Suicide Awareness and Prevention webinar set November 17

Head and Shoulders portrait photo of presenter Maureen Underwood

What every parent/guardian needs to know about suicide prevention in our schools. This free presentation for families of middle and high school students will focus on:

  • What every parent/guardian should know about youth suicide
  • What you can do as parents/guardian to empower and protect your child at every age
  • Taking care of yourself, so you can support your children
  • The prevention-based curriculum that your school will be providing to students this year

There will be an opportunity to ask the presenter questions during the presentation.

  • Tuesday, November 17, 2021
  • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Register in advance for this meeting:

Registrations are requested by November 15. Late registrations will be accepted up until the event begins. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Presenter Bio
Maureen Underwood is a licensed clinical social worker, certified group psychotherapist and a nationally recognized expert on youth suicide prevention, with focus on schools and best-practice programs that enhance overall student outcomes. She is co-developer of Hazelden Lifelines®: A Suicide Prevention Program, Hazelden Lifelines® Intervention Hazelden Lifelines® Postvention.

Underwood has more than 30 years of experience in mental health and crisis intervention. She has developed numerous programs and published extensively on these and other related topics. Underwood has initiated collaborative relationships between mental health and educational systems during her tenure from 1985 to 2000 as coordinator of a state adolescent suicide prevention project. She authored the National Association of Social Work’s policy statement on adolescent suicide, and was a charter member of her state’s Governor’s Council on Youth Suicide Prevention.

Since 1987 Underwood has been engaged in addressing cluster suicide among youth populations. In this work she has applied the latest research on youth suicide contagion, along with containment recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop practical protocols, policies and programs that are grounded in best practice, yet fully relevant to implementing in school settings.

Second round of Foundation Teaching & Learning Grants due November 19

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

Grant Requests for Application Period 2 are due by 5 p.m. Friday, November 19.

Requests can be made in any amount up to $2,000 this year (except Browsers Books grants, which are eligible for up to $500). Grant Request forms, guidelines and examples of grants awarded by the Foundation last year are all available at

Any OSD employee who works directly with OSD students may apply. Please select only one category. Grant requests must be submitted electronically via Funding is available until it runs out.

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

Tired voice? Distracted students? Your classroom audio system can help!

Elementary classroom image of teacher walking through room of students working on a project

It’s not just about volume. It’s about clarity. Using your enhanced audio system helps ensure that your clear message reaches every seat in your space, with less strain on your voice.

You know from experience. Masks interfere with your ability to communicate with your students. There is a major difference in the quality of your voice when wearing a mask. Your enhanced audio system will improve both the quality and volume of your voice. Masks aside, 15-22% of our students have some hearing impairment.  Your enhanced audio system can help!…but only if you use it.


  • Teachers have less vocal strain/no need to use “teacher voice”
  • When students hear better, they learn better
  • Less need to repeat instruction
  • Students are more involved and less disruptive

Tips and Tricks

  • Use every day to form a habit
  • 4-6 inches below chin
  • Charge nightly
  • Speak at conversational level
  • If you can hear yourself, it’s too loud
  • Test with different masks
  • Invite a colleague in to help evaluate

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Ensuring Sufficient Contrast

Colorful umbrella

When designing content, it is important to consider the perceived contrast of text or graphical elements against their background.  Text with a low contrast ratio can be difficult to read and may cause issues with eye strain or reader fatigue.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), defines a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for regular text, and 3:1 for large text. For most textual content, black or dark gray text on a white background has a sufficiently high contrast ratio. For instance, the text within this blog has a ratio of 11:1, far surpassing the minimum threshold.

Care should be taken when changing font colors. Here are some examples of text color combinations and their ratios against a white background:

  • Low contrast gray text Ratio: 1.3:1
  • Sufficient contrast gray text Ratio: 4.6:1
  • Low contrast blue text Ratio: 1.9:1
  • Sufficient contrast blue text Ratio: 6.1:1
  • Sufficient contrast red text Ratio: 5.6:1

Additional care should be taken when altering background colors. Generally, including a background of the same color type will create contrast issues and should be avoided. Here are some examples of low contrast content using the sufficiently contrasted colors from above:

  • Low contrast gray text on a gray background text Ratio: 2.1:1
  • Low contrast blue text on blue background Ratio: 2.6:1
  • Low contrast red text on red background Ratio: 1.5:1

When designing graphical content, such as flyers or website layouts, it can be challenging to ensure sufficient contrast when placing text over an image. To do so, you can use design elements such as text shadows or text outlines, as we have done on our district page.

White text over an image on the OSD website. The text has a gray outline applied to it, ensuring readability.

