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The Earth Dance assignment at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School's computer science class challenges fifth grade students to figure out how to program different characters to dance.
The Earth Dance assignment at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School's computer science class challenges fifth grade students to figure out how to program different characters to dance.
Computer Science at Sunset Ridge Intermediate and View Ridge Middle School (Photo) - 09/16/19

Monday, September 16, 2019 – Ridgefield, WA –  Students stream into the computer lab and check out their Chromebooks from a cabinet in the back.  Two big screens in the front of the room show a cartoon of a sprite and some characters who look like they’re made of rocks.  Sunset Ridge Intermediate School teacher, Nam Nguyen, goes to stand by a laptop at the front of the room. 

“Listen up!  Today we’re going to be working on a project called Earth Dance,” he says.  The kids all turn to watch.  The cartoon animates with the sprite moving around, then the rock people follow in the same movement. 

Nguyen continues, “Today, you will be playing—programming—Splash as your primary sprite and the Rock People as your secondary.  Your first objective is to have Splash demonstrate her dance move to the Rock People.  Then the Rock People are going to mimic the dance move.  You’re going to mimic—copy—the code so things are moving together.  That’s the beginning.  That’s the bare bones of the program.”

These students aren’t seventh or eighth graders; they’re in the fifth grade.  And they’re programming in block coding, a system that lets students select and order blocks of code to complete tasks.  Nguyen said the students adapt to it very quickly. 

“Because of development and how intimidating computer science can be, a lot of students worried about whether they were just going to sit here and code the whole time, line code,” he said.  Instead, they’re engaged in creative tasks, working with other students at their tables to drag and drop code blocks, finding the right pieces to solve a logic puzzle.

Nguyen explains that the visual code blocks are all composed in Python, one of the top computer programming languages worldwide.  “It’s one of the most innovative methods of introducing young students to Python,” he explained, “because every line of code or every block that students are using in the program at the fifth and sixth grade level is the exact same code that is used in Python.” 

The computer science electives at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School and View Ridge Middle School are popular and fill up quickly, so classes are designed for students to enter the courses at any given stage or grade level without a lot of prerequisites.  And challenges are built into each exercise so students can work at their own levels. 

Soon the students are pointing at each other’s laptops as they discuss ways to change the code, or to try the challenge level of making the characters dance without tilting.  It’s a different kind of screen time, the kind of work that lies behind every video game or app.  But it looks like the students are having fun—and the characters are all dancing. 


The Ridgefield High School Cheer Team was voted Most Spirited Squad at the National Cheerleaders Association Varsity Camp in Olympia in July
The Ridgefield High School Cheer Team was voted Most Spirited Squad at the National Cheerleaders Association Varsity Camp in Olympia in July
Ridgefield High School Cheerleaders Win All-American Honors at Varsity NCA Camp (Photo) - 08/27/19

Tuesday, August 27, 2019 – Ridgefield, WA – Congratulations to Amaya Socha (senior), Mia Tomillo (senior) and Joslyn Mayberry (sophomore) of the Ridgefield High School Cheer Team.  They each earned All-American Cheerleader honors at National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) competitions during Varsity Camp at Evergreen State College in Olympia held in early July.

Socha, Tomillo and Mayberry were among eight cheerleaders selected for All-American honors from a field of 200 cheerleaders who attended the camp.

All-American Cheerleaders are recognized each year in NCA summer cheer camps nationwide.  Recipients of this prestigious award are chosen for their exceptional showmanship, poise, technique and crowd-leading spirit, and they earn the recognition of being top cheerleaders in their state.  The honor also affords them the opportunity to participate in parades around the country, such as the Orange Bowl Parade, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and others.

In addition, the RHS Cheer Team as a whole took first place in the Band Dance Competition and was voted Most Spirited Squad by the camp participants.  Head Coach Alyssa Tomillo and JV Coach Anja Felton lead the cheer team for the district.

Congratulations to all!  Go Spudders!


Ridgefield School District Hosts Experience Ridgefield on September 14 - 08/26/19

Monday, August 26, 2019 – Ridgefield, Washington –  Mark your calendars for some good old-fashioned, small-town fun as the Ridgefield School District prepares to host Experience Ridgefield on Saturday, September 14.  The annual community carnival celebrates Ridgefield’s proud past, prosperous present and promising future. 

The event will take place at the new Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex (RORC) at 3101 S. Hillhurst Road from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Sharing the venue will be Ridgefield’s fifth annual Oktoberfest celebration sponsored by Ridgefield Main Street.

Experience Ridgefield will offer activities for all ages including a carnival midway complete with inflatables and a game truck, food and craft vendors, potato sack races, Bingo, a Mr. Potato Head contest and informational kiosks.  A corn hole tournament (new this year) is also planned. 

Prior to the event, the public is invited to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly-completed RHS Expansion Project at Ridgefield High School, across from the RORC.  The new two-story, 42,000 square foot facility, part of the district’s 2017 Bond Program, houses a media center, a college career center, a science learning wing and new learning spaces for special education, fine arts, and general education.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 10:00 am in the new building’s library.

Experience Ridgefield was launched in 2016 from a concept developed by students in the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council (SSAC) consisting of twelve students in grades 4-12—each representing one of the district’s schools.  The students designed the interactive, carnival-like event to represent everything that makes Ridgefield unique, capturing everything they love about their community.  They appropriately named it “Experience Ridgefield.”

This will be the school district’s fourth year hosting the event.

“I’m very proud of all the creativity and planning put in by the students in developing an annual event that celebrates the spirit and pride of this amazing community,” said Nathan McCann, Ridgefield School District’s Superintendent.  “We appreciate the generosity of our partnering sponsors and the many local businesses, civic groups and public entities who continue to support Experience Ridgefield each year.”

The district is grateful to iQ Credit Union for their support as presenting sponsor for Experience Ridgefield.  iQ Credit Union has 81,000 members and 16 branch locations in Portland and southwest Washington and has been serving the Pacific Northwest for nearly 80 years.

Vendors interested in reserving spaces at Experience Ridgefield can access an application at the following link:  https://tinyurl.com/yxk9njbj.  Vendors can also contact Bonnie Harris at 360-619-1302 for more information.


Attached Media Files: Experience Ridgefield 2019