September Message From Superintendent Rundle On Enrollment, Student Highlights, Recognitions, and Observances
Dear Mercer Island Community,
Our schools, students, and staff started the year strong and confirm we are poised for an exceptional year. Though my last communication just came out a couple of weeks ago, I committed to providing mid-September updates, highlights, and recognitions. I would never pass on the opportunity to brag about our school district!
- Long Range Facility Planning - We will host three community engagement events the second week of October. These meetings will provide more information about possible future construction projects and analysis of school consolidation. Community members will be invited to participate in surveys.
- New Family Welcome Event - Our annual New Family Welcome Event takes place on Thursday, October 5 from 6-7:30pm in the IMS Commons. Mercer Island groups and organizations that support our families and community will have tables at the Welcome to provide literature and materials that could be of interest to our new families. Our whole MISD Administration is looking forward to meeting all the new families in our district.
- Enrollment - Even with a 191 student drop between new kindergarteners (Fall 2023) and seniors who graduated (Spring 2023), we are only down 51 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) students compared to last year.
- I have been concerned with the percent of students leaving our school district in recent years. During the two years most impacted by COVID, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, over 7% of our students left MISD each year. To put this in perspective, in 2018-2019 4.5% of our students left the district. I am pleased to share that this number fell to 3.2% between last spring and this fall. Please note, these figures only capture the % of students who left the district and do not account for the students who move in or return. New student enrollment always helps to offset or overcome student attrition.
- National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists - 12 MIHS seniors were named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists on Wednesday. We will learn in February if they are named Finalists. We are very proud of their accomplishments, but we are also proud of the daily accomplishments of all our students.
- My Mercer Island published a nice story about five MIHS students to watch in the coming year.
- We are excited to celebrate MISD staff this school year with a fun weekly social media campaign where staff members will share a wholesome joke that will make our community smile. Our staff has such a positive impact on student success that we want them to know they are valued, appreciated, and an important member of our community. We posted our first staff recognition on Wednesday on our platforms.
We will be honoring and recognizing members of our schools as well as the cultural and religious traditions that embody our community. If you have not had a chance, please take a look at our 2023-2024 Cultural Calendar. This visual tool will help us plan events and make accommodations to our learning environments so our students, staff, and parents can fully participate in personal as well as school-related experiences.
- Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur- I want to extend my warmest wishes to our Jewish students, families, and staff as we approach the celebrations of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
- Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a time for reflection, renewal, and coming together with loved ones. It is a moment to pause, take stock of the past year, and set intentions for the year ahead. This celebration not only holds deep spiritual significance but also emphasizes the values of unity, forgiveness, and hope. Rosh Hashanah will be observed from sundown today until sundown on September 17.
- Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, follows Rosh Hashanah and is a solemn occasion for introspection, prayer, and repentance. It is a day when many in the Jewish community come together to seek forgiveness and make amends with others. Yom Kippur places an emphasis on the importance of self-reflection, forgiveness, and striving for a better future. Yom Kippur will be observed from sunset on September 24 until after nightfall on the 25th.
- Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month begins today and commemorates the anniversaries of independence for several Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence on September 16th and September 18th, respectively. It is a time to honor the histories, cultures, and contributions of people with Hispanic and Latino heritage, whose roots span across many countries and regions from September 15 to October 15.
I look forward to sharing more from the Mercer Island School District throughout the year.
In honor of Inclusive Schools Week, WASA is partnering with the Mercer Island School District to present a showing of the film This is Not About Me followed by a forum with the film’s star Jordyn Zimmerman and Mercer Island High School graduate, Grant Blasko.
Humankind. Last November, I attended a conference with our student representatives to the school board, Director Lurie, and Director Tucker. Guest speaker, Dr. Adolph Brown, delivered one of those keynotes that leaves you reflecting, wondering, and thinking well beyond the ride or flight back home.
This past week, the Mercer Island School District held three community engagement sessions to present proposals and ideas from the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee. While nothing has been decided, the presentations and feedback from the community will help the District complete the final Long Range Facility Plan (LRFP).
If you have not already, you might hear about threats from Hamas calling for violent acts to be brought against Jewish people globally on October 13, tomorrow.
Our hearts are with our students, staff, and families impacted by the horrific events in Israel and Gaza that began over the weekend.