Today, the students of Odle Middle School go to school in a newly built campus, completed in the summer of 2016. The new technology and the modern building are parts of everyday life. However, Odle Middle School’s new walls hide decades of history.
Aerial of Bellevue from the South, 1957 (Source: University of Washington)
The first settlers came to the lands of Bellevue in 1863. They had travelled across Lake Washington from Seattle, then only a little, crude town. In the next several decades, even though the number of people moving to Washington increased due to migrants from the Oregon Trail, Bellevue remained mainly a small farming community that provided produce to the growing, neighboring Seattle.
Bellevue’s first official grade school, under construction in 1920. It housed grades 1-8 in one two-story, ten room building. (Source: University of Washington)
Bellevue’s first school opened in 1883, a tiny log cabin with only seven students near where Enatai is now. Over several decades, the number of schools in Bellevue increased as Washington was annexed as a state in 1889 and when the Klondike Gold Rush in in 1896 brought new settlers who passed through Seattle on their way to Alaska.
Mr. Frank Odle (Source: Bellevue: Post World War II Years)
In 1918, a man named Frank Odle arrived in Bellevue. At the age of 29, he became the superintendent, a high school principal, a teacher, a coach, and a bus driver of the Bellevue School District all in one. Odle was the first superintendent in the district and served for 26 years. He continued to teach in the Bellevue School District for 24 years, over which Bellevue was transformed from a rural town to a bustling city. Odle helped found many systems such as sports teams, school buses, and honor societies. He earned fame for his long time in teaching and his place as an esteemed educator.
Frank Odle passed away in 1969, only a year after his retirement from his 50-year career in Bellevue. Odle Middle School, named in his honor, was opened later in the year.
The Bellevue School District adopted the PRISM and Enrichment programs in the 1980s. These would help “highly capable” or “Gifted” students receive more advanced teaching. Students who qualified for PRISM had above 144 IQ. Those with an IQ of between 132 and 144 and in the grades 2-5 qualified for the Enrichment program in elementary school. The PRISM and Enrichment programs for middle school were based in Odle Middle School, to raise the average test score for the lowest scoring middle school in the district.
As the percentage of students in the gifted program increased by about 2.8% each year, test scores improved, from only 54.4% of 7th graders in Odle meeting standard in reading in the year 1997-1998 to 84.8% 7th graders meeting standard in 2013-2014. Math test scores also increased, from 34.4% of 7th graders meeting standard in 1997-1998 to 77.4% meeting standard in 2013-2014.
The PRISM program continued until 2010, when it was changed to the GMSP program in hope that it would be more effective in giving talented students the schooling they needed. The Enrichment program was also discontinued, and the PRISM program for elementary schoolers replaced with the GESP program. Testing for IQ, which once was a part of the PRISM identification, was discontinued, and test scores above 95% were required for the GMSP program instead of the original 97%, making the GMSP program easier to enter.
The GMSP program remained at Odle and spread to Tyee Middle School. All PRISM students graduating from eighth grade before 2018 will continue studying with the PRISM program, but after 2018 all middle school Gifted students will be enrolled the GMSP program.
Odle is one of only two schools in Washington State to receive a Blue Ribbon from the U.S. Department of Education in the year of 2001-2002, an award that recognizes educational excellence and objectivity.
Odle has made a name for itself with its achievements, possibly due to the addition of the GMSP Program. Its individual competitors and teams have won competitions for chess, chemistry, Future Problem Solving, jazz, math, science, Team America Rocketry Challenge, orchestra, and more.
Odle promises to make the coming year not only a year of accomplishment but also a “positive and productive” environment on its school website. As another year comes, everyone will have new opportunities and experiences. Who knows what Odle might do for its students?