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    From the President’s Desk

    By Brian Flora, Orca PTSA President


    As 2017 comes to an end I am thankful for another year with my family and friends. I am grateful that I have the honor to work for the wonderful Orca community that believes in and takes actions to make our little corner of the world an open, inclusive, vibrant community; a place where we all belong. We are a community that, despite many forces that might lead us to close up, retreat, or act out of fear, chooses to remain open, loving, and resilient.  


    In particular, I want to appreciate Principal Tonie, all the teachers, administration, and support staff for everything they do to make Orca the school we love. I also want to thank all the parents, students, and community members that devote their precious time and resources to make Orca strong. Your gifts of time, energy, money, and self are needed and appreciated. Thank you!


    Personally, I often focus on what has not happened, what I have not done, and other ways I might be lacking. I tend not to acknowledge what has gone well, what good things are in my life, how I have grown as a person and so on. It’s important to know where you might need some help. I think it might be more valuable and motivating to give yourself some credit for what has gone well and where you've done well. I've been experimenting with this lately and find it useful. I plan on continuing to do this and I invite you to join me. Please take a moment to appreciate what went well for you and yours in 2017 and to share that with those close to you. 


    Perhaps you may even congratulate yourself for a job well done. This has been quite a year and I think we are coming through it stronger than before. Maybe you'll want to appreciate yourself a little everyday to remind yourself of the goodness and strength in you and in those around you.


    I also encourage you to reach out to someone you don't know at Orca. Take moment to let them know you care about them and their well-being. You never know. That might be the beginning of a new and rewarding friendship. Let me know how it goes.  


    Finally, I want to challenge us to become allies to one another. How can we best support those around us to succeed? 


    Thanks for reading. Happy Holidays to all. I look forward to seeing you soon.


    Upcoming Events Calendar


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


    Tuesday, January 2nd................... First Day of School after Winter Break

    Friday, January 5th........................ First Friday Volunteer Day, starting at 8:55am (Throughout Orca)

    Friday, January 12th...................... Martin Luther King, Jr. Day March and Assembly, TBA

    Monday, January 15th................... Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – No School

    Saturday, January 20th.................. Option School Choice Fair, 10am-2pm (Mercer Middle School)

    Wednesday, January 31st............. Day between Semesters – No School


    View the entire calendar and get more info at:


    New PTSA Board Members Needed


    It’s not too early to start thinking about whether you or someone you know would be a good fit for next school year’s PTSA Board. There are always vacancies to fill at the end of the year, and every board position is up for reelection each year. There’s no rule that says that we can’t have a little competition for our board positions. You don’t have to be a PTSA insider or know everything about the PTSA to join the Board. In fact, joining the Board might be one of the best ways for a newcomer to learn all about the Orca community. It’s a time commitment, to be sure, but it’s rewarding in ways you might never have imagined. It’s a chance to help Orca flourish, but it’s also a chance to grow your own perspectives and capacities.


    Board and Board liaison positions include:


    President • Vice President • Volunteer Coordinator • Treasurer • Assistant Treasurer • Legislative Chair • Grade Band Representative (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) • Secretary • Assistant Secretary • Garden and Environmental Science Liaison • Diversity and Outreach Chair • Fundraising Chair • Annual Fund Chair • Orca Wave Publisher • Membership Coordinator • Auction Chair • Inclusion Committee Chair • Progressive Education Committee Chair • Race Forum Steering Committee Member • Building Leadership Team (BLT) Representative • Project Orca Playground Committee Chair • MLK Event Chair


    If you’re interested in serving in any of these roles, or a role that’s not listed that you think we ought to have (Performing Arts Chair, perhaps) during the 2018-2019 school year, contact PTSA President Brian Flora at


    Orca K-8 Martin Luther King, Jr. March and Assembly

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


    Now I realize that there are those all over who are telling us that we must slow up. ... But we cannot afford to slow up. We have a moral obligation to press on. We have our self-respect to maintain. But even more we can't afford to slow up because of our love for America and our love for the democratic way of life. ... We must keep moving. We must keep going.
    —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From "The Montgomery Story," an address to the 47th annual NAACP Convention, San Francisco, June 27, 1956 (the full text of the speech can be viewed at

    Each January on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Orca K-8 students join the movement on the long arc of justice by taking part in a march. They follow the well-trodden paths and traditions of activists throughout history who have marched and found ways to protest, to make change, and write their own new chapters. This is kinesthetic learning, soulful learning, learning with voices raised and art held high, community development, and activism in action.

