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Mary Beth Tinker shared a photo of herself and her parents at the school board meeting upholding her suspension for wearing a black armband PHOTO CREDIT: Des Moines Register
Mary Beth Tinker shared a photo of herself and her parents at the school board meeting upholding her suspension for wearing a black armband PHOTO CREDIT: Des Moines Register
Student rights pioneer Mary Beth Tinker speaks to Ridgefield High School students (Photo) - 01/18/22

Mary Beth Tinker was only 13 years old and still a student when she found herself in the national spotlight and at the center of a Supreme Court case. Recently, Tinker spoke to Ridgefield High School students in Angela Gardner’s social studies class, sharing her experiences about the Supreme Court case and the years that followed as she became a student rights advocate.

Tinker and several other students in Des Moines, Iowa wore black armbands to school in protest of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War and to honor both the American and Vietnamese soldiers who had died. While a large number of students had worn the armbands, only five were singled out for suspension, including Mary Beth Tinker and her brother, John. Tinker still has the suspension notice from 1965 and showed it to Gardner’s class. The family received death threats, some of which were specifically targeted at Mary Beth.

The Des Moines school board upheld the principal’s decision to suspend the students. Shortly afterwards, the Iowa Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint on behalf of three of the students–Mary Beth Tinker, John Tinker, and Christopher Eckhardt–in District Court, claiming that the students’ First Amendment rights to free expression had been infringed upon. The complaint was dismissed and went to the U.S. Court of Appeals, where the judges were split. Finally, the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case in 1968.

The Supreme Court found that the Des Moines Independent Community School District had, in fact, violated the students’ First Amendment rights by suspending the students for wearing black armbands. In a landmark decision, the court set a legal standard for free expression for students, saying that students do not lose their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech when they are on school property. In order to justify suppressing speech, schools would have to prove that the conduct would “materially and substantially interfere with the operation of the school.” This substantial disruption test became known as the “Tinker Test”. 

Tinker would later go on to become a pediatric nurse but continued serving as an advocate for youth and student rights. In 2013, she started the “Tinker Tour” where she spoke to tens of thousands of students across the United States about youth voices, free speech, and freedom of the press. In 2019, they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Tinker v. Des Moines case. The Tinker Tour gives her a direct way to encourage students to speak out for what they believe in.

Gardner had seen information about the Tinker Tour and decided to apply when she learned that tour dates were now available via Zoom. 

“Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District is one of the required cases for the AP exam,” said Gardner. “We are also in the middle of our Civil Rights and Civil Liberties unit, so the timing all came together perfectly. It was exciting for my students to hear about this case from one of the individuals who was directly involved!”

The students were excited too, with many questions for Tinker. Charlie Fisher, a founding member of the Unite Ridgefield club, spoke with Tinker about their student-driven social justice organization at Ridgefield High School. Tinker was enthusiastic to hear about the students who were working toward justice and speaking out about the changes they’d like to see. 

“That’s what it’s about,” Tinker said. “It becomes a way of life.” 

Tinker also shared pages from a First Amendment coloring book she designed for her tours called “Color My Rights!” She pointed out that many of the pages were inspired by student-led activism, including a Girl Scout protest against the use of palm oil (which harms rainforests) in cookies, an elementary school protest against mistreatment of circus animals, and a student-led movement to stop Asian hate crimes. Tinker was clearly proud to see students stepping forward to make positive change in the world. 

Students at Ridgefield High School and across the globe will continue to build on Tinker’s legacy, ensuring that students everywhere have the right to be heard. 

Ridgefield High School – William Boyd V, Grade 12
Ridgefield High School – William Boyd V, Grade 12
Ridgefield School District honors January Employee and Students of the Month (Photo) - 01/12/22

On January 11, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the January 2022 Employee and Students of the Month at the regular Board of Directors meeting. Congratulations to all of this month’s honorees!

Employee of the Month – Maggie Butler, District Office

The Ridgefield High School administrative team nominated Maggie Butler as Employee of the Month. It’s not just Maggie’s incredible knowledge of data systems and her support of district schools with all things data that makes her an exemplary employee, it is her willingness to always help with our countless questions about data gathering and Skyward. Once, Maggie was asked if she ever gets a question that she does not know the answer to. Her answer? “Not very often…” Maggie is always professional, always knows or can find the answer we need, and always helpful. To sum up the work she does, one teacher recently said, “Maggie is so helpful. She spent 54 minutes on the phone with me yesterday helping me. I just want to go down and buy her a dozen roses.” That was the very first interaction that teacher ever had with Maggie, and that’s a typical example of how she is always willing to help. 

