Ridgefield High School 2019 Homecoming Football Game


A Day in the Life of Cispus Outdoor School

Set in the natural beauty of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Cispus Learning Center looks much the same as it did fifty years ago, when the first class of Ridgefield students came for a week of outdoor school.  Small cabins and long, low education buildings nestle into the stands of tall trees.  A group of students treks up the path from the waterfall, one of many hikes underway this morning.

“How many miles did you do?”  The volunteers who lead the groups stand at the trailhead, comparing notes.  “A mile and a half.”  “I did three miles so far.”  They were going to get a cup of coffee, then head right back out on the trail with another group.  It wasn’t even ten a.m. yet.  Just another active morning at Cispus.

The students go on morning hikes to have class in different environments.  They might test soil acidity, search for macroinvertebrates, or sketch leaves for identification.  And whatever pops up—like a baby bat in the cave—can become an impromptu lesson.  They hike behind a roaring waterfall, where one of the lessons is figuring out that your mom might have been right all those times she told you to wear a rain jacket just in case.

Lunch is a favorite, because the food at Cispus is really delicious.  Meals are served family style, so students learn to wait for everyone to be served before eating, to hold a conversation, to clear tables. Today is soft tacos with rice and beans.  Orange segments are a popular choice on the side—but not as popular as cake, as the students celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ridgefield Outdoor School at Cispus camp.

The entry to Cispus Learning Center in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.


Inside one of the girls’ cabins.


Students get ready to eat family style for taco night.


Afternoon classes are typically indoors, with many hands-on classrooms.  The star room has hand painted constellations that glow in black light.  Campfire song class is in front of a roaring fireplace.  Taxidermied animals and pelts line the walls of the nature rooms.  And the Mount St. Helens room showcases artifacts from the mountain eruption and photos of the devastation and the eventual recovery of the environment.  Every classroom has new items to spark ideas and discussions.

Sunset Ridge Intermediate School principal, Todd Graves, enters the Forestry Room.


The Mount Rainier Room demonstrates life cycles with an interactive exhibit.


Exhibits in the Mount St. Helens Room lets students touch history.

Students work on a sensory poem in the library, telling what they see, hear, and feel when they are in nature.  “What do you taste when you are in nature?” the teacher asked.  The fresh air, one student says.  The pine needles when a branch hits my face, says another.  Water from the rain.

“Bacon,” one student says confidently.

“Bacon?  In nature?”  The teacher gives him a quizzical look.

“Bacon,” he confirms.  “I sneaked it in my pocket at breakfast and ate it on the trail.”  They all laugh.  Bacon goes into his poem.

Almost every experience at Cispus is new to the students, and also steeped in tradition.  The huge campfire at night will be a site for stories and songs, echoing through woods that have heard fifty years of children’s voices.  Another class of fifth graders will graduate from Cispus with memories they will cherish for a lifetime.


There’s plenty of seating around the big campfire.


The Pavilion serves as a covered classroom with a warm fireplace.


Mist rises off the buildings and the foothills after a morning rain.


Fall colors are just starting to show when campers arrive.

RHS Theater Presents “Dracula”

Ridgefield High School will be presenting its fall theater production of “Dracula” starting October 24th at 7:00 pm at the Ridgefield HS Performing Arts Center with performances on selected dates through November 2nd.  Tickets are $5 for students, staff & seniors, and $8 for adults.  Admission is $2 on Halloween night for guests in costume.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online at https://ridge.revtrak.net or at the door.

Ridgefield Student Grace Melbuer Earns State and International Honors at HOSA

Many children grow up wanting to be doctors or nurses.  Only a few follow that dream into high school and beyond.  Grace Melbuer is not only pursuing her dream of working in healthcare, she is making it easier for other students to pursue theirs.

When Melbuer was a freshman, she founded the Ridgefield High School chapter of HOSA, a student organization for future health professionals.  Science teacher Shannon Hemrich said, “Our biomedical science program required that we have a leadership group called HOSA.  Grace really got the club off the ground.”  The club started with just seven members.  Now that Melbuer is a senior, the very active HOSA group has 30 members.

