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Craig Chilton (logging industry), Gary Gouger (winemaker), Mindy Patee (hospitality) and Ron Onslow (Ridgefield mayor)  present to a class
Craig Chilton (logging industry), Gary Gouger (winemaker), Mindy Patee (hospitality) and Ron Onslow (Ridgefield mayor) present to a class
More than 50 professionals volunteered to speak at Ridgefield High School's Career Day (Photo) - 03/30/15
Monday, March 30, 2015-Ridgefield, WA-More than 50 professionals from a wide variety of fields and industries volunteered their time to speak about their careers to Ridgefield High School students during the school's Career Day, the capstone event for Career Month.

The high school counseling department and the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation brainstormed Career Day as part of the school's Career Month activities. "The foundation has supported us in trying to reach all of our students with activities to develop college and career readiness," said Monica DeShazer, school counselor. "Career Day was the central activity for our Career Month." After coming up with the idea, Amy McKenna, Program Coordinator for the school's High School and Beyond program, organized the day itself. "Execution was a team effort school-wide," said McKenna.

Career Day began with students taking career surveys during their homeroom classes to determine which professionals' presentations they would like to hear. A total of 56 professionals volunteered providing experience in a wide variety of fields including enology (wine making), hospitality, architecture, iron working, the logging industry, restaurants, writing, floral arrangements, finance, human resources, information technology, and areas of public service including firefighting, law enforcement, and even elected office.

Professionals were teamed up in different rooms to present their careers and to speak about how they found their career choices as well as to answer student questions. After brief introductions from each professional, the students asked questions including how to get started on particular career paths or how to own their own businesses. Many of the professionals suggested students "job-shadow" people who work in fields of interest to the students. "Do you like the outdoors? Maybe a logging career is for you, but you won't know if you don't take a closer look at it," said Craig Chilton, an expert in the logging industry. "It's also important to have self-confidence; don't think you're not smart enough - figure out what you want to do and go for it."

Some professionals discussed the importance of being open to options students might not have considered in the beginning. "Your life is going to change a lot and you need to know how to roll with the punches to find your way," said Ron Onslow, Mayor of Ridgefield and restauranteur who initially wanted to work in forestry. Mindy Patee, an event planner who works in the hospitality industry, agreed with Onslow, "Every experience you have throughout your life can help you shape your future," she said. "High school and college will teach you a lot, but you need to get out there and experience different aspects of life, too."

Other professionals talked about figuring out how working at something you love can make work more enjoyable. "Doing what you love as your work will make you look forward to your day," said Gary Gouger, a winemaker. "I started my career as a pharmacist and I discovered that if you love what you do, you'll love each day's work."

Paul Valencia, sports writer for The Columbian newspaper, spoke about how he loved watching sports and figured out a way to become a journalist without a college degree, "I got my start by becoming a journalist when I joined the military," he said. Many students asked about the importance of higher education and Valencia spoke of how getting further education should be a priority for every student. "Nowadays, you really do need a four-year degree if you want to become a journalist."

Some fields were so unique that students simply wanted to know more about the field itself. "The hardest part of my job is creating funeral arrangements," said Renelle Logue, a professional florist. "I remind myself that I'm helping a family get through a rough time by creating something beautiful to honor their loved one."

Other professionals spoke of the importance of being self-aware and accepting criticism from anyone, including themselves. "I'm my own biggest critic," said Sue Fox, a photographer. "You've got to develop a thick skin and realize that you are the only person who can decide how great your own work is."

Other events for Career Month included teachers sharing their job and career experiences with each of their classes throughout the month as well as opportunities for students to win prizes for career trivia questions. The month concluded with field trips to the Port of Portland and Nutter Construction. "We wanted students to have the opportunity to see a variety of careers throughout the month," said DeShazer. "We want to express our gratitude to our volunteer presenters as well as the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation for making our Career Month events possible."

RHS Fastpitch home games will be played on the district's brand-new softball field
RHS Fastpitch home games will be played on the district's brand-new softball field
Ridgefield School District recaps Winter Activities, previews Spring Sports (Photo) - 03/23/15
Monday, March 23, 2015-Ridgefield, WA-After a successful winter season, Ridgefield School District's sports program sets its sights on the upcoming spring season with returning champions and a brand-new softball field for its Fastpitch team.

"Winter sports brought lots of excitement and pride to the district with our basketball and wrestling teams competing in our brand-new home gym," said Debbie Bentler, Athletic Director for Ridgefield School District. "Seeing the community and our opponents enjoy what was described by a guest radio announcer as the 'crown jewel of high school gyms' was definitely a high point of the season for me."

