The Pendleton School District assures that no person shall on the grounds of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability or income as provided by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related authorities, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any Pendleton School District sponsored program or activity.
Parent/Teacher conferences will be held on November 20 & 21, 2023. Please contact your student’s school if you have questions.
Monday, Nov 20: 4 – 8 pm
Tuesday, Nov 21: 7:30 am – 7:00 pm
Monday, Nov 20: 4 – 8 pm
Tuesday, Nov 21: 7:30 am – 1 pm, 2 – 7 pm
Monday, Nov 20: 4 – 8 pm (commons)
Tuesday, Nov 21: 7:30 am – 1 pm (virtual), 2 – 4 pm (virtual), 4 – 7 pm (commons)
Pendleton School District’s Outdoor School (ODS) program recently encountered a big change. This is the last year that sixth graders from Sunridge Middle School will attend ODS. For several weeks last month (October), this year’s sixth graders attended the program. While ODS is usually run in the spring, the middle school had sixth graders attend this fall, as all fifth graders in the district will be attending in Spring 2024.
The district transition from having all fifth graders attend this traditional program instead of sixth graders was done for various reasons. The spring schedule conflicted with the testing schedule for sixth graders at SMS; also, many substitute teachers were needed for long periods of time.
The same curriculum and model, where students rotate to different stations around the outdoor camp, will be used for the fifth-grade Outdoor School program.
“Our sixth graders had a great time this fall at Outdoor School. We are excited to continue the program since it is a longstanding tradition for PSD, and we know our fifth graders will really enjoy the experience,” said John Summerfield, SMS Social Studies Teacher and ODS Coordinator.
Pendleton School District’s Outdoor School has been running for 52 years. It is held at the U.S. Forest Service’s Buck Creek Cabins/Corporation facility on the Umatilla National Forest, on the banks of the Umatilla River. Students are bused to the site every day and spend the day in field studies to learn about natural habitats and outdoor skills. The field studies are taught by federal, state, and local natural resource employees and volunteers from the region.
The Pendleton School District is happy to feature new PSD teachers.
In addition to robust academics, this year, Sunridge Middle School students are also learning how to connect with classmates, build social-emotional skills, and more.
A revision from last year’s calendar is the addition of a designated Advisory period of 32 minutes, which is the third period five days a week. This change means one less period for students, but Piper Kelm, SMS Principal, said Advisory is being utilized for growth. At the start of the period, all students watch a recorded video of school announcements. The announcements (video link and written) are emailed every day to 900 parents of SMS students. “This is one way we are trying to connect parents to our building and a way for them to ask their child about specific ways to be involved in school,” Kelm said.
Monday during Advisory is used for Grade Checks and follow-up with students who need extra academic support. Tuesday and Wednesday are for Character Strong, a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)/Character Education curriculum taught by every Advisory teacher. The goal is to help students develop self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, and more to become healthy and kind individuals.
On Thursdays and Fridays during Advisory, teachers provide lessons created by the SMS counselors. Topics may include digital citizenship (the ability to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly), suicide prevention, career education, and more.
Principal Kelm said since the pandemic, there are many students who struggle with dysregulated behaviors, the inability to control or regulate one’s emotional responses. She said having designated time during the week to provide lessons and skills about getting along with others, making connections, and addressing lagging skills in social-emotional learning is crucial to creating a successful learning environment.
Other supports in the building include DESSA screening for social-emotional wellness and small groups led by counselors for students and employees from Community Counseling Solutions in the building.
“We have students for only a little bit of time, and they are at a tender age with some vulnerability. Being socially-emotionally healthy helps kids feel safe, which means they can learn more effectively and make greater academic gains,” Kelm said.
She encourages parents to know who their child’s counselor at school is, reach out about concerns, and to always feel welcome to communicate with SMS staff.
First Student, LLC., the transportation company Pendleton School District contracts with to bus students, is increasing its focus on safety with a Safety Stand-Down Week from October 25-31. This is a special event in which company leaders pause to talk directly to employees about safety and provide education and training on specific safety topics.
