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Hathaway student visits nation's capital to advocate for diabetes research and education (Photo) - 04/21/14
While many families enjoyed a well-deserved break this spring, Hathaway Elementary student Paige Maas took part in something she'll likely never forget. She was selected by the American Diabetes Association to represent Washington state at the 2014 Capital Hill Advocacy Day March 24 and 25. As part of Diabetes Awareness Day, Paige traveled across the country with her father to meet with congressional leaders including Jaime Herrera Buetler to tell her story and advocate for funding that can be used for research and educational programs.

Diagnosed at age 7, Paige is a Type 1 diabetic who has learned to monitor her own blood sugar levels so that she can be fully independent at school. Paige uses school lunch menus to plan her meals and she tests her own blood before every meal.

This wasn't Paige's first experience representing the diabetic community. Last year, she represented District 18 at Advocacy Day at the State Capitol. She is also very involved in the Tour de Cure, an endurance cycling event for the American Diabetes Association. Last year, Paige met Governor Inslee and invited him to join her team in the event.

Paige's father, Brad Maas, commends Washougal School District for its compliance with the ADA's Safe at School Program. "This is not mandatory in Washington state, but WSD voluntarily participates in this extremely important program," said Maas. Through the program, ADA representatives train school staff to respond in the event of severe hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) if a registered nurse is not available. Parents grant permission for non-nurse school employees to administer a glucagon shot while relieving the employee of liability. "As parents, we are very thankful that WSD is fully compliant with the program," said Maas.

Studies show that 1 in 400 people has type 1 diabetes, for which there currently is not a cure. Paige's fundraising, through the Tour de Cure, helps fund programs searching for a cure. Researchers are hopeful that a cure may be found within the next five years.


Pictured: Hathaway Elementary student Paige Maas with Jaime Herrera Buetler.
Washougal elementary students compete in Battle of the Books (Photo) - 04/17/14
Nearly 100 Washougal elementary school students took part in the first ever district-wide Battle of the Books which culminated with a Grand Battle on Monday, April 14, 2014 at Washougal High School.

"The Battle of the Books is a Knowledge Bowl type competition in which students read books from a pre-determined list of 20 books. They have to read at least eight books to qualify to be in the battle," explained Tammy Asbjornsen, Cape Horn-Skye (CH-S) Elementary Library Assistant. "During the competition students are given questions about content and answer by identifying the book title for five points and the author for an additional two points. Teams had 30 seconds after the reading of the question to give its response through the team captain. If the team gives an incorrect title or author, the opposing team may then pick up points for that question with the correct answer."

The competition was for 4th and 5th graders at all Washougal elementary schools. Teams consist of four to six players. The preliminary rounds were held Friday, April 11th at their own school's with the top two teams from each school battling it out at the Grand Battle. The two teams in the final battle were both from CH-S. The winning team, The Swashbucklers, was team captain Brynn Haralson, Gavin Keyser, Immi Hinchliff, Samantha Mederos, Elise Moore and Rosalind Hinchliff.

Many of the teams wore pirate costumes for their competition and had pirate inspired team names. "The theme for this year is 'Books are Treasure,' explained Lily Chamberlain, a CH-S fifth grader in Miss Smith's class and a member of the Treasure Seekers team. "Reading books is really like finding treasures, and pirates like treasure, so that's why we are dressed like that." Chamberlain's favorite part of the battle was the friendly competition with friends. She read and wrote summaries for 11 of the 20 books to prepare.

"I've enjoyed watching the competition. They are now reaping the rewards after eight months of reading so many books and all of the learning that took place such as how to give a verbal summary," said Asbjornsen. "They took this very seriously." Book selections included adventure, classics, fantasy, and historical fiction. Many students read all 20 books.

Asbjornsen said she was also impressed with the sportsmanship among the readers. "When we dismissed the groups to begin the battles at CH-S there were a lot of 'good lucks" heard between the teams."

WHS Librarian, Hillary Marshall, was instrumental in organizing the district-wide event. Planning began in September with the elementary library assistants, Kathy Stanton, Hathaway; Marlene Leifsen, Gause; and Asbjornsen, CH-S. High school students got into the act by volunteering to read the battle books to help create questions for the competition. They also served as team leaders and time and tally keepers at the Grand Battle. IQ Credit Union donated $75 for each of these WHS students to receive a book of their choice for their efforts.

