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Superintendent Rundle February Recognitions and Student Celebrations Message

Superintendent Rundle February Recognitions and Student Celebrations Message
Fred Rundle

Dear Mercer Island Community,

January was a bit of a rough month, especially for Seahawks fans. The storied tenure of Pete Carroll came to a somewhat surprising end. As a Broncos fan, I have enough concerns for my own team to really opine much on the topic. However, whether you are a professional football fan or not, he made an incredible impact on Seattle and throughout the region. Stay with me, I will bring this back to Mercer Island.

Back in August when opening the school year with our staff, I quoted something Pete Carroll said in an interview a few years ago that has stuck with me. Just as training camp started, weeks before the first regular season game, a reporter asked him, “What are you working on with the team? What are the most important things you as coaches focus on in training camp?” Most would agree they expected to hear something about working on technique, conditioning, or teaching the playbook. Coach Carroll responded quite differently than expected. He answered the question in this way, “We need to learn the learners. Right now we are just focusing on gaining insights about the players as people and football players. Before we can put them in the best place to succeed and learn our systems, we need to learn who they are.” Learn the learners. This has been a focus of ours this school year.

We aspire to create learning environments in all six schools and in each classroom founded on a deep sense of belonging. Stated more completely by our new friends Floyd Cobb and John Krownapple, “We believe that educators must focus on shaping inclusive environments intentionally designed to foster a sense of belonging by honoring the dignity of each and every person.” And when I imagine who each and every person is, I think of our students, staff, parents, invited guests, and community members. 

If we can keep our focus on learning our learners as people and students, I contend that the academic potential of our scholars is unlimited. Students who belong are filled with self-efficacy, willing to take risks, and capable of critical expression and thinking. Developing and facilitating spaces of belonging in the complex 2024 political and cultural context is more challenging than ever, but our schools and community are more than capable of such achievements.      

Speaking of achievements, the closing of 2023 and beginning of 2024 already produced some fantastic accolades for our students.

  • IMS eighth grader Abigail Nissim won a Runner-Up Award in the New York Times Tiny Memoir Contest for her memoir Stuck, which is about the moment she found out about the October 7, 2023 attack on Israel.
  • The IMS Mathcounts team took second place in the Mathcounts Seattle Chapter competition this past Saturday and has advanced to the State Mathcounts Championship in March. 
  • The MIHS Drama production of Little Women debuted last weekend and has shows this coming weekend. It’s a great production and performance from all involved.  
  • Congratulations to Dan Sundholm, class of 2023 on joining the Classical KING FM team. Dan got his start at our very own KMIH 88.9 The Bridge.
  • Seven MIHS Band students were category winners at the Eastshore Solo and Ensemble festival on January 27 and will now be heading to the State Contest in April. 
  • 92 MIHS DECA students have qualified for the State Championship competition which takes place in March. 
  • The MISD PTA Council announced 21 first place winners, 19 second place finishers, and 16 third place winners in the annual Reflections Arts Program. The Program highlights artistic creations of MISD students from preschool to twelfth grade. 
  • The MIHS CyberSecurity Club came in first place in Washington, and 93rd in the country, in December in the CyberPatriot competition, the most well-known team based defending competition. The two teams on the Club will now compete in the Semifinals of the CyberPatriot against students from other states and countries for a shot to go to Nationals in Washington DC.
  • I encourage our community to attend the All District Orchestra concert on Tuesday, February 13, at IMS from 6-8pm. It’s going to be a great evening of music. 

Celebrations and Announcement for February

  • Black History Month- Following the lead of the students, our district will honor the contributions past and present of black and African Americans in the development of our country. For the second year, the MIHS Black Student Union will host a celebratory dinner this Wednesday, February 7 from 6:00 to 9:00 at the high school. And throughout the month, classrooms will infuse the curriculum with opportunities to celebrate the accomplishments of ordinary and well known black and African Americans.
     
  • Lunar New Year- Come celebrate the Lunar New Year on Sunday, February 11 from 10am to 2:30pm at the Mercer Island Community and Events Center. Lunar New Year is a 15-day celebration, beginning this year on February 10. Lunar New Year is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. The celebration at the Community Center is being co-hosted by the City of Mercer Island and the Mercer Island Chinese Association.
     
  • Ash Wednesday- February 14 marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period, excluding Sundays, in which Christians worldwide observe a period of reflection, prayer and penance. On this day, Catholics and some other Christian denominations will receive ashes in the shape of a cross on their forehead or sprinkled on top of their head, to symbolizes penance and a reminder of one's own mortality.
     
  • President’s Day- Our traditional mid-winter break will begin on President’s day, February 19. President's Day, observed on the third Monday of February, is a federal holiday in the United States. Originally dedicated to honoring George Washington, it now pays tribute to all U.S. presidents. The holiday offers a chance for reflection on presidential leadership, achievements, and contributions throughout history.
     
  • Rare Disease Day- Rare Disease Day, observed on the last day of February, the 29th this year, is a global initiative dedicated to raising awareness about rare diseases and the challenges faced by those affected. By shedding light on these less common illnesses, we contribute to a more inclusive and informed community that supports those navigating the complexities of rare diseases. 

Attending a birthday party over the weekend in West Seattle, I took careful notice of daylight clinging to the sky well after 5:00 in the evening. We are coming back into the light and putting those longer days of darkness behind us! The school year just reached its midpoint, 90th day, meaning we not only have more daylight coming our way but also ample time in the school year to learn the learners. 

Sincerely, 

Fred

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