Recapping the District's Winter Activities Season

Ridgefield High School Athletes reach State competition

Many of Ridgefield's student athletes in Winter Teams had extremely successful seasons:

* Trevor Newburn, sophomore, placed second at the State Wrestling Tournament at the Tacoma Dome.
* Kylee Tjensvold, sophomore gymnast, placed 9th on the balance beam and 5th place on the uneven bars at State competition. Rosie Mayfield, sophomore, and Teagan Haden, senior, also competed at State, rounding out three State competitors for our Gymnastics team's inaugural year.

Ridgefield Winter Sports Teams and Activities earn WIAA Academic Distinguished Honors

Gymnastics, Girls Basketball, Forensics, and Boys Basketball all received Distinguished Honors from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA). Ridgefield's teams' average Grade Point Averages (GPAs) are as follows:

Gymnastics - 3.44 GPA
Girls Basketball - 3.36 GPA
Forensics - 3.26 GPA
Boys Basketball - 3.05 GPA

Basketball All-League Recognition

For second team, Travis Gotsch (Sophomore) received All-League Recognition along with J.D. Wolniewicz (Senior), Hannah Farley (Freshman), Bailey Hooghkirk (Senior), and Abbi Smithline (Senior) receiving Honorable Mentions.

Gymnastics team makes State; Coach receives Coach of the Year

"Our gymnastics team competed at a high level for their inaugural year with three members qualifying for the State Meet, an exceptional accomplishment," said Bentler. In addition, Richard Samuels, the Ridgefield High School Gymnastics Coach, received the 2014-2015 Washington State Coach of the Year Award for Division 2A/3A. Samuels coached the Ridgefield Gymnastics team for several years as part of a cooperative with Vancouver School District before the team was brought into the Ridgefield Athletics Program this year.

Equestrian Team makes Top-10

Several of Ridgefield's Riders made the Top-10 in the Equestrian Competition:

* Freestyle Fours (Drill/Quad): Olivia House (Freshman), Mikaela Schuman (Sophomore), Brittney Thornton (Sophomore) and Jordyn Wishard (Sophomore) received 4th place.
* In-Hand Obstacle Relay: Mckenzie Derheim (Senior), Randi Richards (Freshman), Mikaela Schuman (Sophomore) and Brittney Thornton (Sophomore) received 6th place.
* Canadian Flags: Olivia House (Freshman), Mikaela Schuman (Sophomore), Brittney Thompson (Sophomore), and Jordyn Wishard (Sophomore) received 6th place.
* Dressage: Randi Richards (Freshman) received 5th place.

Forensics team become District 4 Champions

The Ridgefield High School Speech and Debate team claimed the AAA district trophy at the District 4 Tournament in February for the eighth time in the last nine years.

Top placers include:

* Andy Besel (Senior) and James Nguyen (Senior) tied for district champions in Expository Speaking.
* Jacob Anderson (Junior) won the District Championship in Extemporaneous Speaking with Andrew Goaring (Sophomore) placing third in the same event.
* Sarah Kaufman (Junior) and Randy Sokolowski (Junior) claimed the District Championship and second place, respectively, in the Humorous Interpretation category.
* Jackson Taylor (Junior) and Jacob Anderson (Junior) shared the District Champion Title in Impromptu Speaking with Randi Richard (Freshman) placing second in Original Oratory.
* James Nguyen (Senior) is the District 4 Champion in Congressional Debate with Makeila Wilson also (Sophomore) qualifying for State.
* The team of Jacob Anderson (Sophomore) and Jackson Taylor (Junior) placed second in Public Forum Debate.
* Kayla Besel (Sophomore), Natalie Dean (Freshman), Kellen Hartnett (Freshman), Corbyn McGill (Freshman), and Makeila Wilson (Sophomore) also attended the State Speech Tournament at the University of Puget Sound in March.
* Jacob Anderson (Junior), James Nguyen (Senior), Jackson Taylor (Junior), and Makeila Wilson (Sophomore) represented Ridgefield High School at the State Debate Tournament.

Additional athletics and activities updates can be found under the Activities & Clubs menu at the Ridgefield High School's website at: www.ridge.k12.wa.us/rhs

Spring Sports Preview

Starting March 2, Ridgefield's Spudders hit the fields and courts with baseball, Fastpitch, Boys Soccer, Girls Tennis, Girls Golf, and Track. League opponents include: Mark Morris, Hockinson, Hudson's Bay, R.A. Long, Washougal, and Woodland.

