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Union Ridge Elementary student, Noah Jemmott, built a ball toss game.
Union Ridge Elementary student, Noah Jemmott, built a ball toss game.
Union Ridge Elementary Students Create Arcade Games from Recycled Materials (Photo) - 01/21/20

Tuesday, January 21, 2020 – Ridgefield, WA – The classroom is filled with arcade games.  But there are no video screens or digital beeps, just the voices of kids having a lot of fun.  Every arcade game has been handmade by a second-grade student.  And they did it all from recycled materials. 

Sara Eastham’s second grade class participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge, inspired by the short documentary Caine’s Arcade.  A nine-year-old boy, Caine Monroy, spent the summer designing and building an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s auto parts store in Los Angeles.  A filmmaker made a documentary about the arcade that went viral. 

The film led to the Global Cardboard Challenge, where students all over the world create new things using cardboard, recycled materials, and imagination.  Eastham’s class uses the challenge as a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) project, teaching the students to be creative, think outside the box, and independently solve problems.

Students and their families spent three weeks creating arcade games from boxes and bottles, paper towel tubes and milk cartons, old toys and twine.  The results were amazingly creative, with a wide variety of game types.  Students made skeeball and bowling lanes, claw machines and mazes.  One student made a wooden catapult to launch plastic frogs onto targets.  

“The students had to plan, engineer, create rules, and decorate their projects,” Eastham said.  “Presenting the games (other students play the games) gives them a sense of accomplishment and gives them ideas on how to improve or create another.  And they had a blast!” 

They were definitely having a great time testing each other’s games.  Cheers went up by the frog catapult as a student got a high score.  Then more excitement by the skeeball.  “This is the most fun I’ve had at school!” one student said.  “I can’t wait to make another game!” 

To watch the great documentary and learn more about Caine’s Arcade, visit http://cainesarcade.com/

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South Ridge Elementary School first grader, Teegan Thompson, proudly shares her Flat Stanley pages.
South Ridge Elementary School first grader, Teegan Thompson, proudly shares her Flat Stanley pages.
Flat Stanley Leaves Ridgefield to Travel America (Photo) - 01/20/20

Monday, January 20, 2020 – Ridgefield, WA – South Ridge Elementary School librarian Emily Crawford gave her first grade class a special assignment:  the Flat Stanley project.  Flat Stanley is a series of books about Stanley Lambchop, a boy who is squashed flat by a bulletin board, then goes on many adventures.  He slides under doors, flies like a kite, and is mailed to far-off destinations.  Crawford’s students got to send their own Flat Stanleys off on new adventures.

The first graders colored several paper Flat Stanleys and mailed them off to friends and relatives.  Then those people took photos of Flat Stanley in all kinds of places.  Just from the one WIN (What I Need) Time class, Flat Stanley travelled to twelve states.  He went to a ranch, to a zoo, and to a vineyard.  He flew a plane in Alaska, worked on a television show, and attended an NFL game.  Crawford compiled all 27 of the Flat Stanley adventures into a Flat Stanley book for the students. 

The students started the project by reading Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures:  The Japanese Ninja Surprise.  Crawford used the book to get her students interested in reading. “I liked that I got to read!” Ammon Neil exclaimed.  They did a literature circle study where they discussed the book, developed questions together, and made a glossary of words that were new to them. 

The students enjoyed the book and the project.  They were excited to show which page was theirs and where Flat Stanley went.  Harper Bruno held the book close to her and said, “My favorite part was that we got to make the books.” 

Flat Stanley Adventures:  Volume 1 by Ms. Crawford’s First Grade WIN Class now has a place in the South Ridge library, and each student received their own copy.  Now they can read about all of the amazing places Flat Stanley could go.  Maybe they’ll go there themselves someday—but probably not in an envelope. 

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Union Ridge Elementary students made posters about the pika with drawings and detailed information.
Union Ridge Elementary students made posters about the pika with drawings and detailed information.
Pika Power at Union Ridge Elementary (Photo) - 01/17/20

Friday, January 17, 2020 – Ridgefield, WA – Ask a fourth grader about what they have been studying, and you might not expect to hear, “The pika!”  What is a pika?  These students will be glad you asked.  They know more than most people about these cute animals.  And they were excited to learn more about pikas from Amanda Greenvoss with Cascades Pika Watch.  Greenvoss came to speak to students at Union Ridge Elementary about her work with pikas—and how the students could help.

