District’s CAPS Program Highlighted in Forbes.com

Ridgefield High School’s CAPS program was highlighted this past week in an article regarding real life leaning in Forbes.com.  Ridgefield High School CAPS students, Emma Haynie and Jordan Nash, appear in a photo at the beginning of the article.

The Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) campus at Innovation Ridge is part of the nationally recognized CAPS Network comprised of more than 100 school districts.  The innovative high school program provides students the opportunity to be fully immersed in professional culture using industry standard tools.  Students are mentored by actual employers who partner with the program.

CAPS at Innovation Ridge launched its inaugural semester this year.  Spearheaded by Superintendent Nathan McCann, the program’s vision became a reality through the efforts of Ridgefield High School Principal, Christen Palmer, Director of CCTE and Federal Programs, Tiffany Gould, and Ridgefield High School teachers, Andrea Reinertson, Steve Rinard and Kara Breuer.

“We held the students to a high standard, expecting them to act, dress, and communicate like professionals, and they have truly risen to the occasion,” said Reinertson.  “To witness the way they have transformed from every day students in the classroom to those who get a shout out in Forbes is fulfilling every teacher’s dream!”

“Having the opportunity to work alongside the CAPS teachers and students as they have followed their passions has been a highlight of my career,” said Gould.  “I am inspired by the students in the health sciences, engineering, and business, marketing and entrepreneurship strands that have demonstrated their commitment to their learning and career goals every day.”

 Click here to read the article on Forbes.com:


WIN Time Gives Students a Winning Start

The students all left class and walked downstairs.  “Where are you guys heading?” Principal Todd Graves asked.

“Outside!” they said.  “We’re going to the basketball courts to practice a play that we’re doing for WIN time, the plot line for Scaredy Squirrel.”  When they got to the courts, they broke up into groups.  Each group did a skit on a different part of the book Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt.  Students played squirrels, killer bees, narrators, and even trees as they worked through the story’s exposition, rising action, climax, and falling action.

In other classrooms, students worked together to solve math puzzles projected on the screen, conducted experiments, or read aloud from novels.  The classes were all part of WIN time, an innovative program that allows students at Sunset Ridge to find new ways to achieve academically.

Students in Anja Felton’s WIN Time class work on a problem together.

WIN stands for What I Need.  Every student at Sunset Ridge participates in the WIN time program three times a year.  It creates focus on the areas where each student could see improvement or seek more challenges, based on standardized assessments.

The WIN time session assigns each student to a particular subject area.  The students leave their regular classrooms and go to spend a period in a WIN time classroom with other students from their grade.  Each student is challenged to achieve at his or her own level.

WIN provides a wide range of academic support, including informational comprehension, literature, numbers and operations, algebraic thinking, and more.  They even have an eighth-grade math class—for sixth grade students.

The program changes a little each session as the teachers determine what is working best for their students.  Graves said the results have been overwhelmingly positive.  “When we asked students for feedback, ‘Did WIN help me target an area that I needed specific help in?’ almost 100% of the students said yes.”

The students on the basketball court are having a great time creating their skits.  Some of them stand on top of the concrete bases, pretending to be up in trees.  Graves watches with a smile.  “I think of all the things we’ve done here at Sunset Ridge, one of the things I’m most proud of for our kids is WIN time,” Graves said.  “It’s a pretty cool thing to watch.”

Brianne Irons’ WIN Time class gathers on the basketball court.


Students in Brianne Irons’ WIN Time class prepare their skit on “Scaredy Ssquirrel.”


Sunset Ridge Students Present Innovative Ideas Around City Growth

More and more people are moving to the city of Ridgefield.  But how do we maintain the things we love most about Ridgefield as we grow?   The fifth and sixth graders at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School completed a unit asking them to tackle that difficult question—and they came up with some pretty creative ideas.

The fifth grade group projects addressed three different areas:  business, parks and recreation, and preservation.  Each student group selected a specific issue within those areas.  They did extensive research to learn more, including calls and meetings with area experts.  The students projected possible solutions.  Then they created detailed presentations for Growth Expo night, many featuring reports, models, polls, and handouts.

