Superintendent’s Update to Families – May 27, 2020




May 27, 2020

Dear Ridgefield Families,

We are experiencing fantastic weather, with the best still to come later this week.  I hope you can find some time to get out and enjoy the beauty our region offers.

As I shared last week, the prospects for a “traditional” start to the school year remain uncertain. At this point, there are far more questions than answers.  I understand how frustrating this is, and I share in that frustration.  Please know, the District continues to work toward a solution, within the guidance from CDC, state, and local public health professionals, and the forthcoming recommendations from the OSPI Reopening Schools Committee.  There are many facets to consider, including classroom instruction, food service, transportation, childcare, cleaning/sanitizing, local labor groups, and extra-curricular activities.

Your ideas, opinions, and thoughts are another critical component in our efforts to reopen schools.  Please take a moment to complete this quick Parent survey (  In the weeks ahead, you will have the opportunity to provide additional feedback for the District to consider.

Ridgefield High School graduation planning is complete.  On June 5, graduates will begin the ceremony with an auto parade through town and conclude at RHS, where they will individually receive their diploma.

The ceremony will include three phases.  Each phase will begin at Union Ridge Elementary and follow a route along Pioneer Street and up South Hillhurst Road to the high school.  The phases will commence at 4:40pm, 5:40pm, and 6:40pm.  Please help support the Class of 2020 and cheer on our Seniors as they pass by in their decorated cars.  Go Spuds!

I’m very proud of our Ridgefield Family Resource Center (RFRC) team’s efforts as they continue to serve families during this pandemic.  If your family, or a family you know, could use some assistance, please visit the RFRC.  We are here to serve.  The resource center is open on Monday 1:00pm – 5:00pm, Wednesday from 12:00pm – 4:00pm and on Thursdays from 1:00pm – 6:30pm.  You can make an appointment outside of our regular hours by emailing

I have often stated since the closing of schools that grace is something we all need to extend to each other during these difficult times.  Our team, teachers, school board members, administrators, and support staff are committed to serving each child to ensure success and unlimited possibilities.  Your active involvement is crucial toward that end.  I offer my heartfelt thanks for all the support and goodwill that you have extended to the District.

Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent

Memorial Day

Thanks to John Rose, Commander of American Legion Post 44, for this write-up on the history of Memorial Day.

No less than 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, and states observed the holiday on different dates. In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress; it is now celebrated annually on the last Monday in May (this year—May 25, 2020)


 On both Memorial Day and Veterans Day, it’s customary to spend time remembering and honoring the countless veterans who have served the United States throughout the country’s history. However, there is a distinction between the two holidays:

Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We spend time remembering those who lost their lives and could not come home, reflecting on their service and why we have the luxury and freedom that we enjoy today. We might consider how we can support and safeguard their grieving families and loved ones who are left behind.

Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL who served—in wartime or peacetime—regardless of whether they died or survived. Veterans Day is always observed officially on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.


Traditionally, on Memorial Day (U.S.), people visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers often place American flags on each gravesite at national cemeteries. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time. The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day—or Decoration Day, as it was first known—is unclear. In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics. After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation. After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.


In the war-torn battlefields of Europe, the common red field poppy (Papaver rhoeas) was one of the first plants to reappear. Its seeds scattered in the wind and sat dormant in the ground, only germinating when the ground was disturbed—as it was by the very brutal fighting of World War I. John McCrae, a Canadian soldier and physician, witnessed the war first hand and was inspired to write the now-famous poem “In Flanders Fields” in 1915. (See below for the poem.) He saw the poppies scattered throughout the battlefield surrounding his artillery position in Belgium.


In November 1918, days before the official end of the war, an American professor named Moina Michael wrote her own poem, “We Shall Keep the Faith,” which was inspired by McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.” In her poem (also shown below), she mentioned wearing the “poppy red” to honor the dead, and with that, the tradition of adorning one’s clothing with a single red poppy in remembrance of those killed in the Great War was born. Moina herself came to be known—and honored—as “The Poppy Lady.”

The Symbol Spreads Abroad

The wearing of the poppy was traditionally done on Memorial Day in the United States, but the symbolism has evolved to encompass all veterans living and deceased, so poppies may be worn on Veterans Day as well. Not long after the custom began, it was adopted by other Allied nations, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, where it is still popular today. In these countries, the poppy is worn on Remembrance Day (November 11). Today, poppies are not only a symbol of loss of life, but also of recovery and new life, especially in support of the servicemen who survived the war but suffered from physical and psychological injuries long after it ended.

“In Flanders Fields”
by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

American Legion’s Memorial Day Service

Posting the colors at the service in 2015

Ridgefield’s American Legion Post 44 will once again host a Memorial Day service at the Ridgefield Cemetery at 11am on Monday. A live video of the service will be aired for those that don’t want to attend in person. Social distancing will be expected.

