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News Releases
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying Poster
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying Poster
Prairie High School Set to Perform of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" (Photo) - 10/13/17

Prairie High School drama will perform the musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" beginning Oct. 28. The musical by Frank Loesser is based on the 1952 book by Shepherd Mead.

The musical business satire follows J. Pierrepont Finch who attempts to climb the corporate ladder using a handbook called How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The tale is filled with potential dangers for the company man, including an office party, backstabbing co-workers, caffeine addiction, and true love as Finch moves through the ranks from window washer to high-powered executive.

The show runs from Oct. 27-28, and Nov. 3-4. Performances will be at Prairie High School, 11311 NE 119th St., Vancouver. Tickets cost $6 for students, $12 for adults, and $8 for senior citizens and are available online at:

The performance dates and times are as follows:

Friday, Oct. 27 at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 28 at 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 4 at 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:00 p.m.

Amboy Middle School 5th graders show off their socks
Amboy Middle School 5th graders show off their socks
It's Socktober for Amboy and Pleasant Valley students (Photo) - 10/13/17

Thanks to the efforts of two Battle Ground schools, 14,610 toes (and counting) will be properly covered this fall and winter. That's because all of the fifth graders at Amboy Middle School and the kindergartners in Michelle Anderson's class at Pleasant Valley Primary are collecting socks to donate locally as part of "Socktober," a national movement intended to get kids and grownups alike to help their local communities in a fun, easy way.

So far, the two schools have collected 1,461 pairs of new socks, and they're just halfway through the month-long drive. Amboy Middle School has already surpassed its goal of 600 pairs of socks, and Pleasant Valley is about 80 percent of the way towards reaching its goal of 1,000 pairs. Donated socks will be distributed through Battle Ground Public Schools' Family and Community Resources Center, located at the CASEE center.

This is the second time that Michelle Anderson's class has participated in the annual drive. The first time came while she was a teacher at River HomeLink, where her first and second grade students collected about 800 pairs of socks. This year, she decided to bring the drive to the Pleasant Valley campus, where her kindergarten class is collecting new pairs of socks with assistance from the middle school.

"The Socktober drive has been a wonderful experience," Anderson said. "Not only do the socks go to local community members in need, but it also provides valuable lessons to students. Counting and pairing socks provides kindergarteners with math practice, while also presenting an opportunity to talk about what it means to be homeless and why it's important to do something to help others."

Teacher Erica Benge got all of Amboy Middle School's fifth grade classes involved after her class watched Kid President's "Spreading the Good" video on YouTube. After sharing the video with the other fifth grade classes, everyone agreed that they wanted to participate. To help generate interest and have a little extra fun kicking off the drive, Amboy's fifth graders got creative with their own footwear for "crazy sock day" early in the month.

"Kids are learning that even seemingly little things like socks can mean so much, and that small acts of kindness really do make a difference," Benge said. "Through this donation drive, we are trying to 'spread the good,' to learn empathy, and create a sense of community. It's been uplifting to see how much the students and staff enjoy giving and caring about those in need."

You may be asking yourself, "why socks?" Well, socks are one of the least donated items in homeless shelters, yet are among the most-needed items. Socktober was launched several years ago by "Kid President" creator Brad Montague to address this issue, and it's really taken off. Last year, more than 10,000 schools, families, businesses, and churches rallied together to bring Socktober to life, and people from every state and continent have taken part in the drive since its inception.

Donated socks will be made available to local families and students in need through the district's Family and Community Resource Center (FCRC). If you are interested in donating new socks or blankets as part of this drive, or are in need such items for yourself or your family, please contact the FCRC by calling 360-885-5434 or emailing

ROL Science Instructor Luke Moorhead assists 9th grader Rylee Fehr
ROL Science Instructor Luke Moorhead assists 9th grader Rylee Fehr
River Online Learning works to fit students' educational needs (Photo) - 10/09/17

Kylie Delaney is one busy sophomore. In between training for national air rifle competitions and working toward her dream of becoming a large animal veterinarian, she immerses herself into a full course load of classes--all taken online. Kylie's balancing act is supported by River Online Learning (ROL), a Battle Ground Public Schools program that allows her to focus on biology, geometry, and English classes no matter where her competition and training schedule takes her.

River Online Learning enables students in grades 6-12 to take classes online instead of in a traditional classroom setting. Students in the program can learn at their own pace from anywhere that has an internet connection. And when they need support, they can get it from certificated teachers and their peers at River HomeLink, Battle Ground's alternative learning school that provides a brick and mortar base for the online program. Continuous enrollment allows students to start any time and begin with just one class, and increase their course load over time to fit their specific needs.

