Wednesday, October 26, 2016 -- Ridgefield, Washington -- On Saturday, October 22, nine members of Ridgefield High School's newly-created robotics team traveled to Gladstone High School to learn more about a new and most exciting venture--preparing for their first robotics competition. They were accompanied by Physical Science teacher, Jeff Brink, who also mentors the team.
The weekend event, FIRST Fare, is the first step for participants entering the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was started in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. The not-for-profit organization, based in Manchester, New Hampshire, designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in the STEM pathways (science, technology, engineering and math), while building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills.
"Our team name is Steel Ridge Robotics, and our motto is Strong, Trustworthy, Empowered, Effective Leadership," said Brink. "Currently, we are in pre-season. Our goal is to have about 30-35 students actively involved in the program this year. There are many entry points (from engineering, business, graphic animation and more) into the team, as we will have six sub teams collaborating together on this project."
The competition challenges high school students and their adult mentors to work together on a common real-life engineering problem--to design and build a robot using a standard "kit of parts." Following a set of common rules, they are required to complete the project in six weeks. The project culminates in a sophisticated field game using the robots, designed to bring out the best in every participant.
FIRST redefines "winning" by rewarding teams for multiple achievements including excellence in design, demonstrated team spirit, a professional attitude and the ability to overcome obstacles. The quality of the overall experience (vs. winning) is what matters most.
"We are a 'rookie' team in FRC this year, and FIRST Fare was our initial team event," said Brink. "We are currently working on our team logo, work area, and business plan and will soon begin building a pre-season robot to develop our sub-teams and build systems. This program is called 'sport for the mind' which implies that this is a competition, but the skills involved are more mental than physical, like programming and engineering."
Saturday's FIRST Fare event, presented by the Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program (ORTOP), provided training on robot-building and covered topics such as drive systems, Java programming, CAD design, web design, mechanical systems and electrical debugging techniques. Attendees also learned about Gracious Professionalism, a FIRST principle that encourages competition and high-quality work blended with respect and sensitivity among all competitors. A panel of engineers from Boeing, Daimler Trucks, Autodesk and Mentor Graphics were on hand at the end of the event to field questions from the students. Questions ranged from college opportunities to engineering and management skills.
The build season for the FIRST Robotics Competition starts January 7 and concludes on February 21. The competitive season occurs March - April, during which the RHS team will compete in two events within FIRST's Pacific Northwest District--one in Wilsonville (March 9-11) and the other in Lake Oswego (March 30-April 1). A district ranking in the top 64 teams (out of 170 total in Oregon and Washington) will qualify the team for the district championship in Cheney, Washington in early April. The top 41 teams from that competition advance to "Worlds", which will be held later in April in Houston, Texas.
"We are looking for more professionals to help mentor our team--mechanical engineers, programmers, web designers and business professionals and more partners to sponsor us," said Brink. The team is also mentored by Chris Shipp, Metals/Wood Shop teacher at Ridgefield High School, Jason Marr, mechanical engineer for Boeing, and Chad Stryker, electrical engineer for Tektronix. Current sponsors include Boeing, Daimler, and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA).
If you are interested in mentoring or sponsoring Ridgefield High School's Steel Ridge Robotic Team, please contact Jeff Brink at 360-619-1320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good Luck, Steel Ridge Robotics! Go Spudders!
Friday, October 21, 2016 -- Ridgefield, Washington -- The View Ridge Middle School girls' volleyball program is nearly unbeatable in the 2016 season. The combined match win-loss record for the school's five teams totals 41 wins and 4 losses. Perhaps more impressively, the girls won 123 of 135 sets played (best of three sets, which is typical of middle school games).
The players and coaches will tell you that they are not obsessed with winning. At a school committed to "high levels of character development and academic achievement," winning is the icing on the cake compared to focusing on core covenants and getting better every day.
View Ridge is one of the few area middle schools that makes sure that every student gets to participate in its athletic programs, even if it means forming more teams. This year, the school put together five teams to accommodate approximately 60 girls--nearly one-third of all girls in the school. The teams include students ranging from highly skilled, experienced athletes to students playing a sport for the first time.
"We think participating in a sport offers a unique experience that cannot always be replicated in a classroom setting and supports important aspects of character development that are central to our mission," says Tony Smith, principal. "So we try to have enough teams to offer opportunities for all to have a chance to play."
One can't help but notice a high level of focus and attention to technique, but more importantly, the encouragement demonstrated by coaches and teammates at View Ridge volleyball games. The girls play with joy, humor, and always with an extraordinary belief in their abilities on the court. Coach Allyson Ames, a former collegiate player at Gonzaga University, believes this attitude comes from an excellent coaching staff. She is assisted by fellow coaches Chon Clayton, Nam Nguyen, Jason Buffum, and Nick Veys.
