Athey Creek Middle School Welcomes Guest Students From South Korean Sister SchoolPosted by Andrew Kilstrom on 1/16/2020 4:00:00 PM
The Athey Creek Middle School gym came to life with the sound of beautiful music, resounding speeches, entertaining dance performances, and the formation of many budding friendships on Thursday morning.
Athey Creek Middle School welcomed guest students from South Korea’s Eonyang Middle School during a school-wide assembly on Thursday, Jan. 16, marking the beginning of an exciting week for both Eonyang and Athey Creek students alike. Eonyang Middle School has been Athey Creek’s sister school for the past seven years, providing opportunities for students to visit their peers on the other side of the globe.
Athey Creek Principal Joel Sebastian welcomed guest students and administrators during the morning assembly, thanking them for traveling from so far while asking Athey Creek students to open their school to their new friends. The South Korean sister school relationship is one of just a few in the United States, and one of just two in Oregon, providing unique opportunities for ACMS students to learn about Korean culture first-hand from guest students. Guest students will spend the next several days living with ACMS host families, meanwhile, touring Oregon while learning about life in an American middle school.
Eonyang Middle School Vice Principal Choi also greeted ACMS students, before Eonyang students treated the ACMS community with Gangnam-style dancing and traditional Korean songs. ACMS orchestra and band students also provided musical performances before ACMS host students capped the fun-filled morning with a collaborative dance, joining their South Korean peers on stage.
Students from both sister schools take turns visiting one another in Oregon and South Korea, strengthening the bond the two communities share. Thank you to our Eonyang Middle School friends and to South Korea Honorary Consul Greg Caldwell for joining us for such an inspiring morning!
Meridian Creek Middle School Students Learn From LEGO MasterPosted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 12/18/2019 4:00:00 PM
Meridian Creek Middle School students received quite the treat on Tuesday, Dec. 18 in the form of an interactive presentation from one of the world’s greatest LEGO builders.
Grant Davis, son of Meridian Creek Middle School Math Teacher Dean Davis, visited interested students during an after-school presentation, taking them through his journey in LEGOs while inspiring students to follow dreams and embrace their own passions in both education and life.
Grant, a sophomore engineering student at George Fox University, is a world-renowned LEGO builder — creating unique works of art from various LEGO brick pieces he’s collected over the years. He’s been building with LEGOs for most of his life, regularly attending LEGO conventions and posting pictures of his work online. When he began winning awards at LEGO conventions across the west coast, he said he began to see LEGOs as possibly more than a hobby.
Grant began building elaborate displays of all kinds, including pirate-themed tropical landscapes and massive forested expanses, sometimes spanning more than 10-feet in length. The accolades continued as he built up his skill level, leading to an invitation to participate in “Iron Builder” — an international LEGO competition based on the “Iron Chef” cooking show.
His LEGO accomplishments reached the highest of heights, however, when Grant entered the LEGO Ideas competition — a LEGO-sponsored competition where the winning entry is selected by LEGO and turned into a real LEGO kit for purchase. Working with fellow builder Jason Allemann, Grant created a pop-up book out of LEGOs, with interchangeable pieces and themes, and submitted his idea. After nine months of anguish, he received the required 10,000 fan votes, making him a finalist for the competition. Much to his surprise, his creation was selected, and six months later his wildest dreams became reality, with his very own LEGO kit in stores for purchase.
Grant showed students pictures of his various works during the presentation, even passing around some of the pieces and design examples he’s used over the years. Students asked questions about his various projects and creative process, as well as how he first got interested and made it so far in the LEGO landscape.
Grant shared with students that his passion for LEGOs stems from curiosity, causing him to continue to push the boundaries of the interactive medium. He highlighted the importance of his interest in math and how his own schooling influenced where he is today in the world of LEGOs. Grant plans to finish his degree in engineering, at which time he hopes to work on the LEGO design team in Denmark. Learn more about Grant’s LEGO journey at https://www.georgefox.edu/journalonline/summer19/feature/building-blocks.html.
