our District, followed by a brief overview of last Monday’s (1/22) Board of Directors’ meeting.

A Big Thank You to the Territorial Parent Association for organizing our annual Holiday Bazaar, which provided an opportunity for Territorial students to select gifts for members of their immediate families.  Bazaar chairs Dena McDonald, Jennifer Daeges, and Carolyn Hinrichs went above and beyond in cleaning, painting, and organizing donations to make sure all of our students enjoyed this Territorial tradition.

Territorial wrapped up 2017 and the first trimester with parent-teacher conferences.  Conferences were held on December 1st and 4th and were well attended across grade levels, providing an opportunity for teachers to introduce parents to grade-level standards and the elementary report card.  Parents and teachers alike appreciated the scheduled time to meet and connect. 

Winter Easy CBM benchmark assessments are currently underway.  Preliminary data looks good with students showing growth in the areas of math and reading.  This growth is undoubtedly a direct result of the rigorous and focused instruction provided by our teachers every day, as well as the hard work and diligence of our students and the support of their families. Easy CBMs will wrap up February 2nd, with teachers meeting the following week to review school-wide data and identify strategies that will support student learning and growth toward grade level benchmark standards.

This month, our fourth and fifth graders began a Lane STEM’s Coder-in-Residence program. In addition to working with a representative of a local tech company, students will have eight lessons using connected robots called “Gigabots.” The Gigabot program was funded by Mozilla through a cross-city grant, allowing us to collaborate with software company “BigBang” which is located in Saint Louis, Missouri.  Territorial students and their “gigabot” were the highlight of a recent meeting of Connected Lane County, held at Lane Community College.  Attendees at LCC were able to “look in” as students from Mrs. Grimsley’s fourth-grade class were at Territorial and were making not only their robot in the classroom- but also a robot at LCC- move with their coding commands!  Many adults attending the event said this was the highlight of the entire afternoon, and they were so impressed with our TES staff and students.

Territorial teachers have been active in their efforts to implement the new science and P.E. curriculum, working together on planning and utilizing available resources.  Territorial Staff and Students continue to approach the tasks of teaching and learning in all content areas with great enthusiasm and purpose. 

On January 19th the TPA hosted a BINGO fundraiser; this event is always a highlight for students and families.   In addition to fun refreshments and raffle drawings for great themed baskets, BINGO prizes included a wide variety of items, with the grand prize being a kayak! 

Looking ahead, Territorial students who are participating in OBOB will complete school-wide battles for a chance to represent Territorial at the district competition to be held at Oaklea Middle School in February.  Four teams of 4-5 students each have worked together to read 16 selected books and will prepare to answer a variety of “content” and “in which book” questions in the coming book battles.  Also planned for February is our annual Grandparents’ Day Celebration as well as the coinciding Scholastic Book Fair. 

As part of School Board Appreciation month, Territorial staff would like to thank our dedicated School Board for their service.  We have personally seen the time and commitment that you have invested to make sure that teachers and students have what we need to be successful.  Serving as a School Board Member must be difficult and time consuming; however, you make it look like fun and your continued commitment and dedication to our students will leave legacies in the lives of our Junction City Students.  Margaret Mead said it so well when she stated, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   Thank you Junction City School Board!

January is School Board Appreciation Month and Laurel would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every Board member for their time, effort, and unwavering support for the children of Junction City. We feel grateful to be supported by Board members who always put children first.

During the month of January, Laurel has focused on a very important component of our school’s vision and that is “Compassionate Citizens.” Students are exploring ways we can show compassion. The Laurel community has worked diligently to support all of our students who come from diverse socio-economic, racial, and religious backgrounds. It remains our responsibility to ensure that every child feels loved, accepted, and valued in our school.

We recently completed another round of EasyCBM benchmark testing to measure students’ growth. Teachers will use this data to evaluate their effectiveness, tailor instruction to students’ needs, and make data-driven decisions for Walk to Read groups. Additionally, we are preparing for the Smarter Balanced testing that will start in April- by ensuring that our technology is up and running, our students are well prepared, and our teachers and test proctors have all that they need to administer the test.

PE instruction is going super well this year. This month, all teachers met in grade-level teams to plan for the second trimester of PE and health instruction. Our teachers are doing an amazing job learning the PE curriculum and implementing innovative and exciting activities. Despite Laurel’s limited gym space and challenging scheduling issues, our teachers have come together to learn, build their skills, and provide the very best PE instruction that they can.

We are ready to implement our SafeTouch curriculum in grades 1st-4th. To kick this off, Laurel’s counselor, Miranda Linville, is hosting a parent night at which the curriculum will be previewed and questions will be answered.  Following that parent meeting, our school counselor will teach the curriculum for 4 weeks. Parents are invited to request more information, obtain copies of the curriculum, or opt their student out from receiving this instruction.

Our staff continues to learn about how to support the social-emotional well-being of students through book studies of The Zones of Regulation and the Lost at School books. Every Early Release, the entire staff gathers in the Media Center and receives training on this topic. It is apparent that this learning is positively impacting our students and further equipping Laurel teachers with skills and tools to support students.   It has been a wonderful start to 2018!

With the start of the New Year, Oaklea would like to recognize some achievements from December and January.  Oaklea had two assemblies in December.  The first was a presentation by Jesse LeBeau, a motivational speaker who uses basketball to promote his message about choosing to have a positive attitude.  Jesse used upbeat, popular music and basketball tricks to capture the attention of our students.  We’d like to thank the Oaklea Parent Group and The Sweet Home Elks Club for helping to arrange and pay for Jesse to come to Oaklea.  For our second assembly, we had OMSI perform physics experiments for the entire student body.  The presentation involved dry ice, liquid nitrogen, and ended with BANG!  Again, this assembly was made possible with the help of the Oaklea Parent Group in addition to a national grant that OMSI helped us apply for. 

Our Robotics team, 1832, did fantastic at their competition, winning the project and the ACE Award, qualifying them for the State Tournament in late January.  In addition to the competition, the team recently presented to the Junction City Council on grey/black water management strategies and ideas.  Oaklea’s Battle of the Books team has a few more practices before their competition in early February. 

Oaklea’s winter giving store was a huge success! So many people donated items in, set up the room, and worked at the store during the day.  The students loved the store and it gave them an opportunity to get gifts for family members.  Ophelia’s Place had an open house at Oaklea in mid-December and the turnout was absolutely spectacular. Girls and their parents were invited to attend, make crafts and enjoy refreshments.  The staff for Ophelia’s Place was impressed and is eager to continue their support of our school.

We concluded the week before break with awards assemblies for all grades as well as an Ugly Sweater Day and Holiday Hat Day.  Students had a good time dressing up and having safe fun.  And lastly for December, we would really like to thank Oregon Community Credit Union and Jamie Haddy for an enormous gift of clothing and food for students and families over break.  Mrs. Haddy went to Costco and purchased an unbelievable amount of items to donate on behalf of the OCCU.  Thank you Jamie and OCCU!

We completed our first round of the Gigabyte grant on Storytelling in December and have started a second round that has allowed for a new group of students to participate.  The completed presentations were fun to watch and very creative!

January has brought some big changes to our PBIS program.  We’ll be allowing students to use their Tiger Stripes to purchase items in our school store, which means students will get rewards on a more immediate basis.  This opportunity was made possible by a combination of donations from the Oaklea Parent Group and a local State Farm agent Mike Pasterick.  Mr. Pasterick is donating $100 per month to Oaklea to help make this happen. 

We also had 20 yards of playground chips donated to us by Rexius out of Eugene and the trucking to deliver them to our playground by MTS Trucking in Cheshire.  These chips will help ensure our students have a safe play area at recess.  We are so grateful for the generosity of our community!     

Fifth grade recently met with administration to present their ideas for a carnival this spring, with the proceeds to benefit local food banks- as part of their yearlong study of hunger in our community.  Our PE program is currently focusing on basketball team concepts where students get a chance to take on different roles of coaches, captains, and even publications specialists.  Sixth graders are starting their infamous Egypt projects and research.   Our math students are currently finishing their mid-year diagnostic tests on iReady in preparation for state testing this spring. 

Seventh grader scientists are working on synthetic materials; they are using Sodium Alginate and Calcium Chloride to make synthetic gummy worms.  They will then use the scientific model of Claim --> Evidence --> Reasoning to determine which product (natural vs. synthetic) is better.   Seventh graders will also be starting a new novel which involves the country of Kenya, allowing students to understand different cultures, beliefs, eco-systems, and food webs.  Students will learn perspective drawing through ArtCore support.  Our eighth graders will be exploring the concept of force and motion through tug of war.  And Oaklea’s concert choir is getting ready for a festival next month where they will sing in a choir of about 500 students from many local schools.  Beginning band just finished learning their first full length piece and advanced band is picking up book 2 of the curriculum, which was made possible thanks to the Music Counts grant!

In sports, Girls 7th and 8th grade Basketball has wrapped up their season and wrestling is getting close to their regional and state meets.  Boys 7th and 8th grade basketball has started with their first games last week.  Track hasn’t officially started yet, but optional winter workouts will begin soon.     

With respect to professional development, Oaklea teachers used the December 4th Professional Activities day continue our development of engagement strategies in the classroom.  Teachers took part in some rigorous and thought- provoking training that will transfer easily to the classroom.  We will continue this theme of engagement at our next Early Release, January 31st.   The first half of the second trimester is almost upon us and we’ll have progress reports January 25th.  For parents and community members who are interested in our Site Council meetings, the next one is Tuesday, January 23rd at 3:10.  Contact Oaklea Middle School for more information.  We hope that many OMS parents were able to attend the Parent Night on January 23rd with a focus on parenting difficult teens. 

Looking ahead to February, Oaklea will have a 7th and 8th grade dance, put on by the Oaklea Parent Group.  Also, be sure to mark your calendars for our second Book Fair, on February 26th through March 2nd.  This Book Fair includes the fan favorite “Camp Out with Reading” program.  Come join us!

Mr. Corey would like to share that he is absolutely humbled by the amount of generosity this community provides for the students and families we represent.  We also would like to take a moment to acknowledge our profound grief for the loss of beloved 8th grade language arts teacher Ceri Burke; we were so sad to see her lose her valiant battle with cancer and forever grateful for the mark she made on our district. She taught us all- students and adults alike- so much, and she will be dearly missed.

January is an opportunity for reflection and working to make positive change.  This is no exception at Oaklea and we are taking steps every day to improve our school and its support of students, staff, and community members.  

The staff and students at JCHS would like to thank each of our School Board members for their volunteerism and service.  During this month of board appreciation, we thank our board for the time and dedication they provide to making sure we have the best resources, facilities, and professionals for our kids.  As administrators, we appreciate the active involvement you have in our programs and activities in our schools.  Junction City School District, and all our schools, are wonderful places of learning, enrichment, engagement and opportunity thanks in large part to our supportive School Board.

At JCHS, the new year has been outstanding.  It is awesome to see the frame of the new front commons area taking shape, as well as classroom walls being constructed.  Students and staff alike are so excited to watch this progress and have been patient, flexible, and cooperative with the occasional challenges presented by the ongoing construction project.

JCHS seniors involved in Top Tiger kicked off the month with an all-school assembly which really got students excited and generated lots of support for the program.  Proceeds will once again be split between the Children's Miracle Network, JC Local Aid, and school programs.  Top Tiger participants took their annual trip to the neonatal unit at Riverbend hospital, which is always a meaningful experience for all those involved.

All juniors took the ASVAB exam on January 17th; many thanks to Liz Bolton for facilitating that endeavor and to our counselors and support staff for their assistance as well.

With respect to professional development, our teaching staff continues to implement the differentiated instructional strategies Linda Vanderford presented in early December.  Several teachers shared ideas and ways they have used the strategies at a recent staff meeting.  Our high school’s department chairs will be spending time this week on aligning our course content with the JC Online course offerings.  At yesterday’s January Early Release day, we had a very informative and engaging presentation on encouraging Healthy Relationships, as well as a focus on increasing awareness of and preventing Sexual Harassment.  Our entire staff- licensed and classified- as well as several district office administrators and a representative from the Eugene School District heard this presentation offered by Ophelia’s Place specialist Kyra Kelly, along with support from Ophelia’s Place JC’s Anuhea Wall.

We have invited guest speaker Dean Sikes, from Tennessee, for an all-school presentation called "You Matter", to our students tomorrow, Friday, February 2nd.  We feel it is an important time to talk with students about mental health and well-being, and the sensitive topics of self-harm and teen suicide.  This is a hopeful message that we feel will be very meaningful for our students.  Our counseling team will be working on preparing students for this topic and having some debrief time with TEAM teachers before and after the assembly.  We also want to review our student safety protocols and procedures with our staff.  As always, this is an important time to be watching out for our kids, and making sure all students have established trusted connections with school adults.

Important note: Winter Parent Teacher conferences have been switched to tonight, Thursday, February 1st from 4:30-7:30.  This change was made due to a home wrestling match taking place on the previous date scheduled.  Finally, JC Local Aid has given our students abundant ways to fulfill their community service hours and beyond.  We have extended this information to parents as well.  Happy New Year and thanks again to the Board!

In District News, we are convening a committee to plan for the adoption of Health and PE materials for use beginning with the 2018-19 school year. This adoption covers a broad range of standards, including health, wellness and nutrition; mental health, counseling, guidance, safe touch and human sexuality; and physical education and fitness for a lifetime.  We are excited to bring together our PE, health, nursing and counseling staff, K-12, to work on this initiative and know that their collaboration will lead to great program developments for Junction City students. 

I also want to share with you that a team from our District (Katie Bradford, Erika Vaughn, Sue Menen-Jessing, Dina Marschall and I) is collaborating with the Bethel School District, Lane ESD, and the Corvallis School District on a wide range of professional development offerings, development of new CTE programs such as a possible new “Grow your Own Teacher” initiative, as well as the “Leading for Learning Program” offered through the Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Washington.  We intend to link all these trainings and initiatives together in a way that informs and supports our district and school improvement efforts in the coming years. 

Board members and Tiger Supporters of all stripes, please mark your calendars for the Tiger Auction, happening on Saturday, February 19th at Shadow Hills. Please let JCSD Board Chair Wendy Waddell know if you have questions or wish to donate to this great cause.

Finally, please note that Ophelia’s Place will be having an Open House at their newly renovated space at Dutch’s field across from Laurel on Saturday, February 24th from 10 AM until 2 PM. They would love to have our board members attend, so please plan to come if you can!

Now, turning to news from the January board meeting, first on the agenda was “Special Recognition”.  First up was an awesome presentation by District TAG specialist Rebecca Smith’s elementary TAG students.  Everyone in attendance learned something as they presented information from their “Aviation” projects and shared details of their recent visit to the airport and air museum. Thanks TAG students!!

We next heard from Glenn Martz of the Eugene Airport Rotary, who shared that from 1997 through 2017, their service organization has donated almost $100,000 in scholarship money to Junction City High School seniors and graduates!!  Glenn shared that the Qwest Foundation is providing the Airport Rotary with a $25,000 grant that will be used to match donations that are secured at the Airport Rotary Foundation’s 22nd Annual Dinner and Auction!  That event will be held on Friday, February 23rd at 5:30 PM at the Valley River Inn.

Special Recognition also was offered for Stacey Johnson for her leadership with the OBOB Program.  Our District will be hosting the OBOB (Oregon Battle of the Books) Region 3 North Grade 6-8 Championships at Oaklea Middle School on Saturday March 3rd, 2018! We will have 30 teams coming from all over Lane County battling for a coveted spot to the state championships!  We will of course, have our district champion in attendance.

This is a HUGE undertaking and only works with the help of a crew of volunteers.  Since this is our first year we have MANY positions to fill.  Some positions only require a few hours of your time, some are all day.  Some are needed the day of the event, some are needed in the days and weeks prior to the event. So if you are interested in helping in ANY way Stacey can find a spot for you. Please reach out to Stacey at Oaklea if you are interested in helping, and thank you everyone for your support of such an awesome program!

Every January, we celebrate School Board appreciation month; our students, staff, families, and entire Junction City community is incredibly fortunate that our board devotes such time, energy, and passion to our District.  We truly have the best school board in the county, if not the state; our board is diverse but completely united when it comes to doing what is best for kids and coming together to lead us.  Your vision, stewardship, and commitment to each and every child is a huge part of every single success our district has achieved. 

Before moving on to their regular business, the board heard from the Lane ESD’s new Superintendent Tony Scurto (who had served for a number of years as the superintendent for the Pleasant Hill School District).  Our district greatly values and appreciates our partnership with the Lane ESD.  We rely on them for a vast array of services, particularly in the areas of special education services, and support for curriculum, instruction, and professional development.   Tony was in attendance at the board meeting to answer any questions about the local service plan, and also to highlight some of the new and exciting initiatives we are partnering on.

Those in attendance at the meeting also enjoyed hearing from Student Representative to the Board, Melanie Handby.  Melanie’s enthusiasm and support for her classmates and high school activities and programs is absolutely contagious.  She shared that the student leadership group is planning a spring “carnival” where students can learn about all the clubs and activities offered on campus. The group is also planning to sell items and services at the May 23rd Early Release time as a fund raiser, and is busy planning a “JCHS Gives Back” day of community service.

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm deChase Miksis who also reported out for the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).  That team provided highlights from the January CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. Jordan Pheiffer reported that the CAC has developed new fliers for distribution to our community, and is working on a handout that will detail all of the capital improvement projects occurring in our district, along with the many different funding sources we are leveraging in order to stretch our community’s bond dollars as far as possible.   Jordan also reported that, upon our invitation, OSHA recently conducted a voluntary “safety walk” through our construction site.  They had no significant findings, and the only corrective action required was that our contractor must provide the workers with a “flush toilet”- which is now on site.

Now, turning to action items at the Board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of November 27th Board meeting.  They also acted to approve the 2017-18 Division 22 Standards for Public Elementary and Secondary Schools Assurances form.  Each year, we are asked to review the Oregon Department of Education’s “Division 22” standards for public school districts.  The process is sometimes laborious, but is almost always worthwhile as it yields important information that guides our goal-setting, budgeting, and staffing plans.  Given some of the recent legislative changes regarding students’ schedules and instructional time, we will be keeping those standards at the forefront as we plan for the 2018-19 calendar. 

The board’s final action item of the evening was to approve Resolution 2017-18 #15 which authorized the District staff to enter into contract negotiations with Lease Crutcher Lewis for Construction Manager/General Contractor services for our district’s Summer 2018 facilities improvement projects.

With respect to discussion items, the board heard from Business Manager Alison Covey, who provided her monthly financial update to the board and discussed both the potential impacts of the passage or failure of Measure 101 (which Oregon voters approved the day following the board meeting) as well as some possible strategies the State is considering to reduce public school districts’ unfunded liabilities for PERS. 

The board had a discussion to develop parameters for the 2018-19 calendar development committee.  The only significant change to the parameters (which specify the number of student contact days, inclement weather plans, professional activities, etc.) was that the board gave consensus authorization for district administration to work with JCEA and the calendar committee to develop calendar options that would include two additional Early Release days per trimester (for a total of 6 additional ER days.)  The board asked that the convener of the calendar committee, Tom Endersby, come back to the board with information on how our district’s calendar compares to neighboring districts in terms of number of school days, conference days, early releases or late starts, etc. They also asked Tom and me to convey the expectation that if additional ER days are approved, they must not result in a loss of overall student contact time (which is critically important- in part, given the state’s new “Instructional Hours” and “Fully Scheduled” requirements.).

That is all the news for now, but watch the District website for upcoming events at each of our schools and don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Tiger Auction, Ophelia’s Place Grand Opening, the Rotary Dinner and Auction and the Middle School OBOB tournament.  GO TIGERS!


December 2017
I hope you and yours enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving break.   We have so much to be thankful for as a District and community- our most recent blessing comes in the form of a $330+K grant we were awarded from the Oregon Department of Education!  The “Revitalizing Career and Technical Education (CTE)” grant will allow us to make major facilities and equipment upgrades to our Culinary Arts program at Junction City High School.  We will be able to expand our course offerings in this area, and serve more students in the program. We also will be able to “articulate” some of these courses with Lane Community College so that our students can earn College Now credits.  We will be adding some of our Measure 98 funds to these grant funds in order to complete the revitalization project in a way will lead to further post-secondary options for our students, save families money on college credits, and make our community proud. 

Now, on to news from around our District, followed by a brief overview of last Monday’s (11/27) Board of Directors’ meeting.

During this time of Thanksgiving, the JCHS administration would like to thank our school Board members for their volunteerism and service to our students and staff.  We appreciate the support the Board provides in helping us keep the focus of our decision-making on kids.  We would also like to thank our district leadership team, teachers, and classified staff for the countless ways they provide support for all the students and families in the Junction City community.

At JCHS, we are excited to see walls going up in the new addition construction zone.  Students and staff are now able to visualize the layout of classrooms and offices, and we have had several workshops to discuss how best to furnish all of the classrooms, media center and collaboration spaces. We have started the process of moving books and supplies from the media center in anticipation of the renovation of that space that will take place this spring.  This is an exciting time for JCHS!

The Top Tiger seniors visited the NCU hospital this past week, and saw a significant part of why they are fund raising.  Leadership students are busy preparing for Winter Week, which will take place from December 11th to 15th.  Winter sports have now begun, with the addition of a new Girls' Wrestling team.  Over 25 students were honored at Breakfast of Champions this past Tuesday, with parents present for this important, well-deserved recognition.

Last week was Finals Week, with record-keeping taking place on Friday.  The new trimester kicked off yesterday, December 5th, and students and staff are excited to start the new term.
On a professional development note, JCHS teachers received training on differentiated instruction & assessment on Monday, December 4th.  Linda Vanderford- who also presented to the Oaklea staff a couple years back- spent time sharing a variety of strategies for meeting the needs of all our kids in the classroom.  Teachers have now completed their professional and student learning growth goals for the year, and their goal meetings have been taking place with their school administrators.
Finally- to our community members- we are still looking for ways our students can serve.  We have re-implemented annual volunteer service hours as part of the graduation plan, and appreciate any communication on opportunities to share.  Please call the front office at 541-998-2343, or email an administrator if you would like to pass along information on a volunteer opportunity.

November seemed to fly by at Oaklea! The first half of our Gigabyte grant is winding down and KEZI came to do a story on our students and their work with Digital Storytelling.  Battle of the Books has met again and is continuing to practice for their competition this spring; many thanks to Stacey Johnson for stepping up to replace a retiring Bethel teacher and to take on the role of Regional Middle School OBOB tournament coordinator. Robotics is also still practicing and fine tuning their robots in preparation for their first competition. 

Red Ribbon Week was celebrated at the start of November.  We had a door decoration contest and used celebrity judges Brian Young (dressed in his 70s style) and Officer Jackson.  Those winning doors decorations are hanging in our halls to remind kids to stay away from Drugs and to participate in other positives activities in life.  Mrs. Elstone, Oaklea’s counselor, did a fantastic job of coordinating this event and the students had fun participating. 

Fifth grade is continuing their project on hunger in our community.  In addition- in science class- fifth graders had a project on the interactions between Earth’s spheres.  Some of those fantastic projects are on display in our front trophy cases as you enter our building. 

Sixth grade has taken the ArtCore torch and leads by example to show how to sustain the arts in all classrooms.  Seventh graders continue their Roman theme with Forum simulations.  They will reenact, then debate, historical events from Roman times.  Our eighth graders have been working in science on the engineering process.  Acting as chemical engineers, students have been challenged with designing heat packs for reptile rescue situations.  Title I students made a tricky ABC book to share with the Kindergarteners at Laurel. (A is for pie, because you can make a pie from apples) – and our ELD students made a Spanish ABC book. (A is for grandma because ABUELA means grandma in Spanish).

In middle school sports, football concluded the season undefeated with a record of 7-0.  Oaklea girls’ basketball is about half-way through their season and will end at the December break.  The girls have been successful and competitive in their games and have been representing the school well.  Wrestling has now started practicing with their first match scheduled for today, November 27th at Jefferson Middle School.  A few Cross Country runners have continued to train with Coach Starr, competing in some invitationals and finishing very well.  One of our runners has qualified for nationals.   

November 9th was our Family Fun Night, Western-themed.  The Oaklea Parent Group coordinated the event with many activities, a book fair, and snacks.  We had a great group of participants and judging by the smiles everyone had a wonderful time. 

Oaklea’s Turkey drive was a huge success.  We want to give thanks to the many volunteers who helped with the shopping and coordinating of the food.  Many students helped prepare the boxes and staff members Susie Freeman and Angie Elstone- along with other Parent Group volunteers- kept the fundraiser going.  We raised over $1,500 and were able to help give a full Thanksgiving meal to over 20 families.    

On November 21st Mike Garling and two other representatives from the Rural Schools Network visited our school for the day.  These three observers went throughout the school, sitting in on classrooms, and talking to students and staff about Oaklea.  That day concluded with their group presenting to our staff at our staff meeting many positives, some wonders, and then resources that are available to help us increase our engagement in classrooms.  We will be using our Early Release on Wednesday November 29th to continue improving our engagement strategies in the classroom. 

First trimester came to a close last Thursday, with our record keeping day on Friday December 1st.  We had more professional development on Monday, December 4th that continued our student engagement theme.  The day was full of training that will help propel our students to new achievement levels. 

We have scheduled an assembly for December to reinforce our work with PBIS and making positive choices.  December goes quickly and before we know it we will be in 2018.  Again, we have so much to be thankful for at Oaklea Middle School- great students, great staff, and fantastic community support. 

Territorial’s Annual Food Drive filled the school entrance with boxes of donated, non-perishable food items.  Food donations will be used for baskets that will be distributed to local families through the Goldson Grange and Food for Lane County this holiday season.

The Taste for Territorial Dinner, Art Sale, and Auction was held on November 17th and was a huge success.   This TPA sponsored event brought in over $6,000 and provided an opportunity for students and families to spend time together enjoying food and fellowship.  Attendees enjoyed the displayed art work and engaged in spirited bidding on a variety of donated items including tubing passes at Hoodoo Mountain Resort, gift cards, spa packages, A pair of U of O Men’s Basketball tickets and a wine tasting package to name a few.  Many thanks to the volunteers who worked to put on this fabulous community FUNdraiser as well as those business partners who supported these efforts with their generous donations of goods and services!  

Also, pledges from Territorial’s annual jog-a-thon have been counted, and we are pleased to report that over $5,000 was donated!  As a result of the tireless efforts of our Territorial Parent Association, we are well on our way to generating the substantial funding needed to support our upcoming Outdoor School Activities.

Wednesday, November 22nd, third grade students performed their annual “Reader’s Theater” depicting the First Thanksgiving, followed by a pie social for students and families.  Also, on Wednesday, November 22nd, fifth graders went on a field trip to the movie “Wonder” followed by a visit to the Museum of Natural Cultural History.  The field trip was in conjunction with finishing the book as a class, digging into the life lessons tidbits so beautifully worded by R.J. Palacio, and a science unit from our new Stem Scope curriculum.

As the first trimester came to a close, teachers prepared report cards as well as scheduled parent teacher conferences which took place on the evening of November 30th and throughout the day on December 4th.  This was a great opportunity to make the connections necessary to support student success.  Teachers were planning for 100% turnout this year!

Finally, Mrs. Sisler would like thank Territorial’s dedicated staff and parents for providing an outstanding educational experience for Territorial students. She is grateful for the opportunity to be a part our “Small School with a Big Heart”.

Laurel students raised close to $1500 for our annual Turkey Drive fundraiser.  Because of our community’s generous contributions, we were able to extend the gift of giving and share 31 Thanksgiving meals with Laurel families. What a great way to teach our students about giving, compassion and gratitude. This event- along with the recent cookie dough fundraiser that brought close to $10,000 in proceeds- are great examples of the supportive community we work in. To celebrate the success of the cookie dough fundraiser, students who sold 10+ tubs of cookie dough attended a special assembly and got to silly string Officer Jackson!

Laurel’s staff has developed a plan to keep the Laurel Vision at the center of our work. We took each component of our vision and divided them on the months of the school year and generated ideas of how to teach them to kids. For example, the November/December focus is on “each student is actively engaged.” We teach students that each of them is very important, and every student deserves an equitable learning opportunity. It is especially important to our staff, here at Laurel, to see each student achieving to his/her full potential, no matter who they are or where they come from.

On December 1st, Laurel teachers spent the day working on record keeping. Teachers used student progress information, standard-based report cards, and proficiency scores to keep families informed of their children’s progress. Earlier in November, a team of teachers from Laurel and Territorial met together and updated the elementary report card template to reflect new and advanced reporting standards in all subjects, but particularly in the areas of technology literacy and keyboarding skills.

Laurel teachers spent their December 4th professional development day participating in a series of flash trainings focused on topics teachers identified as areas they would like to receive professional development on. We capitalize on the collective wisdom and genius that lies within the Laurel staff to administer such sessions. During that day, teachers rotated through the selected offerings that are most relevant to them and delivered by their own colleagues. We are happy to use this structure that offers our teachers choice and builds a sustainable model for professional development.

Laurel staff would like to extend an invitation to our community to come join our upcoming Family Fun Nights. Each month we have an event that highlights a certain important aspect of our students’ well-being, education, and over-all success. Coming up tomorrow night, December 7th, Laurel will be hosting the all-time favorite, Lego Night, in addition to the Winter music performance for each grade level. And while all this fun is happening in the building, we will open our book fair in the media center for all families to enjoy.

In District news, our counseling team- facilitated by District School Psychologist  Sue Menen-Jessing and Instructional Coach Erika Vaughn- is working together to develop staff-wide training around trauma informed practices.  The counseling team and I attended a training on this at Lane ESD recently, and the team will be using some of those training resources to help our staff learn to respond effectively with students whose behavior and achievement may be impacted by their life experiences.  Last Tuesday, the counseling team joined me at the Soroptimists’ meeting where we will hear from Darin Dorsey of SASS (Sexual Assault Support Services).   SASS will be having a local presence at Local Aid in JC, where they will staff drop-in services several days each week.

We have teachers from all four of our schools (Leigh Wilcox, Sherrene Kulm, Hilary Bean and Becci Buenea) who will be participating in the Lane STEM/Technology Association of Oregon’s Coder-in-Residence Program.  Our teachers will have the opportunity to meet the NINE female Coders-in-Residence who will be working with 5 different districts to implement their program this January.  Our teachers will receive training and lesson plans from 3 Gigabot Master trainers.  These teachers will work with designated Coders-in-Residence who will then come visit their classrooms in January to work with our students.  Becci also is offering “Introduction to Computer Sciences” courses at the high school this year, and our elementary Lego League and secondary-level Robotics programs are going strong.  We are excited about the many different ways that we are helping Junction City students learn about and prepare for post-secondary options in a variety of STEM industries.  

Now, turning to news from the November board meeting, first on the agenda was “Special Recognition” thank those who helped us deal with the Oaklea power outage that occurred earlier in November.  Monday, November 13th really felt more like a Friday the 13th!  Our middle school staff and students arrived at school to find the building without power.  We initially heard it would be restored shortly after 8 AM, but then learned we would have no power until noon or possible even later that day.  The kids were very excited, but before too long everyone settled down and into their classrooms. 

Oaklea’s office staff, administrators, and custodian Bob Bellinger were absolute rock stars.  They worked together to bring as much light into each of the classrooms as possible, and provided extra supervision for students who needed to leave their classrooms to go to the restroom or other areas of the building. Justin and Joy quickly cobbled together a modified schedule for dismissal to the next class and to stagger dismissal to lunch periods since there were no bells. Jeannie, Mary, and Cherrlyn in the kitchen were amazing- they prepared meals for students despite the fact that they had no ovens, warmers, or kitchen appliances to do so.   Sheila Allred and April Givens from the Oaklea Parent group were on hand and provided tremendous volunteer support.  Several district office staff members spent the day at Oaklea to offer assistance and extra supervision; we used the District PNS system, our websites, and social media to keep Oaklea parents informed.  The power came back on around noon and Oaklea’s sports and evening activities were able to take place as scheduled.

We had a chance to do some debriefing as an administrative team a few days later and worked to identify ways that our response to an outage could be improved, and to encourage our teachers to develop instructional materials and activities that could be used in their classrooms should this happen again at Oaklea or elsewhere in the District. Our maintenance director also purchased a large supply of battery operated lanterns that will be kept in the shop and checked out to whichever building might need them in the future.  

Special recognition also was offered in honor of National School Psychologists week (November 13th and 17th). We are lucky to have Oregon’s best school psychologist, Dr. Sue Menen-Jessing, working for the students, staff, and families of Junction City. Her contributions to our District are countless, and are deeply appreciated.

Those in attendance at the meeting also enjoyed hearing from Student Representative to the Board, Melanie Handby.  Melanie shared out about activities at JCHS, including the Leadership program’s upcoming “Winter Week” festivities. The Board was also pleased to hear that the Debate Team is up and running and the participants- including Melanie- are having great success.

The board also appreciated hearing from District Athletic/Activities Director Craig Rothenberger. Craig spoke with the board about a new, NFL-sponsored character education and coaches training program known as the “Inside-Out Coaching” program. Craig is working with the Oregon Athletic Directors’ Association, and hopefully the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators as well, to bring this program to Oregon.   

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm deChase Miksis who also reported out for the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).  That team provided highlights from the November CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. Also discussed were the efforts underway to coordinate other summer bond projects for student safety and security in all four of our schools, as well as coordinating projects and budgets related to the seismic grant for Oaklea and energy savings funds projects that we will be undertaking throughout the District.  

With respect to action items at the Board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of October 23rd Board meeting.  They also approved a parenting leave of absence for Oaklea Middle School math teacher Aaron Thorton.

The board also acted to approve Resolution 2017-18 #14 which authorized the issuance and negotiated sale of a financing agreement in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $1,569,052; designating an authorized representative; authorizing the execution and delivery of such financing agreement and related matter.  This pertained to financing of our ESCO (Energy and Water Conservation savings projects); the debt for this financing will be paid from annual savings on energy costs, which are guaranteed by the vendor, Ameresco. 

The Board will convene for a Special Board Meeting on December 14th to have a public hearing about employing a CMGC (Construction Manager/General Contractor) for the summer 2018 Bond Projects.  Until next time, enjoy the beautiful autumn weather, and GO TIGERS! 


October 2017
I hope you have been enjoying our beautiful Fall weather- and I also hope the weather stays nice for tomorrow afternoon’s JCHS Women’s Soccer playoff game against Valley Catholic!  Our Lady Tigers were undefeated and named Sky-Em League Champions for the second year in a row!  Tomorrow’s kick-off will be at 3 PM on the JCHS Varsity Soccer Field; student tickets are $4 each, and adult tickets are $6. 

The October 2017 edition of the JCSD Schools Update is full of information about what has been happening- and what is coming up- at each of our schools.  The Update also provides information about what happened at last Monday’s board meeting.

Territorial students enjoyed a wonderful Harvest Festival last week! Thanks to the many TES parents and volunteers whose dedication, creativity, and willingness to step in and make things happen is truly inspiring.  Territorial may be growing, but it is still our “small school with a big heart”.
Last month, students had the opportunity to create and design ceramic projects with Andrea DiPalma Yansane, an Artist in Residence with the Lane Art Council.   A big thanks to Ms. Peterman and Mr. Gift for their generous donation to make that happen, as well as to the Lane Arts Council who awarded us with a grant of almost $800 to cover the remaining cost of the program.    During this program, students learned about basic hand-building techniques such as pinch pot, coil, clay sculpting methods, and adding attachments to sculptural and pottery forms to make unique and creative projects that included animal sculptures as well as pots with removable lids.  Students also learned about all of the stages in the ceramics process from digging clay out of the earth, to firing it in a hot kiln, to how to best create pieces that will be used daily in their homes.
Finally, students learned about glazing and under glazing, texture, and pattern use which helped students finish their pieces with a unique self-expressive flare! Kids were engaged and inspired by having their hands in clay everyday throughout the residency working independently and as a group with Andrea’s individual attention. Students gained an understanding of three dimensional design techniques and color theory while developing their own ideas and styles by completing these kid-tested clay projects. Additionally, students benefited by learning how to use tools safely and effectively, and how to troubleshoot ceramic issues that arose, as well as how to talk about their work critically.
While conferences took place last week in some of our other schools, Territorial’s Parent/Teacher conferences will be held at the conclusion of the first trimester in December.  By conferencing in December- with completed report cards in hand- teachers will have the ability to not only speak to the standards of achievement expected for each grade level, but also provide detailed information about current student progress toward those standards.  Also at conferences, teachers of 4th and 5th grade students will share individual student score reports from last spring’s Smarter Balanced Assessments as well as an overview of our school data from those same state assessments.

Open House 2017 was a huge success at Laurel. We received lots of positive feedback from parents about the many improvements to Laurel’s exterior and playground. Parents have also given positive feedback about our new teacher additions with great emphasis on their positive energy and passion for kids.

Last week, all Laurel teachers hosted parent-teacher conferences. Students and their families had the opportunity to review students’ progress thus far and take time to set goals and discuss future growth. For families’ convenience, Laurel teachers worked from 8:00am to 8:00pm on October 26th to allow those families who may only be available in the evening to participate in such an important part of the crucial family-school partnership.  We appreciate our teachers’ dedication and commitment to family engagement, which is such a vital part of student success.
This Fall, we have been practicing safety drills to emphasize safety procedures for a variety of scenarios. Fostering a safe learning environment is at the core of the Laurel’s vision and we have focused on teaching this concept throughout the month of October, and will continue to do so in the months to come. In addition to fire, earthquake, lockdown/lockout, and evacuation drills, we teach students that social-emotional safety is also important. We talk about friendship, compassion, and caring for one another. We explain that a safe learning environment is the right of each and every student and that we are all responsible to make sure we contribute to such environment.   We invite our community to support us in all of the aforementioned aspects to build a strong partnership that will only help strengthen our kids, our school, and our community.
The Laurel Parent Group held a very successful cookie dough fundraising event the past few weeks; 45% of the proceeds will directly benefit the students at Laurel. Students who sell 10 or more packs of cookie dough will be silly stringing officer Jackson in a school assembly. This is a huge incentive to students, and they are counting down to the day they will get to enjoy this fun activity.

Finally, everyone is invited to participate in the Harvest Spirit Day, tomorrow, October 31st. All students and staff are encouraged to dress up in Harvest-themed costumes and show Fall spirit. We invite you to join us in this fun celebration.

We are now into our second month of school and Oaklea’s new schedule is creating even greater opportunities for our students; the move from 2 to 3 lunch periods has allowed us to use the gyms during raining day recess which has been awesome. Rotations in the art room for the ArtCore program is allowing all students the opportunity to create.  We are so thankful for the opportunities the grant has brought to our building over the years; the best part is the sustainability it offers by helping teachers develop the skills to weave art into their subject matter for years to come, impacting even more students in the future. 

Currently, 32 Oaklea students are signed up for OBOB (Oregon Battle of the Books), which might be a record.  The Robotics club also has been practicing and getting ready for their first set of competitions.    Our Gigabyte grant started last week; students are going to use multiple media sources to create “myths” similar to those of the ancient Greeks.     

Fifth grade is working on grade level project around hunger in our community.  As part of that project the entire fifth grade group traveled to Eugene to experience the Grass Roots Gardens.  Students helped out and learned about how much food is produced and then dispersed through Food for Lane County.  Sixth graders went on their Forest Field Day trips and lucked out with great weather and a great appreciation for the outdoors and how to do their part to help our natural habitats stay healthy and productive. Seventh grade is working on a video project where to reenact the founding of Rome.  Students are working in groups, performing parts in their videos.  Eighth grade just started their colony project, looking into how life was in the early formations of our nation.

Oaklea had its first dance on Friday, October 20th; the dance had a costume theme, but costumes were not required.  In sports, volleyball concluded with players competing hard and growing both individually and as teammates.  They didn’t win every match, but almost all matches were very close and the team spirit was great.  Cheer has wrapped up for the fall, but is getting ready for the winter sports season; wrestling is just about to begin as well.  Girls’ basketball has just started and will continue into December.  Football has three games left and currently undefeated.  Cross Country is winding down after having their district meet on Thursday October 19th.  Many runners have either set personal records this year or broken the school record.  We have a great group of runners and Oaklea also has an outstanding Cross Country and Track Coach, Jeff Starr.  Congratulations to Coach Starr who won the USATF Coach of the Year award for Oregon!

Last week and through the end of October Oaklea will be celebrating Red Ribbon Week.  School Counselor Angie Elstone is working with the PBIS team to plan some fun activities as well as educational lessons geared towards keeping kids away from drugs.

On Tuesday, October 24th, Oaklea had Health Screening. The Oaklea Parent Group coordinated numerous volunteers to help Nurse Carol facilitate the smooth operation of this valuable event.  October 24th was also our first Site Council meeting.  We’ve invited classified, licensed, admin, and parents to get involved and have had a positive response to the opportunity. Contact Principal Corey if you would like more information.

Oaklea’s parent teacher conferences took place last week, on October 25th and 26th.  We really appreciate the two very long days the teachers put in to provide opportunities for busy working parents to schedule their conferences after work hour, and we know our parents appreciated this too!

October could almost be considered a safety month as we’ve worked hard to train both students and staff on how to be safe in numerous situations.  Oaklea was part of the statewide earthquake drill- The Great Shake Out- on October 19th (10:19 on 10/19).  Teams discussed with students the proper techniques to stay safe in the case of an earthquake.  Our staff has been trained by Nurse Carol on Blood Borne Pathogens.  Our SRO Ken Jackson also provided training on Cross-Walk Safety and student and staff responses to Lock Outs and Lock Downs. 

We’ve been working with our staff on our evaluation process, and have tweaked the informal observation form to reflect and tie in our work on engagement in the classroom.  Our goal is to continuously bring our professional development training back into each aspect of our day with a focus on how it can help our students. 

Oaklea’s vision is to become the Top Middle School in Lane County.  We are continuing to use our Team Meeting, Team Rep approach to further bolster that vision and to make sure that everyone at Oaklea is “all in”.  While we are pleased with the most recent report card which scored Oaklea at what would be an upper level 4 school, we are not satisfied.  We are currently in discussion with our staff on our vision and how best to reach our goal.  The use of Extended Learning Opportunities in targeted interventions is one reason we increased our report card rating by nearly 10% from the year before!

October has been an eventful month at JCHS.  All sophomores and many of our juniors took the PSAT on Oct 11th.  Freshmen participated in team-building and career exploration activities with TEAM teachers, and seniors worked with TEAM teachers on finalizing grad plans and community service obligations.  We are reestablishing community service hours as a requirement for graduation, and will be working with the local Chamber of Commerce, service organizations, and any interested party from our JC community to provide our students multiple opportunities to serve others.

Our first Latino Family Night was held on Oct 4th, with numerous parents and kids coming to campus to eat a catered dinner together, and learn more about high school opportunities, and community resources.  We were excited to have a tremendous turnout.  Deepest appreciation to Nelson Rosales, owner of the Rodeo Bar and Grill, for preparing and donating the dinner for the event!!

Our entire freshmen class participated in the Lane County Career Fair on Oct 12th.  Students met with various business groups, and some even participated in mock interviews.  Mr. Young heard tremendous feedback from the panelists who mentioned that JC students were some of the most marketable and respectful in comparison to all of the county students represented.  Several may have even been offered jobs if they were older than 14!

Fall Conferences took place last week, and midterm grades have been mailed out.  Our girls’ soccer team just wrapped up an undefeated regular season, and were named Sky-Em League Champions for the second year in a row; please come to tomorrow’s playoff game at JCHS Varsity Soccer Field, with kickoff at 3 PM.  Boys soccer ended their season with an exciting 3-2 upset at Sisters, which was the first win there in years.  Cross Country is preparing for the district meet, and volleyball finished their season this week with an energetic senior night.  Our football team had a great win against Sisters on senior night; they traveled to Henley for a playoff game on Friday night and sadly, that is where their season ended.  We would also like to thank our cheerleaders for their amazing support and spirit throughout homecoming week and the entire fall sports season.

As part of the high school’s professional development program, teachers received training last Thursday morning specifically related to differentiating our instruction and challenging TAG students with enrichment opportunities in class; our JCHS teachers were engaged and appreciative of this opportunity to learn more about ways to inspire and education students of ALL skill levels.  Teachers also are working on building our career-related lessons for TEAM classes as we enter November.  Teachers are completing their student growth and professional goals as well.

At their most recent “A Team” meeting, District administrators were joined by our SRO Ken Jackson and 2 other representatives from the JCPD to hear from Dominique Millette of the Oregon State Police. Dominique was there to provide our administrative team with training in the new “Safe Oregon” Statewide School Safety Tip Line.  This tool will be available to our District free of charge and we will receive some materials to help share the program with our staff, students, and community.  JCHS Co-principal Brian Young is taking the lead on this initiative, and will be working with our school psychologist, Dr. Sue Menen-Jessing, to develop a staff training program in the use of the tip line, as well as making sure our staff is aware of our District’s threat assessment protocol and our crisis response team. 

Additionally, Dr. Sue and District Instructional Coach Erika Vaughn will be working with our District counseling staff and the Lane ESD to plan all staff development around trauma-informed practices.  The counseling team, along with building administrators, also will have training in “Forensic Interviewing” for child abuse cases; that training will be offered in early November and will be free, thanks to the Kids First organization. 

In other District news, we are thrilled to name Laurel fourth grade teacher, Leigh Wilcox, as the Junction City Distinguished Educator of the year. Mrs. Wilcox spent her entire educational career shaping the personalities and future of Junction City children. She has a unique ability to influence the minds of children in an incredibly positive way (including one of my own children!); she also has served as a teacher leader and has made many contributions to the teaching profession by mentoring new educators.  Especially noteworthy is Leigh’s ability to build a tight, loving, well developed classroom community, where each and every student is able to thrive in their own unique way. She is profoundly worthy of recognition and appreciation.

At the Chamber Awards dinner on November 9th, we also will be honoring this year’s Jim Paull Youth Service Award winner, Elizabeth Contreras Sanchez.  Elizabeth has been a four-year member of the JCHS Social Justice League; she was instrumental in the production of last year’s school-wide tolerance documentary, “Voices of Hate, Voices of Hope” and has been a leader for the JCHS-Laurel elementary student mentor program.  Elizabeth is ranked 2nd in her class with a 3.9 GPA; she has participated in the “Med Splash” program for aspiring healthcare professionals, and works two jobs outside of school.  She demonstrates grace, selflessness, and service to others- it would be impossible to identify a more deserving student for this award.

Now, turning to news from the October 23rd Board meeting...  First on the agenda was “Special Recognition” to honor Jeannie McDermott, one of Laurel’s amazing teachers!  Jeannie is incredibly dedicated and talented, and serves Laurel’s students with disabilities; she also provides tremendous support to parents and families, and shares her extensive expertise and insights with her colleagues.

The Board also offered thanks to JCHS Co-principal Dina Marschall and Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Leslie Lucier; they worked diligently to develop a proposal that if funded, would enable us to make significant improvements to our culinary arts classroom so that we can revitalize that program by opening up more spaces to serve students, as well as expanding our program offerings to be more aligned with the post-secondary options available in that field. 

We also are in partnership with the Lane ESD on another CTE revitalization grant, one that would establish a consortium among Lane County School districts to further develop robotics and drone technology for application in a variety of industries and careers.  Finally, we are working with the ESD, LCC and others on a state “Promise Grant” that, if funded, would provide extensive professional development and curriculum support to our high school teachers, as well as align many of our high school courses with college courses so that our students would have the opportunity to earn even more “dual credit” than they currently do.

I offered deepest appreciation to the Board members and community members who responded by writing letters of support for these grants, despite the very quick turnaround time required. Fingers crossed that we are successful with all- or at least some- of these grant applications so that Junction City students will have even more opportunities to get prepared for a bright and successful future.

Those in attendance at the meeting also enjoyed hearing from Student Representative to the Board, Melanie Handby.  Melanie shared out about activities at JCHS, including the Leadership program’s upcoming “Gourd-O-Gram” fundraiser happening tomorrow. The Board was also pleased to hear that the Leadership students and already hard at work organizing their holiday food drive and other fun and community-service oriented events.
Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm deChase Miksis who also reported out for the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).  That team provided highlights from the October CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. As you can now see when driving by the high school west wing, the addition is now “out of the ground”!  The walls are being constructed and the building’s footprint is now readily apparent. Please check out the District website for updated information, construction photos, and a really cool time-lapse video of the construction.  

With respect to action items at the Board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of September 25th Board meeting.  They also approved a parenting leave of absence for Junction City High School counselor Courtney Madsen.  Additionally, the Board approved the submittal of the Lane ESD Transit Dollar request for FY 2018-19, and approved the calendar for the 2018-19 budget preparations. 

At the conclusion of their regular meeting, the Board entered into Executive Session to discuss labor relations; they came back into open session and unanimously approved the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Board and the Teachers’ Association, JCEA. The agreement will be effective upon Association Members’ ratification of the agreement, and will be in effective until June 30th, 2019.  We appreciate the collaborative efforts of the JCEA and District bargaining team members that led to a fair and amicable agreement for the parties.

The Board’s next meeting will be held on Monday, November 27th at 6 PM in the District Office Board room.  Until next time, enjoy the beautiful autumn weather, and GO TIGERS!


September 2017
Autumn has truly arrived; football season is in full swing, Open Houses have taken place at all our schools and parent-teacher conferences are right around the corner.  The September 2017 edition of the JCSD Schools Update is full of information about what has been happening- and what is coming up- at each of our schools.  The Update also provides information about what happened at last Monday’s board meeting.

Before launching into each school’s report, I would like to ask our staff, parents and community members to join me in expressing appreciation for Project Hope, and to specifically thank the following individuals, groups, and businesses for their amazing donations toward Project Hope.  The project brought countless school supplies, clothing, shoes, and even haircuts to our Junction City students, and also assisted in beautifying all 4 of our campuses for staff & student arrival.  Also, we would like to shout out a huge thank you to Project Hope for our newly refinished gravel parking lot at the West Wing of JCHS.  This project depended on numerous business and churches that donated time, monetary funding, or even food for the volunteers:
Willamette Christian Center
Christ's Center Church
Life Bible Church
King's Grace Fellowship
Abby's Pizza
Papa Murphy's
Eugene Sand & Gravel
City of Junction City
We would like to specifically thank Janell Wallis of Christ’s Center for spearheading the gravel lot project.  She was determined and tireless in her effort to see this project through.  Her work is deeply appreciated!  Eugene Sand & Gravel construction provided an unbelievable donation of labor and equipment, totaling an estimated $3000! An anonymous driver from Eugene Sand and Gravel donated his time to do all the labor.  Rexius donated the use of their water truck for settling after the initial grading.

The City of Junction City donated the water used for the project.
The Project Hope contributors donated the new gravel, valued at close to $1000.
Mark Christensen of Rexius, a JCHS alum ran point on the lot project. 
The total estimated cost of the project was right around $5000.  This donation went above and beyond our expectations, and truly was a shining example of a community coming together to make this an even easier construction year for our staff, students, and athletic spectators.  We are truly thankful to all involved!

JCHS students and staff celebrated a wonderful homecoming week.  Leadership students kicked off the week with an all-school assembly with class relays, spirit competitions, announcement of Homecoming court, and recognition of fall sport athletes.  The Noise Parade and class activities at Peden Field took place on Wednesday, Sept 27th, with the football game and halftime events happening on Friday, Sept. 29th.  Homecoming week was highlighted by our own Tiger alum, Justin Wilcox, returning to coach his Cal Bears against the Oregon Ducks.  The Pac-12 network was on the JCHS campus to do a feature story on Justin's high school roots, including interviews with Coach Mark Henderson, Craig Rothenberger, and former teammates.
The network ran the story during the pregame of the Cal Bears vs. UO Ducks game and it was a wonderful showcase for JCHS!

Junction City High School staff worked collaboratively to revamp our Wednesday schedule.  Teacher Access is now in a separate time frame, allowing students to check in with teachers first thing in the morning.  TEAM period has become a class that focuses on mentorship with a special focus on college and career readiness.  Our freshmen who participated in the Summer Bridge program will continue to work in the same TEAM with Liz Henderson.  Special thanks to Liz- as well as Chris and Liz Bolton- for their work to develop career-related lessons and activities throughout the school year.  We will also be re-introducing required community service hours for our sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  We will be providing ample opportunities for our students to give back to the JC community and strengthen our connections with our local businesses and other district patrons.

Thus far, our high school staff and students have embraced our emphasis on patience and flexibility with the new building construction underway.  The pathway between the east and west wings has already been rerouted twice, and the student body has been great about walking longer distances; thanks to our facilities department and the general contractor for their efforts to communicate clearly, early and often regarding any changes to travel routes around campus. 

Fall sports teams, including volleyball, football, cross country, and boys’ and girls’ soccer are now deep into Sky-Em league play. Our athletes are competing well and making us proud that that they represent our high school and district. Our girls’ soccer team is getting some press for their thus-far undefeated league season.
The JCHS Site Council had their first meeting of the year on October 4th and we are very interested in adding new parents and community members.  October 11th is PSAT Day, and Fall Conferences will be held on the evening of October 12th. 

In District News, we will be working with the Lane ESD to develop a consortium grant proposal for the new round of CTE revitalization grants.  We will be partnering with a number of other districts to develop a program of study that will focus on developing courses for “Automated Control Systems Technology” as it relates to Forestry, Firefighting, Natural Resources, Sustainable Agriculture. If funded, the grant would provide professional development support and start up curriculum and materials for participating districts. Our District also will be applying for our own grant to revitalize our Culinary Arts program with an emphasis on Farm to Table approaches.  We are very excited about these possible opportunities for our students.

Finally, in spectacular news, our 2017 ACT profile report showed that for the first time Junction City High school students who took the ACT exceeded state and national scores in ALL 5 subject areas and our collective composite score was nearly 2 points higher than the state average!

Territorial has had a fantastic start to the 2017-2018 school year.  Everyone has enjoyed getting to know our new families, both at the TPA meet-and-greet as well as at parent drop-off and pick-up each day.  The TPA worked hard to organize refreshments for Open House, which took place this past Thursday, September 28th, from 6-8pm; the book fair was also open from 6:00 to 7:30pm that evening. 

It's very clear that Territorial’s ever-involved and supportive parent group is off and running this year!  The TPA will be sponsoring an all-school Harvest Party on the afternoon of October 20th, with the Taste of Territorial spaghetti feed and art show scheduled to take place on November 17th at the Long Tom Grange. 

Coming to Territorial soon is Garden Club, LEGO Club, OBOB and Yearbook.  Students in Garden Club will be harvesting fruits and vegetables, viewing compost material through a microscope, and identifying micro-organisms that live within the compost material; club members also will winterize both garden spaces, as well as participate in a variety of garden related games and activities.  Students in LEGO Club will be presented with a weekly LEGO challenge, providing opportunities for small groups to learn about and demonstrate a variety of skills related to teamwork, creativity and sportsmanship.  At the conclusion of each club meeting, LEGO creations will be collected and displayed in the hallway for the week.   In addition to LEGO club, we will have a Lego League Robotics team.  The Robotics team will learn about programming robots to complete predetermined tasks and challenges.  These students will compete in a LEGO League tournament in December.  Oregon Battle of the Books and Yearbook activities will also be getting underway shortly. We are excited to offer so many enriching opportunities to students and we recognize that this would not be possible without our dedicated volunteers. 

Territorial classroom teachers and students are loving their increased P.E. time.  Fifth grade has been all smiles while learning to tap dance.  Mrs. Sisler also got to participate in PE warm-ups which consist of various exercises such as burpees and planks.  Other classes are diving into our new Achieve P.E. curriculum by teaching students “travel” vocabulary such as dodge and flee, which they then practice through several different tag games.   In October, we will be focusing on kicking and dribbling. 

Our Fall Easy CBM benchmark testing will be wrapping up early next month, with staff coming together for a school-wide data meeting on October 17th.  We will be looking at student scores in both Math and Reading, identifying strategies and planning for interventions to support student growth and enrichment.  We continue to be really excited about the turnaround in math scores and achievement over the past few years and will focus on continuing to identify the best resources and strategies to elicit similar outcomes in reading going forward.

The first three weeks of school have been wonderful at Laurel; our students were very eager to start yet another year filled with fun and lots of learning. We kicked the year off with a focus on our Laurel vision and an emphasis on our growth culture. We believe that through nurturing a growth mindset and culture, our school will have a significant positive impact on students’ achievement and on staff members’ self-efficacy and belief in their ability to be effective educators.

Laurel is an exceptional place because of the support, warmth and compassion of the school community and the community at large. Our staff members understand that their role is not to simply teach our children how to read and write, but also to help them develop emotionally and socially. As such, the entire Laurel staff is engaging in studying and implementing a new social/emotional curriculum called “Zones of Regulation”. We are training staff in increments during early release hours and staff meetings, and they are implementing the lessons as they learn them.

Laurel staff used in-service week to learn about Trauma informed care and to explore some tools to assist teachers in helping students overcome challenges at school. The staff at Laurel understands that this is a long journey that will require patience, reflection and the willingness to adapt old thinking into best practices that align with what we know about the human brain and the learning process.

We celebrated International Dot Day on Thursday, September 28th, which was also our Back-to-School Night. All staff and students engaged to "make our mark" and “Be The Difference!” and everyone was invited to wear dots to commemorate the day.  International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009. The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe. We invited all of Laurel’s community to wear dot-filled outfits on our Back-to-School Night and to view an art gallery of our students’ “marks” or “Dot,” that lined the halls of Laurel Elementary School. At the Open House, attendees also got the chance to hear from teachers about their plans for the year including information on curriculum, field trips, programs and much more.

Professional development continues to be a focus at Laurel. During the month of September, teachers engaged in professional development in the area of math and ELA. Consultant Teresa Leuallen spent half a day with each grade level team to examine students’ data, pinpoint areas of growth and devise plans to address them. In addition, our teachers are planning to spend some team time planning and exploring PE curriculum. Rebecca Smith will join this training and share some ideas she implemented at TES; we are looking forward to learning from her. Due to these PD opportunities, teachers report a sense of accomplishment and a readiness to tackle instruction with much more confidence.

The new school year kicked off with a new schedule and many huge smiles walking through the door.  We have changed our schedule this year to having three lunches rather than two and it has helped to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at one time.  Our new schedule also allows us to have use of the main gym for all three lunches so we have a space for students to run and burn off energy during those rainy day lunches.  We still have a system in the schedule for offering students ELO (Extended Learning Opportunities) and Enrichments.  Through the use of enrichments, students are getting opportunities like Lifetime Fitness, Ted Talks, Debate, and Journaling.  Students will rotate through Enrichments by grade which means more exposure to multiple subjects and topics.  The new schedule also has added other class opportunities for 7th and 8th graders during the day, which has helped with class size.  Creative writing, Music Math and More, Movies and Culture, Oregon, and Global Issues are adding some variation to the day while supporting the core classes as well. 

On the topic of Enrichments, Oaklea was informed recently that we are the recipients of another grant, the Mozilla Gigabit Fund, which will pay for 10 weeks of Video Storytelling. During our Enrichment time, two different groups of 7th and 8th graders will work for five weeks on video, photo, and sound editing to create digital stories.  Once completed, the students will upload their stories to the web where other grant-receiving schools can view them.  There will be two, five week sessions, so this grant will support 80 students over the course of the ten weeks.

Several weeks ago, Oaklea hosted Jake Steinfeld of “Body by Jake” and the Governors’ Council on Physical Fitness, Governor Kate Brown, representatives from Coke and Nike, and many other leaders from the community.  All these great people were in our building for the ribbon cutting ceremony for our new Fitness Center!  The large gym was full of students and staff along with guests for an amazing celebration of the Don’t Quit grant.  The fitness grant is just one of many grants Oaklea has received in the last five years.  We are very grateful for the opportunity to provide every student with access this space to increase health, fitness, confidence and concentration in the classroom.  Again, an enormous thank you to Chris Surface, Raquel Cope, and Betsy Wolfston, who were instrumental in Oaklea being selected as one of only three schools in Oregon out of over 150 who applied. 

That same day was also Oaklea’s Open House, which was great timing with the ribbon cutting of the new Fitness Center.  Students and parents were able to tour the new facility as well as all other classrooms.  Once again, our Parent Group organized hotdogs, chips, cookies, and water for all families attending.  We cooked 350 hot dogs!  Students and their parents, grandparents, or guardians made their way through a mini schedule, visiting each Team or period for 10 minutes.  It is always great to meet families and see the students showing off our school and the projects they are working on in their classrooms.

Fall sports have kicked off and the Oaklea Tigers are competing well.  Football has had the jamboree at Pleasant Hill, Cross Country was at Santiam and did fantastic, and Volleyball has had a couple of matches so far both home and away.  Student athletes are representing Oaklea well with their competition and their sportsmanship. 

Our first early release took place on September 27th.  Oaklea used the time in two parts.  The first part was professional development with emphasis on engagement in the classroom; this was a leading response to the survey given to teachers on what professional development is most needed.  The second part of the time was used to bring in Marilyn Olson from the University of Oregon to discuss with staff the Academic Wellness Survey Oaklea students took late last spring, and the implications of those results for teaching.  It is our belief that with increased student engagement will come fewer behavioral issues in the classroom along with increased academic growth and success. 

Oaklea is implementing Grade-level Team meetings on the first Tuesday of the month along with Grade-level representative meetings the second Tuesday.  This has really helped our staff meetings, held on the third Tuesday, go smoothly and efficiently.  Oaklea’s first staff meeting of the year was held on September 19th and covered goals and evaluation systems for the school year. 

As far as Oaklea events in October, our first Care Team meeting was held on October 2nd and the first PBIS meeting on the 4th.  Both of these groups will be working in harmony to help support students who are struggling or might need some extra help, while giving incentives and rewards to all students making great choices.  Statewide Inservice Day is coming up on Friday October 13th, and will be a non-student day, as well as a non-contract (no work) day for all of our staff.  Health screening will be October 24th.  Progress reports will be coming out the second week of October in preparation for conferences at the end of the month.  Needless to say, it’s been a fantastic month to be an Oaklea Tiger!

Now, turning to news from the September 25th board meeting...  First on the agenda was “Special Recognition” to swear in the Board’s 2017-18 Student Representative, Melanie Hanby. Melanie will attend each month’s meeting and while she won’t be a voting member of the board, she will no doubt keep the board well-informed about the happenings at the high school this year.

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm DeChase Miksis who also reported out for the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).  That team provided highlights from the September CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. It was a super busy summer for bond activity, with lots of great improvements being made at Territorial, Laurel and JCHS.   Excitement about the high school addition is growing, especially now that the concrete footings have been poured, and the construction will be moving “above ground”.

With respect to action items at the board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the rescheduled Board Meeting that was held on August 30th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  They also a parenting leave of absence for Oaklea Middle School teacher Rachel Harrenstein.

The board also had a number of discussion items, including a report out about our new JC Online program- presented by program coordinator Linda Jackson and Co-Principal for JCHS, Brian Young, a review of 2016-17 standardized assessment scores, a report out from the Regional OSBA meeting, and financial and student enrollment updates. 

The board’s next meeting will be held on Monday, October 23rd at 6 PM in the District Office board room.  Until next time, enjoy the beautiful autumn weather, and GO TIGERS!


The May 2017 JCSD Update
is full of news about upcoming events, and also includes an overview from the Board’s May 22nd meeting. Also attached with this Update is my 2017-18 Budget Message from the May 8th budget committee meeting.

Congratulations to Junction City High School’s 2017 Top Tigers – Jacob Reyes and Maddie Smucker. The annual fundraiser generated more than $14,200 for JC Local Aid, the Children’s Miracle Network, and the JCHS Associated Student Body.

On April 26, the JCHS documentary film, Voices of Hate – Voices of Hope, was shown at an assembly in the West Wing Gym. Social Justice League students emceed the event and provided open mic time for students to offer their thoughts and reactions. Interest is growing from local churches to share the video with their congregations as a way to advance the conversations of empathy and equity in the broader community.  The video was also featured at last week’s Social Justice League Film Festival, and was very well received and thought-provoking.

On April 27, JCHS conducted the 2017 Talent Show under the direction of Mara Liechty and Linda Jackson. Vocalist Bella Motes took 1st place, Ryan Sherman took 2nd with a guitar solo. 

The Empty Bowls fundraiser held at the JCHS gym in early May generated nearly $1,300 for the Junction City Soroptimists’ Bunches of Lunches program. Musical acts included students from Laurel & Oaklea, the JCHS Talent Show winners, and the U of O’s acapella group, Mind the Gap. A female barbershop quartet group also included JCHS music teacher Mara Leichty. The ceramic bowls- created by Bob Lee’s art students- were beautiful, and the soups- created by Leslie Lucier’s culinary arts students- were so delicious that patrons have been begging for the recipes!

Special thanks to JC Fire and Police for staging “Operation Prom” at Peden Field on May 4th. ASB leadership and Laura Lemhouse acted out the scene of a prom night accident involving an impaired student driver. Special thanks to presenters Crystal Riley, retired JCPD officer Brian Patterson, and Fire Chief Brandon Nichol, as well as ASB President Caitlyn Victor for her convincing portrayal of shock, grief, and anger as an innocent survivor. The prom itself was a drama-free, incident-free success. 

Parent-Teacher Conferences were held May 11 from 4:30 to 7:30pm, approximately 95 students were represented by parents at the conference.  Slides from Linda Jackson’s digital photography class and photos taken by Liz Henderson’s yearbook students were presented and guests enjoyed cookies and juice courtesy of Leslie Lucir’s Baking and Pastry class.

Spring Athletics have met with great success this season.   JC Softball won its first league title in more than 25 years and hosted a first round playoff game in the State Tournament on May 24th. JC Baseball won a play-in game at Molalla in extra innings for a State Tournament berth last week as well. Tennis sent two doubles teams to the State Tournament at Oregon State, and Lady Tigers Maddy Melbrecht and Gabby Martinez took 2nd place in state in doubles!  16 Tigers represented JC in Track & Field at the OSAA 4A State Championships at Hayward Field.  On the women’s side, Shayla Solomon took 2nd in the 800 meters.  Our men’s team also performed very well, with Brandon Land earning a second place in the high jump and 7th overall in the triple jump.  Jake Rogers took 5th place in the 200 meters. And for the first time in a long time, our Tigers earned a State Championship title when our 4 x 100 meter team- comprised of Josiah Starr, Tanner Crane, Brandon Land and Jake Rogers took first place in that event. 

Also, a reminder that commencement for the class of 2017 will take place on Saturday, June 10th, at 2 PM at Bill Peden stadium.  Our board members are asked to let JCHS head secretary Sonya Bennett, and high school registrar Alison Hellwege, know if they are able to attend.  JCSD staff are invited to sit in a special staff seating section on the field, and to give their well wishes to the many students whose lives have been touched by your work.  Please join us!

At Oaklea, we started the month of May with a shout-out to our teachers during their Appreciation Week.  We celebrated with loads of calories: staff breakfast made by the office team, two lunches put on by the Oaklea Parent Group, and other treats to express our appreciation for the amazing work our teachers do for kids; we have deep appreciation for all our Oaklea teachers, and we extended this thanks to the entire staff as well.

This month, most of our students completed an Academic Wellness survey coordinated by the U of O.  This survey will give us essential data uncovering some of the barriers students face in regard to engagement in classes, attendance, connections to school, and academic achievement.  Several of our teachers have asked to join the data analyses process with the university.  This work will be done throughout the summer and into the fall. The information gleaned- particularly from Oaklea’s 8th graders- will be very helpful for high school class forecasting, and will also be of value for those who participate in the Summer Bridge Program to ease their transition into high school.

Our 6th grade students just completed their 15th annual trip to Newport for oceanography study, an Aquarium visit, and bonding time as a class.  We would like to thank the numerous parent volunteers who joined us for chaperoning during the trips.  Our 8th grade band students are off to Seattle today and tomorrow with Mr. McReynolds and volunteer supporters, including board chair Wendy Waddell and her husband Matt.

Last week, five Division 1 athletes from the U of O came to Oaklea to talk with students about such topics as goal setting, the importance of doing well in middle and high school, developing respect for one another, and things kids can be doing to prepare for college.  We had two football players, a golfer, and two women's lacrosse athletes with us.

Last Thursday, May 25th, many of our 8th graders stayed after school for the annual "Welcome to JCHS" event.  High school club advisors and coaches set up tables in the cafeteria to introduce the opportunities our incoming freshmen will have at JCHS.  Thanks to Athletic Director Craig Rothenberger and high school staff for coming over to Oaklea, and also bringing ice cream to welcome the students.

Finally, Oaklea’s report would not be complete without extending praise for our Oaklea track coaches and volunteers.  1/6 of our student body competed in track this season, and the both girls’ and the boys’ teams finished 3rd in District.  Most importantly, Jeff Starr, Chris Surface, and Shannon McAdams are teaching and modeling the core values student-athletes will need to thrive at the high school and beyond.  We are so fortunate to have such fabulous role models for our students!

May started out with Teacher Appreciation Week, and it was clear that Territorial Teachers are truly appreciated.  In addition to an “appreciation station” where students were given the opportunity to write notes of appreciation throughout the week, teachers were on the receiving end of fun and yummy treats each day of the week. They also received beautiful potted flowers from the Territorial Parent Association and enjoyed a catered lunch courtesy of the classified staff.  It was really heart-warming to see the Territorial community bless our teachers in this way.

State assessments for Territorial 3rd-5th grade students wrapped up mid-month and Easy CBM Spring Benchmark assessments are well underway.   These Easy CBM assessments are particularly useful as they provide data related to student learning and growth in the areas of reading and math over the course of a school year.  Information from the assessments are used to inform instruction, including identification of areas of focus for whole group lessons as well as targeted interventions for individuals and small groups.

Garden Club and LEGO Club picked up again this month.  Both programs are supported by grant funds and dedicated volunteers, providing outstanding after school enrichment opportunities for our students. 

Fifteen 4th and 5th grade students, led by Music teacher Amy Burrows, performed a song on their ukuleles at the Empty Bowls fundraiser held at JCHS on May 3rd.  What a fun event to be a part of! The showcase of talent from each building and as well as from a number of HS programs was inspiring.
The annual TPA-sponsored track and field day was held on May 20th.  Students competed in a variety of events, 50-yard dash, hurdles, long jump, relay, softball throw and cross country to name a few.  The weather was perfect and a good time was had by all. 

Territorial’s “Barn Raising” Celebration took place May 23rd to celebrate the construction of our new, bond-funded, covered play area at TES.  The event kicked off with an all-school performance of some old timey tunes, followed by square dancing to a live band and a number of fun western-theme activities including stick horse races, cowboy boot bean bag toss, branding and lassoing activities and of course a chow station with healthy snacks for all.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and the Barn Raising celebration was a great success!

Also on the horizon at Territorial- preparations are underway for Outdoor School; our theme this year is “Long Ago at Lutherwood”.  Students in preschool through grade 5 will spend June 12th -16th participating in fun outdoor learning activities at Camp Lutherwood.  Territorial will wrap up the school year with an all school assembly and 5th grade transition ceremony on June 21st.

At Laurel, “JOY” has been identified as one of the school community’s core values, and we are keeping this value in the forefront of our minds. As we plan for a strong conclusion to the school year, there are many fun activities coming up and a number of exciting events that took place earlier this month.

Recently, Laurel hosted a new Kinder Kickoff activity to reach out and connect with the parents of our incoming kindergarten students. Families were invited to come to Laurel and find out more about our awesome Kindergarten program.  Incoming students and their parents got a chance to:
Meet and talk with kindergarten teachers.
Visit a kindergarten classroom, enjoy a snack, and participate in a hands-on activity.
Learn how to prepare their child for a successful kindergarten experience.
Discuss firsthand what it is like to be part of our Laurel community.
Learn about all the different supports available at Laurel.
Enjoy a bus ride around the neighborhood.

We had more than 40 families show for this event!  Parents were very appreciative of this opportunity and enjoyed the event and all the information they received. The bus ride was a hit for children as well as their parents. The staff members who helped with the event were pleased with the turnout and are already looking forward working with these children and their families. We hope that many of these children will be participants in our KITs (Kids in Transition to School) program as well.

May was Spirit Month at Laurel and students and staff had a lots fun with May’s Spirit Fridays. Hat day, Dress Like an Adult Day, and Twins Day are some of the themes we chose this year. The Laurel staff decided to put a spin on things and made a “Dress Like a Kid” day! You could hear the laughter across the halls as students saw their teachers dressed like kids.

The Laurel Parent Group hosted an awesome School Carnival a couple of weeks ago. Children and their families enjoyed playing super fun games and winning fabulous prizes. Everyone went home with a prize and the event created lots of positive energy to get us through the rest of the year. A huge thank-you goes out to the dedicated parents and staff members who organized this event and those who volunteered to run stations.

In addition to wonderful teachers and an awesome parent group, Laurel is also home to many, many hard-working and dedicated classified staff- including secretaries, custodians, food service personnel and instructional assistants. Recently, Alan Cook- who teaches fourth grade at Laurel- sent out an email of appreciation for Laurel IAs. In his shout out, he said “the wealth of knowledge and experience that they bring to the table every day is invaluable to our community” and “One example that I’ve recently seen is the changes in the lunchroom. Coming up with programs and incentive plans on their own to make the lunchroom a more pleasant place was amazing!”

Smarter Balanced testing at Laurel is almost completed. Things have gone very smoothly, and students have done a great job persevering and demonstrating their knowledge of the standards. Laurel teachers are reporting that- contrary to what they expected- standardized testing has been a less stressful process than in years past, and they also felt the students struggled less with the technology part of this testing experience. Thanks to Tom in our assessment department, Bob and Laci in our tech department, our testing proctors, and all our Laurel staff for making sure that student assessments are completed without a hitch.