    On January 12th, students, staff, and community will gather on the playground and then, led by a drum line, march to Rainier Avenue together; chanting, talking, carrying messages while moving—experiencing a practice that has been a part of social change movements throughout history, including: the 381 day Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Selma to Montgomery 53 mile march for voters rights, and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

    The PTSA will provide several busses to bring students and staff that need assistance physically traversing the route to Rainier Avenue where the ground levels out and is accessible for all. Please help make the powerful merging of our entire community happen smoothly, with welcoming arms, songs, and an appropriate pace. The busses are part of Orca’s work on inclusion so that the entire school can participate in the grand procession down Rainier Avenue and onto the Interagency Academy campus, where Rainier Valley Food Bank will greet the Orca activists to collect non-perishable food items. Then the entire community will make a huge community circle around the drum line. Some years, students from Interagency or Orca share speeches, as well.

    The afternoon Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly is also always special. M
    any classes have already been practicing their performances, directed by Ms. Crescent in collaboration with Orca’s teachers. It showcases the unique talents of our staff and students and is an opportunity for singing, dancing, oratory, and other performing arts. Often there is a guest speaker or some presentation on change makers. All are invited to attend and participate.

    The annual MLK March and assembly are part of the Orca K-8 story and an important annual ritual recognizing the work of the civil rights movement and contemporary movements such as Black Lives Matter.

    The exact times of the events will be announced at a later date. Look for details in the Orca School Newsletter and PTSA Digest.


    There are many ways to be involved in social justice events at Orca K-8. They include being a guest speaker, tutoring and volunteering on weekly or occasional basis, and taking part in First Friday Volunteer events. Parents and community members are also invited to attend, participate in, and plan evening activities such as meetings of the PTSA, the Inclusion Committee, or the bi-monthly Race Forum. Childcare is often provided.


    Here is some press on the Orca K-8 MLK March from past years:

    Orca at Interagency Academy during the 2015 march

    Orca at Interagency Academy during the 2015 march

    Reporters Wanted


    We love our regular Orca Wave contributors. But like most things, the Wave would benefit from a broader, more diverse group of voices. We have so many thoughtful writers in our community, and it would be a wonderful gift for everyone else to be able to hear from more of them. We’re particularly interested in hearing student perspectives.


    You could write an opinion piece, news item, investigative report, interview, poem, review, profile, etc. Is there an administrator, staff member, volunteer, or someone else who you could interview? Would you like to tell everyone about the new Culture and Conflict middle school academy? What about a report on an after school club or program? Perhaps a musing piece on why Orca Fries are so good?


    If you would like to submit an article for publication in the Wave, send your article to The submission deadlines for the rest of the school year are as follows:


    • January 19th issue – due Monday, January 15th
    • February 16th issue – due Monday, February 12th
    • March 16th issue – due Monday, March 12th
    • April 20th issue – due Monday, April 16th
    • May 18th issue – due Monday, May 14th

    June 15th issue – due Monday, June 11th


    Are You a PTSA Member?


    PTA/PTSA membership is important. Thanks to people joining and renewing their PTA/PTSA memberships every year, the Washington State PTA (Orca PTSA’s parent organization) has grown to be the largest child advocacy non-profit in the state, and one of the largest PTAs in the nation, with over 130,000 members. That size gives Washington PTA real clout with elected officials and other non-profits. When Washington State PTA takes a position on something, people listen.


    When you join Orca K-8 PTSA, you help give Orca a large voice within the State PTA. Your membership will also help Orca to obtain a national PTA School of Excellence designation, which could bring grants and more Seattle Public Schools support to Orca.


