Message from Superintendent Shay Mikalson

Resources for Families Available Now

Article Date: Dec 22, 2018

Letter from Superintendent Shay Mikalson:

December 22, 2018

Bend-La Pine Schools’ Families,

As we enter our first day of winter break, I wanted to thank you all for an incredible start to the 2018-19 school year. We have had a lot to celebrate!

We should all be proud of our accomplishments ‑ from bringing home a national championship in girls’ cross country to reaching a historically high graduation rate, narrowing the achievement gap in math and English language arts, even improving elementary math readiness scores by almost 6 percent in one year alone. I have also been overjoyed to see so many acts of giving taking place in our schools: young singers visiting memory care facilities, students serving meals to those in need, and students and staff collecting funds and goods for victims of disasters.

Together we are teaching our students to be kind and compassionate, while also providing them with rigorous academic opportunities.

While there is much to celebrate, I recognize that the holiday season can be a stressful time for some children and families. Breaks from school mean changes to routines and extra demands on time. I believe we should ensure that our students are aware of the multiple avenues available to them to share information that concerns them, 24-hours a day.

One year ago, today, we launched First Step, a suite of tip and talk resources available on every student’s iPad in grades 6-12. We hoped to encourage students to reach out when they needed help or wanted to connect with staff, law enforcement or resources.

With one year under our belt, I can tell you that the tool has been a resounding success. FirstStep has been embraced by our students.

FirstStep has received more than 14,000 visits and has resulted in DOZENS of tips, and we respond to each and every one.

Inside First Step students can find resources like, “3 Ways to Help a Friend,” “Getting Through Today,” contacts for free counseling and two featured resources: SafeOregon and YouthLine.

SafeOregon allows students and families to report information that involves students, the safety of their fellow students or their school 24-hours a day. With SafeOregon, students can report anything from vandalism to theft to cyberbullying via text or phone, email, or online.

YouthLine is a free and confidential teen-to-teen help line. Students are encouraged to contact YouthLine via phone, text, chat, and email to talk about anything that may be bothering them. Teens are available to help daily from 4-10 p.m. Pacific Time (adults are available by phone at all other times).

First Step is made possible thanks to the Bend Police Department, Lines for Life, SafeOregon and many other incredible community partners. I am very grateful for their continued support of our shared commitment to the well-being of all of our students and staff.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to sit down and take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the First Step tools and to talk to your children about them.

I’d also like to ask that you and your child(ren) take a look at the many other community resources available by stopping by Student Mental Health webpage. Here, you will also find the hours that our School Based Health Clinics in Bend and La Pine will be open during the break, among many other resources.

Looking ahead, I hope our families will join us at two upcoming events that are aimed at strengthening our local communities and building resilience in our youth.

Hope, Help & Heal: Bend-La Pine Schools has partnered with Safe Schools Alliance, local law enforcement and health services agencies to host a series of events aimed at helping parents, community members and students learn more about youth suicide prevention, intervention and post-intervention during two Hope, Help & Heal events in 2019. Parents and students will leave these Hope, Help & Heal events feeling empowered to talk about suicide and depression in productive and meaningful ways and having the resources they need to find help when needed.

March 12
La Pine High School
5 p.m. ‑ Free dinner
6 p.m. ‑ Program starts
Free childcare available

April 23
Mountain View High School
5 p.m. ‑ Free dinner
6 p.m. ‑ Program starts
Free childcare available

We believe that these efforts will add to our systems of support, provide parents with education and resources, and instill in our students a high value for others, respect for differences and the ability to bring positive change to our world.

We encourage our families and community members to partner with us in utilizing the above tools, listening to our children, and being present for them when they find themselves in challenging situations. We are committed to continuing to improve our systems of support, which includes bullying prevention, training for our staff and working with our students to create a culture of inclusiveness where all students feel welcome and thrive.

I wish you all a happy, healthy winter break and wonderful start to 2019. I will see you all back in school on January 7, 2019.


Shay Mikalson, Superintendent
Bend-La Pine Schools