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Thought for the Week

If you want 2021 to be your year,

Don’t sit on the couch and wait for it.

Go out. Make a change. Smile more.

Be excited. Do new things.

Throw away what you’ve been cluttering.

Unfollow negative people on social media.

Go to bed early. Wake up early. Be fierce.

Don’t gossip. Show more gratitude.

Do things that challenge you.

Be brave.

~   Author unknown

A Woman’s Tale

My 90 year old friend recently had several experiences that gladdened her heart and restored her faith in humanity. Here’s what she told me:

“The first ‘May I help you?” came from a grey-haired man as I struggled on the wet concrete at the Post Office with my bright blue cane. The gentleman shared that he knew how difficult it was because as a young man he had lost his leg in a logging accident.

Then a young man carried my library books to my car.

The slippery wood boards at the new Columbia Credit Union induced a young man to offer his arm to help me into the building. We ended up visiting a few minutes.

These events took place in Ridgefield.

On to the Vancouver Fred Meyer. As I a struggled near my car, a young woman came up behind me and asked if I would like a large or small cart, which she hurried off to bring back to me.

Next to T-Mobile around the corner, where my struggle to climb on the curb brought one of the young clerks to assist me into their office. After our business was completed he offered his arm to assist me to the car.

Next stop, Batteries Are Us, where a woman wanted to know if she could help.

On to Costco, where a woman asked if she could help and pulled a cart for me as we walked into the store. Shopping complete, a woman assisted putting heavy items in the trunk.

Home to Ridgefield, stopped at the License Bureau and another young man offered his arm.

The actions of these men and women during COVID-19 are proof there is a lot of heart left in southwest Washington.”

If there’s one thing COVID-19 has taught us, it’s how much we need friends, neighbors and family.

District Now Accepting Student Referrals for Highly Capable Program

The Ridgefield School District is now accepting student referrals for participation in the Highly Capable Program for the 2021-22 school year.  Anyone may refer a student, including parents, teachers, other students and community members.  All students in Grades K-12 are eligible.

Highly Capable students perform or show potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared to others of their age, experience or background.  These students may demonstrate exceptionally high intellectual ability, memory, creativity, curiosity and leadership ability.

If you are interested in referring your child for participation in the Highly Capable Program, please click HERE to access a Referral Form.

Completed forms can be emailed to roger.fisher@ridgefieldsd.org or mailed to the address below and must be received no later than February 5, 2021.  Due to time and testing constraints, forms received after this deadline will not be accepted:

Roger Fisher

Highly Capable Program Coordinator

Ridgefield School District

510 Pioneer Street

Ridgefield, WA  98642

For more detailed information about the Highly Capable program, please visit the district website at:  https://www.ridgefieldsd.org/highly-capable-program–2

Just in Case You’re Wondering…

The Twenty-fifth Amendment (Amendment XXV) to the United States Constitution deals with issues related to presidential succession and disability. It clarifies that the vice president becomes president (as opposed to acting president) if the president dies, resigns, or is removed from office, and it establishes procedures for filling a vacancy in the office of the vice president and for responding to presidential disabilities. The amendment was submitted to the states on July 6, 1965, by the 89th Congress and was adopted on February 10, 1967, the day that the requisite number of states had ratified it.

The Twenty-fifth Amendment reads:

Section 1.

In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2.

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3.

Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4.

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

~ information from Wikipedia

Free School Meals Extended to Last Day of School Year

Ridgefield School District and other school districts across the state will continue to provide free meals to all children aged 0-18 through the end of the school year thanks to an extension approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  As the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue, more families are taking advantage of the free meals.

To continue to benefit from free (or reduced price) school meals next school year, we encourage families to complete and submit a School Meal Application to determine if their children qualify.  The application process is simple and confidential.  There are no citizenship requirements for participation, and immigration status is not requested.

Households that experience a change in income due to job loss or other circumstances are especially encouraged to apply.

School Meal applications for 2021-22 will be available in late summer prior to the start of the new school year.

Superintendent’s Update to Families – January 5, 2021




Dear Ridgefield Families,

Happy New Year!  We welcomed back kindergarten students to in-person instruction today.  I thank each of you for your patience as we safely and sensibly navigated to this point.  Last night my kindergarten-age son, Declan, told Amanda and me that today was going to be the best day ever because he would get to see his teacher in-person at school.

As I shared before winter break, the Ridgefield School District plans to return elementary students through a phased-in approach.  This phased approach allows the District to refine mitigation strategies and monitor COVID activity as we judiciously add more students.  Our process is in line with guidance from OSPI and Public Health.  We have added the inclusion of 5th grade on February 8 in our phased approach.

