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Brittany Rodin
Brittany Rodin
Michaela Cloyd Earns Trip to Statewide Poetry Out Loud Finals (Photo) - 02/09/16
Competing against students from across Southwest Washington, Michaela Cloyd did what no previous Ridgefield High School student had accomplished when she advanced to the statewide finals of the Poetry Out Loud competition with her victory at the Southwest Regional Finals of the national competition on February 2.

Cloyd, a junior, earned the trip to Tacoma on March 5 with stirring recitations of Dirge in Woods" by George Meredith and "Cadillac Moon" by Kevin Young.

"The tension in the room was palpable, and we all experience it," Cloyd said when describing the environment at the regional finals.

"Michaela was incredibly poised and powerful; she commanded the space while delivering two beautiful and varied performances. No surprise considering her impressive theater resume and diligent study of the poems. The entire English Department is exceedingly proud to have her as a representative," said Brittany Rodin, an RHS English teacher and the school's Poetry Out Loud coordinator.

Rodin began the Poetry Out Loud program in Ridgefield to expose students to more works of poetry and help build self-confidence. "Many students struggle with public speaking, and Poetry Out Loud gives them an additional opportunity to practice this skill," explained Rodin.

Cloyd acknowledged the many benefits of participating in the program, saying, "Competing with the other contestants both at RHS and Regionals was a very rewarding experience, and also very enjoyable. I got to meet new people and just by sitting there in silence, a relationship was created unlike any other I have ever had. We all became friends by sharing these feelings through little to no words."

Looking ahead to the state competition, Cloyd reflected and said, "I am proud of my accomplishment, but I know I couldn't have done it without Mrs. Rodin, my family, and my wonderful boyfriend, Rayne, who put up with hearing my poems all the time while checking them for accuracy. I am looking forward to the next round, and I can't wait to give it all I've got."

The state finals take place at Tacoma's Broadway Center for the Performing Arts on March 5. Joining Cloyd in representing Southwest Washington at the state finals, will be Sameayah Pehlke from the Vancouver School of Arts & Academics.

Poetry Out Loud is a national contest that encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. The program, which debuted in the 2004-2005 school year, has exploded in popularity with approximately 2.7 million students representing 9,500 schools participating over that time.
Attached Media Files: Brittany Rodin , Michaela Cloyd
Alan Adams, Union Ridge art teacher
Alan Adams, Union Ridge art teacher
Fifth Graders Create an Arcade Wonderland at Union Ridge Elementary (Photo) - 01/28/16
Thursday, January 28, 2016 -- Ridgefield, WA -- Fifth grade art students at Union Ridge Elementary participated in a unique design and development project recently, creating an arcade wonderland that delighted the school's second grade students. Alan Adams, the Ridgefield school's art teacher, came across a YouTube video that told the story of how Caine Monroy spent his summer vacation in 2011 constructing an arcade out of cardboard boxes and miscellaneous supplies found in his father's auto parts store in Los Angeles, CA. Inspired by the video, Adams designed a cross-curricular unit intended to leverage the creativity and imagination of his fifth grade students.

Union Ridge principal Tracey MacLachlan describes the unit as "Absolute magic...It captures the kids' imagination and encourages creativity, experimenting, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from constructing something."

Adams began his project by sharing the video, "Caine's Arcade" with his students for inspiration.

"When you tap into the creative minds of students and add in some cardboard scraps and recycled materials, unlimited possibilities abound," notes MacLachlan.

Collaborating with Union Ridge's fifth grade teaching team, Jake Dixon, Caitlyn LaChaine, Laurie Pritchard, and James Stevens, Adams moved forward. Students chose their teams and began the design proposal process. As student designs became more intricate, requests were made for additional materials to meet the creativity of the design teams. Teachers encouraged students to work on the design and development of the arcade games when they finished assignments early.

Students spent five weeks developing, building, and testing their games in Adams' art classes. First attempts often did not work, requiring students to make modifications to their designs. As the building progressed, students also made many revisions to their plans to make the games more engaging and fun. Adams made his classroom available for students during recess and many students even took their projects home to continue the work after school.

The resiliency and teamwork required by the students are highlights of the project according to Adams.

"It builds problem-solving skills by giving kids a real world context for their designs. Students really have to work! It is also huge for developing teamwork, and we spend quite a bit of our lesson time focused on how to work productively with teammates. I see it as a way to get kids excited about our STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) program at View Ridge. The experience helps them see the connection between engineering, design and art, and it is lots of fun," notes an enthusiastic Adams.

The culminating activity involved Union Ridge second grade students playing the arcade games. Fifth graders were required to market their games and teach the second grade students how to play. They offered tickets and prizes, creating a carnival atmosphere that made it more enjoyable for the second graders.

The pride felt by the fifth grade design students was evident. "I liked it when the kids beat their score. Their facial expressions really made me happy, and I was proud of what my team and I created," said Kayla Miller.