Pikas are small mammals “about the size of a baked potato,” Greenvoss told the students.  At first glance, they resemble a mouse, but they are actually related to rabbits.  Greenvoss showed the students a picture of a pika’s face in profile.  “Cover their ears, and their face looks more like a rabbit.  They just have shorter ears.” 

Pikas usually live in cold, rocky, mountainous terrain, but surprisingly, there is a large group of pikas that inhabit the Columbia Gorge.  “These pikas are weird,” Greenvoss said.  There’s no real explanation for where this group of pikas came from, why they chose to live so much closer to sea level, or even how they survive when their bodies are adapted for a very different environment.  But not only are they surviving in the Columbia Gorge, they are thriving.  They even survived the destruction of a large part of their habitat in the Eagle Creek fire of 2017, hiding deep in their underground burrows. 

Because this group of pikas is such an anomaly, it makes for great research.  Greenvoss explained that the Cascades Pika Watch has many “citizen scientist” volunteers who help locate and map pika populations in Oregon.  They can watch and listen for pikas as they hike trails, and they also monitor a group of sites in and around the Columbia River Gorge.  With so many more eyes watching for pikas, biologists get better data to study them.  Greenvoss explained that there are many families that have joined the Cascades Pika Watch; with just one training, they can turn their family hikes into a way to help scientific research.

Many of the students hoped their families would join in the volunteer group.  They have spent many hours researching pikas and are big fans of the cute animals.  The walls of the hallways near their classroom are decorated with poster after poster about pikas, with drawings and detailed information about the pika’s preferred environment, characteristics, and behavior, as well as how they have been impacted by climate change.

Teacher Kim Stenbak started the pika research project at Union Ridge Elementary.  Inspired by a teaching outline by ESD 112 (Educational Service District 112), an agency that serves schools throughout the region, she realized this was a great way to get students involved in learning, not just about the pika, but also about the environment and how humans have affected their survival.  She hopes that in the future, these students will be active in educating others about the pika and helping preserve their environment. 

Interested in joining the Cascades Pika Watch citizen scientists to watch and listen for pikas?  Sign up at oregonzoo.org/pikawatch .

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Lee Ann Young
Lee Ann Young
Ridgefield School District Honors January Employee and Students of the Month (Photo) - 01/15/20

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 -- Ridgefield, Washington – On January 14, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the January Employee and Students of the Month at the regular Board of Directors meeting.  

Employee of the Month

A familiar sight at South Ridge Elementary School is seeing Lee Ann Young helping a student prepare for the rigors of class work and providing guidance in facing life’s challenges.  Lee Ann has worked tirelessly for decades to offer the highest quality education a student, parent, or school district could ask for.

During her last year educating, Lee Ann remains the ever-present sentry.  She arrives early in the morning and stays far past her contract hours to organize for her students the information that drives her teaching.  She is always gathering information, tailoring it to meet the needs of her students.  In the classroom, Lee Ann creates a metered environment, providing her students with fair, predictable rewards to keep them focused on their own success.  As a respected colleague to other teachers, she offers constant support and ideas.  It is just who she is.  The community of Ridgefield is fortunate to have such an exemplary educator serving its students.  Ridgefield School District is proud to select Lee Ann Young as January’s Employee of the Month.

Students of the Month

Lincoln Stevens is January’s Student of the Month at the Early Learning Center.  Lincoln has a great work ethic in the classroom.  He always tries his best and participates in class.  He’s a great leader!  Lincoln also has a kind and respectful attitude and is always willing to help others.  He includes everyone in his play, often seeking out peers who may have challenges in initiating play.  The Early Learning Center is so very proud of Lincoln.  He’s a wonderful example of our Hashbrown pride!

Emma Sekidde, a fourth grader, is January’s Student of the Month at South Ridge Elementary School.  Emma is an amazing young lady.  She comes every day with the drive to do her best.  Emma is a wonderful friend and cares deeply about her classmates.  She is quick to volunteer and do what is right, no matter what!  Emma is an excellent example to younger Roadrunners about what it means to be Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient.  At the beginning of the school year, during our first assembly, she organized a group of fourth graders to hand out tokens to students who were demonstrating respectful and responsible assembly behavior.  South Ridge Elementary is very thankful to have Emma as part of the Roadrunner family!

Jaxxsun Schmidt, a third grader, was selected at Union Ridge Elementary due to significant growth this year, not only in his overall academic skills but also for his participation level and connection in class.  His support team in school celebrates the adversity that he has overcome as a student and in life.  We are so proud of his recent accomplishments in class.  Jaxxsun has a contagious smile, a positive spirit and extra hugs to share.  He is a good friend to others and a shining example of what Union Ridge believes of their students—that ALL students can learn and succeed.  Jaxxsun Schmidt is a champion of inspiration.  We congratulate him for this recognition.

