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News Releases
Yacolt Primary first graders Sasha Bolsoy and Bella Merriman complete an art assignment on the computer with a digital pen and art tablet.
Yacolt Primary first graders Sasha Bolsoy and Bella Merriman complete an art assignment on the computer with a digital pen and art tablet.
Digital art helps Yacolt students overcome fear of failure (Photo) - 05/05/16
Sasha Bolsoy tapped her digital pen on the art tablet, and the circle on the computer screen turned a bright shade of pink. Another tap, and the circle behind the first turned a deep red. Tapping a third circle, Sasha chose to fill it with a sunny yellow color. And so it went, tapping and filling circles with a rainbow of colors from the warm side of the color wheel.

Art teacher Jan Leppert strolled around her classroom at Yacolt Primary School, peeking over students' shoulders and answering questions as first grade hands shot into the air. Students focused on the task: use either warm or cool colors to experiment with the special effects in an online art application, pausing only to demonstrate something cool to a fellow student, or to ask a question. "They help each other, and learn how to give constructive criticism," Leppert said.

Leppert, who has been teaching art since before computers made their way into the classroom, could have pulled out the paints or crayons and asked students to put the colors on paper. But then, paint and paper come at a consumable cost, is messy, and don't let students back up and make changes so easily as the tap of a digital pen or the click of a mouse.

Today's assignment in Leppert's art class at Yacolt Primary School is part of her desire to immerse students in the technical world of digital art and meets the requirements for Washington Art Standard 1.1.6, which requires students to differentiate between warm and cool colors. It just so happens that Leppert's digital art lesson also meets several Washington state learning requirements for educational technology, namely: 1.1.1, Generate ideas and create original works for personal and group expression using a variety of digital tools; 2.2.1, Develop skills to use technology effectively; 2.2.2, Use a variety of hardware to support learning; and 2.3.2, Select and use online applications.

Leppert is just one of many teachers in Battle Ground Public Schools who seamlessly integrates technology tools into lessons that empowers students to reach their highest potential. Watch videos of more technology integration on the BGPS YouTube channel.

Yacolt's Leppert began using digital art tools in the creation of her own art projects several years ago, and was so enthused by the medium's creative power and flexibility to do something over, that she began taking her art students to Yacolt's computer lab at least once each week. There, students learned how to create using free art programs such as paint.NET, an open-source image editing program developed by a computer science student at Washington State University.

She loved teaching digital art lessons so much that Leppert was ecstatic when Yacolt principal Ken Evans offered to purchase technical art equipment for her classroom, including pressure-sensitive digital pens and art tablets that let students draw images that appear on the computer screen, much the same as typing on a keyboard.

"Now, I can't imagine teaching without it," Leppert said.

Besides the ability for students to quickly undo something in their digital work, Leppert said, one of the coolest aspects of digital art is that even the most mundane computer tasks become relevant. Even the youngest primary students are excited to learn how to use a mouse and save files in different formats so they can share a photographic file (.jpg) of their artwork with their families on a computer at home. All they have to do is access their school account on Google Drive through the web.

Leppert estimates that her art students spend one half to two thirds of their time creating with digital mediums. "Digital is faster," she said, "and students get over their fear of failure because they can make changes so easily on the computers."

As first grade art class draws to an end, Leppert heads toward a student finishing his project on the monitor. "Look at this," Gabriel Deffenbaugh said as Leppert approaches. With a circular movement of the digital pen on the art pad, the circles on the computer screen turn into a rainbow swirl of warm colors.

"Some people worried that students would lose their creativity if they used digital tools to create art pieces, but I've seen just the opposite," Leppert said. "The students get really excited when they get their hands on new creative tools."
Student watercolor on display in Battle Ground Public Schools' District Art Show
Student watercolor on display in Battle Ground Public Schools' District Art Show
BGPS celebrates student art at 57th District Art Show (Photo) - 04/26/16
More than 800 creative works will be on display May 3-24 during Battle Ground Public Schools' annual District Art Show. The event, in its 57th year, will be held at Captain Strong Primary School.

The art show celebrates the work of student artists from every grade level. Pieces on display include 3D sculptures, ceramics, drawings, digital art, photography and paintings. The event was founded by the late Bob Peck, who taught art classes and shaped the art program at Battle Ground High School for more than 37 years before he retired.

The public is invited to view the art free of charge from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days from May 3 to 24 at the school, 1002 NW 6th Ave., Battle Ground. A public reception for student artists will be held on Monday, May 9 at 4:30 p.m. at Captain Strong, in conjunction with a regular school board meeting at 6 p.m. At the meeting, board members will recognize the first place, grand prize and best of show student winners. The school building will be open until 8 p.m. that evening for the art show.
Battle Ground High School Presents 'Father of the Bride' - 04/26/16
Show Times: May 5, 6, 7 & 11, 12, 13 7:00 PM

Battle Ground High School Drama Club's spring production of the play "Father of the Bride" opens May 5. Written by Caroline Francke and directed by Stephan "Cash" Henry, performances will take place in The Lair.

"Father of the Bride" is a hilarious comedy about a simple wedding that quickly gets out of hand. The BGHS play will be set in the 1980s with all the colorful clothes, over the top hairstyles and fun music of the decade.

