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Union Ridge Elementary students Savanhy Virakitti and Bruce Kizim collect donated socks for their Socktober drive.
Union Ridge Elementary students Savanhy Virakitti and Bruce Kizim collect donated socks for their Socktober drive.
Union Ridge Elementary Students Collect Socks for Homeless Shelters (Photo) - 10/15/18

Monday, October 15, 2018 – Ridgefield, Washington – Socktober is a nationwide movement to collect socks for homeless shelters.  Socks are one of the most needed but least often donated items at shelters.  Students from Stephanie Brown’s class at Union Ridge Elementary in the Ridgefield School District are helping fill that gap with their own Socktober drive.  Their goal is to collect 1,000 pairs of socks for the Council for the Homeless in Vancouver. 

Many of the students in the RISE (Reaching Independence through Structured Education) program are on the autism spectrum, and the students are running every element of the program.  The students visited each classroom in the school to place donation bags.  RISE teacher Stephanie Brown said, “They went into classrooms to say a few words, which can be difficult for them.  They handed out the bags and were able to say, ‘This is for socks.  Thank you.’” 

Every day, the RISE students walk around school with a big wagon to collect donations.  Then they sort the socks and graph donations to keep track.  It has been part of their curriculum in other ways as well.  They have read books about homelessness, and they colored the posters promoting Socktober around the school.  Using the Socktober drive across multiple subjects has helped reinforce their learning.  “It’s awesome to see the concepts starting to sink in,” Brown said. 

“But my biggest drive is to show them that anybody and everybody can make a difference,” Brown explained.  “We have some of the most impacted students in our district, and here they are doing something fantastic and wonderful. “ 

Socktober runs through the month of October.  If you’d like to drop off new socks for the Socktober drive, please leave them at the Union Ridge Elementary School office. 

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Grace Melbuer
Grace Melbuer
Ridgefield School District Honors October Employee and Students of the Month (Photo) - 10/09/18

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

The Employee of the Month is Tamara Hoodenpyl, teacher at Ridgefield High School.  Tami Hoodenpyl, in her four years as art teacher at Ridgefield High School, has involved herself in the school as much as, if not more than any other teacher.  She is an exceptional teacher who challenges her students to excel.  Her classrooms are engaging, thoughtful, and inclusive.  This past summer, Tami, along with an RHS science teacher, spent the summer in Mallorca, Spain, participating in an archeological dig.  Her pottery class is now teaming up with that science teacher’s chemistry class to better understand how ancient art interconnects with science. 

In addition to her teaching duties, Tami has been the head cheer coach, the art club advisor, a class advisor, an assistant director to the school’s annual musical, a student-chaperone on a music trip to Disneyland, a lead teacher in the planning of Spudder Day, and is currently the National Honor Society advisor.  Tami uses her spare time to work toward her National Board Certification.

While it is difficult to pare down the exceptional staff we have at RHS to nominate just one person, Tami Hoodenpyl is certainly worthy of this honor and is representative of the many outstanding employees at Ridgefield High School.

Students of the Month

Hyde Zier, a third grader, is October’s Student of the Month at South Ridge Elementary School.  One staff member describes Hyde best.  "Hyde Zier is brand new to South Ridge this year, but you would never know it because he has transitioned beautifully!  Since the first day of school, he has shown what it means to be respectful, responsible, and safe. Hyde has a smile on his face and a positive attitude as soon as he steps into the classroom every day, and I never see it leave, even when he steps onto his bus. He is extremely respectful to all his peers and teachers and follows the expectations without any reminders.  Hyde is very responsible and is always helping his teacher or his classmates (happily too!) just out of the kindness of his heart.  He shows resilience because he is a problem solver and never gives up, always with a smile.  Hyde is a true role model to his peers and deserves to be recognized."

Jayden Garcia-Bernal, a second grader, was selected at Union Ridge Elementary.  The Union Ridge teachers and staff are very proud of Jayden.  They write, “Jayden is very deserving of the student of the month award.  He exemplifies the three "R"s of respect, responsibility, and resilience.  Jayden is very respectful of other students, teachers, and staff at Union Ridge.  We can always count on Jayden to be responsible, kind, and helpful in the classroom, as well as on the playground.  He is a hard working student and never gives up.  Union Ridge Elementary’s Student of the Month award for second grade is well-earned by Jayden Garcia-Bernal.”

April Carvel, a sixth grader, is October’s Student of the Month at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School.  The Sunset Ridge teachers and staff are very proud of April.  They write, “April is a motivated student who always finds a way to smile in every situation. This year did not start as smoothly as anyone would have liked, and my split classroom has had more than its share of hiccups. April has shown resilience every day by finding the positive in every situation that has come up and been flexible in her schedule changes, despite not seeing her peers as often as she would have liked.  She has made the best of eating lunch and having recess with a different grade level by seeking her fifth grade brother and spending time with him and reaching out and making new friendships with the students from other grades and has been helpful to the students who are new to Sunset. In every lesson and transition, April can be counted on to do the right thing, make the right choice, and is ready to learn.  She fully engages and participates and is a motivated learner.”