HOSA’s primary mission is to help students become future leaders in healthcare.  Under Melbuer’s leadership, students started a job shadowing program with PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.  The group also invited healthcare professionals to speak at their meetings so they could learn about different careers in the industry.

Grace Melbuer (bottom row, second from right) with other members of the HOSA student leadership executive council for Washington state.

As part of its leadership training, HOSA hosts annual competitive events.  At last year’s state competition, Ridgefield’s HOSA team won multiple honors.  Melbuer won first place in the challenging Healthcare Issues exam, which tests competitors on current events in healthcare.

Winning first place at state competition gave Melbuer automatic entrance to the international competition, where she competed against students from all over the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and China.  “I was expecting there to be a good amount of people in my competition,” Melbuer said, “But I’m from Ridgefield, so the biggest testing environment I’ve had is, like, 30 kids.  So walking into a room with 650 kids is kind of weird and overwhelming.  The kid who was sitting right next to me was from China.”  When results were announced, Melbuer was thrilled to find that she placed tenth worldwide.

Melbuer was also elected regional vice-president, one of six representatives from Washington state.  As a state officer of HOSA, Melbuer traveled to Washington, DC for the Washington Leadership Academy.  There she had the opportunity to meet with Congressional members and staff to advocate for Career and Technical Service Organizations (CTSOs) and to provide a student perspective on the healthcare industry.

Grace Melbuer (center) at the U.S. Capitol Building, where she and other state leadership members met with Congressional representatives and staff.

Since this is Melbuer’s senior year, she is excited as she plans for other members to take over leadership of the organization she founded.  “That has been my main goal this year,” she said.  “We wanted to make sure HOSA remains strong.”

She is also excited to continue HOSA’s tradition of community service.  “Our next blood drive is on my 18th birthday!  I don’t need to sign a permission slip anymore.  I think I’m going to donate on my birthday,” she smiled.  “What a way to celebrate!”

Ridgefield’s HOSA chapter welcomes members of the healthcare community to speak at their meetings.  For more information, please contact Shannon Hemrich at shannon.hemrich@ridgefieldsd.org.


Ridgefield School District Schedules Patron Tour on October 29th

Ridgefield School District is scheduling a Patron Tour on Tuesday, October 29th from 8:30 am to 11:30 am.  Bus transportation to the schools will be provided.

District and school administrators will lead participants on a tour of Ridgefield High School’s Vocational Education Building and the school’s newly-constructed Expansion Building.  The tour will also include a visit to the property on which the district hopes to build a proposed new K-4 elementary school.

Patron Tour participants will meet at the Ridgefield Administrative & Civic Center (RACC), 510 Pioneer Street in Ridgefield.  Check-in starts at 8:15 am, and a continental breakfast will be provided before the tour.

To register, please send an email to communications@ridgefieldsd.org and provide your name and contact phone number and the number of attendees in your group.

Volunteer Commitment to Cispus Outdoor School: The Yaddof Family

Cispus Outdoor School is a long tradition in the Yaddof family—not just for the kids, but for the parents too.  Susan and Bill Yaddof went to Cispus for the first time as fifth graders.

In high school, Susan returned as a counselor.  All three of their daughters attended as fifth graders; one served as a counselor.  And ten years ago, when their daughters had all completed Cispus, Susan and Bill started volunteering.  They were there when the camp celebrated its 50th anniversary this year—and many of those years have had one or more Yaddofs at camp.

Their volunteer work actually starts at home.  Bill makes all of the wood cookies that are awarded to students when they complete various tasks.  He started doing it when his daughters were in school, slicing fir branches into smooth rounds, then drilling two holes for the cord.  “I made about a thousand this year,” Bill said.  “But I guess it adds up over time, with 800 or more each year for 15 years.”  The wood cookies are a very special reminder of time at Cispus, so people keep them for years.  Bill still has the original wood cookies he earned when he went to Cispus in fifth grade—and he still wears them every time he goes to camp.

