Nominate an Everyday Hero who is making a difference!

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD Employees

Everyday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. We encourage staff to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. Give a shout out to one of your colleagues at your school or support building and watch for it to appear in an upcoming Everyday Heroes blog post.

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department ( a few sentences, and no more than 200 words, about why the person deserves recognition. It’s easiest to write as if speaking directly to the colleague, such as “Thank you for helping with…” or “I really appreciated when you…”
  • Write “Everyday Heroes” in the subject heading of the email.
  • Include your first and last name as the person submitting the comments.
  • Include the first and last name of the OSD employee you are recognizing.
  • Include the job title and work location (school or department) of the person you are recognizing.

All submissions will be posted in this blog on a weekly basis and archived each week.

OSDEF launches annual wreath sales online to benefit Foundation programs

OSDEF Logo with image of stick figures of an adult and children and the name of the Foundation beneath

Holiday wreath sales are open online on the Olympia School District Education Foundation website. Proceeds will help support all of the Olympia School District Education Foundation’s (OSDEF’s) programs: the Principal’s Emergency Fund, Mental Health Initiative and Teaching & Learning Grants.

The 22-inch locally sourced and created wreaths are $25 each and will be available for contactless pickup at either Capital or Olympia high schools on Sunday, Nov. 21 only. Pickup location is chosen at the time of purchase. Those who cannot pick up on Nov. 21 may send a designee.

While this fundraiser has typically helped offset the cost of outdoor education for fifth graders, this year, with the uncertainty of field trips due to COVID-19, sales will instead benefit other programs that support the Foundation’s mission to empower every student.

Questions? Contact OSDEF Executive Director Katy Johansson at (360) 596-6110 or

Webinar recording about Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan is posted on website

Close up of a microphone

On Wednesday, October 6, our community was invited to a 1-hour Zoom webinar hosted by the district to learn about the OSD Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan and ask questions of the panelists: Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Executive Director of Student Support Ken Turcotte and Chief Academic Officer Hannah Gbenro.

View the webinar recording, which is also posted as a news story on the OSD website.

This is the first of planned monthly webinars to provide the community with updates about various initiatives and/or programs during the 2021-22 school year.

The next Zoom webinar is scheduled from 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 3. We will share the topic and Zoom links in next week’s blog.

County health officials announce new voluntary COVID-19 testing options

High School students write an assignment at their desks in a classroom

Thurston County health officials have announced new voluntary COVID-19 testing options designed to reduce the length of quarantine for an unvaccinated, asymptomatic student or employee identified as a close contact to a positive COVID case.

The testing options are outlined in a new Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (PHSS) flowchart for symptomatic students and staff posted on the county website on October 8.

In summary, the two new voluntary testing options are:

  • 7-Day Quarantine Option: An unvaccinated student or employee who is identified as a close contact at school/work and is asymptomatic (does not exhibit COVID symptoms) must stay home from school/work for at least 7 days and take a COVID-19 test between day 5 and 7 of the quarantine. If the test is negative, the quarantine ends on day 8 and the student or employee may return to school/work and continue to monitor for symptoms until day 14. If the test is positive, the individual must isolate at home for 10 days View more details about the 7-day quarantine option on page 3 of the PHSS flowchart for symptomatic students and staff.
  • “Test to Stay” Program: This option applies only to an asymptomatic, unvaccinated student (not employee) identified as a close contact at school. The student may attend school if all testing criteria outlined by county health officials, including two negative COVID-19 tests (one on day 2-3, and another on day 5-7) are met. Students may not attend any extracurricular activities, including sports, and other activities outside their home like childcare or youth development groups, during this time. View more details about the Test to Stay Program for students on page 4 of the PHSS flowchart.

Students who become symptomatic at school or qualify for Test to Stay may access free COVID-19 rapid tests at their schools with parent/guardian permission. The COVID Rapid Test Consent Form is located in Skyward Family Access. Additionally, take-home Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests are available to students 18 years and older, and staff, who become symptomatic at school. This limited testing will only be available as long as there are testing supplies and staff capacity.

