The Camas School District board of directors voted to rename Lacamas Heights Elementary School during its Monday meeting at the Zellerbach Administration Center.
The former elementary school on Garfield Street will now be known as The Heights Learning Center.
Diane Loghry, the district’s director of early learning services, said Monday the need for a new name arose from the opening of Lacamas Lake Elementary School in September 2018.
“Having two buildings with the Lacamas name has proved to be confusing,” said Loghry, a member of the eight-person committee of district staff and community members who met earlier this month to develop a new name recommendation for the board.
The building, which was constructed in 1963, is the oldest operating facility in the district.
Lacamas Lake Elementary opened last fall at Northeast 232nd Avenue to replace Lacamas Heights Elementary, which has been repurposed to house some of the district’s preschool programs and the Camas High School Integrated Arts and Academics Program.
The committee considered two other names — The Heights Early Learning Center and Camas Learning Center.
“We felt using the term ‘early’ may be restrictive to the activities taking place with the facility, especially since we are currently using (one) cluster for high school students,” Loghry said. “Additionally, we felt that the use of ‘Camas’ in the name would not be distinguishing enough from other facilities and programs in the community. The name ‘Heights Learning Center’ honors the history (of the building) and informs what we do there.”
Board member Tracey Malone voiced her approval of the name change.
“I love it,” she said. “I like that you kept ‘Heights’ in the name. I agree that we need to get ‘Lacamas’ out of there.”
Program leaders Gina Mariotti Shapard and Katie Seidl and several students provided the board with an update on the Camas High School Integrated Arts and Academics program, which endeavors to provide students with an opportunity to enrich their passions for visual and performing arts, and is located in the newly named building.
“Students walk to the old Lacamas Heights Elementary School and spend second and third period with us. They get classroom time and studio time,” Seidl said. “They get to work on their passions, their art projects — any form of art they’re interested in.”
The program, which currently has about 100 students, regularly hosts professional guest artists and goes on field trips to art museums and dance performances.
District’s enrollment, at 7,281 students, set for year
In other school district news, Jasen McEathron, the district’s director of financial services, provided the school board with a budget report Monday, saying January had been “a pretty normal” month for the district.
“The capital projects fund received $2 million in School Construction Assistance Program proceeds from the Discovery High School project,” McEathron said. “From the transportation vehicle fund, we intend to order one more bus, and we’re on track there.”
McEathron also said the district’s enrollment, with a headcount of 7,281 students, has “settled in for the year, with no changes in the basic categories.”
“We’ve grown a bit during the year in basic education, with Woodburn Elementary being the leader of the pack, which would be expected,” he said. “We have a 2.5 percent increase in enrollment over what we budgeted, and that’s good for us. Hopefully that will continue in the future.”
Board approves new Camas High clubs
The board approved the creation of three new clubs at Camas High School at the Monday night meeting, including an “esports” team, a TEDx group and a writers’ society.
Camas High adviser Jake Howell and four students, including club president Tomer Dagan, represented the esports team on Monday.
“We hope to (provide) a competitive environment for video games,” said Dagan, who added that the club has about 20 members so far. “We’ll focus more on games that involve teamwork. We would be competing against other schools, just like other sports teams.”
Howell said the club will focus on building a foundation this spring, with the goal of competing in its first match in May.
Camas High School student Rachel Blair talked about the prospective TedX club, which will work toward hosting an event in June at Camas High or Discovery High.
“This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Blair said. “(TEDx) has ideas that are ideas worth spreading. We recruited about 80 students, and about 50 attended our first meeting. Students will make up three committees that will make sure the events run smoothly. Right now our theme is ‘seeing the invisible,’ and we’re focusing on molecular biology and social justice groups.”
Lastly, a group of Camas High students told the board about their plan to integrate the writers’ society they currently run at Liberty Middle School into the high school.
“We want to provide a good, safe atmosphere for people to write,” said student Rebekah Shellman. “Students can learn different styles … (and) more creative writing.”