Early Learning Center – Chloe Keur, Pre K 

Chloe is one of our number one helpers at the Early Learning Center. She is first to eagerly volunteer for anything the teacher asks. If there's a job or anything that she notices that needs to be done, she quietly steps up and helps. She has amazing listening skills and works very hard to focus on each new activity and lesson.  Chloe has the biggest heart. She loves her friends and teachers and brings out her sunshine smile at every opportunity. It's hard to stop smiling when Chloe is in the room! She starts her day with the same warm greeting, "Hi friends!" She is resilient and continues to persevere even when things aren't easy and especially when she knows it's meaningful to her. Chloe is a true joy to have in our community classroom! All of these reasons and more are why Chloe is our January Student of the Month at the Early Learning Center. You make us proud to have you as a Hash Brown, Chloe!

South Ridge Elementary School – Jaunty Berber, Grade 2

Jaunty Berber is a true Roadrunner. She gives her best effort every chance she gets. Jaunty is expressive both when she is feeling happy and when she is not. She is a self-advocate who stands up for herself and politely asks for a fair deal. She helps others near her when her work is done. She adds to our class discussions and her logic is pretty solid! Jaunty has made great growth this year due to her perseverance. She doesn't stop until the job is done and she is willing to correct mistakes and add details. She truly adds to our classroom community!

Union Ridge Elementary School – Emmett Anderson, Grade 3

Emmett Anderson is an excellent example of what it means to be Student of the Month. Over the past few months he has worked hard to persevere through tough lessons and projects, shown to be responsible with his learning by being motivated to complete assignments and homework, and shown to be a good friend to those around him. He is a hard worker, respectful listener, helpful partner, and kind student. By modeling the three Rs on a daily basis, Emmett has improved himself academically, socially, and exemplifies student of the month qualities. Emmett is an all-around Tater Tot and we are so proud to select him for student of the month.

Sunset Ridge Intermediate School – Addison Tingley, Grade 6

Addison Tingley is Sunset Ridge’s January student of the month. Addie truly represents the three Rs. She is responsible - she comes to class each day prepared for the day. She has her materials and a growth mindset. She knows her schedule and when she needs to be somewhere else. She is resilient - she gives her best every day and does not give up. She seeks help and understanding when unsure. She is respectful to students and staff. Addie often steps up and helps others when she notices a struggle. She does this without any coaxing. This takes away from her work time and she is still able to complete all of her work on time. She is friendly and patient when working with others. Addie is a true rock star!

View Ridge Middle School –Alina Akimenko, Grade 8

View Ridge Middle School is pleased to announce that eight grader Alina Akimenko has been chosen as our Student of the Month for January. Alina is an exemplary student whose work is always of the highest quality, whether it’s an assignment, activity, or assessment. She is an accomplished and dedicated student who finds ways to challenge herself and seeks help when she needs it. Her teachers say that her attention to detail and thoroughness is outstanding. Alina is a quiet leader who contributes to a positive and productive classroom environment, a devoted friend and an asset to our school community. She is willing to do anything that is asked of her to help the class. Congratulations, Alina! This award is well deserved.

Ridgefield High School – William Boyd V, Grade 12

Ridgefield High School selected a student of the month who represents resilience and hard work in a variety of learning. William Boyd is an interesting student who has demonstrated academic improvement as a result of the pandemic. William moved to Ridgefield in 6th grade and admits that he has always struggled in school. He spent the first year and a half as a Spudder struggling with motivation and focus and confesses that “I didn’t put in enough effort.” Many students do not come back from that. He credits the change in scenery in spring of 2020 as helping him learn to focus. Additionally, in 10th grade he heard about Cascadia Tech Academy as a great option for him as a junior and senior. William said “I had taken Woods and Metals classes at the high school and they were good classes for me because I’m a hands-on learner.” He has progressed through credit recovery and several summers of summer school. During the second semester of 10th grade, when the pandemic started - a noticeable trend shifted on his transcript. William has not failed a class since. He has figured out what it takes to be a successful student and is working hard now as a senior. Additionally, William has joined the Cascadia Tech construction program. He will graduate with his class this June with experience in home construction and a plumbing apprenticeship underway. We are so proud of all that he has overcome and the resiliency William has demonstrated.

