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News Releases
Kristina Avramenko helps make dog biscuits for The Barkery, a non-profit business run by the Battle Ground Public Schools Futures Program.
Kristina Avramenko helps make dog biscuits for The Barkery, a non-profit business run by the Battle Ground Public Schools Futures Program.
Students Learn Skills through the Business of Making Doggie Biscotti (Photo) - 11/24/15
On some days, the phone doesn't stop ringing. Pet owners from Alaska to New Hampshire call the Battle Ground Barkery to order the handmade doggie biscotti baked by volunteer students.

The students baking the dog treats are in Battle Ground Public Schools' Futures Program for students with disabilities. They make, bake and package the dog biscuits and deliver them to local businesses and ship them to customers. During the holidays, students package the treats in special stockings for gift giving. The Futures Program helps students ages 18-21 transition from high school to employment and other educational opportunities by providing them with the real-life opportunity to help run a business and learn job skills. "It's a fun, busy place," said Jodie Rogers, a special education teacher with Battle Ground Public Schools. "Everyone works hard, and everyone has a job."

Besides work skills, the students also learn independence and responsibility. They practice creating resumes, going to job interviews and using public transportation and have a chance to hear from a guest speaker once each week. "The focus is to get work experience so the students can get paid positions when they graduate from the program," Rogers said.

Students in the Futures Program have run the Barkery for eight years and work cooperatively with one of the special education classes at Battle Ground High School to package the treats. The students bake 300 dozen doggie biscuits each week. First they mix all-natural ingredients, including broth, eggs and non-wheat flours, and then they roll and cut the biscuits before baking and bagging them. The students also participate in delivering biscuits to customers.

All money made from the sale of the dog treats pay for the ingredients and supplies and some equipment. Last summer, the Barkery got its kitchen remodeled and added a commercial oven thanks to a donation from a local business.

The Doggie Biscotti biscuits are available in three sizes: regular, baby and niblets and cost $1.25 for a small bag, $4 for a holiday stocking or $12.50 for a tub. The treats are sold in local shops and veterinarian offices:
Old Town Battle Grounds
Battle Ground Produce
Battle Ground Chevron
Alder Creek Veterinary Clinic
ReTails Human Society Thrift Store
Butcher Boys
Orchards Veterinary Clinic

Phone orders also are welcome: (360) 600-7026
Barkery website:
Prairie High School coaches attend a positive motivation training by the Positive Coaching Alliance.
Prairie High School coaches attend a positive motivation training by the Positive Coaching Alliance.
Prairie High School Coaches Get Positive Motivation Training (Photo) - 11/19/15
Prairie High School has enlisted the help of the Positive Coaching Alliance to provide its athletic coaches with a professional development opportunity. PHS wants to help its coaches impress upon their student-athletes that while athleticism may get them on the field, it is character that will sustain them through the season. The national, non-profit organization has offered two workshops on positive motivation training at the high school so far this year and has plans to offer a third to student-athletes or parents.

"We do all this stuff to help teachers around professional development, but we haven't done enough to help coaches learn best practices and how to be successful with kids in the modern era," said Andy Schoonover, Prairie's athletic director and assistant principal. "The kids are different and best practices have evolved, and we need to equip coaches with modern techniques."

The Positive Coaching Alliance works to provide youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building sports experience through proven coaching methods that teach resiliency and are focused on effort and mastery of skills. The organization has its roots in San Francisco, where it was founded by a Stanford University instructor in 1988. The Positive Coaching Alliance's teachings support Battle Ground Public Schools' district-wide efforts to implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and focus on social-emotional learning. The organization's services are being paid for by funds raised by the Prairie Athletic Booster Club at its annual auction, Schoonover said.

