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Washougal, WA — Art can tell a story.  It can inspire, move or add beauty and interest to a place.  The new metal sculpture panels installed on the wall of the shared courtyard at Jemtegaard Middle School and Columbia River Gorge Elementary School provide all of that and more.  The piece features beautiful and whimsical details cut as silhouettes into three stainless steel panels to tell stories of the Washougal area and Columbia River Gorge.

“Roots and Wings” was created by New York artist and a native of France, Béatrice Coron, through grant funding from the Washington Arts Commission.  “Whenever Washington State funds new construction, by law, half-of-one-percent of funding is set aside for the commissioning of new artwork,” said Marissa Laubscher, Washington State Arts Commission Art in Public Places Project Manager. “Washougal School District applied to ArtsWA for the funded art project through a competitive pooling process. They were awarded a $60,000 project. This budget covered all of the costs associated with the artist selection, design, engineering, fabrication, transportation, and installation of the artwork.”

Coron was on-hand to oversee the installation on March 12 and then spoke to students from both schools in assemblies the next morning. Using a Powerpoint presentation, she described her creative process and the inspiration behind her work on this piece. 

First, she explained the name, “Roots and Wings.”  

“You are so lucky to have your roots in such a beautiful place to enjoy, experience and explore,” said Coron. “And your education at school is what will give you wings.  They will take you wherever you want to go.”

“When I was awarded this work, the first thing I did was research,” she explained. “I visited and spent two days looking around the area for ideas and inspiration.  They were beautiful, warm, blue-sky days.  I took many pictures of all the sites and was amazed by the natural beauty here.” 

ArtsWA
Artist Beatrice Coron.

She told of traveling to area vistas to experience the incredible views of mountains and the river. 

“I climbed Beacon Rock,” she said. “I looked at your trees and animal life and saw all the outdoor activities you enjoy such as camping, skiing, fishing, motocross, horseback riding and hiking. I visited the petroglyphs tunnel downtown and learned about local history including Native Americans, Lewis and Clark, steam boats and farming.  There are so many stories tell.” 

Coron created sketches from her photos and the stories began to emerge, and she challenged students to take the time to study each unique panel.

“Find stories so you can tell others what you see,” she said. “And be sure to ask them what stories they see.”  She was sure to include images of both huskies and otters, the schools’ mascots.  You must look closely to find the sasquatch and a Corgi.  

The piece also features several silhouetted images of young people curled up reading books.

“It is like you begin as a worm and then a cocoon,” she said.  “From this reading and education, you will get your wings.” 

Mounted just outside the main panels, as if escaping, are children with butterfly wings. 

“Your wings will take you far,” promised Coron. 

“Beatrice has captured the spirit of Washougal,” said David Cooke, JMS principal.  “When you look at her work you experience the story of how the local community, resources and natural beauty play a significant role in the positive development of our kids.”

“Washougal School District’s local art selection committee worked with ArtsWA to set the initial goals for this project, selected the artist, and worked with her to provide feedback and context as she designed this artwork,” said Laubscher. “They were looking for artwork that would represent the natural beauty of Washougal and the Columbia River Gorge and interconnectedness of nature, school, students, and the community.”  

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The committee members included Cooke; Tracey MacLachlan, CRGE principal; Dani Allen, JMS art teacher; Sarah Howe, CRGE Parent; Kori Kelly, Superintendent’s assistant; Stephanie McGarvie, art teacher; Joe Steinbrenner, WSD facilities director and Amy Switzer, CRGE music teacher.

“It was an absolute pleasure to work with Beatrice,” said MacLachlan.  “She had such a presence, as we met and got to work with her.  Her professionalism as an artist, and her knowledge for her craft was remarkable.  The attention to the details and the research she accomplished for the project were unprecedented.”

“Roots and Wings“ joins more than 4,600 artworks in the State Art Collection, which is located in more than 1,200 schools and state agencies across Washington State. Unlike art collections you might find in a museum, the State Art Collection is chosen by community representatives and is sited in places where people study, live, work, and play.

When Coron was asked by a student to name her favorite art creation, she admitted it was an impossible question to answer.  “So, I must say, my next one,” she said with a laugh.

A section of “Roots and Wings.”