Proposed Curriculum Materials for Music Available for Public Review

​The public is invited to review curriculum materials being considered for adoption by the Ridgefield School District to teach music in Grades 5-12 starting in the 2020-21 school year.  Music First is a curriculum published by Wise Music (copyright 2019).

Review of the curriculum is online only from Thursday, May 21st through Thursday, June 4th.  To request online access, please email Heidi Smith at  Monday-Friday, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Superintendent’s Update to Families – May 20, 2020




May 20, 2020

Dear Ridgefield Families,

We are now less than one month from the official end of our school year, June 19.  I am proud of our community and the work we have done to “flatten the curve.”  The task has not been easy, and it has not come without considerable sacrifice.  Once again, I extend my appreciation to each of you for the grace and patience you have demonstrated as we transitioned to our distance learning model.

More specifically, I wish to thank the members of the Class of 2020 for their sacrifices.  Their RHS careers came to a screeching halt three months early.  Our seniors missed experiencing a number of “lasts;” their last game and performance, last lunch at school with friends, last prom, and many more.  Fortunately, we can do something to give them a memorable send-off.  On June 5, as part of our graduation ceremony, seniors and their families will drive through Ridgefield in an auto parade.  I invite you to join me in safely celebrating their accomplishments and commemorating the conclusion of their K-12 experience.  Look for final parade route details on June 1.

Just as we are focusing on the conclusion of the current school year, we are also looking ahead to next year.  Rest assured, the District is working hard, planning and preparing for another school year with the realities of COVID – more on some of these plans to come later in this letter.  What we know for sure, learning will continue.  I encourage each of you to continue to engage in every learning opportunity that our staff are making available.

We are pleased to share that our remote WiFi Hot Spots are being accessed by families.  We plan to continue this service to support our Continuity of Learning Plan.  As with all our programs, we will continue to monitor use, potentially adjusting the locations to reach more families.  If you are looking for connectivity a little closer to home, below is a link to free and low-cost Internet Plans from NDIA (National Digital Inclusion Alliance).

We supported our Continuity of Learning Plan with the distribution of more than 750 Chromebooks to students.  A reliable device is essential to participation in any distance learning model.  In a previous ThoughtExchange, we heard from respondents that flexibility in learning (time, place, and pace) is a benefit of our new remote learning world.

As we look to the 2020-2021 school year, we are reviewing our district technology model to support a more flexible learning environment.  Specifically, the district is exploring the move to a 1:1 Chromebook take home model.  What might this look like?  Our second through 12th grade students will be provided a district Chromebook in the fall for use at home and in school, rather than keeping all the Chromebooks on charging carts in classrooms.  This will allow student learning to continue beyond the “regular” school day, times, and locations.

The opening of the 2020-2021 school year will be much different than any we have experienced before.  There is so much that is still unknown.  What I can tell you is currently, I do not believe a “traditional” start will be possible.  A reopening schools task force is expected to have recommendations by mid-June.  We continue to work closely with our fellow districts, colleagues at OSPI, and members of the public health community.  I will keep you updated as we know more.

With all that said, summer may provide a window where we can offer more in-person opportunities for students.  To the greatest extent possible, we will operate our summer programming.  This includes running summer camps through Community Education, sports camps, and preparations for the fall sports season.  I share this with the caveat that we will always adhere to the “Safe Start” orders in place at the time.

As always, stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent


Instructional Materials Committee Seeks Parent Members

Ridgefield School District is currently seeking parents to serve on the Instructional Materials Committee.  All parents are invited to take part in the district’s process to review curriculum materials proposed for use in Ridgefield schools.

The Instructional Materials Committee (IMC) is composed of teachers, district administrators and parents.  It is responsible for reviewing all curriculum materials proposed for adoption in teaching grades K-12.  Review and approval by the IMC is required before any proposed curriculum is presented to the school board for adoption approval.

IMC members are typically called upon two to three times a year to review materials and attend meetings.  Occasionally, the IMC will convene to address a question or a challenge with regard to curriculum materials currently in use.  In such cases, the IMC conducts an orderly review of the materials in question and provides recommendations to the school board for appropriate action.

Parent seats on the committee are now available.  If you are interested in serving on the Instructional Materials Committee, please contact Heidi Smith via email at

Proposed Art Curriculum Available for Public Review

​The public is invited to review curriculum materials being considered for adoption by the Ridgefield School District to teach art in Grades K-12 starting in the 2020-21 school year.  Davis Art  is a curriculum published by Davis Publications (copyright 2019).

Review of the curriculum is online only from Tuesday, May 19th through Tuesday, June 2nd.  To request online access, please email Heidi Smith at  Monday-Friday, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm.

High Speed Internet

It’s coming! The Davey Tree people were trimming trees along the power lines on 4th Avenue this morning, in preparation for adding high speed internet.