When high school athletic programs mimic professional sports teams' high-stakes focus on winning, they lose character-growth opportunities, said Jack Hendrickson, the Portland partnership manager for Positive Coaching Alliance. Too much emphasis on winning can make kids scared to perform and result in high anxiety, and many don't have the ability to deal with it, he continued. "If you stay positive and focus on effort and learning the skills of your sport, then you will be more successful." Hendrickson said one of the main things that the Positive Coaching Alliance tries to teach coaches to pass along to students is "the next play is always the most important one."

The Positive Coaching Alliance trains coaches on how to motivate student-athletes by working through scenarios that could happen during their seasons. For example, at a recent training for PHS coaches, they talked about what they would do if an athlete missed a shot on the court, hung his head and didn't get back in the game. After the discussion, the Positive Coaching Alliance trainer shared best practices for engaging a student who feels dejected.

The organization also has workshops for student-athletes and parents. Prairie is considering inviting parents to one of the workshops this year. The high school already shares the Positive Coaching Alliance's ideals with parents of student-athletes at its seasonal parent meetings in the form of a TEDx Talk on YouTube: "Youth sports as a development zone: Jim Thompson at TEDxFargo."
"The only way to change the culture is to make sure every athlete, coach and parent is speaking the same language," Hendrickson said. "Ideally, you get a sports program and school that is more focused on the positive side of competition."

Additional Links:
Battle Ground Puts Social Emotional Learning on Par with Academics

Laurin Students Press Their Peers to Show Respect

Captain Strong's Leadership Program Increases Classroom Learning
Prairie High School debate team members recently took the sweepstakes award at their home meet, the Falcon Invitational Tournament.
Prairie High School debate team members recently took the sweepstakes award at their home meet, the Falcon Invitational Tournament.
Win Gives PHS Speech and Debate Team Solid Start to Season (Photo) - 11/19/15
The Prairie High School debate team recently won its home meet, taking the sweepstakes award from rival Mountain View with a more than 40-point lead. Prairie held its Falcon Invitational Tournament Nov. 6-7 at the school. This was the second meet in a season that spans the entire school year. Speech/Debate is a WIAA competitive event for which students can letter and receive scholarships. The 19 members of Prairie's debate team who competed refined their skills for future tournaments that could include district and state competitions.

PHS individual winners at the home invitational were Madison Avolio, First Place Open Dramatic Interpretation and Third Place Open Radio Commentary; Emily Heacock, Third Place Open Dramatic Interpretation; Hannah Weinberg and Timmy Huynh, First Place Open Duo Interpretation; Callista Sofianos and Bailey DuPuis, Second Place Open Duo Interpretation; Mia Munoz and Bella Walls, Third Place Open Duo Interpretation; Jesse Jimenez, First Place Open Expository and Third Place Open Student Congress; Freddy Rodriguez, ­First Place Novice Radio Commentary and First Place Novice Impromptu; Ericka Mecham, ­Second Place Novice Radio Commentary; Jaelyn Vallely, Third Place Novice Dramatic Interpretation; Zack Tompkins, First Place Open Humorous Interpretation; Tony Brence, Third Place Open Humorous Interpretation; Hannah Weinberg, First Place Novice Interpretive Reading; Bailey DuPuis, ­First Place Open Interpretive Reading; William Mauck, ­Third Place Open Interpretive Reading; Zack Tompkins and Jesse Jimenez, Third Place Public Forum Debate; and Minh Quan Tran, ­Third Place Novice Student Congress.
Battle Ground Public Schools has hired a team of prevention/intervention specialists to work with middle and high school students.
Battle Ground Public Schools has hired a team of prevention/intervention specialists to work with middle and high school students.
Battle Ground Puts Social-Emotional Learning on Par with Academics (Photo) - 11/12/15
It would seem that Battle Ground Public Schools is taking a cue from the popular animated movie "Inside Out" in its push to bring social-emotional learning to a level that is equal to academics, but in reality, the concept of social-emotional learning has a history in the world of education that goes back several decades.

