Middle School Matters

Whatcom Middle School Newsletter, May 2022

From the Wildcat's Den (For the last time)...

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Dr. Suess

After twenty years of monthly newsletters, this is the final one for me from Whatcom Middle School. Am I retiring? Nope. Just shifting my skillset from running schools to building schools. Retiring is still in my future.

I just want to say, “Thank you.”

Thank you to all the families that have trusted us to do our very best with your kids. Thank you for your patience and understanding when things didn’t go absolutely right and for your support as we worked to make it right. Your appreciation of our collective work and the value that you communicated back to us has made getting up and starting another school day/month/year fulfilling and doable.

Thank you to the students who came here everyday and attempted to do new things. You’ve always had the hardest job of us all. Thank you for fart spray, earbuds, sagging pants, vitamin ‘F’, social media, and all the other unique ways you found to exert your creativity and your growing independence. And ironically, thank you for being so predictable. Thank you for the lessons you taught me about human development. Thank you for your humor. The stories I tell are all about you. You have been so gracious, funny, and accepting of me as a human; even as I’ve grown old while at the same time, in my own way, being resistant to growing up.

Thank you to the staff that have brought your “A game” to a job that is never done and could always be done better. You have humbled me with your skills, your commitment, and your willingness to be led. You have been and will remain, “My Experts.” What I know about quality instruction I’ve learned in your classrooms by observing your lessons and joining you in professional development. I’ve learned about the power of the interdisciplinary team and its unmatched ability to meet the needs of middle school learners. I love the people who love middle school kids. You all deserve the very best that we can give because you give the very best you have.

Thank you to all those who make a school hum but don’t have classrooms. You all know who you are and you are our heroes. Your work goes without thanks and often un-noticed, but without your sacrifice and effort, learning wouldn’t occur. You all are amazing.

I’ve loved my time here on Halleck Street. 20 years of working with Bellingham middle school kids has been the most rewarding, inspiring, challenging, fulfilling, and humbling work I’ve done in my 42 years in education. I’m so proud of the Whatcom students that we’ve served over these many years. I’m just as proud of the teachers and staff who have given their hearts and careers to those same students.

We’ve done well. Smile.

Wishing you all good learning.



Click here for the newly revised 2021-22 School Year, A/B Calendars and more!

Mark your calendar!

May 16 - PTSA Meeting, 7:00 pm

May 17 - Northern Heights 5th grade visit

May 19 - Sunnyland 5th grade visit

May 20 - Cordata 5th grade visit

May 26 - MS Combined Choir at WMS, 7:00 pm

May 30 - No School - Memorial Day

June 7 - Band Concert, 7:00 pm

June 9 - Orchestra Concert, 7:00 pm

June 16 - 8th Grade Celebration, 1:30 pm

June 17 - Last day of school, 12:00 pm dismissal

Friday, May 20 is a Normal School Day

Please note that to make up for our winter weather and flooding, May 20 is now a normal school day.

Upcoming Assessment dates...

  • Make-ups – May 24 & 25 in library (May 27 if needed)

Please support your student's success by ensuring they get a good night's sleep, a healthy breakfast, and arrive to school on time!

WMS PTSA General Meeting, Monday, 5/16, 7:00 pm

You’re Invited!


  • Meet next year’s administrative leadership team: Principal Mischelle Darragh & Assistant Principal Breann Hulford
  • Help us vote in next year’s budget for the PTSA
  • We need to vote in 2 new members for the Board of Directors


  • Whatcom Middle School Library, 2nd Floor


  • May 16, 2022, 7pm, In-Person

Can’t come?

Make Awesome Connections: Join the Board of Directors!

The two board roles that need to be filled are President (lead meetings, coordinate the team), and Secretary (manage written documents, other work as needed!). We can accommodate a Co-President option if that works for a couple of people!

Please reach out if interested! WhatcomMSPTSAVicePresident@gmail.com, WhatcomMSPTSASecretary@gmail.com, WhatcomMSPTSATreasurer@gmail.com, WhatcomMSPTSAMembership@gmail.com, WhatcomMSPTSAVolunteers@gmail.com

Counselor's Corner

The calendar says Spring, but I’m looking out the window and it looks more like Winter; at least it’s a warm rain!! The other thing that tells me it’s Spring is that we’re in the middle of visits from 5th graders, scheduling for next year, and planning year-end activities; it’s always a balancing act keeping everyone engaged through the end of this year while preparing for next.

The 8th graders will visit their high school soon, so be on the lookout for information and field trip forms for that. The visiting 5th graders have been full of energy and excitement, which is really fun to see. We haven’t been able to do the visits for two years and I’m really enjoying their enthusiasm for starting their middle school journey; it’s a good reminder that we’re returning to “normal!”

