Coffee Talk with the Superintendent Set for September 24th


Computer Science at Sunset Ridge and View Ridge Schools

Students stream into the computer lab and check out their Chromebooks from a cabinet in the back.  Two big screens in the front of the room show a cartoon of a sprite and some characters who look like they’re made of rocks.  Sunset Ridge Intermediate School teacher, Nam Nguyen, goes to stand by a laptop at the front of the room.

“Listen up!  Today we’re going to be working on a project called Earth Dance,” he says.  The kids all turn to watch.  The cartoon animates with the sprite moving around, then the rock people follow in the same movement.

Nguyen continues, “Today, you will be playing—programming—Splash as your primary sprite and the Rock People as your secondary.  Your first objective is to have Splash demonstrate her dance move to the Rock People.  Then the Rock People are going to mimic the dance move.  You’re going to mimic—copy—the code so things are moving together.  That’s the beginning.  That’s the bare bones of the program.”

These students aren’t seventh or eighth graders; they’re in the fifth grade.  And they’re programming in block coding, a system that lets students select and order blocks of code to complete tasks.  Nguyen said the students adapt to it very quickly.

“Because of development and how intimidating computer science can be, a lot of students worried about whether they were just going to sit here and code the whole time, line code,” he said.  Instead, they’re engaged in creative tasks, working with other students at their tables to drag and drop code blocks, finding the right pieces to solve a logic puzzle.

Nguyen explains that the visual code blocks are all composed in Python, one of the top computer programming languages worldwide.  “It’s one of the most innovative methods of introducing young students to Python,” he explained, “because every line of code or every block that students are using in the program at the fifth and sixth grade level is the exact same code that is used in Python.”

The computer science electives at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School and View Ridge Middle School are popular and fill up quickly, so classes are designed for students to enter the courses at any given stage or grade level without a lot of prerequisites.  And challenges are built into each exercise so students can work at their own levels.

Soon the students are pointing at each other’s laptops as they discuss ways to change the code, or to try the challenge level of making the characters dance without tilting.  It’s a different kind of screen time, the kind of work that lies behind every video game or app.  But it looks like the students are having fun—and the characters are all dancing.

Nam Nguyen shows students the dance animation sequence.


The Earth Dance assignment has students programming different characters to dance.


Students select blocks of programming code to create the sequence.


Thought for the Week

This was a Letter to the Editor, the Columbian, September 12, 2019. I agree wholeheartedly!

“We visited the Clark County Parade of Homes in Camas yesterday. The homes are impressive and the views breathtaking, but I am so disappointed. With all the money invested in these homes, there was absolutely no emphasis on forward thinking. Where are the solar roofs, sustainable or recycled material, examples of responsible use of resources?

The time of building with 14 foot ceilings, outdoor heaters and walls of south-facing windows should be over, considering we are dealing with a changing climate. We need examples of attractive designs that do not abuse the planet and will make it possible for the next generations to survive. In a better world, the Parade of Homes and the Street of Dreams would be an example of more sustainable and environmentally friendly building.

As a consumer, I don’t need to see another impressive but drafty great room, or a shower that takes 20 minutes of hot air to dry itself after use. I need to see that you can live in beautiful surroundings with smarter and more modern features. Eventually we will all have to step back from excessive consumerism, and if builders don’t start offering and buyers don’t start demanding smarter luxury living, they are being shortsighted and irresponsible.

~ Maria Ernst, The Columbian, September 12, 2019

More on North Main Avenue Construction

The photo above was taken last Thursday.  The reflection of the arched dome has created an illusion that the culvert is a complete circle.  Because the worksite was flooded all week,the contractors were unable to work.  Later on Thursday, a larger pump was brought in and it began pumping down the area on Friday.  By Saturday morning, the level of water had dropped about 3 feet or more.  Another large pump was brought in Saturday morning.  Sunday was a day of heavy rain and by tonight my rain gauge had 1.18 inches of rain.  The watershed for Gee Creek is 8.7 square miles.  A one inch rain on the watershed dumps 150 million gallons or more.  Some of this water is soaked into the ground  or stored in ponds and wetlands or storm water facilities.  The water that makes it to the creek can only go through the North Main Avenue crossing.  With the extra pumping today, the water level stayed about the same.  The National Weather Service is predicting another round of heavy rain early Tuesday.  This could be a real problem:  The high flows on the creek today will not have much time to drain the watershed before the next storm and the ground is beginning to be soaked increasing the amount of runoff.   September is a month of transition from summer into fall.  Occasionally, early autumn storms can arrive.  This year has been unusually stormy so far and is making things difficult for the project.  It is a little ironic that this project should prevent any future flooding on North  Main Avenue but is being delayed by a flooded worksite.






Come celebrate the 20th Birdfest with a kickoff party and fundraiser presented by the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

It’s at the Ilani Cowlitz Ballroom,   1 Cowlitz Way, Ridgefield, WA 98642, October 4th, 2019, 5 pm to 7:30 pm.

Entertainment by Tony Starlight, Entertainer and Bird Watcher extraordinaire…Scrumptious food and two drink tickets with each entry…Silent Auction of unique items…Live Auction of a few very special items

Tickets are $75.00 and should be purchased ahead of time on the website.  Tickets are limited so get yours early; you don’t want to miss this event. All funds raised will support our habitat restoration and education programs on the Refuge.

BirdFest was initiated in 2000 by the newly incorporated non-profit Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Birdfest2000 included guided van tours of the River S unit and a dedication ceremony for the new trial.  Art exhibits were displayed at Season’s in town and Rose’s Antiques.  There were guided canoe trips on Lake River and several bird hikes led by Vancouver Audubon.  The Community Center was the site for a Community Garage Sale. There were lectures on birds and a special children’s program on Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax”.  It was such a success the Friends board started planning the annual event as soon as they were done with Birdfest2000.  Sunset with the Sandhill Cranes was started at the 2001 Birdfest. Van tours into the wetlands roosting area has expanded and been a very popular part of BirdFest since.

Over the years the Friends Board has moved from a garage sale to a Birder’s Marketplace with local artists and wildlife-oriented vendors.  This year, the Birder’s Marketplace moves to the new Ridgefield Administrative and Civic Center building downtown. Bluegrass music in town has become a special feature of BirdFest over the years.

We have added many new activities such as a wildlife photography workshop and salmon bake.  Many favorites are still around such as the Sandhill Crane tours, scope station on River S, a geology walk, watercolor workshop and Portland Audubon’s live bird show.  Some events require preregistration and/or have a fee.  But there is much more so check out the Friends website,, for details on the BirdFest activities and presentations for Saturday, October 5.  Sandhill Crane tours and a night hike are also scheduled for Friday, October 4th.

Big Day Tomorrow!

Both Oktoberfest and Experience Ridgefield are going to tomorrow (Saturday) at the RORC. Come and enjoy the festivities!

Wind Fields at Old Liberty

Rock Band Wind Fields will be at the Old Liberty Theater at 7:30 pm on Saturday, September 14. The group is described as ‘entertainingly dark and twisty”, and tickets are $15. The group sings old pop music with short and sweet arrangements and quick changes.

Doors open at 6:45 with opener Max Hay presenting comedy and musicianship.

Flooded Worksite


The work area is flooded halting work on the section of N Main Ave and Gee Creek.  The work area is dependent on a pump to move water upstream to down stream of the work area.  We have had some heavy rain yesterday through this morning. The staff gauge in Abrams Park showed a flow of 70 cubic feet/second or 31,000 gallons a minute.  It is much too much for the pump and the creek has backed up almost to Heron Ridge Drive.  There will be some  more rain this week and flows should stay higher for a while.  Usually flows are less than 5 cubic feet/second in late summer.

~ Contributed by Paul Snoey

Tonight’s the Night!

Vinnie’s Pizza supports the library! Tonight from 4 0 9 pm Vinnie’s will donate 10% of all food and beverage sales to the Ridgefield Library Building Project, and best of all, will match that amount.

