Superintendent October Message On New Family Night, Fentanyl, WAGAP, LRFP, Indigenous Peoples Day and More
Dear Mercer Island School District Community,
Welcome to the beautiful month of October. It is an honor to provide an update on the happenings within our district and extend my heartfelt appreciation for your continued support. I do not take for granted the opportunity to lead your school district and play a part in making Mercer Island one of the most desirable communities to live in the country. The commitment to learning and growth this academic year is truly inspiring, and it sets a positive tone for the months ahead. I encourage all students to take advantage of the many opportunities for academic and personal development available within our district.
In many of last year’s messages, I intentionally placed focus on recognizing national, cultural, and religious holidays to promote belonging. You will continue to see this emphasis, but it will come in different forms and accompanied by some of the successes around our district in and out of the classroom.
New Family Night: During my over 13 years in our school district I have heard the phrase, “It’s hard to be new on Mercer Island.” This has come from not only our students, but their parents and guardians as well. This week, we will host our New Family Welcome Night on October 5 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm at IMS. All of our new families should have received an invitation, but all families are welcome. Please come and meet some of our newest Islanders and help welcome them to the community!
Fentanyl - What Every Parent and Teen Needs to Know: Join the City of Mercer Island, MIYFS, the DEA, and MISD staff this Wednesday, October 4 at 7:00 p.m. at the Mercer Island Community Center for a discussion about the impact of fentanyl in our communities. This will be a great opportunity for our students and adults to learn more and ask questions about fentanyl and other drugs. Learn more on the Healthy Youth Initiative webpage.
Washington General Admissions Program (WAGAP): We are excited to announce that our school district joined others in Washington State to participate in the WAGAP. Under the terms of the WAGAP, our students will know if they’ll be admitted to Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, The Evergreen State College, University of Washington Tacoma, Washington State University or Western Washington University before they even apply! Students who meet the following criteria are guaranteed admission:
- Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher; and
- Have completed or are on track to complete by fall 2024 all the College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADRs).
Whether one of these schools is a student’s first choice or “safety school,” we believe this is a benefit to our MIHS students.
Long Range Facility Planning: Among other things, I have a responsibility to maintain accurate and up to date information about our schools and buildings, develop a sustainable budget, and promote excellence in our schools. Feedback about the long range facility planning process, proposals, and timelines is welcomed. In the end, we all want what is in the best interest of our students, staff, and community. When I see opportunities for our community to consider, I feel obligated to be transparent and honest about these options.
Next week, we will host three community engagement planning opportunities. I cannot impress upon people enough that neither the Board of Directors nor I have made any decisions about the future of our schools. We assembled a committee of dedicated community members to help with the process, but our intentions all along have been to also collaborate with the community as well.
Indigenous Peoples Day: October 9 marks Indigenous Peoples Day, a time for us to honor and celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, histories, and contributions of Indigenous peoples. Our district is committed to promoting understanding and respect for the traditions and heritage of Native Americans, not only on this special day but throughout the year. You will likely notice educational activities and discussions in our schools to raise awareness and foster a greater appreciation for the Indigenous communities that have called this land home for thousands of years.
This past August, our school and district leaders visited the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center. Part of the day was spent digging into the Washington State Social Studies curriculum, Since Time Immemorial.
Bully Prevention Month: October is bully prevention month and is a crucial time observed by the Mercer Island School District. During this month, the district dedicates its efforts to raising awareness about the detrimental effects of bullying and fostering a safe, inclusive, and respectful school environment for all students. The district aims to empower students, parents, and staff to recognize and combat bullying behaviors. By promoting empathy, kindness, and open dialogue, Mercer Island School District aims to create a culture where every student feels valued and protected, ensuring a brighter and more secure experience for all.
I will ask our classrooms and school communities to place special emphasis on bully prevention by wearing orange on October 18, the Day of Unity.
PTA and MI Schools Foundation Support: I want to take a moment to express my deep gratitude to our entire Mercer Island community. Your unwavering support, whether through volunteering, attending school events, or simply being engaged and involved in your child's education, is what makes our district thrive. The sense of unity and collaboration we share is remarkable and serves as a powerful force in our mission to provide a world-class education to every student.
At the local level, your contributions to each school PTA is making a difference. And at the school district level, the Mercer Island Schools Foundation will kickstart their fundraising with the Fall Phone-a-thon October 24th and 25th.
As we move forward into this new month, let us continue to work together to ensure the success and well-being of our students.
Thank you for your dedication to the Mercer Island School District. Together, we can create an inclusive, supportive, and academically enriching environment where our students will thrive.
Wishing you all a wonderful October!
In honor of Inclusive Schools Week, WASA is partnering with the Mercer Island School District to present a showing of the film This is Not About Me followed by a forum with the film’s star Jordyn Zimmerman and Mercer Island High School graduate, Grant Blasko.
Humankind. Last November, I attended a conference with our student representatives to the school board, Director Lurie, and Director Tucker. Guest speaker, Dr. Adolph Brown, delivered one of those keynotes that leaves you reflecting, wondering, and thinking well beyond the ride or flight back home.
This past week, the Mercer Island School District held three community engagement sessions to present proposals and ideas from the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee. While nothing has been decided, the presentations and feedback from the community will help the District complete the final Long Range Facility Plan (LRFP).
If you have not already, you might hear about threats from Hamas calling for violent acts to be brought against Jewish people globally on October 13, tomorrow.