Bethel B-Mail

Bethel School District Eugene OR

Bethel B-mail: February 2020


Straight From The Sources

Senator Wyden was interested in how to enhance mental health supports, so he listened to Willamette High School students in the Sources of Strength program. 

Word got out that Bethel was doing some good things around student mental health, so Senator Ron Wyden came to Willamette High School to learn more.

Senator Wyden met with nearly 20 Willamette students who are in the Sources of Strength class. Sources of Strength is a program that teaches students how to recognize and develop their own tools of support to help them through difficult times. It’s now implemented throughout Bethel at the middle and high school levels.

The Senator listened and learned as students shared what the Sources of Strength program has done for them and other students in Bethel.

Wyden was surprised by the unexpected benefits of the program – improved academic success for some students who were previously struggling.

I’m proud Wil-Hi students were able to tell their truth and that Senator Wyden was willing and eager to listen. More good things could come from this meeting.
Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


Stride To Ride

Kindergartners in McKenzie Bryant’s class at Prairie Mountain are learning to ride bicycles in PE.

It started at home. When McKenzie Bryant witnessed her 3 year old son learning to ride a bike, she wanted to bring that fun to her own kindergarten students at Prairie Mountain School.

Bryant applied through All Kids Bike, seeking 22 Strider bikes (no pedals attached) and helmets.

Her family and a stranger chipped in to support the project. Then a dear family friend, who had lost his bike-loving wife to cancer, donated $3,000 in her honor. Within a month the proposal was fully funded.

Now Bryant’s kindergartners can be found coasting in the school gym during PE. This teacher’s wish has come true, and her students are absolutely loving it.


Rising From The Ashes

The long wait for a replacement playground structure is over for students at Meadow View.

Patience has been rewarded at Meadow View School.

Since their playground structure was destroyed by arson last May, kids have been waiting for a replacement where they could climb, slide and swing.

But, adult complications got in the way. Investigations, insurance, bidding, designing, manufacturing, and finally the weather.

Now the new play structure is up and open to the delight of Meadow View students and neighborhood families.

It is bigger and better than ever, and it’s still not complete. When the weather warms on a consistent basis, the temporary wood chips will be removed and a permanent pour-in-place rubber landing surface will be installed.


Lunch Buddies

Shasta 8th grader Olivia Bondio leads a lunchtime discussion during No One Eats Alone Day.

For some, lunch is an eagerly anticipated time. For others, it’s a dreaded and lonely part of the day.

No One Eats Alone is a student-led national program to address the problem that not all kids are feeling included and accepted at school.

Shasta Middle School students in the Sources of Strength program jumped at the chance to show that all the kids at the school are valued.

Kids were separated into random lunchtime groups with the Sources students facilitating conversations.

One day of mixing groups at lunch won’t work miracles, but acknowledging the issue and trying to address it is a strong step in the right direction.


Turning The Tables

Having won the Midwestern League championship, the Willamette Chess team advances to the state tournament.

They’ve experienced the thrill of victory, not long after they suffered through the agony of defeat.

The Willamette Chess team has won the Midwestern League championship after winning only one match a year ago.

The worst-to-first turnaround now leads to the state tournament in Cottage Grove.

It won’t be anything new for some of these players. Wil-Hi’s chess team hosted the state tourney two years ago.


The Universal Language

Buddy Day at Meadow View allows older students to serve as leaders while giving younger peers someone to look up to.

Kindness was in the air at Malabon as students took a week to emphasize friendship and service.

Danebo’s focus on kindness is month-long with students encouraged to be the “I” in kind.

Kindness Week at Meadow View wrapped up with Buddy Day, always among the school’s most popular activities. Older students paired with younger peers for fun activities and an opportunity to make new friends.

Being compassionate, sympathetic and thoughtful is a lesson students are consistently taught, but having a school-wide focus on kindness helps kids become more aware of their actions and their effects.


Playing Around

Shasta’s Jazz Band started the competition season with a strong showing at the West Salem Jazz Festival.

It’s in the spring when trophies start sprouting in the Shasta Band room.

The school’s renowned Jazz Band started the competition season with a strong second place finish at the West Salem Jazz Festival.

Under the guidance of teacher Mike Reetz, the Shasta band performed at the Oregon Jazz Festival at the University of Oregon in January. The judges staged an evening concert and Shasta was one of the two “star” bands from the festival welcomed back to open the night’s show.

It’s a young group, with 7th graders making up nearly half of the Jazz Band. They’ll get put to the test at their own Shasta Invitational, followed by competitions in Pleasant Hill and Bellevue, Washington.


Safety First

Kids practice crossing the street in the final lesson from their Pedestrian Safety class.

Use your head before your feet. That’s part of the message shared in the Pedestrian Safety class offered Bethel students by the City of Eugene’s River House Outdoor Center.

In partnership with Bethel’s Safe Routes to School, Pedestrian Safety is a 2-session unit that teaches students the basics of safe walking, street crossing, and the importance of road awareness.

Classroom learning is put to the test in a walk around the school’s neighborhood. Kids practice where to look and what to listen for, and utilize signals to show a driver of the intention to cross. They even learn to identify whether it’s safe to walk behind parked cars.

The training has started with all Meadow View second graders and will make its way throughout the district this spring.


Prime Time Players

When they took the stage, about half of the Oregon Jazz Festival All Star Big Band was made up of Willamette musicians.

Luke Turner, Brody Gilbert, Sampson Prentice, Israel Alvarez, Christian Martinez, Eric Deaton, Caleb Davis and Jay Veach were selected to the festival’s elite band to back-up guest trumpeter Sean Jones from New York.

On this piece you’ll see solos by Davis on trumpet and Turner on alto sax.



The Honor Of The Honor

Kendra Jagger receives a certificate and $100 from Tim Fox and Bill Barrett, hosts of the KKNU morning show.

A couple of local radio personalities were spotted at Prairie Mountain School.

It turns out a parent was so thankful for what teacher Kendra Jagger did for her child that she nominated Jagger for an award.

That’s was brought Tim Fox and Bill Barrett from New Country 93.3 to Jagger’s class, presenting her with a certificate for Excellence in Education and a $100 check.

In conjunction with Northwest Community Credit Union, KKNU’s Excellence in Education award is presented monthly to an individual who is making a difference in our schools and community.

The award is something to be proud of, but equally rewarding for Jagger is the fact that a parent took the time and trouble to nominate her for recognition.

If you want to get in on the fun, you can submit an award nomination here. 


Future First Citizen

WHS senior Elizabeth Ortiz was honored with the Future First Citizen award from the Chamber of Commerce.

She’s been a Bethel student since she enrolled as a kindergartner, fresh from Mexico and not speaking a word of English.

Today, Willamette senior Elizabeth Ortiz is the winner of the Future First Citizen award, presented by the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce. It recognizes one local high school senior who has made notable contributions to our community.

Along with being Wil-Hi’s senior class president, Elizabeth is a peer tutor, a PeaceHealth volunteer, the Head Coordinator of the Wolverine Pageant, the Willamette student representative to the School Board, and is involved in a number of other groups, clubs and activities at school and in the community.

With that impressive resume, there’s no surprise that her long-term goal is to become a neonatal surgeon.

It’s clear that Elizabeth is an outstanding representative of Bethel and the City of Eugene.

Bethel B-mail: January 2020


Our Upward Trend

Willamette’s graduation rate is higher than it’s been in more than a decade.

We’re thrilled with the latest high school graduation rates. Willamette High School’s 4-year graduation rate is at 82.6%, higher than the state average, and 10% higher than the previous year.

Kalapuya High School’s 5-year grad rate jumped to 51.6%, despite most students enrolling at KHS well behind in credits.

We celebrate these results, and of course want more for our students. So, the work does not let up. Our dedicated and caring teachers and administrators are continuing to use data to more closely track students’ progress – intervening with supports when help is needed with academics, attendance, or behavior – from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The tangible benefits of a high school diploma are clear – increased wages, better job opportunities, and preparation for college and/or a career. Together we can continue to lift all our children higher. They deserve it.
Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


Success Story: Continued

Gabby Oseguera is fondly remembered in Bethel, and will soon make her mark at Oxford.

The story of Gabby Oseguera continues. Arriving in the U.S. from Oaxaca, Mexico in 7th grade, Gabby did not speak a word of English. Yet, she graduated from Willamette with a full International Baccalaureate diploma and earned a QuestBridge Scholarship to attend Princeton University.

Now, Gabby has been awarded a Sachs Scholarship, one of the most prestigious awards at Princeton. She is making plans to enroll at the University of Oxford’s Worcester College in England. Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world.  

Gabby intends to study for a master of philosophy in development studies.

Although Gabby graduated from WHS in 2016, most of the staff remember her fondly and are thrilled – but not surprised – that she is continuing to shine.


