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    Library Notes

    By Tracy Appleyard, Librarian and ELL Teacher,


    Greetings from the Orca library! Our fourth and fifth graders have been reading as many books on the Global Reading Challenge list as possible. On February 13th, six teams competed in the library for the esteemed honor of being the Orca Global Reading Champions. Please congratulate “The GOAT,” a 5th grade team, on their victory and wish them well as they head to the downtown public library on March 8th for the semi-finals. There they will compete against other schools for a chance to move on to the March 20th City Final. Congratulations to all the students who participated and pushed themselves to read some global literature that they might not have chosen to read on their own. Erica Sternin, the Columbia City branch librarian, commented that the Orca kids earned the highest scores in the challenge and worked the best together. We are so proud of all of you!


    Thank you so much to Third Place Books for providing another excellent author to come and speak to our students! On January 26, Chicago author, Claire Hartfield spend the afternoon in the Orca library. She shared her book, A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, with our middle school students and teachers. We all left the discussion feeling more informed about which social and economic conditions lead to Chicago having the race riot. Hopefully, being more aware of this tragic history will help us identify factors that lead to racial injustice and unrest. Yay for books teaching us to be social justice warriors!


    Thank you to volunteers, Vivian Montoya and Marsha Malkin, for helping in the library and helping our ELL students improve their reading. If you would like to join this wonderful crew, we’d love to have you! Please email or come by the library, if you are interested in volunteering or if you have any questions!


    Upcoming Events Calendar


    Don’t miss these upcoming Orca and Orca PTSA events:


    Mon-Wed, February 19-23........... Mid-Winter Break – No School

    Tuesday, February 27th................ Inclusion Committee Meeting, 6:30-8pm (Orca Library)

    Fri & Sat, March 2nd & 3rd............. Orca Drama Club Presents: Wonka, 7-9pm (Rainier Beach HS)

    Tuesday, March 6th...................... Orca Race Forum, 6-8pm (Orca Library)

    Fri & Sat, March 9th & 10th............. Orca Drama Club Presents: Wonka, 7-9pm (Rainier Beach HS)

    Sunday, March 25th...................... Orca Auction, 5-10pm, (Sodo Park)


    View and subscribe to the entire calendar at:


    Environmental Education and Science

    by Laura Grow, Garden/Environmental Education Liaison to PTSA Board,

    (Si desea este artículo en español, envíe un correo electrónico o vea el tablón de anuncios enfrente de la oficina. If you want to read this article in Spanish please email the garden liaison or see the bulletin board in front of the office.)


    When we make environmental literacy a core part of formative education, we prevent environmental issues from becoming a partisan choice later in life; instead, it sets up the environment to be a holistic background grid for how a student understands and interacts with her or his world. - Alison Cagle, Ten Strands, Equity and Program Associate


    There are many reasons that the Orca PTSA spends much of the annual budget on supporting environmental education programs including the Garden Program and The Audubon Nature Connection Program. We are also discussing how the PTSA can help support camps as a formative experience in our students’ lives. 


    We want our children to be ecologically literate. We want them to be scientists who can engage with the world, investigate problems and seek to create solutions. In Washington State, starting in 2021, students will also need to pass the new science assessments in order to graduate. This year, students in 5th, 8th, and 11th grades will take the tests. 


    These tests are based on the Next Generation Science Standards, which, as Associate Professor Jessica Thompson at UW notes, mean that “We’re expecting students to engage in deep scientific reasoning. We’re asking students to construct models explaining scientific phenomena and gather evidence from their investigations.”


    What better way to investigate phenomena than with connections to the real world? What better way to teach our students how the environment is foundational to community life, culture, and social justice than by going in the field and exploring it?


    Thank you for your support of the Orca PTSA and Orca Garden. Remember to ask your child what they are doing in the garden and in their classroom. Upcoming Garden Work Parties will be with Anthony on Friday Mornings, 9-noon. Please come for all or part of the time.  


    • March 30th     • April 27th        • May 25th         • June 15th (3rd Friday)


    The Garden Committee is also looking for help on the Garden Sale, which will be May 12th. If you want to join the Garden Sale Committee please email me at the address listed above.


    We All Belong at the Auction

    By Christina Gutierrez, mom to Olive Patterson (2nd grade), Auction Chair.


    As we are gearing up for the Mid-Winter Break, I wanted to reach out to each and every family to encourage you to attend the Annual Auction on March 25th, at Sodo Park. Planning for the night is well underway, with a full dinner and drinks, live entertainment from Queenie Sunshine's band–The Savoy Night Owls–and a silent and live auction with something for everyone.  

    Our Annual Auction is a time to come together as a community to support the teachers, staff, and programs at Orca that make our community and school special. It is also a time to celebrate families and get to know each other, to build a better community.

    In the spirit of our Orca motto, "We All Belong," I am hoping we can reach a point where most, if not all, attend the auction. When our full community feels welcome and can enjoy the celebration, our mission will be complete and the auction a success.

    The committee and I are interested in hearing any input you may have regarding planning of this auction and future auctions to fulfill "We All Belong."


    Diversity and Outreach

    By Tanisha Brandon-Felder, PTSA Diversity and Outreach Chair


    As we strive to create a community that invites and extends ourselves to the families of our students, I hesitate and wonder, where is there still growth to do?

    So much is needed, but I’ll keep it short. 

    • Creating open door policies that allow families to be involved in their child’s learning
    • Meeting families where they are, without stigma or judgment
    • Creating two-way communication paths between teachers and families 
    • Developing decision making processes that involve family input
    • Creating family networks to create a community where children’s safety is a priority
    • Host gatherings outside of the school building to build social capital
    • Host principal/teacher coffees
    • If school volunteer opportunities don’t work for you, suggest some that may

    PTSA is one way to be involved, but we know it’s not the only way.

    We want family engagement to reflect the diversity of our school. 

    What ideas do you have? Send them to me and we can start the work of increasing our family engagement.


    Advocacy Update

    By Justin Kalm, Orca PTSA Legislative Chair and Assistant Secretary


    Thank you to everyone who participated in the Washington State PTA (WSPTA) Advocacy Week, January 29th through February 4th. Despite lackluster organization of the week, 50 PTA/PTSA members went to Olympia to meet with their legislators, and subscribers to the WSPTA’s Voter Voice action alerts responded to alerts by sending over 600 emails to their legislators during the week. To put these numbers in context, consider that WSPTA has 130,000 members. Even assuming that each of the emails was written by a different sender and that none of the visitors wrote emails, only 650 out of 130,000 members or 0.5% of the membership. So if you wrote an email to a legislator during Advocacy Week, thank you, you’re part of the top 0.5%.


    If you haven’t had a chance to sign-up for Voter Voice, go to to get on the list, and be in the know when action is happening on bills important to education. It’s never too late. Advocacy Week is just one of innumerable opportunities to advocate.


    One such opportunity is Saturday’s 37th District Legislator Town Hall. From 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of the Ethiopian Community Building, at 8323 Rainier Ave. S, Senator Rebecca Saldaña and Representatives Sharon Tomiko Santos and Eric Pettigrew will be on hand to discuss the issues they’ve been working on this legislative session and hopefully answer some of your questions. Childcare will be provided. The parking lot is fairly small, so if you can walk, carpool, or take public transit, it would be helpful.