Boones Ferry Fifth-Graders Look to Improve Local Bioswale Through Engaging Environmental Science ResearchPosted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 12/4/2019 12:00:00 PM
The presentations that Boones Ferry fifth-graders gave on Wednesday, Dec. 4 weren’t your typical class projects. The milestone was the culmination of weeks-long environmental science work for Boones Ferry fifth-graders, and a landmark occasion for the school’s local ecosystem.
Presenting to local stakeholders that included native plant specialists, ecologists, stormwater specialists, natural resource specialists, and maintenance engineers from the City of Wilsonville, students shared designs to improve the local bioswale and, in turn, the ecosystem that surrounds Boones Ferry Primary.
The innovative project started earlier in the school year when fifth-graders visited the district’s CREST Center (Center for Research in Environmental Science and Technology) to learn about local ecosystems and the importance of bioswales. Students learned that a bioswale is a channel created to convey stormwater runoff while removing debris and pollution from the environment.
That learning continued during science lessons in the classroom and coalesced with Wednesday’s hands-on learning opportunity. Organized in table groups, students listened to guest speakers, who helped students in the design process for their bioswale improvements.
Local stakeholders introduced their concerns for the Boones Ferry site and areas that could be addressed long-term. Students thought through aspects such as salmon population, bird habitats, wildlife trophic levels, stormwater surface water quality, the maintaining of diverse biodiversity, and supporting of the ecosystem. Using a variety of resources, students created a base map of the Boones Ferry property and bioswale, working together to add elements to enhance the area. Groups then presented to their peers, sharing their thinking and ideas for the site.
Following their site designs, students plan to work with school district operations staff to implement some of their ideas this school year, enhancing the bioswale located on the Boones Ferry Primary property. Students will receive further opportunities to apply their new knowledge with hands-on learning that will benefit the local ecosystem for years to come. The goal is for future fifth-grade students to continue working with CREST to monitor water quality through sampling to create a database for the site while ensuring environmental sustainability into the future.
The research project intentionally aligns with fifth-grade Next Generation Science Standards, providing a rich opportunity for authentic science and engineering thinking while giving fifth-grade students the opportunity to connect with local leaders and improve their local environment. Thank you to the City of Wilsonville for the time and resources given to our fifth-grade students!
Long Range Planning Committee Looks Ahead Following Passage of Capital BondPosted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 11/14/2019 12:00:00 PM
The West Linn-Wilsonville Long Range Planning Committee met on Wednesday, Nov. 13 for the first time since the passage of the district’s capital bond and local option levy measures. With the passage of the capital bond, the School Board will appoint a Bond Oversight Committee to oversee the progress of the bond as well as actively monitor and report to the School Board. In years past, the Long Range Planning Committee has served as the Bond Oversight Committee.
The LRPC reviewed election results during the Nov. 13 meeting, noting that the bond passed with 60.92 percent approval. More than 41 percent of West Linn-Wilsonville voters turned out for the November election. The 2019 bond measure passed with the highest percentage of votes in the school district’s history.
LRPC members also reviewed the status of the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching Program (OSCIM) Grant, which the district will receive now that the 2019 bond has passed. In the amount of approximately $7.2 million, the grant money will go to specific projects at Wood Middle School and the current Athey Creek building. The district is in the process of filing the necessary paperwork to receive the matching funds, which were awarded to the district in July.
The LRPC then reviewed the timeline for bond projects. The district is in the process of hiring a project management firm and architect to aid in the design and construction of bond projects. Bond Program Manager Tim Woodley explained the process the district implements to select both services, which includes several panel interviews and staff deliberation. It is expected that the Board will review and approve a project management firm and architect at the Jan. 13 School Board meeting.
Following those decisions, the design of major projects will begin, including the new middle school in West Linn and the new primary school in Wilsonville. Superintendent Dr. Kathy Ludwig explained the district’s history of involving nearby neighbors and the larger community in that process. In the coming months, district staff will begin reaching out to property owners adjacent to school sites in addition to listening sessions the district will hold. Those conversations will help inform design, followed by proposals to City Planning Commissions and eventually the permitting of projects.