Cayden Lauder agreed. "Our game was titled Alien Blasters. I liked that you got to use your ideas and techniques. You got to see other kids enjoy it. There was one second grader who played our game over and over; that was really special."

Reflecting on the project, Adams is pleased with the outcome. "The Ridgefield School District is very supportive of the arts at all levels of the administration. I am given a lot of freedom to explore different types of curriculum that can motivate and engage students at the various age levels that Union Ridge serves."

For more information on Caine's Arcade or to view the video, visit www.cainesarcade.com.

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Heather Fukuchi, art teacher at South Ridge Elementary
Heather Fukuchi, art teacher at South Ridge Elementary
A Thriving Arts Scene at South Ridge Elementary (Photo) - 01/28/16
Thursday, January 28, 2015 -- Ridgefield, WA -- South Ridge Elementary has a long-standing reputation for delivering exceptional academic results; the three-time School of Distinction recipient consistently enjoys some of the highest student test scores in Southwest Washington. But a closer examination will show the educational focus extends well beyond the core curriculum at the Ridgefield school, where a strong emphasis on arts education finds students engaged in creative art classes, choir and band, and even drama.

It is all part of the school and district's commitment to providing each student personalized learning experiences and opportunities.

"South Ridge students receive over 40 hours of art instruction during the school year" explains South Ridge principal Todd Graves. "If students attend South Ridge for their entire elementary career, they will receive an average of 270 hours of high-quality art instruction and exposure by the time they transition to middle school."

Students in art classes engage in a multitude of learning activities, ranging from instruction in the appropriate use of color to the creation of intricate two and three-dimensional works of art. Students are excited about the opportunities found in their art classes.

Katelyn Witter, a second grader, shared, "I like to make things. My favorite thing we've made is a Navajo rug. I have mine hanging in my bedroom at home."
Heather Fukuchi, the school's art teacher, works hard to develop engaging lessons that allow all students to feel successful and benefit from the sense of accomplishment associated with creating a work product.

"Teaching art to children is an essential part of their education. The arts allow children to express themselves, make connections to other subjects, and learn about other cultures, all while developing critical thinking, reflection, and problem-solving skills. In addition, the arts give children a place to thrive when other areas of their education may be a challenge," notes Fukuchi.

South Ridge students with an interest in the performing arts can access choir and band options. Starting in fourth grade, students are also able to audition for the annual musical. South Ridge has been offering students this opportunity for more than 30 years. The shows are Broadway-worthy and provide an excellent collaborative connection with both the school's PTA and Ridgefield High School drama students.

Sixth-grader Piper Hardin was enthusiastic in her praise, saying, "I did the musical in fourth and fifth grade and loved it. The hardest part was remembering all of the steps and movements for each song and act."

The arts are even finding their way into South Ridge's physical education curriculum. Beginning in March this year, students will be taught movement art in the form of several different dances during their regular physical education classes. This program is the result of a unique partnership between the Ridgefield School District and Dance Fusion Northwest.

"We are truly excited about the opportunity to share the culture of dance in the Ridgefield's elementary schools. It is a well-known fact that creatively educating kids is a vital part of learning itself. Not only is dance a wonderful art form, it is a physical activity, a mental activity and a creative activity. We are so happy to be a part this by introducing foundational dance forms in Ridgefield," said Carla Kendall-Bray, the owner of Dance Fusion Northwest.

Interdisciplinary work that connects the arts to the core curriculum is found throughout the school. Last year, students collectively authored and published a book as the school's instructional team looked for more creative ways to teach writing. Student artwork, depicting the story, can be found throughout the book.

South Ridge classroom teachers work closely with Fukuchi to align lessons that provide students with additional opportunities to make connections.

Sixth grader Grace Lazaro gives an example of this collaboration, "We are currently using clay to make sarcophagus' because in class we are studying about Ancient Egypt. I love using clay. It is my favorite part of art class."

In an era where many schools have greatly reduced or even eliminated arts offerings in order to focus more intently on math and English Language Arts, South Ridge has resisted the temptation to narrow the curriculum.
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Board member Joe Vance (left) congratulates Vince Bacon
Board member Joe Vance (left) congratulates Vince Bacon
Ridgefield School District Honors January Employee and Students of the Month (Photo) - 01/14/16
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 -- Ridgefield, WA -- On January 12, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the January Employee and Students of the Month in the regular Board of Directors meeting.

The Employee of the Month is Vincent Bacon, the district's maintenance lead. This is Bacon's 18th year in the district.

Bacon is described by his co-workers as an experienced and knowledgeable professional with an extensive knowledge of the district's physical plants.