Principal Todd Graves explained that Project Based Learning (PBL) is an important part of the Sunset Ridge curriculum.  Each year, students answer a question that impacts the community.  “We identify something local, that has an impact on the community, and give a few different topics for the kids to explore.  Then we turn them loose.  What they do is amazing,” Graves said.

PBL teaches students to use the four C’s—communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity—to assess and address the issues.  “Those are major skills our kids will absolutely need to have as they leave and go into the work force,” Graves explained.

The thorough assessment of the issues helped the students become extremely knowledgeable about their topics.  During the fifth grade Growth Expo night, one student explained how a hotel could generate new city revenue through taxes.  Another offered cost effective ways to mediate drainage issues on sports fields in Abrams Park.  The sixth grade presentation is coming up soon; their PBL Showcase will be on June 6 from 4:30 to 6:15 in the commons area at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School.

Some of the students have been invited to present their findings to the Ridgefield Parks Board.  “That’s exactly the kind of interaction we want to see,” Graves said.  “If you do things like that, the kids will realize their voice actually matters.”

Michael Chandler presents a plan to create a permanent farmers’ market in Ridgefield.


Students created this detailed model of a proposed Blue Heron Water Park.


A model for a community pool created by a student in Minecraft.

Ridgefield School District Receives WSPRA Communications Awards

Ridgefield School District was recognized by the Washington School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) at its annual conference held earlier this month for outstanding work in public school communications throughout the 2018-19 school year.

Ridgefield’s communications team is led by Carolyn Enos, the district’s communications specialist and includes Kimber Webb and Marie Bouvier.

“I am extremely proud of the work our communications team continues to produce,” said Superintendent Nathan McCann.  “They work hard to keep our stakeholders informed and celebrate the many successes of our students and staff.”

The district received the following awards for school districts in the state with enrollment less than 10,000 students:

Award of Excellence:  2018-2019 Annual Report

Special recognition to Kimber Webb for graphic design, Marie Bouvier for feature writing for Ridgefield Schools:  Proud Past, Prosperous Present, Promising Future, and Carolyn Enos for editing and feature writing for Where Are They Now? Spudder Grad Success Stories

Awards of Merit: 

Calendar category:  2018-19 Parent Guide & Calendar

Special recognition to Kimber Webb for graphic design and Carolyn Enos for writing and editing

Social Media category:  Weekly Construction Updates

Special recognition to Carolyn Enos writing and editing

Video category:  Growing Together, the 2018-2019 School Year

Special recognition to Shannon Korta and Mack Stromme of LSW architects for video production and Carolyn Enos for writing and editing

Congratulations to all WSPRA communications award recipients for their outstanding work this year!

District to Open Early Learning Center This Fall

The Ridgefield School District will be opening an Early Learning Center in the Ridgefield Administrative & Civic Center this fall!  The center will provide full and half day opportunities for children ages 3-5.  In addition, before and after school care will be available for students through 4th grade.  Space is limited.

Registration is now open.  For a registration packet, click here:  https://tinyurl.com/y3w7ur6x.  For more information about the program, email the Early Learning Center at elc@ridgefieldsd.org.

Spanish Class Holds Mexican Heritage Celebration

The tables were loaded with delicious Mexican food.  Nopales (cactus), arroz con leche (rice pudding), fresh tortilla chips with six kinds of salsa, conchas (sweet bread shaped like shells), Takis (spicy corn chips), rico coco cookies, Vasito tamarind candy, and Jarritos (fruit flavored soda) made a colorful display the students could hardly wait to dig into.

The teacher, Jennifer Zora, flipped tortillas by hand at the griddle.  “A true Mexicana turns her tortillas without a spatula.  My fingerprints are almost gone!” she laughed.

Jair Guitron carefully stirred the arroz con leche that his friend, Julian Galant, brought.  “This is delicious!” he told his classmates.  “You will like it.”  The students filed through to fill their plates, then sat down together.  Conversation was lively, in English and in Spanish, as music videos played.

The Mexican Heritage Celebration was the end of their class unit on Mexico.  By the end of the semester, the students will have toured through many Spanish speaking regions:  South America, Central America, Mexico, Spain, and the Caribbean.

