Bond Projects Update: February 2021

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This summer, updates to a Pierce County Stormwater Manual are scheduled to be adopted that will delay the opening date for new Bethel High School.

The original timeline for opening the new school was September 2023. Changes to the Pierce County Stormwater regulations will delay opening until 2024 or 2025.

The updates to the Pierce County Stormwater Manual’s regulations reflect the evolution of “best available science” and have resulted in development standards that are different than when the District purchased the property in 2009.

The changes to the Stormwater Manual include new more stringent threshold methodologies to determine if the…


Meet Bethel bus driver Aurelia Cuilan

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Aurelia Cuilan is one of the incredible family of Bethel bus drivers.

Aurelia Cuilan was driving her own kid to school when she first noticed a sign that said ‘Bus Drivers Needed.’ She drove for Tacoma for a year before moving to Bethel, and she’s never looked back. Although she said Tacoma was a good place to learn.

“I always tell people … if you can drive Hilltop and anywhere in Tacoma, you can drive a bus anywhere.”

“I enjoy the feeling of driving a big old bus,” she said. “Before I started driving a school bus, I always leaned towards smaller cars. Once I went through Bethel’s training my mindset shifted…


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As we enter 2021, we can now officially say that Katherine G. Johnson Elementary is scheduled to open to students THIS YEAR!

Our amazing construction crews have been busy at the site for months, and their hard work is paying off. This month crews are putting roofing on the school’s A wing, adding insulation, electrical wiring and plumbing in the B wing, and pouring concrete and framing the G wing.

It’s been an exciting journey since we broke ground on the school last June on Waller Road between Military and 176th. In July the school was officially named in honor…


Even during a global pandemic, we know that a student’s high school experience is about more than just reading, writing and arithmetic. In order to stay competitive with their peers, high schoolers in our district have access to a host of special programs that offer job training and a head start on college courses.

Cambridge Program at BHS

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Cambridge students at work (archive photo).

The Cambridge Assessment International Education Program, which is hosted at Bethel High School, offers an international pre-university curriculum and examination system that emphasizes the value of a broad and balanced education for academically able students.

This unique program is part of the prestigious University of Cambridge…


Unique elementary educational programs adapt and overcome during remote learning

We’re proud to offer a host of unique educational programs for our elementary and preschool students, and we’re especially proud of the work Team Bethel has done to keep these much-needed programs running successfully during a global pandemic.

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Challenge Program

Everyone learns differently, so we offer several options for our elementary Highly Capable students. The Challenge program is our “pull-out” program. In a normal year, Challenge students would be bussed to Camas Prairie one day a week for in-person learning focused on enrichment and critical thinking.

This year, the program has adapted. Challenge is now exclusively remote and occurs in the afternoon…


Remote or in-person, school counselors continue helping students

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Malissa Wiggins

Our lives have changed significantly since COVID-19 began its cruel sweep across the globe nearly a year ago.

The pandemic has changed the way we work, travel and interact with loved ones, and it has also changed the way we educate our students.

What hasn’t changed is the need to help our students navigate their way through high school and be ready to successfully enter college, trade school, the armed services, or the work force.

That’s where counselors like Bethel High School’s Malissa Wiggins come into the picture. …


Educators get new “panoramic” view of students

“Now more than ever, in our remote learning setting, we want to find out how students are doing so we can support them,” said Chad Honig, Executive Director of Secondary Schools.

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OSPI’s District Planning Guide requires that all districts implement a universal screening tool that includes social emotional learning.

Assessing a student’s academic success is one thing. But assessing their social-emotional wellbeing, especially in the current remote learning environment, requires more than just a “gut feeling” by educators.

Panorama is a new screening tool that the district is using to collect and assess that social emotional data. It allows educators to “see” each individual student through student surveys that are taken throughout the year.

Building-based teams can then…


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As we head into 2021, it’s a good time to reflect on all the progress we’ve made on our bond projects this year. The largest project was the new Katherine G. Johnson Elementary, which broke ground in June on Waller Road between Military and 176th.

In July the school was officially named in honor of the extraordinary American mathematician who calculated and analyzed the flight paths of spacecraft during her more than three decades with the U.S. space program.

As summer turned to fall, our construction teams continued to make progress on the school, transforming a raw piece of land…


Co-teaching fosters inclusion and equity at middle school

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Ebony Morrison and Dana Thomas are co-teachers at Bethel Middle School

Principal Julie Shultz-Bartlett was looking for new ways to better serve her students with special needs. “The status quo had to change, because we were not closing achievement gaps for kids,” she said.

In 2016, the special education classes at Bethel Middle School were completely separated from the general education classes. So a special education student who was on the football team wouldn’t see their teammates all day, even though they went to the same school.

“It was very isolating for them,” said Shultz-Bartlett.

So she wondered, what if two teachers, with complimentary skills, could team up to share a…


Math teacher talks social emotional learning … and wrestling

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Sorys Enerolisa Cepeda-Carvalho teaches 7th and 8th grade math at Spanaway Middle School. She’s also the head wrestling coach. To say her job has changed drastically this year is an understatement, but her commitment to students hasn’t wavered, especially when it comes to their social-emotional needs.

“Even though I provide the opportunity for social interaction, it’s still different,” she said. “I’m very personal, outgoing, friendly — doing that online is difficult.”

But difficult isn’t a dealbreaker, and Cepeda-Carvalho works hard to make connections where she can. “I watch anime, they watch anime. I have pets, they have pets,” she said.

Bethel Schools

Helping kids learn is the driving force behind all we do in the Bethel School District.

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