  • Kindergarten starts Tuesday, January 5
  • 1st grade starts Tuesday, January 19
  • 2nd grade starts Monday, January 25
  • 3rd grade starts Monday, February 1
  • 4th and 5th grade starts Monday, February 8 (tentative – pending limited transmission at school sites

You may be wondering why the District has changed our in-person instructional model to AM/PM cohorts for grades K-5.  The District worked collaboratively with teachers to devise this new schedule.  Given the current COVID-19 activity rate in Clark County, the AM/PM model provides some unique and pertinent benefits.  These include keeping student cohorts tight, limiting the number of teaching staff that need to report in-person (for example, our specialists can remain remote).  Most importantly, our students will receive intensive in-person instruction four days a week.  Currently, this plan runs through March 4th.  We will monitor the effectiveness of this instructional model when considering options for the third trimester.

With the opportunity for parents and students to select between in-person and remote instruction for grades K-5, our attention now turns towards grades 6-12.  We have a responsibility to provide the same opportunities and choices for all students.  We are actively working on plans that will provide the opportunity for secondary students to return when conditions allow.  More information will be forthcoming.  To the families of the Class of 2021, please know, we are committed to prioritizing your return to the high school.

I want to thank all the families that shared photos of their traditions and holiday celebrations with the District.  If the holiday season was a bit too busy and you didn’t find time to share, it is not too late.  You can still send pictures of your family celebrating meaningful traditions in your household to student.photos@ridgefieldsd.org.

Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent

Ridgefield Teacher Creates Choir “Concert” from Student Videos

Some classes are a challenge to teach online, and choir is one of them.  It’s harder to hear how a choir’s harmony blends over a small computer speaker versus being surrounded by sound.  But even with online classes, Ridgefield choir teacher Bobbe Whetsell thought her students should be able to hear how they would sound in concert.  So she painstakingly compiled dozens of student videos into a virtual “concert”—for each of her five classes.

When classes had to go online back in March, Whetsell and her music department colleagues shifted gears to teach music history, musical notation, and other non-performance topics.  “The students adjusted really well,” Whetsell said.  “They understood that singing together wasn’t so easy to do right then.”

Over the summer, Whetsell and her colleagues tried to figure out how music teachers could tackle the change to remote learning as they moved forward.  By the time school started again in August, they were able to upload sheet music into Google Classroom so students could see the notes and the lyrics.  They could divide up in breakout rooms to learn each vocal part.  And students could perform solo or in small groups.  But it was hard to create music all together.  The pace of learning songs was somewhat slowed by the limitations of the online classroom.

By the end of the grading period, each class had learned at least one song for performance.  Whetsell recorded herself playing the song on piano, then had her students record a video of themselves singing along.  And when she got the videos back, she decided to try to put them all together.

Fifth graders at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School sang “Clap Your Hands and Sing Halleluia.”

Seventh graders from View Ridge Middle School sang “Rainy Day Getaway.”

“I’m not really good at technology, so it took me a long time,” she laughed.  But she blended each of the separate student videos into a single choral performance.  In all, Whetsell spent over forty hours editing and compiling the videos for her five classes.  “I wanted to honor the work that they put in and show them what it sounds like together.”

Whetsell had seen earlier in the year how music impacted her students.  As a reflection exercise, she asked students to choose a song that reflected how they felt right at that moment.  And the response was overwhelming, with students responding with their song choices and a range of emotions—isolated, scared, sad, mostly okay.  “Sometimes their emails were hard to read.  But music gave them a way to express it and work through it.”

The videos were a way for Whetsell to give music back to her students, a way to bring them just a little closer to what a normal choir would be like.  She emailed the videos to students and parents so they could have a virtual concert viewing together.  Even if they couldn’t perform in an auditorium for this concert, they could still share their music.  Whetsell was proud of her students and thought their performances were wonderful.   She beamed, saying, “I wanted them to hear it and be inspired.”

Thought for the Week

Have a great week!

Moola Program Ends December 31

Ridgefield Main Street has been running three Moola programs, which have resulted in over $8,000 Moola being put in circulation so far this month. They are:

  1. Your Restaurant Challenge – includes all Ridgefield restaurants, wineries and brew-pubs – spend $40, receive $10 moola;
  2. Shop Downtown – all retail and food – spend $40, receive $10 moola, expires 12/31;
  3. Downtown “Tent” Program – 12/16-12-24, eat/drink at Sportsman’s, Vinnie’s, El Rancho Viejo, Ridgefield Craft Brewing and receive 100% reimbursement (excluding tips).

