Middle School Matters

Whatcom Middle School Newsletter, December 2021

Big picture

From the Wildcat's Den...

I think I’m an educator because of northwest winters. Growing up in Washington State always meant dark, wet, and dreary winters. I remember school being warm, secure, consistent and predictable. I remember the feel and touch of a good library book while seated at a familiar desk in a classroom led by a caring adult. In definite contrast to the out of doors, school was a haven of familiarity and protection. These winter days of darkness and wet still make me grateful for the indoor environment created by schools and educators.

As a staff we’ve been spending time studying Social Emotional Learning and Trauma Informed Practices. Our students often need an important “something” in addition to strong instruction and a supportive environment as described in the Bellingham Promise. Fulfilling the Core Beliefs of our Bellingham Promise, where we commit to the Whole Child, necessitates that we equip our students with the components of Emotional Regulation.

Many of our students have life experiences similar to the wet, dreary northwest winter. The Pandemic has created it’s own mix of stressors and life complications. What students need, now more than ever, is help regulating their emotions, anxiety, and developing their ability to work well with others. We all need the sense of safety and predictability akin to a warm, well-lit, and welcoming school. It’s what our students need and what we’re striving to deliver on through our Bellingham Promise.

Being involved with a community, district, and school that focuses on the needs of each student, who work to create strategies to meet those needs, makes me grateful. I hope our students feel the same, now and in their future.

Wishing you the very best learning and a rejuvenating Winter Break.


Mark your calendar!

Dec. 20 - 31 - Winter Break, schools resumes Jan. 3, 2022

Jan 17 - No School - Martin Luther King Day

Jan 26 - Band Concert

Jan 31 - No School - Semester Break - Teacher work day


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

Planning for Winter Weather

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.

Click here to look up your 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 bellinghamschools.org
  • 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 bellinghamschools.org/weather.

How to find your snow bus route: www.bellinghamschools.org/snow-routes

From the Counseling Office...

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already December and we’re in the home stretch before Winter Break! As the holidays are approaching, I want to acknowledge that along with celebrations and joy, there can also be increased stress, particularly now with all the challenges COVID presents. In light of that, here is a list of resources you may find useful:

REACH OUT – AUSTRALIA WEBSITE extraordinary interactive website with great information for teens, parents, and teachers. It has videos, articles, self-assessments, and tons of positive coping resources. https://au.reachout.com/

A Covid-19 Behavioral Health Toolbox for Families- Resource guide with lots of very easy to understand information about kids' adjustment issues to the pandemic. https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/BHG-COVID19-FamilyToolbox.pdf

National Parent Hotline: (855) 427-2736

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255 (English) or (888) 628-9454 (Spanish)

Crisis Connections: (866) 427-4747

Crisis Text Line: Text HEAL to 741741

Teen Link: Call or text (866) 833-6546

Warm Line: (877) 500-WARM (9276)

And, if you have concerns about your own, or your child’s mental health, please reach out to your healthcare provider.

My hope is that none of these are necessary, and everyone has a peaceful, restful, and enjoyable break. Happy holidays; see you in the new year!

Beth, Molly & Rita

You can contact us via email (elizabeth.schille-oconnor@bellinghamschools.org, rita.hocking-kombol@bellinghamschools.org, mollyj.foote@bellinghamschools.org) or phone (Beth x4352, Rita/Molly x4353).

Missing track jerseys!

WMS Track Athletes and Parents/Guardians – We are asking for your help with finding 13 missing jerseys. We appreciate everyone’s time and helping us track them down b. (The WMS Cross Country team will appreciate it too!) Thank you kindly to those that have returned their track jersey.

Online Bridge to Compacted 8/Algebra 1

Seventh grade families: you recently received a communication on behalf of all middle schools regarding an optional, additional, and independent math class for second semester. Most eighth graders will take Math 8, and we believe that most students are best served by our grade level middle school math curriculum and classes, and no action is required if you want your child to take Math 8 next year. If you have any questions about whether the optional, additional online, and independent class would be a good fit for your seventh grader, please reach out to your school principal. If you wish to pursue this additional class, please fill out this form no later than January 10.

The Promise Tomorrow Initiative is back!

This is project–based learning at its best. Students will work in teams on projects that envision creative solutions to transition to a better world. Their projects will take multi-disciplinary approaches to innovate technologies, designs, or plans that forge connections in their communities to create positive change. Student collaborative groups will work across grades, meet weekly, and be supported by a volunteer and supervised by the coordinator.

Program registration is January 3-19. To learn more or to register please go to https://bellinghamschools.org/program/promise-tomorrow/

Gardening with Common Threads

Despite the cool temperatures there are still opportunities to get out in the garden this winter! The Whatcom MS garden is in need of winter garden volunteers to help complete large projects in the food forest so that the garden is ready to bloom in the spring. If you are interested in supporting the school garden, please email Americorps Food Educator, Evelyn, evelyn.gray@commonthreadsfarm.org.

Big picture

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.

Gardening with Common Threads

Fall is such an exciting season in the garden: Kids are harvesting, seed-saving, and learning about different ways to build healthy soil. If you are interested in volunteering during fall gardening please contact: evelyn.gray@commonthreadsfarm.org

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.
  • Masks are required at all times in the building (except breakfast and lunch) and are optional outside.
  • 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.
Big picture

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