Hitting A Homer

Sharing stories like it was yesterday, Lois Youngen brought her old catcher’s mitt for her talk with Fairfield students.

Lois Youngen is a walking, talking, energetic living piece of history.

The 86 year old was a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League , make famous by the movie, A League of Their Own.

Today, the retired University of Oregon administrator’s past is being recalled. Youngen is mentioned in one of the OBOB books, Out of Left Field.

Fairfield Elementary students taking part in the Oregon Battle of the Books competition were treated to a visit by Youngen, who shared her story and helped bring the OBOB book to life.

She would love to feel the crack of a wooden bat in her hand again, but will settle for inspiring a new generation of kids to dream big.


Opportunity Awaits

There are still five months left in the school year, but 8th graders are already thinking about the transition to Willamette High School.

8th grade orientations are taking place at Bethel’s four feeder schools. Willamette teachers, administrators and students are meeting with students and their parents/guardians, sharing details about all the incredible opportunities awaiting them.

Take a look at this video and see for yourself.



Doing The Right Thing

Free menstrual products are now available in restrooms throughout the district.

Bethel School District students will now have free access to feminine hygiene products in school restrooms.

A plan proposed by Superintendent Chris Parra to supply the products at all Bethel schools has been in the works since last spring, before the state legislature took up the issue. Dispensers have since been installed throughout the district.

Through conversations with students and families, it was clear that free access to feminine hygiene products was a very real need. Every Bethel school’s Health Room has had menstrual products available, but students have had to ask for them.

Now, at every Bethel school there will be Girls’ restrooms where free supplies will be available.


Center Stage

The Meadow View Jazz Band took the stage to play for music educators from throughout the state.

This was a significant honor that was well deserved. The Willamette and Meadow View Jazz Bands were invited to play at the Oregon Music Educators State Conference.

Music teachers from around the state got to hear two outstanding bands, and it was no accident. The OMEA always looks for the best to perform at its state conference.

Willamette has long been among the best jazz programs in Oregon, and Meadow View’s band has been on the rise.

The Bethel bands did not disappoint, earning standing ovations from the educators who know something good when they hear it.

Not to be outdone, the Shasta Jazz Band performed at the Oregon Jazz Festival at the University of Oregon. The judges staged an evening concert and Shasta was one of the two “star” bands from the festival welcomed back to open the show.


Charged Up

Ryan Therrell shows his electric-converted Porsche to Willamette Industrial and Engineering Systems students, who are building their own electric cars.

For decades, students at Willamette have been designing, engineering, building, driving, and racing electric cars. So, it was only natural for those in the Industrial and Engineering Systems class to be interested in a one-of-a-kind electric Porshe.

Ryan Therrell converted a Porshe 911 from gas to electric seven years ago. Back then, he was doing something very few had even attempted.

By bringing his car to WHS, Ryan was allowing students to see what’s possible. Today’s students can consider careers or education in engineering and fabrication, like the programs offered at community colleges in conjuction with Tesla.

The Electrathon cars built in the WHS Metals Shop could be just the start.

Bethel B-mail: December 2019


Planning Ahead

Members of the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee are taking a look at the district’s immediate and long term building needs.

Election Day is nearly a year away, and here’s why that’s important now.

Members of Bethel School District’s Long Range Facilities Planning Committee are busy studying enrollment trends, the district’s facilities needs, and school bond options. They’ll come up with a recommendation on whether the district should consider asking voters to approve a school bond measure next November.

A series of meetings started in October and will conclude in April. The committee will make a proposal to help me determine what to bring to the School Board.

Bethel last passed a bond in 2012 with a 73% Yes vote. It resulted in two new elementary schools, the science wing at Willamette High School, improved safety and security, updated textbooks and technology, and a whole lot more. See the list of bond projects here.

I’ll keep you in the loop as our committee completes its task.
Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


The Prize Patrol

Prairie Mountain’s Rachel Gillis reacts after being surprised with a Bethel Education Foundation grant to fund her students’ Art/Science project.

Giving away more than $22,000 is an incredible experience.

The Bethel Education Foundation’s 10th annual grant award parade surprised 33 grateful, tearful, and cheering teachers. There was at least one grant award winner at each Bethel school.

The 2019 grants will fund requests such as graphic novels, weighted vests, gardening equipment, yearbook cameras, Ozobots, music programs, and cooking materials.

Here’s a look as some of the awards were being presented.


Stop the Bleed

Malabon staff work on manikins, practicing how to stop the bleeding from a deep wound.

Someone could faint. It was a warning shared at the beginning of the Stop the Bleed training for educators at Malabon Elementary.

According to Homeland Security, Stop the Bleed is intended to cultivate grassroots efforts that encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.

Eugene-Springfield firefighter Nathan Kunasek led Malabon staff through training on the use of tourniquets and bandages, how to pack a deep wound with gauze, and how strategically placed body weight can help control a bleed.

Burrito Amigos heard about the training and is generously purchasing a Stop the Bleed emergency kit for the classroom of each Malabon staff member who completed the course.

It’s hoped the kits will never be needed.


Home Again

Marine Corps veteran Bradley Stenson pauses with Bethel School Board members Alan Laisure, Debi Farr, Greg Nelson, and Superintendent Chris Parra outside of his new home.

Life has come full-circle for retired Marine Corps veteran, Bradley Stenson. The Willamette grad has returned to the neighborhood, living right next to Wil-Hi.

Stenson is the latest resident in the Veterans Housing Project, a program that provides affordable housing for military veterans.

Bethel School District owns four of the 11 houses in the Project. They’re across the street from Willamette and have been purchased over the years with the idea of possible future expansion at Wil-Hi. The Veterans Housing Project renovates the homes and St. Vincent de Paul manages the program.

It’s a win for the district as it plans for long-range needs. It’s a win for the neighborhood as the homes are renovated. It’s a win for the greater community as more affordable housing is being made available. And, it’s certainly a win for Bradley, who is grateful for an affordable place to live in a neighborhood filled with memories.


Wild Wild Weather

Danebo students heat up a hot air balloon to show how warm air in the atmosphere rises, which affects the weather.

The wonder of weather captivated Danebo students. An OMSI assembly had kids oohing and aahing about the science behind changes in our weather.

They learned how warm air rises and what happens when it meets cold air (clouds and rain.)

Kids discovered how static electricity is similar to lightning.

And, they saw that when cold and warm water meet, they mimic cold fronts and warm fronts.

The decision to bring the OMSI weather assembly to Danebo was made by the school’s Curriculum Committee. Judging by the kids’ reactions, that decision was a winner.


Master Chef Showdown

Culinary teacher Susana Sharp inspects the home made pasta 8th graders made as part of the Master Chef Showdown.

Parents, you may not believe this. These kids not only washed the dishes, they created the dishes.

The Master Chef Showdown culminated the 8th grade after-school Culinary course at Meadow View School.

Nine teams of students had to use techniques they’ve learned in class: frying, boiling, searing, etc. They were also judged on flavor, recipe coherence, and presentation.

Broccoli was a required main ingredient as students created dishes from scratch. One team even made their own pasta during the competition.

Among the dishes were a seared Ribeye salad with sesame stir-fried sauce and fries, an omelet with crunchy bacon bits, a fresh slaw with roasted lemon broccoli, rice and beef, and lemon chicken soup.


Ticket To Ride

Willamette students wait for their opportunity to sign up and receive free LTD bus passes as part of the new TouchPass program, introduced first in Bethel schools.

They lined up for this freebie. More than 600 Willamette students have received a free bus pass, allowing them to ride any Lane Transit District bus at no charge. 50% of the students at Kalapuya High School also signed up.

Bethel’s high school students have become early-adopters of the TouchPass system. LTD is just now rolling out the program after receiving funding from the state, and Willamette and Kalapuya students are the first in Lane County to access the system.

Most of the students chose a card, while some downloaded an app on their phones and then had the school activate the free feature.

Students at WHS and KHS can still get the free TouchPass card or phone app by visiting their school’s front office, and soon Bethel will be rolling out this opportunity to middle school students.


The Tribes of Oregon

Flags of the nine federally recognized Tribes of Oregon line the wall in the front office at Meadow View.

This was a combined History, Art, and Culture lesson.

5th graders at Meadow View researched the nine federally recognized Tribes of Oregon. It’s part of the state’s updated curriculum, which makes perfect sense; how can we study the state’s history without including Native Americans?

The research led to students recreating the tribes’ adopted flags. The 5th graders’ pride in their new knowledge is evident in the flags, which are now displayed in the school’s front office.


Donor Drive

Dozens of Willamette students took the time to donate 42 units of blood.

126 lives saved. That’s how Bloodworks Northwest calculates it.

Willamette High School students donated 42 units in the first blood drive of the school year. Each unit donated is divided into three componets: red cells, platelets, and plasma, which can help three different patients.

