HSD Holiday Round-up

Keeping the Hockinson community in the loop!

Dear HSD Families:

I know this is a busy time of year and many parents will not have the time to read this message, but I decided to forward it out anyway. I think it helps to convey how special our community is - especially amidst the challenges of the past 22 months.

I sent this out as an email to the HSD staff yesterday evening and had originally planned to modify the content for families. Then I reconsidered and thought it might be most appropriate to pass it along mostly "as is" and add a parent message at the end.

12/7 Message to HSD Staff

We entered the final school day of the year a little more on guard than usual due to threats spread on TikTok, but the holiday spirit in our buildings quickly put staff and students at ease.

I completed a tour of our three schools today and was so impressed how we kept the focus on learning while also having fun and showing our students that we care about them. Nice work, everyone! Now, as a district, we totally disregarded all Healthy Kids-Healthy Schools guidelines...but hey, treats are part of the holiday experience.

Knowing that they represent only a sliver of what took place in our schools today, I still wanted to share a couple of pictures from my visits to HHES, HMS, and HHS:

A number of staff started the day outside our schools reassuring students that we were on the lookout for any safety concerns. Inside HMS, staff gathered at their entrance to welcome students with holiday carols.

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Later that morning, HMS students paid it forward by playing Christmas songs for the District Office...
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with Mrs. Ritenburgh leading the performance.
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At HHS, students at the HHS drink cart worked to fill a massive coffee order placed by our AAA Boosters on behalf of high school staff members.
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Meanwhile, at Fire District 3, fire cadets worked with students from Mr. Loper's and Ms. Callen's Home Base students to offload hundreds of toys and 13,000 cans of food ... for FD 3's Toy and Food Drive.
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collected by HHES and HMS students...
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and destined for local families-in-need.

As illustrated by these pictures of the HMS and HHES Giving Trees, the generosity of our staff and community is amazing.

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Equally amazing is your dedication to our students these past three and a half months. I know it hasn't been easy, but I know students and they are happy to be back at school. Thank you for fueling that happiness with your compassion, creativity, and commitment to their learning. You are indeed positive role models.

I am certain you are also exhausted role models. Rest up! See you back here on Jan. 3.

Thank you and Happy Holidays, HSD.

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P.S. When I returned to the District Office, a HSD patron was preparing the former HMS sign posts to display a Hockinson School District sign. The sign is a true symbol of "The Hockinson Way": A former HMS student cut down a cedar tree and milled it. Then, a parent carved and painted it. And now it is being installed by a parent of two HHS graduates. Nearly all of the work was donated. If the weather holds, it should be on display by the new year.

Parent Message

Now parents, it's time to shift the focus to you. The above message focuses on staff and students, but you comprise a third essential group in the "educational triangle"! Thank you for the role you have played in making all of this possible. You generously support our classrooms and service activities. You also support our students on a daily basis and make sure they come to school healthy and ready to learn.

On Thursday and Friday, a number of you expressed your concerns about school security and student safety. I assure you that safety was one of our top priorities yesterday. It is every day. Each HSD school practices how to best respond to a number of safety scenarios including: Evacuation, Earthquake, Shelter-in-Place, Lockout (external threat), and Lockdown (internal threat). We also take steps to proactively avoid situations that could potentially disrupt learning or threaten student and staff safety. Our schools address socioemotional issues, identify students and situations that need extra attention, and engage in a threat assessment process if necessary. Each school also has a safety committee that meets regularly.

In response to the nationwide TikTok threats, I sent a general notification to all staff and our principals followed up with a more specific email to all staff. We tightened up our safety protocols on Friday, which included: Additional outside supervision, confirmation of visitor identities and intent before allowing school entry, and other measures such as the monitoring of security cameras and perimeter checks throughout the day. Thankfully, the day was incident-free in Hockinson and other local schools.

As I acknowledged with staff, the transition to in-person learning has been bumpy at times. However, despite the restrictions and occasional inconveniences, we are making it work and it is gratifying to see our students enjoy being back at school; I have a feeling that they are settling in and getting more and more comfortable with being part of a school community with every passing day. I am inspired by our students' academic gains these past four months and impressed with their skills as athletes, musicians, and leaders. Like you, I am excited to see what we will achieve in 2022.

As has been the refrain for nearly two years: Stay healthy and stay positive, everyone. Happy Holidays!


Steve Marshall


Hockinson School District

A couple of post-scripts:

  • You can watch/listen to our HMS and HHS Winter Band Concerts by clicking on the following links: 12/9 HMS Winter Concert and 12/14 HHS Winter Concert.
  • The HHS Girls Basketball Team has a home game tonight v. Woodland. JV at 6 pm; Varsity at 7:30 pm. Their next home game is Jan. 6 v. Kelso.
  • The HHS Boys Basketball Team have two upcoming home games: Jan. 5 v. Fort Vancouver and Jan. 7 v. Mark Morris. Varsity at 7:30 pm.