Fife Public Schools

September 2019 eNewsletter

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A Message from Superintendent Alfano

Dear Fife Public Schools Community,

The 2019-2020 school year is off to another amazing start! As projected, our schools are full of wonderful smiles from students who are eager to engage with one another and their teachers. This year is no different than years past from an enrollment standpoint. The District has seen a slow-but-steady increase in our enrollment over the past 10 years. The rate of growth is between 1-2% annually. While it is true that we are using almost every usable classroom space across the district, we are still able to maintain very low class sizes, especially at our three elementary schools.

The great news regarding our future capacity in our schools is that we have construction projects underway and in design that will significantly help the elementary and middle schools by creating more room to grow. FHS will also see an addition that will expand their programs and increase the building capacity on their campus. As we move through the process of design for the new elementary school and the STEAM Center of Innovation at FHS, we will utilize a new online tool called ThoughtExchange to help us interact with you and answer your questions in a real time manner. See Assistant Superintendent Jeff Nelson’s article below for more details and our first crack at this idea!

Other than great enrollment numbers across the school district, please see the article below regarding Fife High School and the recognition they are receiving from ESPN and Special Olympics. We are so proud that FHS has been named as an ESPN Top 5 National Banner Unified Champion School. We are grateful for the recognition and love the fact that this award is something ALL district staff and community members can take pride in!

To close, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the impact that increased traffic, combined with several road construction projects, is having on our transportation department and our bus schedules. While we have seen a significant reduction in the past three weeks compared to the first week of school in the number of buses that are running behind schedule, we are also aware that late buses can cause disruptions in schedules and even worry with parents. We have revisited our communication protocol when buses are running behind schedule and will do everything we can to make sure those communications are efficient and effective should we need them.

Thank you for sharing your children with us every school day. It is a pleasure to serve you and this community!

Together we are Fife!

Kevin Alfano, Superintendent

Construction Updates - Jeff Nelson, Assistant Superintendent of TLI

Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year! We’ve had a very busy summer working with architects, contractors, and staff. We thought we’d take this opportunity to bring everybody up to speed on our projects.

SLMS: Construction is well underway! Anyone driving by the construction site can track the progress almost on a day-by-day basis. The gyms, music area, and classroom foundations are the main part of the construction right now. The SLMS staff and students have done a fantastic job already, working in their temporary home, as their brand new school is being built right outside the window!

Elementary School: As many of you have heard, we are working on our design for the new elementary school. Here are a few details. After an extensive application process and interview, we have hired Cornerstone Contractors to build our new school! This is the same group that is now building SLMS. The new elementary school will be built on and near the current baseball field at Fife High School. The FHS baseball field will be replaced where the current district office now sits, after the district office is demolished. The new elementary school will have capacity for 850 Kindergarten-5th grade students. The decision to build a larger elementary school allows us to also repurpose Endeavour Intermediate School as our new district office, just like we did with the previous Fife Elementary School! We will save money by not having to build a new district office.

We are pleased to announce that Amy Mittelstaedt, current principal at Endeavour, will be the principal at our new elementary school. The new elementary school is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2021. Between now and then we will be working with various committees of staff and parents to establish new boundaries, bus routes, new school name, staffing, and so on. We are gathering input from the community using a product called Thought Exchange. We’d love to hear from you!

FHS STEAM Center: The new FHS STEAM Center will be built on the campus of FHS, where the current portables now sit. We will be relocating the portables to another portion of the campus. The STEAM Center will house our science, business, technology, video, and art courses to begin with. We anticipate this building opening in January, 2022. We look forward to sharing our architects’ drawings of the new building very soon!

For the latest news on all of our projects, please check out our construction website, via If you are on Twitter, you can also get information using #buildingfortomorrow.

Thank you!

Fife High School Receives National Recognition by ESPN & Special Olympics

On September 6, students and staff at Fife High School received exciting news! Through a video announcement by ESPN broadcast to the student body in a school-wide assembly, they learned their school emerged from a finalist pool of 34 schools from around the nation to be named one of only five Unified Champion Banner Schools in the nation. To be considered for this prestigious award, these five schools had to meet the 10 national standards of inclusion as well as be nominated by their state Special Olympics program.

The primary activities within these standards include: Special Olympics Unified Sports® - where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates, Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole-School Engagement. Banner Unified Champion Schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.