"River Online Learning works to fit the student, not make the student work to fit the program," said Darlene Wilgus, River HomeLink's assistant principal. "Help is always available to students whether it's in person or online." With small group spaces, ROL teachers can help students who may need individualized assistance or who might otherwise get lost in a traditional classroom setting.

Full-time students in the program meet with teachers face-to-face on a weekly basis, while part-time students meet with teachers at least once per month to track progress and address questions or issues that arise. Students, parents, and teachers can also initiate additional or more frequent in-person meetings based on individual needs.

ROL is great for students who participate in sports, travel, or have a job that conflicts with a traditional school schedule. Sophomore Cooper Laine likes the ROL format because he can work at his own pace and review course videos and text at his convenience. It is a more efficient way to learn, he said. "You have to be self-motivated to be successful in this program," Laine said. "But those who stay focused can get more done in less time."

In addition to providing this flexibility, River Online Learning also provides classes that are not offered at other schools, such as computer science courses, foreign languages such as Mandarin Chinese and Latin, and many more. Sophomore Peter Vorobets is taking courses to help him prepare to become an electrician. Freshman Hunter Gomulkiewicz is able to choose technology classes that fit his goal of becoming a video game designer. In all, there are 460 classes that ROL students can choose from, opening up a whole new world of learning opportunities.

Students can also select from multiple course platforms that support a variety of learning styles. Classes are offered in multiple digital formats that allow for reading and video teaching as well as transcripts in different languages to accommodate students' individual learning needs.

Senior Alyssa Easter, who wants to become a firefighter, appreciates that ROL cuts down on the distractions that can occur in traditional school settings. "There's no drama here," Easter said. "You can focus on your work and get it done quicker."

ROL currently serves 76 full-time students within Battle Ground Public Schools, double the number enrolled last year. The goal is to further develop the program for students in grades 6-8. Additionally, online courses are available for a fee beyond the school day for students needing an additional credit to graduate on time.

Students and parents interested in River Online Learning can fill out an inquiry form on the River HomeLink website at More information is also available by calling (360) 334-8261 or by emailing

Speech-Language Pathologist Lori Miller (left) and 5th grade teacher Eileen O'Connor (center) greet students at the beginning of the school day at Chief Umtuch Middle School
Speech-Language Pathologist Lori Miller (left) and 5th grade teacher Eileen O'Connor (center) greet students at the beginning of the school day at Chief Umtuch Middle School
Supporting attendance is a 'Chief' strategy for student success (Photo) - 09/29/17

Each morning at Chief Umtuch Middle School, arriving students are greeted by smiling and enthusiastic staff members who are busy doling out high fives, hellos and good mornings left and right. While it's a small gesture, Chief's leadership team knows that when students have positive interactions like these with teachers and staff, children feel better about school--and about themselves.

The morning welcome is just one of the ways that the school is ensuring that all students feel supported while they're at school, and that they fully benefit from their education by building a habit of consistent school attendance.

"If there's one thing that keeps me up at night, it's worrying about the students who aren't here," said Principal Beth Beattie. "If kids don't come to school, we can't teach them. We know that there are a variety of reasons that students are absent, from health concerns to transportation challenges. It's our job to make sure there are many people in our building prepared to help students and their families face these challenges so kids can get to school."

The staff at Chief Umtuch has always kept track of attendance figures, but this year they've launched several new attendance and support programs to provide encouragement, resources, and when necessary, intervention,to help students get to class regularly and on time.

Each grade level at the school has a designated attendance advocate called CHAMPS (Collaborative, Holistic Attendance Mentoring for Pupil Success). The CHAMPS advocates help track daily attendance and communicate with parents to understand why a student is absent or chronically late. The advocates help identify challenges that families may be facing and seek to match them with available supports to help them overcome barriers preventing consistent attendance. The CHAMPS advocates also serve as a primary point of communication for families of students who need attendance support.

"Getting students to school on time and ready to learn every day helps children not only do well now, but also leads to future success in high school and beyond," said Kara Kent, a principal intern at Chief Middle and the school's eighth grade CHAMPS advocate. "Closely monitoring attendance and frequently checking in with families to make sure they have the tools and support they need is already having an impact on reducing absences and tardies."

Using funds that were donated by the Battle Ground Education Foundation, Chief Umtuch has outfitted a Welcome Room with school supplies, food, clothing and other items that are available to assist students who don't have what they need. The Welcome Room also serves as the epicenter of the school's attendance support programs.