The students use workbooks with a wide range of activities, from practicing vocabulary to writing entire paragraphs in Spanish.  Their progress has been fast since the semester began, and when they pair off to start doing skits together, you can hear their comfort speaking the new language.

This is the first year the Ridgefield School District has offered Spanish classes in addition to French classes at the middle school level.  For the students, learning the second most spoken language in the world is a clear benefit.

Zora teaches Spanish at the middle school and the high school.  “Teaching seventh and eighth graders is something special,” she said.  “At that age, they are like sponges; they pick it up so quickly.”   She smiled as she watched the students practicing their skits.  “They’re doing so well, we might have to change our Spanish I classes at the high school to be more advanced.”

Jennifer Zora heats tortillas for her students during the Mexican Heritage class celebration.

Police Officers Read to Students

Police officers are showing up at school libraries—to read books to students.  Union Ridge Elementary School uses the readings as a reward for good behavior, and students are really enjoying the chance to meet the officers.

Sergeant Cathy Doriot and Officer Jason Ferriss visit Ms. Sullens’ kindergarten class at Union Ridge Elementary.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support is a positive reward system used district-wide to encourage and teach positive behavior.  At Union Ridge Elementary School, students earn Tater Bucks tickets when they follow the three R’s:  Respect, Responsibility, and Resilience.  Then students can use the Tater Bucks for prizes and drawings of their choice.  There are also bonus awards an entire classroom can earn, including a recess award, lunchroom award, and library award.

Librarian Jubilee Roth explained the program with the Ridgefield Police Department.  “I select two classes a month that have shown the three R’s in the library, and they earn a visit from a police officer who reads them a story during library class.”  The students get the chance to meet a police officer one on one, and it also rewards the classes for good behavior.

The police officers read a story, then lead questions and answers.  The students can ask about the book, information about police work, or even personal likes and dislikes.

Sergeant Cathy Doriot and Officer Jason Ferriss are working the library beat in addition to their regular duties.  So if you see a police car parked at the school, the officer might be in the library, happily reading Dr. Seuss to a room full of students.





A Look Back: National Geographic World Brought Ridgefield Students to Mount St. Helens Blast Zone

Many people remember the Mount St. Helens eruption.  But not many people remember leading a group of students through protected areas of the mountain in the years following the eruption.  Longtime Ridgefield resident Allene Wodaege did exactly that, taking a group of Ridgefield students to the blast zone area with a team from National Geographic World magazine.

Thirty-nine years ago, on May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted.  For years after the eruption, some areas around the volcano were off limits to the public.  When National Geographic World, a magazine for young people, wanted to visit and take pictures of students in the blast zone, they called ahead to find area students who would be willing to go.  Allene Wodaege, who was a coordinator for the nearby Cispus camp at the time, was happy to help.  She coordinated a group of Ridgefield students to take a bus up the mountain with the writer and photographer.

Wodaege & students in restricted Mount St. Helens blast zone. National Geographic World photo.

“No one could go up,” she explained.  “It was closed.  It was really closed at that time.”  She worked with the principal and with fifth grade teacher Ron Ward to get a bus and several students to accompany them on the journey.  The National Geographic photo with Wodaege and the students looks like a black and white picture with only the children’s clothes in color; even many months after the eruption, the entire area was dead and covered in ash.

Teacher Ron Ward took the students near Meta Lake to observe the wildlife that had lived through the blast.  Wodaege said, “Because the lake was covered with ice and snow when it blew, it didn’t kill everything in the lake and around it.  But you can see how devastated everything was.  Ron Ward came up with little tasks that the kids could do while they were up there so they could have a learning experience.”  The photos show students Nathan Schwarz and Troy McIntyre holding a crawfish they found in the lake, and Ward taking water samples.