While this award encompasses the combined efforts of a variety of staff and students, starting with Unified Club through Tina Eller's Life Skills Program at Columbia Junior High and under the leadership of Brian Meyer at Fife High School, one student in particular, FHS senior Zoie Breland, saw this as her personal mission to bring Unified Club to the next level at Fife. She approached Meyer during her sophomore year while a student in his Leadership class about bringing Unified Programs to Fife. She wanted to provide more opportunities for Special Education and General Education students to come together through social and athletic events in the spirit of inclusion. Breland states, "The best part about Unified is that we all get to come together and have fun. It doesn't matter the ability, age, gender, race, status. We all accept one another for who we are and celebrate our differences."

On Wednesday, October 2, representatives from ESPN and Special Olympics will be part of a special banner raising ceremony to be held at Fife High School with the entire student body. "The point of the banner raising ceremony," Meyer states, "is to celebrate FHS raising their National Banner into the rafters. I am most excited to see that banner go up to the rafters and realize that we are on the right path toward inclusion and acceptance. The banner will represent a commitment and also a reminder to keep moving forward."

Below are several photos from Unified activities at Fife as well as a compilation video created by Trojan Digital Media from the Top 5 Announcement Assembly held at FHS.

ESPN Top 5 Announcement Assembly

Surprise Lake Middle School 6th Graders Receive Chromebooks!

September 18 was a day filled with excitement at Surprise Lake Middle School - especially for this year's sixth grade students - as this day marked a much-anticipated milestone with Fife Forward, our district's 1:1 technology initiative. Under Fife Foward, students in grades K-5 have daily access to dedicated classroom sets of Chromebooks, but they do not receive a personal take-home device until they enter the 6th grade.

A considerable amount of work is carried out by the Fife School District tech team each year to get nearly 300 devices ready for 6th grade distribution, including collecting the devices from last year's seniors, cleaning, inspecting for issues, and making any needed repairs before reissuing. Coupling this with preparing roughly 200 more devices for use in other schools, inspecting and organizing carts at each elementary, SLMS construction-related technology projects, as well as regular maintenance across the district made for a busy several months for the entire Fife tech team!

Kevin Johnson, Director of Technology, states, "The entire tech team worked hard to prepare all our buildings for the new year. This year was especially busy at Surprise Lake with moving teachers to their temporary locations, wiring up the temporary portables, and installing a new phone system. All of this was on top of the many other projects the tech team handled throughout the district. Thank you, tech team, for your dedicated work!"

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College & Career Night Sets the Stage for Student Success

The 10th Annual College & Career Night was held on Thursday, September 26 at Columbia Junior High for Surprise Lake Middle School, Columbia Junior High, and Fife High School students and families. As a kick-off for this well-attended evening the Fife High School counselors hosted an informative presentation from 6:00-7:00 pm which highlighted graduation requirements and a wealth of financial aid and college admissions related information.

A second breakout session was also offered for families of 7th & 8th grade students interested in learning more about WA State's College Bound Scholarship Program. The College Bound Scholarship is designed to inspire and encourage Washington middle school students from low-income families to prepare for and pursue post-secondary education. The commitment of state funding for tuition for students admitted to the program is intended to alleviate the financial barriers preventing students from considering college as a possibility.

Throughout the night, participants had the opportunity to attend the evening's College & Career Fair, held in the CJH Commons, to personally meet with representatives from all branches of the military as well as representatives from two-year, four-year and professional & technical institutions. Over 50 institutions of higher learning were on hand to answer questions and talk about their programs. A sampling of institutions in attendance were Clover Park Technical College, Central Washington University, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Community College, University of Arizona, Washington State University, University of Washington, and many more.

Below are several photos that capture some of the evening's activities.

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Elementary Students Attend Salmon Homecoming

Hedden Elementary 4th graders, along with all 4th and 5th grade Native American students attending Hedden Elementary and Endeavour Intermediate, attended this year's Salmon Homecoming, held annually during the second week in September.

The students' day began on the pier by the Seattle Aquarium where they attended a cultural dance performance by the Tulalip Dancers and the Muckleshoot Tribal School Dance Group. At the conclusion of the cultural performance, students had lunch and got to spend time in the Seattle Aquarium interacting with exhibitors and cultural booths as well as participating in hands on activities in various aquarium exhibits.

According to Martha Sherman, Native American Education Program Coordinator, "A goal of the Salmon Homecoming is to give our students an enriching cross-cultural experience that also helps them see how they are connected to the environment.”