They have run out of “Moola on hand” to send out, and are doing almost daily “sweeps” through downtown to redeem the scrip from the merchants – and immediately mailing out what is collected each day!

Residents are happy, businesses are happy, and Ridgefield Main Street is happy to have been able to make this difference during such a difficult time for all.

Union Ridge Elementary Students Enjoy Virtual Dance Party

How do you get students together to have fun when everyone is learning online from home?  With a school-sized virtual dance party!  Union Ridge Elementary School held an online school dance recently to give students a chance to celebrate their upcoming winter break.

The Union Ridge Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) usually holds fun events throughout the year, including dances, movie nights, and even carnivals.  But COVID-19 restrictions cancelled many events—including two dances last spring.

Perla Hauge, PTO co-president, explained how the virtual dance party came about.  “We had a large inventory of 80’s dance things so we thought, ‘How can we recreate a dance in a virtual way?’ We reached out to our DJ, Craig Brown at High Fidelity.”  Brown had run a virtual dance for a much smaller school over Zoom.  But with hundreds of students at Union Ridge, a regular Zoom meeting wasn’t going to be big enough.  They had to brainstorm.

Hauge spoke to the school district to get permission to stage the event as a Zoom webinar instead.  Webinars divide a large group into panelists and attendees.  Panelists are visible by everyone, but attendees are not.  To make the dance something everyone could participate in, the PTO decided to let attendees use the “raise your hand” feature to notify administrators when they wanted to show off their dance moves.

Prior to the event, the PTO made dance party packs (goody bags with cool shuttered sunglasses, a glow stick, and a snack) for each student.  Families picked up the dance party packs from a drive-through display outside the school.

The PTO made a display so parents could drive through to pick up goody bags before the dance.

On Thursday, everyone joined the webinar for the online dance party.  Things went smoothly, with lots of kids asking to be on camera to dance.  “Craig Brown of High Fidelity did an incredible job keeping the kids engaged,” Hauge said, with virtual games, great music, and a virtual scavenger hunt.

Hauge was pleased that almost 200 kids participated.  “The dance party was a big hit!” she said.  “Teachers, kids, parents, dogs, everyone had a blast. My second grader was especially tickled by learning the lawnmower and the shopping cart dance moves. He’s been doing them all morning!”

Sean Friend was excited to join the online dance party. PHOTO CREDIT: Kelley Friend

First grader Harper Rashoff got all decked out for the virtual dance. PHOTO CREDIT: Heidi McCoy Rashoff

Lots of students and parents were grateful for the break in routine.  Kelley Fuller-Friend posted on the PTO’s Facebook group, “What a fantastic dance party!  A big thank you to Perla Hauge and Heidi McCoy-Rashoff and the entire PTO crew for all of your hard work and thoughtfulness. A great way to end a tough year.”

With the success of their virtual dance party, the PTO hopes other schools will consider hosting similar events.  And Hague said they are going to continue planning new online events for the rest of the school year.  “We’re going to roll with it and do our best to bring our Tater Tots something new and fun.”

Ridgefield Teacher’s Characters Bring Learning to Life

How do you keep elementary school students interested in an all-day Zoom class?  At South Ridge Elementary School, third grade teacher Kristen Potter thought outside the box, wearing costumes to bring her lessons to life.  Now students look forward to fun with her alter egos, Detective Context Clue and Marta the Mathematician.

The inspiration came from a TikTok video, with a high school teacher playing a character to teach her class.  “I thought if it worked for high school students, it would definitely work for third graders,” Potter explained.  “I knew they would love it.  So, I tried it, and it was fun for all of us!”

By recording an asynchronous video, Potter introduces the characters seamlessly into her lessons.  Detective Context Clue shows up to teach the English Language Arts (ELA) class instead of Potter.  The Detective helps students find clues to the meanings of challenging words in the context of their reading.

After one lesson led by Detective Context Clue, a clever student said, “Mrs. Potter, you’re Detective Context Clue!”

Potter denied it.  “No, I’m not!  He had a mustache!”

“You drew that on!” the student accused.

Potter shrugged.  “No, I didn’t!”  Even if the students suspect their teacher is the detective, they’re still enjoying the lesson.

Marta the Mathematician is another character.  Marta is a math professor at Hogwarts.  Distantly related to Harry Potter, she helps explain challenging concepts like commutative and distributive properties in multiplication.

Detective Context Clue helps Kristen Potter’s third grade class find the meanings of words by using context clues.

Marta the Mathematician is another guest teacher in Potter’s class, leaving her math class at Hogwarts to teach properties of multiplication.