Canyon Creek Middle School has done the Battle of the Books for the past 5 years, which included the CH-S fifth graders. "This is the first year for the Washougal School District to have all three elementary school's compete against each other," said Asbjornsen. "We are all really excited about this and hope that it becomes a tradition for our district."

Besides medals being awarded, a traveling trophy will be given to the winning team to place at their school until the following year's "Battle."

"This is a great way to expose students to books that they normally would not pick up and read," Asbjornsen said. "It makes me feel good to see some of those students that do not like to read actually get excited about reading and proud of themselves for doing it."


Photo ID:
Back row, Gavin Keyser, Tammy Asbjornsen and Brynn Haralson
Front row, Immi Hinchliff, Samantha Mederos, Elise Moore, and Rosalind Hinchliff
Cape Horn-Skye Elementary students bring balance to the classroom (Photo) - 04/15/14
Fourth grade students in Alice Yang's class at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary are having a ball; or rather using them as chairs. "I researched ways to help students who had difficulties sitting still and learned about the advantages of using stability balls in the classroom," Yang explained. "So a few months ago, I posted a project on DonorsChoose.org for a class set of stability balls to replace chairs. It was, to my surprise, funded and we have been using them for two weeks now.

"The first week was a little bouncy, as the kids were very excited to get to use them," Yang admitted. "After a lot of practice with knowing when it was okay to bounce and when it was time to sit still, I have noticed a big improvement in students staying in their seats. The balls are also used as an incentive to finish work on time, and I've never had such high turn-in rates."

Fourth grader Andrew Seitz welcomed the stability ball over a regular chair. "They are really fun and more comfortable, plus they help you focus," he said. "When you get stuck on a problem you can bounce a little and that will get more blood to your brain. That will bring more ideas to your mind."

Seitz said the balls are easy to balance on and help to give you better posture. "You have to sit up straight to balance," he explained. The class also does exercises in the morning such as singing the "Nifty Fifty United States" song and bouncing and slapping the ball in rhythm.

"Research shows that the tiny movements kids make while balancing actually help stimulate the prefrontal cortex which does a lot of things, including inhibiting impulses," Yang explained. "Studies also show that because of the constantly use of core muscles to balance on the chairs, students burn up a lot of excess energy throughout the day."

In addition to better posture, stability balls help students focus in class, especially high energy and students with ADHD. In many studies, the use of stability balls also improves handwriting and small motor skills.

DonorsChoose.org was responsible for outfitting the classroom with the stability balls. It is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom get materials they would like. Public school teachers from throughout the country post classroom project requests on the site, and donors sign up to give any amount to the project that inspires them the most.

When a project reaches its funding goal, Donors Choose ships the materials to the school. Teachers follow up with photos of the project taking place, a letter, and insight into how the money was spent.

"I'm hoping to see continued focus and improvement in quality of work, but also increased physical health," Yang said. "When the students feel good, they work better. The stability balls also help them feel more motivated about coming to school."


Cape Horn-Skye Elementary Fourth Graders Aiden Baalaer (left) and Christian Smith (right).
Washougal School District asks for input on facilities review process - 04/02/14
Washougal patrons are invited to help shape the future of Washougal School District by attending a town hall style meeting to discuss the district's long range facilities plans. The meeting is set for Thursday, April 17 from 6 - 9:00 p.m. in the Washougal High School Commons.

The Long Range Facility Planning Committee, made up of community members and staff with expertise in school facilities, will be sharing data they've collected about our school buildings and other facilities. Participants will hear the findings of the six-month process to review our district facilities and be able to provide input and feedback to the Facilities Planning Group before recommendations are made to the school board in June.

During the process, committee members surveyed all school buildings, grounds and supporting infrastructure and developed criteria for ranking facilities project needs.

"One of our most important goals is to make sure the district has the facilities and capacity to provide for a safe and quality education," said Randy Curtis, committee chair.

Following the Town Hall meeting, the committee will prepare a final report to the superintendent regarding the district's long range facility needs. The report will be the basis for identifying short range projects that can be funded on an annual basis and large projects that require further consideration.

"We hope the outcome is a publicly guided process that helps the district determine how to maintain, replace and grow our educational facilities," said Curtis.

RSVP to Cassi Marshall at 954-3005 or cassi.marshall@washougalsd.org.