Alexandra (Ally) Nebeker, a sixth grader, was selected at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School.  Ally is so deserving of the Student of the Month award.  She works hard every single day in school and pushes herself to do her best and to be her best at all times.  She always offers help to other students or asks what other work she can do to further her knowledge and skills, demonstrating how self-motivated she is.  Ally is cheerful and friendly to all staff and to her peers.  She is always following classroom and school expectations, completing all of her work and participating in discussions and work with her classmates.  She does these things on her own without any needed direction.  Ally is a name you can leave for a substitute teacher if they ever need help in the classroom.  She is the epitome of the 3R’s at Sunset Ridge.  She is respectful, responsible and resilient.  Always.  Every day.  For these reasons and so many more, Sunset Ridge Intermediate is proud to select Alexandra Nebeker as January’s Student of the Month.

Kaylee Kirkelie, an eighth grader, was chosen at View Ridge Middle School.  Kaylee is a wonderful student who always gives great effort and does her best work.  She comes to class each day ready to learn.  She is persistent, asks great questions, and takes charge of her own learning.  She is a helpful, supportive classmate and always contributes positively to our learning environment.  Kaylee is friendly and easy to work with, helps others and always has a smile ready!  She cares about her learning and grades and will ask questions when needed.  We love having her in class!

The Ridgefield High School Student of the Month for January 2020 is freshman Emily Trost.  In her less-than-four months’ time at RHS, Emily has been nominated by four different teachers in three different months.  She has made an immediate and substantial impact on the staff and students at RHS, standing out among the many exceptional students we have.  Says one of her teachers, “Emily is a very responsible student and brings out the best in her classmates.”  Another teacher describes her as “an absolute pleasure to have in class and a natural born leader.”  Emily brings her best to class every day, is welcoming to others, is respectful and thoughtful and shows “wisdom and maturity beyond her years.”  In addition to earning straight A’s, Emily is involved in theater and French Club and has completed her bronze award in Girl Scouts.  Her interests include theater, math and numbers.  Emily hopes to pursue a career in accounting or in the travel industry after graduation.

Special thanks to the local office of James Schmeling at Allstate Insurance Company, the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation and the Ridgefield Boosters for sponsoring the district’s recognition program this school year.

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Open Forum Town Hall Meetings in Ridgefield Will Focus on 2020 School Bond - 01/10/20

Friday, January 10, 2020 – Ridgefield, WA – Parent organizations in the Ridgefield School District will host four open forum town hall meetings to address myths vs. facts surrounding Ridgefield School District’s 2020 School Bond.   All Ridgefield community members are encouraged to attend.

The meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • Monday, January 13, 6:00 pm at Sunset Ridge Intermediate/View Ridge Middle School, 3215 S. Hillhurst Road, in the Black Box Theater
  • Wednesday, January 15, 6:00 pm at Union Ridge Elementary School, 330 N. Fifth Avenue, in the school’s Theater
  • Thursday, January 16, 5:30 pm at South Ridge Elementary School, 502 NW 199th Street in the school’s Cafeteria
  • Monday, January 27, 6:00 pm at Ridgefield High School, 2630 S. Hillhurst Road, in the school’s Library

Presented by The Ridgefield Boosters, The Ridge, South Ridge PTA and Union Ridge PTO.

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Students at Union Ridge Elementary participate in the story of Medio Pollito (the half chicken) presented by the Clark County Green Schools program.  Here, they create a forest of trees with limbs swaying in the breeze.
Students at Union Ridge Elementary participate in the story of Medio Pollito (the half chicken) presented by the Clark County Green Schools program. Here, they create a forest of trees with limbs swaying in the breeze.
Clark County Green Schools Teaches Kids About Sustainability (Photo) - 01/03/20

Friday, January 3, 2020 – Ridgefield, Washington – It’s not often that a presentation starts with a story about a one-eyed, one-winged, one-legged chicken.  But Will Hornyak, a professional storyteller, grabbed the attention of every kid in the room as he hopped, flapped, and crowed on stage.  The story about the Adventures of Medio Pollito (half chicken) helped him teach Union Ridge Elementary students to be more aware of the environment. 

The program was part of a Clark County Green Schools program educating students on sustainability.  But instead of stern warnings, Hornyak’s environmental messages came wrapped in a fun package.  It was easy to remember the things Medio Pollito taught them.  The interactive story had costumes, audience participation, call and response, and so much entertainment that the students may not have even realized they were learning new ways to care better for the environment.  Even small changes add up to a big difference, Hornyak told them—like the food composting and recycling students were already doing.

