New Horizon School

Dear NHS Families and Friends,


We have heard the following reports from parents regarding OTHER local schools and their approach to online learning during due to COVID-19:  “My child and I can barely keep up with the number of assignments posted for each class”, “My son is in direct face-to-face contact with his teacher for 30 minutes once a week…the structure is very inflexible…the schedule consists of many links to different websites that he is supposed to go to independently…”, “My children receive a daily email with 2 links to click on…there is no 1:1 provided”.


We know that NEW HORIZON SCHOOL is doing many things right during this period of continuous learning due to COVID-19.  This past week, a NHS parent shared the following with a teacher: “We’re so grateful for New Horizon and the effect it’s had on our son. Most importantly, we’re so grateful for you and how you have played such a MAJOR role in his growth and development. We couldn’t thank you enough. And I know our son thanks you even more!”  A NHS student shared the following in response to the question, if you could go back 3 years, what advice would you tell your younger self: “If I could travel back 3 years, I would tell myself that she would go through a couple obstacles but end up at an amazing school with very nice students and helpful staff.”  A NHS parent shared the following: “New Horizon clearly sets the bar when it comes to keeping the needs of our son first, always… Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, COVID happened, and it became immediately clear New Horizon was setting the bar once again…They’ve been very organized in developing and supporting online learning…He doesn’t seem to have missed a beat in his learning progress and his ability to complete work independently may have actually accelerated! While it’s difficult to say what the future holds for our son, we are certain New Horizon has already made an invaluable difference in our son’s life!”


Classroom Updates:

So many fantastic things are happening in our classes, and I feel so lucky to be able to visit!  Mr. Hines continues to work on stress management with his PE classes and values with his ASB class.  Ms. Hillman and Mr. Carter are working on interpretation of non-verbal communication with their 7th grade homerooms.  Ms. De Bruyn’s homeroom class is working on their career projects.  Mrs. Beavers had 100% attendance in her classes, and students are adjusting well.  Mrs. Hellum reported that she had 100% student participation in her classes.  Mrs. Nordlander’s class is working on flexible thinking, writing captions for cartoons, and making sure all planners are signed.  Mr. Nordlander is working hard on the recording of our Spring Performance.  Ms. Schaefer is happy that she will have a 100% return rate for her THRIVE Transition Extension students next year.


Summer School:

We hope that you will consider enrolling your student in our Summer School 2020 program: “Celebrating Community”.  We don’t know yet if we will be able to hold classes on campus, if we will be required to provide our program online, or if our program will be some combination of both.  In any case, we strongly recommend summer school.  Historically, our students tend to regress during the summer academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally.  They do best in the fall when they have attended summer school.  The teachers and I see this in our anecdotal records as well as in testing data.  Please help your child be better prepared for a good start to the school year with less regression and less time to recoup lost skills by enrolling him/her in summer school. Summer school will help your student be ready for the next level.  See Summer School Enrollment Form.


Although we know that students, parents, and faculty/staff are working hard to provide ongoing learning while the NHS school campus is closed, we also know that this is very difficult for everyone.  We know that many students are tired of being online and want to be back in school.  We also know that some students are feeling isolated at home and missing their friends and their teachers.  We’re aware that some students have a hard time asking for help in the online learning environment when they need it.  Some are uncomfortable seeing themselves in the video or speaking in Zoom classes.  While we work individually with each of these students who are struggling, and/or with their parents, we acknowledge that online learning is not easy for anyone.  We hope that fun activities like our upcoming Spring Performance on Zoom and Mr. Nordlander’s Minecraft activity help lighten things a bit!  See Minecraft flyer.  We also hope that continuing services with our school counselor, SLPs, and OTs is also supportive.


