Middle School Matters

Whatcom Middle School Newsletter, November 2021

From the Wildcat's Den...

When I sit down to write my monthly contribution to our school newsletter, I often find myself “explaining middle school” and “middle school behavior.” To many people, adolescent middle school students and their behaviors need interpreting. It’s oddly weird that for those of us who work with the age group, middle school behavior is normal and recognizable; except when it isn’t. Currently, it isn’t. It isn’t normal or recognizable, not since our return in August.

We’ve had the usual weirdness like the influence from Tik Tok and suggestions to participate in “Devious Licks.” Those have resulted individuals destroying bathroom fixtures and doing weird things like sawing through the backs of plastic chairs with the elastic from their masks.

My greater concern is the general emotional state of our whole student population. Student behaviors are matching behaviors associated with students who have experienced trauma.

This excerpt from Back to Classroom THINK Toolbox (page 21), a publication of the Washington Department of Health, includes a list of common student behaviors associated with trauma.

“Adverse events impact the whole child. Common responses to these events, which may also have an impact on learning, include:

• Difficulty paying attention and focusing

• Difficulty with memory (of information or skills)

• Hyperarousal- easy to startle, jumpy

• Fatigue and difficulty sleeping

• Physical symptoms, such as stomachaches or headaches

• Irritability and behavioral outbursts

• Trouble managing impulses”

This reference is important because educators are having to rethink the impact of COVID 19 and its associated social isolation on adolescents. It isn’t just a matter of losing ground academically. Students have lost ground socially and their mental health has suffered as well. Students have experienced trauma; some to a lesser degree, some to a greater degree.

The Washington Department of Health has produced two helpful resources for the purpose of supporting learners. Both resources are specific to educators and the families/parents of students in Washington. Students are going to benefit from schools and families searching for ways to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children.

Here are the links:



As you read through the materials, keep in mind that you may very well be suffering from the impact of the pandemic yourself. As another excerpt from Back to the Classroom THINK Toolbox (page 17) states, “Most people are tired, physically, mentally, and emotionally. We might be less patient with others than usual, and we are probably experiencing a higher baseline level of worry or anxiety on a daily basis. All of this adds up to a need for grace and acceptance, both with yourself and with others.” This is an important reminder that children, as well as adults are stressed and have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. We all could benefit from being supportive and aware.

I hope you find the resources helpful.

Wishing you good learning (and good mental health),


Mark your calendar!

Nov. 15 - Boys' Basketball & Dance/Tumbling begin

Nov. 16 - Fire drill

Nov. 24 - 12:00 dismissal

Nov. 25 - 26 - No School (Thanksgiving Break)

Dec. 7 - Orchestra Concert, 7pm

Dec. 8 - Lockdown drill

Dec. 20 - 31 - Winter Break


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

Boys' Basketball and Dance/Tumbling seasons have begun!

Practices will take place everyday after school, 4:00 - 5:30 in our gyms. Coaches will hand out schedules and more information for parents/guardians at the first practice.

For questions regarding registration, please contact our Athletics Admin. Assistant, Michelle.Ball@bellinghamschools.org or call (360) 676-6460, option #2.

From the Counseling Office...

Did you know your 7th or 8th grade student may qualify for a college scholarship? The College Bound scholarship is available to eligible students and covers the average cost of tuition, some fees, and a small book allowance at over 65 Washington State colleges, universities, and technical schools. The College Bound Scholarship will help you attend and pay for the school that is right for you! College Bound is an early commitment of state financial aid to eligible students who fulfill the College Bound pledge. Middle school is the only time that families can sign up for the College Bound Scholarship Program.

Please fill out our district Free and Reduced Lunch Form Horizon Free & Reduced Apps (use Google Chrome web browser) to apply.

Let your WMS counselors know if you have any questions.

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).

Beth, Molly & Rita

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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.

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All Middle School Fundraiser News

Whatcom Middle School families raised over $14,000 for the All Middle School Fundraiser! Thank you to everyone who participated and made this such a great success!

The winning teams, Team Edventure and Team Chuckanut, will be treated to an ice cream party, hosted by our PTSA.

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

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

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.
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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