FYI From the Superintendent

  • Save the date for the annual commuter picnic

    Posted by Jodi Burwell at 6/29/2017 1:00:00 PM

    Dear Commuting Families,

    Once again we are scheduling a commuter picnic at Lincoln Park in Seattle to meet with our continuing and new commuting families.  It is scheduled for Thursday, August 31st, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at picnic site #3.  I'll have our principals with me to meet you and talk about the coming school year, and we usually get the ferry people to attend as well.  As usual, you'll bring your own meat course to BBQ, a beverage, plate/cup, and a side dish or dessert to share.  More details to follow.

    Southworth Commuters - I am open to scheduling a similar event over on Kitsap as well.  It could be an evening picnic, or a dessert event, or ???  If you have an idea and a location that you could pitch to me, we can begin to put a plan together.  It would be great to start a tradition with Kitsap families this year.

    Best to you for a great summer,          

       Michael Soltman                          

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • Neighborcare Clinic

    Posted by Jodi Burwell at 6/22/2017 1:00:00 PM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues,

    I am pleased to announce that, during the 2017-2018 school year, Neighborcare Health will open a school-based health center at Vashon Island High School, thanks to a grant through King County Best Starts for Kids. Currently, Neighborcare Health operates twelve K-12 school-based health centers in the Seattle Public School District.

    The school-based health center will provide a full-range of comprehensive health care, in alignment with national guidelines, as well as Washington State law. Students will have access to primary care medical services, mental health counseling, dental care and health education beginning September 2017. The center will be based in a yet-to-be-determined location at VHS, but open to all students enrolled in the Vashon Island School District and open throughout the school year before, during and after school Monday through Friday.  Further, mental health services will be available on the Chautauqua and McMurray campuses as well.

    A grant from Best Starts for Kids, along with patient insurance coverage, will cover all school-based health center operations including construction of the new school-based health center.  With the exception of utilities, VISD carries no expense to maintain the clinic.  The school health center will serve all students without regard to ability to pay, however, insurance plans will be billed if patients are insured.

    We have prepared a document that provides answers to frequently asked questions. To see that document, CLICK HERE.

    To view a Neighborcare Health brochure about school-based health centers, CLICK HERE.

    We are delighted that this school-based health clinic will be available for our students and families.  Neighborcare has become a trusted partner in our community providing quality medical care with the highest degree of professionalism and patient-centered care.  Join me in welcoming Neighborcare to our schools in September 2017.

    Respectfully yours,                 

      Michael Soltman                          

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • Washington State Seal of Biliteracy

    Posted by Jodi Burwell at 6/16/2017 3:00:00 PM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues,

    This past year, VISD launched The Washington State Seal of Biliteracy program for grades 9 through 12. The program recognizes students who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading and writing in one or more world languages in addition to English. In April of this year, 19 students, grades 9-12, took the assessment exam; all 19 qualified for competency-based credits and 18 earned the Seal of Biliteracy.

    Of special commendation, all of the VHS Spanish IV students participated in the testing and each earned the Seal of Biliteracy—an incredible accomplishment and testament to the teachers in our World Languages program.

    During the 2017-2018 school year the biliteracy program will expand to grades 7 through 12. Any student may participate including students from homes that speak a language other than English, those who study a language independently or students that take formal language classes at school. ELL program teachers, school counselors, and world languages teachers will reach out to all eligible students that we can identify.

    Dr. Stephanie Spencer, Director of Teaching and Learning, responsible for launching the program, had this to say, "We are so pleased to offer this opportunity in our district and to encourage our students to pursue biliteracy. The program, which supports our district-wide equity work, provides access to any student no matter the pathway followed to attain biliteracy: native or home language, independent study and/or formal coursework through our schools. We are very proud of the students who participated in the inaugural year of our program and we look forward to honoring many more students in the coming years."

    Here is a link to more information about his program:

    http://www.k12.wa.us/WorldLanguages/SealofBiliteracy.aspx

    Here are some of the amazing students that participated in the program and the language in which they demonstrated proficiency:

    Students

    1st Row: Kayla R., 12th, Spanish; Alden H.-S., 11th, Spanish; Eleanor H., 12th, Spanish; Isaac H., 12th, Spanish; Eva A., 12th, Spanish; Calder S., 11th, Spanish

    2nd Row: Julian W.-D., 11th, Spanish; Solrun H., 10th, German; Josephine S., 11th, Spanish; Paolo P., 10th, Spanish; Jane O., 12th, Spanish; Linnet C., 12th, German and Spanish; Esther L., 12th, Spanish; Giovanna M., 12th, Spanish; Carson N., 12th, Spanish; Reynaldo R., 11th, Spanish

    Back: Mr. Harris Levinson
    Absent: Selena M., 12th, Spanish; Ruby S., 12th, American Sign Language

    Respectfully yours,                 

      Michael Soltman                         

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • Graduation Streamed Live!