72 students registered, with 42 able to give blood. Teenagers are often deferred due to a low Iron count or a low pulse.

The Willamette blood drive came at an important time. This is a high-demand season for blood in our area due to surgeries and more people injured in traffic accidents.

WHS students will get another chance to save lives when Bloodworks returns in February.


For The Health Of It

State Senator James Manning was among the volunteers using the a Spot Vision Screener to check students’ vision.

Keeping children healthy and ready to learn. That’s the goal of Bethel’s yearly Health Screenings.

Each fall, all elementary grade students have their vision checked and their teeth examined.

Bethel nurses are helped by dental hygienists and assistants from the Community Health Centers of Lane County. If they spot a dental problem, White Bird Dental Clinic follows up with parents and offers free dental services twice a month at the Bethel Health Center.

And the Bethel Lions Club shows up in force each year, using a Spot Vision Screener that can detect eye issues like near or farsightedness and blurred vision.

So, while the flu is making its rounds, Bethel nurses are looking out for other preventative measures to help kids stay healthy and in school.


Grad Party

Members of the Pilas class proudly display their certificates after graduating from the language-development class.

This is a real reason to celebrate.

Pilas, an English language literacy program run by Downtown Languages, has recognized all the adults who completed its fall term.

Parents learning English have been coming to Fairfield Elementary two nights a week for 10 weeks. While the adults attend class, their school-aged children have their own English class, and the youngest children take part in Kindergarten-prep activities.

The benefits of the grant-funded Pilas program is clear: The youngest children are preparing for a more successful introduction to kindergarten; students are gaining language skills which helps them in school and socially; and parents’ improved language skills help them economically and they become more involved and engaged in their children’s school.

Pilas will resume in the Spring, continuing the successful partnership with Fairfield and the District.


Lending A Hand

Hunger is a persistent problem, but Bethel students are unfazed.

Willamette High School Leadership students collected thousands of items and stocked the school’s food pantry. Kids in the Sources of Strength class at Meadow View led a campaign, and in a matter of weeks they hauled in 6,000 pounds of food. All of it – and $50 gift cards – went to families in-need. (See video below.)

Irving and Clear Lake also conducted food drives. Malabon students collected products to support families experiencing homelessness. The Shasta Shines project saw students purchase $3,000 in items for Bethel families in need. Giving stores were set up at Fairfield, Cascade and Malabon.

In their own way, each Bethel school has reached out to support the community that has always supported them.



Give And Take

Fairfield teacher Jennifer Muzzana goes over student data with parents during the recent conferences.

A face-to-face meeting can be powerful and productive. It’s what makes Parent-Teacher Conferences so valuable.

Parents get a chance to hear about their child’s strengths in school, their relationships with adults and other students, any behavior concerns, the special services that are available, and any number of other topics.

It’s also an opportunity for teachers to learn more about their students and families.

Conferences have proven to be a time when parents can reset expectations and become more involved in their child’s education. The goal is to have everyone working together for the child’s successful school experience.


Hands On

Tanner Adams (in white) and two classmates work to complete another teacher desk as part of their Design and Manufacturing class.

The quality of their work is impressive. A group of Willamette High School students in the Design and Manufacturing class has been building teacher classroom desks.

The desks were designed by senior Tanner Adams and are being built with wood that, before it was donated to the program, was about to be thrown out.

Students are using table saws, band saws, pocket cutters, an in-line boring machine, routers, sanders, pin nailers and screw guns.

It’s the kind of hands-on learning and knowledge that can last a lifetime.

Bethel B-mail: November 2019


Easing The Tax Burden

Bonds that paid for the new Willamette science building have been refinanced, saving taxpayers nearly $2 million.

Taxpayers, here’s some great news. Bethel School District is saving residents nearly $2 million in taxes by refinancing its bonds.

These are the bonds that were used to build Malabon and Fairfield elementary schools, and Willamette’s Science building.

Similar to restructuring the mortgage on a home, refinancing at lower interest rates means the bonds can be paid off quicker and pay less on interest over the long-term.

Bethel School District has a history of seeking to reduce the tax burden on its residents. Similar restructuring saved Bethel taxpayers $1.5 million in 2011 and $780,000 in 2016.

The current school tax rate for Bethel residents is about 40% lower than what it was 10 years ago.

Bethel has a well-earned reputation for being good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and this refinancing is yet another example of that commitment.
Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


It’s About (More Than) The Shoes

As part of the Doernbecher Freestyle program, WHS freshman Zion Thompson’s first shoe sold for $23,000.

A routine sports physical led to a diagnosis of Hodgkin‘s lymphoma. Willamette freshman has been receiving treatment at Doernbecher Hospital in Portland.

That’s how Zion was selected to take part in the annual Doernbecher Freestyle program. Six young patients teamed up with Nike staff to design special edition shoes as a fundraiser for Doernbecher.

Click here to see Zion’s shoe and the entire Nike Freestyle 2019 collection.

The shoe design program is wildly popular with shoe collectors. The first pair of Zion’s shoes was signed by basketball legend Michael Jordan and sold for $23,000.

The Freestyle program has been a thrilling and uplifting opportunity for Zion and the other Doernbecher patient designers.


Salmon Watch

There’s nothing quite like being there. Bethel 6th graders have been traveling to the coast range to experience Salmon Watch.

Kids take their classroom studies into the wild, learning more about watershed ecology at Whittaker Creek in this annual field trip.

Here’s a glimpse at Meadow View students, among the first to take the Salmon Watch trip this fall.



The Chicken Project

Prairie Mountain students get a close-up look at chicks hatching in an incubator at Kalapuya High School.

The eggs came before the chickens in the Kalapuya Chicken Project.

Kalapuya High School students are raising a variety of chickens for the Bethel Farm next door.

They invited second graders from Prairie Mountain School to walk over and watch the hatching. Now the project has Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, Delaware, and Wyandotte varieties of chickens.

They will be self-sustaining. Eggs can be used in Kalapuya cooking classes, while the chickens will provide manure and natural pest control at the Farm.

Finally, any leftover eggs will be available for the weekly Bethel Free Farmers Market at the Farm.


Best Of The Best

Willamette’s All-State Band selections are (l-r, front) Sam Prentice, Jay Veach, Luke Turner; (back) Caleb Davis, Christian Ruiz Martinez, Eric Deaton and Jacob Stevenson.

It’s almost embarrassing. Willamette’s Jazz Band will not only be represented on the All-State Jazz Band, they’ll dominate it.

Seven WHS musicians have been chosen for the All-State Honor Bands, six of them for the Jazz Band.

Sophomores Caleb Davis and Jay Veach, juniors Christian Ruiz Martinez and Luke Turner, and seniors
Eric Deaton and Sam Prentice make up one third of the All-State Jazz Band.

They’ll play at the Oregon Music Education Association Conference in Eugene in January.

Junior Jacob Stevenson was selected to the State Symphonic Band and was also invited to play in the Western Invitational Band Clinic Honor Band in Seattle.


Band On The Rise

The Meadow View Jazz Band earned a standing ovation at the Oregon School Boards Association state conference.

Not to be outdone by the Willamette Jazz Band, the Meadow View Jazz Band has been coming on strong.

They were invited to play at the Oregon School Boards Association state convention in Portland, where they received a standing ovation from hundreds of school board members and administrators.

Meadow View’s band has been making a name for itself in recent months. They finished third at the NW Jazz Festival at Mt. Hood Community College in May, they performed at the Bethel Education Foundation fundraising breakfast last month, and they’ve also been asked to play at the Oregon Music Education Association state convention in Eugene in January.

We hear you, Meadow View!


The 1Million Project

Four cell phones

Bethel high school students are now using these new Samsung phones for free through the 1Million Project.

Nearly 80 new cell phones are in the hands of Bethel high school students, free, courtesy of the 1Million Project.

The idea behind the 1Million Project non-profit organization is that free, mobile, high-speed connectivity is a powerful teaching and learning resource.

Students with limited or no internet access at home are provided a free Samsung phone, 10GB/month of free high-speed wireless data, free hotspot capability on the phone, unlimited domestic calls and unlimited texts, and free care and tech support.

The phone and data are theirs for as long as they are enrolled in Willamette or Kalapuya high schools.

Eligible students were identified through a school-wide survey. Those who believe they might qualify for a 1Million Project phone should contact their high school counselor.


Providing A Lift

Kalapuya’s Naz Zydycryn and Rich Dambrov show the giant checks presented by Northwest Community Credit Union’s Ryan Young and Jan Griffin.

This is the kind of surprise teachers and students can get behind.

Kalapuya High School received two grants from Northwest Community Credit Union’s Project Community.

Naz Zydycryn was surprised with a giant check for $1,100. His Hot Sauce Club (students make hot sauce from peppers grown at the Bethel Farm) is looking to help students sell their sauce as real business start-ups.