In terms of upcoming activities, Laurel Music Performances were held Monday through Thursday of last week.  So many parents and community members joined all of Laurel’s students and our music specialist, Deborah Adams, in enjoying our spring music performances which took place in the gym at Junction City High School.  Our student-musicians practiced for these performances for months, and those who attended said these were the best elementary music concerts ever.  

This week, May 30-June 2nd, is safety week at Laurel. We are re-teaching and practicing all the safety drills we have taught all year long. We will perform lockout/lockdown procedures, earthquake and evacuation drills, as well as a fire drill. Each drill will be preceded by a review of the procedures with staff and students.

Next week, June 5-9 will be swim week for Laurel.  Swim week is probably students’ most favorite week of the year. Students will be going to the community pool next door to learn water safety and to swim with their class for 30 minutes each day. Each year, students look forward to having loads of fun, soaking up some sun and making memories that will last a lifetime.  The end of the school year will be here before we know it!

I am so excited that we are getting ready to break ground on the new High School addition!  An invitation to the ground-breaking event- set for next Wednesday, June 7th, at 1:30 PM- is attached to this update and invitations are being mailed to local dignitaries today.

Recently, I attended a State Superintendents’ Meeting in Salem. We heard from House Speaker Tina Kotek and others, who shared that while the state revenue outlook is improving, much of that additional revenue will likely be returned under the Kicker.   It sounds as though the budget number our District landed on for budget planning purposes- 8.0B- is the right number to plan for at this time.  Speaker Kotek did, however, offer hope that the legislature is continuing to explore ways to get to the K-12 current service level budget required funding level of 8.4.  She expressed that the 2017-19 K-12 funding level will be set before the legislature recesses at the end of June; the delay presents a challenge to most of Oregon’s K-12 public school districts however, as many of us will need to begin to put the wheels in motion on staffing reductions and 2017-18 calendar adjustments before the end of June.

Speaker Kotek also shared her opinion that there will be “some’ funding for implementation of Measure 98 in the next biennium; the best guess we have at this time is that the funding would provide our District between $200K-$300K for the biennium to help us update and expand career-technical education programs, expand access to college-level courses, and prevent students from dropping out so that we can keep them on track to graduate from high school.

At this point, our District has a “Measure 98 Workgroup” comprised of a number of high school teachers and administration to plan our District’s Measure 98 program so that our funding priorities are clearly identified if and when the funding comes through.  Given the 3 areas that must be addressed in our plan, we are considering some funding for our Summer Bridge Program (keeping students on track to graduate), some funding for the Willamette Promise and College Now programs in order to expand access to college-level courses such as Computer Science, College Biology and Physics, and Forensic Sciences.  In the CTE domain, we are exploring adding courses to our Engineering Technology Program of Study, and developing an Agricultural and Environmental Studies CTE area as well.  Down the road a few years, we also hoping to offer a strand of courses that would support “growing our own” teachers from our current high school students.

Now, turning to news from the May 22nd board meeting, the meeting began with special recognition for an exceptional volunteer:  Darcey Edwards. Darcey has been lead organizer of the JCHS Tiger Auction for the last 3 years, and the event has grown and flourished thanks to her leadership and organizational skills.  Darcey moved the event from the high school gym to Shadow Hills Country Club, and as a result, the event has been wildly successful.  Our high school athletic director, Craig Rothenberger, nominated Darcey for this award, and his letter of commendation will be included when the board approves the official May 2017 meeting minutes.

Another long-overdue commendation was offered to Chris Meyer, the District’s Facilities Director.  Since we hired Chris as our Facilities Director in 2005, he has saved our District literally hundreds of thousands of dollars due his tremendous expertise in heating and cooling systems and his hands-on approach in taking care of every maintenance issue he can before contracting out for specialized services.

Our administrators and staff really appreciate Chris’s responsiveness.  As an example, we recently had a district-wide power outage; shortly thereafter, we had to evacuate Oaklea due to a burning smell in the Columbia hallway.  Chris responded immediately, and worked with the JC Fire Department and PD to identify the source of the problem- which was an HVAC motor that had overheated due to a faulty surge protector.  In addition to being part of the immediate response, Chris has expedited the replacement of the motor for this unit so that Oaklea will be without air conditioning for as little time as possible. 

Chris routinely goes above and beyond the call of duty- in addition to all the extra demands on his time given our bond projects, he puts in whatever time is needed to get maintenance work done in a way that doesn’t inconvenience staff or interrupt students’ learning. For example, he was here for almost an entire day two Saturdays ago, working to identify a major leak- which was discovered to be under the Pitney Center.  The leak has caused our water consumption- and city water bills- to skyrocket.  Now that he knows where the leak is, he has a plan in place to get the issue resolved- again at a time that doesn’t impact students or staff, but does mean that he will be working instead of enjoying an upcoming weekend.  We are really, really fortunate to have a Facilities Director as hard-working and multi-talented as Chris Meyer.

We had a special guest, Senator James Manning, in attendance at the board meeting and he offered some insights into what has been happening at the Capital Building in Salem. The board and those in attendance very much appreciated the Senator making the time to come and introduce himself; we also were grateful for his interest in what is happening in our District, and his desire to represent us well.

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm DeChase Miksis and Citizens Advisory Committee Members (CAC) Ken Bells and Judy Kazmierkoski.  That team provided highlights from the May CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. They also shared that the CAC is working with the District on an FAQ sheet that will answer questions that patrons may have about the bond, financial issues related to facilities, and specifics of our bond projects.  There also is a special email address, bondprojectsqa@junctioncity.k12.or.us to which questions can be directed.  The FAQ will be updated often and will be posted on the District’s website. 

With respect to action items at Monday’s board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on April 24th, the minutes of the Special Board Meeting of May 8th, and the Budget Committee Meeting of May 8th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  They also accepted the resignations of Dustin Embers (special education teacher at Oaklea), Nathan Burke (8th grade science teacher at Oaklea) and Danielle Ferrell (grade 2 teacher at Laurel).  They also acted to approve several policies, the 2017-18 school year calendar, and the superintendent evaluation form.    

With respect to discussion items, the board received “Annual Reports” from the principals of Laurel and Territorial Elementary Schools.  Copies of their presentations will be attached to the official minutes once approved.

The board also heard from Ron Volner of Building Blocks Childcare who addressed the board about the District’s materials distribution policy.   Currently, the board’s “Commercial Advertising” and “Materials Distribution” policies do not allow for our students to be used as agents to advertise for for-profit businesses or for groups that are not directly related to our District’s educational mission.  Public, non-profit groups (the Oregon Health Authority, Lane County Mental Health, the City, Junction City Athletics, etc.) are occasionally afforded the opportunity for their materials to be sent home individually with students. Other non-profit groups, for-profit businesses, religious organizations, and others are offered the opportunity to have their flyers in our schools and available for parents to review and pick up.  We also ask principals to periodically notify parents via their school newsletters that this kind of information is available in their school offices.  An initial review of policies and practices in other neighboring districts and districts throughout the state show that our district’s policies are very much aligned with other districts. 

Mr. Volner took exception to the District’s distribution of a flyers from the City’s Community Services Program that include information about the City’s camps available during breaks and summers; Mr. Volner expressed that he believes the City is in competition with his business interest (he is offering summer camp opportunities as well) and did not think it was fair for the District to distribute materials for the City’s program in a way that differs from how other flyers are shared with interested parents.  The board members present listened to Mr. Volner’s concerns and directed that the schools should only share materials regarding the City’s upcoming summer camps in the same way that information from other entities is shared, and not send them home individually with students. 

Next, Ronda Wheadon and Steve Jones shared information on the JC Online Options program that the District is developing. The District has received considerable interest from families who are currently home-schooling, or using online charter schools or private schools.  The board received more specific information about how our program could be implemented to serve students from kindergarten through grade 12, and how by enrolling in the District’s program, students could have a lot of flexibility to use both online options and participate in traditional classes at our “brick and mortar” schools.  The board affirmed their support for the program, and directed that the planning process continue so that we can implement the program in the 2017-18 school year.

Finally, just a reminder that June 19th, 20th and 21st will now be school days for students in grades K-11, due to all of the inclement weather closures we had this year.  Graduation will still take place at Peden Stadium on Saturday, June 10th at 2 PM.  Also, if you are a parent of an incoming kindergartener, please be sure to contact the head secretary at both Territorial and Laurel to get information on kindergarten registration requirements and the summer Kids in Transition to School (KITS) program.

Have a wonderful week!

August 2017

Aside from smoky weather conditions that kept students indoors the first few days of the 2017-18 school year, the year is off to a wonderful start!

Last Wednesday our School Board held their rescheduled August meeting; below you can read the August 2017 issue of the Junction City Schools Update, along with some news from the August 30th school board meeting.  Happy reading, and welcome (back) to the new school year!

Oaklea is incredibly fortunate to be one of only three schools in Oregon to be awarded the “Don’t Quit” fitness grant.  Our custodial staff, Scott and Bob, have worked hard to turn our former industrial arts room into what will soon house a state of the art circuit training facility!  Later in October there will be an official ribbon cutting ceremony, and we just learned that Governor Kate Brown has selected Oaklea Middle School as the award recipient she will be visiting!   This grant will allow every student to improve their fitness level and promote healthy living for years to come.  We would like to thank Betsy Wolfston, Chris Surface, and Raquel Cope for their work on the grant.  Additionally, the Oaklea Parent Group has continued to add to our “back yard” with additional playground and outdoor fitness equipment arriving over the summer.  These added elements will follow the fitness theme and continue to promote fitness among our students.   

A few weeks ago, Oaklea’s principal and several teachers attended the ArtCore’s Summer Institute at the University of Oregon.  This was a tremendous opportunity for teachers at Oaklea to learn about how our arts grants are integrated into our classrooms.  This year, Oaklea will have an additional art weaver, Katie Schuessler, who will focus on grades seven and eight while Betsy Wolfston will work with our fifth and sixth grades.  Our hope is to use the Studio Habits of Mind to continue to support our “Portrait of an Oaklea Graduate”.  We intend for this portrait to direct students to the skills and traits needed to be successful at the high school and beyond.  With this being the fourth year of our two arts grants we are increasingly confident in our ability to integrate art into all subjects sustainably once the grants are finished.

This year, we plan to combine our Care Team and PBIS teams to help school climate, discipline, and the ability to find solutions to help students in need.  This combined team will meet each month to discuss solutions and strategies to these ever-increasing and complex issues facing our building.  We are also going to change our meeting schedule with staff to build consensus.  We will meet monthly as grades, grade representatives, and as a whole staff- and then bimonthly with site council- to connect our whole staff and parent representatives to the vision of the school.  Last year, we used Indistar to develop our school improvement plan and we will continue to use that framework to guide us in establishing and achieving our goals as a building. 
During in-service week we surveyed our staff on professional development needs and we will use that data to formulate quality and relevant staff training that aligns with our improvement plan.  We will have a new schedule at Oaklea this year, after working with teachers (a special thank you to Ms. Haffner!) to keep the fundamentals of our previous schedule (equitable opportunities for enrichment classes and targeted interventions for any student needing extra help) while addressing the need to reduce class sizes in seventh grade, our largest grade. 

Fall Sports Registration saw many middle school students sign up for Football, Cross Country, Cheer, and Volleyball.  Cheer and Cross Country are available to all grades while Football and Volleyball are only grades 7 and 8.  Practices began Monday, August 28th for most teams.  We are still looking for coaching for the Volleyball teams, so help us spread that word and send aspiring coaches our way. 

Supply Drop Off for all new students was held on Thursday, August 31st from 1-3pm.  The building was open to incoming fifth graders and sixth graders who attended Territorial last year; it also was available to any new to the district student in grades seven and eight.  This was a fantastic time to meet teachers and staff that students might be working with this year as well as to give new students a head start with supplies and lockers.  Getting a preview the building ahead of the Tuesday, September 5th start of school was beneficial and contributed to a great first day of school. 

Oaklea would like to extend an enormous thank you to the churches and volunteers from Project Hope who continue to spend time helping to rejuvenate our campuses for the big arrival of students.  In addition to the physical contributions, it goes without saying how thankful we are for their time spent getting clothing and supplies to families prior to school starting.  It is this type of community involvement and togetherness that separates us from bigger cities.  We are thankful for their help and for the opportunity to work and learn in this place we call home, Junction City!

As a result of our District’s successful May 2016 bond measure, Territorial received some much needed facility improvements over the summer.  Specifically, the driveway and parking areas were repaved and painted.  Additionally, curbing and a sidewalk were added at the student drop-off site.  These projects are very much appreciated, and we would like to thank our community and our voters. 

Territorial’s new Dean of Students, Annette Sisler, also would also like to thank the 2016-2017 fifth grade families for their time and effort in installing a new boundary fence along the track.  It was heart-warming to see students and parents giving of their time and talents to make this happen, thank you!  Many teachers returned to school early and spent their last days of summer getting their classrooms ready for opening day on September 5th.  We were all so excited to have students back in our classrooms and hallways which they filled with energy and enthusiasm for learning. 

This year you can expect to see a couple of new faces on campus.  New to Territorial Elementary this fall is Sherrene Kulm as our fifth grade teacher.  She comes to Territorial from Oaklea Middle School where she taught for 22 years.  We are also pleased to welcome Susan Cox as our new special education teacher.  She joins us from Grants Pass with 30 years of experience.  Finally, we would like to welcome Jeremiah Rutledge as our new custodian. 

In addition to new staff, there has been a shift in teaching roles for some of our returning staff.  Lisa Young and Annette Sisler will “loop up” and teach third grade.  Lisa will provide Core Instruction in Language Arts for third graders in the morning in addition to providing keyboarding and technology for students in K-5 in the afternoon.  Annette Sisler will serve as Dean of Students and provide ELL instruction in the morning.  In the afternoon she will provide instruction in math, science, social studies, and health for third graders.  Cheryl Glasser will be teaching second grade and Elyse Grimsley (formerly Elder- congratulations Elyse!), will continue teaching fourth grade.  Rachel Meek (first) and Pam Nelson (kindergarten) also will remain in their current teaching positions.  Rebecca Smith will be our new TAG coordinator providing supports for TES students through specific program activities, and classroom teachers will be using the Achieve Physical Education Curriculum to teach PE to their students.  This will allow us to offer more PE time to our students. 

Territorial students and families were invited to meet teachers and tour classrooms as well as drop off supplies on Thursday, August 31st, from 2:30-3:30 pm.  Doors opened for the 2017 - 2018 school year on Tuesday, September 5th, and began with an all school assembly at 8:15.  Our all-day Kindergarten students are enjoying a “gentle start” with students attending on alternate days for the first four school days.  The smaller groups allow teachers and staff to get to know our new Kindergarteners and develop routines as well as to begin the process of administering the Kindergarten Readiness assessments required by ODE again this year. 

Territorial’s Open House is scheduled for September 28th.  We look forward to seeing you there, and sharing our curriculum with you.

We have had a great start of the 2017-18 school year at Laurel! Thanks to the hard work of our custodians, our District’s Facilities Director, and the construction crew, the building was more than ready for our teachers and students’ return. Many teachers reported to work days early to put their classrooms together in preparation for students’ arrival- thank you teachers!

Professional development (PD) continues to be a priority at Laurel. In early August, the PBIS and Leadership Teams engaged in a two-day retreat, led by Principal Rizkallah, focusing on developing leadership skills and building capacity to lead some significant adaptive change work this year. Additionally, our PD also focused on understanding how trauma affects the brain and development, the implications of these effects on our students, and what we can do to support those students who are affected by trauma.  We also studied restorative justice practices in relation to positive behavior support through a training with Dr. Jeff Sprague from the University of Oregon. Laurel teachers also spent 2 days on August 23 and 24 engaging in instructional Make &Take workshops, where they learned strategies in writing, reading, math, and science curriculum and made the materials necessary to use those strategies. During in-service week, we had instructional strategies training for both our classified and licensed staff members- in addition to our staff retreat on August 29th the  primary focus of which was Trauma Informed Care and Collaborative Problem Solving model.

Both our Laurel Vision and the Growth Mindset continue to be in the forefront of our minds. This year, we will again celebrate the International Dot Day with hopes to highlight the idea that everyone has the potential to grow and achieve great things using effective effort, self-efficacy and hard work. In particular, we are looking to send a powerful message about making mistakes.  Mistakes are an essential part of the learning process; embracing them as learning opportunities can foster curiosity, resilience, and continued academic growth.  Alternatively, fear of making mistakes can reduce the potential for skill development and stifle innovation.

 With respect to new Laurel teachers, we are so excited to welcome Desiree McIvor, fourth grade; Britni Cacan, third grade; Sophie Knox, Second grade; Mark Navin in third grade and Kat Kent in the structured learning center who both held temporary positions last year and now “officially” joined our staff!  We have also hired- and are still hiring- several instructional assistants who will for sure make a great addition to our big family. This year is going to be a very exciting year. We keep thinking about the great opportunities and expertise our team members bring to the educational experience of all of our kids. We see hope, excitement, and lots of promise on the horizon, and we cannot wait to dive in.

JCHS’s co-principals Dina Marschall and Brian Young would like to thank the Tiger Club for an amazing kick-off event for the 2017-18 school year last Wednesday night.  The annual fall sports parent night was altered to include a new venue on Peden Field, and a BBQ for all JCHS students and parents.  Guests enjoyed entertainment by the JCHS cheerleaders, and were welcomed with introductions from each of the fall coaches.  We want JCHS to be deeply connected to our community, and this event highlighted that focus; many more awesome student activities are ahead.

Our entire Junction City high school staff came back to work a day early for a welcoming "retreat" in the West Wing gym.  The afternoon activities included a catered lunch from Guaranty, a trivia game introducing our new administrators, and a debrief of staff feedback provided last June in a school-wide climate survey.  Staff reflected on individual leadership attributes and tendencies, and how these can strengthen or sometimes challenge our team; the afternoon concluded with games and lots of laughter.

We are excited to introduce the new JC Online program!  Linda Jackson, CTE teacher, deserves significant praise for spearheading much of this work over the summer and helping to get our program up and running.  This will be a K-12 program, using both Odysseyware and Fuel Ed as curriculum options.  Students will be given opportunities for credit recovery, but also the potential for challenging courses outside of our building course offerings.  Of course, we will also be working with families who choose to have their student completely online, or choose a "hybrid" model of split time between online and classes in buildings. We are looking forward to connecting to even more JC families and students with this program.
We are excited to announce that Measure 98 funds will be used for the reintroduction of Agricultural Science classes, the Summer Bridge program for 24 freshmen who participated, new CTE and vocational opportunities for kids, and curriculum resources for our culinary arts program.

We are also re-introducing National Honors Society and striving to build more community service and connections for our students.  We believe our community will appreciate this aspect as well.  We are still looking for a Leadership advisor, but student leaders’ planning efforts are already well under way for homecoming and are they doing an outstanding job planning for beginning-of-the-year assemblies and homecoming.
Finally, special thanks to our entire high school staff for adjusting to a first in-service day back without power.  Also, thanks to our custodians and Project Hope volunteers for helping to beautify our campus for student and staff return.  This will be a year of construction challenges, but we are looking forward to patience, flexibility, and hope, as we enjoy a year of exciting transitions at JCHS.

We spent a wonderful morning with the District’s 15 new teachers when we got together with them for their New Teacher Orientation morning.  We have a diverse and talented crew, spanning the continuum from those who will have their first year in the classroom to Territorial’s new special teacher who comes to us with more than 30 years of experience! Still others come to us from industry, including a former scientist, and another who moved into our teaching ranks after serving as an instructional assistant. Each and every one of these new teachers will make a unique contribution to our District and community.

We also are beyond delighted to share with you that we have hired for our new bilingual resource coordinator position!  This person will be responsible for providing translation and interpretation services for our Spanish speaking families; he will oversee the high school mentors from the Social Justice League who serve our elementary students, and he will help connect families with important community resources. Best of all, he is a Tiger Alumni! I had Daniel Pozos when he was an elementary student at Laurel, and he went through our entire system and was a wonderful student leader at JCHS. Daniel was one of our District’s first Pathways Scholarship recipients at the UO; he recently graduated with degrees in human services and a in Spanish.  We couldn’t be prouder or happier that he will be a part of our District family.

We kicked off the new school year with our annual all-staff gathering at Oaklea Middle School (rather than at JCHS due to construction). It was wonderful to spend time together and to share our plans and aspirations for the upcoming school year. We were so appreciative to hear from our keynote speaker, Dr. Markisha Smith from the Oregon Department of Education’s Equity Unit.  Markisha inspired our staff with her speech on building relationships with our students, and her message that developing those authentic relationships and ensuring equitable access and outcomes for all our students is some of the most important work we will be taking this year and beyond. 

While mention was made in the building reports above, I would just like to say again how very blessed we have been by the service of the volunteers from Project Hope, and the many donations from the business community and Junction City community members.  Project Hope sponsored a school supply giveaway on the Saturday before the school year began at Laurel, where kids could also get free haircuts, tennis shoes, and clothes.  One of the most amazing acts of service related to this year’s Project Hope was the grading and compacting of the gravel parking lot that will serve not only football fans at Peden Field, but also our entire student body and high school faculty this year.  Undying gratitude to Janell Wallis from Christ Center who coordinates Project Hope, and who leveraged donated labor from Delta Sand and Gravel and donated rock and gravel from Rexius.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now, turning to news from the August 30th board meeting...  First on the agenda was “Special Recognition” to announce that on August 3rd, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that three Oregon schools had been selected by the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC) Don’t Quit! campaign to receive $100,000 fitness centers. Neil Armstrong Middle School in Forest Grove, Weston Middle School in Weston, and Oaklea Middle School in Junction City were each chosen after an application and review process conducted by NFGFC. The state-of-the-art fitness centers will be unveiled this fall, and as noted above, Governor Kate Brown will attend our fitness center’s opening ceremony on September 21st. Each fitness center is financed through public/private partnerships and does not rely on taxpayer dollars or state funding. All public and private elementary and middle schools in Oregon were eligible to apply
for the Don’t Quit! campaign.  We believe our district’s application was strengthened by our partnership with the Lane Arts Council and the UO School of Journalism, both of which were instrumental in the creation of the video submitted with our application, and we would like to recognize them for all their support and assistance!

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm DeChase Miksis and Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) member Judy Kazmierkoski.  That team provided highlights from the August CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. It was a super busy summer for bond activity, with lots of great improvements being made at Territorial, Laurel and JCHS, with much more to come! 

With respect to action items at the board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on June 26th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  They also a parenting leave of absence for Laurel Elementary School teacher Kati McAdams and accepted the resignation of Oaklea 5th grade teacher Carly Albert.

The board approved a long, long list of new hires. We are excited about each and every one of these folks- most, but not all of them- are new to our District.  What follows is a short bio on each of them so that you have a chance to learn a little about each and every one of them!

Justin Corey was hired to be the new principal of Oaklea Middle School!  Justin has devoted his entire career as an educator to our District; during his tenure, he has served as a master math teacher, a varsity coach of multiple sports, an instructional coach, middle school Dean of Students and middle school assistant principal.  He has inspired, educated and guided literally hundreds- if not thousands- of Junction City’s youth.  He has demonstrated tremendous commitment to our students and our community; after an extensive and thorough hiring process, Justin was the interview team’s “pick” to serve as Oaklea’s next leader.  

In the process of searching for Oaklea’s next principal, we found an amazing administrator in Joy O’Rennick that we absolutely could not let slip away. I am delighted that board approved my recommendation that we create a new full-time Assistant Principal position at OMS rather than seek to refill the .5 Dean of Students/.5 Vice Principal position vacated by Justin Corey’s move to the OMS principal position.  Joy comes to our district with extensive experience as both a middle and high school teacher and a secondary-level administrator. For the past 3 years, she served as the principal of an alternative high school in the metro area. (Her references were outstanding and the superintendent of the Beaverton District shared with me that he had begged her to move from David Douglas School District to his district.)  We are excited about the opportunity for Justin and Joy to blend their unique skill-sets and experiences in a non-traditional way that will result in a highly effective administrative team for Oaklea.

Five years ago, our District made the wise decision to hire Annette Sisler as a teacher at Territorial Elementary School; she will now add Dean of Students to her title. During her years with the District, Annette has proven herself to be an exceptional teacher, and has taken on multiple teacher-leadership positions at Territorial and within the District. Annette is in the process of completing her administrative licensure program this year. As half-time Dean of Students, Annette will come to the position with tremendous experience and knowledge of “how things are done” at our Small School with a Big Heart. She also will have the assistance of former TES principal when it comes to licensed staff evaluations.  She will share a 3rd grade classroom teaching assignment with Lisa Young, as described below.

