Battle Ground Sch. Dist.
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News Releases
Mark Hottowe (center) after receiving his award. Mark Ross (left) is BGPS' incoming Superintendent, and Sandy Mathewson (right), is the district's director of social-emotional learning
Mark Hottowe (center) after receiving his award. Mark Ross (left) is BGPS' incoming Superintendent, and Sandy Mathewson (right), is the district's director of social-emotional learning
BGPS Superintendent Mark Hottowe presented with Student Achievement Leadership Award (Photo) - 05/24/17

Superintendent Mark Hottowe was awarded the Student Achievement Leadership Award at a ceremony on Friday, May 19 at the Educational Service District (ESD) 112 in Vancouver. The award was given in recognition of Battle Ground Public Schools' innovative programs focused on improving student achievement. Hottowe, who is retiring at the end of June, was also presented with a Retirement Award.

ESD 112 presented the regional awards on behalf of the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) to honor and recognize outstanding educational administrators and community members who have made extraordinary contributions to K-12 education.

"Unlike private or charter schools, our public schools welcome all students regardless of size, color, background, income or ability," said Mike Nerland, Chair of the WASA Awards for Region 112 and Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning at ESD 112. "For many children, public education is the only hope for creating a vibrant life and future success. We're proud to recognize and celebrate those who dedicate their time, talent, and attention to making our public schools the best they can be for our children."

Throughout Superintendent Hottowe's 41 years in education, he repeatedly demonstrated a heart for vulnerable and under served youth. He spent his career helping to change school culture and climate through programs that reduce risk factors, build resiliency, and enable positive learning environments. He created the Social-Emotional Learning Department in Battle Ground and led the implementation of the Project AWARE grant, resulting in significantly decreased suspensions at the district's high schools.

"While I believe strongly in the importance of curriculum, instruction, and learning, my core belief is that the social-emotional health and the physical health of students is paramount," said Hottowe. "We've had the opportunity over the years to do some truly remarkable things. This award belongs to the great people in our community who believe in our work and believe in the needs of students."

At the event, Colleen O'Neal of the Battle Ground Education Foundation was also presented with the Community Leadership Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to education.

Battle Ground Public Schools asks community for input - 05/18/17

Battle Ground Public Schools is asking the community, parents and staff to share their thoughts, concerns and ideas for the district in a Thoughtexchange community engagement survey that will be open May 23-June 2. The district will send an email invite to parents and staff to join the anonymous conversation when it opens online, and community members also can sign up online to receive the invitation:

The district is gathering community feedback as it prepares for the transition this summer to a new superintendent. Current assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning Mark Ross will replace Superintendent Mark Hottowe, who is retiring at the end of June after 40 years in education. Survey participants will be asked to answer four questions about what they appreciate about the district, what are their concerns about the district, educational opportunities for students, and what questions they have for Battle Ground Public Schools.

Schools and the district office can use the feedback in its planning. "We know people are busy and recognize that it can be difficult to attend another meeting," Hottowe said. "This process lets our stakeholders engage in a community-wide conversation from the comfort of their homes and gives us a community voice."

All community members are invited to participate in this process. Community members who do not receive an email invitation can self-register to join the conversation online at

This is the third community engagement survey the district has conducted in the past three years. The first survey in 2015 had more than 2,500 respondents who shared their thoughts on the district's strengths and challenges and provided valuable information that Battle Ground Public Schools incorporated into the district's Strategic Plan.

Just as with the past Thoughtexchange surveys, the process will be delivered in three steps: Share (collection of ideas), Star (consider other points of view) and Discover (learn what is important to the group). The Share step will begin Tuesday, May 23 with the Star step occurring in June and the Discover step in the fall. More information about this and previous Thoughtexchange surveys is available on the district website:

Community members can contact the district's communication office for additional information: or (360) 885-5470.

Dixie Anderson's award-winning woven ceramic piece
Dixie Anderson's award-winning woven ceramic piece
BGHS junior wins state award at 44th Annual Superintendent's High School Art Show (Photo) - 05/11/17

Battle Ground High School junior Dixie Anderson is a state winner in the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction's (OSPI) 44th Annual Superintendent's High School Art Show. This is a huge accomplishment for Dixie, her teacher Tamra Galles, BGHS, and the entire Battle Ground Public Schools district!

Students first compete at the Regional ESD show, where the top judged artworks move on to the state competition. This year, there were 134 entries that reached the state level. After several rounds of judging and selections, fifteen winners and ten honorable mention awardees were identified.

The fifteen winning pieces will be added to the permanent collection at OSPI or at one of their participating partner state organization offices, including the State Board of Education (SBE), Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB), Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), Washington State School Directors' Association (WSSDA), and the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP). 

There will be a  reception and awards ceremony to honor the winning students from 1-3 p.m. on Friday, May 19 at the OSPI offices in the Old Capitol Building at 600 Washington Street SE in Olympia.  The Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, along with other distinguished guests, will present the awards.

Pleasant Valley Middle School today
Pleasant Valley Middle School today
Pleasant Valley Schools to celebrate 40th anniversary (Photo) - 05/11/17

When teachers opened the doors of the new Pleasant Valley campus to its first students, the youngsters probably thought the building seemed a little bare. The newly constructed school was completed earlier than expected, and the new chairs and desks had yet to arrive.

However, the lack of furniture didn't stop the students from learning. The caring teachers of the Pleasant Valley campus impressed upon their pupils the importance of gaining knowledge even as they sat on the floor during the first two weeks after the new school opened.

Forty school years later, the Pleasant Valley school community is preparing to celebrate a continuation of the same caring and dedication to the craft that their predecessors showed when the school first opened its doors on the campus in 1976.

Pleasant Valley will host a 40th anniversary celebration of the campus on Thursday, May 18 at 6 p.m. followed by an open house from 7 to 8 p.m at the Pleasant Valley campus, 14320 NE 50th Ave. in Vancouver. Current and former staff members, families, students, and community members are invited to attend the event to celebrate the school's history and share memories of the primary and middle schools.

"If these walls could talk, they would tell you about the many generations of families who have walked the halls and sat in the classrooms," said Pleasant Valley Primary Assistant Principal Diane Castle. "Rarely a day goes by that we don't hear stories from grandparents who give us a history lesson of the school when they were students here."

Some Pleasant Valley teachers have worked at the schools for their entire careers. And some of them had as their students other teachers who now teach their own students in neighboring classrooms on the same campus. One of Pleasant Valley's first grade teachers even remembers when his dad helped build the school.

Pleasant Valley's current campus wasn't its first. Pleasant Valley began as its own school district in the mid-1800s. According to the book "Battle Ground ... In and Around" by Louise McKay Allworth Tucker, the first school building for the independent Pleasant Valley District No. 60 burned down. Community members built a second school building in 1880 at the northeast corner of Salmon Creek Street and 50th Avenue and moved it in 1932 to accommodate a third Pleasant Valley school built of brick at the same location. The brick school building was vacated by Pleasant Valley in 1976, but still exists at its original location as a private residence.

Pleasant Valley District No. 60 consolidated with the Battle Ground Public Schools district in 1957. Battle Ground used bonds approved by the community to construct the current Pleasant Valley campus just a quarter mile south of the 44-year-old brick building on NE 50th Avenue. The new campus took less than two years to build.

Parent Ashley Baum with her son at a recent parent shadow day
Parent Ashley Baum with her son at a recent parent shadow day
BGPS shadow days engage parents in their child's learning (Photo) - 05/05/17

A group of four first graders are seated in a semi-circle around a table, intently focused on instructional aid Diane O'Haver as she points to a series of words on a small whiteboard. As she stops on each word, the students read it aloud before taking turns naming every rhyming word that they can think of.

It's a pretty common scene in Pleasant Valley Primary's reading intervention classes. The only thing setting this apart from a typical class are the parents who have come to the school for a parent shadow day.

Battle Ground Public Schools offers learning intervention programs in reading, math, and English as a Second Language (ESL) to students in kindergarten through fourth grades. Research has shown that student progress can occur at a faster pace when parents engage in their students' learning. As part of the district's parent engagement efforts, several Battle Ground schools have started inviting parents to shadow their students in these programs several times per year so they can better understand what intervention supports look like while learning some key strategies for use at home.

"Learning intervention programs allow us to identify and address learning gaps and provide students the individual attention and support they need to build confidence in reading, math, and language skills," said Pleasant Valley Primary Principal Mike Michaud. "Having parents attend their kids' intervention classes strengthens the relationships between school and home and provides parents with an opportunity to experience a day in the life of their child."

Students who score below benchmark levels for their age and grade are candidates for Battle Ground's intervention programs, which are designed to help young learners who may benefit from learning in smaller groups to catch up to their peers. To introduce learning intervention programs to parents, schools used to offer once-per-year information sessions. Now, schools invite parents to shadow days for a first-hand look at what happens in intervention.

The shadow days are impactful for several reasons. At just 30 minutes long, each intervention class is short and sweet, but a lot happens in a short amount of time. On shadow days, parents get to see their child learning and participating in intervention, they meet the intervention specialists and ask questions, and perhaps most importantly, they eliminate any fear of not knowing about the program. Shadow days also help parents realize that they themselves are great teachers for their children.

"Parent shadow days highlight the efforts of our students and the instructional expertise of our classified and certificated staff working in these programs," said Kathy Davis, a reading intervention specialist at Pleasant Valley Primary. "Parents consistently express how rewarding it is to see these programs in action and learn how they can help support their kids' learning needs at home."

Monica Filan, the parent of a first grader in Pleasant Valley's reading intervention program, says she noticed a difference within the first week of her daughter attending the class. "She started reading to her stuffed animals to practice what she learns," said Filan. "Coming to the shadow day was a big help because in addition to seeing and hearing how lessons are taught, I feel better equipped to help her in ways consistent with what she learns at school."

The success of shadow days is leading to more schools extending the invitation to parents to glimpse what their children are learning in intervention programs. "Learning intervention specialists work hard to improve the academic skills and the confidence of each learner," Principal Michaud said. "Involving parents in that process allows us all to witness and take ownership of the positive growth that each child experiences in these programs."

BGHS Drama Club poster for The Addams Family
BGHS Drama Club poster for The Addams Family
BGHS Drama Club to perform 'The Addams Family' (Photo) - 05/03/17

The Battle Ground High School Drama Club is set to perform the musical "The Addams Family" beginning May 3. Directed by Stephan "Cash" Henry, the play brings the wonderfully weird and devilishly delightful family to life. This magnificently macabre new musical comedy was created by Jersey Boys authors Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.

"The Addams Family" features an original story that is every father's nightmare. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. A man her parents have never met. And if that weren't upsetting enough, she confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. Now, Gomez Addams must do something he's never done before -- keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday's "normal" boyfriend and his parents.

The show runs May 3-5 and 11-13. All shows begin at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30. Performances will be at The Lair at Battle Ground High School, 300 W. Main St. in Battle Ground. Tickets cost $7 for students and senior citizens, and $10 for adults and the general public. Tickets can be purchased at the Battle Ground High School ASB Office, at the door just prior to the performances, or online at

The performance dates and times are as follows:

Wednesday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 4 at 7:00 p.m.
Friday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 11 at 7:00 p.m.
Friday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 13 at 7:00 p.m.