Driving a school bus can be a tough job, but also incredibly rewarding. Just ask Connie Allred. After a few weeks driving a bus for the Washougal School District, the driver was ready to quit. “I came to the office in tears, thinking, ‘I’m too slow and too short and too stupid to figure out how to do this right.’”
Obsession. Madness. Love. Forgiveness. All of these will portrayed on stage for audiences with the opening of “The Phantom of the Opera” at Washougal High School this Friday. Based on a novel by French writer Gaston Leroux, it is partly inspired by historical events at the Paris Opera during the nineteenth century. Its plot revolves around a beautiful soprano, Christine Daae, who becomes the dark obsession of a mysterious, mentally ill musical genius with a severe disfigurement.
With the area’s first taste of warm weather recently, summer is on the minds of many, particularly children. And what to do during the long months without school is a question now being considered by parents everywhere. There are several camps in Clark County that offer anywhere from a few hours to several days of activities. Camps include everything from how to improve sports skills to how to improve cooking skills.
Since 1970, people from all walks of life have gathered to do their part in making the Earth a better place. Last week, Camas and Washougal students continued that tradition with a variety of Earth Day projects. At Grass Valley Elementary, students participated in a nature walk to a local park, where they studied different plants, animals and insects, recording their observations on a checklist.
What started out as a trip to build a house for three orphans has changed the direction of one man’s life. Paul Heberling, 24, of Camas, traveled to Baja, Mexico, during spring break with a group from Central Washington University. They rebuilt a home for three children after it was destroyed in a fire, which also killed their father. Adding to that suffering, their mother lost her battle with cancer last year. “It was my first time in Mexico and it was a very humbling experience,” Paul said. “Traveling from San Diego to Tijuana, you saw the world change. It filled my heart with compassion.”
If not for an army of volunteers, Krista Bashaw estimates it would take her two weeks to stuff the 10,000 eggs for the Camas Parks and Recreation annual Easter egg hunt. “That’s a lot of work time,” Bashaw, recreation coordinator, said. “The volunteers are instrumental in the success of the egg hunt.”
“You use the trail, right? Come here, I have something for you.” It’s 9 a.m. on a Thursday at Heritage Trail. Spring is in the air, along with the usual crowd of runners, walkers and nature lovers. Don Larson, 85, is passing out handmade bowls and plates in the parking lot, which are carved from wood he’s found walking, “here and there.” Nearly every trail user is invited to pick one out, free of charge.
Camas has a history mystery on its hands. In 2013, a Georgia-Pacific paper mill engineer was cleaning out his desk in preparation to move to a new office, when he reached his hand deep into a drawer and accidently discovered what appeared to be a small black book. Printed on its spine in gold colored lettering was “Kodak negative album,” and inside were approximately 100, 3 by 4 inch negatives along with a log detailing the month and day the photos were taken.
Looking at photographer Cindy Kassab’s work is similar to gazing into a kaleidoscope of color, light and breathtaking natural beauty. Kassab, 61, is the featured artist at the Camas Public Library’s Second Story Gallery in April. She first caught the photography bug in her teens, when she moved from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles to the clear mountain air of Switzerland.
When one hears the phrase, “Japanese Festival,” places like Portland, Tacoma or Seattle typically come to mind. However, Washougal High School has its own festival, the only one of its kind in the Clark County area. For the past eight years Japanese teacher Shoko Parker and her students have spent several months preparing for the March 29 event, which includes entertainment by Japanese performers, swordsmanship lessons via Skype, food and activities.