Varsity Boys Soccer will defend their Division 2A Greater St. Helens League (GSHL) and District 4 championships. Erin Siegel, sophomore golfer, heads to the links with the hopes of returning to the State Tournament for the second time. She placed 30th as a Freshman in 2014. In addition, Shyanne Chandler, senior Fastpitch player, returns as the reigning GSHL Most Valuable Player.

"As the Spuds move outdoors this season for spring sports, I am really excited for all of the participants and coaches," said Bentler. "The student athletes and coaches exhibit great anticipation and enthusiasm for the upcoming season after putting in significant training and preparation during the pre-season."

The district's new facilities also contribute to the student athletes' excitement. "Our Fastpitch teams competed off-campus last year while construction work continued at the high school, so they can't wait for their first home game," said Bentler. The first Fastpitch home game will take place on Wednesday, April 15 versus Washougal's team on Ridgefield's newly-finished softball field.

The district's stadium continues to attract attention with its state-of-the-art track and field. "We will host over 20 schools for the 2nd Annual Spudder Classic on May 8 as well as the 2A District Track Meet on May 22," said Bentler. "Events like these are great for both our kids and our community."

Community members interested in volunteering at field events can contact track coach, Gregg Ford, at gregg.ford@ridge.k12.wa.us. The district's athletics hotline will continue to provide the latest daily updates and rain-out information at (360) 619-1393.

The Success Bound team created a poster to encourage positive student behaviors
The Success Bound team created a poster to encourage positive student behaviors
Ridgefield School District uses programs to develop and encourage positive student behavior at all grade levels (Photo) - 03/16/15
Monday, March 16, 2015-Ridgefield, WA-Teachers and staff throughout Ridgefield School District set expectations for students at all grade levels for how to act and treat one another with respect from Kindergarten through their Senior year using a variety of research, programs and rewards.

South Ridge Elementary School introduces Pro-Kindness Program

Recently, staff at South Ridge Elementary introduced a Pro-Kindness Program to encourage positive behavior. "We wanted to get rid of the word prefix 'anti-'," explained Janice Sauve, South Ridge Principal. "We want everyone to be kind to one another, and we feel that encouraging positive behavior has more constructive benefits than discouraging negative behavior."

Students created posters encouraging pro-kindness behavior presented to the entire school at a school assembly. Sauve started the presentation by acknowledging the contributions of the different students who created the poster. Then, Sauve invited Kelli Anderson, teacher, to the front of the assembly and asked students to describe the differences between the two of them. Sauve explained to the students that while everyone has differences, it's those special differences which make us all individuals. "We want everyone to feel welcome, we want everyone to be special, and we want everyone to be kind to one another," said Sauve.

Heather Seymour, South Ridge counselor, spoke with the students about "filling each other's bucket," a metaphor for how happy we can each be throughout a day. Seymour talked about a few students she witnessed who sat with a crying kindergartener at her table during breakfast to make her feel better. "I'm sure these two students 'filled the kindergartener's bucket' by making her feel better about herself," said Seymour. She encouraged the students to be kind to one another and to fill each other's bucket every day.

Teachers also received Pro-Kindness postcards which they use to write notes home to parents telling them how their student demonstrated pro-kindness to one another.

Union Ridge Elementary School utilizes Second Step and Self-Manager Program

Union Ridge Elementary School uses a two different approaches to set student expectations. For students from Kindergarten through second grade, the staff uses the Second Step program. For students in grades 3-6, the staff uses a Self Manager program to set student expectations.

The Second Step program includes a social skills curriculum taught by counselors and teachers involving role-playing and other activities. "These activities provide students with the tools they need to interact in an appropriate way when they encounter difficult social situations," said Angela Freeman, Union Ridge Elementary Principal.

"Self Managers have to turn in work and be good citizens to their classmates and their teachers," said Freeman. "As a result, they take part in monthly Self Manager parties and may receive other special privileges to encourage ongoing positive behavior."

View Ridge Middle School uses REBS expectations to encourage positive student behavior

View Ridge Middle School introduced the Positive Behavior, Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program in the 2011-2012 school year and has continued to build on it every year, including the introduction of REBS expectations, an acronym derived from the school mascot, the Rebels. "REBS stands for Respect, Excellence, Be responsible, and practice Safety," said Chris Griffith, View Ridge Principal. "Practicing REBS means having respect for yourself, your classmates, your teachers, and everyone in your lives."

