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Jack Vance, sophomore, was selected as Ridgefield High School's Student of the Month
Jack Vance, sophomore, was selected as Ridgefield High School's Student of the Month
Ridgefield School District recognizes employee and students of the month (Photo) - 01/13/15
Tuesday, January 13, 2015-Ridgefield, WA-Ridgefield School District recognized its January Employee and Students of the Month in the regular Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, January 13, 2015.

Employee of the Month - Matthew Whitton (View Ridge Middle School)

Matthew Whitton, a science teacher at View Ridge Middle School, was selected as this month's Employee of the Month. Being recognized by peers for your work is a very high honor and speaks to the positive impact you make at View Ridge each day.

Whitton was described as his coworkers as:

* Matt's dedicated effort to personalize the learning experience for all students is admirable.
* Matt's pursuit and attainment of National Board Certification serves as an excellent example of the value of lifelong learning for our students.

Students of the Month

Union Ridge Elementary School - Adriana Garcia (Sixth Grader)

Union Ridge teachers and staff included several comments about Adriana Garcia including:

* Adriana is one of the hardest-working students at South Ridge - she is always challenging herself to learn more, understand better, and works tirelessly until she feels she completely understands the material.
* Adriana seeks out opportunities to help others, including volunteering in our school library.
* Adriana is also one of Union Ridge's kindest and most respectful students - we have never heard a cross or unkind word from her and she has a smile on her face every day.

South Ridge Elementary School - Audrey Breitengross (Sixth Grader)

South Ridge teachers and staff included several comments about Audrey Breitengross including:

* Audrey is an excellent example of a conscientious, hardworking, and responsible student.
* Sixth grade is a time of increased academic expectations and new responsibilities; Audrey has adjusted to the new academic environment with flying colors.
* The effort and care with which Audrey completes her school work is evident each and every day - she is consistently positive and respectful in the classroom no matter what is expected of her.

View Ridge Middle School - Grace Melbuer (Seventh Grader)

View Ridge teachers and staff included several comments about Grace Melbuer including:

* Grace is the Student of the Month because she displays a positive attitude every day.
* Grace always contributes to class discussions in a thoughtful and productive way.
* Grace wants to do her best on all assignments and tests and also always wants to learn.

Ridgefield High School - Jack Vance (Sophomore)

Ridgefield High School's teachers and staff included several comments about Jack Vance including:

* Jack is a positive leader who goes out of his way to show up at all leadership functions.
* Jack is a true leader and a very positive role model.
* Jack's character earned him a nomination for this recognition earlier this fall as well.

Ridgefield School District thanks its sponsor...

The Historic Sportsman's Restaurant and Lounge, a local Ridgefield business owned and operated by Terry Hurd, sponsors the Employee of the Month and Student of the Month programs by contributing funds to pay for the awards and other supplies.

From left to right: Nick Radosevich, Taylor Skinner, Jaelyn Sotelo, Cami McGravey, and Maddy Bisla dressed as their biography subjects
From left to right: Nick Radosevich, Taylor Skinner, Jaelyn Sotelo, Cami McGravey, and Maddy Bisla dressed as their biography subjects
Ridgefield's sixth graders became their biography subjects by researching and dressing up to present to their classes (Photo) - 01/12/15
Monday, January 12, 2015-Ridgefield, WA-Sixth graders at South Ridge Elementary School actually became their own subjects by researching their individual; creating props and diaries; and dressing up to present how their person may have appeared during their life for a recent intensive biography project involving every sixth grade student at the school.

The first part of the project required students to create diaries written in the first-person tense where students researched and wrote as if they were the individual they were studying. Students decorated their books to appear the way the famous person they were studying might with some students even attempted to make their handwriting similar to the style of the person they were studying.

"This project allows students to engage in an intensive creative writing piece which they don't always have the opportunity to do during school," said Cheryl Shaw, a sixth grade teacher at South Ridge who helped coordinate the entire project. "Students really took to the project with many going the extra mile to create truly immersive projects." For extra credit, students could create a likeness of their famous person using a bottle which the students referred to as bottle buddies.

The second part of the project was a dress-up presentation for the students told in the first-person tense of their biography subject. Students selected from a wide variety of subjects including Pocahontas, Anne Frank, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Neil Armstrong, and Thomas Edison, just to name a few. "The presentation instills respect among the students as they must sit quietly to listen to their peers' presentations," said Shaw. Out of a total of 80 students, 16 students volunteered to give their presentation to the entire sixth grade.

Nick Radosevich selected Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition which explored the western United States. "I chose Lewis because I wanted someone from the colonial era," said Radosevich. "I learned so much; I didn't know that Lewis had joined the army and that's where he met William Clark."

Taylor Skinner, who selected Cleopatra, the last active pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, found the most challenging part of the project to be the extra credit assignment of creating the model. "Making my bottle body was definitely challenging," she said. "However, my favorite part was presenting; I enjoy showing what I've learned."

Jaelyn Sotelo selected Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who wrote a diary about her experiences trying to hide from the Nazis during World War 2. "I picked Anne Frank because I wanted to learn more about her, and she was so inspiring that the subject matter made me really enjoy this project," said Sotelo. "This project was a great way to learn about history and how different people make an impact on how we live in society."

Students enjoyed different aspects of the project and found others challenging. "Making the diary and binding it was my favorite part," said Radosevich. "Finishing the diary felt so thrilling because I knew that I had completed the entire project."