The Yaddofs both work full-time, so they take an entire week of their own vacation time each year to go to camp as volunteers.  But they don’t get to spend much of their vacation time together, as Susan stays in the women’s cabin and Bill stays in the men’s cabin.  “We see each other in passing, while he’s going to one activity and I’m going to another,” Susan said.  “We do kiss each other good night each night.  But we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Bill and Susan Yaddof return from morning hikes with the students and compare how many miles they had each completed that day.


“Make a face like a fifth grader!” Bill Yaddof still wears his original fifth grade wood cookies each year.

When they started volunteering, they jumped in wherever they were needed.  Susan enjoyed crafting and helped students learn to make bracelets.  Bill had experience with the Boy Scouts, so he taught students to build fires and emergency shelters.  After a couple of years, they knew the camp well enough to lead hikes, guiding classes to sites where they could look for macroinvertebrates or find a nurse log (a fallen tree providing protection and nourishment for seedlings).

This year they are inheriting flag duty from Tevis Laspa, another long-time volunteer who will be retiring from Cispus after many years of service.  Bill works with the students on flag folding and etiquette, while Susan shares stories of flag history at the flag raising and lowering each day.   And of course, they help the students with everything from homesickness to table manners.

For the Yaddofs, volunteering at Cispus is an important tradition for their family.  “We absolutely believe in the program,” Susan said.  “It meant so much to us as kids; it meant so much to me as a counselor.  We hope that our daughters might one day want to go as volunteers too.  We’re thankful for getting to do it all of these years and to get to continue.”

Both of them think Cispus is a vital part of our community in Ridgefield, and the fact that it continues year after year is something that makes our schools special.  “We see how important it is for these kids, to be outside and exploring, going on hikes, studying water and soil and plants.  Even being without their parents, some of them for the first time ever.  It’s a rite of passage.  We love being a part of that growth.  It’s a tremendous gift to us.”

And year after year, the Yaddofs have given back to Cispus, impacting hundreds of students, making each child’s experience a little more special.

Superintendent’s 2019 Holiday Greeting Card Contest Now Underway

The Superintendent’s 2019 Holiday Greeting Card Art Contest is now underway!  All students are invited to participate in creating artwork for the district’s 2019 holiday greeting card.

This year’s theme is “Winter Wishes.”  The winner and three semi-finalists will win cash prizes.

Click HERE for Contest Rules, Parental Permission Form and Holiday Greeting Card Art Label.  All entries must be received in school offices by the end of the school day on Friday, November 1st.

Community Education will once again host a free Holiday Card Workshop open to students of all ages.  All supplies will be provided — only creative inspiration is required!  Completed projects, with parental permission, will be collected for the contest.

Workshops will be held at Union Ridge on Wednesday, October 23 (3:40-4:30 pm), South Ridge Library on Monday, October 21 (3:40 – 4:30 pm) and at Sunset/View Ridge Art Room on Tuesday, October 22nd (2:40 – 3:30 pm).

The workshops are optional.  Although they are FREE, pre-registration is required.  Go to ridge.revtrak.net to reserve your spot.  Only students who have completed registration will be able to attend.

The district is grateful to the Ridgefield Art Association for sponsoring this annual art contest.

Ridgefield Among Top School Districts Nationwide Recognized by National Board

Ridgefield School District was recognized by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as one of 81 school districts across the country that work hard to promote student learning through accomplished teaching.

These National Board Accomplished Districts were recognized because 20% or more of their teachers have earned National Board certification—an achievement that encourages teachers to teach to high standards and to reflect on their practice to get better each day to positively impact learning for their students.

Qualifying for National Board Certification is rigorous and involves a four-part application process that includes a skills test, a portfolio demonstrating an ability to build classroom lessons tailored for individual students, a video showing interactions with students and self-reflection on their teaching.