We continue to monitor all of the news around the pandemic as well as all of the guidelines and recommendations from King County Public Health, the Washington State Department of Health, and the CDC.  Most counties in Washington remain in Phase 1 of Governor Inslee’s 4-phase plan for re-opening the state.  Last week’s guidelines from King County require that all residents wear a facemask or face covering when out in public.  Last week’s CDC guidelines for schools require that before any school can re-open, it must:


  • Protect children and staff from severe illness
  • Screen all students and staff for symptoms or history of exposure
  • Promote healthy hygiene practices (facemasks, handwashing, hand sanitizer)
  • Intensify cleaning and disinfecting
  • Encourage social distancing


See CDC’s guidelines for schools.  If local authorities allow it, and if a school can meet these guidelines, it will be allowed to re-open.  We don’t know when this might happen, but we are working hard to build contingency plans to allow us to re-open whenever we are able.  We are currently planning to purchase facemasks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant spray/wipes, all of which are still difficult to find.  We are also re-imagining what school might be like when we can re-open.  We believe that when we re-open, it won’t be the traditional, on-site, face-to-face school that we’re used to.  We are considering the possibility of split or rotating schedules, a phased in re-opening, a continually improving model of online learning, or a blend of some or all models, in order to meet the social distancing requirements.


We realize that this reinvention of our educational program will be different, regardless of the model we choose.  Rest assured that the teachers and I will always have your student’s best interests at the top of our priority list:  physical, social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health; academic and social/emotional learning; building and maintaining relationships; equity in learning; accessibility to learning; and being a school where students come first.


Zoom Link for Spring Performance, May 20th, 7 PM:

Be sure to join us for our Spring Performance of “Minimal Contact” this Wednesday evening, May 20th, at 7 PM.  We will open the Zoom meeting at 6:30 PM.  The performing and visual arts students and their teachers have worked hard to put this together and record it for you, and it will be aired live on Zoom.  Below is the link, meeting ID, and password so that you can share it with your extended family and friends.







Here are some fun activities you and your student may wish to do together at home:






Marla Veliz


May 18th, 2020

Posted In: School News

As we complete our 9th week of online learning, it’s important to know that students are doing well, continuing their educational progress, and interacting regularly with their classmates and teachers.  We hope that they see themselves as learners every day!

In Washington State, we continue to see positive signs in terms of increasing our capacity to test for COVID-19, trace cases and contacts, and reduce risk to vulnerable people in our communities.  Due to constraints on testing as well as the procurement and distribution of personal protection equipment, we are still not seeing a decrease in the spread of the virus.  However, a large number of workers have been hired and trained to do case and contact tracing, which should help us reach the goal of decreasing the number of infections and deaths over time.  COVID-19 is spreading more slowly in our state than it was before, but it is still spreading, so please continue to stay home and avoid contact with the public.  The CDC has repeatedly stated that as a country we are still in a precarious position with regard to COVID-19, and has also broadened the description of the disease to include a wider range of symptoms than was previously known.

For our part, we continue to provide continuous learning for our students while our buildings are closed.  We know how challenging life has been these past 2 months for teachers, so we know that it has been challenging for you as parents too!  Our normal routines are disrupted, we have feelings of uncertainty, and we are all in close quarters with the same people every day.  We encourage you to work together with your family to take care of emotional health.  In addition to having a consistent routine for sleeping, eating, exercising, and working, we encourage you to have a consistent routine for social emotional care as well.
Risk Assessment May 6th.png
You and your family may benefit from a “calm down” basket or space, prepared with items or activities that support relaxation. What do you find relaxing?  Many people enjoy deep breathing, walking, cooking, doing puzzles, reading, working out, drawing, doodling, or playing with a pet to be relaxing.  Try making silly faces with your family members!  Try practicing deep breathing techniques with your student!  At school, we use the expandable breathing ball, available on Amazon, to practice breathing:   Expandable Breathing Ball.  We also use concepts from the 5-Point Incredible Scale, a paperback book by Kari Dunn Buron & Mitzi Curtis, also available at Amazon, to help students learn to identify their emotions: The Incredible 5 Point Scale.  We teach our students to figure out the size of the problem, match the size of their reaction to the size of the problem, observe others to see how they’re reacting, use flexible thinking, and use self-calming strategies.  We believe that social emotional learning is just as important as academic learning.

As stated in my most recent letter, the Spring Performance will go on!  Visual and performing arts teachers and students are busy recording various parts of the performance, which will be edited together to be broadcast via Zoom on Wednesday, May 20th, at 7 PM.  We will send you a Zoom link so that you and your family and friends can join us!

Mr. Nordlander is facilitating a Minecraft Activity on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6 PM.  Please see attached flyer if your student would like to join!
Minecraft Guidelines.docx
Minecraft Activity.pdf
Friday, May 22nd, and Monday, May 25th, are “no school” days.  Progress reports were emailed to you last Thursday.  Please check your student’s grades and contact the teacher if you have any questions.  Next progress reports will be distributed on May 27th.

