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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.

Hallowe’en Hall

The 4th annual Hallowe’en Hall created by the Ridgefield Art Association is happening soon! This is their largest fundraiser of the year, and it’s at Abrams Park.

The dates this year are October 18th and 19th. The Hall will be open from 6-9pm both nights. $5 admission for 3 years and older, under 3 children get in free. All other activities on the grounds are free.

This is a family fun event that will not be bloody or gory. It is meant for the younger age groups in grade school and middle school. Non-scary costumes on children and adults are welcomed and encouraged.

Saturday the 19th, there will be the added attraction of ‘That Damn VW Club’ from Vancouver that will hold a “Trunk or Treat” event starting at 5 pm. Dance Fusion NW will again perform the THRILLER flash mob at the bottom of the hour (3 times a night).The hay bale maze is free for little ones to go through as many times as they wish.

Back again will be the Pumpkin Hunt inside the Hall.  Pumpkins will be hidden within Bennett Hall and a drawing will be held for a winner each night from the correct guesses. Main Street Moolah will be given to the winners.

The Ridgefield Lion’s Club will offer food items for purchase both nights. Ridgefield Library will offer a small craft. We are also happy to have the new Trinkets Tea Room represented.

As with the three previous years, this is a community endeavor. The high school football team kicks off the set up by removing the heavy picnic tables from the building on October 12th. Creating the hall takes place over the next five days and all the work is done by volunteers. A small number of high school seniors volunteer their time along with Ridgefield Art Association members and citizens of Ridgefield that just “love Halloween”. The Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce and a few employees of City Hall are new additions to the creation team. Returning favorites inside the venue are the Ridgefield Pirates, the blacklight hallway, a large (but friendly) snake and many many spiders. There might even be some stranger things.

The event is posted on our Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Ridgefield.Art.Association/  ​Be sure to click on the event to see the promo video or find it here https://vimeo.com/354332853

Reminder – Candidates Forum

Ridgefield Candidates Forum…Friday October 11 at 7:00 p.m. at Clark County Fire & Rescue’s community room (911 N 65th Avenue Ridgefield)

Attend this event to meet local Ridgefield candidates Scott Hughes and David Kelly (for Ridgefield Port Commission #2), Dana Ziemer and Matt Swindell (for Ridgefield City Council #2), Rob Aichele and Darren Wertz (for Ridgefield City Council #5), and Ronald Rowan and Sandra Day (for Ridgefield City Council #7). Councilors Lee Wells and Jennifer Lindsay are running unopposed and will not be attending. Cosponsored with local Ridgefield citizens.

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.



What Makes Ridgefield so Special #14

Everyone came to Birdfest yesterday: by car, by truck, by  motorcycle, and by walking, but someone very special rode horses.

Since horses are not allowed at Season’s Coffee Shop, their owners made sure they wouldn’t get away by hitching them to the ring on the sidewalk outside the shop.

Only  in Ridgefield!

BirdFest Used Book Sale

Today, Saturday, October 5th from 10 am to 5 pm in the Birder’s Marketplace (RACC GYM at 510 Pioneer Street, Ridgefield, WA).

Stop by and browse a wide selection of gently used bird themed books, and beautiful gifts and stocking stuffers handcrafted by Lorna Lee Earl. Start your holiday shopping early! Cash and checks only! Proceeds benefit the Ridgefield Community Library Building Project, and library programs and services.

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).

Davidson Referral Program

Thanks to all who participated in the Davidson Insurance Referral Program during September. Twenty-one quotes were given and Davidson donated $525 for the remodeled Ridgefield Library. We will post a picture of  some of the Friends of the Library accepting the check in the near future.

The people at Davidson Insurance have been supportive of the library for many years. We thank them.

Have you donated yet? We’re getting down to the wire. Naming opportunities are available for new donations.


Women’s Empowerment Workshop

Myrtle’s Tea House is sponsoring a Women’s Empowerment Workshop Tuesday, October 8 from 11:30 am to 1:30pm. Learn basic life tools, apply them in all areas of your life, empower yourself from the inside out, and be with other inspiring women.

The workshops is complimentary, and tea and sweets are included.

Email: emilybollcoaching@gmail.com to reserve your spot today.

Myrtle’s is at 321 North 3rd Avenue in downtown Ridgefield.

Correction on Date of Candidates Night

The correct date for the Ridgefield Candidates meeting is Friday, October 11, from 7 to 9 pm in the meeting room at the Fire Station, 911 North 65th Avenue.

Old Town Storm Water to Get Treatment Facility

Most of the blocks from Pioneer Street to Division Street and from North 5th Avenue to North Main Avenue discharge directly into Gee Creek by the Heron Ridge Street Bridge. It is the largest source of storm water pollution in old town Ridgefield.. The City of Ridgefield applied for a Clark County Clean Water Fund Grant administered by the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board. It was ranked number one for funding. The engineering was completed earlier this year, went out to bid, and the City Council awarded the contract to Odyssey Construction.

The project is between Maple Street and Heron Ridge Drive just east of North 3rd Avenue. The project is well into construction with a construction completion date at the end of October. It will provide treatment for low storm water flows with an overflow provision for high level flows.  This project will improve water quality of storm water into Gee Creek, especially during times of low summer flows.

The city of Ridgefield is to be commended for this improvement.  It will make a difference.

Contributed by Paul Snoey