“Achieving National Board certification is not easy, and teachers who earn this respected designation demonstrate a commitment to excellence in teaching,” said Nathan McCann, Ridgefield’s superintendent.  “I am proud of our National Board Certified teachers.  Their dedication ensures that we are providing the best possible learning experience, opportunities and skills to our students.”

“The focus of National Board certification is always on student learning,” said Deb Ortner, TOSA for Elementary Professional Development for the district.  “I’m proud to be a part of a district that holds the National Board Certification program in high regard and understands the impact that a National Board Certified teacher has on his/her students.”   A National Board Certified teacher herself, Ortner mentors a cohort of candidates for National Board Certification.

Candidates working within a cohort benefit greatly from the experience according to Ortner because they work together to identify student learning within the lessons they share by reviewing one another’s writing and videos.

“Reflecting on each other’s instructional choices helps to strengthen the candidates’ teaching practices, resulting in an increase in student achievement,” said Ortner.  “It allows teachers to peel away the layers of their practice and rebuild them one at a time through the lens of student learning.  It’s an amazing experience.”


Ridgefield Schools Celebrate 50 Years at Cispus Outdoor School

Word spread quickly among the campers:  “Cake!  I heard there’s cake!”  In fact, there were five beautiful sheet cakes, a gift from the Cispus camp staff to celebrate Ridgefield’s 50th anniversary at the outdoor school.

Cispus Director Chase Buffington and Ridgefield School District Superintendent Dr. Nathan McCann addressed the students for a few moments about the fifty-year tradition.  But Superintendent McCann knew his audience of fifth graders. “I’ll keep my remarks short,’ he said, smiling, “because I know you want to get to the cake.”

Cispus Outdoor School lets students enjoy a week of school in the great outdoors, sleeping in cabins, gathering around bonfires, and taking classes about the environment.  The program is designed to give students a real appreciation of nature, as well as a taste of independence.  Founded in 1969 by John Hudson, Sr., the principal of Union Ridge Elementary School, Ridgefield has one of the longest running outdoor school programs in the northwest.

Cispus alumni were invited on a campus tour to commemorate the 50th anniversary.  One of the alumni, Stephanie Natterstad, is the granddaughter of John Hudson, Sr.  She took a day off from her job at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School to join the tour.  “It’s nice for our family to be part of such a long tradition,” she said.  “I know he’d be proud to see it’s still going.”

In honor of the event, each student received a special 50th anniversary t-shirt and day pack designed by Gary Hollingshead at Imagineering Graphics.  A limited edition of 50th anniversary flannel shirts were available for purchase.

In McCann’s remarks, he noted that the students were joining a long legacy of Ridgefield residents who had attended Cispus as students, counselors, teachers, and volunteers.  “Whether you’ve lived in Ridgefield six months, six years, or six generations, you are now part of a fifty-year tradition that is important to our community.”

“Fifty years is a long time,” he continued.  “If I’m still around in fifty years, I hope they wheel me back in here so I can enjoy it.”

Special 50th anniversary day packs and t-shirts were given to the students at camp.


Staff, volunteers and alumni are in limited edition 50th anniversary flannel shirts.

Ridgefield Fire Station Hosts Open House Saturday, October 12th

School Foundation Announces $12,000 Innovation Grant Recipients

In partnership with Columbia Credit Union (CCU), the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation (RPSF) announces three teachers each awarded grants totaling approximately $12,000 through the RPSF Innovation Grant.

This past spring, teachers had the opportunity to apply for grant funds. The RPSF board and major funding partner, CCU, were seeking teachers or staff who were willing to champion a project or program that would fuel innovation in the classroom by incorporating new, creative, original or out-of-the-box programs. This is the second year of the Innovation Grant program and teachers were eager and ready to apply for funds. This year the Foundation received seven applications, each with exceptionally well-thought-out innovative program requests.