A master schedule for the 2019 bond will be created alongside a master budget once a construction management firm and architect are in place. Those two components will create a definitive timeline for specific projects by spring, 2020. Construction of some bond projects, meanwhile, is expected to begin as early as this summer, 2020. Staff noted that safety and security projects in addition to the seven major projects outlined in the bond will be priorities as building ramps up. Learn more about the capital bond on the bond website, or about past capital bonds on the district website.
The Long Range Planning Committee will next meet in February when bond timelines are more known. To learn more about the capital bond, visit the district website. The seven-member citizen committee is responsible for guiding the development of the district’s Long Range Plan, which provides a framework for evaluating and addressing future school facility needs as the West Linn and Wilsonville areas grow.
Safety Spotlight — Be Careful When Driving Near School ZonesPosted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 9/12/2019 4:00:00 PM
The start of the school year means school buses, bike riders, and walkers will be making their way to school. Please watch this safety video PSA from Clackamas County Sheriff's Office with help from First Student, and check out helpful tips below:
- In a school zone, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection — remember, the speed limit is 20 miles per hour.
- Always stop for school crossing guards.
- Take extra care to look out for students in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
- If the red lights on a school bus are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop to allow students to safely enter and exit. Wait until the lights stop flashing before continuing forward.
- Watch out for bikers — slow down and leave at least three feet of space when passing.
- Check side mirrors for approaching bicyclists before opening your door.
Safety Spotlight — Update Your Emergency Contact and Emergency Placement Information TodayPosted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 8/28/2019 8:00:00 AM
The start of a new school year is a good time to update your student(s)' emergency contacts in the event of an emergency. Students at the Primary level are also encouraged to update their emergency placement information. Emergency Placement information informs schools of where students should go in the event of inclement weather or emergency situation as well as how students will get home. Update information by accessing FamilyLink or by calling or visiting your school office to update this information.
Long Range Planning Committee Reviews Successful 2014 Capital Bond Summer Projects Ahead of 2019 Capital BondPosted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 8/22/2019 11:00:00 AM
The West Linn-Wilsonville Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) convened on Wednesday, Aug. 21 to review the status of summer projects from the 2014 Capital Bond, the District’s land inventory, and look ahead to the 2019 capital bond and future meeting schedule.
To date, more than 96 percent of funds from the 2014 capital bond have been committed, with more than $5 million in projects taking place this summer. Capital Construction Manager Tim Woodley noted that the majority of summer projects, including the major 2014 Capital Bond projects Sunset Primary and Meridian Creek Middle School, were completed on time and under budget. Projects that took place this summer include:
- A new music classroom was constructed at Bolton Primary;
- Classrooms, porches, and corridors have been completely refurbished at Boeckman Creek;
- A new track is currently being constructed at Wood Middle School. Asphalt is complete with track surfacing to be done in September depending on the weather;
- New performance field lighting is currently being installed at the Wilsonville High School softball field;
- New carpet was installed in activity areas and classrooms in the south building at Cedaroak Park Primary;
- Crosswalk flashers at West Linn High School were converted from solar power to line power, increasing safety, and new bleachers were also installed in the competitive gym;
- A new four-classroom modular building was installed at Boeckman Creek, including all new furniture, fixtures, and IT equipment to alleviate overcrowding;
- New sound-absorbing, acoustic attenuation finishes were installed in the Athey band room;
- A new walk-in freezer and refrigerator were installed at Stafford Primary;
- A new glass-entry system was installed in the Wood Middle School library atrium;
- Tennis courts were resurfaced at both West Linn and Wilsonville high schools;
- The Sunset Primary bell was repaired and reinstalled.
With just a few small projects from the 2014 Capital Bond remaining (planned for summer 2020), the Long Range Planning Committee used the Aug. 21 meeting to look ahead to the $206.8 million Capital Bond that will be placed on the November 2019 election ballot. The LRPC also reviewed the pieces of land that the District currently owns as well as their potential use as the District continues to grow.
