Ribbon Cutting for North Main Avenue

On Friday the 14th, Officials and interested citizens gathered at Overlook Park.  They were there to begin a one mile walk to the entrance of the Carty Unit of the refuge.  There were about sixty people who made the walk.  The purpose was to celebrate the completion of the improvements to North Main Avenue with a ribbon cutting.

At the entrance to the refuge, The Mayor of Ridgefield, The refuge project leader, and a spokesperson from the Federal Highway Administration made comments about the project.  Then, several children were each given a pair of scissors and the ribbon was cut.  This project was to improve access to the refuge, especially for pedestrians.  There is also a new entrance to the refuge through the port and a trail from there will take hikers along the west side of Carty Lake and join the Oaks to Wetlands trail near the Cathlapotle plank house. This will make for a loop  of a little more than five miles.  The trail by Carty Lake is closed now but may be open in a few weeks.

By Paul Snoey

State of City

Put it on your calendar!

Ridgefield Author Carley Meuchel

Carley Meuchel has lived in Ridgefield for 26 years and she is an inspirational speaker/author helping to equip the disabled community to live to the best of their potential. Cerebral palsy left her with limited lower mobility; however her disability hasn’t stopped her from living life to its fullest.

Carley has written a book about her journey, The Wheel Truth, in which she hopes to inspire and equip others to stay positive despite the struggles in life and business; as well as teach the able-bodied community how to share success with us.

Here’s what Carley has to say about how she came to write the book:

‘Starting a business is not easy. Having a disability and starting a business is twice as hard. It took me forever to decide to move forward. The more I thought about it, the more it became clear I had to be open to the possibility that my life was more than my disability and my circumstances.

The truth is I just had to get started. There are so many people willing to help, but I had to speak up and say, “I need help.”
I built a friendship tribe and a business tribe and am living a life with no regrets. I’m on my path to realizing my goals and my dreams.

You can find me here, on Facebook (The Wheel Truth) or on my website carleymeuchel.com’

Customized Adaptive Car Delights Mobility-Challenged Ridgefield Students

With a cool red racing seat, multicolored LED light bars, and a Bluetooth audio system, the battery-powered car looks cool to all kinds of kids.  But to one group of students at Union Ridge Elementary School, the car represents a new kind of freedom.  Mobility-challenged kids will be able to spend recess and play time in the adaptive car, custom designed by high school students at Innovation Ridge Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS).

The adaptive car was custom designed for mobility-challenged kids by students at Innovation Ridge for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS).

CAPS students are asked to solve real-world problems as business projects—and in this case, their project deliverable was the actual car.  Malachi Lee, Tyler Poorman, Bridget Donaldson, and Emiley Bell took on the grant-funded project for the Ridgefield School District, modifying a child-sized, battery-powered car so it could be driven by students with mobility issues.

They met with students and teachers to determine how to make the car operable for different mobility issues.  The goal was to make the students as independent as possible, while still keeping them safe.

The design went through a few iterations.  They replaced the gas pedal with adaptive controls in the center of the steering wheel.  For safety, they added a taller and sturdier car seat with padded harnesses.  And they built a remote control with an override feature allowing teachers to drive, steer, and brake the car if needed.

But the CAPS students didn’t stop there.  They added LED light bars that changed colors, a horn button, and a Bluetooth audio system for the students’ favorite songs.  “We took every chance we had to make this special for those kids,” Lee said.  “Everything on here is to make it their own.”

The controls are modified to allow for easy steering, driving and braking–and there is even a Bluetooth audio system.

The big test was introducing it to the students.  Holden Crain and Medade Benedick were excited for their test drive.  Gretchen Lincoln, a paraprofessional, helped Holden from his wheelchair and got him buckled into the car.  He was a little nervous at first—until he pushed the horn button.  Honk, honk, honk, honk!  Holden grinned as he mashed the button some more.

The CAPS students showed Lincoln how to use the remote control to drive Holden around.  In a matter of minutes, he was going backward and forward, straight and in circles.  His face lit up; he laughed and clapped as the car changed directions.  They played the Wheels on the Bus on the sound system.  He was having such a great time he didn’t want to leave the car.  “More!”

Holden Crain is transferred from a wheelchair to the adaptive car …

… and goes for his first drive.

Medade Benedick was next in line.  She wheeled herself up to the car, where physical therapist Gita Hajj showed her how to climb in.  Hajj drove with the remote control at first, but Benedick asked to do it herself.  The CAPS students demonstrated the steering, and she drove off in a long, arcing circle—then did the same circle smoothly in reverse.   She mastered the controls in no time, finally pulling to a stop to pose for some pictures with the CAPS students.

Holden was ready for a second turn and watched Medade drive up.  “My own,” he said softly; he was enjoying the car so much he wanted one of his own.  Fortunately, the CAPS students had thought ahead; they had already drafted plans to show others how to construct the adaptive cars.  And the students will have ample opportunity to drive the car; it will remain with the program at Union Ridge.

