June 16, 2016 -- Ridgefield, WA -- Today, the Ridgefield School District received the initial screening results for water samples that were taken on June 6. Test results are summarized in the table below:
Location Lead in Drinking Water (ppb)
Union Ridge A -- Nurse Bathroom 2.96
Union Ridge A -- Classroom 4 7.09
Union Ridge A -- Classroom 11 8.35
Union Ridge A -- Kitchen Hall 1.18
Union Ridge A -- Classroom 10 1.24
High School - Commons 3.81
High School -- Wood Shop 35.9
High School -- 100 Bldg Hall 8.14
High School -- 200 Bldg Hall 28.5
High School - Library 21.5
South Ridge -- Class Room 6 1.5
South Ridge -- Gymnasium 0.9
South Ridge -- Main Office 1.84
South Ridge -- SW Hallway 0.25
South Ridge -- SE Hallway 5.28
View Ridge - North Hallway 15
View Ridge -- Room #1 28.2
View Ridge -- Library 34.0
View Ridge -- South Hallway 12.7
View Ridge -- Office Hallway 6.17
Results in bold indicate an exceedance of the 15 parts per billion drinking water standard
The district contracted with Sterling Technologies, LLC to conduct the water testing. According to officials at Sterling Technologies, LLC, it is anticipated the official report will be complete and made available to the district on Monday, June 20.
The district will continue to keep the public and media informed as information becomes available.
June 15, 2016 -- Ridgefield, WA -- The Ridgefield School District announces the hiring of three new administrators for the 2016-2017 school year: Courtney Margolin will serve as the Assistant Principal at Union Ridge Elementary, Tiffany Gould is the new Assistant Principal at South Ridge Elementary, and Michael Baskette is the district's Director of Special Education.
"We are extremely pleased to welcome qualified professionals to the Ridgefield School District," said Dr. Nathan McCann, Ridgefield's superintendent. "Courtney, Tiffany, and Michael bring a wealth of experience and fresh ideas to our district. They are committed to our pursuit of becoming the premier school system in the state of Washington."
Margolin began her career in Evergreen Public Schools, serving as a middle school English and History teacher for ten years. She currently works as an associate principal in the Longview School District. "I am excited to join the Ridgefield School District and become a Tater Tot. I look forward to working with the faculty and staff at Union Ridge," said Margolin.
Margolin holds bachelor of arts degree in elementary education and a master's degree in educational technology from City University.
Gould has worked in the Battle Ground Public Schools since 1995, serving in a variety of capacities. She began her career as a first and second-grade teacher and more recently was a reading and math intervention specialist. "I am thrilled to be joining the Ridgefield School District. As I have gotten to know many team members and learn more about the district, I have been impressed by the commitment to building strong relationships with families, businesses, and government services. I am looking forward to working with such a vibrant, talented group of school district and community members," Gould said.
A National Board Certified Teacher, Gould holds bachelor and master degrees from Washington State University -- Vancouver.
Baskette has 17 years of experience as a special education teacher in multiple program settings, including elementary, middle, and high school. He currently serves as a teacher and administrative intern at Captain Strong Primary School in the Battle Ground Public Schools. "This is a wonderful opportunity, and I am eager to begin engaging with students, staff, and parents to enhance special education offerings in the Ridgefield School District," said Baskette.
Baskette earned his Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Georgia and completed his administrative certification program at Washington State University -- Vancouver.
June 15, 2016 -- Ridgefield, WA -- Today, Ridgefield School District received preliminary notification of elevated lead levels in drinking water at Ridgefield High School and View Ridge Middle School. Several samples from both schools were found to have lead contents higher than recommended by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Ridgefield School District is following Washington Department of Health guidelines for sampling water, addressing high lead levels, assessing risk, notifying local health officials, and informing the community and news media.
The district expects to receive the written report in the next day. It will be made available on the district's website at www.ridgefieldsd.org.
The district has taken immediate actions to prohibit drinking from all faucets at the impacted campuses and is providing bottled water for staff and visitor use until the problem is fully resolved. Today was the final day of classes for students in the district.
"The health and safety of our students, staff, and campus visitors is our top concern. We are responding immediately to this preliminary report with the appropriate precautionary measures and will work swiftly to address any and all affected plumbing," said Dr. Nathan McCann, Ridgefield's superintendent.
Lead can be hazardous at all ages. Young children and pregnant women are at greater risk. Exposure to high levels of lead during pregnancy contributes to low birth weight and developmental delays in infants. In young children, lead exposure can lower IQ levels, affect hearing, reduce attention span, and hurt school performance.
Most elevated blood lead levels in children come from paint dust, hobbies, and folk medicines containing lead.
The district will provide additional updates as information becomes available.
June 14, 2016 - Ridgefield, WA - Ridgefield High School sophomore Hailey Hughes was recognized at the 5th Avenue Theatre Awards ceremony on Monday, June 6 for her portrayal of Ms. Darbus in Disney's High School Musical. Hughes captured the Outstanding Performance by an Actor or Actress in a Non-Singing Role.
Hughes is the first Ridgefield student to earn this prestigious distinction. "I am very honored to be the first student from Ridgefield High School to be nominated for a 5th Avenue Theatre Award, and even more honored to be the recipient."
