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View Ridge Middle School students Cayden Lauder (left) and Kaison Apol prepare their robot at a FIRST LEGO League competition in Olympia in December as their teammates (far left) look on.
View Ridge Middle School students Cayden Lauder (left) and Kaison Apol prepare their robot at a FIRST LEGO League competition in Olympia in December as their teammates (far left) look on.
View Ridge Middle Schoolers Participate in FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition (Photo) - 01/19/18

Friday, January 19, 2018 -- Ridgefield, Washington -- Last month, two robotics teams from View Ridge Middle School participated in a FIRST LEGO League Robotics qualifying competition at Washington Middle School in Olympia.

The VRMS Rebels (also known as "The Squishies") and VRMS Rebels Too (also known as "The RoboRebels") are coached by View Ridge English and history teacher, Raechel Cowell.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a nonprofit international youth organization founded in 1989 that operates the FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST LEGO League, JR. and FIRST Tech Challenge competitions.

FIRST LEGO League team competitions require student teams (in Grades 4-8) to design, build, and program a robot using Lego Mindstorms technology and drive it to complete challenges on a table-top playing field. This year, teams were also presented with a real-world problem (hydrodynamics) and were required to develop a solution by collaborating with community members and doing research culminating in a presentation to judges at the competition.

The competition helps participants learn to apply science, technology, engineering, and math concepts (STEM) along with creativity to solve a problem. Along the way, they develop critical thinking and team-building skills, basic STEM applications and presentation skills.

In addition, by embracing FIRST's Core Values, participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork. The event provided the middle schoolers with the opportunity to meet students from other schools, get to know their teammates better and to have fun.

At the competition, both teams faced numerous challenges required of their robot. After selecting specific challenges to work through, the students set goals, all of which they were able to accomplish. "THAT was very exciting," said Cowell. "The students worked hard and made effective use of downtimes to make programming changes. One team actually changed their robot design during downtime!"

"When we finally got to see our robot do the first challenge successfully, it was really cool," said Parker Staker from the RoboRebels team. "The best aspect of the competition was when we were pressured for time and within hours, made the robot able to do two more challenges than what we came in with. It was fun to see the saw blade attachment that I made work and help the robot do the challenge."

In the end, View Ridge ranked 27th and 28th out of a field of 33 teams. "However, I am very proud of them," said Cowell. "They weren't trying to win necessarily, but had the full spirit in them to do their best. The students enjoyed themselves," she said, adding, "Many would have been happy simply designing robots and programming them. Students simply love to do this stuff."

The View Ridge robotics teams gratefully acknowledge the support they received from Ridgefield High School's Steel Ridge Robotics Team (Coach Jeff Brink and students Jake McCarthy and Eli Holter) and parents Chad Stryker, Mitzi Staker, and Timm Sowders.

"Being my first year doing robotics, I really enjoyed myself and found the entire robotics community very supportive," said Cowell.

FIRST LEGO League is an alliance between FIRST and the LEGO Group. It was founded in 1998 by FIRST founder Dean Kamen and owner of the LEGO Group, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen to engage children in playful and meaningful learning while helping them discover the fun in science and technology.

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Cake Wars entry at Ridgefield High School aligns with
Cake Wars entry at Ridgefield High School aligns with "Winter" theme.
Cupcake Wars Give Ridgefield High School Students a Taste of Creative Competition (Photo) - 01/10/18

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 -- Ridgefield, Washington -- Stefanie Foster, Family and Consumer Science teacher at Ridgefield High School, wanted students in her Foods 1 and 2 classes to learn valuable skills they could use in pursuing a career in the food industry; specifically, understanding the cost of goods sold, preparing a presentation and pitching it to potential customers, being creative and imaginative, and working together as part of a team.

Inspired by a popular television show, she came up with a fun project that fit the bill: Cupcake Wars! "The Movies" was the theme she created, and students would be responsible for interpreting the theme into cupcakes they would create and present to customers.

Students were responsible for researching the recipe for the final product, doing nutritional and cost analysis of the product, creating the final product (including frosting) and presenting the product to customers (RHS staff members).

For her Foods 2 class, Foster created Cake Wars using the same concept and changed the theme to "Winter."

Final judging by staff members took place on December 15th, before Winter Break. Winning was not as important as the takeaway that the projects provided. Not only was the project fun for everyone involved, students came away learning valuable 21st century skills useful in real-life career applications.