Our Senior Graduation Ceremony will be postponed until a future date when we can gather together with our seniors and their families to celebrate, possibly in August.  June 9th will be the last day of school for seniors who are in good standing with regard to grades and attendance.  June 16th will be the last day of school for all other students.

Remember, Summer School 2020 begins on July 6th and runs through July 31st.  The theme is “Celebrate Community”, and we will teach math, reading, writing, and social skills through the theme.  Ms. Schaefer, Mrs. Hellum, Mrs. Nordlander, Ms. Hillman, and Mrs. Beavers are teaching.  We are uncertain at this time whether we will be online, a blend of online and on campus, or on campus.  School hours will be determined based on this decision.  As we learn more, I will let you know.  The cost is $429 with an additional $75 fee for students applying for .5 credit.  Please see the flyer and enrollment form attached to this email.  You can register by mailing the form and your check to the school’s address, going to our website to register and paying through PayPal by clicking here: Summer School Reigistration , or by emailing Vikki Colson at to make arrangements.
Summer School Registration.pdf
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Have a great week!



Marla Veliz

May 14th, 2020

Posted In: School News

Dear NHS Families,

Welcome a new student and his family to our school community.  Joey Hunter enrolled last week in Mr. Robnett’s 9th grade class!  We hope you are happy at NHS, Joey!

Please plan to attend our Annual Meeting on May 28th at 5:30 pm.  Our Board of Directors will meet to share updates about the school, and parents will have an opportunity to nominate and elect individuals to serve on the board.  Please see the attached Annual Meeting notice and four other documents explaining how to nominate and vote.  Come and see your Board in action!
NHS Annual Meeting Upcoming.pdf
NHS Board Nomination Form.pdf
NHS Board Openings.pdf ​​​​​​​
NHS Vote by Proxy Form.pdf ​​​​​​​
NHS Voting Procedures.pdf ​​​​​​​
NHS Board Job Description.pdf ​​​​​​​

NHS’s Summer School registration forms are now available.  Please find a copy attached to this email.  We will teach math, reading, writing, and teambuilding through the theme of “Celebrating Community.  The dates are July 6th – July 31st, and tuition is $429.  If your student would like to earn .5 (1 semester) credit toward graduation, please be sure to check the box for credit, and pay an additional $75.  You may mail your registration form and payment to the school, contact Judy Colson with credit card information, or enroll and make a secure online payment on our website.  At this time, we are uncertain as to whether Summer School will take place on campus or online, and we will update you as soon as we know.  We encourage you to consider Summer School to help your student maintain previously learned skills as well as learn new skills, have a routine and structured activities for the summer, and stay connected socially.
Summer School Registration.pdf ​​​​​​​
To further our goal of building school community, and to meet the parent request for more social activities, Mr. Nordlander has graciously offered to host an evening online Minecraft group for NHS students!  This activity exists to help students to build better social connections, have fun, and maintain a sense of belonging at NHS.  Thank you Mr. Nordlander!

I visited many NHS Zoom classes this past week.  Our students are doing well.  Many are engaged in research, and many are being productive and getting tasks done around their houses.  Overall, attendance is very good.  Most students are checking in to each class daily, answering discussion posts, completing assignments and activities, attending Zoom classes, and dropping in for 1:1 help during teacher office hours.  During my visits, Mr. Hines’ PE class was focusing on emotional health, Mrs. Beavers’ Biology class was engaged in using technology seamlessly integrated with instruction, Ms. De Bruyn’s homeroom class gave updates on their upcoming career projects, Mrs. Hellum’s math class had fun practicing math facts by playing a card game together, Ms. Hillman’s reading class had fun using great visuals to answer comprehension questions about a previously read text, and in Mrs. Nordlander’s writing class, students were engaged, sharing ideas, and generating stories using visual story prompts. Ms. Schaefer’s THRIVE:  Transition Extension students had a very adult conversation about personal finances, the difference between debit and credit, making secure online payments, and cybersafety.  One student expressed being unhappy about not being able to be on campus every day, saying “I know the place, and I love the teachers!”  While I’m sorry to hear that he’s unhappy, I’m also happy to hear how much NHS means to him.  In every class, the degree of personal attention and the amount and level of integration of technology into learning was impressive!

