MVSD to Offer Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing

Added Layer of COVID-19 Protection: Free, Voluntary, On-Site, “Asymptomatic” COVID-19 Testing for Students

Dear Methow Valley Students and Parents,

COVID UpdatesI hope my message finds each of you well, enjoying the return of fall and the new school year. Thank you for your part in helping to kick-off what promises to be a fantastic school year!

In an effort to not only safely reopen our schools, but remain open throughout the school year, I wish to share an update to the MVSD COVID-19 Protocols with you.

Effective immediately, the MVSD will be offering an added layer of protection in support of our students’ health and wellness by providing free, voluntary, on-site, “asymptomatic”, COVID-19 testing to MVSD students whose parent(s) provide prior consent.

Timing is everything…
Whether it’s the farmer’s market, a concert, athletic events, fairs, or other family and community-related activities, we recognize that our students and parents engage in various forms of travel and gatherings throughout the school year. Additionally, we acknowledge that we find ourselves faced with a challenging period of time when reports indicate COVID-19 cases are surging amongst school-age youth, increasing the probability of COVID-19 related illness, as well as the possibility of classroom, grade level, and school-wide closures.

Keeping our students healthy and schools open…
With the goal of keeping our students healthy and schools open, the MVSD has been contemplating the addition of “asymptomatic” COVID-19 testing as yet another proactive approach and mitigating strategy aimed at minimizing the likelihood of COVID-related health issues and closures. This process has included:

  • Reflecting upon and examining the success associated with our past practice involving periodic pool testing that followed each major break.
  • Consulting with our local public health officials.
  • Analyzing best practices taking place elsewhere.
  • Listening to the feedback provided by many of our parents.

Once concluded, a parent captured the collective sentiment of the planning team when she stated, “…be proactive and nimble. Anticipate positive cases are among us. Add asymptomatic testing to our quiver of strategies. Find them (positive cases). Avoid the development of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ culture taking place elsewhere, only to result in spread and closures. Find the positive cases and prevent the surge. Keep our students and staff healthy and we keep our schools open. Maintain our momentum… Our students need our schools to stay open.”

With these recommendations and mindset in place, we’re moving forward with the following testing options…

  • Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing: We are encouraging students and families who travel and/or participate in a large group gathering and believe their student may have been exposed to COVID-19 to strongly consider participating in our free, voluntary, on-site, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing following the event. Interested parents should contact MVSD School Nurse, Adriana Vanbianchi at: avanbianchi@methow.org or your student’s school secretary to arrange a COVID-19 test date and time.
  • Symptomatic COVID-19 Testing: If your student is displaying COVID-like symptoms, we ask that you please keep your student home, notify your school’s secretary of their absence, and work with MVSD School Nurse, Adriana Vanbianchi to follow the district’s COVID-19 protocols involving symptomatic COVID-19 testing and/or quarantine procedures, as outlined on the district’s COVID-19 Updates page.

In advance of any COVID-19 testing, we ask that you complete the Online Consent Form for Rapid COVID-19 Testing.

Thank you for helping to keep our youth healthy and our schools open!

Sincerely,
Tom Venable
Superintendent, Methow Valley School District

Career & Technical Education and Dual Credit

Hello Methow Valley!

My name is Grant Storey and I am the new Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Dual Credit Coordinator for Methow Valley School District.

I hope to use this blog to communicate with students, families, and our community how career and technical education and dual credit opportunities will benefit our students, expand opportunities, and potentially support the valley’s broader economic goals. Today, I want to talk about dual credit and our rapidly expanding College in the High School (CiHS) classes at Liberty Bell Jr/Sr. High School and what they mean for students.

Dual Credit

To begin, what is Dual Credit?
Dual credit is when a high school student can receive high school credit and college credit, apprenticeship hours or an industry-recognized credential at the same time. Some traditional models of dual credit that may be familiar to you are AP classes or running start classes at a community college. Additionally, there are two other “models” of dual credit out there; CTE dual credit and ‘College in the High School’.

Why is Dual Credit beneficial?
Millions of High School students nationwide participate in forms of dual credit classes. Extensive research has shown that students in dual credit classes are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college or some other post-secondary/job specific training program, and complete degrees and credentials. In some cases, dual credit classes can also lower costs/tuition and reduce the time it takes to achieve a postsecondary degree at a community college, trade school, or 4-year university. Most importantly, research has shown that dual credit opportunities boost student confidence, independent learning capabilities and ability to seize future opportunities.

College in the High School (CiHS)

Why ‘College in the High School’?
Well-run dual credit programs have all four types of dual credit opportunities because options are important to students and families! And one of the fastest growing models of dual credit that Washington State is a leader in is ‘College in the High School’. These are courses being taught in the high school where students can earn college credit from just passing the class. No nation-wide final tests or travel required! Most importantly, this type of dual credit can then be transferred to a wide variety of postsecondary programs IF the student chooses.

