Stories by Danielle
Help works. That was the overriding theme of Suicide Prevention Week at Washougal High School.
Chess. When most people hear that word, they think of a challenging game that requires patience, skill and intelligence to master.While these descriptions are accurate, even the youngest elementary school student can learn, according to Alan Svehaug, chess instructor.
After a law enforcement career, followed by eight years as an elected county leader, Paul Pearce’s life is taking yet another turn.
Earlier this month, he began duties as president of the National Forest Counties & Schools Coalition. It is an organization founded to secure federal funding for rural areas.
Before that, Pearce, 57, served on the Skamania County Commission after retiring from a 28-year law enforcement career with the Camas Police Department.
During his time as county commissioner, he learned how dependent the area is on federal forest funds and joined the NFCSC as a board member.
Mike Smith may be a world-famous artist, but his studio, crowded with different projects, thank-you notes, golf balls and a Specialized mountain bike suggest a man with a plethora of passions.And that’s pretty much how he’s lived his life. In fact, Smith never planned on becoming an artist. He considers himself lucky to have been in the right place at the right time on any number of occasions.
2012 was a year filled with changes and unforgettable moments, both nationally and locally. In Camas and Washougal, whether it was high school graduations, Challenge Day or mission trips in foreign countries, change was a constant. The Post-Record has decided to take a little time to reflect on the people and places that filled the paper’s Hometown section, and has selected the top 12 most memorable stories. We hope you enjoy the look back.
In a seemingly nonstop, 24-7 world of technology, sometimes it is necessary to “unplug” and enjoy the little pleasures in life.“Often I have, like many people, gotten so busy, so stressed, that it felt like I was chasing my tail,” said artist Sue Clancy. “Remembering to savor a moment, to pay attention, to enjoy the little things is essential to mental and physical health. The ability to allow oneself to delight in things is an essential part of being happy.”
Many think Meals on Wheels is a charity service, but this is far from the truth.
"It comes down to ability," said Wanda Nelson, manager for the Washougal center. "Can you stand at a stove or drive your car? If you can't, and are 60 or older, you are eligible to have a hot meal delivered to your home. It has nothing to do with income level. Our biggest fight is getting those facts out to people."
At the age of 14, John Neumann is already an accomplished musician who plays four different instruments. The Skyridge Middle School eighth-grader has also begun composing music for different occasions.
Recently, one of his pieces, "Semper Tubas," was played at a Metropolitan Youth Symphony winter concert at Tigard High School in Oregon.
Neumann, tall and soft-spoken, has no fear of playing his tuba in front of large crowds, or acting as conductor for his compositions. When he is standing in front of the concert band, directing, he appears well beyond his years.
"I rarely get nervous," he said. "I love all the instruments equally and just enjoy making music with them."
At some point in the not-to-distant future, all-day kindergarten could be required from every school district in the state.
In an effort to prepare for this, the Washougal School District conducted an informal building capacity study at all of its schools.
All of the schools are currently well below design capacity, but utilizing that space would mean making decisions on how to use that space most effectively. Design capacity is defined as all places where a teaching station could be placed.
"The district has to decide what is protected educational space," said Dawn Tarzian, superintendent. "Such as, music will have a space, but art will be taught in the regular classroom. If we have an influx of kids, we need to make decisions on where they will go. Sometimes you see classrooms on a stage or in the cafeteria, and we have to decide how long we'll run things until capacity is reached and we need to expand. We need to get the kids out of those portables and build the space to fit the capacity needs."
Two local elementary schools have made the prestigious statewide, “Schools of Distinction” list.
The awards were created by the Center for Educational Effectiveness in the summer of 2007, to recognize the highest improving schools in the state.
This year, Grass Valley Elementary in Camas and Cape Horn-Skye Elementary in Washougal were honored.
"The awards are not designed as a replacement for state and federal accountability measure of school performance, but rather as a supplemental measure to recognize and celebrate school staff, students and leadership who improve performance for all students over a sustained period of time," stated the CEE website.
You’ve gotten most of the holiday shopping wrapped up, so to speak.But what to do with the stockings?