"We have this level of success because we are a 7-12 program in Ridgefield. The girls have fun playing, and they know they have a place in our program," says Ames. "The high school comes to watch us play, we go watch the high school, and one day, all 8th graders go to the HS to practice. We have the same standards for high school and middle school."
She also credits the staff as a whole, saying "We have great coaches that keep practices engaging and fun. Every girl gets better with every touch on the ball." The coaches keep things upbeat with team bonding events (featuring pizza or ice cream), secret sister exchanges, and other chemistry building exercises. At every practice and game, the staff can be seen coaching the athletes at every skill level, providing a valuable experience for each student that extends far beyond the sport.
Jaynie Murray, a member of the 8th grade team, spoke about this after the season ended. "We were very successful because on our team, we were kind to everyone. If someone made a mistake, we encouraged them," she said. She talked about how fun it was to be a part of a team and to represent View Ridge when playing at other schools.
Her teammate, Willow Wuori, added that the team was "really good about working together and communicating and having good chemistry." While the team experienced a great deal of success, Wuori reflected on her team's only loss as the biggest learning experience. "The Hockinson game put things in perspective that we have to keep working hard and getting better," she said.
The future of Ridgefield girls' volleyball is bright due to the foundation set at the middle school level. But more importantly, the girls on the View Ridge Middle School team are gaining skills and experiences that will serve them well far beyond the volleyball court.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 -- Ridgefield, Washington - The Ridgefield School District, in partnership with the Clark County Sheriff's Office, has scheduled a parent night on Tuesday, November 8, to provide an overview of their newly-revised school safety protocol in responding to active threat situations.
The 30-minute overview for parents will share information on the Evade & Defend protocol--guidelines derived from the Standard Response Protocol (SRP), an all-hazards, evidence-based approach to school safety. Earlier this year, the school district partnered with the "I Love U Guys" Foundation to adopt SRP, which is based on recommendations from law enforcement agencies experienced in handling active shooter situations. SRP also allows the district to prepare for a wide variety of emergencies.
The overview on November 8 will present parents with information about the Evade & Defend protocol training that teachers, staff and secondary students recently received in learning how to effectively respond to active threats in their buildings.
"Our number one priority is student and staff safety, said Dr. Nathan McCann, Ridgefield's superintendent. "Chris Griffith, our Assistant Superintendent, has done an excellent job leading this effort. We have strategically engaged with our local first responders, amassed valuable information, and enhanced relationships that make it easier to keep our campuses safe."
Griffith led a three-member team that participated in a national school safety symposium in Columbine, Colorado in July. The team brought the information back to the district and led training for all administrators in August. All teachers were trained in early September, and all Ridgefield students were trained immediately following the teaching training.
"The training in Columbine reinforced just how important school safety is," said Griffith. "I am excited to see that the Ridgefield School District has adopted universal language and procedures that can aid students and staff should emergencies present themselves. Working closely with our local first responders has been a wonderful experience. I am proud of the effort put forth by everyone involved."
A question-and-answer session will follow the November 8 presentation, which starts at 7:00 pm in Ridgefield High School's main gym.
October 14, 2016 -- Ridgefield, WA -- On Monday, October 17, Ridgefield School District unveils a new website and app designed to promote increased parental and stakeholder engagement and enhance communication. District leadership announced the release of new mobile applications for iPhone and Android with school information such as events, athletic scores, cafeteria menus, emergency notifications, and other pertinent information. The effort is in partnership with Apptegy, an education technology company based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Ridgefield is taking this initiative to engage community members on the devices and social networks they use most. A ComScore study shows that Americans use mobile technologies at twice the rate of desktop computers, and a Pew study reports that 65 percent of adults use social media. With the newly-adopted tools, the district staff can share information across all of these communication channels.
The Ridgefield leadership sees sharing news and updates on mobile devices and social media as critical to educating in the 21st century. ""We chose Apptegy because of their ability to develop intuitive, easy-to-use native apps and their commitment to continually enhancing the user experience. Their website design focuses on a vivid, image-rich homepage, free of clutter. That is exactly the warm and welcoming environment we want to provide all our patrons and visitors," explained Dr. Nathan McCann, Ridgefield's superintendent. "We anticipate the app will continue to grow our already strong relationship with the community by keeping all stakeholders better informed about the many great things taking place in the Ridgefield Schools."
"This new platform will make it much easier for Ridgefield School District to get timely information out to the public in ways that are convenient for them," added Geoff Varney, Director of Technology Services. "The ability to post once and have it appear in multiple places is a powerful way to get our messages out to social media and mobile devices. We recognize this is where many people consume information today."
Apptegy is a two-year-old education technology startup that builds simple communication tools for school districts across the country. "School districts have a unique opportunity to grow connections with their community by sharing all of the great things that happen on a daily basis," said Jeston George, CEO of Apptegy. "Educators are extremely busy, so they need tools that make it easy and efficient to share across different types of devices and social networks."