Rich Dambrov received $1,450 to purchase new bee keeping suits, including gear for young students to wear during their field trips to the honey bee hives at the Farm.

Out of 370 submissions for Project Community grants, there are just 68 winners, and Kalapuya’s are the only ones awarded in Bethel.


Going Local

A representative from Emerald Produce helps Irving students discover the healthy local veggies that were part of Bethel’s Oregon Harvest Day.

Teriyaki Chicken and Rice and Oregon Gourmet Grilled Cheese topped the menu on Oregon Harvest Day.

For the 7th consecutive year, all the school lunches throughout the district on Oregon Harvest Day consisted solely of products from Oregon farmers, dairies, growers, mills, vineyards, and our own Bethel Farm.

Oregon Harvest Day is an annual opportunity for Bethel’s Nutrition Services department to highlight the abundance of fresh, healthy, tasty and locally grown foods typically served in our school meals.

Representatives from Franz Bakery, Emerald Produce, Riverwood Orchard and the Bethel Farm helped serve the lunch at Irving Elementary.

According to Kindergarten teacher Briony Mcfarland, the kids’ reviews of the lunch included, “The grilled cheese sandwich was yummy,” “I liked the chicken and rice,” and “I tried the (roasted red) beets and I kind of liked them and kind of didn’t.”


Barker Book Giveaway

Author Maryl Barker (with her dog Max) not only reads to kids in classrooms, she’s just donated her books to every Bethel first grader.

As a local author of children’s books, Maryl Barker has long been interested in engaging stories for young readers.

Now, she’s putting her books in students’ hands…for free.

Barker is donating a set of three books and an accompanying CD to each Bethel first grader. The Gracie’s Great Adventures series of stories have special meaning to Barker. Gracie was her dog and the subject of the stories that she read to children during classroom visits.

These days during classroom visits Barker brings her dog Max, who is the subject of her newest book.


Strengthening The Supporters’ Supports          

Bethel’s adult advisors take part in a refresher course to better implement Sources of Strength in middle and high schools.

This has become a powerful program in our high schools and middle schools.

Sources of Strength is a suicide prevention program that uses peer support to redirect thinking, particularly among young people.

A refresher course of SoS adult advisor training has taken place in Bethel, which adopted the program last year, starting with middle and high school staff and high school students.

Sources has since been introduced in all Bethel middle school grades. A curriculum is now being developed for the elementary level.

By increasing awareness, building skills, and openly addressing the issue of suicide, the district’s goal is to provide hope and strength for those who are facing personal challenges.


A Check Run

First graders at Prairie Mountain School help BEF’s Dawnja Johnson receive a check from SELCO’s Ashlee Jacobson.

The big check is appropriate for the large donation.

SELCO Credit Union has presented a $2,500 donation to the Bethel Education Foundation.

The BEF was founded in 2009 by a group of active and dedicated parents for the purpose of enhancing the educational experience of Bethel students.

It has invested more than $160,000 in Bethel schools by backing projects and supplying classroom grants.

That’s something SELCO can support.


Beyond Their Differences

Facilitated by Sources of Strength students, Meadow View 5th-8th graders used prompts to get to know each other at lunch during a Beyond Differences activity.

Meadow View middle schoolers got out of their comfort zone.

As part of a Beyond Differences activity, 5th through 8th graders sat at lunch with fellow students they didn’t know so well. Kids in the Sources of Strength student group facilitated table conversations in the culminating event to Bully Awareness Month.

The goal is to help end social isolation by empowering students to become activists, enabling them to change the sometimes cruel culture of middle school.

The positive focus at Meadow View is primarily on prevention rather than intervention. Students are learning that they have the power to initiate change, beginning with how they treat each other at school and online.

The lunchtime Know Your Classmates activity was the first of three initiatives planned at Meadow View this school year.

Bethel B-mail: October 2019


Skill Builders: A Bold Move

Sarah Doty, the Skill Builder at Fairfield Elementary, is creating relationships with students in order to teach them how to better manage their emotions at school and home.

We’re breaking new ground for the benefit of children. That’s why Sarah Doty is the new face at Fairfield Elementary, part of a pilot program embedding Skill Builders in each Bethel elementary school.

Sarah and the other Skill Builders could literally change the trajectory of children’s lives.

A Skill Builder is a Qualified Mental Health Associate trained by Direction Service to work one on one with children. They help students de-escalate and teach the skills kids need to better regulate their emotions.

Skill Builders also hope to connect families to wrap-around support services outside of schools.

This is in response to the increase in escalated emotions among students the last few years, particularly among our youngest children.

The Bethel Education Foundation received a $220,000 grant from the Trillium Innovation Fund and the Oregon Community Foundation’s Wellness fund to help make this possible.

There’s anecdotal evidence that Skill Builders are already making a difference in the lives of our students. I’ll keep you posted.
Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


One On One

Volunteer mentor Nancy Read is hoping to support middle school students by listening, talking, and being there for them.

Nancy Read wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people. Now retired, she heard about the new Middle School Mentor Program starting in Bethel and knew this was how she could make a positive impact in the community.

It’s a pilot mentor program at Shasta and Cascade middle schools that pairs dedicated volunteers with middle school students who would appreciate talking with a trusted adult.

The mentoring is designed to facilitate one-on-one conversations during lunch, once a week. The intent is to improve socialization skills, self-esteem, attendance, and students’ outlook on life.

Nancy Read is among the mentors happy to have discovered this program. You can have the same opportunity; to request an application to the program or for more information, email


Cooking With A Pro

Susana Sharp demonstrates ways to fold Wontons as part of the after school Culinary class at Meadow View School.

Her resume is pretty amazing.

Susana Sharp has been an Executive Sous-Chef in charge of a $3 million budget and has led kitchens around the world in luxury hotels and Michelin star restaurants. With a Masters degree in Contemporary Fine Dining, she’s studied in Spain, Dominican Republic, and Hong Kong.

But, to Meadow View’s 8th graders she is simply Ms. Sharp.

Susana and co-teacher Lee Ann Erickson are leading Meadow View’s after school Culinary class twice a week. It’s part of Bethel’s 8th grade CTE (Career Technical Education) program that also includes Digital Design and Robotics.

Students have already made Thai Curry Soup with Shrimp; Crab, Pork and Veggie Wontons; And Chicken Alfredo and Pasta Primavera. At the end of the course there will be a Master Chef Showdown where kids use a mystery ingredient and come up with their own recipe based on what they’ve learned.

All the 8th grade after school courses in Bethel lead into similar CTE programs at Willamette High School, but Meadow View 8th graders would be advised to soak up all they can from Ms. Sharp.


Knowing The Code

4th graders in Rachel Hsieh’s class at Malabon make changes to the computer code to adjust the movement of their Lego robot.

It’s a six week crash course that has grabbed kids’ attention.

The Coder in Residence program underway at Malabon Elementary matches a female computer professional from the workplace with 4th and 5th grade teachers to lead a hands-on robotics and computer programming curriculum.

Using Lego Mindstorm robots, the program promotes problem solving, collaboration, and effective communication while building students’ computer science skills and comfort working on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) projects.

The combination of computers, robots and elementary students has become a winner. The program, offered by the Lane Education Service District, has already been in more than 50 classrooms throughout the county, including classes at Prairie Mountain and Fairfield.


A Trip To Remember

Irving students crank the handle and press fresh apples to make cider as part of their Bethel Farm field trip.

Kids climbed into bee suits or harvested corn kernels and popped them moments later. It was clear this field trip was something different.

The field trips to the Bethel Farm are hands-on opportunities to learn, discover, delight and amaze.

Each Bethel elementary school’s 3rd or 4th graders are coming to the Farm this fall or next spring.

The Bethel Farm is a valuable source of healthy fruits and vegetables for Bethel school meals.

And, when children get a close up look at a live honey bee hive or press fresh apples for cider, the Farm transitions from a production garden to an effective outdoor classroom.


Sit Down With The Senator

After their meeting, Kalapuya’s Nate Tena gets up close and personal with Senator Ron Wyden while Willamette’s Ethan Hand and Megan McCoy wait to speak with the Senator.

It’s a chance not many people ever have; a meeting with a U.S. Senator to problem-solve a current national issue: the rise in vaping among young people.

Nate Tena from Kalapuya brought a personal perspective to the student round table meeting with Senator Ron Wyden. As a former smoker, Nate knows how easy it is to start and what it takes to quit.

Students, including Willamette’s Megan McCoy and Ethan Hand, gave Senator Wyden an idea of the scope of the problem in our area. They also offered proposals on how to address it, including an increased tax on vaping products, social media campaigns featuring youth voices, and banning flavored vaping products.

Nate also mentioned the support provided Bethel high school students who have access to drug and alcohol counselors.

Wyden says he wants to reconvene the group at some future date. Nate and the others will be ready.


