Getting Ready for the New Bridge

Moving the girders for the new bridge over the railroad tracks was quite a chore. Thanks to Judy Reel for these photos of the event

Ridgefield High School Cheerleaders Play Yard Sign Tag

Ridgefield High School cheerleaders are experts at raising team spirits.  So they came up with a fun way to entertain themselves while they were all stuck at home.  They started a game of yard sign tag—a safe, socially distanced game that sparked a lot of smiles.

The game started as a way for the cheerleaders to continue interacting socially while still observing safety protocols.  The team had two yard signs made, reading “Tag, You’re It!” with a picture of the Spudder mascot and polka dots in the school colors, blue and orange.  They played by circulating the signs from yard to yard among the varsity and junior varsity cheerleaders until everyone had been “tagged”.

The game started just before winter break with cheerleading coaches, Alyssa Tomillo and Anja Felton.  The coaches and the Spudder mascot posed for a kickoff photo, then distributed the signs to the yards of the first two cheerleaders.

Cheerleading coaches Alyssa Tomillo and Anja Felton kicked off the game of yard sign tag.

The Spudder mascot came to help with the first yard signs.

Each cheerleader who found a sign in their yard posted a pic on the Band app so others could see they had been tagged.  Then that person had to find a cheerleader who hadn’t been tagged yet, and get the sign to their yard.  The signs moved quickly from house to house, and the stream of photos got longer and longer.  They had a great time tracking the yard signs’ progress and sneaking into each other’s yards to post it for someone new.

“It was a fun way for us to work together as a team, even when we couldn’t be together in person,” Tomillo said.  The team enjoyed it so much they’re hoping the game continues with other groups.  So keep an eye out for more yard sign tag!

Rylie Simms showed she had been “tagged”.


Grace Gama also posted on the “tagged” thread.

Ridgefield Teachers Overcome Challenges to Teach Online

When classes went fully online in March, teachers had to adapt their lesson plans and classroom ideas.  But how do you teach a class that is almost entirely hands on, like PE, shop, or band?  Some Ridgefield teachers found creative ways to make online learning work for their students.

Physical Education

Physical education classes had to leave the gyms, equipment, and fields behind at the school.  How can you keep a class full of students in motion when you are all miles apart?  Ridgefield High School PE teachers use PLT4M, a program to track students’ workouts, progress, and fitness test achievements from a desktop or smartphone.

Teacher Ted Beyer explained, “Our general PE classes are using very fitness-oriented programs requiring only equipment that students can create using their backpacks, water jugs, broomsticks, etc.”  The shift to a more flexible concept of sports equipment and workouts means students have been able to stay fit even from home.

From the PLT4M program, you can see videos, track activities and more.

Wood and Metal Shop

Most students’ homes don’t have the specialized tools for shop class, like table saws and welding equipment.  So high school shop teacher Chris Shipp moved as much of his class as he could into online experiences—even the woodworking and metalworking projects.

Shipp decided to go alone to the high school shop and make every project himself, filming each step from start to finish for his students.  “I walked them through all the projects,” he explained, “doing demonstrations on what a student would have gone through if they were doing the work themselves.”  While it’s not quite the same as being there in person, Shipp’s students now have the training to jump right in when they get back to the shop floor.

Ridgefield High School shop teacher Chris Shipp made each class project, step by step, for his students, including this Texas Star.


Hearing and seeing students play music is an important part of band class, but it’s difficult to do on Zoom.  Fortunately, band teacher Stephanie Bloom was up for the challenge.

Her experienced band students adjusted quickly, but for brand new band students, Bloom had to teach them how to play their instruments via Zoom.  She patiently demonstrated each instrument and song in class, then asked students to video themselves playing.  “I spent a lot of time watching videos—which meant I might have to hear Hot Cross Buns for the 78th time,” she laughed.   Bloom wasn’t sure how well it would work, but her students are all doing well.  Hopefully they’ll be able to play together in real life sometime soon.

Band teacher Stephanie Bloom made videos to show new band students how to play each instrument.