Lisa Young will job share the 3rd grade position with Annette Sisler and also will serve as the school’s technology / keyboarding specialist.  Lisa has experience at almost every elementary grade level, and has been an integral part of the school staff as the core instruction teacher to help us deal most effectively with blended classrooms at TES in the past. We have absolute confidence that she and Annette will be very effective in sharing the 3rd grade classroom assignment this year, and Lisa is excited to take on the new specialist role in supporting students’ digital proficiency.

Susan Cox was hired to serve as Territorial’s part-time special education teacher.  She is a retired teacher with 30 years of experience in providing Title I and special education services and has worked with a wide range of students with mild to moderate disabilities.  The interview team found Susan to be passionate in her commitment to students.  Her references described her as organized and dedicated.

The board approved the hiring of Britni Cacun as a 3rd grade classroom teacher at Laurel.  Britni received her Bachelors of Science in 2010 and her Masters in Education in 2011 from the University of Oregon and has been working in the Bethel School District in different temporary assignments for the past two years.  We are excited for her to join the Laurel team.

Desiree McIvor has been hired as a 4th grade teacher at Laurel Elementary .   Desiree received her Bachelors of Science from the University of Oregon in 2016 and her Masters of Arts in Teaching from Northwest Christian University in May of this year.  She did her student teaching at Twin Oaks Elementary in Eugene and we are thrilled that she chose start her teaching career in Junction City.

We are delighted to announce the hiring of Mark Navin as a 3rd grade teacher at Laurel Elementary School.  Mark served as a temporary 3rd grade teacher last school year after Jessica Huff resigned mid-year.  We are super excited for him to continue in this 3rd grade assignment.

The board also approve the hiring of Sophie Patterson (Knox) as a 2nd grade teacher at Laurel Elementary School.  Sophie received her Bachelors in 2015 and her Masters in July of this year from the University of Oregon.  She did her student teaching in Creswell and we excited for her to begin her teaching career in Junction City. Sophie also is excited to be teaching at Laurel, where her husband, David, was a student!

Former Laurel grade 4 teacher Alan Cook was hired as the school’s new music specialist, and he already has hit the ground running by orchestrating the Laurel Music Program “hotdog stand” fund raiser at Autzen Stadium last weekend!   Alan served as a 4th grade teacher at Laurel last year and a testing proctor the year before.  He has a Bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Oregon and is excited to be able to combine his love of music with his love for teaching.

Gene Newbold was hired as a 5th grade (math/science) teacher at Oaklea Middle. Gene received his Bachelors of Science in Psychology in 2015 from the University of Oregon and his Masters of Arts in Teaching in 2016 from Pacific University.  Gene served as a long-term substitute for the 8th grade language arts position at Oaklea last school year and the administration and 5th grade team are excited to have him join the Oaklea family.

The board was delighted to approve the hiring of Pauline Gibson-Tobin as a 6th grade (language arts / social studies) teacher at Oaklea Middle School.  Pauline served as a temporary 6th grade teacher at Oaklea last school year and as a temporary 4th grade teacher at Laurel the year prior.  Pauline has done an outstanding job in the self-contained room and we are looking forward to her continued service.

Renee Walters has been hired to serve as an 8th grade math teacher at Oaklea Middle School.  Renee received her Bachelors of Science in 2005 from the University of Tennessee and her Masters of Arts in Teaching in May of this year from Northwest Christian University.  Renee’s field supervisor at NCU calls her “the best student teacher she has worked with” and that she would “stick her reputation on the line for her”.  Renee has been an AVID tutor in the 4J district and student taught at Madison Middle School and North Eugene High School this past year.  Renee spoke a lot about equity and growth mindset in her interview and without prompting, she touched on several areas we are working hard on as a district. We are confident she will be a great addition for Oaklea’s students and staff.

We are super excited to introduce Jennifer Wolf as the 8th grade science teacher at Oaklea Middle School.  Jennifer received her Bachelors of Science in Bio Resource Research and Chemistry in 2015 and her Masters of Arts in Teaching in Science Education in June of this year from Oregon State University.  Jennifer worked as a biology researcher before going back to school for her MAT.  Oaklea is excited to have Jennifer join the team.

Kaitlyn Mainhart has been hired as temporary FTE 8th grade language arts teacher at Oaklea Middle School; she will serve this year while Ceri Gipson is out on an approved medical leave of absence.  Kaitlyn received her Bachelors of Arts in 2013 and her Masters of Arts in Teaching in 2016 from Colorado State University.  She spent her first year out of college substitute teaching in Lane County.  Her supervising college professor said she was hard working and conscientious in her planning, thorough and dedicated to reaching and connecting with kids.

The board also approved the hiring of Suzette Savoie as a science teacher at Junction City High School beginning the 2017-18 school year.  Suzette has a natural resources background, previously working as a scientist for Fish and Wildlife.  She is very knowledgeable on Next Generation Science Standards as a result of her recent education training in the rigorous OSU Science teacher prep program and is the recipient of a fellowship that will provide ongoing training and professional development in the field for the next five years.  Suzette came across as very relational and had good answers in the area of cultural proficiency and growth mindset and is passionate about supporting students from diverse backgrounds.  For those reasons, the high school team felt Suzette will be a strong addition to the science department at Junction City High School.

Tabitha Shepherd has been hired to serve as .75 FTE music teacher at Junction City High School beginning the 2017-18 school year. Tabitha received her Bachelors in Music in 2011 and her Masters in Music Education in 2014 from the Boston Conservatory of Music.  She taught music in Monroe last school year and we are excited to have her join the high school team.

And last but certainly not least, the board approved the hiring of Rebecca Smith as temporary .50 FTE TAG coordinator with the district, for the 2017-18 school year.  With Dina moving to the co-principal position at the high school, she is recommending that Rebecca Smith serve as the new TAG coordinator for the district; we know she will do an exceptional job meeting the needs of our TAG students in grades K-8. 

As always, thank you for service to and support of the kids of Junction City.  Have a wonderful 2017-18 School Year!


May 2017
Warm weather has finally arrived and the end of the school year is fast approaching.  Graduation is around the corner, and we are busy planning for our students’ successful transitions from grade to grade and school to school.  We also are getting ready to kick off construction for our new addition to Junction City High School!  We will be having a ground-breaking ceremony next Wednesday, June 7th, at 1:15 PM on the high school football practice field near the West Wing.  Please see the attached invitation and plan to attend and celebrate with us.

Spring term is in full bloom in the District; the JCHS women’s tennis team enjoyed some beautiful weather in Roseburg this past weekend and I hope that you all enjoyed some sunshine and relaxation as well! Things are buzzing around the District, and there are many school and community activities planned in the coming weeks- you can read all about them below (and get information from last Monday’s board meeting too).

Spring is an extremely busy time at JCHS!  Last Monday, April 24th The Top Tiger Pageant- formerly known as Mr. Tiger- took place in the West Wing Gym. The Pageant marked the conclusion of many months of preparation and fundraising to benefit JC Local Aid, the Children’s Miracle Network, and the JCHS Associated Student Body. Many thanks to volunteer staff advisors, Liz Henderson and Courtney Madsen and to the many already-super-busy students who have given so much of their time and effort for this important community service project.

On Tuesday, April 25, JCHS staff and administrators met with parents and incoming freshmen to get the forecasting process rolling and provide a sense of student life at JCHS. Forecasting for returning students is in full swing, and seniors are beginning to work on final checklists prior to commencement on June 10.  I have asked the JCHS administration and counseling team to work with Department Chairs to identify possible new courses that could engage students and increase their awareness of possible careers and fields of study after high school.  Some of the courses we may explore offering include soil sciences, watershed management, computer sciences, business management and leadership, advanced book-keeping, 3D animation and modeling and other Engineering Technology types of courses.  We also are working with the Lane ESD and several institutions of higher education to develop a “grow your own teacher” program, where our high school students could get a taste of teaching as a career- this program likely will not be ready for launch until the 2018-19 school year.

On Wednesday, April 26, The documentary film, Voices of Hate – Voices of Hope, was shown in the West Wing Gym. The film is a time capsule of events at JCHS following last November’s presidential election. The video relies heavily on student voices to recall their experiences and perspectives as a portal to promote constructive ongoing dialogue to help bridge our cultural gaps.  The entire student body sat in rapt attention as the film was shared; following the film, students had the opportunity to share observations, feelings, ideas, and hope for the future of their school. The comments reflected a range of experiences and ideas, but they all held in common our students’ commitments to treat each other respectfully, and to work together to create a cohesive and positive school culture.  This documentary also may be featured at the JCHS Social Justice League’s annual film festival, which is planned for later this spring.

Thursday, April 27, JCHS students were entertained by the participants in the 2017 Talent Show. Many thanks to JCHS music teacher Mara Liechty and media specialist Linda Jackson who served as the point people for this annual showcase.

This week is prom week, and JC Fire and Police will stage an assembly tomorrow (Tuesday, May 2nd) which depicts the scene of an accident involving an impaired student driver and innocent victims on Tuesday. Prom will be held down in Creswell at Emerald Valley Golf Club on Saturday, May 6, under the theme Enchanted Garden.  We wish our students a safe, memorable, and magical prom!

Last week, students had the opportunity to meet with personnel representing careers in CTE from Johnson Crushers, Peterson-Pacific, Seneca Sawmill, and Ideal Steel. This is the second such group to engage in conversations making the high school-to-careers connection this year.  Coming up this Wednesday, May 3rd, Career and Technical Educator Mike King will be taking a group of up to 20 10th through 12th graders on a tour of 3 manufacturing facilities, including Farwest Steel, Precision Machine, and Bulk Handling Systems.  Interested students can reach out to Mr. King or College and Career Center Coordinator Liz Bolton to obtain a flyer and permission slip so that they can participate.  Finally, JCHS math teacher Becci Buenau is taking the lead on getting certified to teach a College Now- level Computer Science course (CS160). She also is working Connected Lane County and the Lane STEM workgroup to take up to 20 interested students on a tour of local technology companies, tentatively scheduled for May 18th.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held at Junction City High School on May 11 from 4:30 to 7:30pm.  As we see more lines painted around the JCHS campus marking the shape of construction to come, there’s a buzz about the fast approaching construction project in anticipation of the groundbreaking ceremony.  The date for the ceremony is TBD, but there are several large “project boards” making their way around the District and at Community meetings and events that are really starting to get everyone excited to see the JCHS addition take shape.

The 10th annual Territorial Talent Show was held at Junction City High School on April 20th.  Students, alumni, and even some parents demonstrated that Territorial truly does have TALENT.  Individuals and groups entertained the capacity crowd with singing, dancing, piano playing, and joke-telling in addition to demonstrations of soccer and tumbling skills to name a few.   A heartfelt “thank you” to parent volunteers, Sara Probert, and Steph Van Hecke both of whom worked tirelessly to support our students with practice time and coaching this past month.
Staff development activities in April were focused on science, specifically identifying and organizing existing materials and resources in a way that will allow for their use and accessibility as we transition to Next Generation Science Standards and related curriculum going forward.  “Kudos” to Pam Nelson and Elyse Elder for their work on the Science Curriculum Adoption Committee this year; we will continue to draw on their passion and expertise in this area for years to come.

Territorial’s Kindergarten Round–up and Open House took place on April 13th.  Ten prospective kindergarten students and families toured the school, checked out the classroom, and met the kindergarten staff.    Each kindergartener left with a backpack filled with fun summer activities, school supplies, and a copy of Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten.  These books were generously provided by The Eugene Airport Rotary Club again this year.  Additionally, a representative of the KITS program was on hand to provide a brief presentation and invite parents to sign up to receive more information about Kindergarten readiness activities scheduled to take place in Junction City this summer and fall.  More information on the upcoming KITS program can be found on our District website.

Last Wednesday, April 26th, was Administrative Professionals Day and the Territorial School Community recognized and honored our school secretary, Terrie McFadden, for her contributions throughout the year.  There truly are no words to adequately describe the impact of this Administrative Professional on the Territorial School Community.  Filling multiple roles from Head Secretary, to School Nurse, Stand-in Administrator, Counselor or Custodian, Terrie is called on to do it all and she does it with a smile and a genuine love for the students, staff, and families she serves.  In addition to these many hats, Terrie brings a passion for nature education to her position at Territorial.  She was the impetus behind the formation of our School Garden Club; she took the lead on identifying curriculum, recruiting volunteers and accessing necessary resources to provide this outstanding after-school program for our students each fall and spring.  Additionally, Terrie became involved in planning and operating the every-other-year Outdoor School Program at Territorial as a parent volunteer when her own children were TES students.  Now- as a staff member- this is another area in which Terrie steps up and leads, by planning, organizing, mobilizing and directing staff, volunteers and community resources as the Outdoor School Director.  Suffice it to say, all those associated with Territorial Elementary recognize Terrie as the heart of our small school.

Speaking of Outdoor School, planning for this year’s programming is well underway; Territorial’s Outdoor School will be held at Camp Lutherwood from June 12th – 16th.  Many hands-on activities focused on nature, conservation, recreation and history are planned for students from preschool-5th grade.  Students will begin a series of preparation activities next month, meeting in assigned groups with their clan leaders.  All TES parents are encouraged to volunteer to assist with Outdoor School activities and are reminded of the need to complete a background check through the district prior to May 31st in order to be considered.  Please contact Terrie at Territorial for more information!

The Math/Science Night that took place at Laurel on April 20th was really fun. More than 300 people attended this event and engaged in science and math activities and enjoyed dinner with their families and the Laurel staff who were in attendance. The most popular station was the “Egg Drop” station where each classroom presented an engineered egg contraption, where the main goal was to “save the egg.” 6 classrooms were able to successfully build a contraption that achieved this goal. Students had a sense of pride in their work and were extremely excited to share their successes with their families and their peers the next day. Many thanks to the dedicated staff at Laurel, especially Leigh Wilcox and Jen Gower, who have put hours into planning this event and other family events this year.  Community engagement and parent involvement have been a priority at Laurel and we are seeing the result of these efforts in student engagement, love for learning, and students’ sense of belonging.

On April 27th, Laurel students engaged in fundraising for outdoor school through the Jog-a-Thon event. The students were super excited to run, enjoy music, snacks, and the company of the many parents who volunteered to help. Principal Rizkallah, classroom teachers, and our instructional assistants also ran with the students and show support for outdoor school. Thanks to the entire Laurel community for contributing to making Laurel a very fun place to be.  Joy has been identified by the Laurel staff- for three years in a row- to be a core value, and they are living up to it. Many thanks to our wonderful, actively engaged Laurel Parent Group for organizing this awesome fundraising event.

Laurel celebrated Earth Day by decorating Safeway paper shopping bags with Earth Day themes. This event generated lots of conversations in classrooms and among staff members about our planet, global warming, recycling, and other topics related to this theme. This event was led by kindergarten teacher Heather Stafford and supported by our counselor, Miranda Linville. This is another example of showing distributed leadership at Laurel, where every staff member is invited to lead projects and show their passion and talent. We all thank Heather and Miranda for being such invaluable, contributing staff members.

Smarter Balanced testing is well underway and it is going very smoothly. It is impressive to see how our third and fourth grade students are showing a great deal of responsibility, grit, and perseverance in taking this test. Students are doing their best to show all that they know in the area of reading and math. This opportunity is cause for celebration as we observe students exercising the very skills they are learning day in and day out about the growth mindset, their self-efficacy, productive struggle and perseverance. The entire staff at Laurel is very proud of our students and thank their families for supporting our children through this experience.
April was a busy month for state testing as all students focus on completing the Reading portion of the Smarter Balanced exams.  As May approaches, students will be completing the math assessments.  We would like to publicly thank Jackie Terrien for being an amazing lead proctor. 

On April 7th, the JC School of Dance and Encore Dance Studios performed for the entire student body.  Many Oaklea students danced in front of their classmates that afternoon, and took a huge leap out of their comfort zones as this is not an easy thing to do in middle school.  They did a wonderful job and were very well-received by their Oaklea classmates and staff. 

On April 10th, Fernando Gonzalez visited for an all-school assembly.  His group, Rancho Luna Lobos, based in Utah, has rescued over 400 dogs for the purpose of training them for dog sledding races.  His lead dog is a Yellow Lab, and one of his best dogs is blind. Through this powerful presentation, Oaklea students learned about the power of attitude, growth mindset through adversity, and not losing hope.

This past Saturday, April 29th, several Oaklea teachers participated in the ArtCore Spring Conference in Eugene.  Oaklea staff shared some of the ways we have been integrating the arts with core curriculum, and also heard from other school staff about similar projects they are working on.  As part of ArtCore, our 6th graders have been working with Dr. Ed Madison from the U of O on a journalism project.  With Mrs. Kulm's help, they are learning how to interview, using Skype as a medium to converse with business leaders, doctors, and other professionals throughout the country.  This has been an amazing project to watch our kids be involved in.

Finally, enthusiastic appreciation was offered for our secretaries and office support staff during Administrative Professionals week last week.  We couldn't do this work for kids without all of you!

In District news, please mark your calendars for this Wednesday, May 3rd for this year’s Empty Bowls fundraiser.  From 5:30 to 7 PM in the JCHS main gym, you can purchase a beautiful bowl- handmade by Bob Lee’s ceramics students- and filled with delicious soup made by Ms. Lucier’s family and consumer sciences students- for only $10. Funds are being raised to support the Junction City Soroptimists’ Bunches of Lunches program, which provides weekend food support for more than 80 of our students District-wide.  In addition to beautiful bowls and tasty food, there also will be lots of entertainment, featuring musicians from our schools, the JCHS Talent Show Winners, the Encore Dance Troup, Dem Oaklea Boys, the Alchemy Barbershop Quartet and Mind the Gap- the University of Oregon’s award-winning Coed accappella group.

In other upcoming Community Event news, this Sunday- beginning at 4 PM- at Paradise Springs Event Center in Monroe, The Soroptimists International of Junction City will be having a fund-raising Fiesta De Mayo dinner. The event is all-inclusive; tickets are $65 per person and must be purchased in advance.  On Saturday, May 13th, the Soroptimists and Junction City Police Department will be co-hosting an event at the River Life Event Center on Peoria Road in Harrisburg. The event will promote awareness of Human Trafficking and how to prevent it; this free event is open to adults and children above grade 5.  Also happening on May 13th, our local Habitat for Humanity will be hosting a “Women’s’ Build” event at the soon-to-be Watts’ home Harrisburg.  Building professionals and staff from Lowes will provide participants in the safe use and handling of power tools; if you are interested in attending, sign ups end soon! Contact our local Habitat for Humanity, or sign up by using this link: http://www.jchmhabitat.org/women-build-2017.html

I recently attended a State Superintendents’ Meeting and hoped to hear updated information about K-12 funding for the 2017-19 biennium.  There was no new news, and in this case no news is bad news; Districts in our County and around the state are building their budgets based on the Co-Chairs 7.8B framework, or the Governor’s 8.0B proposed funding level; both of these are well below the 8.4B allocation needed to maintain the “Current Service Level” for K-12 Districts throughout the State.  Superintendents shared the plans that are forming in their districts to deal with the funding shortfall- including cutting school days, eliminating programs, and laying off staff.  These cuts will lead to an even-shorter school year for Oregon’s children- who already have one of the shortest school years in the nation and also will result in even larger class sizes- another ‘dubious honor’ that our State holds.  Oregon’s economy is robust, and unemployment is at the lowest level in a long, long time; however, the state is facing a 1.6B+ revenue shortfall, due in large measure to the PERS promises that were made to current retirees decades ago.  Those PERS obligations will cost our District an additional $400K next year, and that obligation is expected to continue to increase for the next several biennia at least. We are discussing cost-cutting measures in negotiations with our licensed employee group, and will be digging more into those specifics at our Budget Committee meeting coming up on May 8th.   People who are interested in getting involved in the school funding conversation- and having their voices heard by the legislature- may visit the Oregon Rising website for information and materials. 

At that State Superintendents’ Meeting, we also had hoped to hear more definitive information about the status of Measure 98 funds for the 2017-18 school year.  Apparently, because of the looming State Revenue shortfall, specific commitments for that funding have not yet been secured.  We heard that the funding for next year could range from full funding, to no funding, to 50% funding, to 75% funding.  It makes it challenging to try to plan for (and plan how to pay for!) new high school programs when we don’t know what funding- if any- we might receive.  However, we are working proactively to identify those new courses and programs that would be of greatest interest to, and highest value for, our high school students. We also believe that if funding is granted for next school year, we will be able to use up to 15% of it for 8th grade.

We are planning to offer our 8th to 9th grade transition program, the Bridge Program again this summer- whether or not Measure 98 funds will be available to support that program.  We have learned that Stanford University’s Decision Education Foundation program will again cover the cost of training our program staff and upper-class program mentors.  We also will be reaching out to the Education Together Foundation program to support the purchase of some of the materials, food, and incentives for the program, and will cobble together any gap funding from our general fund.  In its first year last summer, this program demonstrated its worth by having participating students enter high school better prepared, less anxious, and more connected to their new school.

Now, turning to news from the April 24th board meeting, Acting Chair Denise Pratt shared that this week is Teacher Appreciation Week; I was out in a couple of our schools this morning and staff rooms were heaped with goodies and decorations clearly demonstrating how loved our teachers are!  Next, special recognition was offered for several amazing volunteers:  Sandy Sherman for Laurel Elementary and Wendy Thelander for Territorial Elementary. These women are amazing, and give so generously of their time to make sure that our elementary students have the best, most enriching educational experience around.

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm DeChase Miksis and Citizens Advisory Committee Members (CAC) Michael Kaiser and Lynda Taylor.  That team provided highlights from the April CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. They also noted that the bid package is out for the High School addition and remodel projects; bid documents are posted on the District website and are due at the District Office tomorrow, May 2nd, by 3 PM. 

The group also spoke about the many additional projects the District will be able to take on thanks to the nearly 10 MILLION DOLLARS in additional funding that has been secured, and that will not need to be repaid by our District’s tax payers.  That additional money includes the $4 Million State Capital Matching grant the District received, $1.5 Million in Seismic Safety grant funding, nearly $3 Million dollars in bond premiums that the District received when selling the bonds as a result of both the favorable bond market and the District’s strong credit rating, and over $1 Million dollars in Energy Efficiency dollars. Wow!  These additional funds also allowed us to work with architectural firm DLR to revise the plans for the high school addition so that we can more immediately address JCHS student safety by creating a single campus with one main entrance (as opposed to the multi-building campus that we have now.)

We also asked our architect to plan for how to integrate our District Mascot, the Tiger, into the design for the new addition.  A sneak peek of that vision is included as an attachment to this emailed newsletter.  In incorporating the Tiger into the exterior brick work, we may reach out to the Tiger Club and other local organizations to help promote a fundraiser that would create a special plaque listing donors for the feature wall, or sponsorship of some of the outdoor plaza furniture like benches.  The funds raised could then be used to commission some special works of art for the addition, a sculpture outside, or special furniture for the new media center, community room, or coffee bar/common area in the remodeled WW media center.

It was also shared that there have been inquiries and interest from a variety of public and not-for-profit entities, including Ophelia’s Place, Junction City Athletics, the City of JC, JCPD, community-based health center,  regarding how the District might repurpose the East Wing when the addition has been completed and those classrooms are no longer needed.  The board will want to seek some guidance on how best to use the East Wing for the greatest benefit to our community, and how to structure that use (and for what length of time) since the long-range facilities plan would put the EW back into play in future phasing of the High School improvements.

Finally, an idea was surfaced for developing a business directory that could be made available to all of the workers that will be on our school campuses over the next few years, working on our bond projects.  I have reached out to Rick at the Chamber to see if he can help identify businesses for the director. The District also may reach out to list interested businesses in a directory for contractor and subs; if they are interested, a coupon book could be developed, or the directory could list discounts or specials for those bond project workers when they show their badge.

With respect to action items at Monday’s board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on March 20th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  They also approved leaves of absences for JCHS teacher Liz Henderson, and OMS teacher Ceri Burke.  They acted to hire Mark Navin as a temporary grade 3 teacher at Laurel; Mark was hired to take the place of a teacher who moved and resigned mid-year.  They also approved the hiring of Danae Wood as a special education teacher at OMS, and Kathryne Kent as a special education teacher at Laurel. 

The board also accepted the resignation of Jamie Newbold (grade 3, Laurel Elementary), Nancy Reade (special education, Territorial) and Jessie Proulx (math, Oaklea).  The resignation of JCHS Principal McRae also was tendered, and reluctantly accepted by the board. 

After accepting Mr. McRae’s resignation, meeting attendees were made aware of the plans for the HS leadership positions, beginning with the 2017-18 school year.   The departure of both Principal McRae and Assistant Principal Steve Jones will present some very significant challenges for our District and for the high school.  Given these tremendous losses in high school leadership- and the potential for losses in institutional history, established relationships, and school improvement initiatives that are underway at the high school, the board and I have been challenged to think “outside the box” in terms of a plan that would minimize the negative impacts on the High School staff, students, and the many initiatives that are underway.  After very careful consideration, it seems that the approach that would be most successful- and least disruptive- to the high school would be to look within the current ranks of the Administrative Leadership Team to figure out how best to fill the void that will be left by the departure of these 2 long-time high school administrators. 

