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OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES: Ptarmigan Ridge Principal Nikkii Mesa

Walking into Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary, a wall of color greets you with big letters over the top: PTR, a nickname for the elementary school. Looking closely, you will see the names of students and staff that go to PTR every day. 


However, there is one name that is a familiar face to the Orting community, the principal, Nikkii Mesa.

"I attended Orting Primary School, Orting Middle School and Orting High School. I was a 13-year senior," Mesa shares in her bright and green office, with thank yous and posters scattered around the walls.Thank you Mrs. Mesa and Mrs. Hill poster "When I attended, we were much smaller with a graduating class of 91 students. Out of the 91 students, 31 were 13-year seniors." Mesa graduated in 1999.

Nikkii Mesa 1999 13-Year Seniors

"Orting has always felt like home to me, not just because my parents still live here, but because I grew up with such a sense of community,” Mesa says. “There is something special about experiencing your whole educational career with the same group of students. After almost 24 years since graduating, I am still in contact with the people I grew up with on a personal basis. Now as the principal of Ptarmigan Ridge, I get to see others I went to school with and be a part of their students' educational journey.”

Class of 1999Leadership class from 1999

A lot has changed since 1999. In 2022, we had a graduating class of 180 with 56 13-year seniors. One of our newer schools, Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary School, was built in the early 2000s to address the growth of the city from the 90s. It was built for 460 students. We now have 660 students attending. With the bond on the February 14 ballot, we will address our growing student population at Ptarmigan Ridge by adding eight classrooms, food service space and a new main gym.

PTR floor plan 

Picture: Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary School addition design that will add 8 classrooms, food service space and a new gym.

“Due to space limitations, we have to run both lunches and gym classes at the same time. This unfortunately forces us to split the gym and turn it into a cafeteria for approximately 2 hours a day, [meaning] we have to limit the space our students have for P.E.,” Mesa states. “Additionally, nutrition, custodial, and building staff have [about] 20 minutes to set-up lunch tables and salad bars to welcome students for lunch and then after [about] 20 minutes to tear down lunch tables and clean the cafeteria to be ready for the next P.E. class.”

PTR gym split in half by curtain for PE and lunchLong lunch lines at Ptarmigan Ridge slow down time kids can eat.Staff help clean up after lunch.Staff help clean up after lunch.

With the Martin Luther King assembly that happened earlier in January, Mesa says that their students cannot attend a school-wide assembly. “Due to space limitations, we are not able to have school-wide assemblies but instead have to run two, splitting our school in half.”

Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary assemblies cannot sustain the whole school due to space limitations

Mesa looks forward to the improvements the bond will provide. “One of the best things about Orting is its sense of community. In order to continue to foster this, we need our school buildings to feel welcoming. Our schools are the hubs for fostering and building our community.”

PTR principal Nikkii Mesa watches the MLK assembly

The Orting School District 2023 Bond is on the February 14 ballot. Please vote by February 14!

Posted 1/31/2023