About the Artist

After briefly studying art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Lyon, and Mandarin Chinese at the Université of Lyon III, Coron experienced life with a series of odd jobs. She has been, among others, a shepherdess, truck driver, factory worker, cleaning lady and a New York City tour guide. Coron has lived in France (her native country), Egypt and Mexico for one year, each and China for two years. She moved to New York in 1985 where she reinvented herself as an artist.

Coron’s works includes illustration, book arts, fine art and public art. She cuts her characteristic silhouette designs in paper and Tyvek. She also creates works in stone, glass, metal, rubber, stained glass and digital media.

Her work has been purchased by major museum collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum, The Walker Art center and The Getty. Her public art can be seen in subways, airport and sports facilities among others.

You can visit her website at: http://beatricecoron.com/

Cut Stories Statement from Béatrice Coron

For the last 20 years, I have been exploring visual storytelling in artist books, paper cutting and public art. Collecting memories from individuals and communities, I stage narrative allegories in silhouette to create a dialogue with the viewer in playful fantasies.

These visual chronicles record archetypal stories that transcend time and space. My goal is to invite the public to pause and bring their own ideas finding personal interpretation to reclaim their imaginative powers.

My personal history fueled my curiosity for stories and questioned my perception of realities. I have been fascinated by the relation of people to their space and the sense of belonging. Using papercutting where everything is cut from a single piece of Tyvek, the profusion of individual stories makes a coherent whole world.

Written by Rene Carroll

ARTSWA
The art is on display at at CRGE/Jemptegaard MS courtyard.
ArtsWA
Beatrice Coron’s art work was installed at the CRGE/Jemptegaard courtyard.

WASHOUGAL, WA — The Washougal Schools Foundation announces the winner of the event logo contest for the 16th Annual Student Stride for Education fun run. The winning artwork, featuring a smiling, round faced Stride Cat, was created by Dakota Duncan, a sixth-grader at Jemtegaard Middle School.  There were 23 entries from Washougal middle schools including JMS, Canyon Creek and Mt. Pleasant.

“Washougal Schools Foundation Student Stride for Education presents a unique opportunity for students to shine and not just on the race course,” said Stephanie Eakins, Event Director. “Long before the actual Stride event, our art contest runs from October to December and is open to all Washougal middle school students. Each year student creativity shines through in their art submissions. Each year brings new ideas and possibilities.”

This year’s cat was selected for its uniqueness that designers recognized would translate well to promotional materials. The Stride logo will also be featured on race t-shirts and promotional materials distributed throughout the community.

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The 16th annual Student Stride for Education will take place on Saturday, May 18th at Washougal High School’s Fishback Stadium. Race day registration opens at 7:15 am with the 5K Run starting at 8:00 am. Participants can register individually or as teams online atwww.washougalschoolsfoundation.org/stride or www.discoverydentistry.com

The WSF Stride has become a popular community event filled with healthy exercise, including an adult 5K run/walk and elementary school runs for each class from kindergarten through fifth grade. The event is the primary fundraising activity for the Washougal Schools Foundation, which is dedicated to enhancing the quality of public education and improving the lives of children in Washougal. The Foundation uses the proceeds of the WSF Stride for classroom grants and college scholarships.

About the Washougal Schools Foundation

The Washougal Schools Foundation seeks to enhance the quality of public education, helping to prepare students to constructively participate in the improvement of the community. The foundation offers Creative Classroom Grants in the Fall and Spring for projects up to $1,000 to teachers, staff, students, or community members. Mini-grants are offered throughout the year as well, each providing up to $250 to teachers for materials and programs. The foundation also awards Scholarships to select seniors graduating from the District. To learn more about the foundation and its contribution to the community, visit washougalschoolsfoundation.org

Washougal, WA – Washougal School District and Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance have collaborated to shine a spotlight on student art throughout March, which is recognized nationally as Youth Art Month.

“The arts are an important element of our students’ education in Washougal,” said Mary Templeton, WSD Superintendent. “Student exposure and participation in both fine arts and performance arts are essential to educating the whole child.” Research indicates that high-quality art educational opportunities can improve critical-thinking skills and even help to foster important values such as empathy and acceptance.

Washougal Youth Arts Month is made possible through partnerships with area artists, Washougal Community Education, Washougal Public Library, Washougal Schools Foundation and more.  Students will have opportunities to make and display art throughout the events and activities planned all month long.   

WYAM will culminate with the Washougal Youth Arts Month Gallery, at Washougal Town Square in downtown Washougal, March 27-295pm to 7pm and Saturday, March 30 from 1pm to 5pm

“Washougal school district began offering fine art classes to all elementary students this school year and the students are excited to display their pieces for the community,” said Alice Yang, Cape Horn-Skye Art Teacher.  “The level of creativity shown by our youth is impressive!”  

The Washougal elementary classes join the robust fine and performance arts programs at the middle and high school levels.  The gallery will also include works by WHS Career and Technical Education students with photography, metal and wood pieces.  WHS Culinary Arts students will supply artistically created sugar cookies using cutter designs made with the school’s 3-D printer.  A variety of school band and choir concerts will be performed in March and a Drama Camp run by WHS drama students as a fundraiser is available to elementary students.

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Washougal Community Education is offering a variety of classes. 

“We are pleased to have some new art opportunities for our students, and parents, to explore their creative side,” said Kathy Douglas-Evans, Washougal Community Education.  The Paint Roller and Washougal glass artist, Shirley Bishop, stepped up to provide these new, creative classes for youth.  They include glass fusing, rock and face painting, and kids and family canvas painting.  Register on the Washougal Community Education webpage at www.washougal.k12.wa.us/wcer Pieces created in these classes will be on display at 54-40 Brewing and Washougal Coffee Company at the end of the March. 

As a part of WYAM, WACA is inviting all Washougal students to participate in a fun photography challenge.  “We’re asking them to grab their smartphone or digital camera and share through photography the beautiful public art in the City of Washougal,” said Susan Warford, WACA Board member.  “We want them to find unique angles, use interesting lighting, include family or friends, have fun and be creative!”  Images will be shared on the WACA website and FB pages.  For details and student release form go to http://washougalarts.org 

Other community partners are the Washougal Public library, offering a free live concert, chalk art, pottery and crafts and Washougal School of Music, who is hosting a community recital showcasing the talents of their students as well as those of local music teacher, Chuck Carpenter. 

Washougal Youth Arts Month will receive formal recognition from both the City of Washougal and Washougal School Board.  On February 25, Mayor Molly Coston will sign a proclamation declaring March Youth Arts Month in Washougal. The Washougal School Board of Directors will issue a resolution supporting Youth Arts Month on February 26 at their regularly scheduled meeting.  Youth Art Month started in 1961 when the Council for Art Education and National Art Education Association named March as Youth Art Month to recognize art education and the value of art to create a better quality of life for all people. 

For a full list of scheduled activities and events throughout the month of March, go to http://www.washougal.k12.wa.us/

Art
Working on projects.

Washougal, WA — Washougal High School is celebrating Career and Technical Education (CTE) student successes and exploring training opportunities as a part of national CTE Month during February. 

“CTE Month gives us a platform to celebrate the value of CTE and the achievements and accomplishments of our CTE programs and students,” said Margaret Rice, WSD CTE Director.  “We want all students to be ready for their next steps after high school by facilitating the teaching of relevant skills and knowledge for learning, career and life.”

A goal of CTE education is to increase graduation rates and prepare students for employment by engaging them in learning related to career interests and workplace readiness with 21st Century skills.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 93 percent, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 80 percent and 91 percent of high school graduates who earned 2-3 CTE credits enrolled in further education or training.

“There are many paths to a desired career and our job is to assist students in understanding those various paths, so they choose the best one to fit their needs,” Rice said.  “We believe all students, when provided the opportunity, will flourish in an environment that engages them in learning.  We strive to keep programs current by staying connected to what is happening in business and industry. Through this collaboration we can positively impact our students learning and their preparation for the world of work.”  

In order to align with State graduation requirements and to meet district goals of preparing students for their future, students are being asked to begin to build their High School & Beyond Plan in middle school. Student use program tools to learn more about their interests and learning styles which connect them to potential careers and determine a pathway.  This work begins at the middle school level in WSD.

Washougal School District CTE courses fit into a variety of the 16 National Career Cluster Pathways. Their courses include:

  • Intro to Culinary, Baking & Pastry, Advanced Culinary
  • American Sign Language
  • Family Health and Medical Detectives offered at the middle school with new classes at the high school in the Health Sciences pathway, which include Intro Med Careers & Term and Biomedical Body Systems, Applied Math, Basic Construction, FA Woodworking, Metals Crafts & Production, Metals Tech & Manufacturing, Small Engines as well as Design & Modeling, Automation & Robotics and Flight & Space offered at the middle school
  • Computer Applications, Yearbook, Leadership in Project Management, Financial Fitness, Digital Photography and a new class called Visual Design & Marketing

WHS senior, Dylan Van Horn, has a goal is to work as an American Sign Language Interpreter and is following the Education & Training pathway.  “The classes at WHS that helped me are ASL classes, Yearbook classes because of the interpersonal skills needed to interview people, and Leadership in Project Management (ASB),” he said.  VanHorne is also WHS Student Body President.  

“ASL Club has also helped along with Mrs. Ritchie and Mrs. Grant,” he said.  “The knowledge and support of these teachers has assisted me a lot in determining my path and helping me plan for my future.” In the fall, VanHorne will be attending Western Oregon University to major in American Sign Language/English Interpreting.

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Dylan Corbitt, a WHS senior, plans to work as a chef and is following the Hospitality & Tourism pathway

He has taken WHS Culinary Arts classes and the Cascadia Technical Academy Culinary, Baking & Pastry Program. “I am in an internship now at Nuestra Mesa in Camas,” he said.  “I work at Dish and Line Prep.”  Corbitt’s internship is a part of the Washougal Adult Transition Program.

WHS sophomore, Kirstyn Bisig, has selected her pathway as Architecture & Construction.  Her career goal is to be a Heavy Machine Operator.  “I am a member of SkillsUSA which has given me the opportunity to work with people I wouldn’t normally get to work with and learn more about the business-side of things,” she explained. “The WHS Metals and Wood classes helped as much as they could because there are age restrictions to operate heavy equipment.”

Wyatt Grindy, WHS sophomore, has chosen Transportation Distribution & Logistics as his pathway with a career goal to work as a Diesel Mechanic.  He has taken both WHS Metals and Small Engines classes. “Next year, I plan to attend the Diesel Technology Program at Cascadia Technical Academy to gain more skills and better prepare myself to be a Diesel Mechanic,” he said.  “Before I finish high school, I plan on getting an internship and use my skills and that connection to get a job after graduation.”

Additional CTE Month activities at WHS include opportunities for students to explore CTE programs available to them.  These included:

  • A field trip to the Cascadia Technical Academy
  • Clark College Professional Technology Day field trip
  • Construction Pre-apprenticeship Presentation by Clark College 
  • Professional Dress Day during the week of Feb. 11-15.
  • Lunch time activities such as “how to tie a tie”, Learn how to weld, CTE trivia, information about Leadership clubs
  • “Did you know” fact of the day posted on Facebook and in the morning announcements.

“We have packed a lot into the month for these students. We are so proud of the accomplishments of the students in our high school programs currently and can’t think of a better way to celebrate them than National CTE Month” said Rice.  “Our goal is to get the word out about the great work we do for and with kids, the amazing accomplishments of our current students as well as demonstrate what these classes can provide for our future students,” Rice said.

Washougal, WA — Hathaway Elementary students took steps to understand healthy living at the Sodexo Student Well-Being Fair held Tuesday, January 22.

“The purpose of the event was to promote good nutrition, get the students to stop and think about the path that food takes from the field to the table, and to have FUN along the way,” said Mark Jasper, Sodexo Nutrition Services Director at Washougal School District.  “This was an interactive wellness fair concept, which fully supports our mission of inspiring lifelong healthy habits in the children we serve.”

The all-day event featured grade level groups spending an hour moving through four presentations targeted at expanding their knowledge of various aspects of a healthy life and well-being.  Topics covered were related to Nutrition, Achievement, Environment, Community and Activity. “Each station presented meaningful information that captivated the students,” said Jasper. “And, as an added bonus, as the students left the event, they were given a bag to remind them of what they learned.”

“I was happy to bring this event back this year for all of our students,” said Hathaway Principal Sarika Mosley. It was so engaging for students and Mark Jasper is so organized in bringing in his presenters. I had a second grader tell me afterwards that coconuts have juice in them! Watching our students create balanced meal plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner is important for their long-term health and well-being.”

Assisting in the event by leading presentations were Shelby Stanford, Dietitian Intern; Stacie Reiter, Sodexo’s Regional RD; Ellen Ives, Educator for Sustainability and Waste Reduction from Waste Connections; and Laycee Hyde, Sodexo Operations Manager form Forest Grove SD and Rochelle Mellendorf, Sodexo Area Marketing Manager.

“The students enjoyed the fair and came away with some useful new knowledge about wellness and healthy habits,” Jasper said.

Washougal

Teaching students.

Camas, WA — Wrestling is traditionally known as a male sport, but over recent years girls wrestling has been making an upward trend, and Camas and Washougal are no exception. This is the part one in a two-part series that looks at the sport; part one will focus on Camas, and part two, on Washougal.

The Camas High School (CHS) Girls wrestling program had a good showing at the recent Clark County Wrestling tournament, with Eliana Sabatini, a Camas sophomore, winning her weight class (135). Sabatini is a team captain with Autumn Aho, and the team is determined to make a statement.

The Washougal Panthers Wrestling team won the meet outright, with Emma Seekins, a Washougal freshman, winning her weight class (100), pinning her opponent in the second round, which helped Washougal win. The Panthers are also tremendously proud of Abby Lees, a two-time state wrestling champion.

”We’re so pleased with the team,” said Seekins. “I like wrestling because it is a very difficult and challenging sport, and it pushes you to your limits.”

But, back to Camas.

“In the final, I wrestled McMillan from Hudson’s Bay,” said Sabatini. “And, Kiana Pullen won third place at 190. Ava Weatherl, placed fourth at 115 pounds. As a team, Camas took sixth place, and a total of eight Papermakers attended the tournament.”

Winning at such a major meet is quite prestigious, and it’s even more so given Sabatini’s relatively new exposure to the sport. She has just been wrestling for a year.

Girls Wrestling

Washougal won the Clark County Wrestling Tournament.

Girls Wrestling

The Camas Girls Wrestling team at the Clark County Wrestling Tournament.

Why wrestling?

“A coach at Skyridge got her interested,” Sabatini said. “And, I love being the only girl in my grade to wrestle. All the wrestling boys tell me that girls shouldn’t wrestle, but that got me motivated. I have an uncle who has wrestled and he taught me new moves. I feel like boys are always talked about, and the girls aren’t really acknowledge a lot, so it’s time to get the word out. Nobody knows about it.”

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Sabatini said she wrestles boys in practice, which helps her.

“It’s not weird, it’s just an opponent, and boys wrestling is different than girls,” she said. “The types of moves they use.”

What does wrestling teach the youth?

“It teaches me a lot, it teaches me how to work hard, and gives me confidence, and it makes me want to help teach others to help grow the girls wrestling team,” said Sabatini. “I think girls are afraid to wrestle because it’s so new. They’re afraid of the toughness.”

Mark Yamashida is the girls wrestling head coach, and he works hard to teach his team the skills required to win — and learn.

He also is working to get the word out about the sport, and spends time at each match teaching the girls, and making sure they feel positive.

“He gives me self-confidence before a match, and helps the girls out with everything,” said Sabatini. “With school, with wrestling and it helps me push myself and reach my goals. I love the sport so much. I love the competition and I love to win. Getting my hand raised after a match is the best feeling I’ve ever felt in life. My coach always tells me I’m always smiling through everything even when I’m in so much pain trying to make a move or push myself in practice. I’m always smiling and having a good time.”

Their next tournament is next Friday, which is the RA Long Invite.

 

 

 

Camas, WA — “Mission accomplished,” said Ed Fischer, owner of Camas Bike and Sport in Downtown Camas. “We wrapped up with the local adopt-a-family here in Washougal, and what a nice family! And with the RV camper, the trip went smoothly and after the Chico DMV visit, we got the trailer up there right before nightfall and it was placed on the house pad where the lost home once sat. We did not get much of any time to take a look around, but the devastation was real and evident, and the recent flooding there really left the roads in shambles.”

When Fischer first heard about the Paradise, CA fires he became a big advocate in helping out, so he spent considerable time and money trying to locate a family that needed help, and would purchase an RV camper. But, even though his heart was in the right place, it ended up being a major challenge.