There’s also a familiar bittersweet feeling as we’re thinking about our 8th graders heading off to high school; we’ll miss them, but we’re pretty proud of them, especially given everything they’ve had to deal with over the last two years. While we’re winding down, we’re still available to help as best we can if you have questions or concerns about your child; please reach out!

Beth and Rita

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Middle and high school families! Donate your new or gently used athletic wear and equipment

The Activities and Athletics Program in Bellingham Public Schools is collecting gently used or new athletic gear at our middle and high schools through the end of the school year. Requested items include cleats, rackets, mitts, shin guards and balls. Activewear such as sports bras, athletic shorts and sneakers will also be accepted. Please drop off only clean items in good condition.

Look for drop boxes for donated items in your school through Friday, June 10. Donated items will be available for student athletes at the Back-to-School Block Party in August and also in schools next school year. Thank you for doing your part to redistribute these items for others who might need them. We are a One Schoolhouse community! Thank you in advance for playing a part in the success of all student athletes.

Questions? Contact jennifer.gaer@bellinghamschools.org

Get ready for MS and HS sports next year and summer camps!

Sign up for athletics and activities for the 2022-2023 school year now!
    • To get signed up and learn more, head to our school's activity and athletics site: Whatcom Athletics – Whatcom Middle School (bellinghamschools.org)
    • If your student is interested in participating, sign up now to learn about camps, workouts, and connection opportunities over the summer.
    • All students interested in participating in a sport, need a valid sports physical. Make an appointment with your primary care provider for a well child check, and ask for a sports physical to ensure your student athlete can start right away next year.

Free Covid Tests available

Testing before returning to school after Spring Break can help our community stay healthy. At-home rapid tests are available to families and staff on a weekly basis. Please come to our front office to pick up tests.

Testing continues to be available for staff and students at our schools and the Family Resource Center at Shuksan Middle School each school day from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We care about your family and want to help you stay strong together

The Strengthening Families Program 10-14 is one way to practice love and limits with our youth.

In today’s episode we will hear about building bridges. It is true that pre-teens and teens like more alone time and share less with their parents as they get older. Trying to get youth to talk when they don’t want to drives them even further away. When our teens do come to talk to us, if we can listen to their problems and be there for them, it is more likely they will let us in on their lives again in the future.

We encourage you to become familiar with this parenting local program, it is our hope to bring it to you at some point; however, check their online option, that can be done from the comfort of your home. There is no cost involved, just let us know you want to participate, Elsa Powell will be able to enroll you at no cost. Leave a message or text at 360 306 4165.

English Episode#6

Spanish Episodio #6

Common Threads Garden News

Whatcom middle school students have been hard at work cultivating their school garden! This past month we have harvested thirty-five pounds of Hakurei Turnips, twenty pounds of leeks, and lots of spinach. Students have been planting beans, potatoes, cabbage, and endive in the front garden while the hoop house is getting filled with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and lots of flowers. If you are interested in summer garden care please email Evelyn at evelyn.gray@commonthreadsfarm.org.

Summer Camps

Our High School programs are offering summer sports and activity camps this summer in partnership with the City of Bellingham. Here is the full listing of all camps:

Summer recreation and sports camp opportunities

The City of Bellingham has published the Spring/Summer 2022 Playbook (formerly known as Leisure Guide) which includes several high school sports camps.

  • The COB offers $200/person annual scholarships for Parks and Rec/Arne Hanna Programs.
  • The Pass Program through Every Kid Sports provides up to $150 to athletes ages 4-18 for recreational sports programs. Families are expected to contribute $10 towards the camp or program.
  • Blue Skies for Children in Bellingham provides funding through their Little Wishes programs for children experiencing homelessness, children who are in foster-care, or children who are eligible for free or reduced school lunches.
  • The Bellingham Schools Foundation may also provide assistance if a student is unable to access any of the above funds. Contact Laurel Peak for assistance.
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After-school dinner program free for all children 18 and under

Bellingham Public Schools serves hot dinner at no cost to all children 18 and under. These meals are offered from 5 to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday through June 16, 2022. Dinner is served in the Shuksan Middle School cafeteria, located at 2717 Alderwood Avenue (at the corner of Northwest and Alderwood). It does not matter what school you attend in the district.

Accompanying adults are charged $4.75 per meal — please bring cash or check. Please plan to eat onsite in the Shuksan cafeteria.

The daily Monday through Thursday dinner menu is listed on the school menu webpage by day after the lunch listing.