Some students reached out to learn more about people from other countries. "I wanted to learn more about British royalty so I chose Queen Victoria as my subject," said Cami McGravey. "For me, the most challenging part was creating the journal, but I really liked doing the research."

Unlike some adults, many students enjoyed presenting their projects to their classes. "I'm kind of comfortable presenting even though I was a little nervous," said Maddy Bisla who selected Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. "I wanted to learn more about her and discovered that she was a volunteer as a nurse's aide in the army before learning to fly."

"This kind of project demonstrates to students that we all have different skills and strengths we need to develop," said Shaw. "As a teaching staff, we try to provide opportunities like this one for students to develop these important life skills."

Students take AP classes for a wide variety of reasons
Students take AP classes for a wide variety of reasons
Ridgefield High School offers nine Advanced Placement classes enrolling 217 students (Photo) - 01/05/15
Monday, January 5, 2015-Ridgefield, WA-Did You Know Ridgefield School District offers nine Advanced Placement (AP) courses enrolling 217 students?

Ridgefield High School currently offers nine Advanced Placement (AP) classes enrolling a total of 132 students for a full class enrollment of 217 AP students. In addition, Ridgefield High School introduced two brand-new AP classes this year: AP Human Geography and AP Psychology.

Introducing AP Human Geography

The first Freshman-only Advanced Placement course taught at Ridgefield High School, Bob Ford focuses AP Human Geography on the study of geopolitics and describes the course as a class primarily dealing with how cultures intertwine with geography. "The course isn't about identifying the locations of countries or cities," explained Ford. "As a class, we do deal with the idea of maps, but the intended goal is to discuss why people live where they do and how they use the land; this turns the course into one where the discussions are about current world problems in relation with where people live."

Ford enjoys having the opportunity to teach such broad coursework with controversial subject matter. "A lot of human geography is political with almost all the problems in the world relating to physical location in some way," said Ford. "In addition, the coursework is new to me and in an area that I really enjoy teaching which makes teaching the course that much more exciting."

At first, some Freshman students were surprised by the quantity of work that would be expected of them in an AP class. "I didn't believe the teachers when they told me there was going to be this much homework," said Jordan Jhaveri, a Freshman in the class. "I took AP Human Geography because I like history and thought it would be interesting."

Some students take the AP classes specifically for the extra challenge provided by the advanced material. "Normal-level classes bore me to death," said Adrienne Nicholson, a classmate. "I really like Mr. Ford - I thought the class was going to be very serious, but he's a lot more easy-going and laid-back which makes tackling challenging subject matter easier." Kevin Sanchez agreed with Nicholson, "I strive to be the very best I can be, and I wanted to further enhance my education by taking an AP class right from the start."

Other students signed up for AP Human Geography because of the subject matter. "I like social studies because I like learning how the world works and what makes governments work together," said Hannah Farley, a classmate. "Mr. Ford's really good at explaining things and asks a lot of questions to keep us engaged."

Introducing AP Psychology

Ridgefield High School offered AP Psychology for the first time this year, which offered George Black the opportunity to explore his own interests in teaching psychology to his students. Prior to offering AP Psychology, George Black often taught a single-semester psychology class. "When you're teaching for just a semester, there's a lot of material you can't touch on and a lot of my students asked for more advanced psychology classes after they took the course," said Black. "When you have a full year to teach a course, you can dig deeper into the subject matter with the students." AP Psychology covers the foundations of research methods; how the brain functions; states of consciousness and behavior; and investigates behavior disorders as well as proper treatment of those disorders.

Some students signed up for AP Psychology to explore the material as a possible major for college. "I think psychology is interesting because it's involved in everything we do as people, and I want to major in psychology when I go to college so having this material at this point really helps," said Raigan Page, a senior. "I like Mr. Black as a teacher; he knows how to explain topics clearly and uses different situations so we can identify the people involved even at our age."

Brendan Harris, a junior, took AP Psychology because of the interesting course description and to help his college applications. "AP classes look good on college applications and I like Mr. Black as a teacher," said Harris. "This is my first AP course, and since I already wonder what makes people do and act the way they do, it's great subject matter for me."

Advanced Placement promotes challenging academic environments

The Ridgefield High School staff views the Advanced Placement program as a way to encourage students to challenge themselves and raise their own expectations for themselves. "The goal of Advanced Placement is to create a culture of excellence through rigor," said Ford. "We think we can create this culture by offering challenging AP classes."

The intention to offer challenging learning environments was the basis for creating a Freshman-only AP class. "Once Freshmen realize they can perform at the AP level, there will be more students willing to take risks and sign up for AP classes in later years," said Ford. "Once the students have a taste for AP classes, they'll want to take more and their parents will know their students can handle the extra challenge."

The high school staff sees Advanced Placement courses as a way to challenge students. "We have such a great staff to work with," said Ford. "We've got really good people here and we're all dedicated to the same ideals."

Of the 132 students taking AP courses, three students are taking five courses, five students are taking four classes, 15 students are taking three courses, 25 students are taking two courses, and 84 students are taking a single AP course.

Class enrollments for the AP courses at Ridgefield High School are as follows:

AP Biology: 21 students
AP Calculus: 31 students
AP Chemistry: 15 students
AP Composition: 15 students
AP Government: 40 students
AP Human Geography: 31 students
AP Literature: 21 students
AP Psychology: 26 students
AP US History: 17 students

For more information on offerings at Ridgefield High School, visit the high school website at www.ridge.k12.wa.us/rhs