The free mobile apps are available for download in Google Play and Apple App Store.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 -- Ridgefield, WA -- On October 11, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the October Employee and Students of the Month at the regular Board of Directors meeting.
The Employee of the Month is Steve Rinard, Ridgefield High School teacher. Rinard currently teaches math and STEM classes, specifically, biomedical and pre-engineering classes. "To prepare to teach the pre-engineering classes, Steve attended intensive training this past summer, which is commendable." said Tony Vandermaas, Ridgefield High School principal. "In addition, he has been a class advisor, is currently a member of our Success Bound teacher group, is a coach, and is willing to assist students whenever and wherever they need help."
VanderMaas went on to say that Rinard also chaperones student events, helps students before and after school, and willingly uses his lunch time to work with students.
"While it is difficult to pare down the exceptional staff we have at to nominate just one, Steve is certainly worthy of this honor and is representative of the many outstanding employees we have at Ridgefield High School," said VandeMaas. "He is a conscientious employee and is well respected by staff, students, and the community."
Students of the Month
Ruben Esquibel, a fifth grader, was chosen at South Ridge Elementary School. Although he is new to South Ridge, Ruben has quickly made friends. The teachers and staff have high praise for Ruben, stating "He always conducts himself in a mature and polite manner. He is a great listener, and he adds to discussions and asks thoughtful questions on a daily basis. He is always engaged in the lesson that is going on and has a wonderful attitude and contagious smile that never goes away."
Joseph Gallant, a second grader, was selected at Union Ridge Elementary. Teachers and staff nominated Joseph for his kind, considerate and helpful nature. They commented, "He opens doors, ties shoes for fellow classmates that don't know how, washes tables in the lunch room, and the list goes on. He can be found sitting with other students when no one else is sitting with them and just generally goes out of his way to help others. He always has a smile on his face and brightens the day for everyone who is around him."
Kira Newman, an eighth grader, was selected from View Ridge Middle School. View Ridge teachers and staff are proud of Kira. They write, "Kira is always willing to help our Algebra class raise the level of discussion from good to great. She thinks holistically about math, and she focuses on why the math works and not just the how."
Tamarick Mendoza, a senior, was chosen from Ridgefield High School. Mendoza was nominated by five different staff members (a record and testament to his leadership) for Student of the Month.
RHS faculty and staff describe Mendoza as always supportive of other students' opinions and ideas. "Tamarick has stepped up as the leader within student government leadership class. He is mature, composed, humble, and an awesome representative of RHS," commented one staff member. "Tamarick has done an excellent job helping with ASB/Leadership and the new teacher transition," said another. "I can't think of a more deserving person or a better student to represent RHS for our first Student of the Month."
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 third year that Hurd has provided funding to support the district's recognition program.
September 30, 2016 -- Ridgefield, WA -- The Ridgefield School District is hosting a second series of stakeholder meetings as planning continues for the new 5-6 intermediate school and 7-8 middle school that will be part of the district's February 2017 bond request to voters.
"The purpose of these meetings is to enable our staff experts in the various contents to provide valuable input and feedback as the planning and design of our 5-6 intermediate school and 7-8 middle school continues," said Dr. Nathan McCann, Ridgefield's superintendent. "The first round of stakeholder meetings was very effective, and the feedback we received is impacting the design process in a very positive way. I look forward to seeing our staff, parents and community members continue to engage in this process."
The first series of meetings, led by LSW Architects, the district's architectural firm, actually kicked off September 9, as the district convened representatives from their custodial and food service teams to provide input and feedback on issues pertaining to general maintenance and cleaning of the new buildings as well as dining services.
Stakeholders were led through multiple activities to learn more about present practices, existing challenges, and how layout and design can further support custodial and dining services.
"As educational architects, we know how to design schools," said Casey Wyckoff, architect and firm co-owner at LSW. "With insights from Ridgefield staff, teachers and community, we better know how to design schools that fit the vision for Ridgefield."
This second round of stakeholder meetings will continue to focus on a specific facet of the new buildings' operations. The schedule of meetings follows:
* Wednesday, October 5 - Athletics/PE RHS Room 311 (5:30 -- 6:30 pm)
* Wednesday, October 12 -- Food Service District Office (2:00 - 3:00 pm)
* Wednesday, October 12 -- STEM/Art RHS Room 301 (3:00 -- 5:00 pm)
* Monday, October 17 - Library RHS Room 301 (3:00 -- 5:00 pm)
* Wednesday, October 19 -- Performing Arts RHS Room 301 (3:00 -- 5:00 pm)
* Monday, October 24 -- Technology RHS Room 301 (3:00 -- 5:00 pm)
* Wednesday, October 26 -- Special Education RHS Room 301 (3:00 -- 5:00 pm)
Members of the public interested in participating may call the District Office at 360-619-1302 to RSVP for the meeting(s) they wish to attend.