According to materials from First Student, the company is having the event because “we have a responsibility to learn from recent safety incidents and ensure they do not happen again by reinforcing fundamental safety principles.”
Stand-Down Week will focus on three key areas: Manage Distractions, Focus on the Task at Hand, and Apply Your Training. Some of the safety practices being re-emphasized for bus drivers are:
- Perform one task at a time
- Maintain situational awareness
- Stop and restart if you miss a step
- If you are late, stay late
- Properly adjust your seat & mirrors
- Look left, look right, look left
According to Patrick Phillips, Location Manager for First Student, the Pendleton location employees will be able to sign Safety Pledges, watch reminder videos, and get daily reminder posts during the event. First Student will also be running special safety radio messages. “The Safety Stand-Down is an opportunity for our company to reiterate to employees to get back to the basics of safety,” Phillips said.
Matt Yoshioka, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment at Pendleton School District, said the district is pleased that First Student has organized Stand-Down Week to re-focus on safety. “Student safety while being transported to and from school is a top priority for First Student and our district, just as keeping students safe at school is,” Yoshioka said.
The Pendleton School District is happy to feature new PSD teachers.
Sunridge Middle School eighth graders got to enjoy some agricultural learning in the sunshine on Wednesday, October 18, 2023. Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC) brought its Mobile Precision Agriculture Laboratory to the school for some hands-on learning.
First, the class of science students broke up into small groups, made a grid sketch of an open field, and then took the temperature of the soil in each quadrant. After they reported their findings, Drew Leggett, BMCC Precision Agriculture Instructor, discussed with the students how soil temperature can be used by farmers for growing crops.
Thor, SMS eighth grader, said, “It was interesting how the temperature changed throughout the field; you would think the sun would heat it up the same.”
Leggett then went to the mobile trailer and brought out the hit of the show — a large, brightly colored orange drone. He explained this specific drone costs about $50,000 and can fly over 250 acres on one charge of its battery. Leggett explained farmers and ranchers can use drones to fly over their property and gather detailed information about sunlight exposure, water, crop growth, and more.
Eighth grader Hayden said the drone was pretty awesome to see and looked really cool flying through the sky.
What does Leggett want these eighth graders to take away from today’s experience? “I want students to know what precision agriculture is and how it works. I also tell them that it’s a career opportunity throughout the nation, there is a huge shortage of precision ag technicians, and you need only a two-year degree to get into the field.”
This BMCC mobile lab was new in 2022. Annie Claus, Career Connected Learning Systems Navigator at BMCC, said one of the uses of the mobile lab is to connect Career Technical Education (CTE) and Career Connected Learning (CCL) opportunities to students in fifth and eighth grades and high school.
Eighth grader Hayden summed up the morning pretty well, “There’s a lot of stuff to do in science.”
Start of the 2023-24 School Year
Sunridge Middle School students and their parents were invited to the school’s Open House on Wednesday, September 20, 2023. In addition to serving Hill Meat hot dogs, chips, and Coca-Cola to families, school administrators hoped the event was a good photo opportunity and a chance for staff to interact with students and families.
It was the first SMS Open House for new Vice Principal Caleb Patterson. He said the school year has started out well and has been a lot of fun. “I hope tonight is a good chance for our students, especially the sixth graders, to show their parents around, for parents to put faces to teachers’ names, and for us to continue building that community feel,” Patterson said.
New teacher Noah Eckstine said his first weeks of teaching science have been great so far, with lots of support from SMS staff. At Open House, he said he hopes parents see him as a stand-up guy, know their kids are being supported and appreciated every day, and that teachers like the students as people.
Seventh grader Emilio Hernandez was showing his mom, Natasha Makin, around the school, taking her to each of his classes in the order he attends them every day. Makin said Emilio has three minutes to get from one end of the building to the other between two classes, so he showed her how he power walks to get there. Makin was happy about the Open House event, saying, “It’s a cool opportunity to meet his teachers in a fun way and not necessarily like at conferences when you might get more negative information.”
SMS Principal Piper Kelm said Open House is always an exciting night for the school. “I am always really happy when we can have our community in the building, put food in their bellies, and have them get a chance to meet our amazing teachers here at Sunridge.”