Students with chronic tardiness issues participate in the school's Pit Stop program by checking into the Welcome Room when they arrive on campus. On time students check in on a chart. If a student is late, an advocate is there to greet them, find out why they're late, and ask if they need additional supports. Once a student arrives on time for 10 consecutive days, they may exit the program but can still visit the Welcome Room anytime.

If a student is struggling academically, parents or students can ask to be in the Check-In/Check-Out support program. Advocates in the Welcome Room are available to help students print missing homework and assignments and act as a liaison between students, teachers and parents. If a student drops below 80 percent attendance, a parent meeting is called that includes teachers, counselors, administrators, or a prevention intervention specialist to devise a support plan.

"We understand that there are many reasons a student may arrive late to school, and that often it requires a team approach to get a family out the door," Beattie said. "Our attendance programs are not designed to be punitive, but rather to provide positive, incentive-based programs that help make sure students have what they need to attend school and be successful."

School Psychologist Marissa Avalon holds a sign to help guide students in teacher Kristen Barton's kindergarten class at Glenwood Heights Primary School
School Psychologist Marissa Avalon holds a sign to help guide students in teacher Kristen Barton's kindergarten class at Glenwood Heights Primary School
BGPS school psychologists play crucial role in students' social-emotional development (Photo) - 09/22/17

The kindergartners in teacher Kristen Barton's class are sitting in a circle on the brightly colored carpet, thinking hard and taking turns offering suggestions about how they can recognize and take control of their emotions when they begin feeling frustrated in school. Their answers vary greatly, but Glenwood Heights Primary School Psychologist Marissa Avalon is there to help guide the students in devising healthy, productive means for coping with the stresses that may arise during the school day.

This exercise is part of Avalon's outreach to all students at Glenwood Heights, helping to teach the school's Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS expectations, which Battle Ground Public Schools has implemented at all its schools in support of its focus on social-emotional learning.

Avalon certainly isn't alone in what she does for BGPS students. The district employs 21 full-time school psychologists, plus an intern. School psychologists are considered the "case manager" at their buildings, serving both general and special education students. The services they provide include counseling, group work, and guiding the multidisciplinary special education team processes.

"Our school psychologists are essential to providing successful social-emotional learning programs in all of our schools," said Ellen Wiessner, the district's Executive Director of Special Services. "I'm continually impressed by the phenomenal job they're doing through engaging with students, and they bring an impressively versatile skillset to Battle Ground Schools."

Glenwood Heights' PBIS motto is Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible, and with help from their teachers and specialists like Avalon, these kindergartners are learning how to meet and exceed these expectations.

In addition to general student outreach efforts, Avalon also engages directly with individual students who are struggling to meet behavior expectations. Last year, she brought the district's "Check In, Check Out" support program to Glenwood Heights. Students who have been referred by their classroom teacher meet with her or one of Glenwood's four other designated mentors for 10 minutes each morning to "check in" about how they're feeling and to discuss coping strategies should challenges arise. At the end of each day, they meet again to "check out" and discuss how the strategies worked and plan ways to be more successful in the coming days and weeks.

"For kids struggling with emotional regulation, having positive connections with an adult for even a few minutes each morning and afternoon can have a huge impact," Avalon said. "Having that guided conversation, setting specific goals, and providing encouragement to these students is beneficial in helping them make progress."

Avalon also leads skill-building groups that help students with trauma, anxiety, impulse control, and those who have trouble focusing. Groups of about four students meet with Mrs. Avalon weekly to practice strategies that help them build coping skills. Using colorful charts, these kids learn to identify disruptive emotions and cope with them using methods such as positive self-talk, breathing techniques, and muscle relaxation. For example, kids in the impulse control group use a chart modeled after red, yellow and green traffic lights called "Stop, Think, Do."

"Essentially, these kids are learning about self control," Avalon said. "Over the course of 6-8 weeks, these students can work with a group of peers to become more self-aware and practice skills to use, such as forgetting and moving past negative interactions with peers that would otherwise make them react emotionally. There's a lot that these kids can learn to do on their own to feel better and be happier at school and beyond."

"Marissa is a critical component to the overall success of Glenwood students," said Assistant Principal Damen Hermens. "She is continually supportive of teachers and has a natural ability to connect with students. Her contributions have helped Glenwood establish successful systems of intervention and supports that center around providing for student needs and growth."

Avalon is passionate about what she does, and that quickly becomes apparent when you talk to her about her work. She realizes that teaching coping skills to children, especially those in the early years of their education, has a tremendous impact on shaping their future success.

"Some conditions are easy to diagnose and respond to, but behavior problems can pose a challenge because they can be hard to identify and can be easily misunderstood by others," Avalon said. "Each student has different needs, and it's important that every student feels supported so they can come to school each day emotionally prepared to learn."