Superintendent’s Corner: Change, Growth and Optimism for New School Year


By Brian Wharton


It seems like just yesterday that we handed out diplomas to the graduating class of 2021, and now we are on the verge of launching our 2021-22 school year. So much has happened in our district since last June, but all the change and growth gives me great optimism for the coming school year.

The most obvious change is that the new Yelm Middle School is ready to open.  Administrative staff and custodians moved in last week and the rest of the staff will move in Aug. 16. Correspondingly, the Southworth team has moved into the old middle school building for the upcoming year while the new elementary building is constructed. As you drive by the Southworth campus, the old building has been removed except for the gym which will serve as storage temporarily. The new building will go vertical at the end of August and be ready to open for the 2022-23 school year. In early October, we will begin to offer open house opportunities for the community to visit the new middle school. 

In addition to the new construction, HVAC replacements at Mill Pond, Prairie and Fort Stevens are nearly complete. Safety upgrades at Lackamas and McKenna are coming along well and will be completed later in the fall. Completion of the safety upgrades will not impact the opening of school in those two buildings. We completed an extensive repair to the gymnasium roof at the high school and upgraded the sound system in the performing arts center as well. 

The community will soon be able to enjoy using our upgraded facilities at RMS and YHS. The new field and track at RMS will open Aug. 16, and the baseball and fastpitch fields will be completed by the end of October. We know our students will enjoy competing in athletics on these facilities, but they also give us the opportunity to rent out the fields to our community year round. As a district we are proud of the facilities where our students learn, but equally proud to partner with the community who made the facilities possible.

Lastly, we have great optimism for the start of the new school year. Our summer programs for learning support and recovery were very successful and will continue right up to the start of the new year. Yes, some COVID-19 protective measures will be in place, but we will be open five full days per week on our regular schedules. In mid-August, our communications will begin for students and parents in preparation for a great year of learning. 


Brian Wharton is the superintendent for Yelm Community Schools.


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