The Columbian newspaper arranged a meeting between Ward and Wodaege, more than 35 years after their trip with the students.  The article by Jeffrey Mize features Wodaege and Ward, celebrating their shared experience and the anniversary of the eruption.  The article can be found at:  https://www.columbian.com/news/2019/may/18/journey-to-the-blast-zone/

Wodaege has been an outspoken advocate for the importance of Cispus outdoor school and outdoor learning for nearly fifty years.  While some people might have seen danger taking students so close to an eruption zone, she saw a chance to learn about how nature recovers from a once-in-a-lifetime natural event.  Each year, she took students to Cispus outdoor school, not far from Mount St. Helens, to study the ecosystem and its changes.  “I said, ‘It’s a learning experience; it’s going to be wonderful,” Wodaege said.  “And it was.”

Ron Ward and students studying Meta Lake wildlife. National Geographic World magazine photo.


Allene Wodaege speaks with Jeffrey Mize of The Columbian about the Mount St. Helens trip.

Ridgefield Loses Beloved Coach

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Dusty Anchors, head softball coach, after a lengthy battle with heart disease.  He was 68 years old.

Coach Anchors was instrumental in reviving the softball program at Ridgefield High School, where he coached for three years starting in 2016.  The team thrived under his leadership, advancing to state competition in 2016-17.  Last year, it placed fifth in the state with a 21-5 record.  This year, the team is currently ranked second in their league with a 16-4 record.

Even through his illness, Anchors continued his coaching duties and remained steadfastly dedicated to the team.  His zest for life and infectious enthusiasm for the game will live on in the hearts of the entire Ridgefield community.  He will be sorely missed.

“Today is a difficult day here in Ridgefield with the passing of Coach Anchors.  Dusty was truly a remarkable man who coached with passion, integrity and a deep love for the game,” said Brynan Shipley, the district’s athletic director.  “We will honor his legacy and continue to carry on the culture that he built here.  Our thoughts are with his family and the Ridgefield softball community.”

Counselors are on hand at Ridgefield High School to help students and staff through the grieving process.

Stellar Year for Ridgefield High School Golf Team

In a year with many successes, the Ridgefield High School golf team had a standout year.  They won the 2A League individual day golf tournament.  They won the Hudson Invitational and the Titan Cup, where they competed with 3A and 4A schools.  In October, they won the 2A District IV Golf Championship.  And with the team’s remarkable performance at District, the entire varsity team—all six members—qualified to go to state competition in May.

The RHS Golf Team lifts the District Championship trophy. Photo credit: Bob Ball Photography.

With a field of 80 players at District competition, three of the RHS golfers were in the top five players, and all six students made the top 15.  Cade Bringhurst placed second, Kellen Bringhurst placed fourth, and Kale Suomi placed fifth.  Caden Whitsitt placed ninth, Nick Radosevich placed 11th, and Eli Saenz placed 14th.

In an interview with the Reflector, Kellen Bringhurst said, “Definitely the fact we could send all six to state was huge for us.  Our main goal—we’ve said it from the beginning—is for this year was that we wanted to win state as a team.”

“We’ve got a lot of good players on this team, and only two of them are seniors, Kale (Suomi) and I.  So for the next three or four years, our team has a lot of great potential and talent.  I want to leave a little bit of a legacy for them to follow.  A state title would be sweet to leave behind.”

Topping off the League honors, sophomore Cade Bringhurst won Player of the Year.  This is his second year as Player of the Year.  And Coach Bob Ball won District Coach of the Year.  “That’s thanks to Cade and the rest of them,” Ball said.  “You don’t win that without players doing well.”

Coach Ball is proud of the students and what they have achieved.  He pointed out that last year, the same set of students won the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association 2A boys’ golf academic championship, with a 3.9 collective GPA for the team.  “They’re good, smart kids.  Good students,” Ball said.  He expects them to do well both academically and athletically again this year.

Three of the six students are playing other sports right now, so practice time is limited before the state tournament.  But Coach Ball said they will be preparing by working on fundamentals.  They’ll also be learning about the course where they’ll be playing, Liberty Lake Golf Course just outside of Spokane, and learning about the strategy it takes to play it.

The whole Ridgefield High School golf team will be going to state competition on May 21st and 22nd.  If you see the team members or Coach Ball, please congratulate them and wish them luck at state.

Kellen Bringhurst competes at the 2A GSHL golf tournament.  Photo credit:  Bob Ball Photography.