Social-emotional learning is a new Battle Ground school district focus prescribed by Superintendent Mark Hottowe. A large part of its impetus is Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education), the $2.5 million federal grant that Battle Ground is receiving over five years to improve overall school climate and increase awareness of youth mental health issues and access to mental health services.

Social-emotional learning is the process by which children and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions. Experts in social-emotional learning say that risky behaviors such as drug use, violence and bullying can be prevented or reduced when multiyear, integrated efforts are used to develop students' social and emotional skills. "The cognitive centers for learning are easily hampered by stress or impaired by substances," said Sandy Mathewson, the district's director of social-emotional learning. "If the cognitive centers are impaired, then it's much harder to learn. Our goal is to create an environment that is conducive to learning." Research shows this is best achieved through student engagement in positive activities and broad parent and community involvement.

To that end, the school district has hired Sandy Mathewson as the director of social-emotional learning to guide the district in accomplishing three goals over the next five years. Her position is funded in part by the Project AWARE grant.

First, the district is working to improve school climate and safety. It is implementing a district-wide Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program and installing software for data collection so that staff can make informed decisions.

Second, Battle Ground is working to increase mental health services to students. The district has hired five prevention/intervention specialists to work in the middle and high schools supporting the implementation of additional mental health and drug prevention services for students.

And third, Battle Ground is partnering with the Educational Service District (ESD) 112 on an effort to build and expand the capacity to increase mental health services in the community. This includes the training of staff, parents and community members in Youth Mental Health First Aid, a course that teaches people the skills to respond to the signs of mental illness and substance use. The effort also is examining how to connect families with community-based mental health services by bringing those providers into schools so that a student's whole family is supported.

Mathewson, who has worked in prevention and youth services for two decades, has a history of implementing successful support systems. She overcame the challenge of living in an at-risk family to graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Whitworth University in Spokane. Her first job out of college was with the North Idaho Children's Home in Lewiston, where she helped teach cooperation and behavioral skills to kids who needed intensive emotional help. "I quickly learned that a relationship with a caring adult made a huge difference in a child's ability to turn things around," Mathewson said.

Next, Mathewson moved to Clark County and worked with Battle Ground High School and Amboy Middle School for a short time to build prevention and intervention services for at-risk youth. It didn't take long, however, for the Camas High School principal to recognize her talent and offer Mathewson a full-time position as a prevention/intervention specialist. She worked with the community, parents and law enforcement agencies to prevent and intervene in substance use.

At Camas, Mathewson realized that if she could help kids help themselves, they learned a resiliency that would carry them through most challenges. "If you address the problem, such as alcohol and drug use, and then provide support groups and allow the students to concentrate on school work, they'll have a better chance at educational success," she said. "Our job was to get every kid in the chair every day and ready and able to learn."

After a few years, Mathewson took this knowledge with her to the ESD 112, where she developed a system-wide approach to drug and alcohol education for school districts in southwest Washington and simultaneously earned a master's in education degree in guidance counseling.

As the leader of the ESD 112's Prevention and Youth Services department, Mathewson's team wrote a grant for six school districts in Cowlitz County to implement behavioral and social-emotional supports in the districts. Hottowe, who worked in student support services in Kelso, helped write and implement the grant. It was one of Mathewson's largest grants: $5.6 million from the U.S. Department of Education. At the end of the grant's four-year implementation, the team had built a system of mental health services that used data to drive decisions and effectively reduced alcohol use among Cowlitz County's 10th graders, among other accomplishments.

Additional Links:
BGPS Awarded $2.5 Million in Services From Federal Grant Project AWARE

Laurin Students Press Their Peers to Show Respect

Captain Strong's Leadership Program Increases Classroom Learning
Lori Schilling, assistant principal at Laurin Middle School, leads students in a discussion about campus concerns during the monthly PAWS Talk.
Lori Schilling, assistant principal at Laurin Middle School, leads students in a discussion about campus concerns during the monthly PAWS Talk.
Laurin Students Press Their Peers to Show Respect (Photo) - 11/04/15
The requests poured in from left and right: bean bag chairs, fast food coupons, a pass to skip the lunch line, a weekly drawing for an extra recess. How about free popcorn?