On The Road Again

The fall weather cooperated nicely during the Bicycle Safety neighborhood ride for Danebo students.

On the surface, it seems so simple. But, every year a new class of students learns something new: how to safely navigate streets and paths while on a bike.

5th graders at Danebo, Irving and Prairie Mountain took part in Bicycle Safety classes this fall. Students at other schools will get their chance in the spring.

It’s like their first Drivers Ed course. Kids learn about using hand signals, right of way, and how to make sure a bike is ride-ready.

Under the leadership of the staff from the City of Eugene’s River House Outdoor Center the classes culminate with a neighborhood bike ride, where students get a chance to put practice to the pedal.


A Center For Learning

Leanna Stevens prepares the SLC at Malabon, a room dedicated solely to helping students learn how to recognize and manage their emotions.

Students arrive at their scheduled time and go through the process.

Malabon’s Skills Learning Center (SLC) helps students identify their emotions and learn how to manage their feelings.

Students go through some calming breathing exercises, then select one of the six calming centers: Reading corner, rice table, fidgets, fish tank, art, and dark space.

A 6 minute timer keeps them on schedule as the kids identify which tools in the SLC are effective in helping them self-regulate their emotions.

A Malabon staff member checks the student out and gathers data to share with classroom teachers so they can build a similar soothing environment in their classroom’s Calm Corners.

It’s just the beginning of the SLC at Malabon but so far, as a teaching tool, the results are promising.


Backing the BEF

Community members filled the gym at Meadow View School for the annual BEF Breakfast, donating more than $25,000 to support the Foundation.

More than 150 folks poured in to the Meadow View gym to show their support for Bethel kids.

The annual Bethel Education Foundation breakfast raised more than $25,000, and served as an opportunity for community members to learn more about the District, the BEF, and our students.

The BEF has provided more than $200,000 to support classroom initiatives, and this year alone the Foundation has received more than a quarter million dollars in grants to continue supporting Bethel programs like Skill Builders, Artists in Residence, Kids in Transition to School, and high school food pantries.

The BEF has more big ideas in the works. If you’d like to help, click here to donate.


Walking And Rolling

Kids and parents throughout the district parked the cars and used other wheels to commute to school on Walk and Roll to School Day.

They came to Danebo Elementary in all modes: on foot, in buses, and riding scooters, boards and bikes.

Walk and Roll to School Day saw students getting out of their cars and trying other transportation to and from school.

All Bethel schools took part in this annual nationwide event, encouraging students to commute in groups as a walking school bus, or with friends and classmates.

Each middle and elementary school had a table with incentives for those who took part, like drawings for scooters and skateboards. Willamette included a drawing for bike lights and locks.

Incentives help ideas become habits, promoting healthy and effective choices for transportation among Bethel’s 5,400 students.

Bethel B-mail: September 2019


Roots of Empathy

Baby Dylan is one of the Roots of Empathy volunteers helping to teach lessons in first grade classrooms.

Isn’t he adorable?! Five month old Dylan is a tiny teacher at Fairfield Elementary.

As part of the Roots of Empathy program, Dylan will help to raise levels of empathy in children, resulting in more respectful and caring relationships and reduced levels of bullying and aggression.

Each month, students in Jenni Muzzana’s first grade class will be learning about Dylan’s development and identifying his feelings. Continue reading

Bethel B-mail: June 2019


Today’s Classroom

Kids these days are eager to learn with technology. Watch as Fairfield Elementary School 1st grade teacher Talor Kirk uses Chromebooks every day for engaging and fun learning. It makes all of us look forward to school starting again in September.
Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


Filthy Fundraiser

OK, this one was…um…different.

Jill Robinson-Wolgamott, the principal at Prairie Mountain School got some double-takes when she first mentioned a Dirty Dash for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. It turns out their PTO fundraiser was a huge mess, and a big success.


Lessons From The Deep End

Here’s a fun, engaging, and rewarding way to keep middle school students interested in Science until the final days of the school year. Shasta Middle School’s annual Cardboard Boat Races is a tradition that kids have anticipated for 19 years.


Scholar Salute

students posing for a picture.

Willamette’s top senior scholars were recognized in an annual dinner in their honor.

A decades-old tradition continues at Willamette High School.

The top academic achieving students have been recognized for their all-around high marks on the SAT or ACT, their GPA, and for completing all the state essential skills for graduation.

The 32nd annual Willamette Scholars Award was presented to 23 seniors at a special dinner in their honor.

Many of them have accepted full scholarships to college where they will study music, engineering, physics, chemistry, agriculture, business, special education and more.

Some will also be playing in their school band, or competing in basketball, volleyball, or soccer.


They Have The Beat

Students using iPads.

Fairfield students create their own beat box music using iPads in Stacie Wicks’ music class.

Stacie Wicks is tying music to technology because tech is a language students love.

Fairfield’s music teacher has picked up another grant worth nearly $5,000 to continue expanding technology in her music class.

Grant funds from CenturyLink, combined with three other grants (and $1,000 out of her own pocket,) has allowed Wicks to amass 20 iPads. They’re set up with programs for note naming, rhythm recognition, and music composition like beat boxing.

Students just finished learning about drums and sounds to mix and record their own beat boxing creations on the iPads.

It’s a departure from traditional music education, but Wicks is convinced that technology is the way to reach kids, even in music.


Success Stories

Students posing as a group.

A dozen Willamette students earned $6,000 scholarships after two full years in the ECMC program

Everyone loves a happy ending.

A dozen Willamette students were identified as sophomores as a group of students with academic potential, but with financial obstacles to college.

Two years later, they have now graduated with $6,000 scholarships, courtesy of ECMC, the Educational Credit Management Corporation program.

It was no cakewalk to the scholarships. ECMC students had to maintain their academics, perform community service, attend monthly meetings, connect with mentors, take entrance exams, plan school visits, and get accepted to a college or trade school.

Many of Willamette’s ECMC Scholarship recipients will be the first from their families to seek post-high school education. It’s their happy ending at Willamette, while another group of sophomores has just been identified to continue the story.


Peer Review

Older students working with younger students.

Willamette seniors and Malabon 4th graders work on their writing skills together.

A couple of teachers shared some ideas, and their students are the better for it.

John Kreider walked his Willamette Senior Creative Writing students to Malabon Elementary to work with Johnny Deflaminis’ 4th graders.

The seniors were challenged to explain writing at a 4th grade level, which is trickier than they expected because it tested their own understanding of the content.

The fourth graders were challenged by having to defend their written narrative choices in a one-on-one setting.

Their two meetings became more than writing tips. The WHS students were empowered by learning they can play a bigger role in our community than they may have realized. The 4th graders were eager to learn from their older peers and show what they have learned.

The foundation has now been established for similar connections next school year.


Meeting The Solar Challenge

Girls with their electric model car.

Meadow View’s Makayla Gordon, Taylor Marks and Sarah Nyguen beat 69 other teams to win the Solar Challenge.

More than 70 teams came and went, and in the end a group of three Meadow View 8th graders remained on top.

The 22nd annual Solar Challenge welcomed 8th grade teams from schools throughout Lane County. Each of them had built solar powered electric cars out of EWEB kits.

The culmination of the classroom science project had kids racing their cars and designing concept cars.

Makayla Gordon, Taylor Marks and Sarah Nyguen’s car was the fastest time and again, earning the Meadow View girls the first place finish.

Another Meadow View team took second in the Design competition, a Cascade team finished third, and a Shasta team was third in the Art Concept Car category.


Walking The Grad Walk

Everyone agrees this is special. What else can get teachers and grads welling up with tears of joy?

For the 4th consecutive year, seniors from Willamette and Kalapuya High Schools caravanned to each of Bethel’s other 9 schools.

Marching through the halls in their caps and gowns, the students on the Bethel Grad Walk greeted former teachers and accepted congratulations from future grads.


The Fairy Fund

Group of students with retirees.

Malabon’s youngest students get an ovation from their friends and supporters at Songbrook.

Malabon’s youngest students were there to show thanks.

Kindergartners and first graders visited the SongBrook retirement community whose residents have been supporting the school.

The retirees continue to feed the Ginny Iverson Fairy Fund, named for a former longtime Malabon teacher.

The fund is used to purchase necessities, like shoes for Malabon children in need.

As a show of appreciation to Iverson and her SongBrook neighbors, Malabon students sang songs and were generally being incredibly adorable, which was thanks enough.


Sketching A Message

Girl shakes hands while accepting award.

Kira Morrison accepts her award from Ronda Hatefi and Doug Gouge, Lane County Problem Gambling & Suicide Prevention Specialist.

Kira Morrison likes to draw, but she never dreamed her art would get this kind of exposure.

The Shasta 8th grader entered a sketch into a contest, almost on a whim, and now it’s been selected for a calendar that will be distributed statewide.