This year Liberty Bell Jr/Sr. High is offering several CiHS classes:

  • Adam Kaufman and Cam Alford are co-teaching English 101 and 105 through Central Washington University.
  • Katie Leuthauser is offering Global Warming through the University of Washington.
  • Genny Rice is offering Biology through Bellevue College.
  • Adam Kaufman is also offering Spanish 102 and 103 through Eastern Washington University.

Liberty Bell 'Classroom in the High School' StaffIn each of these cases, these instructors already have classes at Liberty Bell that include content and assignments which closely align with what is happening on each of these college campuses and the teachers themselves have been recognized as highly qualified, college capable instructors.

Is College in the High School really for everyone?
The Methow Valley School District is making an investment in equity by registering and paying all costs for every student enrolled in one of these courses.

Why? Are all students ready for college level work? What if a 4-year University isn’t the direction a student wants to go?
These are some of the great questions we have received and want to share responses more broadly. We are focused on matching what is already happening in our classes locally to be a good fit with college courses so that students are getting credit for the instruction and work they would be doing regardless. More “bang for your buck” if you will, and students are able to take these courses in the comfort of a school where teachers and support staff are familiar with- and know the needs of the student.

For example, a 10-week college course is typically stretched out over the whole school year or semester so that high school students have the time to learn and grow at a slower pace. Additionally, by partnering with colleges and universities, the Methow Valley School District can expand its academic resources because registered CiHS students have access to university libraries, writing help, college tutoring and advising. We expect students to be challenged and are being intentional to back up students with ample support. Lastly, there are many post secondary opportunities outside of college. Boosting overall confidence and independent learning is beneficial no matter which path a student chooses to take. We want to create opportunities and options for all!

What’s Next?

We are continuing to expand CiHS offerings at LBHS! Look for future offerings in Math, Science, Languages, and the Social Sciences. AND, CiHS isn’t just for core academic subjects; we are working on offerings for art, music, and health and fitness as well. The goal is to celebrate and generate additional opportunities from the great things our teachers and students already do!

Please feel free to reach out with any questions, concerns, and/or suggestions for any CTE/Dual Credit topics you would like to learn more about. My email is gstorey@methow.org and I look forward to hearing from you!

Best,
Grant

Grant Storey, PhD (he/his)
CTE/Dual Credit Coordinator
Methow Valley School District

Building Bridges…

A Message of Inclusivity from Liberty Bell Jr/Sr HS Principal, Crosby Carpenter

As many of you are aware, early this week, a student’s Pride flag was destroyed by another student. This led to an inspiring and peaceful protest that was coordinated by a handful of courageous 7th graders. On the same day, several students wore American flag paraphernalia in what they called a “counter protest”. There have also been several incidents in recent days where students on both sides of this unfortunate divide have been singled out for their beliefs and values.

One of our primary goals at Liberty Bell continues to be fostering a school climate and culture of inclusivity, empathy, and belonging, where every individual feels dignified. With this goal in mind, there is no place for bigotry and hatred – zero tolerance.

Rainbow wristband with red, white, blue wristbandSome people will suggest that if you’re uncomfortable with, or don’t agree with what the Pride flag stands for, you should fly an American flag in protest. I believe this is misguided and an attempt to fuel culture wars in schools. The Pride flag and the American flag are symbols of inclusivity and freedom. This is not a zero sum game. Both can coexist.

As one parent recently shared with me, “…we are pro people…” Liberty Bell will continue to operate under the norm that individuals are responsible for how they react to another person’s clothing/accessories, as long as those items are not perceived as harassment, bullying, or intimidation and are not detrimental to the learning environment. While it’s absolutely within our students’ rights to peacefully disagree with each other, it’s unacceptable to demean and degrade one another.

As always, I stand with all students regardless of their political or social views; I stand with what the American flag is intended to represent; I stand with what the Pride flag is intended to represent; I stand with all people.

Crosby Carpenter
Principal, Liberty Bell High School

MVSD Selects Annika Troyer to Serve as LBHS/ILC Integration Media Specialist

The MVSD is pleased to announce that Annika Troyer has been selected to serve as the LBHS/ILC Integration Media Specialist, replacing Laura Bitzes Thomas.

Born in Washington State, Annika became a self-reported, “TCK (Third Culture Kid)” at the age of four when her parents elected to pursue careers as educators for the Department of Defense. Living abroad, Annika attended AFNORTH International School at the NATO Base in Limburg, the Netherlands. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Theory of Arts & Literature from Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. Following her graduation from Jacobs University, she attended the European School of Economics in Lucca, Italy to pursue a Master’s Certification in Art & Event Management.

Annika Troyer and familyReturning to the United States in 2010, she met her husband, Brandon Troyer and started a family that includes Lucia Rose, their daughter (now a 5th grader at MVE), their dog, Moose, and cat, Ninja. After several adventurous years of exploration, the Troyer’s settled in the Methow Valley. Upon their arrival, Annika was hired by the MVSD as a substitute teacher. Shortly thereafter, Annika was selected to serve as the MVE Integration Media Specialist Paraeducator, working alongside Integrated Library/Media Specialist, Catie Barber.