Be sure to get the latest health and safety updates on the OSD website.

School year calendar correction: School is in session on January 3, 2022

Graphic of calendar page being flipped up and the words "2022 Calendar Correction January 3, 2022: School In Session

The 2021-22 Olympia School District school year calendar has been updated to reflect that school is in session on Monday, January 3, 2022.

A previously published version of this calendar mistakenly stated that there was no school on January 3, 2022. The updated OSD school year calendar is available on our School Year Calendar page.

Please also be sure to update your copy of the OSD 12-month printed wall calendar to reflect that school is in session on January 3, 2022.

We apologize for the confusion.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Creating alternatives for complex images

Some images are difficult to describe succinctly. Images such as graphs or flow charts don’t lend themselves to simple interpretation, and can be concerning when approached from an accessibility standpoint.

In actuality, these complex images can be simple to make accessible. Rather than provide an alternative text tag, the author can include additional content alongside their complex image. This additional content not only enhances accessibility, but also improves the user experience overall.


When it comes to graphs or charts, the easiest and most accessible route is to provide a data table alongside the image. Take for example this graph showing the high and low temperatures across a week:

Olympia high and low temps week of 2/13/19 - table included below

While the chart does well to show trends, the true numerical values are locked within the image itself. Including a corresponding data table is particularly helpful in conveying exact figures and ensures the data is accessible to all. 

























Doing this also enables users to copy and paste the data. A live example of this practice can be seen on the district’s 2018 Annual Report.

Flow Charts

Another complex image type is a flow chart. Take for example this flow chart from the Capital High School Course Catalog:

CHS course catalog flow chart example - list version included below

Similar to the graph above, a flow chart can be challenging to describe in paragraph form. What can be included to enhance accessibility? In this case, the answer would be to include the flow chart in list form alongside the graphic. This flow chart could be displayed as:

  • Algebra 1 (required)
    • Geometry (required)
      • 4-year college path options (Meets 3rd math credit)
        • Algebra 2 (C or better in Geometry)
          • IB Discrete (B or better in Alg2)
            • Pre Calculus (B or better in Discrete)
          • Pre Calculus (B or better in Alg2)
            • IB Calculus SL (B or better in Pre Calc)
              • IB Calculus HL (B or better in Calc)
      • Non 4-year college options (Meets 3rd math credit)
        • Financial Algebra (Alg & Geom)
        • Precision / Bicycle Manufacturing (Alg & Geom)
        • Robotics Math (Alg & Geom)

Similar to the chart and table example, this simplified layout also allows for content to be copied and pasted later on.

By providing alternatives in these ways, we can work not only to enhance the accessibility of our content, but also the general usability.

As always, if you have any questions regarding creating accessible content, please reach out to the Communications Department.

K-1 Highly Capable Services referrals due October 29

OSD Student Outcomes poster listing six student outcomes as referenced in the link in the post


The information in this blog post is being shared by the Teaching & Learning team with all staff, considering:

  • many staff live in our community and might know a student in kindergarten or first grade who should be recommended for Highly Capable Services.
  • our emphasis on increasing access to Highly Capable Services in alignment with Student Outcomes #2 and #4 and the commitments of our Board in our Recovery Plan.

Eligibility Reflection Questions

Do you know a student in kindergarten or 1st grade who:

  • Thinks up unusual ways to solve difficult problems?
  • Generates and comprehends complex and abstract ideas?
  • Exhibits feelings and opinions from multiple perspectives?
  • Thinks logically and wants things to make sense?
  • Prefers the company of intellectual peers?
  • Is an expert who abstracts beyond the field?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, please consider referring the student for identification for Highly Capable Services.

Referral Process & Timeline

Referrals may come from community members, teachers, other staff, parents/guardians and students. The referral window for students in kindergarten and first grade to be considered for Highly Capable Services is open now and will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, October 29, 2021.

  • Curious what the steps for identification and timeline look like for this process? Details can be found here.
  • To learn more about OSD’s highly capable services, go to Olympia School District’s Highly Capable Services webpage, where you will find information regarding identification and services, as well as links to the referral form.
  • Physical copies of the referral form are available and can be picked up at the front desk of the Knox Administrative Center located at 111 Bethel St. N.E. in Olympia. 

Who to Contact

If you have questions, please contact members of the Teaching & Learning team through our general email address:

Related Blog Posts from the T&L team

Please take Technology and Safety Levy staff input survey; deadline is October 12

The Olympia School District is interested in getting feedback from employees regarding the use of technology in our district. Survey responses will be reviewed as the district plans for a request to voters to consider the renewal of its 4-year technology and safety levy, which expires in 2022. The deadline to complete this survey is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. We appreciate your feedback.

The employee survey link below is also posted in the OSD Staff Portal. Please also note that students in grades 5-12, and all OSD families, will be emailed a direct invite today to take the Technology and Safety Levy Input Survey. The student survey link will also be posted in the OSD Student Portal.

Please take Technology and Safety Levy Staff Input Survey

October is Walk to School Month

Crossing guard holds out orange STOP flag in crosswalk while parent and child walk across crosswalk.

The Olympia School District has proclaimed October 2021 as Walk to School Month.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy read the proclamation during the September 23 school board meeting. It states in part that in October, children, families and community leaders from around the world will join together for Walk to School events “to increase awareness about the health and environmental benefits of walking and biking to school.”

The proclamation also states that families, school employees and community leaders “can make a lasting impression among our community’s youth by modeling fun, safe and healthy behavior by accompanying students on Walk to School events.”

International Walk to School Day is a global event celebrated every October with more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day. This year Walk to School Day is on October 6, 2021.

When safe walking is available, students are encouraged to walk or ride bikes to school to improve their health, increase readiness to learn and learn about pedestrian safety.

We also want to remind motorists to slow down and observe the speed limit when driving in and around our schools. Thank you!

Indigenous Peoples Day is October 11

Indigenous Peoples Day image courtesy of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission

On October 11, some people celebrate Columbus Day, while others celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. It is extremely important to understand that Columbus Day, like Thanksgiving, when traditionally recognized in the mainstream United States does not fully represent contentment, good times or thankfulness for all Americans. 

In fact, oftentimes the oppression and adversities experienced by Indigenous during both the “discovery” of America, and the arrival of Pilgrims have been left out of American history or ignored. Because of this, many cities in the United States are moving toward celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day and replacing Columbus Day. Olympia is one of the many cities that celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day (Resource: Related Olympian Article).

As a system, we are actively planning for aligned efforts that will support an updated curriculum in Social Studies and an inclusive vision for learning aligned with the OSPI Washington State Learning Standards (WSLSs) for Social Studies (2018) and C3 Framework

It is very healthy to inquire and push back on traditions and systems that might need re-examining, as we continue to grow as a system. Just because we have engaged in practices a certain way for years, does not mean it is the most appropriate way. To help us in this journey, we have the Olympia School District (OSD) Race & Decision-Making Tool that can support reflection as we seek to provide inclusive decision-making structures and opportunities. Within our committees, teams and schools, we each serve as leaders — each educator within OSD is invited to consider where the OSD Race & Decision-Making Tool might fit within your leadership toolkit.

Related Resources for Use with Students

Educating students on different cultures and holidays, including religious holidays, in alignment with the WSLSs for a given subject area is perfectly fine and encouraged. Below are some resources “for use with adults” that can support considerations as each of us is careful not to offend, show bias or proselytize. In addition to delving into one of the resources below, we encourage educators to ask questions, seek to understand and model life-long learning with colleagues and students. 

Related Resources for Use with Adults

The texts below are available within our Gale Professional Growth e-Library. View a video overview for accessing Gale e-Library through Schoology (4 minutes), or access information about the Gale e-Library. In order of publication year:

Removing Labels, Grades K12: 40 Techniques to Disrupt Negative Expectations About Students and Schools (2021)