The Oregon Health Authority’s Problem Gambling Awareness calendar uses student art on each page.

To her delight, Kira’s drawing was chosen for the calendar.

She received an award from the Health Authority, a $25 award, and the knowledge that thousands of calendars carrying important messages will also feature her creation.


Growing Season

Students working in a garden.

Malabon students studies with the School Garden Project before tending to their own blossoming school garden.

As the school year came to a close, this school garden really began to bloom.

Malabon Elementary’s garden became an outdoor classroom for students this spring.

Working with the School Garden Project, some Malabon kids were able to blend science instruction with the hands-on process of growing food and flowers.

Their school garden now features artichokes, beats, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, garlic, sunflowers, blue and Marion berries, pumpkin, watermelon, zucchini, lettuce, radishes and celery.

Teacher Johnny Deflaminis has been particularly active, installing the irrigation and spending many hours of his own time developing this special space as a sunny classroom for Malabon kids.


(Chrome) Book Builders

Two people holding a giant check.

Meadow View Principal Erika Case accepts a donation from Bethel parent and insurance agent Mike Tingue.

Community support is incredibly important for students’ academic success. Support came to Meadow View – Bethel’s second largest school – in the form of a $3,000 check.

Insurance agent and Bethel parent Mike Tingue got a matching grant from State Farm Insurance. Combined with PTO funds, the donation will help build the school’s supply of Chromebooks. The small laptops are used throughout the school and now Meadow View will have six carts of Chromebooks.

They are used for a number of purposes (see this month’s first B-mail story) including science, reading, and research.

It has been an identified goal by the school for three years to build its supply of Chromebooks, making technology more available to its students.


Rotary Returns

Large group of students posing for a photo.

Dozens of local students collected college scholarships from the Eugene Airport Rotary Club.

The list keeps growing. 641 students have received more than $780,000 in scholarship money from the Eugene Airport Rotary over the last two decades.

Another seven Bethel seniors happily joined that list, accepting $2,000 scholarships. Eight more former winners from Willamette returned for college renewal scholarships.

The Airport Rotary supports students from the north and west areas of Eugene and the surrounding communities. They are all happy to see Rotary continuing its tradition and adding to the list each year.

Bethel B-mail: May 2019


Now THIS Is News

People gathered at a meeting.

The Bethel Budget Committee heard from principals before approving an operating budget that will hire more staff for the coming school year.

There is good news, then there’s great news.

The good news is that our schools will be increasing staffing next school year because of current year increases in the State School Fund and some district expenses coming in lower than projected. Bethel’s teacher-to-student ratio will be it’s best since 2015.

In addition, it is looking likely that the legislature will pass a State School Fund number for the coming school year that’s a bit above the Governor’s Recommended Budget.

The GREAT news is that the Oregon Legislature passed the Student Success Act, providing an additional $1 billion for K-12 education starting in the 2020-21 school year.

It is the first significant financial investment in Oregon schools in many decades and a move in the right direction for our students and our state.
Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


Days Of Discovery

Students at an obstacle course.

An obstacle course is among the many fun activities for students at Outdoor School.

Bethel 5th graders loved this. They’ve just finished taking part in Outdoor School, spending three days and two nights at Grove Camp east of Cottage Grove.

Science and math were integrated into activities like students riding a zipline, taking on a challenge course, investigating owl pellets, and searching via geocaching.

Along the way, they worked on life-long social skills and character traits like responsibility, respect, teamwork, tolerance, and patience.

Mostly, Outdoor School is an active and fun-filled opportunity to learn in a different setting and new surroundings. And, it has created memories kids will have for years.


A Spark Of Art

Kids painting a mural

Prairie Mountain 5th graders work on a large colorful mural with the help of a visiting art teacher.

Every elementary school student in Bethel is experiencing Arts education this spring, courtesy of the Lane Arts Council, Essex Construction, and other generous local supporters.

Together they spearheaded this fundraising effort that is bringing visiting art teachers to all Kindergarten through 5th grade classrooms in our District.

Classes created a color-filled murals or fashioned art from recycled materials.

The Arts education idea started with Jodi Sommers at Essex, the contractor that built the new Fairfield Elementary in 2015. Essex became part of the Fairfield family and Jodi wanted to help more Bethel kids. The Artists in Residence opportunity is doing just that for 2,500 students.


Leaving A Legacy

Children reading books

Fairfield kindergartners love the new books made possible through donations in the name of Wayne Watkins.

Wayne Watkins served as a Bethel School Board member for 32 years. He stepped down in 2011 but never left Bethel. Wayne and his wife Kathy continued to volunteer in the schools.

Sadly, Wayne passed away in January, but he continues to leave his mark in the district. It was requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to support literacy in Bethel schools.

The Bethel Education Foundation managed the funds and created opportunities for Bethel elementary teachers to purchase books for their classrooms. Today kids throughout the district are reading for pleasure, and on the inside cover of many of the books there is a small acknowledgment of the gift made possible by Wayne Watkins.

He would’ve liked that.


Sounds Of Victory

Students holding a trophy.

Willamette’s Jazz Band has earned a couple of first place finishes at competitive festivals this spring, including this one at Pleasant Hill.

It’s been an embarrassment of riches for Bethel music students.

The Shasta Session Choir took first at the Pleasant Hill Jazz Festival. The Shasta Jazz Band also claimed the first place trophy with Brody Gilbert recognized with the Outstanding Soloist Award. The Meadow View Band was right behind in second. Meadow View also took third at the NW Jazz Festival at Mt. Hood Community College.

Shasta’s band then went on the road and was first runner-up in the advanced division at the Bellevue Jazz Festival competing against huge arts magnet schools.

Willamette’s Jazz Band also won at Pleasant Hill as Ryan Helms was named the most outstanding musician of the entire festival.  WHS also finished first at Mt. Hood with Helms, Luke Turner, Sam Prentice and Hunter Wilson recognized with outstanding musicianship awards.

Next is the state championships. Watch out for WHS.


Harnessing The Wind

Kids in front of a fan.

Students tested their wind turbines in front of giant fans as part of the annual KidWind Challenge.

This was not going to be a breeze for the 25 teams of Bethel middle school students. The 6th annual KidWind Challenge is an engaging classroom science project – sponsored by EWEB – that ends with a district-wide competition.

Student teams worked for weeks to create the most efficient wind turbines by experimenting with their blade pitch, length, and shape to create the greatest amount of wind energy.

Then students had to answer questions from staff at the Eugene Water and Electric Board.

The team of Eli Brown, Jayden Owens and Evan Furrow from Shasta claimed first place following their question and answer session with EWEB representatives, when teams were able to show their knowledge about wind turbine design and renewable energy.

Many thanks to EWEB for its continued support of this popular program.


Oh, So Close

Students holding plates of food.

The last competitive culinary team for teacher Martha Humphreys finished 16th in the nation.

The kitchen got hot for the Willamette Culinary team with 46 schools from around the country cooking up a storm at the ProStart National Championships.

Willamette’s Culinary team had already won the Oregon state championship – for the second year in a row.

In Washington, D.C. for the national competition, the WHS team made some uncharacteristic miscues and still finished 16th in the country. That’s an indication of how close they were to taking the national title.

This was the last go-round for long time Culinary teacher Martha Humphreys. She’s stepping down as Willamette’s coach after many years in the kitchen and back-to-back appearances at Nationals. She leaves Wil-Hi’s competitive Culinary program as the one to beat in Oregon.


Immersed In Science

Kids sucking water with eye droppers.

Danebo students use eye droppers and get up close to look for critters in pond water as part of the EWEB Discovery Lab.

Using an eye dropper to suck up pond water? That is officially fun for second and third graders.

The EWEB Discovery Lab gives kids that opportunity to create their own ecosystem in a test tube by capturing pond water, tiny aquatic plants and water fleas.

The portable lab rotates among Bethel elementary schools. The grade 2/3 lab features a number of engaging stations for students to get hands-on learning through energy and water-related activities.

 Each year a different lab is available to our schools, courtesy of a generous EWEB grant.


Hard Work Rewarded

Students receiving a scholarship award.

In a scene that is getting familiar, WHS senior Lauren Hansen receives a scholarship, this time from the Kiwanis Club.

This is scholarship season and Willamette senior Lauren Hansen is in the thick of it.

She was one of the two winners of the 2019 Eugene Marathon Scholarship.

But, hold on. She’s also received scholarships from the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Bank, the Kiwanis Club, the Eugene Education Association, the Eugene Opry, and the Elks Club.

Lauren has been working for months submitting scholarship applications, but she’s spent years building her academic resume at Willamette.

After college she’ll end up back to school; Lauren wants to become a Special Education teacher.


Volunteers For Vets

Swarming the property in their red shirts, volunteers from Keller-Williams Realty and their business partners helped renovate a home for returning veterans.

There was a sea of red at the Veterans Housing Project home across the street from Willamette High School.