The 5th Avenue Awards honors outstanding achievement in high school musical theater and celebrates the hard work and dedication of students and educators. The 5th Avenue Musical Theatre Awards represent 95 different schools and 116 different musical theater productions in the state of Washington.
Bob Meek, Ridgefield's choir and theater director, was inspired by Hughes' performance. "On a nightly basis, Hailey Hughes became the passionate and often awkward Ms. Darbus on stage. She led the entire cast through her consistently strong effort in rehearsal and her ability to make strong character choices," he said.
Hughes was quick to extend credit to the entire cast and crew. She noted that a unique comradery and fellowship develops when preparing to put on a show. "This year's cast of Disney's High School Musical has been an amazing group to work with and have pushed me to be a better actress. Without their support and Mr. Meek's direction, I would not have won this award," said Hughes.
Hughes was one of nine finalists for the award. To learn more about the 5th Avenue Awards, visit www.5thavenue.org/education/student-programs.
Thursday, June 9, 2016 -- Ridgefield, WA - Ridgefield School District has a well-deserved reputation for excellent teachers, high-performing students, and a strong sense of community. It is hardly surprising then to learn that the district's elementary school parent-teacher groups are active in supporting the schools. And while their organizational setup is different, their impact is similarly impressive.
South Ridge operates a Parent Teacher Association (PTA), while Union Ridge runs a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). The primary difference between the two organizational structures is that PTAs are affiliated with both their state PTA and the National PTA, while PTOs are uniquely local. Additionally, PTA membership requires modest dues, while the Union Ridge PTO is free to join.
The South Ridge PTA has enjoyed high levels of success for many years. The group annually raises between $55,000 and $60,000 and that money flows directly back into the school to support the teachers and students.
"We had great success again this year with all of our fundraisers including our Annual Dinner Auction, an adult only event and a fun parent night out. This is because of the generosity of our families and community which directly support our children's educational experiences," said Jennifer Winsell, the PTA's vice-president.
All that money provides support for a variety of materials and programs at South Ridge, ranging from cooking classes, art supplies, and Chromebooks, to pedometers, classroom evacuation kits, wall-mounted projectors, and more. Each grant request funded by the PTA must impact student learning and enhance the educational experience of students.
Likewise, the Union Ridge PTO is committed to advancing their school's educational pursuits. Grant requests are rank ordered, with priority given to those proposals that expand children's educational experiences and impact the greatest number of students.
"The PTO has made it our priority to ensure teachers have the necessary tools to bring a love of education to our children," said Amanda Hooghkirk, treasurer for the PTO.
The Union Ridge PTO is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. The group has tripled their membership over the past two years, according to the group's vice-president, Jessica Jacobson.
"Everybody is nice to everyone. We work hard to sustain a welcoming environment where parents feel at ease to help out. We keep the focus where it needs to be; making a difference for the kids," said Jacobson.
Active members give much of the credit for the PTO's success to Kristy Jones, the Union Ridge PTO President. Jones is quick to deflect the praise, while acknowledging the additional membership has had a considerable and direct impact on the school. She cites numerous examples, including $8000 of contributions that funded items on teachers' wish lists as well as the nearly $5000 that teachers were able to spend on their classroom libraries as tangible evidence of the PTO's impact.
Still, Jones thinks it is the many special events hosted by the PTO that brings the school together and creates the family atmosphere. The Union Ridge PTO hosts a flurry of special events annually, including Mother-Son and Daddy-Daughter dances, spring carnival, movie nights, and a record-setting dance-a-thon fundraiser. Jones attributes this to a group of event leaders who assume responsibility for creating memorable family experiences.
"What we have been able to accomplish with the extra people is really extraordinary. We have great people. They get a taste, get excited and want to do more. Our members are what make us special," Jones notes.
Back at South Ridge, the PTA stays equally busy hosting family fun nights. "While we run several fundraisers throughout the year, we also provide many free events for families to come and enjoy at no cost. Our fall carnival and family social nights are examples of that. We realize the importance of giving back to our families where they can come and enjoy an inexpensive fun event," said Winsell.
The high participation rate in both groups also means volunteers do not have to be involved in every function. "Whatever people want to do, we help them find their niche and get them doing the things they like to do," notes Jacobson.
Winsell agreed, explaining that she doesn't feel pressured to be involved in every PTA event. "I do what I can. Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, but they have the heart."
While the groups were established to support the teachers and students, members receive plenty of benefits. Both organizations possess elaborate communications networks that keep families informed of upcoming activities and special events. PTA members at South Ridge also enjoy discounts at various establishments, including Great Wolf Lodge.
Perhaps the most defining feature of both groups is the commitment they demonstrate to supporting the Ridgefield community. Union Ridge's PTO partners local businesses, including the downtown Ridgefield restaurant, Buckets, for some events. Winsell shared how impactful the South Ridge giving tree project was to her personally. The program, which was a partnership with the Ridgefield Community Center and the school's counselor, Heather Westbrook, provided Christmas gifts and groceries for 11 South Ridge families.
It is clear that South Ridge PTA and Union Ridge PTO members get back as much as they give.
"I enjoy serving because I have a heart for children. I love being involved and knowing our staff, principal, and students on a personal level. I also feel like I am teaching my children that volunteering is a great thing," said Winsell.
"I like knowing my work makes a difference," added Jones.