Neil Brinson, the district's maintenance and facilities director, said, "Being relatively new to the school district maintenance department, I've bombarded Vince with questions and work orders. Not only does Vince perform his duties with skill and speed, he also takes initiative and makes preventative efforts to ward off potential issues before others notice. Vince has proven to be reliable, skilled, and motivated. Vince gets along well with others and is well-liked by staff and students for his great attitude and sense of humor."

Students of the Month

Jackson Jiles, a third grader, was chosen at South Ridge Elementary School. Teachers and staff had high praise for Jiles, stating, "Jackson is often seen with a big smile on his face. He's very friendly with students and staff and seems to have a genuine interest in talking with you. Instead of telling you about his day, he often wants to hear about yours. He displays a positive attitude, uses positive words, has set high goals for himself, works with joy, and encourages others. He starts off every morning with the thought that it's going to be a great day. In addition, Jackson is quite often seen helping staff clean lunch tables after lunch instead of going out to recess. When he is at recess, he can be seen helping younger students with their games or simply having fun with them. Jackson not only works to brighten his days, but wants to brighten others as well."

Jonah Stenbak, a fourth grader, was selected at Union Ridge Elementary. Union Ridge teachers and staff were excited to nominate Stenbak, stating, "Jonah works hard, completes his work without complaint, and strives for excellence on all he does. Jonah is not just a fabulous student; he is a fabulous human being. He is caring and kind to everyone. When another student or teacher needs help, he offers to help even if they are not best friends. He does the 'right thing' even if people around him are not. Jonah is humble and does not expect to be rewarded for all he does."

Shelbylyn Ford, an eighth grader, was selected from View Ridge Middle School. View Ridge teachers and staff noted Ford's natural curiosity, positive attitude, and resiliency.

"Shelbylyn perseveres through complicated math questions, asks thoughtful questions and always strives to do her very best in math class. She is a positive role model for her peers and commits to growing mathematically every day. She is a genuine pleasure to have in class," said Ford's math teacher, Allyson Powell.

Logan Black, a senior, was chosen from Ridgefield High School. A high-achieving student who welcomes challenges, Black is enrolled in both AP Calculus and AP Chemistry.

RHS teachers made several comments about Black, including: "Logan continually shows qualities of a success bound student. He helps his peers, is a leader on campus and puts forth a strong effort in all he does. Perhaps Logan can best be described as a student who is constantly trying to improve himself. Logan has earned his share of accolades during his senior year of high school, and representing the entire student body as Student of the Month for January is certainly appropriate for a young man of Logan's caliber."

Ridgefield School District thanks its sponsor, the Historic Sportsman's Restaurant and Lounge, a local Ridgefield business owned and operated by Terry Hurd. This is the second year that Hurd has provided funding to support the district's recognition program.

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RHS teacher, Brittany Rodin
RHS teacher, Brittany Rodin
Ridgefield High School Students Take Center Stage in Poetry Out Loud Contest (Photo) - 01/14/16
Thursday, January 14, 2016 -- Ridgefield, WA -- On Wednesday evening, January 13, nearly two dozen Ridgefield High School students took center stage at the district's Performing Arts Center, reciting the works of both famous and lesser-known poets in the school-level round of the national Poetry Out Loud competition. Michaela Cloyd, a junior, earned first place, wowing the crowd with her recitations of Donald Davie's "Across the Bay" and Kevin Young's "Cadillac Moon."

Logan Summers, a junior, and Ashlee Hatcher, a senior, finished second and third respectively.

Poetry Out Loud is a national contest that encourages the nation's youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. The program, which debuted in the 2004-2005 school year, has exploded in popularity with approximately 2.7 million students representing 9,500 schools participating over that time.

This is the third year Ridgefield High School competed in the Poetry Out Loud contest, and members of the English Department are very pleased with the benefits.

"Students are exposed to a wide variety of literature throughout the process. Without the contest, they would only read a handful of poems over the course of a single school year. With Poetry Out Loud, they are exposed to 30 or more new poems each year," said Brittany Rodin, an RHS English teacher, and the program organizer.

That added exposure leads students to select a poem they connect with personally, regardless of the level of difficulty. Young's "Cadillac Moon" for example, is particularly challenging to deliver given its 175-word count and fragmented form.

"The student personally selects their poem; giving them control over the direction of their literary exploration and a unique opportunity to connect deeply with a single work," added Rodin.

To prepare for the competition all English students at RHS were asked to choose a poem from an anthology of more than 900 classic and contemporary poems. In the two weeks leading up to the winter break, English classes at RHS held competitions where students were asked to memorize a poem and recite the work in class. Judges evaluate students on their physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, and ability to convey the poem's meaning to audience members. Classroom winners and a wild-card advanced to the school finals.

"Many students struggle with public speaking, and Poetry Out Loud gives them another opportunity practice this skill and gain valuable confidence," notes Rodin.

Cloyd advances to the Southwest Washington Regional Finals, to be held at Educational Services District 112 on Tuesday, February 2 from 5:00 -- 7:00 p.m.

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