We have two seasoned principals on our team who both have extensive backgrounds at the high school level- including in leadership positions- that will be reassigned to serve as co-principals of Junction City High School.  Dina Marschall- currently the principal at Territorial Elementary and our District TAG program Director- taught at Roseburg High School for many years, and was the Program Director of a very successful Early Childhood education program for Roseburg High School students. She also has an established track record as a principal in our District, and has been involved in a number of District-level curriculum, technology, teacher evaluation, and assessment initiatives that have helped her develop credibility, connections and relationships across our 4 schools.  Brian Young has successfully served as principal at Oaklea Middle School since the 2012-13 school year.  Prior to that, he served as the Assistant Principal at Junction City High School, and before that, he also was a teacher at Roseburg High School, where he also served as Chair of the Social Studies Department. 

The “Co-Principal” model is one that is sometimes used in high schools- most noticeably in those model high schools that have been participants in some of the Gates Foundation grants.  Both Dina and Brian have established leadership track records in our District and successful high school teaching experience in other districts. They both possess tremendous skills and talents in instruction, curriculum, behavior management, community relations, and staff supervision and evaluation. They both possess those important soft-skills- they are effective communicators and develop strong, respectful, professional relationships with others.  Their skillsets will be complementary, and I am confident that they will work very effectively to manage the heavy workload and complex challenges that high school administrators face. 

This week, we will be creating an open posting for the Oaklea Middle School principal position; we may wait for quite a bit on the Territorial administrative position as the FTE may be filled differently and/or combined with a position other than the TAG director position during this time of budget cuts.  With respect to administrative openings- other than the high school leadership positions that will be filled via reassignments- we anticipate using a process similar to that which we have employed in past principal hiring processes. That process has been one that has allowed for very meaningful staff, parent, board member, and community member involvement. 

In the final two action items of the evening, the board accepted Special Projects Director Tom Endersby’s recommendations for the upcoming K-5 Science materials adoption; the plan for the grades 6 through 12 adoption will be presented at a later meeting.  In the final action item, the board approved adding a year to the Superintendent’s contract, to maintain a rolling, 3-year term of employment with the District.

With respect to discussion items, the board received Oaklea Middle School’s “Annual Report”, and also heard from the high school about some pending changes to the Athletic Code of Conduct to make it more clear for students and parents. 

Tom Endersby presented the draft 2017-18 school calendar.  He reminded all those in attendance that further changes in the calendar may be required due to the State’s revenue shortfall, as well as possible changes that may be negotiated with our associations.  Business Manager Alison Covey provided a financial update and reminded everyone that there is a Budget Committee meeting on May 8th.  The Superintendent shared an enrollment update, and the Board was presented with a copy of the “Governor’s Safe and Welcoming Schools for All Students” executive order.

Finally, just a reminder that June 19th, 20th and 21st will now be school days for students in grades K-11, due to all of the inclement weather closures we had this year.  Graduation will still take place at Peden Stadium on Saturday, June 10th at 2 PM.  Also, if you are a parent of an incoming kindergartener, please be sure to contact the head secretary at both Territorial and Laurel to get information on kindergarten registration requirements and the summer Kids in Transition to School (KITS) program.

Have a wonderful week!


March 2017

I can’t believe we are heading into the home stretch of the 2016-17 school year! Our students and staff returned from Spring Break well-rested, re-energized, and ready to begin the third trimester.  

Just before break, our School Board held their March meeting; below you can read the March 2017 issue of the Junction City Schools Update, along with some news from the March 20th school board meeting.   Happy reading, and happy spring!

On March 2nd, Territorial students and staff participated in an assembly and a 30-minute school wide read-a-thon in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  Dr. Seuss titles were available and pairs of older and younger students participated in partner reading throughout the read-a-thon, reporting on the titles read, which were later tallied, graphed, and displayed in the hallway.  This year, Territorial’s 135 students read 463 books!  Traditions like these are great fun and really support the connections that are so valuable to student learning and success.

Also on the 2nd, representatives of the Junction City Soroptimist Club visited Territorial to give each and every child their very own book again this year.  It was such fun to see the excitement generated by this activity as students selected a book to KEEP for their very own.  Many thanks to the members of the Junction City Soroptimists; we appreciate their generosity and tremendous efforts to support our students and families throughout the year.

We also appreciate the fabulous service of District Nurse, Carol Puderbaugh.  On March 8th, Nurse Carol provided First Aid and CPR instruction for TES staff, certifying 11 staff members.  Additional instruction was provided on the use of the available AED equipment.

The annual Territorial Elementary School Project Fair was held March 10th and was a huge success with 82 students submitting project boards for display.  Students illustrated their use of the scientific inquiry method as they developed and tested hypotheses related to questions they posed.  Several parent volunteers served as judges, evaluating each project board and providing a participation ribbon and written feedback for students.  Many thanks to our project fair volunteers as well as the parents and families who supported and assisted students in completing their projects at home.

Members of the Eugene Ems staff joined in for Territorial’s morning Bobcat Assembly on March 13th to kick off their reading incentive program.  Students who meet their reading goal this spring will receive two tickets to an EMS baseball game as well as VIP access to meet players on the field.

State testing got underway at TES on Wednesday, March 15th with 5th grade students taking the OAKS Science assessment.  This first round of assessments provided staff with an opportunity to check the readiness of technology and practice procedures prior to implementation of the Smarter Balanced ELA and Math assessments for 3rd - 5th grade students scheduled to begin April 10th.

One team from Territorial qualified to compete in the Regional OBOB tournament which was held at North Eugene HS on Saturday, March 18th.  Coach Annette Sisler expressed her admiration for the time, energy and dedication of all our OBOB participants as well as her appreciation for the number of parent-helpers who assisted with practices throughout the season.

Two LEGO League Jr. Teams from Territorial joined teams from Laurel and around the state, showcasing their projects at the State Level Expo held at OMSI on Sunday, March 19th.  Coaches Amy Barnes and Sara Probert worked with these students throughout the winter as they researched a problem related to the provided theme, “Creature Craze”, in addition to identifying a solution, constructing a model and creating a project board to explain their thinking. 

Just before break, Territorial staff used their Professional Activity time on March 23rd and 24th to complete 2nd trimester report cards, conference with families as requested, and plan for instruction through the end of the year.

The week before Spring Break, the construction fences came down- and on Monday, March 20th, students had their first opportunity to play under the newly constructed covered area at TES.  Principal Marschall made the announcement at the Bobcat assembly first thing that morning and the students went wild with excitement to be able to use shelter.  Students have been watching, learning and asking questions during the entire construction project and last month, the third-graders posted thank you notes on the fence to express their gratitude as the project was nearing completion.  We are all incredibly grateful for the community investment in- and support of- our school! Please watch for information about Territorial’s upcoming “Barn-Raising” to celebrate the completion of the play shelter; the event is planned for late May.

Additionally, students are preparing for the annual Talent Show and the TPA is working to plan for another amazing school-wide Outdoor School experience.

Laurel’s Talent Show took place on March 10th and was outstanding!! The students’ talents were out of this world. Thanks to all of the parents, grandparents, and community members who attended the show to support our children and our school. A huge thank you goes out to Music Specialist Deborah Adams for her dedication to our children; she spent countless hours preparing for the show and it all paid off! In addition to the amazing student performances, several members from the Laurel staff joined the principal in a surprise dance that was the opening act for the night. The students LOVED it! The show concluded with celebrating Mrs. Adams’ accomplishments at Laurel, and showering her with much-deserved accolades, love, and respect for her time so honorably serving the Junction City community. Everyone wished her a happy retirement next year; it was a wonderful way to end the fantastic show. We are so grateful to have a positive and energetic Laurel family that values fun and joy as part of the learning experience.

Dr. Seuss Family Fun Night at Laurel was held in early March and was amazing. We invited several key community members to be guest readers. The event was well-attended and the students had so much fun exploring books and participating in literacy-based activities.  To further celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, the Junction City Soroptimist Group came to Laurel on Friday, March 11th and celebrated with all of our students. They handed out a book for each and every child that attends Laurel to take home and keep for their very own. The students treasured those books and were so happy to receive them. Thanks to all of our supportive community members!  Our next family Fun Night is coming up on April 20th. We are hosting a science fair where students are going to showcase the science projects they have been working hard to put together. We are excited to be highlighting the great work our students are doing in science.

Just before break, teachers in all grade levels conducted Spring Parent/Teacher Conferences. They met with families and discussed students’ progress and needs. It is always a positive experience for teachers and parents to connect and celebrate success and growth. The staff at Laurel deserves recognition for fostering such a collaborative and positive school culture with a common goal of supporting our students to reach their full potential.

Laurel’s third and fourth grade students are getting ready to take the Smarter Balanced test two weeks after spring break. Currently, the teachers and proctors are administering the practice test to allow students to get a feel of what it’s like to take the test. Our students are having a positive experience practicing for this test, and we are anticipating the process to go very smoothly.
Oaklea’s staff and students spent the month of March focusing on gathering support and donations for the "Pennies For Patients" program.  The national fund raiser is for children dealing with leukemia and lymphoma.  Cancer has impacted numerous individuals in our building- both staff and students- and hits us especially hard at this time while we have a beloved teacher dealing with this disease.  Kids went above and beyond and raised over $1000 for this worthwhile cause.  Oaklea’s Leadership students organized activities for donations, such as hat days, music selections in the cafeteria, coin drives in TEAM rooms, and duct taping several staff members to the cafeteria wall during lunches. Students watched a video with several families dealing with these blood cancers, and the impact of that information has been significant and inspiring to students.

In addition to this month’s Pennies for Patients effort, Oaklea students, administrators and licensed staff celebrated our classified employees during the first full week of March; we appreciate all they do to support our kids, teachers, and school community.

As mentioned last month, our staff has selected 6 traits they would like to see in all of our 8th grade graduates.  The project is called "A Portrait of an Oaklea Graduate".  The traits selected are: Understand Your World, Critical & Creative Thinkers, Self- Awareness, Academic Grit, Goal Driven, and Collaborators & Communicators.  On our Professional Activity day on the Friday before break, teachers dug deeper to document when we are building students toward these goals at each of our grade levels.  This is all part of the professional development brought to us through the ArtCore and Studio-To-Schools grants.

Ninety-seven Oaklea student athletes are participating in track.  Simply Amazing!  That represents 1/5th of our student body.  Coaches Jeff Starr, Chris Surface, and Shannon McAdams are building such a positive and solid program at Oaklea, and it really helps with the development of Junction City High
School’s track program as well.

Oaklea’s OBOB team reached an unprecedented Sweet 16 at the recent Regional Competition, and the Oaklea 7th & 8th Robotics team finished in the top 10% of the 450 middle school teams that recently competed at the State level.  WOW! Brain Bowl has also started.  State testing is now underway, with students starting with Smarter Balanced Language Arts in mid-March.

Thankfully, JCHS closed the gradebooks on a challenging and extended second trimester, with finals and second trimester grades submitted just before the break.  After having a chance to recharge and reset during spring break, students and staff are looking forward to a more regular school schedule including 8th Grade Parent Night on April 17, the Top Tiger Pageant on April 24, a sobering pre-prom assembly presented by JCFD and JCPD just ahead of the Prom on May 8.  Please note that Tri-3 Parent-Teacher Conferences have been postponed to May 11 to account for the calendar shift due to inclement weather.

A request for an active shooter training for First Responders including JCPD, JCFD and local EMT’s has been postponed. It was tentatively scheduled for Friday, March 24, with staff in the building as participants and observers, but it was delayed until later in the year.  Principal McRae will keep the board, staff and community posted on these plans going forward.

Despite the rather soggy spring weather, Tiger Softball and Baseball were able to get on the field for their first scheduled games of the season. The Tennis opener was rained out, but the girls still got one match in this past week. Golfers teed up their first shots, and the first starter’s pistol of the spring echoed across Track & Field the week before break. 

Work on the documentary video intended to portray the spectrum of student perspectives in the days following the November election continues to be in post-production. The finished product is expected to be available very soon.  The Social Justice League has been considering the most effective and safe means of presenting the video to students and allowing for supported conversations in addressing the perspectives that are presented.  There also is a plan to include the video in the Annual Social Justice League Film Festival for a broader community audience.

At the February board meeting, the high school began the first of what we expect will be monthly reports regarding behavioral incidences- and responses to such incidents- when the incident involves racism, harassment, bullying or intimidation. There has been one minor harassing behavior incident reported and addressed since that February Board Meeting.   We have had several parents, board members and administrative staff members working with the Social Justice League to improve school climate and student safety for all.  To that end, the group is almost ready to launch a mentoring program that will have diverse high school students building positive relationships with students at Laurel.  Participating students are eager to get started!

At the February board meeting, several visitors spoke under public comment regarding their High School Student Exchange service.  In light of the issue being raised, JCHS plans to bring forward revisions regarding the process for accepting Foreign Exchange students and the Athletic Code and Rules to the April Board meeting. JCHS will be looking for consensus support as the revisions aren’t likely to require changes to Board Policy.

In District News, in mid-March I spent the day in Salem meeting with our local legislators and others to discuss school funding for K-12 for the 2017-19 biennium in light of the State’s 1.7B+ projected shortfall.  As those in attendance at the board meeting heard later in the evening when Alison presented the District’s financial update, the Co-Chairs’ proposed budget formed the basis for the “Official Estimate” school districts received on the first Friday in March.  The proposed funding level would result in drastic reductions to K-12 Districts state-wide; our District would need to reduce over 1M in expenses in each of the next 2 years should we ultimately be funded at the level proposed in the Official Estimate.  While professional organizations such as OSBA and COSA believe that estimated funding number will increase, even in the best case scenario we will still need to make reductions in expenditures for the next biennium, due in large part to increases in our PERS obligations and other employee-related roll-up costs.   To that end, a number of these issues will be discussed at the bargaining table while we are in contract negotiations with JCEA.  We very much look forward to working with our Association Leaders to find the best ways to deal with this funding shortfall using strategies that have the least detrimental impact on students, and our staff.

I also had the opportunity to talk with our legislators about other issues of concern to our District, including funding for Measure 98, eliminating or delaying a number of mandates, and asking the legislature to allow districts to “opt-out” of OEBB so that we have the opportunity to shop for more affordable health care for our staff.  We will certainly keep you all posted as the budget information is updated and as other education-related changes occur at the State Legislative level.

Interested staff and patrons also may wish to visit OSBA’s webpage to see the results of the organization’s Revenue Reform Survey which can be found at http://www.osba.org/-/media/Files/Resources/Legislative/OSBA-State-Funding-Survey-Report-February-2017.pdf?la=en.  Interested parties also may wish to visit COSA’s website, where you can find a link to the Oregon Rising Project, which also shows how strongly Oregonians value our public schools and believe that the future of Oregon rests on our ability to provide our children with the quality education they deserve http://www.oregon-rising.org/.

Now, turning to news from the March 20th board meeting-  the meeting began with entertainment by the Oaklea Marimba band.  It was festive and fabulous! After performing several songs, OMS music teacher Jim McReynolds spoke with the board about the upcoming “Schools on Trains” trip to Seattle in June. Sixteen students, accompanied by 7 chaperones- including Board Chair Wendy Waddell and Board Member Judy Croce- will travel by train for a field trip that will include a visit to the Experience Music Project Museum, the Pike Place Market and more. The students, staff, and volunteers have been busy fundraising to help offset the cost of the trip. Many thanks to the staff members and parents who have given of their time to serve hot dogs at Autzen Stadium during football games to help pay for this special activity and other music program needs.

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm DeChase Miksis and Citizens Advisory Committee Members (CAC) Michael Kaiser and Judy Kazmierkoski.  That team provided highlights from the March CAC meeting (please note that those minutes and associated handouts are posted on the District website) and then offered information about the status of current projects and budgets. They also noted that the District would be “going out for bid” for the High School addition and remodel projects on April 4th; bid documents are posted on the District website and there will be a “walk-through” for contractors and subcontractors at 10 AM on April 12th.  Some important dates to keep in mind are May 15th for a possible ground-breaking event at JCHS, and the Barn-Raising/TES play shelter completion celebration on May 23rd.  More information will be available as those dates draw near J. 

With respect to action items at Monday’s board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on February 27th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  They also approved an updated list of Probationary/Temporary/ and Contract Staff for 2017-18, and updated the number of openings under Open Enrollment to account for students that are already attending JCHS on transfers.

The board then heard from several distinguished guests, JC Police Chief Bob Morris and JCSD School Resource Officer Ken Jackson.  The PD representatives provided an overview of the SRO program, and those in attendance were reminded that we are currently in year 3 of a 4-year Federal COPS grant program.  The board expressed deep appreciation for the work of our SRO, and affirmed their commitment to provide $20K in funding to continue the program for the 2017-18 school year, per the terms of the agreement between the City and the school district.  Several board members (along with the business manager, superintendent, and representative of the District administrative team) expressed a willingness to meet with Chief Morris, the city’s budget manager, the City Administrator and several City Councilors near the end of this year to talk about how the program might be sustained after the 2017-18 school year when the grant funds are no longer available.

In other Discussion items, those in attendance heard the annual report from Junction City High School Principal and Assistant Principal.  A lengthier overview will be provided when the March board meeting minutes are posted, but the key take-aways are that JCHS continues to post graduation rates that exceed the state average and that gains are being made in closing the achievement gap.  With respect to school climate at the high school, it appears that things have stabilized and there was only one report of minor harassment during March; students in the Social Justice League are also very excited to kick off their mentoring program at Laurel Elementary school this spring. 

Steve Jones and Ronda Wheadon then shared some information that they have been gathering about the feasibility of our district offering our own Online Options program for students K-12.  Currently, there are students enrolled in one of several online “web academies” in the state.  It has presented a challenge for some parents of online students to also have their children take advantage of courses and special programs that the district offers since most of those programs do not allow for dual enrollment or ADM (state school fund) sharing. Also of concern is that many of these online charter programs have very low graduation rates (e.g., rates between 20-30%, with one of the programs graduating less than 12% of their seniors last year).   Hosting an online program in our district would mean that families could easily access dual enrollment opportunities, receive face-to-face instructional support from our highly qualified teaching staff, and participate in enrichment programs, after school activities, and athletics and pay the same fee as full-time students in the district.  Once the new high school addition is completed in the summer of 2018, such a program could be housed away from the rest of the school buildings, either in the Pitney Center or in an unused area of the old East Wing.  In the coming weeks and months, we will be assessing families’ interest in such a program, and then working with the board on how best to offer such a program in the coming years.

The board also heard a brief financial report and a student enrollment update. In terms of financial news, given the State’s projected budget shortfall, our administrative team, board, and budget committee will be working on a budget that plans for staffing and expenditures in a series of “Tiers” so that we can respond most nimbly to changes in the State School Fund appropriation for our District.  With respect to student enrollment, the number of students enrolled for the 2016-17 school year has been stable. We look forward to welcoming new families to the District upon completion of the new subdivision off of 10th; with regard to Open Enrollment (applications for which closed last week), it appears that we will need to use a “lottery” system at most grade levels as the number of requests for enrollment by out-of-district students is exceeding the number of spots the board opened up.  Those who are not admitted under Open Enrollment can take heart, however, as they may later apply for admission using the inter-district transfer process.  For more information about transfers, please contact Stephanie White in the District Office.

Finally, just a reminder that June 19th, 20th and 21st will now be school days for students in grades K-11, due to all of the inclement weather closures we had this year.  Graduation will still take place at Peden Stadium on Saturday, June 10th at 2 PM.  Also, if you are a parent of an incoming kindergartener, please be sure to contact the head secretary at both Territorial and Laurel to get information on upcoming kindergarten registration activities and the summer Kids in Transition to School (KITS) program.

February 2017

I probably shouldn’t say this out loud, but it is the first week of March and I am hoping that we have seen the last of this year’s snow days, delayed starts and alternate bus routes!  We did miss six days of school, and also had several delayed starts. In order to meet the State’s Instructional Hour requirements, the board approved a plan to “add back” 3 of the missed school by having students attend on June 19, 20 and 21. There also will be some changes to this month’s calendar, in that March 16th and 17th are now student days, and March 23rd and 24th are now non-student days.  Please visit the District website at http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/ to get the scoop on changes to the calendar.  While you are there, take a few minutes to check out the “Bond Updates” section to see images of the progress of the Territorial Play Shelter, and to see our plans for the high school addition. There are some very cool interior, exterior, landscape and site plan images- as well as a link to an animation that will zoom you through the outside of the addition. 

What follows is the February 2017 issue of the Junction City Schools Update, along with some news from Monday night’s (February 27th) school board meeting.   Happy reading, and stay warm and dry!

Territorial students completed the Winter Easy CBM Benchmark assessments this month, with teachers meeting to review data on February 13th.  They saw growth across grade levels in Reading and Math Measures, with 89% of students scoring in the “low risk” category on the CCSS Math measure of the Winter Benchmark assessment.  Currently 5 of our 6 classrooms have moved above the 80% “low risk” target and 3 grade levels now have more than 90% of students identified as “low risk” in Math.  We attribute this improvement to our focus on Math instruction over the past four years, the availability and use of Common Core aligned curriculum for core instruction, the inclusion of “Double Dose” time in the schedule, and the addition of specific math intervention activities outside of the core.  Teachers also saw growth in student scores on Reading measures school-wide, with 83% of students identified as “low risk” in those measures on the Winter Benchmark.  At this point in the year, 4 of 6 grade levels have reached year-end targets, with more than 80% of students scoring in the” low risk” category in Reading.  Teachers collaborated to identify specific strategies to support student learning and growth in core subjects going forward with an eye toward moving our “some risk” and “high risk” students up at least one level on the Spring Benchmark scheduled for May.

During the February 8th Early Release time, Territorial teachers met with Lane ESD Science guru Bob Curtis for a workshop focused on applying Next Generation Science Standards to hands on activities in the area of Engineering and Design.  Additionally, Bob provided insight and feedback on available and aligned curriculum and resources.

The annual Grandparent’s Day Tea was a great success, with outstanding grandparent participation.  We estimate that over 150 grandparents and special guests joined a child or two or three for tea and pastries February 10th.   Entertainment was provided by Territorial students and directed by Music teacher Amy Burrow.   Each class performed a song or instrumental selection for their guests.  Festivities wrapped up with students and grandparents visiting a photo booth to commemorate the day before stopping off to shop at the Scholastic Book Fair.  Many” thanks” to our faithful TPA volunteers and Territorial Staff, all of whom worked very hard to make this a memorable day for students and grandparents alike.  TPA volunteer and Book Fair Coordinator, Wendy Thelander reported sales of over $3,000 this year.

Fifteen Territorial students participated in the Oregon Battle of the Books Program this year, with two teams continuing on to the District competition held on February 24th at Oaklea Middle School; ultimately, one team from Territorial qualified to move on to the regional competition to be held March 18th at North Eugene High School.   Good luck OBOB Bobcats!

Planning for Outdoor School activities is well underway; a theme of “Long Ago at Lutherwood” will take us back to yester-year as students school wide spend the week engaging in a variety of hands-on, enriching activity stations including leather craft, archery, stream science, archaeology,  old time games, pioneer challenge and outdoor cooking to name a few.  We are incredibly grateful to the Territorial Parent Association volunteers who work year-round to raise funds for this fun and memorable culminating experience as well as those staff and parents who are engaged in the planning and preparation necessary to make TES Outdoor School a success.

Laurel’s recent BINGO night was such a huge success, raising over $6000! Many thanks to our Parent Group for working so hard on collecting donations from community members and putting baskets together for BINGO prizes and the silent auction. Also a huge thank you for Laurel teachers for contributing to the collection of basket items. Laurel is also very grateful for the community members who attended the event and contributed to the fundraising cause and to the fourth grade teachers who helped during the event.  Because of this collective effort, we will be able to provide our fourth graders with a unique opportunity to participate in Outdoor School, where they will spend a whole week at Camp Lutherwood, engaging in hands on science and physical activities.

Laurel’s next Family fun night happened last night- March 2nd; the theme was “Dress Like Your Favorite Children’s Book Character Night.”   Staff and students were invited to dress up like their favorite book character the entire day on Thursday, March 2nd. During the evening event, community members read aloud all-time favorite Dr. Seuss books; families played games, won door prizes, made crafts and much more. It was a marvelous night filled with fun and love of reading. In addition, the school took this opportunity to promote healthy eating and well-being through our CATCH program. They offered informational materials and YUMMY, healthy snacks were set up in the cafeteria for families to enjoy. It was a wildly successful Family Fun Event!