Elizabeth Flynn, RPSF board Vice-President states, “When we launched this program in partnership with CCU last year, we had hoped to inspire creative and innovative thinking in the classroom to help advance core curriculum. This year’s grant applicants did not disappoint. The ideas generated through the Innovation Grant process exemplify the dedication and innovative thinking you can find at Ridgefield School District. Our partnership with CCU enables that creative thinking to quickly and directly impact a larger number of students across grade levels and schools. We are excited to see how Ridgefield students learn and grow through these three new programs.”

The three recipients and short descriptions of their programs are listed below.

Katie James and Linda Wear: Pond Trail and Outdoor Classroom – Sunset Ridge and View Ridge teachers requested supplemental funds for materials to build a bark chip trail encircling the pond and wetland on the southeast side of the campus. The application also included a request for learning materials to support activities in the outdoor classroom, such as binoculars, insect nets, clipboards, and field guides. This project is being completed in partnership with other Ridgefield entities.

Tamara Hoodenpyl: 21st Century Art Room iPads – This grant will be used to purchase iPads and digital art programs for use in art classes at Ridgefield High School to create an art program that integrates traditional and innovative fine arts techniques. Students will be able to build digital portfolios, and take advantage of digital art curriculum such as animation, film making, coding-based art, digital painting and comics.

Brittany Rodin: Playaways for Inclusion – Playaways are self-contained, user friendly audiobooks. They are durable, all-in-one devices that allow students the freedom and portability to listen to audiobooks anytime, anywhere. Ridgefield High School teachers plan to implement this technology with the special education population so they can learn alongside other students in the classroom without the help of a para or co-teacher. The devices can also be used at home allowing the students to function more independently.

“Families and students in Ridgefield are fortunate to have an active Foundation that creates opportunities for collaboration between educators, students and the community,” says  Colleen Boccia, Columbia Credit Union’s Chief Marketing Officer and long-time Ridgefield resident. “Providing tech-based learning tools as well as access to outdoor natural learning environments for curious minds is the epitome of innovation! This sort of collaboration is an example of why families are excited to raise their children in the wholesome Ridgefield community. Whether students are using technology or getting up close and personal with the great outdoors to enhance their learning experiences, these innovation grants are big wins for the Ridgefield community. Columbia Credit Union is honored to partner with the RPSF to make life better while fostering Ridgefield’s Pursuing Premier Goals and Planning Blueprint.”

To learn more about the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation to donate or apply for a grant or scholarship, please go to www.ridgefieldpsf.org.

The Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation is a privately funded, non-profit organization, established in 2009. Our mission is to advance programs and activities that support whole student development for which public resources are insufficient or unavailable.

About Columbia Credit Union: Established in 1952, a certified Clark County Green Business, Columbia Credit Union serves more than 100,000 members with $1.6 billion in assets. Members enjoy local consumer, business, mortgage, investment, and insurance services. Accolades include 11 consecutive years as Best of Clark County by readers of The Columbian, six consecutive years as Best in Business by readers of the Vancouver Business Journal, and is a multi-year (including 2019) recipient of the Peter Barron Stark Companies’ Award for Workplace Excellence. Columbia Credit Union is recognized for superior financial stability and performance as a Forbes Best Credit Union for Washington and as one of DepositAccount.com’s Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America. Columbia Credit Union’s commitment to community service was most recently recognized with their third consecutive Portland Business Journal Corporate Philanthropy Award.

Ridgefield School District Honors October Employee and Students of the Month

On October 8, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the October Employee and Students of the Month at the regular Board of Directors meeting.

Math is not easy for everyone and therefore, isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, but Austin Biel is often referred to as “my favorite teacher” by students.  There is something special about the way he teaches math and the way he makes students feel about the way they can learn math.  He gives them confidence in their math abilities but holds them to high standards at the same time.

Austin has a way of making students wrestle with math equations and use their higher thinking skills in order to figure out how to break down problems to understand the process of solving equations.  He doesn’t give kids the answers; he makes them give him the answers and explain their thinking to him.  Austin also uses a fair bit of humor to connect with his students, and you can often see students having fun while learning in his classroom.