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Scott Gullickson
Scott Gullickson
Ridgefield School District Honors School Board Members During School Board Recognition Month (Photo) - 01/09/18

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 -- Ridgefield, Washington -- Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed January as School Board Recognition Month. This marks the 23rd year of the annual observance initiated by the National School Boards Association in 1995.

At its regular board meeting on January 9, the Ridgefield School District recognized the dedicated service of its school board. Honored were school board members Emily Enquist, Becky Greenwald, Scott Gullickson, Joseph Vance, and Steve Radosevich.

The district joins the Washington State School Directors' Association, Association of Educational Service Districts and the broader education community in the state of Washington in recognizing the tremendous service provided by its school board.

"The board sets the vision for the school district and serves in cooperation with the superintendent as chief advocates for the district," said Ridgefield School District Superintendent Nathan McCann. "We are very fortunate to have a school board committed to continuous improvement and our pursuit of premier."

Guided by state and federal laws, the board provides direction for the district by setting policy, monitoring goals, and approving the annual budget.

"Each of our board members is extremely dedicated and willing to go above and beyond what is expected of them," said McCann. "In fact, I don't believe the public knows how much we expect from the board and how they always rise to the occasion."

In total, Washington's school directors govern districts serving 1.1 million students, with a combined annual budget of approximately $15 billion, employing about 120,000 people.

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Tyler Lehnertz
Tyler Lehnertz
Ridgefield School District Honors January Employee and Students of the Month (Photo) - 01/09/18

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 -- Ridgefield, Washington -- On January 9, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the January Employee and Students of the Month at the regular Board of Directors meeting.

The Employee of the Month is Doug TenEyck, teacher at South Ridge Elementary School. Doug is an exemplary model of what it means to pursue premier. His dedication to Ridgefield students has had a lasting impact on students most in need. Doug's gentle approach with students paired with high expectations produces amazing results, and his great sense of humor makes him a positive force in the classroom. He does whatever it takes for students.

Doug has long been an important member of the South Ridge Elementary team and now works as a school district employee. It is with pride that we congratulate Doug TenEyck as January's Employee of the Month.

Students of the Month

Isaac Marshall, a fifth grader, is January's Student of the Month at South Ridge Elementary School. Isaac is a flexible learner who is able to challenge himself. A self-starter, Isaac possesses strong leadership skills and has a strong character. Isaac is gentle, kind and is described as amusing. He is a positive role model for other students. South Ridge Elementary proudly recognizes Isaac Marshall as its January Student of the Month.

Jaidyn Ruzicka, a third grader, was selected at Union Ridge Elementary. Jaidyn always has a smile on her face and projects a positive attitude for learning, regardless of the subject. She has a great work ethic, always tries her best and asks questions. She exhibits great leadership skills, is always fair and makes sure to include everyone. She makes the classroom a safe place for all students to learn and to express their opinions without judgment. A born helper, she is always looking for ways she can help others. Jaidyn is an all-around wonderful person, and Union Ridge is fortunate to have her. It is proud to name Jaidyn Ruzicka as its Student of the Month for January.

Taylor Zanas, an eighth grader, was selected from View Ridge Middle School. Taylor has a great attitude in class and never backs down from a challenge, no matter who is posing the challenge and no matter how difficult it is. One of her teachers appreciates how Taylor seems to enjoy being active for the love of it and works to improve a skill even if she isn't going to pursue it. She is very respectful of others, and other students respect her as well for the way she treats people. In addition, Taylor is a student who is coachable and is always ready to learn. View Ridge Middle School is pleased to recognize Taylor Zanas for January Student of the Month honors.

Tyler Lehnertz, a sophomore, was chosen from Ridgefield High School. Tyler was nominated for this honor in November, December and twice for January. He is one of the most active students on campus. In addition to taking chemistry and pre-calculus, Tyler is on the cross-country, basketball and baseball teams. He is also in the ASB student government class and is the ASB Activities Director. Teachers describe Tyler as a person who "makes RHS a better place ... he goes out of his way to make others feel known and is a leader among leaders." Another teacher describes Tyler as a "perfect example of the three R's that we promote at RHS" (respect, responsibility, resilience). It is without question that Tyler Lehnertz is worthy of January Student of the Month honors for Ridgefield High School.

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

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