Close to 100 volunteers from Keller-Williams Realty and their business partners turned out for the RED (Renew Energize Donate) Day of Service.

They tackled the landscaping, replaced the roof over the garage, gutted the bathroom for renovation, built a deck, renovated the kitchen, an even completed some electrical work.

The house is across the street from Willamette High School and is owned by Bethel School District for possible future growth. For now it will be used by the Veterans Housing Project, providing affordable housing for a returning military veteran.


The Gift Of Literacy

People around a table with books.

Having providing the funds to purchase books for every incoming Bethel kindergartner, members of the Eugene Airport Rotary Club add a sticker to each book.

Every year all of Bethel’s incoming kindergarten students is given a new book, and each year a donation from the Eugene Airport Rotary Club helps to make it possible.

Rotary members add a sticker to each book to mark their support of the Gift of Literacy.

Students who are now in high school received a book when they entered kindergarten, courtesy of the Rotary.

And the club’s support of Bethel students continues to grow. They are about to distribute nearly $110,000 in scholarships to 79 local students, many of whom are Willamette and Kalapuya seniors or recent grads.


Catching The WanderBUS

Students stading around a semi-truck.

Willamette students gathered around the WanderBUS, a German traveling exhibit touring the nation. The Willamette visit was its only stop in Oregon.

A traveling exhibit packed into a semi-trailer brought a bit of Germany to Bethel.

The WanderBUS pulled into the Willamette High School parking lot and expanded into an exhibition hall, welcoming students to learn about Germany in a fun and interactive way.

It’s part of a special program organized by Germany’s cultural institute, the Goethe Institute, and the German Embassy in the U.S.

The bus is in its third month of a nationwide tour of high schools and universities, and the Willamette visit was its only stop in Oregon.


Earth Day Artists

Kids holding certificates

Prairie Mountain students were recognized for their art work in the annual Earth Day poster contest.

Five Prairie Mountain 5th graders were award winners for the annual Earth Day Poster contest again this year. 

Vanessa Contreras, Alisa Lawler, Charlotte Brooks, Evan Miranda and Zach Sanders were recognized at the award ceremony and gallery viewing at the downtown Eugene public library. The community was able to see the posters and congratulate the students.

The contest was sponsored by, an organization dedicated to helping raise awareness around climate change.

Bethel B-mail: April 2019


Supporting Our Supporters

Group photo in front of a house.

Volunteers, donors, and organizers of the Veterans Housing Project dedicated another Bethel home for use by returning Vets.

We’re only a school district, but we are able to do something about the issue of affordable housing.

It began with an idea from Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz seven years ago. Today, the Veterans Housing Project has 10 houses in the area that are managed by St. Vincent de Paul and serve as affordable rental homes for returning Vets.  

Bethel School District owns three of the 10 houses in the Project. They’re across the street from Willamette High School are were purchased over the years with the idea of possible future expansion at Wil-Hi.

Rather than get into the rental business, the district agreed to let the Veterans Housing Project renovate the homes and make them available for Vets transitioning back into civilian life.

It’s a win for the district as it plans for its students long-term. It’s a win for the neighborhood as the homes are renovated. It’s a win for the greater community as more affordable housing is being made available. And, it’s a win for the Vets who are being supported after supporting their country.

Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


Advocating From The Heart

Willamette senior Jarod Doerner met with Governor Kate Brown and Representative Julie Fahey during Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor Appreciation Week. Jarod’s advocacy started as an Eagle Scout project but has become much more.

Jarod Doerner was on death’s door. He went from being a normal 7th grader at Shasta Middle School to spending months at a Stanford hospital waiting for a life-saving heart transplant.

Five years later, Jarod’s a senior at Willamette and going strong after receiving the transplant that was necessary because of a previously undiagnosed genetic heart condition.

Now he’s become an advocate. Jarod was the driving force behind House Bill 4019, which recognizes the second week of April as Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor Appreciation Week.

Today, with Representative Julie Fahey, Jarod is pushing for legislation to improve donor registration and the teaching of organ donation to Oregon 9th graders.

His work in the state capitol makes Jarod think about becoming an Oregon lawmaker, maybe even Governor. It’s a long way from those frightening times five years ago.


Considering The Senses

Principal Jill Robinson-Wolgamott in the new Sensory Room at Prairie Mountain. The school is trying to meet the varying needs of students with this specially-prepared space, which includes a roller squeeze machine.

Break spaces, refocus rooms, and calming areas all serve the same purpose: to provide an environment for students to be able to calm themselves, collect their emotions, and relieve their anxiety before returning to class.

Prairie Mountain School now has a more intensive space: the Sensory Room. It’s designed for students who may have Behavior Support Plans or specific needs addressing behavior. The room has just been opened after months of research and consultation with experts, and will be part of students’ daily schedule.

The Sensory Room has screened fluorescent lights and a new calming paint color. The room is filled with items, including a roller squeeze machine, crash pad, mini trampoline, therapy sling swing, therapy balls, punching bag, balance beam, a fiber optic room, and tactile items such as water beads, sand, beans, and play doh.

Data is being collected on which sensory items stimulate or calm students. The staff is excited to have this room as a resource to help students help themselves self-regulate.


To Germany and Back

Two students posing for a photo.

Seniors Isaiah Cornutt and Addy Fulks spent part of their high school careers in Germany.

They are back on home soil. Willamette seniors Isaiah Cornutt and Addy Fulks had been attending school in Germany.

Addy spent her entire junior year near Munich. She was awarded the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship, a prestigious opportunity funded by the U.S. and German governments.

Returning to Willamette was an adjustment, but she’s maintaining the international flavor at home with her family hosting an exchange student from Spain.

Isaiah spent the first semester of this school year at Willamette’s partner school, the Gabelsberger Gymnasium in Mainburg. He was originally in Mainburg as part of a Willamette student group summer visit.

Another WHS student trip is set for this summer, continuing the Wil-Hi German Language program’s enriching experiences for Bethel students.


Many Cultures, One Community

Chinese Lions Dancers

A closer look shows mixed reactions to an up-close and personal introduction to the Chinese Lion Dancers at Bethel’s annual Multicultural Fair.

You know it’s an event when the Chinese Lion Dancers perform.

The troupe made an appearance at the 6th annual Bethel Multicultural Fair, held this year at Malabon Elementary School.

The Fair featured a colorful representation of our Bethel families, including performances and artwork by Bethel students.

Local flavors were offered with food from Yi Shen, Burrito Amigos, Sushi Island, Sweet Life, Chapalas, Falling Sky, and Empire Buffet.

Booths were set up for a wide range of local organizations, and students had passports stamped while visiting the tables.

The Multicultural Fair continued its wonderful celebration of cultures, customs, experiences and community.


Design And Dash

Students racing electric cars

An hour’s worth of laps started the 2019 Electrathon season of racing for students in Willamette’s Industry and Engineering class.

This much is clear: knowledge gained in the classroom is directly related to results on the racecourse.

The annual EWEB Kilowatt Classic featured student-built electric “Electrathon” go-carts, racing through a parking lot at Lane Community College.

Willamette students design, engineer, weld, wire and…yes…duct tape their own cars and race them against cars from other schools.

The WHS students are in the Industry and Engineering class, where they pick up all the skills necessary to be able to build and race a car.

Willamette has long been a leader on the Electrathon racing circuit, known for insisting that students – not teachers or advisors – do the hands-on work.

Fewer schools are supporting this type of program, but WHS is determined to spread the word about its career benefits, and the downright fun involved.


Staff vs Students (and Ducks)

Group photo of students and staff.

After the friendly competition, Shasta students and staff posed with UO athletes from the O Heroes program.

They filled the gym, not knowing that some Ducks would be on hand.

Shasta’s annual Staff-Student basketball game raised money for 8th grade end of the year activities.

Beyond the action on the court, the surprise attraction was the group acting as coaches for the Shasta students; University of Oregon athletes from the football and track programs.

The star attraction was Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert, who just a couple of years ago was competing against Bethel students.

He was among the nine representatives of O Heroes, the volunteer organization for UO athletes.

They coached the kids, gathered donations, signed autographs and happily posed for a lot of pictures.

Big thanks to the big men and women on campus, theirs and Shasta’s.


Solutions Are Not A Problem

Representing their school, these Willamette students finished second at the Regional Math Competition.

Try this: Given that the vertex of the parabola y = x2 – 20x + c lies on the line y = ½x + 1, find c.

That’s the kind of question the Willamette Math Team tackled while claiming second place at the Lane County Regional competition.

Team members Hailey Boyd, Noah Clayton, Carson Grossmiller, Ella Carlson, Jeremy Bond, Andrew Patrick, Paige Willis, and Dakota Mason competed in three events; Solve That Problem, Quiz, and Relay.