As a colleague, Austin pushes his peers and team members to try new strategies and take risks with their teaching.  His willingness to take risks and try new approaches to teaching is evident in his lessons.  Furthermore, Austin has strong communication with the parents of his students and engages them in two-way communication in order to support his students.

The following email comment was received from a parent this year:

“I have been wanting to write about Mr. Biel for over a year!  Our daughter was lucky enough to have him last year for math, and he is just AMAZING.  Really, he is such a caring teacher.  He’s the FIRST High School teacher she asked us if she could buy a gift for, because she just felt he was so good.  My daughter actually HATES math; she has struggled with it her whole life.  So, for her MATH teacher to leave such a good impression on her, we knew he had to be great.  I had the pleasure of speaking to him a few times, and this man is what teachers should all be.  He cared so much about my daughter’s struggles, but he also took note of her efforts!  Really, enough good cannot be said about his way of teaching math!”


Students of the Month

Addison Speer, a third grader, is October’s Student of the Month at South Ridge Elementary School.  The South Ridge Elementary School teachers and staff are very proud of Addison.  His teacher writes, “Addison is the perfect example of an exceptional student.  He is respectful to not only me, but everyone around him and is a positive role model to his peers.  He always knows what to do and will immediately provide help to anyone who needs it.  Nothing is too hard for him, and he never gives up.  Addison is a sweet boy who cheers on his classmates when they may be struggling and becomes their friend when they need it most.  If you are having a bad day, Addison will say some kind, motivating words and make you smile.  I am both happy and lucky to have Addison in my class this year.”

Gael Hurtado, a first grader, was selected at Union Ridge Elementary.  Gael always comes to school with a smile on his face, ready for a new school day.  In kindergarten, he was a student that participated full time in the RISE program (Reaching Independence Through Structured Education).  This school year, Gael is in a general education first grade classroom over 70% of the day and is making outstanding growth as a learner.  Gael actively participates in classroom activities and is making many new friends.  Gael says that his favorite part of the school day is playing games, recess and snack time.  Gael’s general education teacher expressed that she is impressed with his can-do attitude and is astonished to see his social growth in such a short amount of time.  Mrs. Taylor says that Gael is a shining light in their classroom!  Gael’s classmate shared, “Gael is always happy and always has fun with us.  We love to laugh and play together.”  Gael has the Union Ridge Tater Tot spirit through and through!

Tyler Merlock, a sixth grader, was selected at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School.  Tyler is a born leader.  She looks for the positive in every situation, and she looks for ways to make things better.  She is respectful to her peers and staff alike and looks for ways to make sure that she is doing well in her schoolwork and behavior.  Tyler is a good problem-solver, and she will reach out for help to solve a problem if it is beyond her scope to figure it out.  Tyler is a role model in my class, and she is a pleasure to work with.

Ella Fitzgerald, an eighth grader, was chosen at View Ridge Middle School.  Ella is a natural leader and aspires to be a veterinarian in the future.  She likes school, the teachers and the curriculum here at View Ridge.  She is always doing the right thing, doing what is asked of her and will help in any way needed.  She does all of this in a way that reflects her kindness and shows how responsible and respectful she is all the time.  Ella consistently asks for extra work for no other reason except to improve her learning.  She constantly pushes herself to do better and has an unparalleled work ethic.  She is not afraid to ask questions when she needs to and wants to understand everything we do—not just being able to “do” it.  She is nice, polite and a joy to work with and have in class.  Ella is incredibly friendly and genuinely interested in others.  She is awesome!

Ridgefield High School is very pleased to announce senior Hunter Abrams, as its first student of the month for the 2019-2020 school year.  When asked to describe Hunter, his teachers say that he is a consistently excellent student and a terrific communicator who demonstrates leadership and sets a positive example for his peers to follow.  Hunter is involved in National Honor Society, football and soccer, as well as his church.  He takes advanced classes at RHS and maintains an overall GPA of 3.983.  Ridgefield High School has an enrollment of 943 students.  To select one student to represent the entire student body is not an easy task.  Ridgefield High School is proud to select Hunter Abrams as its Student of the Month for October.