* * * * *

Ridgefield teachers and students have gone above and beyond to make online learning a positive experience.  Bloom pointed out that everyone has had to be flexible for online learning to be a success, and she’s proud of what the students have achieved.  “They’re all progressing at a pace that makes sense for online learning,” she said.  “They’re showing us they can do it.”  As classes begin to transition gradually to hybrid learning models, Ridgefield teachers and students are proving they can overcome all kinds of challenges.


Thought for the Week

Whether the weather be fine,
Whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather,
Whatever the whether,
Whether we like it or not
~Author unknown

Update on the Library

Happy New Year! With mid-May as the estimated completion date for our new, bigger, better library, how can this year be anything but happy for all of us who have helped to make this dream a reality?

There is still a great deal of work left to do both inside and out before the library will be open for business. For example, the interior walls must be finished, final doors and windows must be installed, and the exterior façade must be addressed.

Crews have been busily installing 5/8”-thick sheet rock on the interior of the building. This product, which provides an increased level of fire protection, is thicker than the residential standard of half an inch. A normal “orange peel” texture will be applied to the wall surfaces later this month. Painting of the sheet rock is scheduled for the end of the month. In the large adult area, the natural wood (fir) has received two coats of a clear satin sealer. The fir will naturally age and turn a golden color in about 20 years.

Several hollow-metal doors will be installed next week. The aluminum storefront window assemblies will be installed at the end of the month. If you’re wondering how workers are staying warm on these raw days with just plastic covering large openings where these windows and doors will go, worry not! Although the HVAC system is in and operational, a portable heater is being used until the building is completed to keep construction dust, paint, and other particulates out of the air system.

On the outside of the building, you may have noticed that the dark brown roof is almost completed. Finishing the flashing and installing the gutters will complete that job. The crews are starting the exterior siding and brick work. Concrete backer board for the thin brick has already been mounted.

Before you know it, spring will have sprung and our new library will be done! In the meantime, I’ll be sure to let you know what’s happening.

10% for 85

Today I happily wrote out a check for $53.00, the first installment of my 10% for 85 fund raising campaign to buy a hearing loop for the library. Six people have donated a total of $530.00 and we only started a week ago. I am always amazed at how willing people in Ridgefield are to step up and support local activities.

Haven’t heard of the 10% for 85 campaign? In honor of my 85th birthday, I have pledged to match all donations to Friends of the Ridgefield Library up to a total of $5000. You chip in $85, I match it with $8.50. I’ll keep going until I’ve donated $500 and the Friends have have received $5000.

This logo shows a hearing loop is installed in an area

The money will be used to buy a hearing loop for the library.  A hearing loop (sometimes called an audio induction loop) is a special type of sound system for use by people with hearing aids. The hearing loop provides a magnetic wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is set to ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting.

What’s even better, you can now donate online. Go to and click on the donation button. When you fill out the form please note either ‘hearing loop’ or ‘10% for 85’ so the money will be credited correctly.

If you prefer writing a check, please make it out to Friends of the Ridgefield Library and send it to 10% for 85, c/o Kathy Winters, PO Box 381, Ridgefield, WA 98642.

P.S. I only used $85 as an example – any amount big or small is welcome.

Superintendent’s Update to Families – January 22, 2021




January 22, 2021

Dear Ridgefield Families,

I want to start this week with a BIG

to all the students and parents of the Ridgefield School District.  Providing the choice for in-person learning opportunities has been a challenge, but one that has been well worth it.  Our ability to continue providing and expanding in-person learning opportunities is due to everyone following COVID safety precautions: frequently washing hands, wearing face coverings, social distancing, and keeping children home if they are not feeling well.

Earlier this week, we welcomed back first graders.  It was quite the sight to see more students filling the halls and classrooms.  We expand in-person learning options once again this coming week with the addition of second graders. Welcome back!  Below is the current schedule for the expansion of in-person instruction options for the remaining elementary grades.