Ridgefield Family Resource Center Grateful for Community’s Outpouring of Support

When the COVID-19 epidemic hit in mid-March, it presented huge challenges for the Ridgefield Family Resource Center (RFRC).  “We had to rethink and restructure how we do things and how we get resources,” said Chris Poppert, RFRC director.  “It was not until March 13th when our lives changed, did I really experience the depth that the RFRC has in this community.”

From humble beginnings nearly five years ago, the RFRC (in partnership with Compassion 360) has been committed to serving Ridgefield families in need.  Its important work continues thanks to the numerous partnerships and connections it has established in the community over the years.

Since the outbreak, the community has rallied to figure out alternatives and additional support, and in recent days, Poppert has seen an amazing outpouring of support from organizations and individual citizens wanting to help.

The Ridgefield United Methodist Church organized a food drive that not only benefitted the RFRC but also the local food bank, Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

The Ridgefield Education Association, partnering with Rosauers Supermarkets, organized an opportunity for the community to purchase gift cards at the checkout stands to benefit RFRC’s students and their families.  Thanks to the generosity of the Ridgefield community, an astounding $10,575 in gift cards was donated.  Jeff Phillipps, Rosauers’ President and CEO, added another $2,625 in gift cards.  Now other Rosauers locations are doing the same for their communities.  RFRC is grateful to REA’s Alan Adams and Rosauers’ Ridgefield Store Manager, Eric Dean who were instrumental in making this happen.

Donations and grants continue to come in.  To date, the RFRC has received monetary donations totalling over $33,000.  The RFRC is thankful to the following donors for their support:  Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, The Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation, Ridgefield Neighbors Green Bag Food Project, The Ridge Sunset Ridge/View Ridge Association, The Vancouver Methodist Foundation, and members of the Ridgefield United Methodist Church.

Community members interested in donating to the RFRC can also reach out to its community partners, Compassion 360 or Neighbors Helping Neighbors.  To learn more, visit their websites at and .

“We are so appreciative of the support,” said Poppert.  “The RFRC could not provide the support and resources to our students/families/staff if it wasn’t for the community.  Now my hope is that families will reach out to the RFRC for support.”

Moola Project Continues

Friday Meal Service at Union Ridge and South Ridge Will Provide Weekend Meals Starting May 22

The following changes to the meal service schedule will take place as we approach the Memorial Day weekend:

  • Union Ridge will no longer offer meal service on weekends effective Saturday, May 23rd.
  • The meal pickup on Friday, May 22nd, will be including weekend meals for Saturday, May 23rd, Sunday, May 24th and Monday, May 25th (Memorial Day holiday) at South Ridge Elementary and Union Ridge Elementary during the normal pickup times.
  • For the remainder of the school year, Friday meal service at South Ridge and Union Ridge for May 29th, June 5th and June 12th will include weekend meals for Saturday and Sunday.
  • No meal service will be available at satellite meal pickup sites on Memorial Day.

Ridgefield School District is committed to providing free meal service to all children ages 0-18 through the last day of school, Friday, June 19th.

Thought for the Week

Chris Dudley wrote the following, and I think it has lots of good ideas. Hope you enjoy it!

“So maybe you’re thinking about learning to garden? I’ve got some advice that might make your life a lot easier.

I’ve come to believe that we all have a green thumb, it’s just we’ve lost the cultural knowledge for the convenience of the supermarket.

But you’ve got a green thumb, no worries. It’s in your genes. It just takes some patience with yourself to get it to show.

Don’t worry about failures. It can take a few years of killing off lots of stuff before you start to feel like a gardener.

It’s easy to lose motivation if you get frustrated with the drive for technical perfection. A big help for me when my motivation started dying–I was killing more than growing plants–was to just forget about all the technical stuff.

I no longer bother reading about or worrying about getting my ‘companion’ planting perfect, or my bed rotations correct anymore. I gasp, buy fertilizer sometimes where before I felt like it had to be home grown. In short I’ve learned to ignore all the rigmarole that makes gardening cumbersome.

I just plant plants. Half the time I don’t remember if it’s a tomato or a pepper and I rarely know what variety of tomato, or whatever, I planted is or was. Right now I’ve got about fifteen tomato plants growing and when it’s time to harvest I won’t know which one I’m eating, but it’ll still taste great.

My advice, set aside everything extraneous and just start planting stuff, read the directions about where, how much sunlight, etc., when you plant, but don’t go crazy about it. Just plant stuff all over, try putting one or two where they’re not supposed to go, etc.

When a plant dies just chalk it up to free mulch and drop it in an ignored heap of other plants that have died you can call a compost pile if you want to get technical about it.

That’s my advice. Seek the lazy path and the gardening journey will become enjoyable.