Caden Whitsitt competes at the 2A GHSL golf tournament.  Photo credit:  Bob Ball Photography.


Ridgefield School District Honors May Employee and Students of the Month

On May 14, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the May Employee and Students of the Month at the regular Board of Directors meeting.

The staff and students at Union Ridge Elementary are proud to recognize Carla Bonebrake as the Employee of the Month for May.  Carla started work at Union Ridge Elementary School in 2005 as a classified substitute and was hired as a permanent employee para-professional three years later.  In March 2013, Carla began work as a health room para-professional.

Carla Bonebrake

Carla is calm, knowledgeable, and decisive in high stress situations, which suits her well in not only providing expert care for our students but also in making available important health information and training to parents and to the school community.  The students and staff of Union Ridge adore Carla.  Her positive and happy personality puts everyone at ease.  In addition to Carla’s outstanding work at Union Ridge, she also provides support to the Cispus Outdoor Program.  She eagerly shares her time and talents to this school event every year.  Carla’s passion and vibrant personality has helped to make this event a favorite and memorable experience for fifth grade students.  Carla was also active with the school’s PTO during the years her own children attend Union Ridge Elementary.


Students of the Month

Elsie Swenson, a fourth grader, is May’s Student of the Month at South Ridge Elementary School.  The South Ridge Elementary School teachers and staff are very proud of Elsie.  They write, “Elsie is an amazing girl and an awesome role model and leader.  She is a quick learner and is always willing and eager to help those that struggle academically.  She is kind to everyone and goes out of her way to include those students that are sometimes left out.  Elsie rises to every challenge and always gives 100%.  She also challenges herself to do better or write more.  She is always a shining example of being Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient all the time!”

Elsie Swenson

Yumiko Werner, a kindergartner, was selected at Union Ridge Elementary.  Union Ridge teachers and staff are very proud of Yumiko.  They write, “Yumiko is an amazing student and a wonderful friend to others.  She is always striving to do her best on her work in class and out.  Yumiko is a kind, caring, and helpful friend in her class.  At the end of the day, she helps others and myself clean up the room and makes sure everything is where it belongs.  Yumiko always has an upbeat spirit and a smile for all that greet her.  She also plays football and wrestles!  I look forward to watching Yumiko grow and do amazing things here at Union Ridge Elementary and outside of school.”

Yumiko Werner

Quentin Ross, a fifth grader, is May’s Student of the Month at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School.  The Sunset Ridge Intermediate School teachers and staff are very proud of Quentin.  They write, “Quentin consistently represents the three R’s.  His Respectful nature contributes positively to our classroom and school environment.  Quentin is an excellent model of Responsibility and Resilience, which he demonstrates by completing work assignments and tasks thoroughly and to the best of his ability every single time.  He is forever thoughtful and a wonderful friend, student and member of the Sunset Ridge Intermediate School community.”

Quentin Ross

Alexander Fry, a seventh grader, was chosen at View Ridge Middle School.  The View Ridge Middle School teachers and staff are very proud of Alexander.  They write, “Alex is a delight to teach!  He is progressing well in learning a second language, Spanish.  He has the ability to work with all partners and has a positive attitude.”

Alexander Fry

Braxton Boer, a sophomore, has been chosen as the May Student of the Month for Ridgefield High School.  The students and staff are very proud of Braxton.  They write, “Choosing one student out of the 900 students at RHS for Student of the Month proved to be a difficult task.  After reading the 22 nominations submitted by staff and getting further input from the staff on those nominees, one student rose to the top.  RHS is pleased to announce that Braxton Boer was selected.  Teachers describe Braxton as “always positive”; “striving to make himself better”; “a student I look forward to seeing every day“; and “a shining example of a student who demonstrates the three R’s – Respect, Responsibility, Resilience.”  Balancing medical issues and school has proven to be a challenge for Braxton, including weekly physical therapy sessions and past surgeries.  Never using those challenges as an excuse, Braxton is involved with Knowledge Bowl and robotics, is in advanced math and science classes, is enrolled in an AP class AND maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA.  Ridgefield High School congratulates Braxton Boer on this well-deserved recognition.”