By including a text outline, we are able to display white text over a complex, and occasionally white background.

Low contrast text is generally apparent to a content author, but these tools can help to check the contrast ratios of your content:

  • Colour Contrast Analyser – Works for both Mac and Windows and can check contrast across multiple applications.
  • Color Contrast Analyzer – Google Chrome extension that visually displays the perceived contrast of content. Useful for designing web content.

If you have questions about using these tools or ensuring the contrast of your content is sufficient, please feel free to reach out to the Communications Department.

United Way Annual Giving Campaign runs through Nov. 30

Olympia School District’s annual United Way giving campaign continues through Tuesday, November 30. This year all pledges should be submitted online.

United Way is a national organization that provides a multitude of services to thousands of people right here in the Olympia community, including many of the students and families served by the school district.

Donations through the United Way support a variety of organizations. In past years, United Way has supported organizations such as the Thurston Food Bank, Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB), Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County and the Olympia School District Education Foundation. United Way also supports the Reading Buddy Program on an annual basis.

Additional details about the United Way of Thurston County can be found on its website.

If you have questions or need more information, please feel free to contact Mike Leonard at

All online pledge forms need to be completed no later than November 30.

View the online pledge form.

Student Well-Being Webinar 6-7 p.m. on November 3

Student in foreground of classroom of students raises hand to answer a question. Other students are seated at desks working and listening.

Employees, families and the community are invited to a one-hour Zoom webinar on Wednesday, November 3 to learn about OSD supports for student well-being.

The webinar will be held from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom (see Zoom details below).

Superintendent Patrick Murphy will be joined by Director of Whole Child Success Char Franz and Director of Student Support Ruth Middlebrook. Other guests who will share some brief remarks include an OSD social worker, district family and community partnership coordinator, and a representative from the Olympia School District Education Foundation. 

The panelists will share how federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds are being used this year to support student well-being in response to the pandemic. Supports are also outlined in the OSD Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan.

After a brief introduction from the panel outlining the various supports, they will address questions posed by participants during the Zoom webinar and/or emailed in advance. If you are unable to attend, feel free to email questions in advance to: Upon completion the webinar, along with previous monthly webinars, will be recorded and posted on the district website.

November 3, 2021 Zoom details:

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Or One tap mobile:
US: +12532158782,,84945656414#  or +13462487799,,84945656414#

Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 253 215 8782  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 646 558 8656  or +1 301 715 8592

Webinar ID: 849 4565 6414

International numbers available:

OSDEF sets aside $40,000 to support student mental health

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

As part of its Mental Health Initiative (MHI), the Olympia School District Education Foundation this year has set aside $40,000 to help support student mental health/social emotional needs. Principals, counselors and other district staff engaged in student mental health support/SEL are encouraged to apply for up to $2,000 per building for supplies, projects and programs that would benefit their students. The brief Grant Request Form can be found on the Foundation’s Grants page under “Quick Links.” To be considered during the next review period, forms must be submitted to by 5 p.m. Friday, November 19. Questions may be directed to OSDEF Executive Director Katy Johansson at or (360) 596-6110.

Grant Requests in all other categories – Closing the Opportunity Gap, Creativity and the Arts, Cultivating Engaged Citizens, Innovative Teaching and Learning, Meet a Need and Browsers Books – also must be submitted by November 19 to be considered during the next review period. The Foundation will notify applicants of their grant’s status by no later than December 17.

Not one, but two new Everyday Heroes this week!

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD Employees

Everyday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. Remember 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.

Here are our newest honorees:

Everyday Heroes
Mimi Peradotto, Office Manager, Thurgood Marshall Middle School and Christina Costelo, Attendance Secretary and Registrar, Thurgood Marshall Middle School

Mimi, our school stalwart, continues to keep the machine humming in the face of increasing work demand.  Her organization, directness, and kindness have saved the day more times than we can count school days.

Christina has stepped into a new role with demands outpacing the position and admirably.  She is new to our school.  Staff shortages…. no problem.  Late busses… no problem. Frustrated staff, parents, students… no problem. She is always welcoming, doing more than her duty (e.g. rides to employees with transportation difficulties 30 minutes each direction!), and a reason to visit the office.
Submitted by Michael Kelly, Teacher, Thurgood Marshall Middle School

Everyday Hero
Nicole Sande, Counselor, Capital High School

As a parent and employee at CHS, I very much appreciate Nicole Sande, a CHS counselor, for spearheading and managing a donated “fancy clothes” closet right before the homecoming dance. This offering for students who may have barriers in accessing formal wear aligns with district goals to foster compassion, check bias, support social-emotional health and provide connection. This closet is a huge contribution by organizing something that collaborates with community members, invites kids in and sets an example for them to be kind, inclusive and recycle! ❤
Submitted by Connie Phegley, Paraeducator, Capital High School

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.