I never worry about weeds because I actually enjoy going out in the garden and pulling them. I’ve got a good set of headphones so I’ll listen to a podcast or some tunes, or often I’ll just try to pay attention to the sounds of the garden and nature. I have a good weed puller, though, and that’s key

So I pull the weeds up with that handy tool and leave them with their roots facing up to die in the sun. They then become free mulch, give back their nutrients and also conveniently shade the soil around the plant I want to grow.

I also let some of the ‘weeds’ grow because they’re very useful. Dandelion, for instance, is highly nutritious plus it adds nitrogen to the soil and feeds pollinators. I actually have a dandelion patch just as if it were a strawberry patch..

Come to think of it, you could probably just get an edible weeds book or app to identify and pull the noxious weeds and also leave the useful weeds and call what’s left your garden. Most of those weeds are more nutritious and useful than our hybrid plants anyway.”

This Says it All!

Update on the Library Building Project

To everyone working hard to help bring a new Ridgefield Community Library to reality, here’s an update on the project from Amelia Shelley, Director of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District.

“Let me begin with an apology for the lack of communication about the project. Being in the midst of a pandemic has certainly slowed us down, but not dampened our desire to continue with this project. We believe that the challenges brought about by limitations placed on construction by the state can be overcome while still maintaining a safe workplace. The bigger question remains what the long-term economic impact of the crisis will be on the community and the region, and how a new library fits into Ridgefield’s recovery efforts.

FVRL has been in a holding pattern for several months waiting for additional comments coming from the City of Ridgefield about the project. I learned this week from City Manager Steve Stuart that there are no additional comments on the drawings that were submitted for permitting. We have instructed our architects to go ahead with requested revisions, amend the drawings and prepare to resubmit the drawings and specifications for permitting.

Currently, I intend to take the project before the FVRL Board of Trustees for a go/no go decision at their meeting on May 18, 2020. If approved, we are planning on putting the project out to bid in June, hopefully award a contract in July and start construction in August. We will also move into our temporary location at this time. We had hoped to use a book brigade for moving the library. Because of social distancing, that will now depend on timing and what’s allowed for safety.

FVRL is facing many yet to be fully understood challenges from the coronavirus crisis. We are fortunate that our primary funding source is property taxes but that does not shield us entirely from impacts to revenue. Despite these concerns, we’ve had a recent boost to the project from a $500,000 state capital grant through the City of Ridgefield. We are hopeful that with our capital reserves, grants, donations and legislative support, we will be able to move forward with awarding this project in July.

The most frequent question I receive about the Ridgefield project is if we still have funds to raise. I know there are opportunities for donors to support specific items inside the library such as furnishings, art rail, shelving and other enhancements. Information about remaining items in need of funding is available through the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation.

As always, we appreciate the support of the Friends of the Ridgefield Community Library, the City of Ridgefield and our many library patrons. Our hope is that when we reopen, we will have some furnishings and finishes for the community to review and provide feedback on for the new library. Thank you for your continued interest and support!”


Superintendent’s Update to Families – May 13, 2020




May 13, 2020

Dear Ridgefield Families,

This past weekend was beautiful.  I hope you were able to get out and enjoy the sunshine while honoring all the moms in our community.  As I look out the window, it seems our more typical spring weather has returned.  I’m looking forward to enjoying the warm summer afternoons.

Last night the School Board spent significant time considering the vast array of unknowns and potential obstacles we face as we look forward to the 2020-2021 school year. I mentioned last week that the Governor has established a path for our return…Safe Start.  I am grateful for the state guidance as it, along with the extensive work being done internally here in the District, will aid us in decision-making.

As we mentioned in our most recent ThoughtExchange, the District wants to use the COVID closure to positively shape the future of education in Ridgefield.  Last week we asked you to share with us the best aspects of the Continuity of Learning Plan.  Below is the word cloud that summarizes the 145 individual Thoughts that were shared with us.

Earlier this week we launched additional temporary WiFi hotspot locations to expand connectivity options for our families.  Additional WiFi Hotspots in the region can be located using the Washington State Drive-In WiFi Hotspots Location Finder from the Washington State Department of Commerce.  The Ridgefield Community Center is identified on this site.

If you are looking for connectivity a little closer to home, below is a link to free and low-cost Internet Plans from NDIA (National Digital Inclusion Alliance)

More than 28,000 meals have been served by our Food Service partner, Chartwells since the COVID-19 closure.  We have been monitoring meal service daily to make adjustments as needed to maximize our resources.  Based on the data collected, we are going to be making some changes to our weekend meal service.  Beginning May 23, we will no longer be hosting drive-up or in-person meal service sites on Saturdays and Sundays.  Rather, we will be providing weekend meals during Friday meal service.  We believe this will expand the number of meals we serve, as we average nearly 250 more children on Fridays than the weekend combined.

Thank you for your continued support.  Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent