River HomeLink fifth grader wins teacher appreciation essay contest

posted Apr 26, 2017, 12:12 PM by Joe Vajgrt

River HomeLink fifth grader wins teacher appreciation essay contest

April 26, 2017

River HomeLink fifth grader Hana Feldheger was recently named one of three local essay contest winners. The Barnes & Noble “My Favorite Teacher” contest is open to middle and high school students who are instructed to write an essay, poem, or thank you letter that shares in 500 words or less how a teacher has influenced their life, and why they appreciate and admire the teacher.

Hana, along with two high school students from the local area, were selected by a Barnes & Noble committee to be recognized for their writing.  Hana’s winning essay was about her math teacher, Greg Glascock. 

“Receiving this recognition was refreshing” Glascock said. “These types of acknowledgements help to confirm that you are indeed making a positive difference in someone's life, and that something you are doing is appreciated.  I am very impressed with Hana, and honored to have inspired her in her math studies.” 

For authoring a winning essay, Hana and Mr. Glascock received a certificate of recognition and were honored at a ceremony at the Vancouver Barnes & Noble.  
Hana's essay advances to the regional competition, in which five winning teachers will each receive a $500 Barnes & Noble gift card and become eligible for the company’s national “Teacher of the Year" award. The national Teacher of the Year award recipient will receive $5,000 and be recognized at a special event at a Barnes & Noble store, with the winning teacher's school also receiving $5,000, and the student author receiving  a $500 Barnes & Noble gift certificate and NOOK electronic reading device.

Here is Hana’s winning essay.

    Dear Mr. G.,

    Since you always grade us, I decided to grade you this time. I would give you an:

    A+ for being funny. Humor can lift our spirits when we cross over the deepest chasm of math…
    A+ for being encouraging. I still remember what you told me on my first day, ‘Making a mistake is okay because that’s how you learn and get better!”

    A+ for giving us challenges. You make us think and look at math from a different angle. Suddenly, our future in math seems unbelievably bright!

    A+ for being loud enough for us (and other classes) to hear. You dodn’t mumble; I never have to lean forward and strain my ears to hear you!

    A+ for being patient. When we don’t exactly understand what you’re saying, you let us ask questions again and again and again until we do understand!

    A+ for being relaxed. When you are relaxed, it makes us feel at ease, too. We can’t tackle math when you are tense or stiff!

    Overall, if you do the math…

    A+A+A+A+A+A+=Thank you for being a first-class teacher!!


    Hana Feldheger

Parent workshops focus on coping, resiliency skills for youth

posted Apr 25, 2017, 2:33 PM by Rita Sanders   [ updated Apr 25, 2017, 3:25 PM ]

Parent workshops focus on coping, resiliency skills for youth

April 25, 2017

Parents are invited to participate in two parent workshops in May that focus on recognizing the signs of and helping youth in crisis. 

The first workshop, Coping with Adolescent Stress & Depression, will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3 at Prairie High School, 11311 NE 119th Street in Vancouver. At the workshop, Mary Jadwisiak from the Youth Suicide Prevention Program will present how to model coping skills and recognize risk factors and warning signs of depression and suicide. A PDF file with details about the workshop is attached to this email. No RSVP is needed.

The second workshop, Building Resiliency, will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24 at Washington State University-Vancouver. Registration is required for this workshop, which teaches adults how to build resilience and connection with children. Presenter and family physician Dr. Jody McVittie will demonstrate how children think and react when experiencing stress or trauma.

Social-emotional learning is an essential part of the Battle Ground Public Schools district's mission. One of our strategic goals is to support and promote the physical, emotional, and social well-being of students. Battle Ground received a $2.5 million Project AWARE grant to support student mental health and wellness over five years. As part of this focus on students' social-emotional learning, the district has launched several whole child initiatives and programs that meet the social and emotional needs of students, including
  • Hiring prevention and intervention specialists for middle and high schools
  • Offering Youth Mental Health First Aid training for parents, staff, and community members to detect and respond to mental health issues in children and young adults
  • Connecting students and families to mental health services
  • Implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) across the district
  • Sponsoring parent workshops such as Coping with Adolescent Stress & Depression on May 3 and Building Resiliency on May 24
More information about suicide prevention resources is on the district website. If you have questions, please call (360) 885-5470.

Laurin Middle School to perform 'The Little Mermaid'

posted Apr 25, 2017, 10:58 AM by Joe Vajgrt

Laurin Middle School to perform 'the little mermaid'

April 25, 2017

Laurin Middle School students have been hard at work preparing for their production of "The Little Mermaid" since last fall and are excited to welcome the public to their upcoming performances. All performances are free and take place in the Laurin Middle School gym, 13601 NE 97th Ave, Vancouver, WA 98662

The show's debut performance is on Tuesday, April 25th at 6:00 pm, with another performance the following evening on 
Wednesday, April 26th at 6:00 pm.

On Friday, April 28 at 9:00 am, 5th and 6th grade students will watch a performance of the play, followed by a performance at 1:15 pm for 7th and 8th grade students. 

BGHS, Chief Umtuch bands impress at the Pleasant Hill Invitational Jazz Festival

posted Apr 24, 2017, 4:32 PM by Joe Vajgrt

BGHS, Chief Umtuch bands impress at the Pleasant Hill Invitational Jazz Festival

April 24, 2017

Jazz Bands from Battle Ground High School and Chief Umtuch Middle School competed at the 42nd Annual Pleasant Hill Invitational Jazz Festival over the weekend and brought home several awards. Each year, about 2,000 students, along with their teachers and families, visit Pleasant Hill to attend the annual festival and enjoy a variety of clinics and concerts.

Battle Ground High School took first place in the Vocal Jazz Ensemble competition, the Advanced Jazz Band competition, the Intermediate II Jazz Band competition, and in the Jazz Combo competition, and the Intermediate Jazz Band 1 placed second. Chief Umtuch Middle School placed third in both the Middle School Jazz Band and Combo division categories.  

BGHS students were also recognized for their exceptional individual performances. Soloist awards were given to Cade O’Haver and Emily Christensen from the Vocal Jazz Ensemble; Cade O’Haver and Laney Pham from the Advanced Jazz Band; Ashton Henning from the Intermediate 2 Jazz Band;  Cade O’Haver (first place), Jordan Ledbetter (first place) and Nicole Furlow (second place) in the Vocal Solo Division I; and Brooke Hall (second place), and Madelyn Breaux (third place) in the Vocal Solo Division II. Additionally, senior pianist Cade O’Haver and  sophomore vocalist Madelyn Breaux were the winners of the Mike Wiggins Memorial Award for Excellence in Jazz.

The Pleasant Hill Invitational Jazz Festival began in 1976 simply as a vocal festival. The festival was introduced not only as a competition but also as an educational experience with participants listening to numerous choirs, clinics and experienced adjudicators interacting with groups after their preliminary performance. The second year of the festival saw the beginning of the instrumental portion of the festival. Since then, the festival has grown into one of the largest high school jazz festivals in the region. 

Looking for CAM Academy info on-the-go? Thanks to senior Mackinnon Buck, there’s an app for that

posted Apr 20, 2017, 3:18 PM by Joe Vajgrt

Looking for CAM Academy info on-the-go? Thanks to senior Mackinnon Buck, there’s an app for that

April 20, 2017

CAM Academy senior Mackinnon Buck was just 12 years old when he created his first video game. Titled “Fruit Addiction,” the game features a birds-eye view of a playing surface where the on-screen character tries to collect pieces of fruit while dodging bombs. Now, six years and countless lines of code later, Buck is turning his passion for computer programming and gaming into a bright future that incorporates giving back to his community.

Buck, a self-taught coder, single-handedly designed an app for CAM Academy as part of English Language Arts teacher Diane Harpe’s community service project for seniors. The project required students to perform 25 hours of community service and then write a paper about their experience.

“When Mackinnon was assigned the senior research and community service project, he wanted to do something that would utilize his gift for programming and make a difference in the community,” said Harper. “He decided to build an app from the ground up that would allow parents and students to access CAM's website and teacher pages from their mobile devices in an easy-to-read and access format.”

Not satisfied with the state of his project after the requisite 25 hours of work had been completed, Buck kept going until the quality of the programming was up to his standards. By the time he turned in his paper, he had already spent an estimated 75 hours on the project.   
“I am impressed by Mackinnon's commitment to CAM and his integrity as a student and programmer,” Harpe said. “Not only did he continue working on the app after he had completed his project, but he also plans to update the app as needed after he graduates.”

Mackinnon says the main benefit of the app is that it has an easy-to-use navigation system and a useful search feature. He wrote the code in the C# programming language and used a cross-platform development program called Xamarin that supports both Android and iOS and allows the app to work across both mobile platforms.

Another slick feature of his app is that if the website content changes or is updated, the app automatically updates, too. The app isn’t necessarily specific to CAM Academy’s website, either. The code is open source, so it could be used as a template for others to pick up where Mackinnon left off and create apps for other schools in the district.

"I am very proud of the work that Mackinnon did on the CAM App project,” said Principal Ryan Cowl. “He took the initiative to set this up on his own and invested so much of his time to make sure everything worked. He collaborated closely with school and district staff to make sure there were no issues throughout every step of this project. We all applaud his effort and dedication."

MacKinnon has been a member of the CAM robotics team, the CloverBots, all four years of his high school career and is the team’s lead programmer. He and his teammates are in Houston this weekend competing in the World's Competition. The robotics team was one of 32 from Washington that qualified for the event. CAM’s team is currently ranked 20th heading into the competition in Houston, where more than 400 teams from around the world are competing.

Mackinnon plans to study computer science next year at college. He has applied and been accepted at the University of Washington, Washington State University, Oregon State University, Gonzaga, and Cal Poly. While he’s still mulling over his options, he’s leaning towards Gonzaga, Cal Poly, and OSU.

“Oregon State has an exceptional robotics program, which is really appealing,” Buck said. “I’ve learned so much and had so much fun on the CAM CloverBots robotics team these last four years that I’m strongly considering OSU.”

After he graduates, Mackinnon would like to start his career at AutoDesk, a multinational software corporation headquartered in San Rafael, Calif. The company makes software for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, and entertainment industries. Mackinnon already has an internship with the company’s satellite office in Lake Oswego, Ore. as a project manager training other programmers.

Regardless of what Mackinnon does next, his hard work and dedication during his time at CAM Academy has ensured that his influence will be felt for years to come.

Annual plant and greenhouse sales coming up in Battle Ground schools

posted Apr 18, 2017, 11:50 AM by Joe Vajgrt

Annual plant and greenhouse sales coming up in battle ground schools

April 17, 2017

A variety of annual and perennial bedding and flowering plants, as well as vegetable starts and hanging baskets grown by high school students in Battle Ground Public Schools' greenhouses, will be for sale at upcoming public sales. Money raised from these sales supports the district's horticulture and Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs and welding teams. 

Students from Battle Ground High School, Prairie High School, the Center for Agriculture, Science, and Environmental Education (CASEE), and the FFA program grow tens of thousands of plants each year. Some of these plants are used in landscaping projects on school campuses, while the rest are sold at annual public sales. 

Community members are encouraged to arrive early for the best selection and bring boxes to carry purchased plants. Upcoming sales will be held: 

Battle Ground High School 
Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30 
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
BGHS greenhouses, 300 W Main St., Battle Ground 

This year's sale is bigger than ever with more than 15,000 plants for sale, including hanging baskets, pots of flowering annuals and perennials, vegetables, tomatoes, raspberries, and rhubarb. 

Center for Agriculture, Science, and Environmental Education (CASEE) 
Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30 
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
CASEE Center, 11104 N.E. 149th Street, Brush Prairie 

Held in conjunction with NatureScaping of SW Washington's Bare Root trees, shrubs and perennials sale, CASEE will be selling northwest native trees and shrubs. Prices are $3, $5 and $10. 

Prairie High School Plant Sale 
Saturday, May 6 
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Prairie High School greenhouse, 11311 NE 119th St., Vancouver 

Visit the PHS greenhouse Facebook page to see what's growing https://www.facebook.com/prairieffagreenhouse/

CAM Academy, Pleasant Valley Primary earn highest state award

posted Apr 18, 2017, 11:40 AM by Joe Vajgrt


April 17, 2017

Two schools in the Battle Ground Public Schools district have earned 2016 Washington Achievement Awards, ranking them among the highest performing schools in the state based on three years of academic information. CAM Academy was recognized for overall excellence and Pleasant Valley Primary School for math growth. 

The Washington Achievement Award is sponsored by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the State Board of Education. The state selected this year's 280 winning schools based on a revised Achievement Index of statewide assessment data. The Achievement Index measures school performance, emphasizing improvement and recognition. Educators, families, and community members can use the index to identify areas of strength and improvement in Washington's schools. 

Award-winning schools are recognized as top performers in one of seven categories: 
  • Overall Excellence 
  • High Progress 
  • English Language Arts Growth 
  • Math Growth 
  • Extended Graduation Rate (awarded to high schools and comprehensive schools only) 
  • English Language Acquisition 
  • Achievement Gap 
"The Achievement Awards recognize all the great work happening in Washington schools and the ways educators are making a difference in student outcomes," said Kevin Laverty, State Board of Education Acting Chair. "It presents an opportunity to honor schools that are achieving at high levels, as well as schools that are making great growth." 

The award-winning schools will be recognized during a ceremony on May 3 at Olympic Middle School in Auburn, Wash. and at an upcoming Battle Ground Public Schools board meeting. The WAA criteria and list of winners and the state achievement index is available online. 

Partnership creates early learning opportunities for BGPS preschoolers

posted Apr 14, 2017, 1:30 PM by Joe Vajgrt

Partnership creates early learning opportunities for BGPS preschoolers

April 14, 2017

At the Early Learning Center, Battle Ground Public Schools’ newest preschool, class starts off pretty much the same way every day. After a few minutes of playtime, the three-to-five year old students sit in a circle on the floor and wait to find out their responsibilities for the day. One preschooler assigns the day's tasks by drawing a name for each duty. For the kids, it’s just another day of learning while they play—and playing while they learn. But the Early Learning Center offers much more than fun learning activities to these youngsters.  

The Early Learning Center is a collaboration that launched last fall between the Battle Ground school district and Educational Opportunities for Children & Families, or EOCF, a provider of comprehensive early childhood education and family support programs in Southwest Washington.

The Early Learning Center offers a “blended” environment where students in the federal Head Start program learn alongside students with disabilities who qualify for special education services. In this preschool, students who have varying degrees of learning and cognitive abilities are taught together.

“Students with disabilities show a higher rate of development in a program with high expectations and strong peer models,” said Ellen Wiessner, Battle Ground's director of special services. "Taking every student’s needs into consideration, a blended program is simply the best model for the kids.”

Research confirms that the first five years of a child’s life are particularly important for the development of the child's brain, and the first three years are the most critical in shaping the child's neural pathways, or the “architecture” of the brain.

“The EOCF is as committed to providing quality programming as we are, and they’ve been a wonderful organization to collaborate with,” said Wiessner. “A quality preschool program will have a lasting impact on these kids throughout their lives.” 

Class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios are emphasized at the Early Learning Center, where teachers and administrators strive to create a developmentally appropriate environment that emphasizes the learning and growth of the whole child.

“Our daily schedule emphasizes peer interaction and supports active student engagement and exploration,” said Leslie Meinschein, an early childhood special education teacher for Battle Ground Public Schools. “By focusing on the development of cognitive, social-emotional, and language skills, the Early Learning Center provides an opportunity for students to build routines and make connections between their home and school environment prior to transitioning to kindergarten.”

For more information about preschool and daycare options in Battle Ground Public Schools, please visit http://www.battlegroundps.org/parents-and-students/preschool-and-daycare

Kindergarten enrollment open at Battle Ground Public Schools

posted Apr 10, 2017, 8:53 AM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Apr 11, 2017, 10:11 AM ]

Kindergarten enrollment open at battle ground public schools

April 11, 2017

Parents and guardians are invited to enroll next year's kindergartners in Battle Ground Public Schools during the district's Connect to Kindergarten week, April 17-21. Parents and guardians also can enroll their children now online: http://www.battlegroundps.org/parents-and-students/k12-enrollment

School offices will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. the week of April 17-21 for Connect to Kindergarten so that parents can get questions answered and bring required documentation to their child's school. 

Incoming kindergartners should be enrolled so they can attend a kindergarten welcome orientation at their school: 
  • Captain Strong Primary, May 25, 5:00-6:30 p.m. 
  • Daybreak Primary, May 23, 6:00-7:00 p.m. 
  • Glenwood Heights Primary, June 1, 1:15-2:00 p.m. 
  • Maple Grove K-8, May 10, 4:00-5:00 p.m. 
  • Pleasant Valley Primary, April 20, 4:30-5:30 p.m. 
  • Tukes Valley Primary, May 16, 6:00-7:00 p.m. 
  • Yacolt Primary, June 13, 5:30-7:00 p.m. 
Any child who will be five years old before Sept. 1, 2017 is eligible to enter kindergarten in the fall. Battle Ground Public Schools offers full-day kindergarten so that students can benefit from the advantages of a developmentally appropriate, full-day program. Parents can find out which school their child will attend by using the district's online boundary map at http://www.battlegroundps.org/parents-and-students/boundaries or by calling the district boundaries office at (360) 885-6577. 

To enroll, families must fill out required forms and provide required documents. Required documents include verification of the child's birth date (such as a birth certificate) and a signed and completed Washington state Certificate of Immunization Status form. 

Smart Start 
School will begin next year on Wednesday, Aug. 30 at Battle Ground Public Schools. A list of key dates for the 2017-18 school year, including breaks and holidays, is available on the district website: http://www.battlegroundps.org/about-us/school-calendars. Kindergartners will participate in a Smart Start schedule that allows small groups of students to attend school each of the first three days of the year in order to get acclimated to the school environment, routines, their teacher and classroom, and other students. Parents will receive a letter before the start of school about their child's start date. 

Preschool Options 
Battle Ground Public Schools also offers preschool options for early learners. The BGPS Community Education Department offers tuition-based preschool programs for ages 3-5 called Tigerland Preschool. Two and three-day programs are located on the campuses of Captain Strong Primary and Yacolt Primary. Tigerland Preschool is designed to prepare early learners for their kindergarten experience. To register, contact Community Education at (360) 885-6584. 

BGPS also offers preschools for children with special needs. Please contact the BGPS Special Services Department at (360) 885-5318 for more information. Information about BGPS preschool options is available on the district's preschool web page at http://www.battlegroundps.org/parents-and-students/preschool-and-daycare

Online enrollment for kindergartners is now open: http://www.battlegroundps.org/parents-and-students/k12-enrollment

Questions? Please visit your school during Connect to Kindergarten, April 17-21 

Learn which school your child will attend: http://www.battlegroundps.org/parents-and-students/boundaries 

Key dates for the 2017-18 school year

Today’s P.E. classes are more than running laps and playing sports

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:57 AM by Joe Vajgrt

Today’s P.E. classes are more than running laps and playing sports

March 29, 2017

When you picture physical education class, you probably think about playing team sports against your classmates, running a timed mile, or perhaps climbing a rope. While those components are still part of today’s curriculum, many people are surprised to learn just how much physical education has evolved over the years.

For starters, it’s no longer even referred to as P.E. Now, it’s known as health and fitness class, a moniker that’s more fitting given the broader nature of what these classes cover.

"There’s been a clear shift in the way physical education is taught," said Kim Carter, a health and fitness teacher at Tukes Valley Middle School. "The biggest change has been the transition from the skills-based, sports-focused physical education of the past to emphasizing that fitness and wellness are lifetime pursuits that contribute to overall health."

In addition to teaching kids skills for particular sports, fitness and wellness concepts are emphasized by teaching health and nutrition, social interaction and behavioral skills, non-sports activities that require movement, and lifelong hobbies that contribute to a healthy, active lifestyle.

“Battle Ground Public Schools’ focus is on helping students understand where they are at with their individual physical fitness,” said Corina Shipp, the district’s FitnessGram coordinator and a health and wellness instructor at Prairie High School. “It's not about being the fastest or strongest, but about being the healthiest individual you can be and having the tools for lifelong health and fitness.”

A key component of today's health and fitness classes is the use of FitnessGram, a tool that provides each individual student with information about their appropriate fitness level. The tool guides students in setting goals that will help them reach a healthy fitness zone for their age and gender. 

Touted as the first “student fitness report card,” FitnessGram evaluates five components of health-related fitness: aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. Most children can achieve their appropriate health-related fitness level simply by performing sufficient amounts of regular physical activity.

BGPS students in grades 5-12 participate in the FitnessGram program, and the students’ fitness scores follow them as they advance through school. Students are tested at the beginning of the semester to establish a baseline, and then again at the end of the semester to track changes and progress. 

Armed with this report, students and their parents gain insight into the student's overall level of fitness and how it can be improved. “When students begin to learn how to assess their own physical fitness and demonstrate knowledge of how to improve their health, they are able to make independent decisions that will impact their future,” Carter said. 

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