The students had so much fun with Detective Context Clue and Marta the Mathematician, they started creating characters too—completely on their own.  When they had assignments to make short videos for class, some of the students surprised Potter by showing up with fun filters and props.  She has students who have become news reporters, jungle explorers, and even a cheetah.

Potter has also added a little fun to the class by having guest speakers—say, a stuffed pigeon doll or her own dog.  “I have two monitors,” she explained, “So I can see the kids on one monitor but they can’t see me.”  Then she just focuses the camera on the guest speaker and teaches the lesson in the character’s voice.

Student Noah Marvin became an explorer in the Math Jungle, using his bamboo pen to solve math problems.

She’s not done creating characters yet, with plans for a construction worker to teach students how to calculate the area of rooms and buildings, and a baker who can help them learn about fractions.  “When I’m starting to teach a more challenging concept, it gets their attention,” Potter said.  “And it makes everybody laugh.”

Remote learning can be a challenge for teachers and students, but Potter’s characters are keeping everyone engaged.  And she is having a great time too, creating and performing new characters.  With so many different “teachers” to help, Potter’s students are sure to remember their online lessons for many years to come.

Ridgefield Food Project

The Green Bag Project collects food for the needy and takes it to our local food banks, Neighbors Helping Neighbors and the Family Resource Center. If you missed the collection date this month, it’s still possible to donate to the worthwhile group.

Mail your check to Ridgefield Food Project, PO Box 416, Ridgefield, WA 98642.


Superintendent’s Update to Families – December 17, 2020




December 17, 2020

Dear Ridgefield Families,

I want to start by wishing you all Happy Holidays!  This week has provided me with renewed hope and optimism for 2021.  The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is already in distribution to our heroic health care workers, with more doses on the way.  Additionally, just yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, and state health officials provided new guidance for a return to in-person instruction.

Local COVID-19 activity rates remain high and have for much of the late fall.  Fortunately, the weekly increase in our local COVID-19 activity rate may finally be slowing down.  As you already know, kindergarten students begin in-person instruction on January 5th.  In the weeks following, the District will return additional elementary grades to in-person learning through a phase-in approach that aligns with our on-going commitment to a safe and sensible return.  Start dates for each grade level are below.  The Ridgefield School District would not be here without the ongoing support and resilience each of you has shown.  Thank you!

  • Kindergarten starts Tuesday, January 5
  • 1st grade starts Tuesday, January 19
  • 2nd grade starts Monday, January 25
  • 3rd grade starts Monday, February 1
  • 4th grade starts Monday, February 8 (tentative – pending limited transmission at school sites)

The Ridgefield School District will continue to monitor the many variables to assist us in future planning and the expansion of in-person learning.

While this modified return to in-person instruction for our youngest learners (K-4) is exciting, we know that many families have found that Ridgefield Remote best meets their needs during the pandemic and wish to continue this learning model.  In order for the District to effectively allocate staff, we will be asking all parents of 1st – 4th grade students to complete a Learning Model Registration for the remainder of second trimester when we return in January.  Ridgefield Remote will continue to be a choice for families.  Please be on the lookout for the survey on Monday, January 4th.

I hope each of you had a chance to see the new RHS mascot around town this week.  I can tell you the staff here at the Ridgefield Administrative & Civic Center (RACC) enjoyed seeing the Spud!  Be sure to tag and share your pictures with #SpotTheSpud.

All students that entered the Superintendent’s Holiday Greeting Card Contest, your entries will be available for pick-up at the RACC starting next week.

I appreciate all the families that have shared a small window into their homes and traditions with the District.  The holidays are a time to celebrate and connect with those closest to you.  I would love to celebrate and share the diversity within our community in an upcoming newsletter, but need your help.  Please submit a picture of your family celebrating meaningful traditions in your household.  You can email them to student.photos@ridgefieldsd.org.  With some luck, you may find your family picture in the next Community Update.

Stay well and remain #RidgefieldResilient.


Dr. Nathan McCann, Superintendent

Pioneer Street Overpass Project

I took this photo  before  noon today. Some workers were rising in a lift.  It looked precarious.  Today was a day that had a steady cold rain all day long, so warm clothing  and good rain gear was a must.  This project will extend Pioneer Street over the railroad tracks.  It will provide access to the marina, the boat launch, and to the port.  It will also provide an access to the refuge and the trail that goes to the west of Carty Lake.  It will be well into next year before this project is completed

Winter Break Hours for Ridgefield School District Office

The Office of the Superintendent will be closed for school business during Winter Break (Monday, December 21 through Friday, January 1).

The Ridgefield School District Office will be open during Winter Break but will be closed on the following days:  December 24, 25, 28, 31 and January 1.

Regular business hours for both offices resume on Monday, January 4.