    Annual membership fee is $12. You can join easily on the Internet by going to

    From there you’ll select your state (Washington), school district (Seattle Public Schools), and PTA/PTSA (Orca K-8 PTSA), and in a very short while you’ll receive a thank you email from PTSA President Brian Flora, along with a membership card and some links to find PTA member only discounts, such as 30% off at Great Wolf Lodge. There are membership fee waivers available, too, for families that need them, since the Orca PTSA knows that in these difficult economic times, sometimes even $12 is too much to spare. If you need a waiver, please contact PTSA President Brian Flora at


    Annual Fund Drive – 1000 Friends and Family of Orca K-8

    By Susan King, Annual Fund Chair,


    The most recent ruling in McCleary v. State of Washington shows that we still cannot rely on the government to fully fund basic education. Each year the Orca K-8 PTSA Annual Fund Drive seeks the partnership of alumni, extended family, friends, and the community to bridge the gap between public funding and the actual cost of giving our children a comprehensive education. With your help, we just mailed Annual Fund donation requests to nearly 500 alumni and friends of Orca K-8, in addition to mailing postcards to the families of all 400 currently enrolled students.


    Gifts to the Annual Fund are unrestricted, giving the PTSA maximum flexibility to apply funds where they are needed most. Here are some ways your gift will make a difference:


    • $30 provides one month of paints, brushes and other art supplies
    • $100 covers a year of outdoor education in the Orca Garden for one student
    • $250 ensures the PTSA Race Forum can provide child care and dinner at each meeting
    • $350 buys one classroom's library materials, like new books and educational games
    • $575 pays for one week’s supplemental public speaking and performing arts programs for 4th-8th graders
    • $900 funds one month of coordination, snacks, supplies, and scholarships for after-school enrichment programs through Orca Plus
    • $1,000 provides one month of tutoring and reading intervention services
    • $5,000 funds all annual field trips with the Seward Park Audubon Nature Connection program (with a generous discount from Audubon)


    Our Annual Fund goal this year is $50,000. Through donations on the #GivingTuesday Facebook campaign and the PTSA Yellow Sheet we’ve already raised over $12,500, plus matching gifts!

    We All Belong postcard 

    Please consider making a gift to the Annual Fund and asking your friends and family to do the same. You can make a one-time or recurring donation here:


    If you have additional contacts you’d like to receive a mailing, who might consider making a donation to Orca K-8 in honor of your child, provide their addresses here:


    Thanks to those of you who have already made a gift to the Annual Fund! Special thanks to Laura Gilbert for designing the Annual Fund materials, Melody Ip for her fine tuning the content, Diane Wheeler for her help stuffing envelopes, and David Jones at Gorilla Graphics for discounted printing services. With the support of our community, we can ensure all the unique Orca programs will continue to thrive!


    From Orca to Oscar?


    For the third year in a row, Orca Film Club has been invited to show a film at the Northwest Film Forum’s Children's International Film Festival. They have won the audience award for best short two of those years. 


    This year’s invited film is TICK TOCK, directed by Gabbi Robbins and Natalya McConnell (graduated 6th graders), written by Gabbi Robbins, Nichole DeBurle (6th), Lui Tompkins (6th) and Amalia Boscolo (4th), and staring Ena Laughlin (5th) and Natalya McConnell, with Amalia Boscolo, Nicaea Madsen (5th), Tamar Rosenblum (4th), Sawyer Riley-Young (5th), Thalia Philipott (5th), and Naima Held (5th). It is a 6-minute live action short about what happens when a young woman is thrust into her parents' 1950s reality when she receives a magical alarm clock for her 22nd birthday. It will be presented at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 28th, at the Northwest Film Forum (1515 12th Avenue) along with 12 other short films, under the heading, Push Play: By Youth for Youth. All 13 films are suitable for children ages 9 and up. (Content advisory: This program contains youth documentaries on overcoming sexual assault and mental health issues. A narrative film, Goodbye, Sam, is a darkly humorous take on the death of a pet.)


    To buy tickets, visit Brown Paper Tickets at:

     Children's film festival

    Orca Film Club a year long after school program open to 3rd-5th grades at Orca. New members may apply in October. Participating students learn about the art of screenwriting, producing, directing, cinematography, and acting in films.


    Seattle PTSA Equity


    It seems a contradiction in terms to have a “public school system” where parents can pay to give their children better educational opportunities than other children. But that is exactly the kind of public school system that we have. Through PTSA fundraising, some schools can hire additional teachers and other staff, purchase additional equipment, musical instruments and more. Orca is such a school.