Medade Benedick parks the car for a quick photo with CAPS students (left to right) Malachi Lee, Bridget Donaldson and Tyler Poorman.

The CAPS students will be showcasing their adaptive car at a CAPS conference in Seattle in spring.  Two other Ridgefield CAPS groups will also be sharing their projects:  the planning and opening of the Birds and the Beans coffee shop, and the creation of a design for an inclusive playground.  With these and other successful projects under their belts, the CAPS students will be ready to jump into their next big challenge.

The CAPS program plans to continue to partner with area businesses on a wide range of projects.  Mentors and guest speakers are also welcome.  For more information, contact CAPS Business Development Specialist Andrea Reinertson at andrea.reinertson@ridgefieldsd.org

Who Dun It?

Someone left this beautiful arrangement of quince blossoms on my front porch yesterday. What a wonderful surprise!

I’d like to thank whoever did it. Was it you?

Ridgefield School District Honors February Employee and Students of the Month

On February 11, Ridgefield School District officials recognized the February Employee and Students of the Month at the regular Board of Directors meeting.

 Employee of the Month

Kayla Mitchell is the school counselor for all of Sunset Ridge Intermediate and is truly deserving of the Employee of the Month award.  She adheres to the ASCA school counseling model and provides dynamic and comprehensive school counseling services school-wide, in small groups and in support of individual students on a daily basis.

Kayla Mitchell

Kayla coordinated the delivery of bullying prevention lessons in September and October and supported teachers in delivering the Second Step social emotional learning curriculum.  She runs multiple small groups focused on providing targeted skill instruction to support students in acquiring the skills they need for school success and meets with individual students every day.  Kayla oversees fifth and sixth grade student leadership, meeting with this group weekly to develop leadership skills, create informative and engaging monthly assemblies and identify ways to include all students, such as the New Student Welcoming Committee.

Kayla is collaborative, serving on multiple building and district level teams to ensure that multi-tiered systems of support are available to every student.  She constantly engages in professional development to inform and enhance her school counseling including restorative practices, mental health partnerships, a continuum of social emotional learning supports and most recently, high leverage practices to support positive classroom behavior, culture and climate.

This is Kayla’s second year in Ridgefield School District, and she has already made a tremendous positive impact for our students and school community.  Kayla, thank you for all that you do!

Students of the Month

Charlotte Halligan is the February Student of the Month at the Early Learning Center.  Charlotte has been a positive and friendly example for her peers in preschool.  She always comes to school with a big smile and happy disposition.  She is a curious and eager learner.  It has been wonderful to see Charlotte progress these last few months.  She is an important and valued member of our learning community.  Thank you, Charlotte, for always being a friend to your classmates and a responsible learner.  What a wonderful Hashbrown!

Charlotte Halligan

Natalie Green, a fourth grader, was selected for Student of the Month honors at South Ridge Elementary School.  Natalie is a very conscientious student who always makes sure her class’ books are returned ahead of the time it’s due back to the library, even if it means doing it after school.  She is a model of PBIS behavior and sets the bar high for all fourth graders as a library citizen.  Natalie is kind to her peers, helping them when they can’t find what they’re looking for in the library.  She always has a good book recommendation for classmates who “just don’t know what to check out.”  Over the last two years, Natalie has grown into a student that exemplifies what Ridgefield School District is all about:  kindness, a willingness to help other, and a desire to do one’s best.

Natalie Green

Nolan Proctor, a kindergartener, was selected as Student of the Month at Union Ridge Elementary.  Nolan is in Mrs. Stamp’s kindergarten class.  He is a wonderful student!  Nolan strives to do his best on his work and is always first to offer to help clean up, run notes, or anything you want him to do!  He has an upbeat personality and a humorous attitude.  He is kind, helpful and considerate to his peers in class and exemplifies the three R’s – Respectful, Resilient and Responsible.  We look forward to watching Nolan grow and do amazing things here at Union Ridge and beyond.

Nolan Proctor

Marin Fitzgerald, a sixth grader, was selected at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School.  We are so fortunate to have Marin at our school.  What do you call someone who is so kind that she goes out of her way to help other people?  Marin works at being the best student and friend she can be.  She is inclusive and respectful to all.  She chooses her words carefully to build others up in a genuine and sincere manner.  Marin models responsible behavior and holds herself to high standards; yet, she is easy going, approachable to her classmates and has a great sense of humor.  In the classroom, she is a positive, engaged and active learner who strives for quality no matter how difficult the challenge.  You can tell that she values her education and appreciates the opportunity to learn new things.  Marin Fitzgerald stands out as an exemplary student and person.  She embodies our motto of being Respectful, Responsible and Resilient.  Her maturity, kindness and integrity makes her an excellent candidate for Student of the Month.

Marin Fitzgerald

Olivia Matters, an eighth grader, was chosen at View Ridge Middle School.  Olivia is just an awesome person!  She comes to class every day with an attitude that makes her enjoyable to be around and also makes her successful.  She works through things with detail and full effort.  If Olivia doesn’t understand something, she asks the right questions and works even harder.  She consistently puts forth her best effort, even when others around her are not!  Her work ethic is amazing, and she is always such a positive person.  Olivia’s smile is infectious, and her classmates really enjoy working with her, as we all do!  She is a great choice for Student of the Month—an honor that is well deserved!

Olivia Matters

Ridgefield High School’s Student of the Month didn’t fall far from the family tree.  Her mother was Employee of the Month in February 2019, and we are pleased that Tegan Petersen, a junior, was selected for this month’s Student of the Month honors.  Tegan is described by staff members as an exceptional student who is helpful and kind and always exemplifies the three R’s.  She has been nominated for Student of the Month five times by four different staff members.  Tegan carries a perfect 4.0 GPA, is involved in National Honor Society, Leo Club, Ambassadors, choir and jazz choir, and theater.  She is also a member of the varsity soccer team, which placed third at state this fall.  Tegan was in the cast of Chicago, was part of the tech crew for the recent performance of the student-directed One Acts, and plans to audition for the high school’s musical production of Cinderella in the spring.  She also placed third in RHS’ recent Poetry Out Loud competition.  After high school, Tegan plans to study math or physics and is considering a career as an actuary.

Tegan Petersen

Special thanks to the local office of James Schmeling at Allstate Insurance Company, the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation and Ridgefield Boosters for sponsoring the district’s recognition program this school year.

Ridgefield’s Take Your Parent to School Day an Overwhelming Success

“What did you do at school today?”  It’s usually a parent asking a kid that question.  But for one day a year, Ridgefield parents can find out firsthand by going to school with their child.  Ridgefield’s second annual Take Your Parent to School Day was an overwhelming success, with hundreds of parents coming to schools across the city.

Students at all Ridgefield schools had the opportunity to bring their parents with them for a partial or full day of class.  In most classes, the parents were able to participate alongside their child, with some of them conducting experiments, planning podcasts, or running in gym.

Union Ridge Elementary School broke the record for the largest number of parents participating, with over 300 parents in attendance.  Because the school is already operating at capacity and has limited space, they had to break the parent groups into shifts, with each grade having an assigned time for parent visitation.  Parents were still able to enjoy some time with their children in the classrooms.

South Ridge Elementary School also had a huge turnout, with 200 parents attending.  Principal Jill Neyenhouse led a presentation on social and emotional learning to a lunchroom filled with parents.  Afterwards, they joined their students for the day.

Sunset Ridge Intermediate School had 120 parents attending, and View Ridge Middle School had 70 parents joining their kids.  Twenty-five parents came to Ridgefield High School for activities and classes as well.  At every grade level, parents welcomed the opportunity to see students and teachers in action.  Parent Leslie Koch joined her son, Levi, in choir.  She said, “I love it!  I’m so glad I came.”

While there is only one Take Your Parent to School Day each year, parents are always welcome as volunteers in the schools.  Background checks are required, and volunteer forms can be obtained at the school office.

Union Ridge Elementary experienced a record parent turnout for Take Your Parent to School Day.


Dresden Wachsnicht and his mom, Amy, in Jessica Verpoorten’s kindergarten class at Union Ridge Elementary.


Cooper Miller shares a book with his dad in Josie Bleth’s kindergarten class at Union Ridge Elementary.


South Ridge Elementary parents attended a short presentation on social and emotional learning led by principal Jill Neyenhouse before heading to classrooms to join their students.


Kristi and Chase Evans join other parents and students researching rainforests at Sunset Ridge Intermediate School.


At View Ridge Middle School, eighth grader, Allison Orantes, shows her mom, Kari Edgren, the podcast she is writing with her WIN (What I Need) Time group.


Leslie and Levi Koch before choir class at View Ridge Middle School.

Seniors for Schools Appreciation


You may have noticed three “Seniors Thank You” signs around Ridgefield. The Seniors for Schools group placed them on three of the Support the School Bond signs yesterday to show their appreciation for the support and good will that was shown to them. The encouraging comments the seniors received has helped keep them energized throughout the bond campaign season. Thank you Ridgefield.

The Ridge Color Run 2020 Set for First Saturday, March 7th

On First Saturday, March 7th, come take part in The Ridge Color Run 2020 at 10:00 am at Davis Park.  The two-mile fun run, organized by the Sunset Ridge-View Ridge Association is presented in conjunction with Ridgefield Youth Arts Month and benefits Sunset Ridge Intermediate and View Ridge Middle School.   Run or walk the one-mile loop through downtown while being sprayed with fun color powder at various stations throughout the two-lap course.

Register online at https://ssl.charityweb.net/theridgeassoc/event/colorrun2020.htm


Ridgefield CAPS Students Design Inclusive Playground

Elementary school playgrounds are a lot of fun, with plenty of places to slide, swing, run, and climb.  But if you are in a wheelchair or have other mobility challenges, the playground can be an unfamiliar and difficult place.  A group of students at the Ridgefield Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) designed a playground for children of all abilities as part of a class project.  They hope the design can be utilized one day for the proposed new elementary school or to upgrade existing playgrounds.

Universal and accessible design is a common theme for homes and offices.  Creating a home or workplace that serves people of all ages and abilities makes sense.  But accessibility in parks and playgrounds has lagged behind the curve.  Often it falls on the parents of children with disabilities to advocate for, fund, and build inclusive playgrounds.

As part of the CAPS curriculum, students are asked to solve a real-world problem as a business project, crafting actionable results and a professional presentation.  CAPS students Brooke Weese, Ethan Barnette, Nathan Neil, Hunter Abrams, and Aida Sinks took on the project of creating an inclusive playground design for the school district.

Their playground project started with extensive research.  They spoke with playground equipment manufacturers and members of Ridgefield’s Parks Board.  They reviewed costs, designs, and building protocols from Harper’s Playground, a nonprofit that spearheaded the development of the first inclusive playground in Portland.  And they polled a group of elementary school students to see what playground features they liked most.

Using this information, they developed a design to accommodate students of all abilities. Their suggestions for playground features included a large play structure that incorporates ramps rather than stairs, an accessible merry-go-round, specially designed swings, a roller table (students use their arms to pull themselves along rollers), and even a safe playground zipline (one with accessible seat and one with standard seat).  The design also has level surfaces between play equipment, so students with mobility issues have easy access.

The students presented their playground design concept to guests at the CAPS Showcase and to the Ridgefield School Board, and the Ridgefield Parks Board will also review the design.  They hope that their project will one day lead to a playground where every student can play.

Ridgefield CAPS students created a design for an inclusive playground. Left to right: Nathan Neil, Hunter Abrams, Ethan Barnette, Brooke Weese, Aida Sinks.


Harper’s Playground in Portland is an example of an inclusive park designed to accommodate people of all ages and abilities.

Ribbon Cutting at Refuge

To celebrate the recent completion of the project to improve pedestrian access to the headquarters of the Ridgefield National Wildlife offices, project partners and residents are invited to a procession on the newly improved path and a ribbon cutting celebration at the Refuge.

The procession will meet on Friday, February 14th at 1:00pm at Overlook Park in downtown Ridgefield and walk north on Main Avenue about one mile to the refuge. The path will follow the newly constructed sidewalk and pass over the new and improved Gee Creek crossing. At the Refuge, a brief presentation and ribbon cutting at 1:30pm will conclude the procession. If you prefer not to hike, you may park at the Refuge and meet the procession for the ribbon cutting at 1:30pm.

The completion of this major project improves access to the Refuge and further links the Refuge with its local community. When the Carty Lake Trail opens for the season in May, walkers will be able to complete a 4.8 mile loop through Downtown Ridgefield, the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, and the Port of Ridgefield. The loop will serve as a tour of the heart of Ridgefield and offers views of historic downtown buildings, Gee Creek, the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, Carty Lake, and Lake River.

Love Your Library Benefit Tea

Saturday, February 22, Elizabeth Brush of Myrtle’s Tea House is offering a tea to benefit the library building fund. There will be two seatings: 12:00 and 1:30.

This charming tea house is at 322 North Third Avenue in downtown Ridgefield, and it’s always a pleasure to enjoy the ambience and good food at Myrtle’s.

Cost is $50 per person, of $45 if you are a member of the Friends of the Ridgefield Library.

For reservations and more information, contact Jeanne Androvich at 808-276-7088 or jeanne.androvich@mindspring.com.

James Roach – where are you?

We are making final plans for the Friends of the Library prime rib dinner at Gouger Cellars on Valentine’s Day. A man named James Roach expressed an interest through the library’s FaceBook page, but gave no contact information. If you are him, please contact me immediately at 360-887-2160 so we can get your information.

Ridgefield Early Learning Center Enrollment Soon to Begin for 2020-21 School Year

Families will soon be able to enroll their students for the 2020-21 school year at Ridgefield’s Early Learning Center.  The enrollment period for current students begins February 18th.  For new students, the enrollment period begins March 2nd.

For more details about the enrollment process, visit the Early Learning Center webpage at www.ridgefieldsd.org or call 360.619.1333.


Last day to register on-line

Today is the deadline for new voter registrations and address updates online!