  • Monday, January 25 – 2nd grade starts
  • Monday, February 1 – 3rd grade starts
  • Monday, February 8 – 4th and 5th grade starts (tentative – pending limited transmission at school sites)

This week, we also welcomed back a limited number of secondary students.  While the direct instruction is still coming from our talented certificated staff via a remote environment, our incredible classified staff are providing supervised learning support for select students in seventh grade, eighth grade, and members of the class of 2021.  We are committed to expanding this in-person supervised learning support for additional secondary students in the weeks to come.  Please reference the schedule below for more information.

  • Monday, February 1 – limited in-person student support for 6th and 9th graders
  • Monday, February 8 – limited in-person student support for 10th graders
  • Monday, February 16 – limited in-person student support for 11th graders

As I shared last week, the District is actively working to provide the option for a return to in-person instruction for all secondary students.  To continue that work, we ask all sixth – twelfth grade families to complete the appropriate learning mode registration below.  The survey informs the District which mode of learning you wish to enroll your student(s) in for the rest of the year (and the rest of the second trimester for sixth-grade students) once in-person learning resumes.

Currently, the District is planning for an A/B hybrid schedule.  In this schedule, students assigned to Group A will have in-person classes on Monday and Thursday, while students in Group B will have in-person classes on Tuesday and Friday.  All students will attend classes remotely on Wednesday.  You can find more information on the schedules by clicking on the appropriate grade band (6-8 hybrid schedule, 9-12 hybrid schedule).  I want to be clear; the Ridgefield School District is committed to a safe and sensible return following state guidance.

Please keep the student/family photos coming.  Use the email address ( to share these candid moments.

Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent


ASB Students Use SpudderNation Instagram to Stay Connected

When high school students are all learning from home, it can be hard for them to connect socially.  In the past, Ridgefield High School’s Associated Student Body (ASB) hosted its events in-person.  With the switch to remote learning, the ASB chose instead to ramp up its online presence, offering students a new way to share experiences together.

The ASB runs one of the school’s Instagram accounts, SpudderNation.  ASB Leadership students decided to use the account as a platform for online content exclusive to Ridgefield High School.  They started creating fun features that all students could watch from their own homes.  Using Instagram allows them to social distance and be safe, but still have fun.

They started a live show on Instagram TV (IGTV) called Good Morning Wednesdays.  ASB Leadership students, including Presley McCaskill, Jaynie Murray, and Gabe Berkey, appear live each Wednesday on a split screen, each one with a coffee or warm beverage.  And much like a morning talk show, they discuss different topics.  Past topics have included how to start good studying habits, how to apply for college, and how to practice good mental health.  Viewers can submit questions online, and ASB students answer them during the broadcast.  Stefanie Foster, ASB Leadership Advisor, is glad to see a chance for students to interact, saying, “This is awesome peer-to-peer engagement.”

Each Friday, another group of ASB students host Spudder Night Live, a video compilation of different fun skits and segments.  Luke Price and Aidan Hundt serve as the hosts of Spudder Night Live and do their own segments, like interviewing guests or doing TikTok of the week, where they imitate a TikTok dance video.  Jacob Bell presents the weather, and Cash Hill discusses weekend highlights.  Justin Wilkins and his dog, Bentley, co-host random shower thoughts, like “Is the S or C silent in the word scent?”.  And Drew Harteloo reviews different products; recently he sawed up a log to review a chainsaw.  Annikka Hill helps put the video features together into a show.

The opening of Spudder Night Live features ASB students together–but safe and socially distanced on their bikes.


Jaynie Murray and Gabe Berkey host an episode of Good Morning Wednesdays, a live show with different topics that also answers viewer questions.


Luke Price and Aidan Hundt host Spudder Night Live on Ridgefield High School’s Instagram account, SpudderNation.


A gingerbread house decorating contest was one of many events that ASB students shared on the SpudderNation Instagram account.

Over the holidays, they also created a special music video.  High school teachers and staff lip-synced and danced to different sections of Jingle Bell Rock, and the students compiled the clips together into one fun video.  They released it on Spudder Night Live during winter break.