Instead of frantically racing through a big box store on Christmas Eve, you can find a variety of inexpensive, fun, and non-sugary stocking stuffers for everyone on your list in Camas and Washougal.
The Post-Record recently visited four local businesses, which had not been featured in a prior holiday gift giving story, to see what could be found for under $15. These businesses are just a small sampling of the many items to be found locally.
Most of us will never know what it is like to stand shivering on a cold street, homeless, with nowhere to go.But for some, it’s a way of life.
Washougal High School senior Cheyenne Dady wants to make the winter a little more bearable by collecting new and gently used hats, scarves, coats and mittens for those in need.
"I wanted to help the homeless in our community," she said. "Last year, I handed out coats to the homeless with my church, and really enjoyed it."
Anyone who thinks of ballerinas as dainty waifs has never met Annie and Hope Garcia.These young women are tall, strong and athletic to the core, spending several hours every week practicing ballet.
They study and perform in the American ballet style, described as "intensively aerobic and athletic." It requires a combination of skill, attention to the minute details, athleticism and the ability to push through pain, all with a smile.
"I've heard some people say that ballet looks easy," said Hope. "It looks easy because we make it look that way. You have to smile no matter how it feels."
After more than 60 years, the gym floor in Washougal High School is finally getting an upgrade.
"We've been working behind the scenes to develop a communication plan, and will visit a showroom floor to see examples of floors," said Kelley Wilson, an architect with ESD 112's construction services group, to the School Board recently.
The visit to Branson Hardwood will take place in late December and will potentially include the WHS athletic director, principal, physical education teachers and coaches.
After a stop at the showroom, the group will visit an area high school with the style of gym floor they prefer.
A budget for the floor will be determined in January, Wilson said. A preliminary estimate is $240,268.
Whether you’re a working parent looking for childcare while school is out, or just want to keep your kids occupied during the upcoming winter break, there are a plethora of options available in the local area.Camas Parks and Recreation, Camas Community Education, Jack, Will and Rob Boys & Girls Club and Washougal Community Education & Recreation all offer camps geared for kids who want to cook, craft or work on their jump shot.
When parent Jenny Danley clicked “like” on Umpqua Bank’s Facebook page, she never imagined it would result in a $2,000 grant for her son’s school.
But that's exactly what happened.
Jemtegaard Middle School in Washougal was randomly selected as one of Umpqua's "Give Back to School Fund" winners. Every "like" generated $1 for the fund, totalling $20,000.
‘Tis the season for family gatherings, parties, holiday movies and cookie exchanges. Unfortunately, it’s also the season for weight gain.It is said that the average American gains 8 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year. These pounds tend to be “the gift that keeps on giving,” and at best, can mean buying larger sized clothes and at worst, contribute to health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity.
Cindy Ontkean had such a great time showing her decked-out house during the Holiday Home Tour four years ago, she’s back for a second round.
“It was such an enjoyable experience,” she said. “People were so appreciative that we had opened our homes. I got some personal notes of thanks. The reason I did it was that my mom had just died, and she loved Christmas. I could feel her with me. That’s why I’m doing it again.”
Students, city officials and school administrators gathered to watch a piece of history come home Friday.A 4,500 pound anchor from a decommissioned World War II Liberty ship was unveiled at Liberty Middle School. It was an event several years in the making.
"This is a very exciting day," said Liberty Principal Marilyn Boerke. "It has been in the works for six years."
Eunice Abrahamsen, a local community member, pitched the idea of procuring a piece of a Liberty ship to install in the school when it first opened. The goal was to teach the students the history behind Liberty's name.
"I was thinking a cute little porthole or doorknob or some kind," Boerke said. "Then I got a call, 'Do you want to take the anchor?' I thought it would be something small. Then I saw it and realized it was ginormous."
It’s that time of year again. November typically kicks off a flurry of holidays bazaars, where those looking for one-of-a-kind gifts are sure to find them. During the next month, several bazaars are coming to churches, schools and civic centers. Eager shoppers will have the chance to help local non-profit groups, support the local economy, buy handcrafted items and avoid crowds at the mall.
When teacher Erin Hayes first told her students they’d be using iPads in class, the general response from the fifth-graders was, “What’s an iPad?”
Two months later, the students are becoming experts in using apps, doing Internet research and using the devices as a resource for a majority of their class work.
"The iPads extend learning in every subject," Hayes said. "They have apps for math, spelling, writing, everything. (The students) are recording themselves to practice public speaking, they are using Google Earth to take virtual field trips of the locations they're studying, and they are interacting with each other to discuss new ways to create projects and solve problems."
Anyone who has had a little brother knows how annoying they can be at times. This is definitely the case for the heroine of local author Cheryl Linn Martin’s “Hawaiian Detective Club” series.
School lunches have definitely evolved in the past 65 years. Gone are the mystery meat and rubbery pizza.
Instead, students have choices of fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains in addition to traditional favorites such as burgers and chicken nuggets.
"My lunches at school were boring compared to what they have now," said Washougal Mayor Sean Guard. "(They have) fajitas, chili, and lots of fresh options. Our lunches were good, though. My neighbor was the head cook forever. I think it is better now, just fast!"
Since its inception 15 years ago, the Camas Educational Foundation has given $1 million to local schools.
Organizers of this year’s annual dinner and auction are planning to celebrate that milestone, as well as raise $100,000 that night.
“This year’s auction is a celebration of the journey CEF has made over the past 15 years and where we are headed. We will be highlighting those moments and experiences that have led to the place we are today,” said Mandy Huth, CEF president. “Lao Tzu said, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ We have come so far, step by step, and continue to travel, together, on our journey.”
The auction and dinner theme is “Soaring With CEF,” and will be held at the Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver on Saturday, Nov. 17. Tickets are $65 each, and this year’s annual appeal is a literacy campaign, “Everyone is a Reader.” The goal is to raise $1,500 for each of the 10 Camas schools, for a total of $15,000.
The drama during election season isn‘t limited to the presidential debates or candidates accusing each other of sign stealing. This year, there will be drama, when students at Washougal High School take to the stage with “44 Play for 44 Presidents.”
As the title indicates, this production contains 44 mini-plays about each of the presidents of the United States. It is a part of the Plays for Presidents Festival 2012, and Washougal is joining 43 schools all across the United States who are participating during the election year.
WHS is one of only four West Coast schools, the others being San Jose, Los Angeles and Seattle.
The Washougal School District is considering whether to renew two levies, and increase the amount or leave it the same.
“Knowing the maintenance and operations of the district are supported by the levy, it’s not easy to back out of it,” said Dawn Tarzian, superintendent. “That’s why it’s critical to help the community understand how the money is being spent.”
After a year of combing streams and rivers for aquatic bugs, Shane Southerland’s sometimes painstaking Eagle Scout project is complete.
Southerland, 16, presented racks of what are known as “benthic larvae macro-invertebrates,” to the Camas School Board last Monday.
Collecting the bugs was a long and challenging process, and the Camas High School sophomore rallied scouting volunteers and friends in Washington, Wyoming, Kansas, Georgia, Utah, Montana and Oregon to help him with the project.
“It took a lot of weekends to collect all of these,” he said. “But I really enjoyed going to the rivers, that was the most fun part of this project.”
Despite thousands of miles and cultural differences that separate the United States from Japan, those who have spent time with host families in either country know one thing: We’re all pretty similar. Twenty middle school students and their host families discovered that during five days they spent together last week. A group from the town a Taki, a sister city of Camas, included included mayor Yukio Kubo, a high school principal, English teacher, interpreter, city clerk and travel guide, in addition to the students.They stayed with families from Liberty and Skyridge middle schools. The visit was organized though the Camas Sister City Association, in collaboration with Camas schools.
Camas High School is known for having local residents come out to support its athletic teams.
But the newest spectator isn't exactly a welcome addition.
The Papermaker cross country team had to relocate two meets in the past seven days due to sightings of a black bear or bears at the Round Lake course.
Recently, a meet against Evergreen was moved across the street to Heritage Trail at Lacamas Lake, after some runners who were warming up encountered the bear.
Got a hankering for tasting some apple cider, wandering through a corn maze, and picking the perfect pumpkin?If so, then area pumpkin patches fit the bill. Open now through Halloween, most offer a lot more than the standard gourd. Many include hay rides, apple cider, corn mazes, petting zoos, local produce, food for purchase and crafts.