Wisdom Ridge AcademyBethany Strand, Grade 10 

The Wisdom Ridge Academy teachers and staff are extremely proud of Bethany and her continued academic success. Bethany has truly embraced remote learning in the past few months. She can be counted on to set weekly goals for herself, and exceed them by managing her time at home effectively. With a busy home life, we are consistently impressed at Bethany’s ability to persevere and hold herself accountable. Her communication with staff is always respectful and professional. Bethany consistently produces high-quality work in all of her courses. We know that remote learning can present unique challenges, when these challenges arise, Bethany effectively and proactively communicates with her instructors and Wisdom Ridge staff. Having Bethany as part of our Wisdom Ridge family is a true pleasure. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Bethany as she journeys through the rest of her high school career. 

A young salmon inside one of the 'Salmon in the Classroom' tanks prior to being released
A young salmon inside one of the 'Salmon in the Classroom' tanks prior to being released
Union Ridge students get hands-on learning with 'Salmon in the Classroom' (Photo) - 01/05/22

On a cold and foggy December morning just before the start of Winter Break, a group of about 30 second graders from Corrina Hollister and Ellen Ferrin’s classes at Union Ridge Elementary School clambered along the rocky banks of Gee Creek in Ridgefield’s Abrams Park. Jockeying for position to get a better view, the students watched excitedly as Hollister released a group of salmon fingerlings into the flowing waters, oohing and aahing as they watched the tiny fish embark on their journeys toward adulthood. 

The Ridgefield School District second graders had cared for these fingerlings for the previous several weeks, priming the tank for the arrival of 250 new salmon eggs that will arrive in January. Students will watch as those eggs hatch into tiny baby salmon (called alevin), grow into baby fry, then become fingerlings that are big enough to be released on a later trip to Gee Creek. Administered by Columbia Springs and funded by Clark Public Utilities, the “Salmon in the Classroom” program provides fish tanks to schools across Clark County for an entire semester of hands-on environmental education. 

Kim Stenbak’s fourth grade class at Union Ridge also has a fish tank through the Salmon in the Classroom program. Her students visited Gee Creek to test the water quality before the fingerling release. They took water samples from four spots throughout the park, then returned to class to test the samples. The students compared data to determine the optimal spot for release, giving the salmon fingerlings a greater chance of survival. 

Usually only one fish tank is approved per school, but Stenbak applied last year when COVID kept the students from the classroom. Now, Union Ridge has the rare opportunity to have a salmon tank in each of its two buildings. The tanks are intentionally placed in the hallway so all of Union Ridge’s students have the chance to see the salmon as they grow. 

Hollister, Ferrin, and Stenbak are taking the lessons beyond science class, using salmon as a theme across multiple subjects. Fourth grade students drew detailed salmon pictures that line the stairwell to the second-floor fish tank, emblematic of the salmon’s annual swim upstream to spawn. 

Second grade students learned about salmon’s honored place in Native American culture in their tribal sovereignty unit, reading books like “Shanyaak’utlaax: Salmon Boy”, a Tinglit story about a child who learns respect for nature, animals, and culture from the Salmon People. The multi-subject approach gives students a strong sense of salmon’s importance to the Pacific Northwest’s history, ecosystem, and culture. 

The project also helps students realize how precarious salmon’s lives can be. Salmon typically lay 5,000 eggs, but only two or three survive to adulthood. They face many dangers as they grow, including dam turbines, fishing boats, and animals like bears and eagles. Now, climate change poses yet another threat to young salmon. Last summer’s heat wave made water temperatures unlivable for salmon in the Columbia River, leading to open lesions and white fungus on the fish. Students are seeing firsthand how directly climate change affects the salmon, and how even a small environmental change can have lasting consequences.

The Union Ridge teachers are pleased to not only see their students get excited about the salmon release—but also absorbing the larger message of how salmon impact our lives, our environment, and our ecosystem. 

“It makes the message of climate change real,” Hollister said. “We need to let these kids know it’s our job to care for the environment, all of us.” By teaching about salmon’s importance to the Pacific Northwest, these students are taking the first steps toward becoming lifetime stewards of the environment, actively protecting the salmon and other natural resources.