The LRPC concluded their meeting by discussing the 2014 Capital Bond Website as the remaining projects wind down. Staff showed LRPC members a complete timeline of Board actions as well as the project start and completion dates. The scrolling timeline will replace the current 2014 Bond Website along with published quarterly reports, providing community members with a complete history of the 2014 Bond.
The LRPC will next reconvene in November following the results of the November election. To learn more about the Long Range Planning Committee, visit the District Website.
West Linn-Wilsonville ISEF Students Partner with PSU for Microscopy Society of America National Microscopy and Microanalysis ConferencePosted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 8/13/2019 3:00:00 PM
On Aug 5-6, 10 West Linn and Wilsonville high school students received the opportunity to partner with 10 Portland State University undergraduate students as part of the Microscopy Society of America Annual Microscopy and Microanalysis national meeting. Sponsored by the conference Education Committee, student scientists worked alongside WLWV International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) Program Coordinators Dr. Jennifer Wells and Danielle Grenier, as well as PSU’s Dr. Erik Sanchez to pilot a program that will introduce students to the world of professional conferences and advanced microscopy and digital imaging.
On Aug. 4, students engaged in a pre-conference electron microscopy workshop in the Portland State University Nano Development Laboratory to learn key concepts and technical language. Nanoscale microscopy is the technical field that uses electron microscopes capable of magnifications up to 10 million times in comparison to light microscopes that are limited to below 200 times magnification.
On Aug. 5 and 6, students attended and participated in the first two days of the Microscopy Society of America National Microscopy and Microanalysis Conference at the Oregon Convention Center. Students participated in the Plenary Session and visit the Exhibit and Vendor booths.
Each West Linn-Wilsonville student was paired with a PSU undergraduate student, allowing for collaboration and learning throughout the conference. West Linn-Wilsonville students then presented their International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) project poster to conference attendees. During the two-day conference, students learned about the latest in Microscopy and Microanalysis from some of the field’s top scientists and researchers.
WLWV Continues to Improve Student Outcomes Through Inclusive PracticesPosted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 7/23/2019 2:00:00 PM
On June 10, West Linn-Wilsonville Superintendent Dr. Kathy Ludwig and Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Dr. Jennifer Spencer-Iiams gave a special presentation alongside members of FACT Oregon, highlighting the changes in special education in the State of Oregon. Speaking in front of members of the Oregon Senate Committee on Education in Salem, Dr. Ludwig and Dr. Spencer-Iiams highlighted the importance of Inclusive Practices in Oregon schools. Specifically, they shared the dramatic impact Inclusive Practices have had on West Linn-Wilsonville schools and students in recent years.
Even before Inclusive Practices were first implemented, the West Linn-Wilsonville School District’s mission statement was to create learning communities for the greatest and most thoughtful people for the world. And for the better part of the past decade, that mission has included Inclusive Practices. Congruently, the District has experienced a great deal of growth during that time, as the District has collected data, monitored student outcomes, cultivated school cultures, and refined Inclusive Practices.
History of Inclusive Practices in West Linn-Wilsonville
Inclusive Practices first came to the District around the 2011-12 school year. The goal of shifting to inclusive practices was simple: Ensure all students have equitable opportunity to reach their full potential.
“Our journey began about seven years ago when we took a serious look at our practices and our consistently predictable data for groups of students that unfortunately reflected qualitatively different experiences and outcomes in our schools,” Superintendent Dr. Kathy Ludwig said during the June 10 presentation. “For us, we knew that we had to make a systemic change if we were going to be serious about our equity work.
“We share the belief, vision, and expectation that all children belong in the general education classroom and that individualized services, whether for special education, language acquisition, social-emotional support, should be integrated into the classroom, where peers learn alongside one another, accessing exciting, relevant, and rigorous curriculum together through differentiation and accommodation.”