Laurel’s Vision Focus for the month of February was “Responsible Citizens”. They kicked this theme off by honoring one of the most responsible citizens in town, our School Resource Officer Ken Jackson. During our student assembly on February 8th, we welcomed a group of community members from The American Legion of Junction City who helped us celebrate Officer Jackson’s contributions to our community. Some members of the high school band also joined us that day and filled the room with their wonderful music. We will continue to promote a culture of equity and success for each and every student through the intentional focus on achieving our school’s vision.

Laurel was recently able to use Education Together grant funds to order two more promethean boards, and we are planning to order another for our kindergarten classrooms. This means that hopefully by the end of this year, we will have a promethean board in every general education classroom at Laurel. This is exciting and energizing as our teachers are using this tool to transform their teaching and engage students on a totally different and deeper level. Many thanks to the wonderful community members who contribute to grant funds through Education Together. We are grateful for this generous contribution.

Laurel teachers just finished a round of Professional Learning Community (PLC) Cycles where they engaged in the analysis of their teaching and student achievement. We found that- generally- our student achievement is trending upward and students are showing great growth. We attribute this success to the tireless work of our teachers to use the strategies that best fit each student’s academic needs. As we have it in our school’s vision, each and every student is engaged in activities and learning opportunities that promote their academic growth and individual excellence.

This past Friday, Oaklea Middle School hosted the District Oregon Battle of the Books competition, with various teams from Junction City competing for the opportunity to represent Junction City Schools in the regional competition.  Best of luck to those JCSD teams participating in the March Regional Competition.

Earlier this week, (Tuesday, February 28th) Oaklea hosted a "Camping Out With Reading" night at 5:30pm.  Students and families were invited for pizza and refreshments; there were literacy stations throughout the building, the Book Fair, and a chance for kids to win gift cards by participating in activities focused on literacy.  The evening event is one of the highlights as we celebrated "Read Across America Week” this entire week.

On Valentine’s Day, the 7th and 8th grade Leadership students and advisors walked to two JC Retirement Centers to hand out valentines to some of our senior citizens. The students enjoyed sharing stories about life in middle school and hearing childhood memories from our seniors as well.  The Leadership students also helped in organizing positive activities during this National Random Acts of Kindness Month.

On our February Early Release day, Oaklea’s math teachers spent time with a consultant to become more familiar with our new Ready Math curriculum, science teachers met to discuss how we are addressing the Next Generation standards at each grade level, and our classified staff trained with behavior specialists Ryan Stanley and Darcey Edwards on some essential MANDT strategies: avoiding power struggles, helping students to de-escalate, and non-verbal strategies.

5th and 8th grade students are now completing OAKS science testing, and we are gearing up to start Smarter Balanced testing in Reading beginning in mid-March.  Finally, our "Portrait of an Oaklea Graduate" project is moving along and we have now identified the skills and characteristics we would like to build into each of our 8th grade graduates.  More information to come.

As many are already aware, a group of nearly 40 students and 20 adults participated in a “sit-in” the afternoon of February 10th. The student-led rally voiced concern about the continuation of racially biased language targeting students of color at JCHS and the apparent lack of consequences for behaviors falling within the district’s harassment and bullying policy.

Efforts to collect complaints and address racial harassment and related behaviors within the policy have been progressing. JCHS staff met during the early release time to discuss ways to promote student reporting of issues. Individual and small group meetings with students over the past week have produced an uptick in reports, including a couple of incidents dating back to November and January.  To date, JCHS has addressed-or is addressing- 15 actionable incidents out of approximately 17 reported. Eleven of the incidents took place since the November election and were (at least) indirectly related to forms of harassment. Some 20 complainants contributed to the incident reports involving 12 offenders and/or co-offenders. Disciplinary actions have ranged from “conference with student” to out-of-school suspension and expulsion.

Plans are in the works for a campus campaign to inform students as to the types of incidents that should be reported. This effort is intended to define unacceptable and reportable behavior in explicit, kid-friendly language.

In other JCHS news, The Lane Workforce Partnership sent members of the Lane ESD Manufacturing Consortium to visit with Mr. King’s advanced Metals class last Tuesday. Industry representatives included plumbers, bricklayers, excavation, sand & gravel employees, and CTE-related programs at LCC. Presenters did a great job of explaining the paths from our shops and programs to employment, the importance of developing good work habits and skill sets while in high school, and the kind of living wages that good employees earn in each industry.  This visit went SO well that the Lane Workforce Partnership will be coming back with 4 more employers (Johnson Crushers, Peterson-Pacific, Seneca Sawmills and Ideal Steel) on April 20th from 1:30 to 3 PM. Thanks to our College and Career Center Coordinator Liz Bolton for shepherding these career outreach opportunities to our students.

Tiger Wrestling sent four wrestlers to the OSAA State Tournament at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland this past weekend. Congratulations to Cameron Truesdell, Travis Hodgson, Tyler Morris, and John Dover for advancing to the big tournament. Tyler walked away with a 4th place finish, and John earned 2nd in State in his weight class.  Coach Bob Lee made large gains in fielding a competitive team this season, and the future looks bright based on booming participation at the middle and elementary grades.

Coach Bolton’s Girls’ Varsity Basketball team traveled to Seaside for the play-in round of the OSAA State Tournament this past Saturday. This group of overachievers surprised many with their competitive spirit and a third-place finish in the Sky-Em League.  Several of our Lady Tigers also earned All-League Honors: Madi Mehlbrech was named First Team, Alexa Norris was named to the Second team and both Mariah Ohman and McKenzie Evans received Honorable Mention.   Now, on to Spring Sports- and this weekend’s State Chess Tournament were the Tigers will compete!

While attendees at Monday’s board meeting heard a “Bond Update” later in their board meeting, I took a few moments to offer more detailed information about a non-bond related capital improvement issue.  I offered specific information in regard to the action the board took at their January board meeting to approve the purchase of a parcel of land at 18th and Rose in Junction City, just adjacent to Oaklea Middle School. 

I reminded attendees that during our Facilities Visioning process that took place in the years preceding the successful May 2016 Bond Measure, our District-Community Facilities Visioning Team identified the need for land acquisition to address future growth in our District; the District’s long range facilities plan was updated to reflect this identified need.

Our School Board had the foresight to plan for the future of our District and our community when they optioned the property at 18th and Rose in May of 2015- nearly 2 years ago- as a possible future elementary school site.  The property presents many advantages over using the current Laurel site for a future elementary school, in that there would not be a need to displace or reduce the number of playing fields our community values so tremendously- and for which the city already has an identified deficit.  Siting a future elementary school adjacent to the existing middle school also would allow for more efficient sharing of staff and programs between the elementary and middle school, and could potentially address many of the bus routing, traffic, and parking challenges that currently exist at both Laurel and Oaklea. 

The parcel is currently not zoned to allow for placement of a school- and in December 2015 the Junction City Planning Commission denied a request for a discretionary “Code Text Amendment” to allow for a school to be sited there.  At some point in the future, however, the District and Board will look forward to working with our land use attorneys and our City Officials to update the City’s comprehensive plan, zoning, and/or ordinances to acknowledge the District’s identified need for property for future expansion, and to allow the property to be used in way that offer the greatest benefit to future generations of Tigers, for the greater good of our community, and in a manner consistent with State Land Use Planning Goals and Junction City Comprehensive Plan. 

In this discussion, I also took the opportunity to state yet again for the record, the source of funding for this land acquisition.  There apparently has been continued confusion or intentional misinformation shared in our community- so it was again stated for the record that NOT A PENNY of the May 2016 bond money, premiums, or capital matching funds have been- or will be- used for this land acquisition.  The land purchase will be paid for over time and funded from the District’s special maintenance fund, which is funded largely by receipts from the District’s collection of “Construction Excise Taxes”.  Construction Excise Taxes are authorized under ORS 320.170, collected at the point of permitting for new residential or commercial construction, and used as specifically defined in 320.183.  ORS 320.183 (3)(a)(A) expressly permits the use of these funds for land acquisition and specifies that the funds may not be used for programs or staff, or “operating costs or costs of routine maintenance” (ORS 320.183(E)(b)). 

When the legislature authorized the implementation of a Construction Excise Tax in the mid-2000s, it was with the intention of giving Oregon School Districts a way to plan for future growth and facilities needs, and to have new residents and businesses “contribute” to the current tax base that had been used to construct existing (and future) school facilities.  On the topic of growth, I also shared my understanding that the City has approved a development near 10th and Tamarack that will result in 32 new homes to the District, and may be approving Phase 2 of the Reserve that will result in more than 120 new residences in Junction City- the mayor was in attendance at the meeting and confirmed that these proposed developments are in various stages of the City’s planning processes.  Obviously, it is more than prudent for this school board to plan for the future land and facilities; those homes will bring new students to our District and the CET receipts generated by these new homes will help the District plan for the future. 

I also shared the board’s thinking that the District may use several other authorized funding sources to pay for- or recoup some of the costs of- this land purchase in the future.  Earlier this winter, the District commissioned a cruise of the timber at Territorial and found there is significant value there; we also are working with land use attorneys to determine if any of the timbered Territorial property could be designated as “surplus” and sold at some point in the future. 

Additionally, the acreage at 18th and Rose may be in excess of what is needed for a new school, playground, playing fields, and parking so another option a future school board may wish to consider is partitioning off some of that property’s acreage for sale for some residential development. 

I also noted that at this time- and for the next 2-3 years- our District and board’s focus with respect to facilities is to use the bond funds as transparently and prudently as possible to make sure that our Community sees the best possible outcomes for its investment.  A little later in the agenda, attendees heard from the District’s Project Management firm and representatives from the Citizens Advisory Committee regarding bond projects and finances.

Now, turning to news from Monday night’s board meeting-  the meeting began with several Special Recognition items. First, Judy Newman and Taylor Ludtke presented the District with an award on behalf of the United Way and the Early Learning Alliance acknowledging the District’s support of early learning, especially with the huge lift of Preschool Promise and KITS expansion this year.  They thanked the board and District administration, as well as District staff members and the maintenance department, for all of their support for the KITs program.

Next, Chair Wendy Waddell shared that it is National School Counselors’ Month, and she made the following statement: “Junction City School District’s counselors are actively committed to helping students explore their abilities, strengths, interests, and talents as these traits relate to career awareness and development.  They help parents focus on ways to further the educational, personal, and social growth of their children.  Our counselors work with teachers and other educators to help students explore their potential and set realistic goals for themselves.  They seek to identify and utilize community resources that can enhance and compliment comprehensive school counseling programs and help students become productive members of society.  Comprehensive developmental school counseling programs are considered an integral part of the educational process that enables all students to achieve success in school.  The Junction City School District Board of Directors wants to take a moment to thank our District’s counselors: Laurel & Territorial’s Miranda Linville, Oaklea’s Angie Elstone, and Junction City High School’s Brian Miller and Courtney Madsen, and our District’s School Psychologist, Sue Menen.  Thank you all for your commitment to our students, their parents, and our staff.”  Nurse Carol Puderbaugh also should be commended as a part of this wonderful group of professionals who go above and beyond to provide for the behavioral, mental health, and social services needs of all of our students.

Chair Waddell also noted that March 6-10 is Classified Appreciation Week and said “the board would like to join with everyone in showing our appreciation for our classified staff.  The education of youth is essential to the future of our community, state, country, and world.  Classified employees are the backbone of our public education system.  They are the heart of the education process; they are part of our community; they work directly with students, educators, parents, volunteers, business partners, and community members and our community depends upon and trusts them to serve students.  Our classified employees, with their diverse talents and true dedication, nurture students throughout their school years.  We so appreciate our classified staff; we couldn’t do what we do for kids without you all.  From us to the classified staff, thank you very much!”

The Board then honored Charity Boyster, nominated by JCHS, as the District’s Volunteer of the Month.  A list of donations to the District was presented and acknowledged, and the District heard a report from the Teachers’ Association President Steve Tedrick and a JCHS report from Student Representative to the Board, Audrey Sherman.

Next, the Board and attendees heard a Bond Update from the District’s Project Management Firm DeChase Miksis; there was a brief discussion about the status of the TES play shelter (it has been erected! The roof is on! The wall ball court has been constructed!) and the fact that the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) and the Territorial community will be working together to plan an Open House to “show off” the shelter once it is completed.  The Open House theme will be a Barn Raising, where there will be fiddling, food, and dance.  At the Open House- which will be scheduled for later in March or early April- the members of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, the Project Management firm, architects from DLR, and relevant District staff also will be on hand to share information and answer questions about other bond projects.  Judy Kazmierkoski and Allen Schwiegert represented the CAC during this part of the board meeting to talk about their most recent meeting- held on Wednesday of last week.  Patrons should also note that minutes from the Citizens’ Advisory Committee’s meetings will be posted on the District’s website at some point next week.

The Bond Core team met earlier this week, and we are at the “95% completion” stage of the Construction Documents part of the project.  We had some further soils testing done at JCHS earlier this week to do some environmental lab analysis of the site for the addition, and we expect that we will be able to have a bid package out for General Contractors’ consideration later this month!  We hope to break ground later this spring, and to conduct site preparation work over the summer. The target time for completion of the high school addition is Summer of 2018. 

During the “Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items” section of the meeting, the board heard from Peggy Walter and Shannon Webster who asked the board to re-evaluate how the District accepts exchange students. The board asked Principal Malcom McRae to come to the next board meeting after having reviewed the policies governing the admission of foreign exchange students and let the board know if any changes or revisions are recommended.  Elementary Music Specialist Deborah Adams also addressed the board under public comment to share her concerns about what she- and some of her colleagues- see as the increasing needs of children in our Districts. She described that she sees more students with extreme behavioral challenges, particularly in the early grades- and that she would like to work with the District administration and Board to problem-solve about how better to serve these students. Ms. Adams is expected to make a brief presentation on this topic at the March board meeting. 

With respect to action items at Monday’s board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on January 23rd (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  They also approved the list of Probationary/Temporary/ and Contract Staff for 2017-18, approved 2-year contracts for a group of Contract teachers, and approved 3-year contracts for several administrators who have obtained contract status.  The board also acted to approve a resolution adjusting appropriations between several Special Revenue Funds, approved the Lane Education Service District’s Local Service Plan for 2017-20, and approved the hiring of Kathryne Kent as the District’s newest special education teacher.  The board’s final action of the night was to approve the 2017-18 Open Enrollment Guidelines.  Interested parties should note that it is now Open Enrollment season, and those wishing to have their non-resident students attend the Junction City School District must submit an application to the District Office by the end of the day on April 3rd. 

The board then heard a presentation about the High School’s graduation rates, which have continued to improve almost every year, and continue to exceed the State average and the rates of many neighboring high schools.  The data presented at the meeting will be attached to the official minutes from the meeting after they are approved on March 20th. 

Next, the board heard a report about “School Climate” in our District, and learned that there will be survey of all middle and high school students conducted to get a better understanding of whether students feel safe at school, and to understand- and then address- instances of racism, bullying, or harassment that may be occurring in our schools.  Several board members (Waddell, Pratt and Gerdes) also attended a gathering that took place just before the board meeting that included District and building administrators, teachers and student representation. The purpose of the meeting was to have a discussion about what we can we do to be proactive in preventing racism and discrimination in our schools, and to plan next steps to further that goal. To that end, a number of the attendees at this meeting plan to work with members of the High School’s Social Justice League.  There also is talk about securing some “Peers as Allies” training for our students, and developing a mentoring program between high school students and elementary students.  The Board continues to affirm their commitment that our District prohibits any form of harassment, intimidation, bullying, cyber-bulling, and discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age.  We ask that our staff work together to increase our students’ and parents’ awareness of relevant Board policies, reporting procedures, and consequences for violating these policies.  To that end, all relevant policies have been posted on the front page of the District website at http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/ under a “hot button” that says “Junction City School District Non-Discrimination Policies”; all District staff are directed to read, understand, and follow these policies.  Students and parents who wish to initiate a report of harassment or discrimination are invited to contact the District’s Human Right’s Officer, Tom Endersby at tendersby@junctioncity.k12.or.us or 541-998-6311.  Such reports will be investigated and responded to in a manner commensurate with the findings of the investigation. 

The board also heard a brief financial report and a student enrollment update. Staff should be on the lookout for an email from me next week regarding the State’s proposed State School Funding levels for 2017-19. We will need to work together to advocate for a level of funding that can sustain our District’s staff levels, keep valued programs, and support our work in meeting the needs of every student. 

Have a wonderful weekend!



Students have constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. We expect that students exercise these rights in a non-disruptive and peaceful way, and at a time, and in a place and manner that meets that expectation.

Yesterday, a group of student leaders informed school officials that they intended to participate in today's national day of immigration. The students were proactive and responsible for prearranging their absences and making arrangements to make up their work. Students were encouraged to discuss their plans with their families and secure their permission.

Our district is committed to safe, healthy, and discrimination-free learning environments. Policies about student absences can be found in the student handbook. The District's nondiscrimination, anti-bullying, and harassment policies and reporting procedures can be found in the district website at http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/policies/NonDiscrimination.html.  Parents with questions pertaining to their own children are encouraged to contact school administration.

November 2016
I hope you all had a wonderful, restful Thanksgiving weekend! I can’t believe that the end of the first trimester of the 2016-17 school year is already upon us.  A reminder to all that there will be no school for students next Monday and Tuesday, December 5th and 6th.  Teachers will be working on their grades, participating in professional development activities, and hosting parent-teacher conferences at Territorial Elementary.  Students will return to school on Wednesday, December 7th and then Christmas Break is around the corner. Our schools and District Office will be closed from December 19th until staff and students return on Tuesday, January 3rd.

There also are reports of possible inclement weather next week. Please be sure that you are subscribed to receive messages from “Blackboard Connect” (if you are not sure, you can check with Ronda Wheadon by emailing her at rwheadon@junctioncity.k12.or.us )  You can also check our website (http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/) for information on snow routes, and to see notices regarding delays and closures when they are in effect. 

What follows is the November 2016 issue of the Junction City Schools Update, along with some news from last night’s school board meeting.   Happy reading, and stay warm!

Territorial’s Annual Food Drive is underway with boxes of donated, non-perishable food items filling the school’s entrance.  Food donations will be used for holiday baskets that will be distributed to local families through the Goldson Grange and Food for Lane County this season.

Our Coordinated Approach to Child Health or CATCH team, kicked off program activities at Territorial this month, as teachers and students used program materials to learn about and discuss the importance of healthy eating and exercise.  Second grade teacher Annette Sisler introduced the school to the CATCH program during our November 7th Bobcat assembly.  In addition to sharing staff CATCH cards, Mrs. Sisler led the whole school in an aerobic dance.  That afternoon, each class used whole foods to make a fun, healthy and yummy snack.  Classroom teachers implemented CATCH program health lessons at each grade level, while P.E. teacher Rebecca Smith integrated CATCH activities into her P.E. lessons.  Additionally, Wendy Erickson created a “Go”, “Slow”, and “Whoa” foods bulletin board which has been a great conversation starter for our students and parents.    The CATCH team has plans to continue the conversations started this month as well as plan for additional school-wide activities related to promoting healthy eating and an active lifestyle using the CATCH program materials.

The Taste for Territorial Dinner, Art Sale and Auction held on November 18th, was a huge success.   This TPA sponsored event brought in nearly $6,000 and provided an opportunity for students and families to spend time together enjoying food and fellowship.   Everyone was wowed by the displayed art work and there was healthy bidding on a variety of donated items including a custom fire pit, garden cart basket, spa package, coast trip, and duck hunting excursion to name a few.  Many thanks to the volunteers who worked to put on this fabulous community FUNdraiser, as well as those business partners who supported these efforts with donations of goods and services! A delicious dinner was provided by the Viking Inn.   As a result of the tireless efforts of our Territorial Parent Association and other generous volunteers, we are well on our way to generating the substantial funding needed to support our upcoming Outdoor School Activities.

Territorial teachers are excited about the prospect of adopting updated and aligned Science Curriculum this year.  To that end, teaching staff are working to identify and review available curriculum options as well as other resources to support implementation of Next Generation Science Standards in classrooms throughout the school.  Earlier this month, Pam Nelson and Cheryl Glasser attended an NGSS Science workshop in Albany, while Elyse Elder spent Veteran’s Day weekend at the National Science conference in Portland.  Elyse shared information and materials from the conference with staff on November 16th as part of our Early Release professional development activities.  Coming up, we have arranged for Bob Curtis from the Lane ESD to provide additional training around NGSS standards during the January 11th Early Release.

As the first trimester comes to a close, teachers are preparing for completion of report cards as well as scheduling parent teacher conferences which will take place on the evening of December 5th and throughout the day on December 6th.  This is a great opportunity to make the connections necessary to support student success.  Teachers are hoping for 100% turnout this year!

In the spirit of the season Principal Dina Marschall would like to express her thankfulness; she is “thankful to be part of a school, district, and community that cares about and works to support students and families like no other”.

Laurel students raised $1500 in donations for our annual Turkey Drive. Because of our community’s generous contributions, we were able to extend the gift of giving and share Thanksgiving meals with 35 Laurel families. What a great way to teach our students about giving, compassion, and gratitude, which are skills that we instill in our students through the Laurel Vision. This event- along with the recent cookie dough fundraiser that brought more than $10,000 in proceeds- are great examples of the wonderful community in which we work.

Laurel staff have developed a plan to keep the Laurel Vision present and alive by taking each component of our vision and dividing them out over the months of the school year and generated ideas of how to teach them to kids. For example, the November/December focus is on “each student is actively engaged.” We teach students that every student is important, and every student deserves an equitable learning opportunity.

All of Laurel’s grade level teams have articulated a plan for using the new Chrome books for math and other subject matters. It has been such a rewarding experience to be able to provide our students with the opportunity to integrate technology into the learning experience. Furthermore, we now have a promethean board in every first through fourth grade classroom! Teachers are able to be innovative in their lesson delivery and as a result, students’ learning experience is enriched.

Laurel teachers will be spending their December 6th professional development day participating in a series of flash trainings focused on topics that the teachers have identified as areas they would like to receive professional development on. During that day, teachers are going to rotate through the selected offerings that is most relevant to them and that are delivered by our own staff. We are happy to use this structure to our teachers’ choices and to build a sustainable model for professional development.

Laurel staff would like to extend an invitation to our community to come join our upcoming Family Fun Nights. Each month we have an event that highlights a certain important aspect of our students’ well-being, education, and over-all success. Here is a snap shot of those events: 

December- Catch Dance Fever: A night full of healthy snack, movement, and dance
January- Lego Night: A night of creation, creativity, and fun
February- Bingo Night: an ALL-TIME favorite… Play and win lots of cool surprises
March- Dr. Seuss Literacy Night: An event full of cool books and love for reading
April- Math and science night: Calling all scientists and mathematicians of Junction City
May- Carnival: A night of pure fun!!
June- Field Day

At Oaklea, the staff, student body, and Parent Group worked together to serve our JC community this holiday season.  We are happy to report that the staff and students collected just over $1000 for our Thanksgiving Dinner coin drive.  Over 20 families received the meal boxes loaded with turkey, pies, sparkling cider, and all the trimmings.  A special thanks to Counselor Angie Elstone and the Oaklea Parent Group for organizing this service to our community.  We are also excited to share that hundreds of dollars in clothing items were given to local families at the Clothing Outreach Project last week.  Clothing and shoes have been collected over the past month, and our cafeteria tables were loaded with goods for families to choose from this past Tuesday night.  Middle school is a time for students to learn empathy, cultural & community awareness, and service.  These November projects have really helped us highlight all of these traits.

With the recent release of school report cards by the ODE, Oaklea staff celebrated the achievements that have been made by our students, particularly in the area of Academic Growth in math and language arts.  Two years ago, we received a Level 2 designation in this important area.  In 2015-16, our students had a Level 4 designation in Growth.  This is the second highest level in this area, and although the state will not be issuing an overall rating this school year, we are striving to assist our students in continuing to make great improvements in academic achievement.

Oaklea’s Fall Family Fun Night took place on November 10th, with dozens of families coming to the building for games, activities, and the Book Fair.  Our Parent Group has done an excellent job organizing these family events, drawing parents, students, and community members closer to our school.

On December 1st, ODE’s Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Salam Noor, will be visiting Oaklea Middle School to take a look at the Journalistic Learning Initiative project our 6th graders are working on.  This project partners with the University of Oregon's Journalism department to provide opportunities for students to experience journalism.  Students will be conducting distance interviews with professionals throughout the nation using Skype.  Dr. Noor has been appointed by the governor to lead our state's department of education and we are honored to have him as our guest.  Special thanks to Sherrene Kulm, 6th grade teacher, for organizing this meaningful experience for our kids.

Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce for recognizing Assistant Principal Steve Jones as the Junction City Educator of the Year. His contributions are nothing short of inspirational, and his recognition is well-deserved.

