June 10--Businesses, organizations and agencies that partner with Walla Walla Public Schools received recognition for their efforts. The district named the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds, Original Design, Walla Walla Foundry, Fort Walla Walla Museum and Commitment to Community as 2014 Partners of the Year as part of May's Partners in Learning celebrations.
The district started Partners in Learning Month four years ago to recognize entities that partner with them throughout the year in support of students and staff. The district sent more than 130 proclamations and letters of recognition to Partners in Learning in May.
Every Labor Day Weekend, hundreds of Walla Walla Public Schools students show animals, perform or display class projects at the county fairgrounds. The fair provides a venue to showcase district programs and student talent. The Community Building there hosts Lincoln High School's annual graduation ceremony. In terms of the district's emergency planning efforts, the site serves as an evacuation location for Garrison Middle School in case of a crisis. And if any of the district's school campuses are deemed unsafe due to an emergency, the fairground is the parent relocation site.
Owner Anne North-Jones is heart and soul of local T-shirt and custom apparel shop Original Design. "Those who drive by her Second Avenue store front will see her passion for schools, especially Walla Walla High School. Chances are if you see people wearing Blue Devil shirts, or sitting on Blue Devil grandstand seats they were purchased at Original Design." She helped the Walla Walla Citizens for Schools organization during the 2013 bond campaign when it sought a T-shirt to promote the proposal. She created the design and charged just enough to cover her costs. Anne "understands the kids are the most important part of anything we do. Anne also was the key person in establishing the high school swim program. She organized fundraisers, did exhaustive research and provided leadership for how the program could operate in Walla Walla."
Through Walla Walla Foundry support, fifth-graders from schools throughout the Walla Walla Valley can visit the facility each academic year. The field trip is in conjunction with Carnegie Picture Lab's program. Learning stations set up around the foundry show students the step-by-step bronzing process. An informative slideshow concludes the tour. The foundry supported Lincoln High this year by creating the frame for the school's float in the Macy's parade. They worked with Lincoln staff and students to create Hamlet for the Day of the Dead celebration, and made a $1,000 donation to the school. Principal Marci Knauft said many Lincoln students are artistic and support from the Foundry helped engage and connect them to their learning. The foundry also donated a bronze soccer ball for the annual staff versus students Blue Devil cup soccer match.
Area students and their families have a one-of-a-kind resource in Fort Walla Walla Museum where they can explore the valley's past and see firsthand who helped shape the community. A scholarship program allows students without the necessary funds an opportunity to visit the museum at no cost. Museum staff support field trips by escorting students and educators throughout the facility and explaining important details about the exhibits on display. Executive Director James Payne was a long-standing leader with the Green Park PTA and is actively involved in Exchange Club of Walla Walla, where he's ranked No. 2 rubber duck salesman for the annual Ducky Derby fundraiser.
Commitment to Community, aka C2C, assists families in accessing local safety net programs and services. C2C impacts children and their school experiences. C2C staff members regularly visit district schools in their assigned neighborhoods to build relationships with staff and administrators. These visits build trust with students who realize they can count on C2C adults to provide support and become mentors. The partnership provides C2C staff members access to district administrators to improve communication and engagement with families and students. The grass roots neighborhood support organization hinges on building relationships and trust with and among neighborhood residents. This community partnership provides the school district a "point of entry" to improved relationships with district families.
(c)2014 Walla Walla Union-Bulletin (Walla Walla, Wash.)
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