Since then, Inclusive Practices have been ingrained into the West Linn-Wilsonville culture. But while inclusive practices have become increasingly popular and talked about in K-12 education all across the country, it’s a term that can mean many different things to different people. So what are inclusive practices in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District?
In West Linn-Wilsonville, Inclusive Practices boil down to building and sustaining positive and safe school communities across the district while promoting the social-emotional, physical, and academic health of all students. Inclusive Practices means equity for all students, regardless of background or ability, to ensure all students have individualized opportunity to reach their full potential.
More specifically, inclusive practices have meant eliminating segregated classrooms, ensuring students of all abilities are in the general education classroom as much as possible during the school day. This means students with learning disabilities who once spent parts or even all of their school day isolated in special education classrooms now experience learning alongside their general education peers. Individualized supports — such as paraeducators, communication devices, or modified curriculum materials among other resources — are brought into the general education classroom.
“In WLWV, as we committed to inclusion, we had to examine the underlying assumptions that have allowed us to create segregated classrooms for students with disabilities over the years, and (we) needed to question those assumptions and believe that all children should have the opportunity to learn and participate with their peers,” said Dr. Spencer-Iiams on June 10. “We needed to think about our beliefs, our structures, and our practices, and we needed to think about inclusion in a way that was not a one-size-fits-all.
“We committed to three high-leverage focus areas – improving our instructional practices, creating inclusive cultures, and increasing student voice. By committing to every student being at their neighborhood school, and in the general education classroom as much as possible, we’ve had to look at our teaching practices and, quite frankly, we had to get better.”
Intentional Moves to Increase Inclusive Practices
In making an intentional switch to Inclusive Practices, the District focused on a few key areas, including increasing professional development to build confidence and capacity of all instructional staff, increasing student participation in co-curricular activities to bolster student engagement, and increasing both parent and student involvement in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process for students who are served by an IEP.
Over time, school cultures have shifted and students have adjusted. In fact, talk to any WLWV student today and chances are they won’t even remember a time when students with learning disabilities weren’t regular members of the general education classroom. The results that have followed, both quantitatively and qualitatively, have been undeniable, with increased outcomes for the entire student population.
Over the past seven years, student participation in co-curricular activities such as theater, choir, student leadership, and unified sports have all increased. In fact, both West Linn and Wilsonville high schools have been recognized as National Unified Champion Schools due to their commitment to unified sports. The District has focused on hiring teachers who demonstrate a commitment to inclusive practices, and professional development has increased co-teaching in classrooms while building educator capacity. Similarly, parents and students are more intimately involved in the IEP process, ensuring individualized supports are provided to students.
“Once students see themselves as teammates on the field, on the court, on the robotics arena, or in the theater, they absolutely see themselves as peers in the classroom,” Spencer-Iiams said. “We also think about the involvement and engagement of parents a lot, especially in the IEP process. Making that meeting one of collaboration between parent, staff, and the student, really works on the premise that all students belong in the general education classroom, so we’re not debating that, but then we bring the individualized component to it to ask ‘What does this child in particular need to make that work?’”
That doesn’t mean that commitment to Inclusive Practices doesn’t come with challenges and hurdles, however. Since Inclusive Practices were first implemented in West Linn-Wilsonville, District leaders have worked toward addressing systemic barriers that require unrelenting dedication and vigilance. Inclusive Practices requires buy-in from top to bottom, and the patience and understanding of staff and students alike to work together toward a common goal.
“This work is messy, it’s ever-evolving, and it’s hard work. Only by committing to cycles of action, reflection, and improvement do we get better,” Dr. Spencer-Iiams said.
What does the data say about Inclusive Practices in West Linn-Wilsonville?
The District tracks many data points related to Inclusive Practices and their impact on student outcomes across K-12. One piece of data that has been particularly powerful has been the District’s graduation rates over the past six years. Graduation rates for students who are served by an IEP, students who aren’t served by an IEP, and the overall total student population have all increased significantly over the past seven years.
