Principal's Message

Brandon Bakke is in his third year as Principal at Fife High School. He has been a high school administrator for 18 years, with previous stops at Sumner, Foss, and Mount Tahoma High Schools. He started his educational career at Clovis High School in Clovis, CA where he taught social studies and was the Head Boys' Basketball Coach. Brandon graduated with a BA in history from Fresno State University, and earned his MA in Educational Leadership from City University. Brandon is married to Sherrie, a teacher in Puyallup, and has two children, daughter Emma, who is a recent graduate of Baylor University, and son Britton who is serving in the United States Marine Corp. 

Principal's Message June 2020

The class of 2020 is nearing graduation this week facing the potential of not having a live graduation (we are still waiting to find out if we can have our July 25th planned event). 

Although this is unprecedented territory, I want to take a second and remind everyone that this is not the first time that a senior class might not get to celebrate together in person. When you walk through the hallways of Fife High School you can see in picture images one of our great legacies.  Historically speaking, we are a school that has, and continues, to embrace diversity. In a time right now in our daily lives where conflict seems to become more and more the societal norm, it is so more important than ever that we remember our roots. 

From the earliest Fife Trojans you can see face after face of students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Most significantly was the Japanese-American presence. As far back as 1927 24% of the senior class was Japanese-American. In that same year we had our first Native American graduate, a girl named Clara Sicade. Over the course of the next 15 years the Japanese-American population grew at Fife, and in 1942 a year after America entered World War II,  22 of the 66 seniors were Japanese-American, and as you look through the yearbook that year you can see such a visibly positive imprint diversity played in our school culture. 

With a month to go in school the government forced all Japanese-Americans into camps, and on May 12th, a month early, ⅓ of the senior class was taken to an internment camp at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Devastated, the school rallied and put together an impromptu graduation ceremony for these students. 

That evening in the auditorium student Yuki Kubo went on stage and presented to the school an American flag from all the students who were leaving. When she finished presenting the flag she started to cry, but as she looked around the room she gained strength realizing that everyone was crying. Student George Morihiro recalled, “it was a sad day. But it opened my eyes. It confirmed my feeling that all the teachers and students saw us as close friends instead of as enemies.” As the Japanese American students left they sang a patriotic song. George would go on to serve in the most decorated American unit in WW2, the famous 442nd Regiment...made up entirely of Japanese Americans.  

Wow. I could break down for hours the many lessons these students taught us; what inspiration, resolve, and forgiveness. For today, however, I just wanted to remind us all that 2020 is not the first class to face some historic crisis… on many different fronts. And like the class of 1942, the class of 2020 is showing us how to love all their classmates while caring about serious issues other than just themselves. I suspect we will continue to learn from this group for years to come. 

This Saturday the seniors graduate, I invite you all to join us in celebrating these remarkable students, Saturday 1PM we have a caravan through Fife and Milton, find a spot along the path, make signs, waive, get your favorite noisemaker ready. At 7PM head to our celebration website to watch our video ceremony. 

The Japanese have a powerful word in their language, “Gambatte!” Which essentially means, do your best, and don’t give up, regardless of the circumstances. 

Class of 2020… Gambatte!

Mr. Bakke

Principal's Message: Ask your student... how are you using Flex?

By Brandon Bakke, Principal 

A few months ago Orting Public School District published a graphic (pictured above) celebrating their outstanding graduation rate. They were rightfully very excited about their strong outcome, but my competitive juices got flowing right away, because left off their list of schools in the area was Fife and our 94.1% graduation rate for the class of 2019. I even did a map search on-line and we are the exact same distance from Orting as Enumclaw! I'm sure it was a simple over site, but the reality is in our immediate area it is hard to find anyone who had a higher graduation rate than Fife High School.

I met with all our students last week and showed them this graphic, we clapped with pride, but I reminded them that they had nothing to do with this accomplishment (after all this was data from the class of 2019). My message, "I really am not concerned about our neighboring schools graduation rate, I'm concerned with ours." The 94.1%, as high as it is, still means 5.9% of our seniors fell short. I told our students, "I don't want that to be you!"

Why is our graduation rate so high?

This led to a conversation with our students about what they can best do to make it across the stage and avoid being a part of that small number of students who do not. Since 2015 the FHS grad rate has rose dramatically from 78% to 94.1%. This is a remarkable statistic, and I think there are few reasons why this has happened, most significant is this is when Columbia and then Fife High brought on the concept of Flex.

What is Flex?

Flex is a daily block of time that is available to students to do homework, study, and get extra help. Some students who have a grade that is not passing, will be assigned to a place for Flex. Students who are passing their classes earn the opportunity to choose where they go. Having a portion of the day built into the schedule to allow students to get support has proven to be a huge benefit to our students. Having time built into the school day helps those with after school activities and jobs to have a more balanced and healthy life... if they use their time wisely.

Ask your student, how are you using Flex?

In my opinion, the single greatest action a student can take to see immediate improvement in school is making the most of this time. Students at Fife are treated like young adults capable making good choices for themselves on how they are using their Flex time, but the truth is some are not making the wise choice, choosing to spend all their time socializing rather than accessing help or taking the gift of time to crank out some homework or studying. So families, after you ask your student how their day was, I encourage you to make the second question, "what did you do for Flex today?

Principal's Community Message: October

Earn it!

by Brandon Bakke

As most have heard, in the coming days Special Olympics and ESPN, along with  a host of special guests and dignitaries, will be converging on Fife High School to celebrate us being recognized as a Top 5 National Banner Unified Champion School. We, essentially, are being recognized for being an inclusive school. I believe wholeheartedly that we are a great choice for this award. In my opinion, FHS can indeed be characterized as an inclusive school. It makes me so proud of our staff and students to see daily expressions of kindness, acceptance, respect, and empathy. The Fife community truly should be proud.

Make no mistake about it, however, we are not perfect. It's humbling to be recognized for inclusiveness because we know that some students are still struggling to feel included. In fact, as soon as this award was announced, I received a few emails saying just that. This was not a surprise to me, and I was glad some students reached out. Making friends can be hard, and it truly saddens me when I see people struggle to connect.

I’ve been stressing to our students these past weeks that we are not being recognized for being perfect, but as Special Olympics puts it, “for being on the right track.” What a great way of putting it! We HAVE to be on that mission to try and reach every student-- to never be satisfied. Simply put, we have to earn this “Top 5” award every day by our never-ceasing pursuit of inclusiveness. When we do that, we will continue to “earn it” every day. We will be able to look at the banner hanging on the wall and know it’s not something we did once.

The challenge being offered to our staff and students is don’t underestimate the impact you can have. I am a firm believer in the amazing law of influence; you might have heard me talk about it before: One life touches another, potentially both lives are changed. One life touches another, potentially the whole world can change. It starts with one hand shake, one time moving to a different table at lunch to sit with someone who is alone, one time going out of your way to start up a conversation, one time making yourself vulnerable… that one time can change a life.

Get ‘em Fife. Let’s earn this!


Principal's Community Message: September
September 2019- Why do we keep score at Cabbage Patch?

The school year is about to begin and like many of our students, I too get a little nervous energy. I experience some anxiety, I get excited to see our returning students, and am thrilled to meet our new Trojans. I love being a Fife Trojan, I lose a little sleep hoping that every student will share in my love for our school.

If you are a Fife Trojan, the start of the school year means another rite of passage is upon us... Cabbage Patch. For our sophomore families and new students, Cabbage Patch is a two week inter-grade level competition which started in 1980. The different grade level teams can earn points by participating in various activities, culminating in the “Olympics” held this year on September 20th, where our three grade levels literally compete in a field-day competition to see which class can earn the title as Cabbage Patch Champions. The name “Cabbage Patch” is our way of honoring the farming influence in our community, and to show thanks for the land where the school now sits. After seeing it myself for the first time last year, it is an event unlike anything I've ever seen, and is truly a unique aspect of the Fife High experience.

Last year our seniors did not win cabbage patch, and in the midst of some emotional moments, I was asked a question by many different people, “why do you even keep score if it causes people to get upset?” Being new I had to pause and reflect on that question a bit, but I can tell you without hesitation, as long as I am principal, we will be keeping score.

Why? Our students have come from a generation where everyone gets a trophy. While the values behind protecting one’s self esteem are really important, our students are now on the cusp of entering a world that keeps score, and we need to ensure we provide opportunities to safely reap the benefits of falling short. Yes, you read that correctly. The benefits that come from losing. Now, I am not sitting here advocating that we should try to lose to gain some benefit. After all, I’m the kind of guy who would take joy in beating my mother at Uno.

As I reflect on my life, however, some of the greatest growth I’ve experienced as a person came from falling short; from having to deal with adversity. Last year I met with our seniors after their defeat, and challenged them to use their Cabbage Patch loss to forge their character, and to bring them together as a group. I was so proud of the class of 2019 because that is exactly what happened, and they left a lasting positive imprint at Fife High School.

I believe that as parents and educators, one major responsibility of ours is to teach our students to grow from adversity...teach them to climb the mountain, not remove the mountain.

Winning matters, and our students are going to go out and battle each other on the field because they want to win; I love that, but more importantly is the effort they show. Some students will win, and some will lose, and from both outcomes students will be given the opportunity to flex their character muscles. Neither outcome will define their character, but the effort shown, and the growth that will come from these experiences are lessons we have to keep giving. So this year when your student undoubtedly runs into a mountain, pause before you pounce to remove it… teach them to climb!


June 2019 Principal's Community Message: A letter to the Class of 2019

Dear Fife High School Class of 2019:


For my final community message of the year, I decided to write a letter to the Fife High Seniors. So as I write please know I’m talking directly to you, the Class of 2019. 

Dear Class of 2019,


Hanging on my wall in my office is a picture of my basketball coach talking to me during a timeout at a critical point in a game from my senior year at Fresno State University. The picture captured a moment when Coach Tarkanian took a chance on Brandon Bakke, and in doing so stuck to a commitment he had made privately a few days earlier. The picture is a reminder to me to GIVE PEOPLE A CHANCE.  Last week a new picture was hung on my office wall, it’s also a reminder of what often happens when people are given a chance, always believed in, and empowered to become leaders.  I want you to know this new picture is of the class of 2019.


It was in August this year when one senior confided in me that she felt 2019 was “the bad class.”  “You would have liked last year’s seniors” she said. The class of 2019 was known, so I’ve been told by some of you, for lacking spirit, for falling short of expectations.  You are quick to point out that you never won a cabbage patch and often were overshadowed by older siblings. One of you, who was trying to put a positive spin on your class legacy in school, said,  “we always made things interesting.”


Many of you  came into the year suffering from major self doubt.  Perhaps you have succumbed to other people’s labels? Your journey, although filled with some setbacks, was far from completed when this year started. This year you were given a chance to lead, to step out of the shadows, to make a collective decision who you are and put an exclamation point on how you will be remembered. The class of 2019 took off! I’ve heard some staff say things like, “wow, I never would have thought this group would mature like that!” Here is what I saw in you... you redefined your past character by showing you can ask for forgiveness and truly show remorse. I’ve  seen it how you’ve handled adversity, continuing to climb, not giving up or quit. Our entire staff has seen how you, along with your peers in the grades below, have embraced all our students, especially our special needs students. You have embraced diversity. You have forged strong relationships with the staff. We saw you reach out to the community to serve and give. I will never forget seeing the thousands of toys in our cafeteria, and the hundreds of young community kids faces light up at the sight of it!

When the dust settles in many ways you might just be the most successful class in the history of the school to date. You have pursued passions! Some of you have reached the highest levels of success academically, in music and drama, and in the clubs and activities in which you participated. You’ve won local, regional, and state competitions, league championships, district champions, state championships, national championships. You’ve been featured on TV, on social media, and in the newspaper. You’ve won thousands and thousands in scholarships.  Athletically you’ve enjoyed unprecedented accomplishment… but I don’t believe this is your legacy.


I want you to know that even more importantly than all those many accolades you have achieved, we will always remember you for how your character affected the climate at Fife High School. I’ve heard countless people tell me this year, “the school feels different.” I don’t have a perspective on what it was like in the past, but I think you should get a ton of credit for setting a tone of kindness and acceptance this year. You have started something potentially great. This is your legacy!


The fact is, I love the Fife High School class of 2019. You will always be special to me. You are my first class as principal, and you really reached out to make me feel welcomed.  I will never forget on day one this year when Lupeti Sarte first stood up when I asked the seniors to stand, and the rest of you quickly followed. I don’t know if you realize how much that meant to me, to feel the seniors support without evening knowing me. At our first assembly this year I singled you all out and challenged you make a decision to be culture builders, Class of 2019, well done!


It is also my hope that when you think back on your own class you too will be reminded to believe the best in people, to never allow someone to label you, to keep growing, to  never give up on people and give them a chance. When you are frustrated with your own children someday remember that we all struggle, and sometimes those struggles refine us to become something remarkable.   The book on the class of 2019 was not finished five years ago… or even one year ago… and it isn’t done yet. You are indeed remarkable, you always have been,  and you are just beginning!


April 2019 Principal's Message
Fife High School: The Heart of the Community


In 1900 James Stryker became the postmaster for an area commonly referred to as East Tacoma. He used the name “Fife” for the post office to honor his lawyer Col. William Fife, for his help settling a land dispute.  In 1904 a farmer named Gustaf Peterson was asked to allow the Interurban railroad to build a line through his land which is now Pacific Avenue in Fife. He accepted the proposal, and as a part of the agreement a train stop was placed on his property. Following the postmaster’s lead he named the stop “Fife.” Soon after the school district began using the name Fife for their school, and thereafter the school and the Fife name began to grow.

The people were proud of their Fife school. In fact, two times in Fife’s history the people took legal action against Tacoma who twice tried to annex the district.  In 1911 the court ruled not only in favor of Fife’s school independence, it also ruled the district was not getting proper funding. Armed with new money the district began construction on new facilities and the school was expanded to include high school students, and thus in 1912 Fife High was born with the first 9th grade class.  

Amazingly, Fife wasn’t even a city at this point, but make no mistake it was a community, and the school was at its center. From the first graduating class in 1916 and throughout the next 40 years, the school continued to grow and get recognized. The Tacoma newspaper in 1915 highlighted the school for being one of the top institutions in the region for Fife’s support of diverse communities (specifically Native Americans and Japanese families), and for balancing career trades and academics.

In 1957 Tacoma launched its second bid to take over the school district. Our schools were vulnerable due to Fife not being an official city. The people rallied, however, and in 1957 out of fear of losing their school district, the town of Fife was officially created, and consequently the school district was saved from our Tacoma neighbors.  

This history of Fife is inspiring to me, for over a hundred years the community of Fife has not only supported the school district, it has been synonymous with it. Two weeks ago I got to see first hand that the same love that sparked the birth of the city is alive and well. Hundreds of people packed the Emerald Queen's banquet hall for the annual Fife Booster Club and Scholarship Foundation dinner auction. In a night filled with smiles, laughs, and generosity, the people of this community raised over 45 thousand dollars; money that will support scholarships and programs for the students of Fife High School and provide opportunity and equity.  

It is my hope that over the next few years this civic pride and support will continue to grow. On the heels of our generous communities’ recent bond approval, new buildings are again being constructed which will bring visible energy to our community. The need for community involvement has never been greater!

On behalf of Fife High School’s staff and students, thank you to the scholarship foundation and booster club and to the entire community for supporting us; your time, energy, and financial support are such an encouragement to us, and a reminder of the legacy of this great place we call Fife.

March 2019 Principal's Message Our Students' Commitment to Fife


Last month I wrote about our saying “Fife for Life;” the meaning behind it, and the commitment we all need to make to be “adopters of people.” It is critically important that we are striving to become a school community that helps all students feel like they have a school home for the rest of their lives.

In February, our staff also engaged our students in this vital conversation about Fife for Life. Some students spoke about how they didn’t feel connected to other students, or that they lacked an emotional connection to our school.  It saddened me to hear these students’ responses regarding how they felt about Fife. It affirmed that we still have work to do to make sure everyone feels like they belong.

It was also extremely encouraging to read countless responses from students who love their school community. We have an overwhelming number of students who genuinely want to do their part to help others feel the same connection that they do.  Junior Jasmine Campos offered, “To me Fife for Life means home. If new students come to Fife they are home too, and I will do my best to show them they are Fife for Life.”

This comment was from sophomore Victoria Bradshaw, “I want people to feel more welcomed at Fife. Fife for Life means a lot to me,  where you go to school is so important, it is where you meet your best friends, where you become who you are. Fife is where I met the people most important to me and I want people to be themselves. I want to help others feel included and enjoy their time here because it goes fast and once its gone, you’ll wish you made the most of it!”

I was touched by what our students wrote about our school, and this month I thought I’d share some of that joy with the community. Here is just a sampling of commitments our students made to try and continue the quest to make everyone feel like a welcomed part of Fife High School.

Commitments from our students:

“I know for me I didn’t feel like I was Fife for Life when I first moved to Fife, I will make sure I do my part to make sure people feel welcome so they don’t feel like I did.”

“My New Year's resolution was to only spread love and positivity, no negative energy and or hate. I will try to be there for everyone with an unbiased opinion. No matter who you are, what you have been through, or what you have done. I’m here for everyone, no one should be alone”

“I am committed to helping others make Fife their second home. Like we are all brothers and sisters, no matter our heritage.”

“I am going to make sure new students are participating or are included in activities in big events like cabbage patch, sports or clubs.”

“I am going to talk to different types of people.”

“I am going to talk more to people I don’t normally talk to, and care more about building friendships.”

“I am going to show that I am happy to be here by interacting more with others, greeting others in the mornings with a smile.”

“I am simply going to smile and say hello to everyone.”

“Next year I am going to show sophomores to their classes.”

“I will greet newbies, teach them a handshake, and do my best to make them feel they belong.”

“I am going to really be looking for students who are sitting alone and invite them to our lunch table and say hello when I see them in the halls.”

“ I am going to strive to be the friendliest person I can to everyone, I want people to people to feel accepted.”

“I am going to seek out moments where I can demonstrate forgiveness. We all need that.”

“I am going to be a good teammate on the court. Especially for the freshman and new teammates.”

“I have always helped the Spanish speaking students, I might be new to school, but I wouldn't want to be in that situation alone, feeling accepted is always appreciated.”

Our Challenge:

I had the privilege of reading 850 other comments just like these. I couldn’t help but feel very proud of our students. I see it everyday, feats of character from our students that inspire me. I have worked at six schools over the years in many different districts, and I can tell you with all sincerity that while we all have our faults and moments of struggle, our students at Fife are extraordinarily accepting!

One student, junior Francis Bernarte,  who has as deep a love for Fife as anyone I’ve met said it so well, “We need to focus on selflessness, which will help some people who are struggling feel like they are Fife for Life...being able to help someone by putting them before you helps make people feel important and appreciated and most of all accepted!”  Great words of wisdom Francis!

February 2019 Principal's Message
The Heart of the Trojan

A few years ago Zoie Breland, a junior at Fife High School, had a dream of providing opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in sports alongside their non-disabled peers. There is a Special Olympics program called Unified Sports aimed to provide this very opportunity, and Zoie set out to bring it to FHS, “I have a passion for helping people, and I’ve been blessed to have opportunities in sports, I wanted students with intellectual disabilities to have these same opportunities.”

When Zoie was in pre-school at Discovery with Ms. Jeanette, she was in a classroom that included students with intellectual disabilities, and she thinks this is where the initial seed was planted in her heart. In 8th grade while at Columbia Zoie heard about the Unified program, and with encouragement from Mr. Michael and later Mr. Meyer at FHS, she began researching what it would take to bring Unified to Fife.  

Zoie pursued this passion with vigor. She started a club, started recruiting students to meetings, organized the initial activities where athletes and student partners began interacting and playing games together. This led to the inaugural “pack the stands” event, a basketball game featuring our Unified club athletes and student partners. Zoie then applied and won a grant from Special Olympics and was one of 80 students across the world to receive funding, these efforts provided uniforms and transportation for the program. She set up parent meetings, encouraged staff to support Unified, set up practices, spoke with the school board, and continued to rally her classmates to get involved. This last month we saw her dream become reality as our Unified Sports team officially began competition with other schools. Underneath it all, there is a shared belief at Fife in the value of acceptance, something that Zoie has exemplified. The impact of this value is visible all around campus; the hearts of our student body have opened in ways that we’ve never seen before.

The value of acceptance captures just one aspect of a belief system we call “The Heart of the Trojan.” What is The Heart of the Trojan? You can’t spend more than a minute on the campus of Fife High before you would see signs with our belief pillars posted: Family, Honor, Service. In August when I asked students and staff to define these words, it was clear that we didn’t have a common lens. It also became evident that teaching someone to act like family, or with honor, for example, can be somewhat abstract, which makes teaching these pillars a challenge. Teaching these character values is at the core of our responsibility as a school and district. Dr. Clayton Cook, one of the nation’s leading social-emotional education researchers says that character education makes up 30% of what a student needs to know to be successful after high school. Andrew Sokatch, another researcher in this field believes it to be as high as 50%.

In August our staff was tasked to define the core values that make up the foundation of Family, Honor, and Service. If we can define it… we can teach it. Going through a collaborative process we identified 12 values that we labeled, “The Heart of the Trojan.” They are: acceptance, commitment, courage, empathy, forgiveness, honesty, humility, integrity, kindness, respect, sacrifice, and selflessness.

In 2018-19 we began the process of exposing our students to The Heart of the Trojan, and over the next few years we will continue to build a more comprehensive approach to teaching, modeling, and inspiring students to develop their character. Through examples like Zoie and Unified Sports, we have already seen the impact that happens when one life touches another … and we are just getting started!

January 2019 Principal’s Message

What does Fife for Life mean?

In April of last year I first heard the term Fife For LIfe, and I remember thinking to myself how powerful that statement was for the school. Fife For Life, a rallying cry to bring our community together reminding us that we are part of something bigger than just ourselves.  Anyone who knows me can attest that I have a fierce loyalty to the schools I attended, a value that I believe is slipping away for many people in an era of instant gratification and “me before we” thinking. Fife For Life is a mindset I can get behind, I remember thinking “I can’t wait to be a part of that!”

Many Fife people have embraced the mantra, in my first few weeks as principal I just so happened to get my haircut by a Fife alum, my grocery checkout from a Fife student, and I met some Fife grads at a college orientation, all of which greeted me with saying “Fife for LIfe;” affirming my inclination that this saying had importance. In my first few months in Fife, however, I also learned that Fife For Life is perceived by some as being potentially negative. How can something so positive be bad?

Sure enough, I had a parent this Fall say to me, “We are not Fife For Life, we just moved here a few years ago.”  A student recently said to me, “I am Fife For Life, my whole family has gone here, even my grandparents.” To some Fife For Life carries a legacy connotation; that one can only be considered Fife For Life  if they have been here for most of their education or come from a long standing Fife family. While it is so special to have a community that has stayed loyal and close knit over a long period of time, I can also see the potential for exclusion or a lack of feeling acceptance. Selfishly, I want to be a part of Fife For Life, am I “out” since I just joined the community?

I want to set the record straight on what Fife For Life truly means, and I equate it best to my own family experience. My sister was adopted by my parents when she was just a few days old. My nieces were adopted from Ethiopia when they were in elementary school, and a cousin of mine, who was living on the streets of Chicago struggling to find his next meal, was adopted by my uncle and aunt when he was going into his senior year of high school. No matter when these people joined the family, what their circumstances were, what their racial makeup is, or where they were coming to us from, they all immediately became, and continue to be, a part of the Bakke family.

In that same way, Fife is not a community you are born into, it should be a family you are adopted into. To be a school that celebrates adoption opens the Fife For Life mindset to every student who comes to Fife, no matter when they come, where they come from, or what they look like. A student who moves their senior year from another state or country, for example, should feel like they are home now and forever, and I want our staff to love every student as “our student,” and every family to feel welcomed into this community.  As 2019 begins, let's take up the challenge of doing our best to help ALL students feel at home.

We recently had a student move to Fife from Nigeria, he is a senior. After a few short months as a Trojan he let us know that he was going to be moving back to Nigeria, and in December we said goodbye. On his last day we were all sad, we are going to miss him, and he let us know how much he will miss us. My last words to him as we got a picture together in the office, “remember, you always have a home here.” Simcha, you are Fife For Life!

Happy New Year Fife Family!

December 2018 Principal's Message

I’ve had a lot of friends over the past few months say to me, “are you excited to lead a building?” I’m not sure if you have ever noticed, but schools are often referred to as “buildings,” which honestly drives me crazy. Schools are not buildings, they are people, and as we speed past Thanksgiving on our way to the holiday season, I couldn’t be more proud of the people that make up the Fife High School community.

In the past few weeks I’ve seen our staff display countless acts of kindness to our students and families in our community, I’ve seen our alumni and boosters reach out and give, including raising thousands of dollars in scholarships and funds for cancer research at  the John McCrossin Basketball Classic. This past week we recognized at our Renaissance breakfast 300 students who earned a 3.3 GPA or increased their GPA by .5 from last semester, and our staff and some community donated $500 worth of prizes to give away to these students to celebrate their achievement in the classroom!  

Our incredible students, following this example, continue to reach out to people in need. Indeed, helping people is “cool” at FHS. Students Rachel Mironchuck and Abbie Barber in our leadership class spent weeks meticulously organizing Tommy’s Closet (our donated clothing area for students who might need something). This closet is now organized by size and clothing category, it is now clean and very professional looking and is a place that really protects students’ dignity.  FBLA is also working hard on our “Trojan Business Closet” helping get dress clothes for students for jobs, interviewing, etc. With the help of the Fife community we raised close to 30 thousand food items for the food drive, not counting the thousands of dollars collected. Our FBLA club is also putting on their 2nd Annual Care Package Drive for Homeless; collection boxes are all over the place at FHS including the front office. We are also in the midst of of our first ever toy drive, which will culminate in a giveaway event Saturday December 15th from 12-4PM in the cafeteria, which hopefully will bring children to our school to get a toy that they will love. What a vision for us, that young kids can associate our school from an early age as a place where they can come and feel welcomed and joy!

Our ASB has also ramped up Winter Wishes, making a huge push to have everyone in our school not only make a wish for themselves, but a wish for others. We now have over 2100 wishes that have been wished, some of them fun and silly, some incredibly thoughtful and heartwarming. While there will be some growing pains for our school as we figure out how to grant as many as we can, that is a great challenge to have, and anyone in the community can participate granting wishes this year; if you are interested use this link and see if there is a wish that grabs your heart! This month at Fife High School we are placing an emphasis on our value of “selflessness,” pretty appropriate giving all that is going on!

Muhatma Ghandi once said, “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and soul of its people.”  

It feels like we get inundated daily with so much negative, I know many people fear the future. I get the joy of being around high school students everyday, and witness these countless acts of giving and kindness that we have seen at Fife these past few weeks. I can say with confidence there is good reason to have hope for tomorrow.


November 2018 Principal’s Message

Last month our staff was challenged to write a letter to their students telling them why they became a teacher and what hopes and dreams they had for their students. This month’s Principal’s Message is my own response to this challenge.

To the Students of Fife High School:

Why did I become a teacher, coach, and principal? I have been asked this question a few times this year, so I thought I’d publicly share a little of my story. Growing up in Colorado, I was really inspired by a few of my own teachers and administrators who collectively got me thinking that teaching might be something I could want to do for a career. My biggest influences were Ms. Ginther, my 8th Grade history teacher, Mr. Gruile, my principal in middle school, and Mr. Callan, who was a basketball coach and my leadership teacher in high school. Their common denominator: they cared about me, believed in me, and inspired me to be my best self. I am thankful for all three of these amazing people, and at some point, I realized that if I could impact others the way these people influenced me, then teaching could quite possibly be the best job in the world.

I went into education to be a source of hope and encouragement, to help people grow, and to hopefully have a positive influence on students’ lives. What I have learned over the years is the best way to do this is to build relationships.

When we think of “school spirit” many of us picture the “spirit” you might see at a Friday night football game, but I’ve come to believe in a different definition. To me, having good school spirit is when students and staff want to come to school each and every day. Fife High School is a very special place, and I think most students feel like they want to be here. However, I also know some of you might not feel so connected. I want ALL the students at Fife to feel like you are cared for by the staff you work with each day. That you have adults in your life who you’d consider role models who inspire you to be grow toward your best. I wish for you to have staff members who will challenge you, but who will also forgive you for the hiccups you might encounter along the way. I sure hope that my actions make you feel that I love the students of Fife High School.

Why do relationships matter? When I first started teaching, I totally underestimated the most important ingredient for helping my students learn: building relationships. A researcher named John Hattie demonstrated that over 50 percent of the academic outcomes of school-age children come from what the teacher does in the classroom (Hatie 2008), and did you know that teacher-student relationships has been shown to have one of the biggest impacts on student achievement? What I’m saying is not only does having a good relationship with your teachers, staff, and principals make school more inviting and fun, it helps you learn!

A few days ago I got a message from one of my former students from 15 years ago, a guy named Coley Vietenhans. He recalled many conversations I’d had with him when he was in high school during which I really encouraged him to become a teacher. In his message he thanked me for caring about him, for encouraging him, and he let me know that, as a teacher, he really feels like he’s making a difference in the lives of his students at Thomas Jefferson High School. It brought a tear to my eye because this is what I dream for all our students: I want you to find YOUR WHY. Often we fixate on trying to figure out WHAT we are going to do for a job, but figuring out WHY we want to do something is really the most important step.  I want your journey to lead you to a place where you find fulfillment and meaning for your life that helps the world we live in be a better place.

So, as we continue to strive at Fife High to work on building relationships with you, I also want to encourage students to take time to thank those teachers that have inspired you to find your why. At Thanksgiving there is no greater gift you can give.

So proud to be your Principal!

Get ‘em!
Mr. Bakke

October 2018 Principal’s Message

Get ‘em Trojans

Why do we say Get ‘em Trojans?

Last month we had our first ever Fife Trojan press conference. Each quarter we set up the cafeteria like a press room, I go over how the school is doing, the highlights, the things we need to work on, while getting to recognize a few students and staff who have done some great work. Students then get to ask me questions about pretty much anything; the idea being that students have a chance and platform to dialog directly with the Principal. One student asked a very astute question, why do we say “get ‘em Trojans?” I wanted to share my response with all of you.

David Britton was a teacher and then Assistant Principal at Fife High School from 1973-2001. He gave his heart to Fife. He is someone I’ve known for a long time, and in 1990 he was a great encouragement to me during a difficult time in my life (my senior year in high school when I moved to Puyallup High School from Colorado). Moving to a new school is very hard, especially in high school. Some of you might know this reality for yourself.  I became good friends with Mr. Britton’s daughter, and I spent a lot of time with the Britton family that year; I still remember him telling me to “go get ‘em” when he wanted to impart some inspiration my way. It was a simple statement, but for some reason it has always stuck with me.

Soon after getting named Principal in May of 2018, Mr. Britton was one of the first to welcome me, he wrote me a note saying, “Welcome to the Fife family, go get em!”

Knowing he’d been a Trojan for so long definitely played a role in my desire to be the Principal at Fife High School. You see, I have known Mr. Britton to be a man who is tough. He has the strength of conviction, and is someone who has not gotten discouraged easily. He is someone who doesn’t back down from a challenge, and he has overcome many obstacles throughout his life. Mr. Britton hates to lose.  In midst of difficulty, he is someone who remains loyal. Indeed, these are traits all Trojans should emulate!

These are also characteristics of his that are on full display right now as he battles MDS, a form of cancer that affects his bone marrow. Mr. Britton had a bone marrow transplant, and continues to battle strong in his recovery, I am happy to report he is cancer free! He inspires me, and I think he should inspire us all. So to honor him, and to remind us that in everything we do at FHS we are going to get after it, my challenge to you is join me in greeting fellow Trojans, past and present, with a “get ‘em!”  

When we say “get ‘em” it means that we will not back down, there isn’t a challenge, competition, or tough test that will sway us...there is no such thing as insurmountable odds; in Fife we do not lose hope, and we do not quit. We Get ‘em Trojans!

September 2018 Principal's Message

**UPDATE: Why I now WILL be able to go to the Cabbage Patch Olympics!

I wrote last week that I was not going to be able to go Cabbage Patch due to a family conflict.  Well... due to a potential scheduling conflict with our current homecoming opponent, we are moving our Homecoming football game to October 19th (vs White river) and the Homecoming dance to October 20th. This also allows us to move Cabbage Patch to its traditional week. The Cabbage Patch Olympics will now be on September 21st.  

Why I won’t be at the Cabbage Patch Olympics on September 14th

The school year is off to a fast and fun start with Fall sports underway, Friday Night Lights coming soon, Homecoming September 28-29th, and Cabbage Patch all within weeks of the school year starting.

Cabbage Patch?  It was a matter of minutes upon getting hired as Principal when students began to tell me about Cabbage Patch. For those of you who are new to our community (like I am), Cabbage Patch is a two week inter-grade level competition which started in 1980. The different grade level teams can earn points by participating in various activities, culminating in the “olympics” held on September 14th where they literally compete in a sort of field-day competition to see which class can earn the title as Cabbage Patch Champions. The name “cabbage patch” is our way of paying homage to the farmers who donated the land where the school now sits.  It is an event that I’ve never seen, and is truly a unique aspect of the Fife High experience. How amazing is it that we have a 38 year old tradition that is still alive and well… I can’t wait to see it!

So why am I not going to be at Cabbage Patch? A value we believe in at Fife is “family,” and it just so happens that September 14th is the same day that I take my son to college. Unfortunately bad luck on the timing, but a proud moment for me to get to say goodbye as I drop Britton off at his dorm at Eastern Washington University. Every student is unique and special in their own right, and my son is no different. Britton struggled in school for many years prior to high school, and there were times I was very worried as he tried to navigate academics and social structures at his schools. I’m proud of Britton because he didn’t give up, he started working harder, and over the course of his high school years things began to improve for him as he slowly started to figure out who he was as a person, and what he wanted for his life after high school. So getting to take him to college is a once in a lifetime event that means so much to me as his dad… and thankfully there will be many more Cabbage Patch Olympics!

I share this story, because Britton is like a lot of students who come to high school having struggled in school, who have families that are worried for them, maybe he is like you.  If you are a student who hasn’t quite figured things out yet, don’t lose hope! My son is a reminder to me that high school can often be a time of major growth and that how things have been don’t dictate how things could be in the future; peer groups can change, students can mature, a spark for learning can begin to flicker. Britton is also a reminder for me that I should never lose hope in our students no matter how much they are struggling.

As people, we learn much through struggle. Sometimes struggles we have early in life better prepare us for life in the the long run because we learn a lot from the bumps along the way.  As 2018-19 gets underway, I encourage you to embrace your own journey, it is often more important than the destination.

Get ‘em Trojans!

Brandon Bakke

August 2018

Words simply can’t express the sincere gratitude and excitement that I feel to joining the Fife High School community! From the outside looking in, I have really admired this school; granted, many times that admiration was felt after some hard fought battles with the Trojans on the field, court, and track. Fife is a school with a long history of excellence in the classroom, on the athletic fields, and co-curricular activities. I love that Fife is a single high school district in a diverse community that believes in supporting schools. I love that it is a high school that is striving to be a beacon in their community. For years I have hoped that the timing would work for me to come to Fife, and I am thrilled to be joining a school that is not resting on past success but continues to strive toward meeting the needs of each and every student.

I come to Fife after 22 years in education as a social studies teacher, basketball coach, and assistant principal.  Along the way I have served in three different school districts, with stops at Clovis High School in Clovis, CA, and in Tacoma at both Mount Tahoma and Foss High Schools. The last 13 years I’ve spent at Sumner High as an assistant principal. I have been extremely fortunate to learn and work with some amazing people along my journey. Often I hear back from some of the students that I’ve worked with over the years, and with each conversation I’m reminded of why this is the best job on the planet, we get to influence the lives of students!

I believe schools are built on relationships. As Thomas Sergiovanni in his book Building Community in Schools points out, “It is through the quality and character of relationships that values and beliefs are felt.” I believe Fife shares in this value that positive and deep relationships with students, colleagues, and the community, are paramount in building a positive school culture.

Fall is coming soon which means it’s time to start marking calendars with some important start up information at Fife High School. Be sure to circle your Trojan Day time! I’d encourage you to get as plugged into our community as possible, please be sure to follow us on Twitter @fifehstrojans and our Facebook page New this year, I would like to encourage you to get signed up for your respective grade level remind text message notices. The Fife website is getting overhauled soon, so be looking for our new look and for start of school information to be posted there as well.

Like many of you, these are my first days at Fife High School, and I’m so thankful for the friendly hellos and handshakes that have been offered to me thus far. I hope all of you feel as welcomed as I do, and I’m excited to get to meet all of you in a few short weeks.


Get ‘em Trojans! Brandon Bakke

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