Price is glad people are enjoying Spudder Night Live.  “We started it to make people feel like they’re still connected.  So if it gets hard to think of new ideas, we remind ourselves that it’s about feeling like we’re all still together.”  He plans for Spudder Night Live to continue even after they return to school.

In addition to the student-run shows, ASB also hosts events on Instagram, like a gingerbread house decorating contest, and virtual class color wars, where each grade wore a different color.  Spirit Week went entirely online as well.  And the ASB sponsored a real-life food drive for the Ridgefield Family Resource Center, posting collection boxes at Ridgefield Pioneer Marketplace, Lava Java, and Ridgefield High School.

Having a social media feed that is almost entirely student-driven is unusual, but it has proved to be incredibly popular; SpudderNation gets hundreds of student views.  Ridgefield High School Principal Christen Palmer said, “I am so proud of these students for finding a way to communicate with each other despite all these challenges.  They are absolutely killing it with SpudderNation!”

Candle in the Window

A group of people in Ridgefield and other areas are putting candles in their windows tonight as a symbol of peace and light. It’s a peaceful protest against the violence at the Capitol that may occur on the 20th.

I’m going to light my candle tonight – won’t you join me?

Thought for the Week

Practical applications of the Golden Rule:

If you open it, close it.

If you turn it on, turn it off.

If you unlock it, lock it.

If you break it, repair it.

If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.

If you borrow it, return it.

If you use it, take care of it.

If you make a mess, clean it up.

If you move it, put it back.

If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.

If it doesn’t concern you, don’t mess with it.

If you start a job, finish it.

10% for 85 – a New Challenge!

Ten years ago I turned 75, and to honor that epic birthday, I asked readers of my blog,, to donate money in honor of my grandson, Erik Steinbrenner, who had died from cancer. I asked people to consider it to be like a subscription to the blog. The whole community chipped in, and we raised $5700 that was donated to Oncology Youth Connections.

Kathy holding the checks collected for the Erik Project

Five years ago when I turned 79 I asked the Ridgefield community to donate money to enlarge our community library before I turned 80 in January. We called the campaign ’80 for 80’ and the hope was we could raise $80,000 in the next year. People laughed – it seemed impossible for (what was then) a small town to raise that much money. We reached our goal by November and went on to raise over $100,000 before January.

The sash I wore during the 80 for 80 campaign

Here it is five years later. The library is under construction, and now it’s time to buy furnishings. Once again I’m asking the Friends of the Library and the Ridgefield community to donate money – this time to buy a hearing loop for the building. A hearing loop (sometimes called an audio induction loop) is a special type of sound system for use by people with hearing aids. The hearing loop provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid when it is set to ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting.

This logo shows a hearing loop is installed in a room

The hearing loop consists of a microphone to pick up the spoken word; an amplifier which processes the signal which is then sent through the final piece; the loop cable, a wire placed around the perimeter of a specific area to act as an antenna that radiates the magnetic signal to the hearing aid. This is special for me because I wear hearing aids.

The campaign will be called ‘10% for 85’ and it will run for 85 days, from my birthday on January 16 until April18. I will match 10% of all donations up to $5000. With COVID running rampant our goal is more modest this year, so we should have no problem raising $5000. Can you help?

Please send checks made out to Friends of the Ridgefield Library to 10% for 85 Campaign, c/o Kathy Winters, PO Box 381, Ridgefield, WA 98642

Superintendent’s Update to Families – January 15, 2021




January 15, 2021

Dear Ridgefield Families,

Roughly two weeks ago, we welcomed our first cohort of students back to in-person instruction.  I can tell you first hand the energy and excitement that comes from having students in the buildings is second to none.  I have had a chance to visit both elementary schools to watch arrival, dismissal, and peek in on learning.  I have heard from administrators and teachers alike that the counter-measures, procedures, and protocols we have put in place at school are working as intended.  For those of you sending students to school for in-person services, please remember to complete your daily attestation before leaving the house.  If your child is not feeling well or has exposure to someone not feeling well, please keep them at home.  More than ever, we are dependent on each other to do the right thing.