    Posted by Jodi Burwell at 6/15/2017 9:15:00 AM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues,

    This Saturday, June 17, 2017 beginning at 5:30pm, the Riptide Broadcast program will stream the 2017 VHS Commencement, providing live coverage for those who cannot attend.  The ceremony can be viewed live or after the fact at: visdtv.org.  This streaming event will be the program’s most ambitious undertaking to date--utilizing five cameras, drone footage, and a live video-editing station on site. 

    The broadcast epitomizes the mission of Vashon Island High School’s Certified Technical Education (CTE) program in its partnership between VHS Riptide Broadcast students and community members who have expertise in video and audio production. CTE students have benefited from the mentorship of industry professionals including Marc Brown of Run Studios, Martin Feveyear of Jupiter Studios, audio engineer Bob Moses, Larry Meyer of LDM Worldwide, Simon Clark of Stageworks, and Debra Heesch of Debra Heesch Presents

    “Working with dedicated volunteers who are industry pros has been really valuable,” said VISD Director of Technology and Executive Producer of the broadcast, John Stanton.

    The VHS Riptide Broadcast crew includes McKenna Anderson, Brennan Barrett,Maya Gould, Jesse Harrold, Tayo Sjoberg-Jamison, Alex Lee, Omar Peck, Solrun Heuschert and Lars Cain.

    The VHS Broadcast Program, launched this past year, has produced a range of live broadcasts during the 2017-18 school year including sporting events and speeches by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal. The first year of the program has been documented in a video:  The First Year:  Birthing the VHS Broadcast Program (https://youtu.be/wB9fGv1c2e4).

    Respectfully yours,

     

     Michael Soltman

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

     

     

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Special VIHS Graduation News

    Posted by Jodi Burwell at 6/13/2017 12:15:00 PM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues,

    At 6pm this Saturday, the Vashon Island High School class of 2017 will don caps and gowns and receive their diplomas. Among them will be a very special graduate, 92-year-old Mary Matsuda.

    On May 15th 1942, five months after Pearl Harbor, junior VHS student Mary Matsuda was moved from Vashon Island and her family’s large strawberry farm to an internment camp. She lived there for three years, later joined the war effort, entered the Cadet Nurse Corps and went on to continue her nursing career at Providence Hospital and Group Health in Seattle. In her family’s attempt to demonstrate their loyalty, they destroyed every piece of family history and memorabilia. She went on to recreate that lost family history and document her experience as a Japanese-American during World War II, by authoring books.

    So, 74 years after what should have been her graduation date, Ms. Matsuda will finally receive her diploma (she has met all necessary requirements).

    For more information about Ms. Matsuda’s life, please click on these links:

    http://www.vashonbeachcomber.com/news/japanese-family-farm-reflects-a-troubled-time-in-our-history/

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/carrying-the-pain-for-70-years-japanese-americans-internment/

    Beginning at 5:30PM this Saturday, graduation ceremonies will be broadcast live by the VHS Riptide Broadcast team. You can tune in, or watch the event after the fact, at: http://tv.vashonsd.org

    Respectfully yours,

     Michael Soltman

    Michael Soltman

    Superintendent of Schools

    msoltman@vashonsd.org

    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • Great News about the Bond!

    Posted by Jodi Burwell at 6/9/2017 1:45:00 PM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues,

    Being responsible fiscal stewards of your tax dollars is something we work at each and every day. Recently, our school district was thoroughly reviewed by Moody’s Investors Service to determine a bond credit rating as part of the process leading to a $10 million bond sale approved by voters in April. The fiscal evaluation was conducted to assure investors that the Vashon Island School District is a safe and secure entity to invest in. 

    I am pleased to announce that the outcome of this review resulted in a higher credit rating, from Aa3 to Aa2, mainly due to, in words taken from the report, “…financial operations that are well-managed and stable.”

    Higher credit ratings help to lower the cost of borrowing for districts, which translates into lower taxes for district residents.  Ryan Swanson, our bond broker at Piper Jaffray, noted that, “assignment of this rating, which is the third highest possible rating a municipal issuer can receive, is a significant accomplishment for any Washington school district and is affirmation of the long-term stewardship of district resources and the financial strength of the community.”