Come eat, drink, and be merry and help build our new library! I’ll be there – will you?

The End of The Drought

A couple of years ago I had mentioned to Kathy Winters that I had seen a garter snake chasing some fish in a pond that had almost gone dry.  With the long summer drought, the same pond has only a few inches of water left again this year.  In driving by a few days ago, there was another snake in the pond and I could see lots of movement from what I  thought were fish.  I was curious and came back with a bucket of water and a net.  A couple of scoops and these creatures were in the net.  I took a few home and put them in an aquarium.  I took the above photo and grabbed a field guide.  These are larval long toed salamanders.  These are what the garter snake was after.  They are very fast swimmers and could avoid a garter snake.  But as the pond got drier they were becoming more vulnerable.

The photo above is of Allen Canyon creek.  This creek had stopped flowing several weeks ago.  There are a few pools like this and the Coho fry released from the incubator are stranded.  This afternoon, we had two heavy rain showers and they dropped almost an inch of rain.  It may be enough to get the creek flowing again and save these fish.   I may be able to stop watering trees along Gee Creek if it rains just a little more.  Perhaps Autumn is a little early this year.



Multicultural Fair Today

Today is the Multicultural Fair at Overlook Park. There will be a Native village showcasing the Chinook Indian Nation and its history in the Ridgefield area. Sam Robinson, Chinook Indian Nation vice chairman will launch the proceedings with a musical blessing and Chinook carver and painter Greg A. Robinson will make and sell art.

It all starts at 9 am when the multicultural Festival Vendor Village opens alongside the regular weekly farmers market. Vendors will serve Indian cuisine and other ethnic dishes as well as barbecue.

Performers will show off the music and dance of Japan, India, Chan and indigenous Latin America until 3:00.

The library will feature a Family History Zone, and you can play DISC golf in Davis Park and learn about different world cultures along the way.

The Old Liberty Theater will present ‘Kirikou and the Sorceress,’ an animated film based on a magical folk tale from West Africa as well as a 7 pm screening of ‘Rumble, the Indians Who Rocked the World,’ about Native rock and jazz musicians.

And Friends of the Library will be selling used books.

All-in-all, a full day – come see what it’s all about!



Good News for the Library!

Another anonymous donor has pledged $10,000 for the Library Building Fund. thanks to the hard work of Rick Smithrud of the Fort Vancouver Library Foundation. This put us farther along the road to getting our newly remodeled library.

Now if only we had ten more donations of this size we could start building the library next spring.

 It’s easy to donate to the library building fund. Make your check out to the Friends of the Ridgefield Library and mail it to PO Box 534, Ridgefield, WA 98642, or take it to the library. Contributions may be tax deductible.

If you want to be a Cornerstone member by donating $1000, the money can be paid in regular increments, but you do need to sign a form in order for the Treasurer to track payments. There are other levels of giving also. Each major donor will receive recognition on a display in the new library. You can designate your donation be used only for the building fund if you like.

District Schedules School Transportation Parent Forum

Ridgefield School District is holding a School Transportation Parent Forum on Thursday, September 19th, 5:30-7:00 pm at the Ridgefield Administrative & Civic Center.  Staff from KWRL Transportation and Ridgefield School District will be on hand to provide information, answer questions and participate in discussions regarding student transportation.  All parents are encouraged to attend!


North Bank Beer Week

There will be beer events all over the north bank of the Columbia River from the Long Beach peninsula upriver to Goldendale this week  end. Our very own 3Peaks Public House and Taproom will add tap handles for this event to feature at least one beer from 36 breweries in the Southwest Washington region.

It all starts tonight, Thursday, from 6 too 11 pm at 24415 NE 10th Avenue. Come and try out a few! Information here.

Pizza Night Monday

Vince and Elena Coco are once again offering a Pizza Night at  Vinnie’s Pizza, where they give 10% of all food and beverage sales to Friends of the Library. Not only that, they match the amount raised. It’s Monday, September 9 from 4 to 9 pm. Come, eat, drink and be merry and help support the library.