Braxton Boer

Ridgefield School District is grateful to its sponsors, James Schmeling of Allstate Insurance Company whose local office is providing funding to support the district’s recognition program during this school year and the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation.

Ridgefield School District Schedules Patron Tour on May 29th

Ridgefield School District is scheduling a Patron Tour on Wednesday, May 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 site of current construction of the RHS Expansion project.  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 the name and email address of each attendee.

Proposed Curriculum Materials Available for Public Review

The public is invited to review the following curriculum materials being considered for adoption by the Ridgefield School District:

  • AP Human Geography for Grades 9-12: The Cultural Landscape:  An Introduction to Human Geography published by Pearson
  • AP Government for Grade 12: AMSCO Advanced Placement:  United States Government & Politics published by Perfection Learning

The curriculum materials will be at the District Office in the Ridgefield Administrative & Civic Center (RACC), 510 Pioneer Street in Ridgefield, Washington, through May 24th from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday-Friday.  Please ask for Dani Taylor.


South Ridge Sport-A-Thon: Catch Us If You Can!

Action was everywhere at the South Ridge Elementary Sport-A-Thon.  Footballs flew into targets, students crawled and jumped through the obstacle course, and inflatable “boards” were broken with Taekwondo.  It was perfect weather to be playing outdoors—and the day was also an impressive fundraiser for South Ridge Elementary.

The Sport-A-Thon fundraiser started last year.  Event chairperson Kelli Bushnell explained, “I came up with the Sport-A-Thon as a fundraiser to replace the auction, which was adults only.  We wanted something fun the kids could participate in.”

East Ridgefield Crossfit set up a fun obstacle course.


Practicing home runs at the baseball inflatable.

Students collected flat fee donations prior to the event.  Each class worked together as a team, competing for prizes that included popcorn parties, free recess, a sundae party with the principal, Amazon gift cards, and a pizza party.

The team competition made for a very successful fundraiser.  “Our goal this year was $10,000,” Bushnell said.  “We don’t have final numbers yet, but we will be over $10,000.”  Bushnell worked with committee members Jen Dawson, Tina Krause, Alisha Lasch, Melissa Nove and other volunteers to raise money for school activities throughout the year.

Out in the spring sunshine, the kids didn’t know how much work went into planning the event; they were having a great time walking, running, and playing together.  The huge inflatables were busy, with students waiting their turn for basketball, baseball, and football challenges.  And a DJ kept the music going, with some kids dancing on the sidelines.

South Ridge second grader Callum Wilson was participating for his second year in the Sport-A-Thon.  He went through the obstacle course once—then went through the obstacle course again.  He had a huge smile, his face flushed from running and jumping.  “I like the obstacle course and the football game,” he said.  “It’s so fun!”  He took a short break to catch his breath, then headed back across the wide field to join the other kids.

Students compete with a two-sided football pass inflatable.


Staff from HS Taekwondo strike a pose.

Union Ridge Elementary Organizes Sixth Annual World Celebrations Parade

Union Ridge Elementary School students will be participating in the school’s annual World Celebrations Parade on Thursday, May 30th from 10:00-10:30 am in downtown Ridgefield.

The parade, now in its sixth year, is a tradition at the school.  In a fun parade setting, it gives the students (in Grades K-4) a chance to show the community the different representations of a variety of cultures they have been studying in class.

In Kindergarten, students will focus on their own unique culture by way of a timeline they will share at the parade.

First graders studied the different cultural elements that make countries unique.  At the parade, each student will share this information based on a country from their family heritage.

Second graders researched a person of historical significance and created a biographical timeline containing interesting facts that they will share at the parade.

Third graders studied the cultural landmarks and geography of five regions of the United States.  Based on their research, they created postcards which they will hand out to spectators along the parade route.

Fourth graders have been studying Washington State and the many wonderful things that represent it.  They selected Washington’s state dance–the square dance—to share at the parade.

Come to downtown Ridgefield on Thursday, May 30th to cheer on our students as they participate in a parade that celebrates the diversity of various world cultures.