"Ooo," Principal Nick Krause interjected, "How about free popcorn not just for you, but for two of your friends, too, and for a whole month--it's gotta be a month." His enthusiasm caught on. Like wildfire, it spread from student to student, each one thinking, considering how they could add a little something extra that would push student participation over the top.

Around the tables, students called out their thoughts as fast as Krause and assistant principal Lori Schilling could record them in their notebooks. The goal for this month's student gathering was to gather ideas for Lion Pride rewards that would motivate Laurin Middle School students to demonstrate positive behaviors. The group, called PAWS Talk, comprises one student from each classroom at the school. PAWS Talk representatives meet monthly with the two school administrators for a discussion on all things Laurin, from campus safety and ideas for student rewards to how to discourage undesirable behavior.

PAWS Talk is one element in the school's implementation of Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS), a set of practices endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education that has school staff teaching behavior expectations in the same manner as any core subject. Throughout the school day, school staff from teachers and recess monitors to bus drivers recognize students who demonstrate appropriate behaviors with positive rewards. Schools across the country, including those in the Battle Ground Public Schools district, are implementing PBIS as a way to meet students' social, emotional and behavioral needs. In Battle Ground, PBIS implementation is supported by the five-year Project AWARE federal grant that the district received to improve overall school climate and increase awareness of youth mental health issues and access to school mental health services.

Krause and Schilling launched PAWS Talk this year at Laurin as a way to help get students involved with the school's culture, modify student behavior and contribute to students' sense of school pride. "School is so much more than just academics," Krause said. "It's a family, and if not everybody in the family can speak, it just doesn't work."

The Laurin students who participate in the monthly PAWS Talk were elected by their peers to represent them. Students were asked to elect a classmate who would be willing to discuss sometimes difficult issues and share solutions with students in front of the classroom.

"I like it," said Nathan Walters, a sixth grade PAWS Talk representative. "You talk about what people do." At their first PAWS Talk, students tackled the issue of cafeteria cleanliness. They discussed what they could do to discourage students from spitting food on the floor and encourage students to be respectful. PAWS Talk representatives took the issue back to their classrooms for discussion, and that simple act has changed student behavior in the cafeteria. "People don't spit food on the ground," Walters said. "They are being respectful."

At the end of the most recent PAWS Talk, the administrators had a fresh list of rewards for demonstrations of positive behaviors, and students had a few concerns to share with classmates: no running, stay on the sidewalks, get to the buses in a timely manner. "Often times at schools, it's just orders coming from the top down," Principal Krause said. "But in order to get 100 percent involvement from everybody, you have to give kids' voice."

Walters said his sixth grade classroom discussions about school issues has definitely brought about changes in student behavior. "You see more people stick up for each other," he said, adding that he hopes it continues, and he hopes that he can make a difference. "I want to help people stop bullying, and help them set goals."

Additional Links:

Captain Strong's Leadership Program Increases Classroom Learning
Community Members Invited to City Presentation at BGPS Facilities Meeting - 11/02/15
Community members are invited to the next meeting of Battle Ground Public Schools' Facilities Improvement Team (FIT) on Thursday, Nov. 5. City of Battle Ground Public Works Director Scott Sawyer will present information to the team as a follow up to the Oct. 1 FIT meeting, at which the city and school district discussed conceptual proposals for an east-west connector between SR-503 and N. Parkway. Community members are invited to listen and will have an opportunity to submit questions following the presentation.

The City of Battle Ground's Transportation System Plan includes the addition of a new east-west connector road to relieve congestion and meet the requirements of the City's Comprehensive Plan. Conceptual proposals have included the use of district land between Main Street and Onsdorff Blvd. for the new connector. The City of Battle Ground and the school district are committed to a collaborative process to evaluate east-west connector options near Battle Ground High School. The Battle Ground School Board has asked FIT members to consider various connector options and submit their recommendations to the city for evaluation and further discussion.

The FIT meeting will be held at its regular time, 4 - 5:30 p.m., on Thursday, Nov. 5 at the Lewisville Campus, 406 NW Fifth Ave., Building C, Room C-26. Visit to learn more about the team's work over the past year.
Battle Ground High School drama and English teacher Stephan
Battle Ground High School drama and English teacher Stephan
BGHS Stages Teacher's Original Adaptation of 'A Christmas Carol' (Photo) - 10/29/15
When Battle Ground High School teacher Stephan "Cash" Henry began looking for just the right version of "A Christmas Carol" for drama students to perform on stage, he had a major case of deja vu. He read several--at least nine--stage adaptations of Charles Dickens' holiday novella, but none of them stood out as the storyline that played out in his head. "I felt like I had seen them all before," Henry said.

So this past July, when the bright sun typically blocks out any thoughts of thick-soled boots crunching on a snow-covered sidewalk, he took the matter to his desk and began transcribing his visions of a Victorian town and one stingy, grumpy man in particular.

Two months and eight drafts later, Henry emerged from the story in his head with a script he couldn't wait to take to his students. "That day, I had no idea how amazing it would be to watch these kids perform and have my words coming out of their mouths in Dickens' style," he said. Not only did he write the play, but Henry is also directing it. And his students are getting in on the act, too.

Next month, BGHS drama is debuting Henry's original adaptation of "A Christmas Carol." The fall production will run Nov. 12-14 and 19-21 in the BGHS Lair, 300 W. Main St., Battle Ground. Tickets are available online at and cost $5 with an ASB card and for senior citizens and $7 for general admission. Across town, Prairie High School drama is presenting its fall production, the musical "Guys and Dolls," Nov. 5-7 and 12-14.

On stage during a recent rehearsal, BGHS junior Sarah Wren stumbled over a line several times before getting Henry's attention, an exasperated look on the actress's face. "I just don't feel like the character would say that," she said. As the author of the play, Henry has been more than happy to listen to his student-actors' suggestions for edits to lines that come out a mouthful or perhaps don't quite sound like something their characters would say.

"Well, how can we make it easier and still stay true to the character?" Henry asked. A short discussion and one revised line later, Wren successfully projected the words of one of the ghosts that appears in the work. The script has seen multiple tweaks and edits since rehearsals began in September. "It continues to get better and better with their input," Henry said. "The students are filling out the characters so beautifully."

Henry's adaptation of the holiday classic follows the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a bitter man whose run-in with three Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future and that of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, transforms him into a kinder person.

But Henry's version goes deeper, examining Scrooge's past to reveal why the man is so angry, so bitter, and so alone. "We still see the base story," Henry said. "We still have Scrooge, who is the crotchety, miserly old man, but we learn why."

Henry researched Charles Dickens' own past and relationship with his imprisoned father, which served as the impetus for "A Christmas Carol," as well as other literature and adaptations. From that, Henry developed his adaptation. "We get pieces of Scrooge's past, but not a whole chunk," he said. "I wanted to show Scrooge, and why I think he deserves to be loved."

Besides drama, Henry also teaches English at the high school. Following the same guidelines he gives to his students, he chose to write the adaptation only after he realized that Dickens' work is in the public domain, meaning that it is no longer protected by copyright law. "I could write the adaptation I wanted to see and direct," he said. Throughout the process, Henry has stuck to the intent of Dickens' novella and credits the author's original work.

Henry called upon his stage experience as both an actor and director as he wrote the script. Still, performances in places such as Boston, Los Angeles and even New York didn't prepare him for the mental process of becoming a playwright. "I learned how hard it really is to write a play," he said. "It's an incredible amount of time even when adapting something that already exists, and yet it's amazing how much I love it."

Additional Resource:
Prairie Set to Perform Guys and Dolls