Andrew Wilken, an eighth grader, was chosen at View Ridge Middle School.  The View Ridge teachers and staff are very proud of Andrew.  They write, “Andrew Wilken is View Ridge Middle School's Student of the Month.  Andrew is a strong addition to the classroom.  He regularly shows genuine interest in others, including his fellow students.  He is admired and respected among his peers and is always courteous.  Andrew consistently contributes to a positive learning environment and maintains high expectations of himself.  He is a valued student leader at our school. As an ASB class representative, Andrew contributes ideas and laughter to our meetings and events.  He is helpful to others around him, and his kindness goes a long way.”

Grace Melbuer, a junior, was chosen from Ridgefield High School.  The Ridgefield High School teachers and staff are very proud of Grace.  They write, “Grace is a student who is tenacious in her quest for knowledge, is a very strong leader, and is always willing to pitch in to help.”  Another teacher says of Grace, “I love her enthusiasm for learning.” Grace is involved in the zero-hour teaching academy class which requires her to be here at 7:00 AM every morning.  She takes four (!) AP classes as well as Spanish III, and is involved in HOSA, Spudder Ambassadors, and National Honor Society.  She is also a member of the RHS soccer and track teams.  Ridgefield High School is very pleased to select Grace Melbuer as October 2018 Student of the Month.

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 fifth year that Hurd has provided funding to support the district’s recognition program.

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Allene Wodaege and Cispus counselor with Ridgefield fifth graders preparing to leave for Cispus Outdoor School.
Allene Wodaege and Cispus counselor with Ridgefield fifth graders preparing to leave for Cispus Outdoor School.
Family Legacy at Cispus Outdoor School (Photo) - 10/09/18

Tuesday, October 9, 2018 – Ridgefield, Washington – Cispus Outdoor School has been a Ridgefield tradition for 49 years.  Every year, fifth grade students hop on buses and travel to the Cispus Outdoor Learning Center in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  They spend a week doing all their classes outdoors, hiking, learning survival skills, and gathering around huge campfires.  And for nearly all of those 49 years, one family has been an important part of its legacy.

Cispus started 49 years ago with John Hudson, the principal at Union Ridge Elementary.  Carla Bonebrake, the health aide at Union Ridge, remembered being part of the inaugural class.  “I was in the first fifth grade class to go,” she said. “We would sleep out in the fields, out under the stars!”  Now, many years later, she attends Cispus as support staff; this is her eleventh year working with the program.  “You know,” she said, “the feeling of being up there is exactly the same.  Very little has changed.  The cabin I stayed in, Dogwood, is still there, still the same.”   

Soon after the program started, Bonebrake’s mother, Allene Wodaege, worked with John Hudson to manage Cispus.  Over the years, she taught classes, implemented training for counselors, and then took over management of the program.  Wodaege spent 25 years leading Cispus for the Ridgefield School District. 

When asked what she is most proud of, Wodaege said, “What it instills in the children and the counselors.  Not only knowledge, but their exposure to the out of doors, what it holds and what it can do for all of them, touching nature and being part of it.”  It’s a transformative experience that has impacted generations of students. 

As this year’s Cispus class prepared to board the buses, Bonebrake worked with the students inside.  And Wodaege greeted the students outside.  She was glad to see them continuing the tradition she helped start so many years ago.  Wodaege said, “You just put the kids out into a learning environment and hope that they are going to learn and take that knowledge with them.  It’s a stepping stone.” 

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Tiffany Tamez, library aide, and creator of the Harry Potter Room, helps a student check out books at the Ridgefield School District's new Media Center.
Tiffany Tamez, library aide, and creator of the Harry Potter Room, helps a student check out books at the Ridgefield School District's new Media Center.
Harry Potter Room Casts a Spell on Students (Photo) - 10/08/18

Monday, October 8, 2018 – Ridgefield, Washington – Above the Media Center at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School/View Ridge Middle School in the Ridgefield School District, there is a small, private room.  Step through the door, and it is as if you have been transported to Hogwarts, the school from the Harry Potter series.

With a warm (faux) fireplace, Hogwarts house banners on the wall, and even the same spell books studied by Hermione, Harry, and Ron, it’s a magical place much loved by students.  And it was created by library aide Tiffany Tamez.

“I heard in the design, we were going to have this little reading room,” Tamez explained.  “I thought, instead of just a blank little room, how about we make it feel like you’re actually sitting in a room at Hogwarts?” 

Tamez and her father built the wooden fireplace mantel.  She made banners for each of the Hogwarts Houses and created a faux fur Book of Monsters.  The Sprinters, Ridgefield High School’s marketing and design student team, printed the artwork.  The project took months, with a lot of attention to detail. 

“The children really enjoy not just the content, but the atmosphere,” Tamez said.  “We want it to be a really pleasing, enjoyable thing that the kids look forward to, a little positive spot in their day.”

Students can come in directly from class, before school, at recess, or at lunch.  And the room is almost constantly in use.  Sixth grader Sarah Proctor said, “It’s a good space to read.  And it’s a fun room to be in.  Every time I look up, I get another idea.” 