When asked about her new position, Annika stated, “This is a position I’ve always dreamed of filling. While I’m sad to be leaving a position and the people I love at MVE, I’m thrilled to be taking the next step in my career by joining the team at LBHS!” Given Annika’s love of learning, curiosity about the world, and collaborative nature, we’re not surprised… Consistent with the adage, “The apple (or book) doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Annika comes from a family of educators – Her parents were teachers, her grandfather was a professor, and her grandmother served as a reference librarian in Japan, the place where Annika began her education as a child.

As she steps into her new position, Annika is eager to facilitate changes within the LBHS library to keep pace with advances in technology and the changing needs of the student population. She hopes to create a contemporary media center with new books, easy access to online resources, and areas for both quiet study and conferencing.

Outside of school, Annika enjoys making sushi, evening walks with her family, hot-spring hopping, editing, motorcycle rides with her husband, watching anime, playing soccer, cooking huge hotpots, traveling and, of course, reading!

Please join us as we congratulate Annika Troyer, LBHS/ILC’s new Integration Media Specialist!

Pardon our Progress…

MVSD Partners with Local Contractors to Prepare Site for New Modular Facilities

LBHS Middle School Facilities Construction

If you’ve been on our campus recently, you may have noticed the staging of some heavy machinery near the outdoor volleyball courts. The MVSD is working with a team of “local” contractors to prepare the site in advance of the arrival of our new modular facilities. We’ve been informed that the first modular facility may be ready to transport and install as early as late October.

As part of the district’s efforts to develop a middle school model, honoring the unique needs of middle school-age students, and in an effort to accommodate the space necessary to maintain low class sizes, the district is expanding its facilities. This includes the installation of two modular facilities over time. Each modular facility contains two classrooms.

The new classrooms will serve as the future home to LBHS 6th grade students. We will be working with our 6th grade team to determine an official move-in date once the project is completed.

We look forward to sharing more information as the project unfolds!

MVSD Partners with Methow Arts to Expand Art Instruction in Grades K-6

Methow Valley School District, in partnership with Methow Arts Alliance, is pleased to announce that Youth Arts Initiative Project (YAI) continues in its third year in the Methow Valley this fall, serving all enrolled Methow Valley K-6 students.

Icicle Fund - Methow ArtsThanks to a grant from Icicle Fund and funding and support from the Methow Valley School District, Methow Arts will implement the Youth Arts Initiative program (YAI) this fall for students in grades K-6 in the Methow Valley Elementary School.

The initiative is a three-year pilot grant that has a goal of increasing the dosage of high quality arts education. The program focuses specifically on sequential art learning in the principles and elements of art for early grade levels, establishing a foundation in the arts for later years.

The grant acts as a pilot program to be monitored, tested, and adapted, and aims to assist other organizations across NCW in establishing successful partnerships with school districts and arts education program development and implementation after completion of the project. None of the schools reached through this grant has a designated art teacher.

For more information about the YAI Project, partnership between the MVSD and Methow Arts, and/or how you can support the Arts, please Contact Amanda Jackson Mott, Methow Arts Executive Director at: amanda@methowartsalliance.org.

Meet the YAI Art Instructors

Bethany Wray, YAI Instructor, Grades K-3
Bethany Wray“I see the goal for the Youth Arts Initiative program as utilizing the elements and principles of art to not only introduce children to the building blocks of making art, but also to get them excited about art and its importance within culture,” says Bethany. “My biggest hope is that YAI prepares and equips children for a lifelong love of art and to provide a space and tools for them to express their own unique views and experiences.”

Bethany Wray continues to teach grades K-3 in the Methow Valley’s YAI program. Bethany began teaching the YAI program in Omak in 2019, then moved to Methow Valley Elementary in 2020, delivering a diverse and engaging YAI program throughout the school year. Bethany graduated from Biola University with a BFA in Painting and Otis College of Art and Design with a MFA. Her work has been shown in various locations including Los Angeles and New York.
Bethany works with classroom teachers in grades K-3 to develop learners who understand the critical concepts commonly associated with the International Baccalaureate “Design Cycle” through the integration of the arts in grades K-3.
In their weekly sessions, students learn about other artists in history and create art using the principles and elements of art they observe in these artists’ work, such as learning about color through artist Alma Thomas, exploring texture through artist Romare Bearden, and creating patterns through artist Kehinde Wiley.
 
Christa Culbert, YAI Instructor, Grades 4-6
Christa CulbertChrista Culbert instructs grades 4-6 in the YAI expansion at Methow Valley Elementary School. Christa loves animals, sailboats, trail runs, mountain bikes, ice cream, artwork, and her dog, Uisce (“Ish-ca”). She got her BFA in painting and drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and first came to the Methow Valley to work for Northwest Outward Bound School in Mazama.

As a teaching artist with Methow Arts’ Artist-in-Residence program, Christa taught art extensively throughout Okanogan County elementary schools, including Omak, Okanogan, Brewster, and the Methow Valley. When she’s not teaching art, Christa works as a horse trainer and professional artist.