Supplemental Benefits: NW Benefit Advisors Open Enrollment Information

NW Benefit Advisors provides voluntary benefits that are exclusive to the district. These benefits are not part of SEBB.

OSD employees can access the NW Benefit Advisors website regarding open enrollment for supplemental benefits along with SEBB information. Open enrollment ends on November 22.

  • View all the voluntary benefit brochures and videos
    • Benefits offered: Aflac, Trustmark, Legalease, Identity Protection, Pet Insurance and more!
  • See the schedules for Zoom sessions to learn about your benefits.
  • Schedule a personal appointment with NW Benefit Advisors to discuss the voluntary benefits exclusive to your district.
  • Access all the links for SEBB plans and webinars.

Access the NW Benefit Advisors website

SEBB Program’s Annual Open Enrollment continues through November 22, 2021

The School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) Program’s annual open enrollment began October 25, 2021 and ends Monday, November 22, 2021.

Open enrollment is your opportunity to make changes to your health plan benefits. Changes are effective January 1, 2022.

  • What changes can you make? The SEBB Program’s annual open enrollment is your opportunity to:
    • Change medical and dental plans.
    • Add or remove dependents.
    • Reattest to the spouse or state-registered domestic partner premium surcharge (SRDP) (if you received a letter asking you to reattest.)
    • Enroll in the Medical FSA, Limited Purpose FSA (new for 2022), or DCAP through Navia Benefit Solutions.
    • Consider your long-term disability insurance coverage (changes are coming for 2022).
    • Waive your medical coverage if you are enrolled in other employer-based group medical, a TRICARE plan, or Medicare.
    • Enroll in medical coverage if you previously waived.
  • Learn more about the changes you can make on our open enrollment webpage and in the October Intercom
  • How do I make changes? Log in to SEBB My Account starting October 25, 2021.

Resources for open enrollment

SEBB is offering multiple ways to learn about benefits from the comfort of your home.

  • Virtual benefits fairs – During open enrollment, you can learn more about your health plans and other insurance options by visiting the virtual benefits fair.
  • ALEX – Help you understand your SEBB benefits and guide you through choosing your medical, dental, and vision plans. ALEX will suggest plans for you to consider, based on your responses to questions. Access ALEX at and within SEBB My Account.
  • Webinars – Attend a webinar provided by our carriers and vendors. See the schedule.
  • Facebook Live – Join us on HCA’s Facebook on Monday, November 2 at 4 p.m.
  • Web content – Visit the SEBB Open enrollment
  • Intercom newsletter – The newsletter includes information about the changes to benefits, what changes you can make during annual open enrollment and how to make them, monthly premiums, and more. Read the October IntercomNote: Since the newsletter was released, there have been clarifications about Kaiser Permanente of Washington’s (KPWA) and KPWA Option’s networks that could affect your coverage.  Read the announcement on HCA’s website to learn more.
  • Need help? – Contact your benefits office.

Change to long-term disability insurance benefit

The employee-paid long-term disability (LTD) benefit will change starting January 1, 2022. You will automatically be enrolled in employee-paid LTD, if not already enrolled.

Note: Your long-term disability benefit is different from the state’s new long-term care benefit, which is called The WA Cares FundLong-term disability replaces a portion of your income due to accident, illness, or pregnancy. You can reduce or decline your employee-paid LTD coverage at any time. Long-term care pays for the cost of care when you need assistance with activities of daily living and is not currently part of your SEBB Program benefits.

The LTD benefit will offer a minimum 90-day benefit waiting period with two coverage level options. You will be automatically enrolled in the coverage level that covers 60 percent of the first $16,667 of your monthly predisability earnings. This has a maximum monthly benefit of $10,000.

You have the option to reduce your employee-paid LTD to a lower-cost 50-percent coverage level, with a maximum monthly benefit of $8,333. You also have the option to decline the coverage. If you reduce or decline the employee-paid benefit and later decide to enroll in or increase your coverage, you will need to provide evidence of insurability and be approved by Standard Insurance Company. You can reduce or decline your employee-paid LTD coverage at any time by logging into SEBB My Account. However, if you don’t reduce or decline your LTD benefit election by December 31 [or your payroll cutoff date], you will be enrolled in the 60-percent plan, and the premium will be deducted from your paycheck for January 2022 coverage.

If you have questions about your benefits or account, please contact your benefits office at