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

Ridgefield Art Association Offers Fun Fall Events

Ridgefield Band Class Hits The Right Notes

Take a room full of fifth grade students who have never played an instrument.  Now turn them into a band.  Sounds pretty challenging, right?  Not for Stephanie Bloom, the band teacher at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School and View Ridge Middle School.

In the beginning, students go step by step.  They learn to open the cases and assemble their instruments.  Then they progress to holding the instrument, making the mouth shapes to create sounds, and blowing air through the instrument.  Finally, Bloom guides her students through learning the notes.  “This is the first time all of them are starting their instruments, so it’s kind of a level playing field when we start,” she said.  “You just have to have a structure and some patience.”  She makes it seem easy.

In college, Bloom had to learn to assemble and play all the band instruments so she could be a more effective instructor.  She played clarinet, saxophone, and trumpet for college performance bands.  Now she enjoys helping her students learn to play.

The seventh grade band class begins practice.

The students practice in a bright, airy room specifically designed for band use.  It has excellent acoustics and plenty of storage for band instruments.  Nearby is the choir room.  Having separate rooms means students can choose to take band or choir instead of just one general music class.  It gives them the opportunity to be in band from fifth through eighth grade if they want to continue with their instrument.

“In fifth and sixth grade, students have band class two days a week.  In seventh and eighth grade, students have it every day,” Bloom explained.  “So when they get to seventh grade, the progression is so much faster.  They grow immensely from the beginning of seventh grade to the end of the eighth grade.”

Seventh and eighth grade band brings new opportunities as well, including an extracurricular jazz band, auditions for local and state honor bands, and performing for Ridgefield’s Hometown Celebration in December.  Marching band is also part of the seventh and eighth grade curriculum.  They take part in regional parades, including the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands and a marching band competition in Long Beach.  (Last year’s band placed second.)

With three concerts a year for seventh and eighth graders and two concerts a year for fifth and sixth graders, Bloom has a busy schedule.  But it is worth it to her.  “Students don’t have to have the goal of being a musician,” she said.  “You get something just from being in a band or choir.  It’s something they are part of, like a family.”  A smile lights up her face.  “I love teaching band.  We always have fun!”

An exercise is posted on the whiteboard.


The band room has excellent acoustics, lots of room for seating and secure instrument lockers.



Grand Opening of The Birds + The Beans Coffee Shop Set for Saturday, October 5th

After months in the making, the official opening of the long-awaited coffee shop at the Ridgefield Administrative & Civic Center (RACC) is almost here.

The grand opening of The Birds + The Beans – A Ridgefield Coffee Refuge, is set for tomorrow, Saturday, October 5th (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) on First Saturday during Birdfest & Bluegrass.  Among its many offerings are amazing coffees and delectable treats from Killa Bites.

The Birds + The Beans got its start as a project last year created by Business and Marketing students in Ridgefield High School’s CAPS Program.  Working in partnership with the Ridgefield School District and local business, Killa Bites, the students (with guidance from CAPS teacher, Andrea Reinertson and Killa Bites owner, Laura Jhaveri) created the business plan, selected the vendors and designed the layout and branding for the new venture.

In the process, students Stella Blystone, Emma Haynie, Jolie Gullickson, Aidan McLaren, Karin Pajzinkova, and Jordan Nash gained industry knowledge and learned a lot about professionalism, collaboration and what it takes to create a business.  We congratulate them for seeing the project through to completion and look forward to the success of the new business in the years to come.

This Saturday, come and visit Ridgefield’s newest coffee hub!  The Birds + The Beans is located at 510 Pioneer Street, in the RACC lobby.  Regular hours begin Monday, October 7th, Monday-Friday (7:00 am – 4:00 pm).