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Winthrop Kiwanis Host Record-Setting “Bite of the Methow” in Support of Methow Valley Youth

LBHS Building Trades StudentsThis past Sunday, members of the Winthrop Kiwanis hosted the annual “Bite of the Methow.”

Supported by the Liberty Bell Key Clubbers, LBHS Baseball Team, LBHS Construction Trades Classmates, and members of the newly established Friends of Kiwanis, the annual event provided community members with an opportunity enjoy one another’s company and some fantastic food while raising money in support of the many service projects set to unfold in the coming year.

While it’s not yet official, it appears the beautiful, hand-crafted coffee table designed and built by LBHS’s Construction Trades students may have set the record for the largest single donation in “Bite” history!

When asked about this year’s event, Winthrop Kiwanis Bite Chair Rick Lewis stated, “Thank you, all, for the effort, care, and commitment to the success of this great community event… Onward we go, doing great things to support kids, and our community as a whole, into the next year.”

Who Are the Kiwanis?
Kiwanis International is a global community of clubs, members and partners dedicated to improving the lives of children one community at a time. Today, Kiwanis International stand with more than 550,000 members from K-Kids to Key Club to Kiwanis and many ages in between in 80 countries and geographic areas. Each community has different needs, and Kiwanis empowers members to pursue creative ways to serve the needs of children, such as fighting hunger, improving literacy and offering guidance. Kiwanis clubs host nearly 150,000 service projects each year.

Please join us as we thank the Winthrop Kiwanis, Friends of the Winthrop Kiwanis, the many vendors, and volunteers that made this year’s Bite such a success!

Dean Hussey, Liberty Bell High School Senior, Receives 2019 Steinebach Award for Outstanding Contribution to Live Theater

Dean HusseyThe Merc Board of Directors and Missi Smith (Executive Director) unanimously voted to award Dean Hussey with the 2019 Steinebach Award for Outstanding Contribution to Live Theatre. The award was presented to him at the opening night of Charlotte’s Web on Friday, March 15.

The Merc blog states…
It was during our 2014 production of Willy Wonka, Junior that Dean Hussey arrived on the scene to work in our sound booth. He was in 8th grade at the time, and according to Dean his mom signed him up. He wasn’t very excited about it…but by the time the show was over he claims he was “in his element.” We were fortunate that theater hooked him because he has worked on nearly every show since then. He has logged well over 1000 volunteer hours in five years of productions.

To say Dean’s contribution to live theater is outstanding does not even begin to scratch the surface. He has participated on our production team in a number of ways over five years. He’s gone way beyond pushing the “GO” button behind our sound board. Dean has composed music and created sound cues for a number of shows, most notably Bike America, for which he composed the full soundtrack as his senior project. Our 2018 summer production required Dean to commit countless hours of composing, editing, and working with the rest of the cast and tech crew through rehearsals and performances. Missi Smith, the show’s director, was thrilled with Dean’s artistic interpretation through music, and she loved how his work enhanced the production.

Though he has typically remained behind the scenes in the tech booth, Dean recently went in front of the audience in our Reader’s Theater production of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Adding another whole level of risk, and stepping even further out of his normal comfort zone, he became a strong advocate for those living with autism while teaching his fellow cast members about his own experiences with it. His participation on stage, for the first time ever, greatly enhanced the production. The guy can act, too!

Our founders, Carolanne and Egon Steinebach took huge risks to begin The Merc Playhouse Society. They committed to building a theater that has grown into a community gem over the past 20 years. Without their countless hours of work, their dedication to live performing arts, and their inspired vision, we wouldn’t be the organization we are today. We are happy to honor people in our theater community who show the same type of dedication to live performing arts, and Dean could not be more deserving of the award this year.

Dean is graduating from Liberty Bell High School in May. He will be greatly missed at The Merc while he bravely ventures out into his future, but we are certain he has many successes ahead of him. We just hope he comes back to see us once in a while, and maybe work on some more shows…

Please join us as we congratulate Dean Hussey and thank the Merc Board of Directors, Executive Director Missi Smith, Merc Playhouse Society Founders Carolanne and Egon Steineback, and the many community partners and volunteers that support live theatre and the performing arts in the Methow!

An Evening with Jeff Utrecht: Balancing Our Lives in a Digital World

Jeff UtrechtJoin us Monday, March 25th at 6:00 p.m. when the Methow Valley School District hosts an evening with Jeff Utecht. He will be talking about balancing our lives and our children’s lives in a digital world that we all live in.

Jeff Utecht is an educational technology consultant, educator and author. He holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Technology as well as his administrative certification through Washington State. Jeff began his career in the Elementary Classroom at a public school in Washington State. In 2001, he was the recipient of a Bill and Melinda Gates Grant called the Technology Leadership Program.

Jeff has taught at International Schools in the Middle East and Asia. Moving from a classroom teacher into technology facilitator roles and administrative positions, Jeff began sharing his passion for learning via his blog The Thinking Stick in 2005. In 2007, he was invited to create an innovative conference focusing on learning and technology; the Learning 2.0 Conference was initiated.

Jeff authored chapters in numerous books, worked as the educational consultant for a wiki company, and began speaking at schools and educational events around the globe. He has worked with politicians in Washington DC and participated in The Educational Project at the invitation of the Prince of Bahrain. In 2010 Jeff was invited to present at the first TEDx conference in Bangkok, Thailand.

If you would like to hear or read more about Jeff’s work take a look at

We are excited to hear Jeff share his perspective and diverse background in connection to raising balanced children in a digital world. Please plan to join us Monday, March 25 at 6:00 in the LBHS conference center/cafeteria.

Paul Gutzler Selected to Serve as MVES Principal!

