Mike Stromme

Mike Stromme, pictured at a Lynden School Board meeting in 2021, announced on Dec. 30 that Bernice Vossbeck Elementary School students will do their schoolwork from home this week after extreme cold temperatures caused damage to 17 of the school’s classrooms. (Bill Helm/Lynden Tribune)

Students working from home Jan. 4-7 

LYNDEN — On Dec. 30, students at Bernice Vossbeck Elementary School (BVE) learned their winter break had been extended a day.

Students from the Lynden elementary school also learned their first week back from winter break would be spent doing their schoolwork from home.

The reason: extensive water damage caused by the sub-freezing temperatures on and following Christmas, Lynden School District Interim Superintendent Mike Stromme told the district’s families in a letter posted to the district’s Facebook page.

“Two pipe bursts in two different areas of the school (and) resulted in damage to 17 classrooms, office space, workrooms, and hallways,” Stromme stated. “We immediately secured the services of a contractor to support the cleanup, remove damaged materials, and make repairs to the buildings.”

Stromme explained that based upon a “careful analysis of (the campus) and the significant damage to the building, the safety interests of our students and staff are best served by closing (the campus) the week of Jan. 3-7.”

The district’s educators will meet as a team on Monday, Jan. 3, to prepare work for students for Jan. 4-7.

After meeting with the school’s staff, BVE Principal Michelle Nilsen will communicate with the school’s families, Stromme also said.

Lynden School District will re-evaluate the repair work and building conditions on Thursday, Jan. 6. and provide an update to families.

Looking back at 2021

In July, Stromme took over for Jim Frey, who retired after more than three decades in education, the past 12 years as superintendent of Lynden Schools.

In October, Stromme agreed to stay at Lynden School District through Aug. 31 as a way of helping the new superintendent transition to the area.

As Stromme looks back at 2021, he pointed to several successes for the Lynden School District:

• Navigating the impact of COVID-19 on the district and school communities, keeping schools open and students and staff safe.

“We were one of the first districts to implement the Test-to-Stay program and centralized a testing site,” Stromme said.

• Adoption of the district’s strategic plan.

• Added a mental health coordinator position to the district to support students, staff and families.

• Added a multilingual specialist (grades 6 -12) to support multi-lingual learners.

• Lynden School District completed its first full year on the Main Street campus. “It was great to have all district services at one location including preschool and community transitions,” Stromme said.

• LSD implemented its Character Strong program implemented at its elementary, middle and high schools. The curriculum, Stromme explained, is designed to “focus on supporting the whole child with lessons that focus on character development (patience, kindness, honest, respect, selflessness, forgiveness, commitment, and humility) and focus on social emotional competencies (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision-making).”

• Implementation of the AVID program at the middle school and high school. AVID means Advancement Via Individual Determination and is an in-school academic support program for grades 7-12. The purpose of the program, Stromme said, is to prepare students for college eligibility, post-high school career planning and success.

2022 hopes

• Implementation of the four focuses of the district’s strategic plan: safe and supportive learning environments; college- and career-ready graduates; family and community partnerships; and culturally responsive and inclusive learning environments

• Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, Lynden Schools “continue a strong focus on teaching and learning to support the academic and social needs of all children” in the district.

• Updated website and strengthening community-wide communications. 

• Successful transition of the leadership from the interim superintendent to new superintendent.

• Continue to respond to the health and safety needs of the district’s students and staff.