Grizzly Growl

Friday January 7th 2022


Happy 2022 Fairhaven Friends and Families!

As we return from winter break and welcome in a new year, I wanted to take a moment to write about a few key things from this month’s Growl and our work.

I wanted to thank you all for the support, patience, and trust as we have navigated the cold weather—ice and snow—over the past five days. I know it has been a school year of wild weather, so we ask that you please review the information in this Growl regarding weather related changes. It is still only early January, and we may not be done with the crazy weather.

Also, while our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion is year-long, January is a month when we celebrate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and his legacy as well as the continued work of our country’s civil rights movement. You will notice that this year the King family has asked that we focus on the importance of voting rights, especially as it relates to a healthy and functioning democracy. Thank you for joining us in this “day-on” (as opposed to a “day-off”) on January 17th.

Finally, our Bellingham Promise strives to develop students and graduates who are skilled users of technology and information. To this end, all our students have a school provided laptop and our staff work diligently to utilize technology tools and lessons in their work. Our commitment to technology was especially helpful as we all learned remotely during the pandemic. However, we have noticed that as our students have returned to full-time, in-person learning there are some habits and behaviors they need our collective support around. To help with this we are building in a “Technology Support” section to our monthly Grizzly Growl. This month our teachers Yana Mansfield and Michael Owens provide information and suggestions for supporting your child with social media as well as some information regarding the digital citizenship and educational resources we use here at school. Please know that we are also here to help as you have questions or need support. This could include reaching out to our front office team or Ms. Bacon and Ms. Penner, our amazing school counselors.

Stay warm everyone and cheers to a healthy and safe new year!

My best,

Steve Ruthford, Principal


A Grizzly Receiving Recognition (GRR) award recognizes students who go above and beyond. GRR awards are a way to publicly recognize a student for their excellence, exceptional effort, kindness toward others, or other significant contribution to our FMS community. Students chosen this week were:

Ryhlan Williams

Logan Rogers

Sawyer Ruthford

Sarah Kruzich

Daija Dutt

Luis Jiménez-Barragán

Liam Daheim

Makena Lawton

Tina Ding

Edwin Gonzalez

Commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2022

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. assemblies are a state-mandated part of our school activities. This year, Dr. King’s family requests that communities educate and activate for voting rights.

On Twitter, Dr. Bernice King said she stands in solidarity with her brother, Martin Luther King III, in "calling our nation's attention to securing and protecting the most sacred right of our democracy, which is the right to vote." She asks that on MLK Day, supporters will “speak and act in a way to ensure that this nation lives up to its promise of democracy…and instead of taking the King Holiday off, they should make it a 'day on'..."

Bellingham Public Schools will honor the King family’s request to focus on voting rights. Examples include:

  • Planning support for schools and classrooms in the shift from celebratory MLK activities to lessons focused on voting rights and the importance of local elections.
  • Clock hours for staff and community participation in the Jan. 13-17, 2022 Whatcom Human Rights Taskforce’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Conference;
  • Continued partnership with WWU and several agencies across the city to plan for the Jan. 17, 2022 MLK Day educational event featuring an interview with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. The conversation will address voting rights across the nation and in Washington State. The recording will be available to those who register.

For event updates and resources and lesson plans, please check the January Celebrations & Traditions newsletter posted on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion blog.

Technology Support

With the recent social media issues that some of our high schools have experienced, we wanted to send out some support information to our families to help with conversations around digital citizenship, as well as social media and cell phone use. It is important for families and students to know that conversations around social media and digital citizenship should be frequent and ongoing during adolescent years, as needs, interests, and concerns change over time. Here are some recommendations to support adolescents at home:

  • Co-develop a cell phone and/or social media use contract with each child in the home. The contract should be based on the needs of both the parent/guardian and child and should spell out what accountability and support look like. Accountability, such as cell phone usage monitoring, should be paired with support. Teens will make mistakes! It is important for their long-term success that they have support to do better. A contract can and should be revisited regularly and changed over time to meet the needs of the family.
  • Parents/Guardians can inquire into cell phone and social media use from a place of curiosity rather than judgement. Teens do have reasons for their choices that may not be obvious to adults and sometimes, of course, teens struggle to predict the consequences of their choices. Approaching issues or concerns with curiosity can help uncover rationales and make the cause-and-effect relationship more obvious. For example:
    • “I noticed that you…Can you tell me more about that?”
    • “Is that helping or hurting? How can you tell?”
    • “I see that you…How can I help you with that?”
  • Finally, focus on growth. Listen and watch for examples of when a child demonstrates a new understanding or deeper awareness about social media, cell phone use, or digital citizenship. For example, they might say “I told my friend they should delete that post because…” A parent/guardian could acknowledge the child’s new understanding and ask them what their own rules are for posts.

Free common sense media for parents: This is the digital citizenship and educational resources that are taught and used within the school district. This also contains resources that parents can use at home, including a cell phone contract template. Click on “For Parents” in the upper left corner, then click on the “Parents Need to Know” tab. (See screenshot below)

Big picture

New Books That Have Been Added To The Library Collection

Winter Weather Planning

Emergency and Weather Procedures

It’s that time of year to think about snow and our procedures and impact of weather-related school cancellations.

Depending on conditions (which could include snow, flooding, power outages, etc.), school could:

  • close for the day (in the case of widespread power outages),
  • open two hours late with regular bus routes or snow bus routes,
  • open on time with snow bus routes.

How can I get weather/emergency information?

Changes to the school schedule are usually announced by 6 a.m., and we use a variety of methods to keep families informed:

  • Sign up for alerts: To receive email, phone, and/or text alerts, set your communication preferences on the Skylert tab within Skyward Family Access. (Need help? go here for step-by-step directions or contact 360-676-6520.)
  • Tune to local media: 790 AM, 96.5 FM, 104.1 FM or Seattle media.
  • Check
  • Check @BhamSD on Twitter, @bellinghamschools on Facebook and @bellinghamschools on Instagram
  • Call 360-676-6400 for a recorded message.
  • Call 360-647-6815 for a message translated in Español, русский, tính từ and Punjabi.

Please familiarize yourself with our weather procedures at

How to find your snow bus route: