Principal's Message


 Brandon Bakke is in his first year as Principal at Fife High School. He has been a high school administrator for 17 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 Emma, who attends Baylor University, and Britton who attends Eastern Washington University. 


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 https://www.facebook.com/fifehigh/. 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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