    Congrats also to our school board and our finance team led by Executive Director, Matt Sullivan, for stable financial stewardship over the past several years.

    Respectfully yours,

     Michael Sotlman

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • Noteworthy Events

    Posted by Jodi Burwell at 5/30/2017 12:00:00 PM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues,

    This is an exciting and incredibly busy year for all of us in the school community. The weeks ahead are filled with momentous events of celebration, recognition and closure to the school year. Here are some highlights…

    Chautauqua Elementary School

    Young Authors Day, Tuesday June 6, all day throughout CES
    All students, ages K-5, will share their own writing in small groups. The event will culminate in students attending a performance of El Deafo, based upon the novel by Cece Bell, at Vashon Center for the Arts. 

    Field Day, Friday June 9, all day in multiple venues throughout CES
    All students will have an opportunity to enjoy games and activities that will generate team building skills as well as fun and laughter in this year-end celebration. 

    Senior Stroll, Friday June 16, 10:30-11am, location weather dependent
    VHS Seniors don their caps and gowns and visit CES students in a celebration of the beginning and the end of the educational timeline here at VISD.

    McMurray Middle School

    POPS Concert, Tuesday June 6, VHS Gymnasium 7-8:30pm
    (See description under VHS activities.)

    Exploratory Week, Monday-Friday June 12-16
    8th grade students embark on a weeklong journey of exploration, discovery and learning through a range of experiences.

    Tributes and Treats, Thursday June 22, 6-8pm
    An annual tradition at McMurray Middle School, graduating 8th graders receive their diploma in a ceremony that celebrates the unique qualities and contributions of each student.

    Vashon Island High School

    Vashon Community Scholarship Foundation Awards Night, Wednesday May 31st, 6-10pm VHS Gymnasium
    Each senior graduate who has submitted a scholarship notebook will receive a scholarship award to be applied towards education beyond high school. VCSF is a non-profit organization that has distributed more than 1.5 million in scholarships since its inception in 1986.

    POPS Concert, Tuesday June 6, 7-8:30pm, VHS Gymnasium
    Both VHS and McMurray band students will participate in this rousing performance entitled “A Night at the Movies.” The audience will be treated to a repertoire of movie theme song classics and favorites.

    VHS Academic Awards Night, Wednesday June 7, 6:30-8pm, VHS Theatre
    This annual event recognizes select VHS students for academic excellence and achievement. Invitations to this event are sent by mail to students’ families.

    VHS Class of 2017 Graduation, Saturday June 17, 6-8:30pm
    Graduation ceremonies will take place in the stadium or gymnasium, weather pending.

    Community Events

    VISD Racial Equality group, Tuesday June 13, 12-2:30pm, Screening of, 13th, Monday June 19, 6pm at VHS Theatre
    Vashon Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ), VISD Racial Equity, and the Backbone Campaign are sponsoring this screening of the award-winning documentary, 13th, titled after the 13th Amendment. In the documentary, filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the US, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African Americans.  A discussion will follow the screening.

    Respectfully yours,                

         Michael Soltman                       

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • 13 Reasons Why

    Posted by Jodi Burwell at 5/25/2017 2:00:00 PM

    Dear Vashon School District Families,

    I am writing to inform you about a new Netflix series titled 13 Reasons Why and its possible impact on our students. 13 Reasons Why is gaining popularity and we have concerns that the series may increase thoughts of suicide among students. 

    The show is based on a novel that tells the story of 17-year-old girl who takes her own life. She leaves behind 13 recordings explaining the reasons why she chose to complete suicide. While the show brings up the importance of talking about suicidal thoughts, it portrays situations where youth are dealing with serious issues, from bullying to sexual assault, without getting support from adults. 

    You may wish to discuss the series with your student and what to do if they or someone they know has thoughts of hurting themself. As we discuss in our curriculums (outlined below), teach your student to acknowledge if they or someone they know needs help and that it’s okay to tell an adult. Please remind your student that there is help available if they ever feel sad or depressed and be sure they have the hotline numbers listed below. 

    Please consider the age and developmental stage of your student before allowing them to watch the show. We do not recommend that students with a history of suicidal thoughts, depression or mental health concerns watch 13 Reasons Why. If you do allow your child to watch this series, we recommend you watch it with them and discuss it afterwards. We have attached a sheet with ideas of talking points. 

