Photo: Congratulations, 2014 Grads!

Once again it’s graduation season, and once again we say goodbye to our seniors. This year’s graduating class is a remarkable group that includes four National Merit Scholars, two Washington Scholars, one Scholar Alternate, and 40 students who will simultaneously earn both high school diplomas and associate degrees. The seniors also earned an impressive $19 million in scholarships.

Photo: Portrait of  Jose Scott Among the more than 1,300 graduates are many talented, hardworking students. Today I want to tell you about one of them: a young man named Jose Scott. Jose has been a force for good at Fort Vancouver High School. During his four years there, he’s spoken out against bullying and made it his mission to help his peers, particularly minority students and the homeless. He is humble, organized, and passionate about service. We can learn a lot from Jose about how to treat and inspire one another.

But life hasn’t always been easy for him. Two years ago his mother passed away, leaving behind a husband and four children. Jose was only 16 at the time.

He will tell you that his participation in AVID helped him stay focused on his future. Thanks in large part to AVID and the support it provided, he applied and was accepted to five colleges. He also received the prestigious General George C. Marshall Youth Leadership Award. His success is testament to the power of hard work and community. Congratulations to him and the entire Vancouver Public Schools class of 2014.

As Jose and our seniors close out the high school chapter of their lives and begin new ones, we too are closing out what has been an exciting, challenging, rewarding year, in which we saw the following:

  • All 21 elementary schools offered free full-day kindergarten.
  • Kindergarten Jump Start was selected to receive a national Magna Award.
  • Lewis and Clark High School adopted a blended learning model.
  • Vancouver Public Schools’ digital transformation earned a national award.
  • We launched a mobile app for parents, students, and staff members.
  • New Family-Community Resource Centers debuted at Hudson’s Bay and Fort Vancouver high schools. This initiative was named a national finalist by the Data Quality Campaign for its results focus and outcomes.
  • Fort received a $50,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote attendance.
  • The district’s environment-friendly practices earned us one of nine U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Awards.
  • Five schools earned Washington Achievement Awards.

This year we also undertook the significant task of refreshing Design II and extending our vision to the year 2020. Stakeholders from our community, student body, parents, and staff members spent months developing and refining goals. With the board’s adoption of the plan on June 10, Design II, Chapter 2 has begun.

I hope you’ll take some time to read it. Like its predecessor, Chapter 2 is ambitious. But I’m confident that together we can reach our goals.

It’s been a terrific year in Vancouver Public Schools. Thank you for making our district a great place to work and learn.

Have a wonderful summer. You’ve earned it.

Take care,


Image: Steve signature