Some students are struggling a bit more with initiating tasks, attending Zoom classes, organizing their assignments, and/or turning in work.  Some students are tired during the school day.  We’ve been able to reach out to the parents of those students and collaborate to create intervention plans.  The teachers and I acknowledge that on-line learning is hard.  It’s essential for you and your student to stay engaged with us, so that your student can be successful in our program.

I was able to attend a webinar last week.  The topic was “Student Voices” during the pandemic.  7 international students were panelists and answered questions about how COVID-19 is affecting their lives and their education in their respective countries.  6 out of the 7 students know someone who has been impacted directly by COVID-19.  Many said that they have learned that they are not as organized, not as flexible, and not as self-directed as they previously thought. Several said they thought they had a better understanding of time, but have discovered that in their countries 24 hours means at least 16 hours of school work.  Several stated that they were previously “ungrateful” and didn’t appreciate their education before the pandemic.  Yet, they feel optimistic and believe they will be different and better people after the pandemic.  They now understand the need to plan for the future.  When asked if they had advice to give to their school leaders, students said they would ask their school leaders to consider how a pandemic would have affected them in their high school years.  They would ask them to consider their students’ health and safety first as they make a plan for next year.  They would ask their school leaders to take their time, think it through, and make sure they’re prepared for another emergency. Specifically, with regard to online learning, the panelists would advise their school leaders to keep listening to students, engaging students in learning, and building a sense of community.  They would ask their teachers to give less memory work and more interactive work, to stop expecting students to be in online classes 8 hours per day and reduce it to 3-4 hours per day, and to stop lecturing and provide more project based learning.  The students asked for more opportunities to experience new things, to take more ownership, and to engage in mindfulness activities in their online classes.  They want a chance to be more creative.  The overarching message from these young people was that stability in their lives and in their education has been thrown out with the pandemic, and it is now time to re-imagine school and how school will happen in the future.

In NHS’s online learning program, we know that being physically apart is very difficult on our students (and on us).  We listen to our families and consider all input provided as we adjust our online program each week.  We focus on active engagement, discussion, role plays, projects, games, simulations, and activities.  We’re also building our school community through fun activities, especially within the homeroom classes.  While this year’s Spring BBQ and Exhibit/Awards Night will be cancelled, we ARE planning to continue with Spring Performance.  All of the visual and performing arts classes have been working on various pieces of the performance:  dance team has been choreographing and rehearsing, music classes are practicing, and drama class is beginning to do some dress rehearsals.  Set design class is busy designing sets for the performance, some of which will be virtual backgrounds.  Each class will record its part in a Zoom meeting, all of the recordings will be edited and combined, and we will “reveal” our Spring Performance in a “live” broadcast on May 20th for the entire school community to enjoy together!  Reserve the date!  More details to follow!

Last Friday, Governor Inslee extended our “Stay home stay healthy” order through May 31st in the State of Washington.  He also introduced a 4 phase plan to re-open businesses and modify physical distancing measures.  We will be receiving more testing supplies shortly, which will increase our testing capacity.  Our health care system has capacity to care for people who may become ill.  We are increasing our ability to isolate and quarantine contacts.  The rate of transmission of the novel coronavirus is decreasing in our state.  Hopefully the extended order will continue to move Washington closer to a healthier tomorrow!  Governor Inslee also announced some modifications of the order that will allow people to be outdoors a bit more, as long as social distancing rules are followed.  Fishing, hunting, golfing, and visiting some state parks will now be allowed, but it would be best to check first to see what’s open.  The general rules remain the same:  avoid crowds, practice physical distancing, bring a face mask or a face covering, and wash your hands often.  Some farmer’s markets will be opening this week as well.  Five western states have joined together to coordinate plans to gradually re-open businesses jointly, to protect residents of those states.  Known as the Western States Pact, these states include:  Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and California.  Together we are stronger.
Phased Re-opening.pdf ​​​​​​​
According to data emerging across our nation, systemic inequities are playing out in a profound way with regard to COVID-19 mortality rates within racial and socioeconomic groups, which, in my opinion, means we have a lot of work to do to eliminate barriers such as access to medical care and nutrition.  Our children are the future, and it’s up to us to keep the world safe for them.

Stay strong,


Marla Veliz
NHS Administrator

May 4th, 2020

Posted In: School News

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