In 2013, the graduation rate for students served by Special Education (SPED) was approximately 67 percent. The graduation rate for the total West Linn-Wilsonville student population, meanwhile, was approximately 90 percent.
Flash-forward to 2018 and the graduation rate for students served by SPED has jumped to 81.5 percent, higher than the state average for all students. Correspondingly, the WLWV graduation rate for the entire student population has also risen to 94.5 percent, which is the highest among Oregon school districts with multiple high schools.
The data is a strong indicator that Inclusive Practices are benefitting all students and not just those who are served by Special Education.
“We still have work to do, but we are encouraged, and we absolutely know this is the right work,” Dr. Spencer-Iiams said.
While many strides have been made, West Linn-Wilsonville continues to build Inclusive Practices across all of its schools. A total of 14 school districts toured West Linn-Wilsonville schools during the 2018-19 school year to see Inclusive Practices in action and the benefits they are providing students. School districts from parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Tennessee visited to learn and share experiences, with more districts from across the country lined up to visit during the 2019-20 school year. It’s all part of West Linn-Wilsonville’s desire to practice a growth mindset, refining practices and ensuring learning communities for the greatest thinkers and most thoughtful people for the world.
Dr. Ludwig and Dr. Spencer-Iiams concluded their presentation to the Oregon Senate Committee on Education by sharing a message provided by a West Linn-Wilsonville parent. It’s a sentiment that summarizes well what the District is working towards.
“By putting kids together and creating a positive environment to understand each other, it takes away the fear some may have of anyone that seems ‘different.’ They will have the confidence to interact with all people, be more kind, inclusive, and advocate for those who may need it. This is something I couldn’t teach them just by talking about it. You’re creating a generation that will be more accepting, understanding, and empathetic.”
To learn more about Inclusive Practices in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, please visit the District Website. To watch the video of the June 10 presentation, please visit the Oregon State Legislature website.
Summer Reading Program Builds Reading Skills for Students From All WLWV Primary SchoolsPosted by West Linn-Wilsonville on 6/20/2019 3:00:00 PM
While the West Linn-Wilsonville School District’s Summer Reading Program has gone through a variety of iterations over the years, one thing has always stayed constant — the program increases reading skills for students in a fun and inclusive environment.
The free three week-long Summer Reading Program kicked off on Monday, June 17. Open to all West Linn-Wilsonville students in grades 3-5, the program consists of nearly 200 students with representation from all nine of the District’s primary schools.
Bus transportation is provided for all participating students, who arrive at Boones Ferry Primary at 9 a.m. where they spend the better part of 3.5 hours interacting with peers from all over WLWV, selecting books from the BFPS library and, of course, finding a comfy spot to curl up and read.
“One thing I really like about the program is that, even in just three weeks, we really feel like a mini-family and students get to know one another really well,” says Elisa Lee, the District’s Dual Language Coordinator and one of the Summer Reading Program coordinators alongside Kelly Rogers. “We have tremendous staff members, instructional assistants, and reading specialists who help make this program successful.”
It’s the second year that the program has been open to all nine primary schools. Students receive snacks and a hot lunch during their day of learning, providing ample time to get to know teachers from other schools as well as peers they might not otherwise get the chance to meet. In addition to reading, students spend time discussing literature, participating in writing activities, and even some art projects all aimed at accelerating and improving reading skills.
“It’s really an extension of what students receive in the classroom during the school year,” Rogers says. “Instruction is probably more focused during the course of the school year, but our teachers are certainly using all of the same strategies that we would in the regular classroom setting.”
New this year is an additional component for the District’s Dual Language students. WLWV Dual Language teachers oversee students who participate in the Spanish-English program using books written in Spanish as donated by Lowrie Primary. The additional element allows Dual Language students the chance to further their skills in the summer months.
The Summer Reading Program lasts through July 5, meaning students have plenty of time remaining to find books of interest during their summer vacation.
“It really is a comprehensive program and one that we’re proud to be a part of,” Rogers says. “It’s a great resource for students and families.”
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