It’s not every day that a high school sophomore is asked to present her research project at a professional-level science symposium.
But that’s exactly what happened to Camas High School student Sophie Shoemaker after her work on sustainable agriculture garnered prizes at regional and state science fairs.
She received an invitation in June to present her project at the Washington State Academy of Sciences symposium. At the time, school was ending and her focus wasn't on research.
"Then after school began, Mr. (Ron) Wright asked me if I understood how big a deal this was," she said. "I didn't. Once I learned, I was a little nervous. But I'm a kid, they're not there to judge me. It was a fun thing to do."
Camas High School is known for having local residents come out to support its athletic teams
Peter Tarzian’s retirement didn’t last too long.
He was recently named as part-time superintendent at the Mount Pleasant School District, after retiring in 2011 from a superintendent position in Oregon.
He and his wife, Dawn Tarzian, relocated to the area after she was named superintendent of the neighboring Washougal School District in July 2011.
The Mount Pleasant School District has been embroiled in turmoil over the last several months, after it was discovered a longtime employee had been stealing fuel from the district. Board members were at odds with each other over the situation, and Superintendent Linda Slattery resigned in August, saying she felt threatened and harassed.
When Missi Cole first learned she’d be dean of students at Jemtegaard, she was apprehensive.
"I was a bit anxious," she said. "It had a reputation for being a rough school in the district."
Three years later, the middle school has changed, and for the better, according to Cole and Principal Ron Carlson.
"The referrals and calls to police (for more serious infractions) have cut down big time," Cole said. "The parents have noticed a big change, too. The kids are more respectful, and the teachers are really good about talking things through with the students."
Every year, Mariah Acton meets fourth-graders who have never been on a hike or seen a blue heron.
The feline residents of the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society are now enjoying a cool breeze throughout their living quarters, thanks to a donation from some local Girl Scouts.Troop 40382 members were prompted to purchase the fans as a community service project, using the proceeds of their cookie sales and other fundraisers. Last year, they shopped for and donated pet food, toys and other needed items to the approximately 80 cats living at the shelter.
Emma Spaeth said, "It was really hot in the cat (building), so it's great we're helping so many at once."
Savanna Slocum agreed.
"This made me feel happy because it is always nice to help pets that are in need."
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- by By Danielle Frost Post-Record Staff
- October 2, 2012
The Camas and Washougal school districts continue to grow in enrollment, with each reporting a 1.7 percent increase this year.
Camas's full-time equivalency count is 5,948, 61 more than last September. Washougal's full-time equivalency count is 2,885, an increase of 52 from last September, and 50 more than expected in the budget. "The high school is actually down 33 from projected and the elementary schools are sitting at 78 more than projected," said Rosann Lassman, business manager. "We have added another kindergarten session, but the rest of the increase is spread over multiple grades at multiple levels."
Camas had projected for the growth in its budget, so staff has already been added, said Donna Gregg, business services director.
That's how Camas teen Danielle Colwell described her recent "Mayor for a Day," experience, which included lunch, private tours of the local police and fire departments, and an opportunity to address the City Council.
Students in Camas continue to score well above average on all parts of the state tests.
Recently, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction released the results, which included the Measure of Student Progress, end-of-course exams, and High School Proficiency Exam.
"While scores in Camas continue to exceed state averages, we have focused efforts on growth and improvement, said Dana Lighty-Jones, director of teaching, learning, and special services. "We work to identify students who might not be at grade level and implement intervention and prevention strategies to assist and support them."
All five Camas elementary schools have a reading specialist and two have a part-time math specialist.
"These specialists recognize students at risk of not meeting grade level standards through ongoing assessment and progress monitoring and respond with intensive instruction specifically designed to meet individual student needs," Lighty-Jones said.
During an estate sale, organizers serve as everything from counselors to advertisers to business planners.But for a local non-profit group, it goes even further than that.
Scores for the ACT college readiness test were released recently, and local students exceeded state and national average scores in all subject areas.
Washougal High School students had a composite score of 26.3, above the state average of 22.9, and the national average of 21.1. Camas High School students had a composite score of 24.1 percent.