    Suicide Prevention Curriculum

    Each of our schools has staff trained in suicide prevention and we utilize evidence based social emotional curriculums to help support our student’s emotional growth through all of life’s challenges. Chautauqua teaches the social emotional education curriculum Second Step in kindergarten through fifth grade and McMurray Middle School uses the Sources of Strength (SOS) curriculum, Second Step social emotional curricula and a suicide prevention curriculum. At Vashon High School, students receive prevention education around self-harm and suicide during special presentations in our theater, in health classes, during all school assemblies, and during SMART period presentations. The education our kids receive in middle school and high school focuses on supporting students in identify warning signs of depression or thoughts of suicide and making a report to a trusted adult for support. Our school psychologist, school nurses, school counselors are trained in suicide prevention and supports and, unlike some of the adults in 13 Reasons Why, we take all reports seriously.

    Getting Help

    If your student has warning signs of depression or suicide, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk. Instead, it decreases the risk by providing an opportunity for help.

    If your child is in need of assistance, please reach out to your school counselor. 

    Helpful Resources

    National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255                  

    Safe2Tell at 877-542-7233

    Trevor Project Hotline for Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ youth 866-488-7386

    Text START to 741-741 to talk to a trained counselor. It's free, confidential, and available 24/7.

    Talking Points for Parents:  

    NASP Guidance for Parents and Educators

    How to talk to young people about “13 Reasons Why”  

    Comments (-1)
  • Callison Family Fund

    Posted by Jodi Burwell at 5/16/2017 11:00:00 AM

    Dear Colleagues, Friends and Families:

    You may have heard media reports yesterday of the heartbreaking news about the tragic accident suffered by the Callison family.  Our Chautauqua Elementary School office manager, Gillian Callison, and her husband, Terry Peters, lost their son, Philip, and granddaughter, Penelope, in a car accident this past Sunday in Bellingham.  Their daughter-in-law, Pamela, suffered significant physical injury but is recovering.  Philip was a graduate of our high school in 2010.   

    As we share this news, our hearts are breaking for the family.  Gillian, Terry and their family have been an integral part of our school community for many years.  The loss that they are experiencing right now is unimaginable for most of us.

    A donation account, Callison Family Fund, has been established at Chase Bank on Vashon.  Donations can be made by personal check directly at the bank, or you may drop your check off at the district office, room 304 with Heather Sutton, and we will make the deposit each day.

    We are all deeply saddened by this loss and wish peace, love and care to the Callisons.

    Best regards,

        Michael Soltman                       

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • See our VHS Students Shine!

    Posted by Jodi Burwell at 5/4/2017 11:15:00 AM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues,

    This Friday evening our community will have an opportunity to see Vashon High School students display their artistic talents at two events: The VHS Biennial Art Exhibition and the VHS Spring musical, Sister Act.

     

    VHS Biennial Art Exhibition
    This stunning collection of student work opens Friday, May 5 from 6 to 9pm in the lobby of the Katherine L. White Hall. The show displays a culmination of over two years of work spanning all art courses at VHS including Drawing & Painting, Art & Design, and Ceramics. Unique to this year’s show is the inclusion of work from the AP Studio Art program. The AP program was created three years ago and this will be the first time those students have shown the work they’ve created as part of the intensive portfolio development required for credit by the College Board.

    VHS Art Teacher, Terry Swift, explains, “For the past 20 plus years we’ve enjoyed a relationship with Vashon Center for the Arts that celebrates creativity, production and passion for the arts.” Over 40 students will exhibit work in the show that will run through May 25th.  Swift continues, “I’m genuinely privileged to work with this quality of young people. Every day is a new adventure in artistic expression and exploration—this show is a celebration of that process.”

    Sister Act                                                                                                             
    The VHS Theatre Arts Program will launch its production of the Tony Award nominated gospel-meets-disco musical Sister Act on Friday, May 5 at 7:30pm in the VHS Theatre. Over 26 VHS students will take part in the show both on stage and off. An unprecedented number of seniors, multiple-year veterans to the theatre program, will perform in leading roles--many of whom intend to study theatre in college. Director and Theatre Arts teacher Dr. Stephen Floyd read through 20 musicals before arriving at Sister Act. He explains, “I chose this show for its humor, message, characters and the unique challenges it presents for some of our more advanced students.”

    The show runs May 5-7 and May 11-14, evening performances begin at 7:30 and Sunday matinees at 3pm. Ticket prices: $15 adults, $8 students and seniors. The junior class hopes you will attend the benefit performance on Saturday May 6th to raise funds for their senior prom; all seats for that performance are $20. You can buy tickets at Vashon Bookshop, the VHS office or at the door.

    I hope you will join me in celebrating VHS theatre and art students by supporting these events. I’m continually astounded by the quality of work these programs generate and expect to be once again this Friday evening.


    Best regards,

     Michael Soltman                          

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)