    Through the generosity of Orca’s families and friends, Orca’s PTSA is able to fund the supplemental instruction that is a big part of what draws families to Orca. Without PTSA dollars, we wouldn’t have Garden and Environmental Science Educator Anthony, Toyia Taylor’s We.APP oratory program, our connection with the Seward Park Audubon Center, Laura Silver’s Bridging Wisdom program, before and after school programs through Orca Plus, and much more.


    It’s amazing how much we owe to PTSA fundraising, and it’s obviously very unfair to children going to schools with PTSAs that are unable to generate as many fundraising dollars or schools without PTSAs at all. Seattle Public Schools has one of the largest achievement/opportunity gaps in the country, and fundraising inequity between schools only exacerbates the problem.


    Recognition of this inequity has led to a growing movement of people wanting to in some way mandate sharing of resources amongst Seattle PTSAs. A recently launched group called PTSA Equity Project Seattle ( is spearheading the effort and plans to hold public discussions on ways to achieve greater equity. They point to equity rules enacted in Portland Public Schools (PPS) as an example.


    In Portland, fundraising for schools is generally split between two types of entities, Local School Foundations (LSFs), which pay for supplemental teachers, and PTAs, which pay for any other supplementation. PTAs may keep all the funds they raise to spend on their own school programs, but LSFs must set aside one-third of all funds raised after their first $10,000 to give to the PPS Parent Equity Fund. This school year, these set-asides amounted to $962,000, which was awarded to the 39 most needy schools (based on the formula shown below) in amounts ranging from $20,000 to $40,000. In addition, five “alternative program” schools received awards of $9,800 each. 78 schools were considered for awards, but were not found needy enough, and 17 schools declined to be considered for awards.

     Equity grant formula

    Season’s Greetings from the Library!

    By Tracy Appleyard, Librarian and ELL Teacher,



    I am excited to report that we raised $970 at our Third Place Books and Raconteur Giveback fundraiser! I am so appreciative to have this partnership with Third Place Books and Raconteur. I also feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of such a generous community that supports our kids as they develop as readers. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who spread the word, came out and shopped for books, and/or ate! It was fun to see all those Orca families and community members browsing and enjoying our local bookstore. I can’t thank you all enough for helping to create a diverse, robust, and current collection of just right books for our kids!


    The library has been a busy place recently. Our fourth and fifth graders have been reading the Global Reading Challenge (GRC) books in preparation for the upcoming challenges. The GRC is a Battle of the Books program for fourth and fifth graders in the Seattle Public Schools. The purpose is to encourage our students to have fun reading while learning about global issues. For more information on the GRC and to see which books the kids are reading, take a look at the Seattle Public Library link: There are ten different GRC books, so please encourage your fourth and fifth graders to read them over winter break!

     Global Reading Challenge

    Save the dates if your children are participating or if you’re interested in watching kids get excited about books! The in-school competition takes place right in our library on February 13, at 2:00 p.m. The winning team will represent Orca at a semi-final at the downtown Seattle Public Library on March 8, at 10:00 a.m. If (and when!) an Orca team wins at the semi-final, they will compete at the all-city final on March 20, at 7:30 p.m.


    I hope our winter break is restful for everyone, with lots of time to read!


    Advocacy Update

    By Justin Kalm, Orca PTSA Legislative Chair and Assistant Secretary


    Our state’s 2018 legislative session is only a few weeks away. Like this post, it will be a short one. This session is only supposed to last 60 days. That’s not much time to find the extra $1 billion for teacher salaries that the State Supreme Court is requiring in McCleary. It’s also not much time to resolve the impasse that led the Legislature to adjourn at the end of the last legislative session without passing a capital budget. The capital budget requires a 60% super-majority to pass, so it will require bipartisan cooperation.


    During the 2018 legislative session, Washington State PTA will send action alerts to members who have signed up using their Voter Voice system. These action alerts are quick, easy ways to communicate with our legislators on topics they are actively working on. To sign up, go to If you’re not yet a PTA member, go to to join first. Then go back and sign up. I’ll also be posting action alerts on the Orca PTSA’s Facebook group, at, and the Orca PTSA’s new public Facebook page, at