Somerset Families,

The Friday before Halloween was quite festive and celebratory today.  In addition to fall celebrations, we had a final “chase the rainbow” color appreciation for staff in the staff lounge and visits from our Assistant Superintendent, Eva Collins and Executive Director, Heather Sanchez.  One of my favorite parts in my role as principal is showing off the great work of our teachers and students so it was a pure delight to take our district visitors into classrooms to see math instruction and walk the halls to view the student work displayed.  We continually strive to affirm student identity and build cultural competency in our classrooms and the thoughtful and creative projects in our hallways have been inspiring stories of how our students feel a sense a belonging and proud to be their authentic self.  I look forward to sharing a video walk thru of our halls in the coming days so you can see the inspiring projects and hard work of our students too.

October has been a full month! Students are settling in their classroom communities and making great strides in their academic, social, and emotional learning.  Beginning of year assessment data has been collected and many of it shared with you in your child’s fall conference.  As a school we analyze the data to search for trends and make important decisions for instruction.  We have begun our MTSS process of meeting with grade level teams to ensure we are meeting the needs of students who might need intervention, additional teaching of skills and extensions.

As we move into November, I want to take the opportunity to share my gratitude with the entire community for the ways you continually support our school.  Your partnership is experienced in a variety of invaluable ways, volunteering your time, sharing photos and experiences with your child for classroom projects, providing additional recess equipment, meeting for your individual teacher conference, following the protocols for pick up and dismissal and so much more.  It is a joy working together to provide our Somerset students an exceptional school experience.

I would also like to introduce three school GSAs that have joined our team in the last few weeks to replace a few GSAs who have moved on to new or different adventures.  Emmi Mihalcin, Cecilia (Ms. CeCe) Verastegui Erosa, and Bo Kim.  These three women are a great addition to our team!

Emmi Mihalcin Cecilia Verastegui Erosa Bo Kim

This communication is one way I strive to help families feel informed of the happenings at Somerset.  Please take the time to read through each heading to be more informed and find ways to feel more connected.

Somerset Shines

In partnership,

Cathy Elder

Cathy Elder
Somerset Elementary


In this issue:

  • School-wide November opportunities to promote stronger Sense of Belonging
  • November Safety Drill: Lockout Drill 
  • Lunch services update and impacts due to national supply chain challenges
  • Covid Health and Safety Updates: Diagnostic & Pool testing and expanded recess zones                                 

Please continue to read below for more information.

StarHeart Somerset Elementary Important Information

November Sense of Belonging opportunities

Panorama Survey

Over the next two weeks, our students in grades 3-5 will be taking the Panorama survey. The purpose of the Panorama survey is to collect feedback from students on school climate and their experiences in the classroom to help teachers reflect on their instruction; help building leaders reflect on their school improvement planning; and help the district office evaluate program effectiveness.  The school wide results on student sense of belonging and self-ratings on the SEL standards will be shared in our School Improvement Plan.  How students perceive our school culture, their sense of belonging, and their understanding of the six areas of social emotional learning are important to us and we look forward to reviewing the school wide data to see where we are making a positive impact and where we need to adjust.

Somerset Shines on Wednesdays-Wear your T-shirt!!

It is important to us that all students feel they belong at Somerset.  One way we encourage students to feel they are a part of our school is to promote Wednesday School Spirit Day and encourage students to wear their Somerset Shines t-shirt every Wednesday.

Student Council’s School Spirit Day-Red, White and Blue DayStar with flag

Somerset’s first school spirit day is coming soon!  Wednesday, November 10, is “Red, White, and Blue Day” at Somerset.  Our student council encourages all students to wear patriotic colors to honor our nation’s veterans.  The class that has the greatest percentage of participants wearing red, white, and blue will win a prize and be featured in the morning announcements.

Class Spotlight of the Week

Our PBIS team is excited to launch “Classes of the Week”! Every week a primary and an intermediate class will be spotlighted. Their class picture and fun facts about the class will be posted in the hallway next to the lunchroom for all superstars to see and learn about other classes in their school.

Monthly Virtual Assemblies

Did you know that we are still having monthly assemblies to promote our school wide goals and celebrate students at Somerset?  The first Wednesday of the month, each classroom watches the virtual assembly during a time that works in their schedule.  A huge shoutout to Ms. Andersen-Markee who puts these assemblies together.

Sense of Belonging: Birthday Fun Run with the Principals

Every month Ms. Naish and I will host a Birthday Fun Run for all students who have a birthday in that month. Students will come out to the field and run one lap around the field and have a picture taken with the birthday club members of that month.  Students are encouraged to wear their Somerset Shines t-shirt on their Fun Run Day!
Birthday Fun Run
November 17 Wednesday
December 2 Thursday
January 10 Monday
February 15 Tuesday
March 16 Wednesday
April 21 Thursday
May 9 Monday
June 2 Thursday
July (June 7) Tuesday

November Safety Drill: Lockout Drill

Star with policemanWashington state law and Bellevue School District policy require all schools to hold at least one drill per calendar month while school is in session. This month, we will be conducting a lockout drill and practicing quickly securing the building.

A lockout is different from a lockdown. A lockout is used when there is no direct danger to the school, but there may be something potentially dangerous in the area around the school. For example, if a bear was spotted in the neighborhood or if there was police activity near the school.

During a lockout, students are brought inside, and all exterior doors are locked. Inside, classes continue, but staff maintain a heightened level of awareness in case there is a change in the situation.

Please talk with your student about preparing for emergencies and disasters. Encourage them to talk about their concerns and express their feelings. Emphasize that even though sometimes things happen that we may not expect, there are lots of things we can do to help us stay safe.

For more information on talking to your child about school safety, you might want to visit the website Please let us know if you have any questions.

School Lunch

Star at lunchPlease know that Somerset and all BSD schools are experiencing the impact of the supply chain struggles that exist across the nation.  In addition, all students are provided the opportunity to have a free hot lunch this year which has increased the demand for foods and containers.  Students at Somerset are getting a balanced lunch but the number of options they have this year compared to years past is greatly reduced.  There are fewer choices on the fruit and vegetable bar and hot lunch is currently limited to a vegetarian and meat item.  If your student needs a vegetarian option due to your cultural or religious beliefs, please remind them to share they want the vegetarian option when they go through the line.  Currently bean burritos seem to be the most readily available for this option and served often.  All students are served the national requirement serving size for their basic food groups.  We do not provide students “seconds’.  Please know you can supplement your child’s lunch by sending in additional food items.  Even if they bring food from home, they can still have the free hot lunch provided at school.

Due to the substantial food shortages and product substitutions and the inevitable menu changes that must be made, we are unable to update the digital menu and printable menu in a timely manner. The digital menu has been paused as it does not provide you with accurate information. While we will do our best to serve all of our students free meals, menu changes should be expected. We appreciate your patience and understanding.


Star strongAll students are receiving at least one outdoor snack break each day.  They are hungry.  Please send a “quick to eat” snack with your child each day.  Food is important fuel to help regulate emotions and fuel brain power for learning.  Great snack options include crackers and cheese, yogurt, sliced fruit with a protein drink, jerky, granola or protein bars, goldfish crackers…a good protein and whole grain carb keep kids full and satisfied.  Snacks continue to be eaten outside under covered areas.

Covid Health and Safety Updates

Recess Update

Starting on Monday, students will begin playing in expanded recess zones meaning they will have two choices of play instead of one.  This expansion also allows students to play with kids in one additional class.  Students will continue to wear mask while outside and follow the current procedures for taking a mask break.  A huge shoutout to our GSAs who support and supervise our students for all 11 daily recess blocks.  Rain or shine they ensure our students are having a safe and positive recess experience.

Diagnostic and Pool Testing at Somerset- Opt-in if you want your child to participate

COVID-19 screening and diagnostic testing is coming to Bellevue School District schools.  This process has been developed in collaboration with the District’s multi-disciplinary health and safety team.  You are receiving a communication because Somerset will begin the testing process during the week of November 1st.

Our school will begin

  • Diagnostic testing on November 2nd. Diagnostic testing will be available daily at Somerset.
  • Pooled surveillance testing with the opportunity for your child to test weekly on Wednesdays beginning November 17th

Testing may only occur with permission and consent.  You can provide us with information on your desire to opt-in or opt-out of the COVID-19 testing using this link to complete the consent form.  Because the Washington Department of Health requires the District to obtain written parental consent for minor students and assent/consent for students themselves if they are 18 or over and their own legal guardian, any student that does not have consent will not be tested.

All COVID-19 tests administered in Bellevue School District are available through grants for the purpose of keeping schools open.  As such, tests can only be provided to Bellevue School District staff and students.  Further, diagnostic tests can only be provided to symptomatic individuals and those that have been close contacts of an infected person.  They cannot be provided for pre or post travel requirements.

All COVID-19 testing in Bellevue School District will be completed via a shallow nasal swab through Atlas Genomics. These Atlas tests were selected because they are PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, providing more accurate test results than rapid antigen testing. Further, the tests are approved for self-administration under a trained observer (does not need to be a health care professional), allowing for more efficient and expanded access.

Diagnostic testing results, regardless of if they are positive or negative, will be sent to the individual who was tested directly from the lab — usually within 12 hours. These results will also be provided to the District COVID-19 Coordinator and Public Health — Seattle & King County so any necessary contact tracing can occur.

In pooled surveillance testing, there will only be communication if there is a positive result in the pool. If there are no positive results in a pool, there will be no further communication with the individuals in the pool. If there is a positive result in the pool (which would typically be identified within 12 hours), those individuals and/or their parent/guardian will be contacted and referred to diagnostic testing to identify the positive individual(s). The people in the pool will need to quarantine until the positive person is identified, usually within 12 hours of the diagnostic test. Contact tracing will then begin with the positive individual.

For more information on COVID testing in Bellevue School District you can visit the FAQ page found here.  For questions related to testing at our school, please contact school nurse, Karen Ruby at or principal, Cathy Elder .

Upcoming Important Dates

Star One

November 2 – Diagnostic Testing begins daily at Somerset
November 6 – Daylight Savings time (turn your clocks forward one hour)
November 11 – Veteran’s Day-No School
November 17 – Pool Testing begins weekly at Somerset (for students with consent only)
November 18 – Birthday Fun Run with the Principals
November 24-25 – Thanksgiving Break-No School

For more information and important dates please follow this link to our Somerset PTSA:  Link to Somerset PTSA

Photo(s) of the Month

POTD - Pickup Crew POTD - Unity Day
Thursday, October 28th- Rainy 143rd St pick-up Crew Wear orange for Unity Day!


The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.