New MVE Principal Paul GutzlerOn Friday, March 8th, the Methow Valley Elementary School Principal Search and Selection Committee concluded the screening and interview process with a unanimous recommendation to hire Paul Gutzler to serve as the next Methow Valley Elementary School Principal, effective July 1, 2019.

Facilitated by committee co-chairs Anne Andersen and Drew Simmons, the highly inclusive and transparent process started with twelve applicants and was narrowed to four finalists. Each of the four finalists participated in a thorough and exhaustive interview process that included an individual interview with the superintendent, a formal interview with a group of parents and staff members, a student-led school tour, a written activity, an interview with a parent focus group, a reading activity involving first graders, and a community forum. Following the community forum, the committee spent the evening discussing the strengths associated with each candidate relative to the needs and direction of Methow Valley Elementary School and the district as a whole.

When asked how he was feeling about his selection, Mr. Gutzler stated, “I am honored to serve as the principal of Methow Valley Elementary. The entire interview process on Friday confirmed what I believed to be true about Methow Valley Elementary–it is a great place for kids! I was impressed with so many aspects of the school community: inquisitive 1st graders with a sense of humor; staff who love kids, seek balance, and support each other; parents who advocate for developing the whole child; and students passionate to share their learning, and lend a hand to their kinder buddy.”

When asked what his first steps would include, Mr. Gutzler stated, “I look forward to learning more from everyone, continuing the good work being done, and supporting our next steps.”

Mr. Gutzler currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Mount Baker High School in Deming, Washington. Previously, he served as the Dean of Students at Wade King Elementary in Bellingham. As the Dean of Students at Wade King, Mr. Gutzler supported the development of a balanced (academic, social-emotional, and physical wellness) instructional program affiliated with International Baccalaureate, Primary Years Program.

One of Mr. Gutzler’s colleagues at Wade King shared, “He is a consistent, supportive, and positive presence for students, teachers, and parents. Whether greeting families before school, playing with kids at recess, or supporting teachers in growing their practice, Paul projects an infectious and can-do attitude.”

Mr. Gutzler received his administrative credentials from Western Washington University. He has a Masters Degree in School Counseling from University of Alaska Fairbanks and a Masters in Teaching in Special Education from Pacific University. He holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from Gonzaga University. Away from school Mr. Gutzler enjoys trail running, Nordic skiing, and exploring the outdoors. Paul, his wife Morgan, eight-year-old daughter Elsa, and six-year-old son Liam, look forward to living, working, and playing in the Methow.

Please join us as we welcome Paul Gutzler, Methow Valley Elementary School’s new principal.

Pathways to Prevention Conference: All Interested Methow Valley Community Members Invited to Attend!

Dear Methow Valley Community Members,

The Methow Valley School District invites you to register for the NCW ‘Pathways to Prevention’ Conference. Sponsored by the North Central Accountable Community of Health, the conference is scheduled to take place on Friday, March 15, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Liberty Bell.

Recognizing the key strategies to addressing substance abuse reside within our community, the conference is open to all who are interested in being a part of the conversation.

Our goals are to gain a deeper collective understanding of the many factors that influence substance abuse in the Methow Valley, increase knowledge of existing resources and gaps, and come away with prevention strategies that fit our community and its unique needs.

For more information and registration visit:

Please email Rachel Levi, MVSD Prevention Coordinator at if you have any questions.

Pathways to Prevention

Triumph and Tragedy: Liberty Bell Students Take Center Stage at 2018-19 National History Day Regional Event with Several Advancing to State Competition

2019 National History Day - Triumph & TragedyEvery year National History Day frames students’ research within a historical theme. The theme is chosen for the broad application to world, national, or state history and its relevance to ancient history or to the more recent past. The 2018-2019 theme is Triumph & Tragedy in History.

Led by Liberty Bell teachers David Aspholm and Scott Barber and supported by Rebecca Shoup, many Liberty Bell 8th and 10th grade students made a strong impression at the National History Day regional competition that took place last weekend with many taking top honors and advancing to the state competition.

Throughout the fall and winter, Liberty Bell students have been deeply engaged in research associated with a variety of topics based on the theme Triumph & Tragedy in History. Students have been asking questions about time, place and context, cause and effect, change over time, impact, and significance related to their chosen themes.

As part of the research process, students have been asked to consider not only when and where events happened, but analyze why they occurred, the factors contributed to their development, and draw conclusions about how the topic influenced and was influenced by people, ideas, or events.

In the Senior Division, only the top 2 in each category moved on to state competition. As you will see by the list below, our students performed well – taking the highest honors in every category. We’ve included links to two of the projects to give you a sense of what our students produced.

Senior Individual Documentary:
First Place – Greta Laesch, “Bloody Sunday”
Second Place -Lena Nelson, “Forgotten Wonders” – Lena’s Documentary:

Senior Individual Websites:
First Place – Keeley Brooks, “Mine Okubo” – Keeley’s Website:

Second Place – Cymone Van Marter, “The Greatest Show On Earth”

Senior Group Website:
First Place – Annika Libby and Liv Aspholm, “The Race to the South Pole”

8th grade students advancing to the state competition include:
Melody Langan – George Melies Impact
Jackson Schmekel, Carter Sheley & Beau Tanguy – Henry Ford’s First Moving Assembly Line
Nina Kominak, Lucy Tobiska – Alice Paul: Fight for Women’s Suffrage
Clementine Palinska – Our Bodies, Our Cells? The Life Of Henrietta Lacks
Lily Colin – Vincent van Gogh: From Tragedy to Triumph

Please join us as we thank David Aspholm, Scott Barber, Rebecca Shoup, the Public School Funding Alliance, and congratulate all of our National History Day participants!


Spring Break: Monday, April 1 through Friday, April 5. All Schools and the District Office Will Be Closed to the Public