We welcome back first-grade students when we return on January 19, following the three-day weekend to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Below is the current schedule for a return to in-person instruction for grades 1-5.  To the parents of fifth-grade students, you will be receiving an email this afternoon with information on registering for your desired learning mode for the remainder of the second trimester.

  • 1st grade starts Tuesday, January 19
  • 2nd grade starts Monday, January 25
  • 3rd grade starts Monday, February 1
  • 4th and 5th grade starts Monday, February 8 (tentative – pending limited transmission at school sites)

Last week, I shared with you that our attention has now shifted to providing our secondary students opportunities to return to in-person instruction.  I am pleased to share that beginning Tuesday, January 19, we will be welcoming in a limited number of secondary students.  We are offering supervised learning support for select students in seventh and eighth grade and our seniors.  The District will expand these services to other secondary grades in the weeks to come.  Please see below for a more detailed phased-in approach.

  • January 19 – limited in-person student support for 7th, 8th, and 12th graders
  • February 1 – limited in-person student support for 6th and 9th graders
  • February 8 – limited in-person student support for 10th graders
  • February 16 – limited in-person student support for 11th graders

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me the past many months to share their thoughts on in-person and remote learning.  I am grateful to live in such a supportive and passionate community, and your feedback makes us better.  Regularly, I hear the plea to extend in-person learning options to secondary students.  Please know, the school board and I are resolute in our commitment to expand the in-person learning option for all students as soon as possible…safely and sensibly.  That means we look closely at the various metrics to help inform our decision.

While the plan above is bringing back limited numbers of students for in-person support, the District is working diligently to provide the option for a return to in-person instruction for all secondary students.The current guidance suggests, among other metrics, that when COVID activity levels are above 350 per 100,000 people, school districts should prioritize elementary students.  When the rate drops below 350 (but above 200), the focus is on middle school students’ return.  As the rate drops below 200, the return of high school students is prioritized.

I hope you’re enjoying catching a glimpse of the resilience our community is showing during this ongoing pandemic.  Please keep them coming! Use the email address ( to share these candid moments.

Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent

Green Bag Project Receives Reser’s Fine Foods Donation

The Ridgefield Food Project (aka Green Bag Project) was very happy to receive a donation from Reser’s Cares, the charitable arm of Reser’s Fine Foods of Beaverton OR. The money will be used to purchase food for the Ridgefield Family Resource Center and Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

The donation was initiated by Drew Bleth, of Ridgefield, who is employed by Reser’s Fine Foods.

Thank you Reser’s and Thank you Drew!

Reser’s is a privately held company located in Beaverton OR that employs over 4,000 people at over 14 major facilities and in eight communities across the US and Mexico.

Bill Baumann, receiving check from Drew Bleth; Chris Poppert of the Resource Center looking on.

New Enrollments for Ridgefield Early Learning Center Starts March 1st

Save the Date!  New family enrollments for the Ridgefield Early Learning Center will be accepted starting Monday, March 1st for the 2021-22 school year.  For current families, the enrollment period is February 16-25, 2021.

For more information, visit the Early Learning Center webpage at or email Erika Muir at

Ridgefield School District Honors January Employee and Students of the Month

On January 12, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the January Employee and Students of the Month at the regular Board of Directors meeting.

Employee of the Month

Jody Harris is a committed, collegial and joyful preschool teacher and colleague at the Ridgefield Early Learning Center.  Her love and enjoyment of watching children learn, achieve and grow is only matched by her respect and kindness for families.  Children run to greet her every morning and beg to stay with her “just a little bit longer” at the end of each day.  She arrives early and puts in all the extra time and effort required of a preschool teacher.  She takes the initiative to offer her help readily to peers, families and children in ways that are thoughtful and meaningful.  To listen to her laughing, playing and learning alongside her Pre-K students is a highlight of each day.  Thank you, Jody, for being an exemplary staff member and leader for our Hash Browns.

