Cispus Campfire Night Set for October 30th at Abrams Park

Ridgefield Students Show Support Against Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a campaign to promote anti-bullying awareness in schools.  Today, students and staff in the Ridgefield School District are showing their support for the cause.

Orange is the color that signifies support for students who have been bullied.  To commemorate National Bullying Prevention Month, Ridgefield students pledged their support by signing special anti-bullying banners in their school.  The orange wristband each student received in return demonstrates their support against student bullying—a symbol of unity they can wear for the entire month.

South Ridge Elementary students pledge their support against bullying.

This month, in classrooms and planned assemblies in the district, students are learning how kindness, acceptance and inclusion help to prevent and put a stop to bullying behavior.

Students and staff in the district wore orange today, Unity Day, Wednesday, October 23–the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month—to show unity in support of anti-bullying awareness.

Anti-Bullying Message Resonates with Student

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and Ridgefield schools across the district are holding awareness raising assemblies and events.  But sometimes it’s hard for teachers and administrators to know the real-world impact of these campaigns.  One mother shared a very sweet photo that shows just how well one student got the message.

Abbey Spading’s daughter, Audrey, was playing with her four-year-old sister.  She overheard Audrey telling her sister about “being an upstander” but didn’t think too much about it.  The next morning, she walked into her daughter’s room and saw the chalkboard.  Audrey had carefully written down the important lessons of the “Be an Upstander” campaign to share with her little sister.

Union Ridge Elementary School third grader, Audrey Spading, not only learned her school’s anti-bullying message–she shared it with her four-year-old sister.

The “Be an Upstander” campaign uses a character named Ned to show students how to go from being a bystander to being an upstander when they see bullying.

  1. Be a Buddy. Show friendship to the person being bullied.
  2. Interrupt the bullying when it starts.
  3. Speak Out. Say something against the bullying.
  4. Tell Someone. Tell an adult about it to keep people safe.

Ned’s name serves as a reminder for the things students can do to help:

Never give up on helping your school to be safe

Encourage others to be upstanders with you

Do your best with all the upstanding ways you can stop bullying at your school

Audrey’s mom was touched when she saw the chalkboard.  “This just blew me away and melted my heart,” she said.  Not only did Audrey learn the message, she shared it with her sister.  And that is exactly how the anti-bullying message spreads:  one student at a time.

Ridgefield schools will celebrate Unity Day on October 23, where students unite for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.  Please wear orange for Unity Day to join Audrey in standing against bullying.

Date Change for Superintendent’s Coffee Talk

This month’s Coffee Talk with Superintendent Nathan McCann has been rescheduled to Wednesday, October 30th, same time and location.  Come and learn about topics of interest in the Ridgefield School District and share your comments and concerns.

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 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


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 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 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

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’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.