Ridgefield schools have food waste composting and recycling available in all school cafeterias.  Rather than throwing everything away at the end of a meal, students divide waste into compostable food, recyclable products, and trash.  It’s second nature now for students to sort the items on their lunch trays.  And statistics show that the program is making a difference.  Across Clark County, schools recycle 2,000,000 pounds of material each year, and 1,600,000 pounds of food waste is sent to compost.   

The story of Medio Pollito gave even more ways for students to help.  As the little chicken hopped across the kingdom to meet the king, he planted trees to shelter the stream, keeping it clean and cool for the fish and other animals.  When he got to the river, it was too dirty from candy wrappers discarded on the playground, soap suds from cars being washed on driveways, and even dog poop (saying “dog poop” to a room full of elementary school students is a guaranteed big laugh).  The chicken told the people to keep the river cleaner. 

When the chicken was captured by the king’s cook, he was able to escape with the help of his new friends:  the stream, the river, and the animals.  Then the wind came to carry him up to where he couldn’t be reached, atop a weather vane, where he served the whole kingdom, keeping a watchful eye on the people and telling them all the good things they were doing for the environment. 

Hornyak told the students how they could help the environment like Medio Pollito:  planting trees, throwing away trash, recycling, composting, washing things with less soap, reusing items, and even picking up dog poop (another big laugh).  So what do elementary school students have in common with a one-eyed, one-winged, one-legged chicken?  Maybe more than you think.  These students are ready to teach the rest of us, just like Medio Pollito, to make the world a better place.

 

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South Ridge Elementary kindergarteners and third graders work together to build gingerbread houses.  Here they use bowls of sticky icing to glue candies to houses.
South Ridge Elementary kindergarteners and third graders work together to build gingerbread houses. Here they use bowls of sticky icing to glue candies to houses.
South Ridge Elementary School Students Build Tiny (Gingerbread) Houses (Photo) - 01/02/20

Thursday, January 2, 2020 – Ridgefield, Washington – The kindergarten students pressed their noses up against the classroom window.  When they saw how the room had changed while they were at recess, their mouths dropped open.  The tables were covered with dozens of bowls of candy, and tiny graham cracker houses were everywhere.  “Can we come in now?” they pleaded. 

The kindergarteners filed in first, and there were gasps of excitement when they saw candy everywhere.  “Do not go to your tables yet!  Don’t touch anything yet,” teacher Holly Gasca said, leading the distracted kids into a single file line.

The third-grade buddies entered the classroom next.  They went to sit on the carpet.  There were a few waves and smiles as students recognized each other across the room.  Then there was an agonizingly long wait (a couple of minutes) while their teachers talked. 

Third-grade teacher Kristen Paradis gave them the rules:  No eating candy while you are here.  When you get home, you can ask your parents if you can have some.  Don’t eat the house part though, because it is made from graham crackers glued to milk cartons.  Share the bowls of candy and frosting with everyone at your table.  No playing with the frosting, because it’s sticky.  And try not to lick your fingers.  The students nodded quickly, excited to start the project. 

There were only a couple of questions before they started.  One student asked, “How does the candy stay on?”  Their teacher explained it’s not like normal frosting, it’s more like cement, so it hardens and holds the candy in place.    

Another hand went up.  “Is there enough for everyone to do one?”  Yes, they each got to make their own candy houses.  But third graders still needed to help their kindergarten buddies.  A kindergartener happily said, “They always help us with projects!”  

It was finally time to start.  Gasca and Paradis passed out bowls of frosting and craft sticks, as the students worked together to build the candy houses.  Their classroom buddy program was going well—and it all started because Gasca and Paradis were buddies first.

Gasca and Paradis both started out as kindergarten teachers at South Ridge Elementary School.   “We really bonded,” Gasca said.  “When Kristen moved to third grade, we said, ‘We should do kinderbuddies!’”  Now the classes have worked together on projects that include STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts, reading, and even kindness. 

The students love the program.  They meet one or two times a month.  “Almost every Friday, they ask if we have buddies today,” Paradis laughed.  “And if I say yes, they peek out the door to see if they’re coming.” 

The third graders and kindergarteners loaded their colorful houses with more and more candy, until they verged on being structurally unsound.  “One more on top!” a kindergartener sang.  And his third-grade buddy helped him balance the candy on the last empty bit of roof.  “Thanks!  You’re a great buddy!” the kindergartener said.  And they shared a very sticky high-five.

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