A composite score consists of four content areas: English, reading, math and science. Scores are scaled from 1 to 36.
Picking out school supplies and a new backpack is a much-anticipated tradition in most families.
However, due to household budgets that have been stretched to the breaking point, many school kids begin the new year without these items.
But thanks to the generosity of the Camas-Washougal Rotary Club's backpack program, 200 local elementary school students started classes on the right foot.
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- by By Danielle Frost Post-Record Staff
- September 11, 2012
The Washougal School Board has approved a $28.8 million budget for the 2012-13 school year.
It is a $1.5 million increase over the 2011-12 budget. Of that, approximately $800,000 is for a planned gym floor and turf field replacement at Washougal High School.
"I feel very positive about this year's budget," said Dawn Tarzian, district superintendent. "It identifies key priorities and sets aside money for those things."
Washougal teachers overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract on Thursday.
The new agreement came after negotiations between the Washougal Association of Educators and the School District.
"I am very pleased with the negotiation process," said Dawn Tarzian, district superintendent. "It is important and we have learned a lot, and reached an agreement that the association, board and administrators can feel good about."
"Washougal teachers feel that this was an equitable contract, given the current economy," said Sheila Good, WAE co-president.
The joy and excitement of creating art is shared by a group of women who have gotten together over the years for artists’ retreats, classes, or just painting in their garages.Now, AnnaMarie “Suzy” Clement, Kathy Sork, Julianne Schreiner and Linda McCulloch will share their love of art with a group show at the Second Story Gallery through the month of September.
The four met while serving on the board of the Southwest Washington Watercolor Society in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Like their friendship, their artwork continues to grow and evolve.
"We all bring something to the table, be it a new material, a new idea, a new approach, a new style or the joy and excitement of just being together, sharing our art," said McCulloch, 69, a Camas resident.
Currently, they are experimenting with mixed media in addition to traditional watercolor painting, which is the basis behind the art show theme of "Inspiration/Exploration."
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Camas Educational Foundation. To celebrate, board members have named the annual auction, “Soaring with CEF: Our 15 year Journey,” and are asking community members to donate unused airline miles.
"The idea came from the Make-A-Wish Foundation," said Mandy Huth, CEF president. "They have a great message about donating miles or tickets to children. Since this year's auction is based on a journey, I thought this was a good approach to ask our community to support the children in this manner."
When most people hear the word, ‘Nicaragua,’ they think of a war-torn, violent place.
But members of Gateway Church typically think of their mission teams, which have gone to the country every year since 2003 to help build churches and do outreach projects.
This year, the team traveled to Tipitapa, a suburb of Nicaragua’s capital city, Managua, to expand the first church they helped construct in 2003.
Team members Larry Basham and Mike Lamb were part of the original group, so it was a homecoming of sorts.
“It was a great feeling to be back and see the work just expand,” Basham said.
The Washougal School Board is considering paying off a loan early to save money on interest payments.
In 2001, the district purchased the 30-acre Kerr Property as a future school site. It is located behind its office at Evergreen Way, and was purchased for $1.85 million through a loan at what was then known as First Independent Bank.
Rosann Lassman, business manager, said after doing some research, she realized the loan could be paid off with impact fees.
"We have $780,000 left to pay, with $101,000 left in interest," she said. "We would save $91,000 if we paid it by Sept. 1."
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- by By Danielle Frost Post-Record Staff
- August 21, 2012
With a focus on wellness and physical activity, two local schools have installed walking paths.
Helen Baller and Dorothy Fox elementary school Parent Teacher Association members spent approximately two years fund-raising for the projects.
The paved walking track at Helen Baller circles the perimeter of the school and ends at the playground. It is one-quarter mile loop.
The track at Dorothy Fox was converted from an existing gravel path to a paved version. It loops around the perimeter of the playground and into the existing play area.
The beginning of school means the start of all things new: New school supplies, clothes, teachers and programs. It also means a new grade and perhaps new friends.
In the Camas and Washougal school districts, classes will begin Tuesday, Sept. 4. It is the first time in several years both districts have started school on the same day. Other changes include new administrators, construction projects, an iPad pilot program and a teacher mentoring program.