Freshman Jeremy Bond and sophomore Andrew Patrick won the Algebra 2 Level Quiz and have an opportunity to challenge themselves in the state competition at Portland State University.

The students were nominated for the team by their math teachers, and went to the competition not sure what to expect.

Finally, the answer to the problem posed above?  106.  Of course.


By Invitation Only

Band instructor conducting student musicians

Guest clinician Ron Bertucci worked with Cascade Middle School students as part of the Shasta Invitational Concert Band Festival.

It’s been a staple at Shasta Middle School for decades. The Shasta Invitational Concert Band Festival remains the largest invitational event in Oregon for middle school concert bands.

18 bands bused in to perform and then learn. The musicians received feedback from respected clinicians who worked one-on-one with each band to improve small details that result in big improvements.

Hearing suggestions from a respected professional is sometimes accepted more clearly than when similar coaching comes from a band teacher. That’s one reason why the Shasta Invitational is always on the calendar of so many strong band programs.


Bethel B-mail: March 2019


Snow Day Make-Up

School readerboard sign.

Prairie Mountain had a little fun in the middle of the snow days. We are anticipating another creative message from The Mountain in mid-June.

We’re pretty sure there won’t be another snowmageddon, so here’s the draft plan for making up lost school days (the School Board makes the change official on April 8.)

The last day for students was supposed to be Thursday, June 13, a half day.  Now students’ last day will be Tuesday, June 18th and it will also be a half day. Willamette’s graduation will remain June 7th.

Because Bethel doesn’t have many teacher inservice/No School days throughout the year, we are still above the state requirements for instructional hours, despite the snow. And, during many of our years where we have had to reduce school days because of budget cuts, our district was still above the state requirement for instructional hours.

We understand that the three additional days may conflict with some prearranged family plans. But, in the long run, providing learning time for students is a good thing. Please check in with your child’s school to determine any changes to end-of-the-year activities.

Chris Parra
Bethel Superintendent


Serving Up A Winner

Culinary students posing with their meal.

Teacher Martha Humphreys with her state championship team: Logan Weller, Samantha Thompson, Makayla Schweitzer, and Oregon Culinary Student of the Year Shane Wilder.

She is going out as a champion. Martha Humphreys, Willamette’s long-time Culinary teacher, is stepping down as coach after decades leading the competitive program.

She’s leaving with back to back state Culinary championships, and her fourth overall.

The team of Logan Weller, Samantha Thompson, Makayla Schweitzer and Shane Wilder won the state title by whipping up this meal in less than one hour. They could only use two butane burners and no electric kitchen utensils.

After months of practicing making the meal, the Willamette team nailed it when it counted the most.

Now they travel to Washington, D.C. in May for the national competition, where Willamette finished 6th last year. It’s the final go-round for Humphreys, and the taste of victory never gets old.


Uh Oh…Calls From The Office

Staff members making phone calls.

Meadow View’s Carmen Adler and Erika Case made 100 calls to surprised and delighted parents.

There were tears of joy, expressions of delight, and many, many thanks. Phone calls like this are powerful.

Meadow View School marked the first 100 days of school with 100 positive phone calls home. Principal Erika Case and Assistant Principal Carmen Adler asked Meadow View teachers to nominate students and share some thoughts on their kids.

It was all about acknowledging students showing growth, kindness, participation, diligence, creativity, innovation, perseverance, and stepping out of their comfort zone.

The administrators were often in tears sharing the comments with parents, who were also in tears hearing this unexpected good news. For some parents, their only previous calls from the school had been bad news.

Understandably, there are already ideas about expanding the phone call idea at Meadow View, and at other Bethel schools.


On Pitch

Student choir singing

In the spotlight, Shasta’s Session Choir hit all the right notes and won first place at the Clackamas Jazz Festival.

They are regular kids who love to sing. The Session Choir from Shasta Middle School sang better than all the rest in winning first place at the Clackamas Jazz Festival.

Shasta has competed at the Festival for a dozen years, always receiving high marks; but this was their first victory at Clackamas.

In addition, a pair of Shasta 8th graders received special recognition. Hannah Ford received the Top Soloist Award and Rylie Campbell received a Special Recognition Award for her solo.

The choir will return to the Portland area in May when they bring gifts, toys and music to pediatric cancer patients at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.


Bringing Home Hardware

Boys basketball team

Not happy to settle for 5th place, Willamette’s boys basketball team still advanced further than any WHS team in 33 years.

It had been 33 years since Willamette was one of the elite eight teams playing in the state boys basketball tournament.

This year was different. Led by coach Chad Carpenter, the Wolverines finished second in the very tough Midwestern League. Then they dominated in two playoff wins to reach the 5A tournament at Oregon State University’s Gill Coliseum.

Playing three games in three days, the Wolverines came away with a 5th place trophy.

It’s an accomplishment that has eluded Wolverine players for decades. Due to the groundwork laid this season, a return trip to the tournament should come sooner than another 33 years.


Battle Of The Books

Girls posing for a photo.

Cascade’s OBOB team advanced to the final 8 against schools from throughout Lane County. They loved their OBOB experience.

A love of reading brings them all together. The challenge of competition makes it even more fun.

The annual Oregon Battle of the Books – OBOB – culminates months of reading for Bethel students.

Teams of four (and sometimes an alternate) read 16 designated books and try to recall the most minute details in the stories.

In OBOB, they are questioned about those details in a quiz show format and it is always impressive how much the kids remember.

Hundreds of students throughout the district battled for the right to represent their schools at the regional competition.

Even those teams which saw their OBOB season end in the county-wide competition were happy to be around fellow book lovers. And most are already reading the 16 designated books for next year’s OBOB.


Brush For School Success

Kindergartners at Meadow View were thrilled to receive their free dental kits.

Can this be true? Kids excited to brush their teeth?

It looked that way at Meadow View School when kindergartners received dental kits in a special presentation from United Way, Burley, and Oregon Medical Group.

In all, 20,000 kindergarten through third grade students throughout Bethel and Lane County received the kits that include a bag, floss, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a timer so kids know how long to brush.

The effort is all about keeping kids healthy and in school.

Children with oral health problems are more likely to be absent from school and to struggle with academic performance.

Supporting good oral habits is also helping children with success in school.


The Pageant With A Purpose

Crown being placed on a student's head.

Willamette senior Elise Freese reacts to being crowned winner of the annual Wolverine Pageant.

She’s headed to the Air Force Academy but Elise Freese might have been floating on air after winning Willamette’s Wolverine Pageant.

With a message of Not All Heroes Wear Capes, the 26th annual pageant included skits, costumes, testimonials and interviews.

The crowning of Freese culminated months of fund raising and rehearsing, and then more fundraising. The contestants – three boys and six girls – brought in more than $20,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network.

The money is intended for the neonatal intensive care unit and pediatric ward at PeaceHealth’s Riverbend hospital. The cause is why the Wolverine Pageant has lasted this long.


Completing The Connection

Students talking in front of a computer.

Students in Willamette’s Advanced Digital Design class were able to show their work and answer questions from interested 8th graders taking an introductory after school Design class.

CTE – Career Technical Education – is alive and well with Bethel’s 8th graders. They are now starting the third trimester of after-school offerings of Robotics, Culinary, and Digital Design courses.

Their classes are directly linked to similar but more advanced courses at Willamette High School.

To confirm that connection, 8th graders finishing their Digital Design course at Prairie Mountain visited the Advanced Digital Design class at Willamette.

8th graders got to see the state of the art computers, learn about the advanced students’ work, and ask questions of their older peers.

The enthusiasm and excitement is likely to carry over to when the middle schoolers walk through the doors as Willamette students in a few more months.


A Lift Up From Down Under

Family posing for a photo.

The Australian visitors were matched up with Bethel families who served as hosts and tour guides during the three day visit.

They come back every three years. High school students from the Ringwood Secondary College in Melbourne, Australia, spent three days in Bethel, staying with Bethel families and performing on stage for Willamette students.

It’s the start of their performing arts world tour. In six weeks, the 30 students travel from Willamette to Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, the Czech Republic, Singapore, and Indonesia.

The visitors shadowed students at Willamette for two days before hopping a flight to Toronto.

The Willamette connection came through a common connection at the University of Oregon, then one thing led to another. Look for another visit from our friends in three years.


Join The Party

Students loved reading in tents during Family Reading events at Danebo and Irving.

Free books and free pizza add up to free fun. That was the idea behind Danebo’s Family Fun Reading Night.

After the feast (thanks to Papa’s Pizza,) kids and parents moved throughout the school, experiencing the different reading activities in each classroom such as having their pictures taken with fun reading-related props and story-time inside a makeshift tent,

A similar event was taking place at Irving’s Family Literacy Night Camp-In.

It included campfire songs, a tented reading area, bookmark making, literacy games, and a free camp-style dinner.

Children, parents, and reading. It’s a combination worth promoting.