Please note: Dinner will not be served on school holidays or on the following all school early dismissal days: Nov. 4, Nov. 24, Dec. 9, Feb. 10, March 10 and April 28.

Picking up students early from school...

The quickest way to check your student out early is to send them with a note to the attendance window in the morning before school starts or send an email to Beth.Pelto-Fishbeck@bellinghamschools.org. Your student will receive a pass allowing them to leave the building at the appointed time and meet you at your vehicle.

Do not make arrangements with your student's teachers!

If you have an unplanned check out, please call the attendance office, (360) 676-6460, opt. 1. Please allow us time to locate your student by calling in advance. You will then be required to come inside and sign your student out.

Students arriving to school late, or returning from an appointment, must come to the attendance window with a signed note from a parent or guardian. Your student will then receive a pass which they will take to their teacher.

Whatcom Middle School PTSA

Whatcom Middle School PTSA is committed to providing teachers and students with an excellent level of service this year. We are asking you to join PTSA by following the link below. Thank you for your help and please support your PTSA.


2021-22 PTSA Board:

  • President - Bri Smolen
  • Vice President - Lorrie Melton
  • Treasurer - Daniele O'Connell
  • Secretary - Amy Guerra

Cell phone policy

Unless permitted by a staff member, students are not allowed to use cellphones during the school day (9:00 am - 3:45 pm). All cell phones are to be turned off and stored in backpacks. Failure to adhere to school policy may result in confiscation and parents picking up phones in the main office.

Parents needing to contact their students may do so by emailing your student's district email address or by calling the Main Office or Attendance Office. Your child can call you from our attendance office.

Getting to School

Halleck St. (in front of the school) is closed to all vehicles except school buses. Please do not attempt to drop off your student on Halleck St. Please use one of the side streets instead.

Students not riding buses should not arrive until 9:00 am. At 9:00 students will be allowed to enter the building and go directly to their first period classroom. The first bell rings at 9:10 am signaling the time to be in their seats and the late bell rings at 9:15 am.

Bike racks are available in front of the school. Bikes should always be locked to prevent theft. If a student happens to forget their lock, we can help with securing the bike in the building for the day. Scooters and skateboards can be stored in the main office.

School Dress Code

Part of The Bellingham Promise, our strategic plan, strives to develop students and graduates who are respectful and compassionate humans. We want students to respect themselves and others. While we encourage individuality, the district’s dress code aims to foster a positive and healthy environment.

  • Students should dress casually and comfortably for school, while wearing clothing that is well-suited for a school environment.
  • Appropriate headgear may be worn for warmth and protection outdoors, and inside for religious reasons or special circumstances.
  • Clothing, drawings, tattoos and accessories that display or promote negative messages are not permitted. These could include drug, gang, weapon, alcohol or tobacco-related information, obscenities, put-downs, stereotypes, sexual innuendo, offensive words or graphics.
  • A violation of the dress code will require a change of clothing.
  • Special circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Skyward Emergency Contact Information

When students come unexpectedly to the office for illness or injury, we often need to call for someone to pick them up, and often times, it's an emergency contact we end up having to call.

Sometimes emergency contacts change phone numbers or the contact in Skyward is no longer available. We would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to log into Skyward Family Access and make sure your emergency contact information is up to date. If you need help or have questions, you can contact our registrar, Nancy Howell. Thank you!

Manage your notifications with Skylert

Skylert enables you to receive notifications concerning your children, including messages from Bellingham Public Schools and your child’s school. You have control over which notifications to receive and how you would like to receive them. Skylert is accessed via Skyward Family Access, so it is no longer necessary to login to a separate portal for SchoolMessenger to manage contact preferences.

Click here for step by step instructions to update phone numbers, email addresses and set your preferences.

WTA Bus Fare: FREE for Youth

Did you know that youth can ride WTA busses for free? If you're not yet in high school, you can just step on and ride. You don't need a bus pass of any kind. If you're high school aged, you will need a FREE TouchPass/Umo Youth Pass. You can pick up your free TouchPass/Umo Youth Pass at WTA's Bellingham Station. Please bring proof of your age, or your current school ID. Or, you can request a card by sending an email from your school email address to buspasses@ridewta.com . Provide your first name, last name, full birth date and current grade. Students at High Schools in Bellingham can pick up their Youth Cards at school.
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Whatcom Middle School

Principal: Jeff Coulter

Assistant Principal: Tina Allsop

Administrative Assistant: Aileen Walton

(360) 676-6460

  • Attendance, option 1
  • Athletics, option 2
  • Registrar/Counseling, option 3
  • Main office, option 4