Our College & Career Center has been extremely busy as students worked to meet the new- and much earlier- FAFSA deadline. Three students gained “instant” admission to the University of Oregon, and the scholarship application season is in full swing.

JCHS Music presented a combined concert with students from all grades the day before the general election in front of a full house in the WW Gym. The patriotic theme was an inspired and welcome break from partisan politics.

JCHS Theater completed a three-day run of the “Little Women” including a special matinee performance featuring a complete cast of understudies. (Hopefully Audrey Sherman will bring a student’s eye view of the performances.)

The Tri-1 Breakfast of Champions will begin at 7:00am sharp tomorrow morning as staff recognizes students nominated for a variety of positive contributions to the school climate and individual efforts in overcoming personal adversity. It’s a great opportunity for students to be recognized before their parents and peers over a continental breakfast. Special thanks to Kristi Stahl for organizing this event, Leslie Lucir for hosting in her culinary arts classroom, and additional support from Alison Hellwege and Tye Rauschert.

Congratulations to our fall sport athletes and coaches. Cross-Country sent both the Girls’ and Boys’ teams to the State Meet after they each took second place at the Sky-Em District Meet. In addition, Girls’ Soccer won the first Sky-Em title in school history before being knocked out of the state playoffs in overtime.

As you know, this week brings the first trimester to a close with final exams this coming Thursday and Friday. This is also the kickoff week for winter athletics, so now it’s on to winter sports with live competition beginning this Wednesday with the girls’ and boys’ basketball jamborees. A full slate of swimming, wrestling, and basketball competition will many Tiger athletes in action throughout the winter.
Now, turning to news from Monday night’s board meeting- after hearing the Monthly Report from each of our schools, and a report from JCHS Student Board Representative Audrey Sherman, the board received a letter from the Junction City Education Association indicating their desire to meet to negotiate a successor agreement to the current contract between our licensed staff association and the school board.  The current contract expires at the end of June, 2017. The board affirmed their interest in starting negotiations this winter with the hope that a successor agreement can be in place before the expiration of the current agreement.

During the “Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items” section of the meeting, the board heard from several high school staff members, a student, and several parents about the “climate” in our schools- even at the elementary level- in the days and weeks following the election and multiple instances of harassment, bullying and discrimination directed at some of students of color.  The student who spoke has been a part of our District since kindergarten, and reported feeling unsafe at school for the first time during the student’s tenure in the District.  The teachers reported noticeable tension amongst the student body, and a feeling of a lack of clear direction about how they should respond when hearing of reports of harassment or discrimination.  District leadership reported feeling unprepared for what they saw and heard from students, and in some instances, from staff.  

In the 2 days following the election, the District issued a letter to parents, an email communication to staff, and posted information on our District’s website about our commitment to ensuring a safe and welcoming learning environment for each and every member of our student body.  Expectations for appropriate student behavior were also restated, and we asked parents for their support and assistance in this matter.  Visits were made to each classroom at Oaklea to discuss with students behavioral expectations, and the fact that while students have the right to free speech and differing opinions it is not acceptable to exercise that right in a way that is hurtful to others, discriminatory, or disruptive to the learning environment.  The administration at the high school made several all-school announcements of this same nature, appealed to all students to unite as Tigers, and to invite students who had experienced negative, hurtful, harassing or discriminatory actions or words from others to share their experiences in writing.  There were conversations as warranted with individual students at our elementary schools.

 What was clear from hearing the public comment was that we still have students who are not feeling safe at school. We have had instances of race/nation of origin based discrimination occurring in our hallways, classrooms, and parking lots.  We have had staff unsure of how best to respond to these issues.  Whatever we- as school leaders and staff- did following the election was not enough to restore our positive school climate and ensure that all our students- especially those who are members of protected classes- feel safe, welcome, and supported in our schools.  

After this discussion, the board affirmed their commitment that our District prohibits any form of harassment, intimidation, bullying, cyber-bulling, and discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age.  The board asked that District leadership ensure that board policies and regulations governing these matters be again shared and discussed with all staff.  The board also asked that we increase our students’ and parents’ awareness of these policies, reporting procedures, and consequences for violating these policies.  To that end, all relevant policies have been posted on the front page of the District website at http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/ under a “hot button” that says “Junction City School District Non-Discrimination Policies”; all District staff are directed to read, understand, and follow these policies.  Students and parents who wish to initiate a report of harassment or discrimination are invited to contact the District’s Human Right’s Officer, Tom Endersby at tendersby@junctioncity.k12.or.us or 541-998-6311.  Such reports will be investigated and responded to in a manner commensurate with the findings of the investigation. 

 Today, the District’s Equity Leadership Team (comprised of licensed, classified, administrative and District Office staff) met as previously scheduled and discussed this matter further. They will be issuing a set of recommendations to the District leadership team, and will work with building level administrators on action plans to be implemented at each school to ensure that students (and their parents) clearly understand expectations for their conduct, the process for reporting a concern, and accountability measures for violations of district policy. The ELT is continuing their work on a school climate survey that will be administered to all students so that student responses can inform further action on the part of District leadership and staff.

Tomorrow, the District’s Administrative Team will be meeting to further discuss this issue, review all policies and reporting procedures, conduct a “self-evaluation” according to a Civil Rights best practice checklist, and plan for strategies for related staff development activities and parent and student communications in both the short term and the long term.  As members of our school community, we invite you to help us create and sustain school cultures where each and every child feels safe and supported, students’ learning is free of disruption from harassment or discrimination, and every student and staff member understands their responsibility for creating a sustaining a positive school culture. 

With respect to action items at Monday’s board meeting, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on October 24th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  The board accepted the resignation of Laurel 3rd grade teacher, Jessica Huff, who is leaving the area as a result of her spouse’s job relocation. The board also very reluctantly accepted the retirement of long-time Junction City Educator- and current Laurel Elementary Music Specialist- Deborah Adams.  Deborah will continue working for the District through June of 2017; she will be missed so very much when she retires and will leave a remarkable legacy of joyful service to our students and community.

The board’s final action of the night was to award the contract for installation of the Territorial Play Shelter to 2G Construction; the materials are on site at Territorial and the contract specifies that the shelter should be completed by the end of December. 

With respect to Discussion Items, the board heard an update about the bond from Scott Rose of DLR.  The board heard from community members and Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) members Ken Bells and Billy Dover and learned more about their first meeting.  As previously reported, this committee will have responsibility for reviewing expenditures and progress related to our Facilities Bond; it is expected that the Committee will have a representative or two make regular reports to the board. It also is hoped that these committee members will help keep our entire community accurately well-informed on these matters. 

The board received a “Focus School Report” from Laurel Elementary Principal Nadira Rizkallah.  The board was delighted to offer their congratulations and appreciation to the Laurel staff for all their hard work, which has resulted in Laurel exiting Focus School status because of gains that have been made in school improvement goals. Well done!

The final discussion item for the evening was with respect to Measure 98.  On November 8th, Oregon’s Measure 98- the “High School Graduation and College and Career Readiness Act”- received overwhelming support from voters.  The Measure is intended to provide “direct funding” to Districts for implementation of programs designed to increase high school graduation rates, prevent dropouts, and better prepare students for careers and college.  While the rules have not yet been written, the intent of the Measure is to provide funding for programs that will improve graduation rates- such as establishing or expanding CTE programs, establishing or expanding college-level educational preparation programs and opportunities, and those programs that are proven to reduce dropouts. 

Assuming the State’s May 2017 revenue estimate is 1.5B greater than the May 2015 revenue estimate, our District would receive approximately $800 per high school student- upon completion of an approved application for these funds. For our District, this could mean about $400K in revenue for the purpose of implementing this measure.  The actual net impact on our budget is difficult to predict right now, and is complicated by the fact that the state is currently facing a 1.4+B shortfall and we have very little information about what level of State School funding we should plan on for the 2017-19 biennium. Worst case scenario might be that our overall SSF declines, and we would have to make reductions in other programs in order to meet the requirements of Measure 98.  Best case scenario that we can expect- based on my understanding of the State’s fiscal outlook at this time- is that the state is able to keep our “regular” K-12 funding at a level that would provide for roll-ups enough to maintain current programs, and then the Measure 98 funds would be truly additive. 

I will be attending a State Superintendents’ meeting this Wednesday, and the annual School Law conference on Thursday and Friday.  I will be looking for sessions that can help inform our District’s implementation of Measure 98.  My recommendation will be that we stay on top of updates coming out of ODE and plan to have a board work session in February to discuss how our District should implement this measure. To inform that work session, we should engage our high school students, our staff, and our community in surveying where we should plan to expand or develop programs to increase graduation rates and improve access to CTE programs and college readiness.   The most recent FAQ sheet from ODE regarding Measure 98 was sent out last Wednesday; a copy of the FAQ can be obtained by contacting the District Office.

There is much to accomplish between now and Christmas break. I encourage our students and our staff to keep working hard, growing, and working together to make our District the best place it can be for each and every student.



What follows is the October 2016 issue of the Junction City Schools Update, along with some news from last Monday night’s school board meeting.  Happy reading, and have a safe and fun Halloween tonight!

Excitement is building with the Bond-funded outdoor covered play shelter components delivered recently.  Students and staff alike are eagerly anticipating the end of indoor “Rainy Day Recess” at Territorial!

From the successful Scholastic Book Fair and Open House/Curriculum Night to the annual Jog-a-Thon which has already raised over $1,000 for school programs and activities it's clear Territorial and our ever-involved and supportive parent group is off and running this year!  Coming up, the TPA will sponsor an all-school Harvest Party on the afternoon of October 31st, with the Taste of Territorial spaghetti feed and art show scheduled to take place on November 18th at the Long Tom Grange.

October marked the start of multiple after-school programs at Territorial including; Garden Club, LEGO Club, OBOB, and Yearbook.  So far, students in the Garden Club have harvested strawberries and tomatoes, viewed compost material through a microscope- identifying micro-organisms that live within the compost- winterized both garden spaces, and participated in a variety of garden related games and activities.  Students in LEGO Club are presented with a LEGO challenge weekly, providing opportunities for small groups to learn about and demonstrate a variety of skills related to teamwork, creativity, and sportsmanship.  At the conclusion of each club meeting, LEGO creations are collected and displayed in the hallway for the week.   New this year at Territorial is the addition of LEGO League activities for our older students who are learning about programming robots to complete predetermined tasks and challenges.  These students will compete in a LEGO League tournament in December.  Oregon Battle of the Books and Yearbook activities also got underway this month and look to be generating a lot of excitement among involved students.

On another note, our grant-purchased iPads are on campus and in use in classrooms K-5, bringing us up to 8 iPads per classroom, with additional devices deployed in our Special Education/ELD classroom as well as in our Music and PE programs.  Teachers are finding a variety of ways to use these devices to enhance student access to core curriculum and materials as well as for research, demonstration of skill and intervention and enrichment.  A huge thank you to the District Technology staff, Bob and Laci, for getting these processed and out to us so quickly, and also to parent volunteer Wendy Thelander for her work getting the barcodes registered in the computer system so that the iPads could be checked out to teachers.

Our 4th & 5th grade students- along with several staff and parent volunteers- had the opportunity to participate in a fun and exciting Coast field trip to Newport, facilitated by “Maritime Discovery Tours”.  The group of about 50, headed out to sea observing and learning about sea life first hand, including whales, jelly fish, porpoises, sea lions, crabs and plankton.  This trip was the result of Ms. Elder’s great luck as she won the tour in a drawing at a Science conference last year.  Preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade students enjoyed a trip to Wintergreen Farms where they visited the Pumpkin Patch, selecting their very own pumpkin to bring home.

Beyond that, Territorial’s Fall Easy CBM benchmark testing wrapped up earlier this month, with staff coming together for a school-wide data meeting on October 13th.  We looked at student scores in both Math and Reading and used this information to plan for interventions to support student growth and enrichment.  We continue to be excited about the turnaround in math scores and improvement in achievement over the past few years and will focus on continuing to identify the best resources and strategies to elicit similar outcomes in reading going forward. 

Laurel has great news to share with regard to our Focus School designation. Oregon’s Department of Education recently released school report cards.  We should be very proud of the progress Laurel has made; it's a tribute to the very hard work of our students and staff. While schools were not rated this year, we received a Level 4 in Academic Achievement with Level 5 being the highest score. Given this score, Laurel met the criteria to exit Focus School status. This is cause for celebration for our students, staff, families and the community at large. In looking at other scores we received, we realize that there is still work to be done in the area of Academic Growth and Student Group Growth. All of the Focus and Priority Schools received a 5th year of funding, which provides us an extra layer of support for the current school year. This means we still have a coach (Jennifer Haliski), access to professional development through the Regional Rural Schools Network, and funds to support our Focus School priorities. The Laurel staff understands that it is important that we make the most of this 5th year!  To achieve greater growth and improve our scores, we have decided to focus on the following aspects to ensure progress.

We have adopted a growth mindset and put a major focus on what we do best - teaching kids! Through our school’s vision and the research-based strategies we are using to instill a growth mindset in our staff and students, we are confident that we will improve achievement for ALL students, including our sub groups. There is great buy-in from students and staff into this paradigm shift and a whole new way of looking at reasons for growth and how best to impact students’ learning. 

Another area of focus this year is on our Positive Behavior Support System. We revised and updated our systems to reflect the growth mindset and a desire for each and every student to feel a sense of belonging, and to have caring and strong relationships with peers and school adults. While this is a shift in viewing how discipline works, it is proving to be very effective in keeping kids present at school and engaged in the learning. We identified our collective understanding of why we discipline students, and that is to reconnect them to their learning and their school community. We do this with compassion, care, and a desire to understand each child’s story. Our staff at Laurel is working really hard to embrace this way of thinking. We have put systems in place to celebrate students and staff who show commitment to these shifts and therefore contribute a positive school culture where we all can thrive and grow.

We’ve started practicing our safety drills to highlight and emphasize safety procedures for a variety of emergency situations. Fostering a safe learning environment is at the core of the Laurel’s vision and we are focusing on teaching this concept throughout the month of October and in the months to come. In addition to fire, earthquake, lockdown/lockout, and evacuation drills, we teach students that social-emotional safety is also important. We talk about friendship, compassion, and caring for one another. We explain that a safe learning environment is the right of each and every student and that we are all responsible to make sure we contribute to such an environment. We invite our community to support us in this endeavor; building a strong partnership will help strengthen our kids, our school, and our community.

Finally, Laurel is having a Harvest Spirit Day on October 31st. Students are invited to dress up in Harvest-themed costumes and show their autumn spirit. We invite you to join us in this fun celebration.

At Oaklea, we have been striving to get our students thinking about college and careers at an early age.  This past week, we hosted “College Knowledge Night” in our main gym.  Parents and students had a chance to listen to reps from several local universities and community colleges.  After the presentations, guests visited tables, asked questions, and gathered "swag" from all of the schools.  We would like to thank Liz Bolton and Courtney Madsen for attending and helping to answer questions about high school, scholarships, and what to do in middle school to prepare. We would like to personally thank our counselor, Angie Elstone, for her work to organize this event.
Throughout the month of October, we practiced our emergency procedures for lockdown, lockout, earthquake preparedness, evacuation, and fire drill.  Our safety committee values the importance of making sure our staff and students know the procedures.  Our school resource officer, Ken Jackson, and the JC police department have been present to evaluate our emergency plans and to provide feedback.  Students enjoyed participating in the Great Oregon Shakeout with thousands of other students in the state on 10/20 at 10:20 AM.

Fall Parent -Teacher Conferences will took place this past Wednesday evening as well as Thursday.  This was a great opportunity for parents to meet with teachers and learn more specific information about individual student progress and what students will be learning this school year.

Spirit Week coincided with the JCHS Homecoming celebration this past week, as students took part in dress up days, a schoolwide assembly, and wearing the color Orange on Unity Day to stand up for demonstrating kindness, compassion, and respectful non-violent treatment of our peers.  Unity Day is part of the national Bully Prevention Month.

This past week, students participated in the national Drug & Alcohol prevention program called Red Ribbon Week.  Students were invited to pledge to be substance free, and students saw numerous examples of positive mentors making a similar pledge in TEAM class.  As a heads up to parents, our Fall Family Fun Night will be Thursday, November 10th at 6pm., with the Scholastic Book Fair taking place in the building along with all kinds of fun activities.

In combination with our Turkey Dinner Drive for families in our JC Community, Jamie Williams is organizing a clothing drive to support our families.  If you are interested in donating, please call the Oaklea office.

The October question at JCHS is, “Where did this month go?”

More than 160 students were represented by family at parent-teacher conferences this month. Parking was tight that evening as Girls’ Soccer and Volleyball hosted matches that evening, but it was another opportunity to showcase student sparks, and free game admissions were provided to families who came to conferences.

Over the past month, students participated in an orderly bus evacuation drill and completed the annual PSAT exam without a hitch last week. Liz Bolton and Brian Miller took 80 students to the College Fair at the University of Oregon, and another sizable group got their hands dirty at the Construction and Engineering Fair at EWEB.

Lastly, students punctuated this special month with the completion of Homecoming last week. One hundred percent of the credit belongs to student body officers Caitlyn Victor, Audrey Sherman, Rachel Meighan, Ryan Meighan, Nick Hogan, and Kyle Moore.  Without their selfless work behind the scenes in pre-dawn meetings, their willingness to forego lunches, and time invested after athletic practices and games, the Homecoming experience for the students of JCHS would have been sorely lacking.  This may be a little bit long, but they weren’t the only significant contributors, and JCHS would like to recognize Kieley Leatherwood, Lexi Tishmack, Ben Swancutt, Ara Tedrick, Kyla Lenker, Jesse McClintock, Trae Knabe, Melanie Hanb, Jessica Puderbaugh, Travis Wheeler, Johnny Wheeler, Garrett Spangle, the many many parents who helped construct and present the class floats, the Junction City Fire Department, the Junction City Police Department, Craig Rothenberger, Steve Jones, Brian Miller, and the many others who worked behind the scenes without recognition.

Football won their homecoming game over Sutherlin, 42-7 and finished tied for 3rd in the Sky-Em League. A coin flip tiebreaker put them in fourth place and likely just out of the post-season play-in round.  Tiger Cross-Country participated at the District Championships at LCC on Oct 27 with the boys’ team the form chart favorites.  Finally, congratulations to JC Tigers Girls’ Soccer, outright winners of the Sky-Em League Championship. The Tigers will skip the play-in round and host a 1st round OSAA playoff game at Willamette High School tomorrow night, November 1st.

Go Tigers!

Now, turning to news from last Monday night’s board meeting- with respect to action items, the Board acted to approve the minutes of the Board Meeting that was held on September 26th (copies of minutes are posted on the District website after they have been approved).  The board also very reluctantly accepted the retirement of long-time Junction City Educator- and current JCHS Assistant Principal, Steve Jones.  Steve will continue working for the District through June of 2017.   In the meanwhile, the District hopes to leverage Mr. Jones’s considerable expertise as we explore establishing our own Online Learning Options program for students K-12 beginning next year.   The board also acted to approve a calendar for preparation of the 2017-18 District Budget.

At Monday night’s meeting, the board also acted to name the appointees to the District’s “Citizens’ Advisory Committee”.  This new committee will have responsibility for reviewing expenditures and progress related to our Facilities Bond; it is expected that the Committee will have a representative or two make regular reports to the board. It also is hoped that these committee members will help keep our entire community accurately well-informed on these matters. There were 6 very outstanding applicants for the Citizens Advisory Committee: Ken Bells, Billy Dover, Mike Kaiser, Judy Kazmierkoski, Allan Schweigert and Lynda Taylor.  The board met in a brief work session just prior to the board meeting to review and discuss these applications; given the caliber of the applicants, the board unanimously approved naming all 6 of these applicants to the committee.

In Discussion Items, Board Member Tina Nash and I reported out from the OSBA Dinner and Regional Meeting that we recently attended.  The OSBA’s Priorities and Legislative Agenda were shared, and they also can be found on the Oregon School Board Association’s website at http://osba.org/~/media/Files/Resources/Legislative/2017-18%20Legis_%20Policies_Priorities-approved%20by%20LPC%208-22-16.pdf

The Board also heard an update about the Oregon Rising Project. Last spring, I asked the board, our staff, and members of several local service organizations to respond to the Oregon Rising survey.  The results are back, and the final report has been published.  Nearly 11,000 Oregonians responded to the survey, and there was representation from every area of our state.

These Oregonians shared their thoughts, and their hearts, about our students and our schools and they were in remarkable agreement.  “They value education, and they are not satisfied with the status quo.  They want more for our students.  Simply put, they believe that the gap between what Oregon students need and what Oregon is giving them is far too large” (Craig Hawkins, COSA, 9/27/2016).  Respondents overwhelmingly prioritized adding teachers and staff to ensure students get the individual attention, and smaller class sizes, they need to be successful.  They also agreed that Oregon students deserve a well-rounded education, with CTE opportunities, art and music, civics and culture and more.   You can see the entire Oregon Rising Project Report and other information at http://www.oregon-rising.org/What-Oregon-Said

The board also received the October Student Enrollment Report, which is down 3 students from the beginning of the year; last year that same time period saw a decline of 16 students.  One of the issues with student enrollment that was surfaced for a future board work is the issue of students enrolled in Online Charter programs such as Baker Web Academy.  In years past, when parents homeschooled their children or used other online programs, we were able to offer their children part-time attendance in our schools so that they could take a class or two and participate in student activities such as band or enrichment. Unfortunately, online charter schools such as Baker’s will not share student enrollment ADM with us and therefore we are unable to offer their students participation in our classes. 

Other Lane County Districts are facing this same challenge; in fact, South Lane School District developed their own K-12 online option so that families could elect to use a “hybrid” approach like we did for so long with homeschoolers. Online students enrolled in South Lane District’s program may take classes at their schools, while those enrolled in online charters such as Baker Web Academy cannot. South Lane also uses a tiered fee structure for Online Charter School students’ participation in sports and other activities. Because the online charter students are not part of their resident District’s State School Fund revenue- but this revenue is used to support athletics and student activities- South Lane charges more (I believe double the regular fee) for online charter students to participate.  Students in South Lane’s own online program have the same fees as students in their brick and mortar schools.  

Steve Jones and Ronda Wheadon have been charged with working together to explore options for our District offering our own K-12 online programming next year so that students in that program could also participate in classes and programs at our schools.  They will be examining the South Lane program, as well as the Lebanon School District’s program and perhaps others.  Once they have gathered information and begun to formulate some recommendations, the board will have a work session to discuss these issues and determine if we should go down that road. 

The Board also heard an update about Bond Work.  We have received all the materials for the Territorial Play Shelter!  Because we are out to bid for the installation, the time frame for completion is unknown at this time. The play shelter will  be the first bond project to be completed and we will definitely have an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony when it is done. 

We are getting near the end of our Schematic Design planning phase for the high school addition. It is really starting to take shape and it is so incredibly exciting that we will be able to consolidate the campus with this addition, rather than waiting until a future phase of our District’s long-range plan. It has been great to get involvement from different “end users”, such as students, parents and HS staff members.  We do have an updated Bond Projects timetable spreadsheet (copies are available in the District Office), and we are working with DLR and a cost estimator to determine what we should budget for the increased scope of the HS work, and how we should budget for the other priorities that were identified for the capital matching and bond premium funds.   Updates about the Bond process are posted regularly on our District website at http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/  

In other facility news, we have submitted our application for the State Seismic Retrofit grant program and will keep our fingers crossed that this proposal is funded.  We will wait to learn that before launching into planning Oaklea’s mechanical system upgrades and cedar shake siding replacement as if we get the grant that work will have to be coordinated.

In addition to keeping the board, our staff, and our community involved in and apprised of our bond projects and facilities issues, we also are trying to keep the City very much in the loop. We had an extensive survey of the high school property done so we have detailed information about locations of city utilities, etc. and we plan to work closely with both the City’s Code consultant, Clair Company, and the fire department and fire marshal to make sure that we are proactive about aspects of our bond projects that may be impacted by their requirements.  On a related note, Chris and I met recently with the City Administrator and Public Works Director to discuss a well the city owns that is essentially land-locked by District property. The City would like to improve their access to the well so that they are more easily able to service the well.  We will be talking about a solution that may involve the City removing the 2 car-garage on District property just to the north of the Pitney Center; we also will be considering allowing them to improve access to the well via a curb cut on Maple, and possibly resurfacing the grassy area north of the Pitney Center.  Of course, we will bring any Inter-Governmental agreement proposals to you for consideration prior to taking any action.  We think that working together with the City is a good thing for our community as a whole.
Warm Regards,

Superintendent, JCSD

Engage Inspire Educate

District Office Phone: (541) 998-6311
For comments or suggestions about this site please e-mail the webmaster