This year, View Ridge held a 3-on-3 basketball tournament to encourage proper REBS behavior. Teachers created their teams using students from their PBIS team. "The goal was to create a team that included at least one student who would really benefit from spending time playing as part of a team," explained Michelle Hankins, Art Teacher and ASB advisor for View Ridge. Teams played during lunch to encourage respect and offer an opportunity for all students to participate, even if they aren't on the team.

Ridgefield High School created Success Bound poster to set expectations for student behavior

At Ridgefield High School, a group of teachers volunteered to take part in a Success Bound group designed to help develop practices and introduce expectations for student behavior into the school. "We looked at different kinds of research and discovered that perseverance and grit are better predictors of success than the Intelligence Quotient (iQ)," explained Jeff Brink, science teacher. "A researcher analyzed results at a naval academy, and was able to better predict who would graduate using those two specific characteristics than the naval academy's own predictor test."

After researching, the RHS Success Bound group looked into the differences between growth mindsets and fixed mindsets. "With a growth mindset, students believe in themselves and feel that challenging themselves will help them learn new material," explained Brink. "A student with a fixed mindset believes that if he or she isn't born with the inherent skills, they won't be able to learn challenging skills."

The Success Bound team targets the entire high school student body, not just those who are college-bound. In order to achieve this expectation, the group created a Success Bound poster. Represented by a triangle, the Success Bound poster ties three key attributes expected from all students: Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient. There are three large posters placed in different hallways with smaller versions in most of the classrooms.

The Success Bound teacher team includes Allen Andringa, Jeff Brink, Kara Bruer, Steve Rinard, Brittany Thompson, and Jill Uhacz. They meet regularly to discuss different techniques and studies they can use to help improve student morale and encourage proper behavior while students are in school.

For her first time studying birds, Mariella Newell's group drew the Dunlin
For her first time studying birds, Mariella Newell's group drew the Dunlin
Barbara Wright, local artist, guest-teaches scientific illustration to elementary art classes in Ridgefield (Photo) - 03/02/15
Monday, March 2, 2015-Ridgefield, WA-Barbara Wright, a Ridgefield artist and representative for the Clark County Arts Commission, visited art classes at Union Ridge Elementary School to teach students the art of scientific illustration and to help kick off Youth Arts Month.

Alan Adams, Union Ridge's art teacher, met Wright at a meeting for Youth Arts Month and invited her to visit his classes. "My students have been studying John James Audubon, famous for accurately painting birds and other wildlife," said Adams. "With the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge located right next to us, having Barbara visit the class to talk about scientific illustration seemed like a perfect fit to bring the project to life."

Wright taught the students about the art of scientific illustration. "I've always had a love for both art and science," explained Wright. "After teaching mathematics at Bellevue College for several years, I discovered that the University of Washington offers a certification program in Natural Science Illustration." Wright received her certification and now creates scientific illustrations.

In order to accurately illustrate her subjects which include birds, spiders, frogs, and plants, Wright uses a combination of media including graphite, ink, and watercolor, sometimes all in a single piece, to bring her subject to life. Wright brought several examples of her work including drawings of a Bald Eagle, Canadian Geese, owls and other birds, all of which can be found on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

In addition to birds and other animals, Wright illustrates plants. "If I'm not creating a piece for a client, I will use 'artistic license' to place the plants the way I think they look the most beautiful," she explained to the class. Wright taught the students about a variety of different artistic techniques including artistic license which happens when an artist reimagines her subject to create a piece she envisions in her mind.

After her presentation, students asked questions about Wright's life including how she discovered her love for art; where she has traveled and lived; why she chooses the subjects she draws; and what attracted her to move to Ridgefield. "I moved to Ridgefield three years ago because of the Ridgefield refuge," Wright explained. "The refuge is a treasure trove of artistic subjects with its variety of wonderful wildlife."

Prior to Wright's visit, Adams split his classes into groups and had each group select a bird found in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge to use as their subject to draw. "We chose the Golden Eagle because we all like eagles and we particularly liked how it was named 'golden,'" said Nathaniel Wade, a fifth grader. "The hardest part was determining and drawing the position of our eagle's wings."

For some students, studying birds was a new topic for them. Mariella Newell's group selected the Dunlin. "I really enjoyed learning about birds for this project - I'd never learned about birds before," she said. "The hardest part is trying to draw the background in perspective."