Tamez is glad the room is so popular.  “I like that the kids feel special.  They feel transported, like it’s designed for them.”  The Harry Potter reading room casts a spell on students by inspiring reading and creativity. 

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Fifth graders in Annie Pintler's class at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School get a close look at their new classroom pet--a salamander, native to Mexico, called an axolotl.
Fifth graders in Annie Pintler's class at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School get a close look at their new classroom pet--a salamander, native to Mexico, called an axolotl.
An Unusual Classroom Pet: An Axolotl (Photo) - 10/01/18

Monday, October 1, 2018 – Ridgefield, Washington – When you think of a class pet, you might think of a gerbil, hamster, or even a frog.  What you probably don’t think of is an axolotl. 

Ridgefield fifth grade teacher, Annie Pintler, saw the rescued amphibian on her Facebook feed.  He was desperately in need of a new home; the people who had him couldn’t afford to care for him, and his tank was in bad shape.  She immediately agreed to adopt him, thinking he might make an interesting—and unusual—classroom pet.  

“I knew I could build a whole curriculum around him,” Pintler said.  “What are axolotls?  What do they like to eat?”  (As her students can tell you, axolotls are endangered salamanders native to Mexico, and they eat worms, insects, and small fish.)  “The students spent the first week of school doing research to learn all about him.”

Visit her classroom at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School, and you’ll see handwritten posters the students put up, like the one detailing the needs for a good ecosystem for an axolotl.  They originally planned to name him Creepy Buddy, but after doing more research, that changed.  Fifth grader Aiden Jensen explained, “The word axolotl comes from the Aztecs.  We can call him Creepy Buddy Aztec.” 

Pintler’s students were excited to see Creepy Buddy Aztec introduced to his tank in their classroom.  They celebrated by writing creative stories from the point of view of an axolotl.  “Use your research to tell his story and make it more real,” Pintler told them.

“The title for mine,” said fifth grader Nelina Anderson, “is ‘They Have a New Classroom Pet—and It’s Magical.’”   

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First graders in Margo Manke's class at South Ridge Elementary School are on the trail at the school's outdoor learning space.
First graders in Margo Manke's class at South Ridge Elementary School are on the trail at the school's outdoor learning space.
Learning Outdoors at South Ridge Elementary Trail (Photo) - 09/28/18

Friday, September 28, 2018 – Ridgefield, Washington – When the weather is nice, students want to be outdoors.  The trail behind South Ridge Elementary School serves as a welcome outdoor classroom where everyone can learn in a different environment. 

Linda Wear, sixth grade teacher at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School, utilized the trail often for lessons during her 18 years of teaching at South Ridge Elementary.  “The trail is wonderful!” she said.  “Over the years, the trail has been groomed and expanded primarily by volunteer efforts to be a more accessible learning space.”

Parents, teachers, and Eagle Scouts worked together over time to improve the learning space with a pavilion, benches, and educational signs.  Sixth grade students even performed an annual day of trail maintenance as a way to give back to the school when they graduated. 

One special donation was a “trail tub” on wheels from a group of parents.  It’s filled with clipboards, pencils, bird and plant guides, and even a Coleman bird finder that plays 50 different bird calls.  “Now teachers have all the resources they need when they go out on the trail with their students,” Wear said.

This week, Margo Manke’s first grade students were excited to take their science class to the trail.  They used their Full Option Science System (FOSS) kits to study plants along the trail, learning about plant parts and what plants need to live. 

“Our classrooms are filled with eager young scientists who love to experience hands-on learning,” Manke said.  “The South Ridge Trail provides continued learning opportunities as we experience changes on the trail and in nature throughout the seasons of the school year.  We are so appreciative to have this optimum learning environment located on our South Ridge campus.” 

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Kyshaun Summers, a Ridgefield High School senior, creates a drama and music art panel for the construction site fenceline at his school.
Kyshaun Summers, a Ridgefield High School senior, creates a drama and music art panel for the construction site fenceline at his school.
Student Artwork Beautifies Fenceline Around Ridgefield High School Construction Site (Photo) - 09/22/18

Friday, September 21, 2018 – Ridgefield, Washington – Driving along Hillhurst Road, there are several construction sites—but only one with student artwork brightening the construction fence.  Students from Tamara Hoodenpyl’s second year illustration class are creating outdoor art panels along the fenceline at Ridgefield High School. 

Hoodenpyl encouraged her students to view the project as artwork they were producing for a client.  “They had to create a theme for their client, the high school, so they decided to use athletics and activities from the school,”  she said.

The panels cover a wide range of activities, including robotics, drama, debate, and sports.  Using blue circles and orange lines that appear across each of the canvases, the students selected unifying designs and colors to tie the panels together.

The students are enjoying the creative outdoors project.  Senior Kyshaun Summers, painting the drama and music panel, said, “I didn’t expect this, but I’m glad I get to do it.  It’s something new.” 

Senior Nolan Brown, working on the speech and debate panel, added, “It’s a good opportunity for everyone to see all the clubs that are available so they can get out here and get involved.”  

Keep an eye on the fences to see the finished projects and to learn more about activities at RHS.

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