Jody Harris

Students of the Month

Magnolia Gomez was selected as January’s Student of the Month at the Early Learning Center.  She is a hard worker in everything we do in class—writing her name, drawing, doing crafts and learning our ASL alphabet.  She’s friendly to all, making new friends feel comfortable and always the first to help anyone with whatever they need.  She makes sure all toys are cleaned up whether she’s playing with them or not, and she is always happy and excited to be with her friends and take part in activities.  Magnolia remembers the names of all teachers and classmates and has a true connection to everyone she meets.  She’s very social and eager to learn all she can.  We appreciate her “can do” attitude in the Early Learning Center.  She’s our January Hash Brown of the Month.  Great job, Magnolia!  We are so proud of you.

Magnolia Gomez

Benjamin Elder, a first grader, was selected at South Ridge Elementary.  Benjamin zooms into our virtual classroom each day ready and eager to learn.  He exemplifies the 3 R’s of being Respectful, Responsible and Resilient.  Benjamin is kind, respectful and helpful to others.  He is happy and positive and encourages others during our shared learning times.  He is a focused and responsible learner in our Google Classroom in both live whole group and small group learning.  Always challenging himself to learn more, Benjamin is eager to take on any new challenge presented to him.  He perseveres and demonstrates resilience with his can-do attitude.  We are so proud of Benjamin and his success in our classroom!

Benjamin Elder

Archer Chewning, a third grader, was selected at Union Ridge Elementary.  His name came to mind when his teacher thought about students who truly go above and beyond to help in their classroom community.  Archer participates in every Zoom activity and works hard to complete his assignments on time.  He can always be counted on to share his thoughts or tell a joke to liven up the class.  He finishes his schoolwork at the beginning of each day so that he can work on fun projects in class like reading aloud videos of books or creating how-to videos when he’s working on something cool.  Even when he’s done with his work, Archer willingly comes back on Zoom in the afternoon just so he can help classmates who are struggling.  He’s patient and kind and is great at guiding others even in distance learning.  It’s clear he has a heart for empowering others.  It is an honor to watch him continue to grow as a hardworking, compassionate, creative student online with the hope of one day seeing him shine in class in person.  From his teacher, Mrs. Capeloto:  “I’m proud of what you’ve accomplished so far, Archer, and look forward to learning so much more from you this year!”

Archer Chewning

Elijah Ayon, a fifth grader, was selected at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School.  Elijah has been extremely successful with remote learning.  He has been very responsible in attending every single one of our Zoom meetings.  He completes every assignment and puts great effort into all of his work.  Elijah is a group leader and pushes people to do their best.  His table group during the month of September won the table point challenge thanks in large part to his tremendous efforts and drive to win.  Despite the distance learning, it is very obvious that Elijah is a kind and respectful student.  We commend him for all of his hard work and resilience.

Elijah Ayon

Hannah Edwards, a seventh grader was chosen at View Ridge Middle School.  Hannah is an excellent student.  She is always positive, tries her best and has an amazing attitude.  She gives her all 100% of the time and encourages others in class.  She has discovered and shared strategies that help her learn in the remote model and leverages them with great success.  Hannah comes to class with her camera and microphone on, ready to interact with her teacher and peers.  She is a leader in break-out rooms and asks good questions throughout lessons.  She puts a lot of effort into her assignments, and it shows.  Hannah is one of only a few students who reaches out to learn how life is going with everyone else in class.  She is a bright light during these darker times, and she is very appreciated.  She is truly deserving of the honor of Student of the Month.

Hannah Edwards

Students at Ridgefield High School continue to make an impression on the staff with their efforts in remote learning, working hard to make it the best possible experience they can.  Sophomore Bella Anderson-Colon is one such student who does so for others as well as for herself.  “Bella has a positive attitude and has embraced the 3 R’s during remote learning,” says one teacher.  “She has helped to create an atmosphere where everyone is involved and participates.”  Bella says her daily goal is “to do whatever I can to make sure everyone is smiling.”    She also says she loves school.  She enjoys helping others, participates in her church youth group and worship team, plays guitar, sings in the school choir, and is a member of the jazz band.  She hopes to become a counselor after graduating high school.  It is for all these reasons that Bella Anderson-Colon was chosen to represent RHS as January’s Student of the Month.

Bella Anderson-Colon

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