The play runs May 5-7 (Thursday-Saturday) and May 11-13 (Wednesday-Friday). Performances begin at 7 p.m., and doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the door or online at and are $5 for students with ASB and senior citizens and $8 for the general public.
2015 Washington Achievement Awards
2015 Washington Achievement Awards
Captain Strong, Laurin schools earn highest state award (Photo) - 04/20/16
Two schools in the Battle Ground Public Schools district have earned 2015 Washington Achievement Awards, ranking them among the highest performing schools in the state based on three years of academic information. Captain Strong Primary was recognized for high progress and Laurin Middle School for English language acquisition.

The Washington Achievement Award is sponsored by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the State Board of Education. The state selected this year's 258 winning schools based on a revised Achievement Index of statewide assessment data. The Achievement Index measures school performance, emphasizing improvement and recognition. Educators, families, and community members can use the Index to identify areas of strength and improvement in Washington's schools. To qualify for an Achievement Award, schools cannot be listed as Priority or Focus and must have at least 95 percent participation on state tests.

Schools are recognized as top performers in one of seven categories:
Overall Excellence
High Progress
English Language Arts Growth
Math Growth
Extended Graduation Rate (awarded to high schools and comprehensive schools only)
English Language Acquisition
Achievement Gap

"The Achievement Awards recognize schools and educators making a difference in student outcomes. Award recipients are schools that have made measurable progress helping students prepare for college, career, and life," said Isabel Munoz-Colon, State Board of Education Chair. "The Achievement Awards are one way we can learn more about the successful strategies Washington schools are using to help our kids."

The award-winning schools will be recognized during a ceremony on May 10 at Union Gap School in Union Gap and at an upcoming Battle Ground Public Schools board meeting. The WAA criteria and list of winners and the state achievement index is available online.

WAA winners and criteria list:
State achievement index:
BGHS senior Kinzy Christopher answers questions from volunteer and Lewis River Rotary member John Halver during a mock job interview.
BGHS senior Kinzy Christopher answers questions from volunteer and Lewis River Rotary member John Halver during a mock job interview.
First job interviews empower students with life skills (Photo) - 04/14/16
Sitting around tables in the school library, students nervously smoothed the skirts of their dresses and straightened the collars that hung over the buttons on their dress shirts. The Battle Ground High School students chatted and exchanged a few grins, but most sat quietly.

They waited their turns for one of the scariest moments in a person's life: the first job interview.

Kevin Weeks, the high school's business teacher, examined his list of students and called two names. Slowly, and in receipt of apprehensive stares from their peers, the two students took their seats in empty chairs, each across from a member of a local Rotary Club.

"We talk about kids being career and college ready, but if they can't sit down and have a conversation with an adult, then they aren't really ready for anything," Weeks said. The Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher has set up mock interviews for the students in his career English and technical writing classes for the last 14 years. "I want to help students prepare for what it's going to be like sitting across from someone they don't know," Weeks said. "I want to alleviate the stress and all the butterflies kids have."

Research has shown that students with greater exposure to CTE are more likely to be employed and earn higher wages after secondary and higher education. CTE programs engage students in problem-solving activities, provide hands-on activities and bring students and community members together for collaborative learning. Battle Ground Public School's CTE program prepares students for the workforce by connecting them to a variety of career paths and empowering them with the skills to secure jobs in those fields. Both Battle Ground and Prairie high schools offer classes in business, health services, industrial occupations and digital and visual arts.

No matter what path students pursue, Weeks wants to give students an edge in landing their first job. With that in mind, he has developed elaborate lessons on resume and interview preparation and sought to make the interviews as realistic as possible with volunteers from the Lewis River and Battle Ground Rotary clubs serving as "hiring managers."

During the semester in career English and technical writing, students cover how to create resumes, learn how to tailor cover letters for specific positions, and get tips for filling out job applications. They learn about proper job hunting etiquette (such as personal presentation and following up an interview with a thank you card) and communication skills and practice interviewing. Then there is the mock interview.

"It's a wonderful life skill," said Nancy Heidrick, a member of the Lewis River Rotary who volunteers to interview students each semester. "It's important to know how to dress appropriately, speak appropriately -- these are protocols that will never change, and these are skills that kids don't learn at home."

To prepare for the interview, students read help wanted ads and can apply for one of several varied positions with the fictitious business, The Employment Company. The business has 13 openings: from an apprentice plumber and a cashier, to a salesperson, a child development teacher and even a veterinary assistant. Weeks directs students to tailor their cover letter and resume to the help wanted ad describing the position for which they want to apply. All jobs are entry level and do not require experience. Weeks said he talked with local business people to find out what skills are required for each position and what general interview questions managers would ask applicants. During the interview, the Rotary volunteers evaluate students based on a rubric with scores for communications, eye contact, greeting, closing, presence and written materials.

"They're here to get the experience," Weeks said. "Real-life experience and the potential to be better in the next -- perhaps real -- job interview."

Most students took the BGHS business course to learn how to create or improve a resume and write an effective cover letter. "The hardest thing to do is to get what you want to say on paper," said Cheyenne Miller, a BGHS senior in the career English class.

Some students, like senior Courtney Melton, want to be ready for the workforce after high school. Melton wants to be a veterinary assistant and is exploring options for earning certification through a four to six week online course. "I want to improve my communications skills and have a better resume," she said. "Graduation is not far off."

Sitting across from their smiling interviewers in the library, some students sat erect, seemingly frozen as they answered questions. Other students relaxed, returning the smiles as they processed each question. "Some of what we do is calm their fears," said the Lewis River Rotary's Heidrick, "because if you've never interviewed before, it's very scary."