”I learned that it’s not easy to do all that stuff,” said Fischer. “It was very hard to organize, it took a lot of coordinating, planning, and communicating. There’s a lot more than the monetary portion. Procuring the trailer was very challenging. There were a lot of scams and misleading people out there, but ultimately we found a good trailer that would really help out this family.”

Fischer said about two-thirds of the cost of the RV was received through local donations following its purchase. He said many donations were $10, and one man gave $300.

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”Every amount helped,” said Fischer. “And, it was great to see all the support. All of it made this possible.”

Community members are contributed home essentials to fill the trailer, which was delivered several days ago.

Jeff Paul accompanied Fischer to California to deliver the trailer, and the two witnessed the fire’s devastation.

“It was amazing to see the random destruction, the fires took a few homes, then you’d see a couple that didn’t even look touched, then back to piles of debris where houses once stood.” said Fischer. “It really gave me a flashback to the fire’s I worked in back in Malibu in 1993, same thing happened where floods would come in soon after and reek further havoc on the area. In the end, the camper is now helping the family live on the property and rebuild, and it felt like we did the right thing for the right people! And last, could not have done it without all the support and contributions from so many that rallied around the cause. I didn’t get a lot of pictures because I want to respect people’s privacy. It wasn’t a staging photo moment. We got there kind of late, and the whole family wasn’t there.”

He also appreciates the local support of their adopt a family, who lives in Washougal.

Washougal, WA – First grade students at Gause Elementary recently explored use of the scientific method with a sweet holiday-themed assignment. The teacher team of Marvina Bugajski, Lyndsey Russell and Heather Hopkins guided students through the planning process to construct their very own gingerbread houses.

“They were asked to identify the steps they would use, develop a materials list and create a scale blueprint of their ideas,” explained Bugajski. “They also asked themselves a scientific question and made a prediction of what they thought might happen or a problem they may encounter. One student was concerned the walls might fall.  Afterward, students will be asked what their building challenges were and what changes they might have made to improve their build.”

The classrooms were filled with happy, smocked children, helpful parents and all types of candy to use as décor on Monday, December 17. Graham crackers were walls, peppermint sticks became chimneys and M&Ms lined sidewalks as students created their masterpiece gingerbread houses — just in time for Christmas. They were all smiles as they worked on their designs, many with frosting on their chins from sneaking a quick taste.

“We wanted to introduce students to approaching a project with a plan and the considerations of the scientific method. But mostly, it was about having fun,” Bugajski said.

 

Gingerbread

 

 

Vancouver, WA – Nearly 70 teens from three Southwest Washington counties will learn from nationally-trained youth leaders how individuals can make a difference in their communities through policy-making and laws. The Use Your Voice workshop, held at the Excelsior building of Washougal High School on December 21st, is completely led and organized by youth facilitators. Participants will experience working with decision-makers and government leaders.

Middle and high school students from Clark, Klickitat and Skamania Counties who attend the workshop will be invited to put their learning into practice in Olympia on Prevention Policy Day (February 18) by the Washington Association of Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention (WASAVP). They will have meetings with their own senators and representatives to share their youth voice around substance abuse, prevention and building healthy communities.

Youth facilitators presenting at Use Your Voice include:

Madison Langer, Tobacco Free Kids Youth Ambassador
Jesse Jimenez, Police Activities League Coordinator and Prevent Coalition Committee Chair
Bridgette McCarthy, National Youth Leadership Initiative and Advocacy and Policy Training

Also, on the agenda is Washington State Representative Paul Harris to share a short speech about youth empowerment, using your voice and getting involved in government.

Hosted by Youth Now (an initiative of Prevent Coalition) this workshop is funded through the Washington State Department of Health dedicated marijuana account funding. This workshop is offered in partnership with Unite! Washougal Community Coalition. For more information about Unite! contact Margaret McCarthy margaret.mccarthy@washougalsd.org, 360-954-3203, unitewashougal.org

Voice

About Prevent Coalition

Founded in 2006, Prevent Coalition is a group of diverse community members working together using an evidence-based framework to prevent youth substance abuse in Clark County, WA.  Working in collaboration with parents, youth, schools, media, business, government, faith communities, law enforcement, youth-serving organizations, civic groups, health care professionals, and prevention organizations, Prevent Coalition is focused on improving the environment surrounding youth to create a community culture that promotes prevention and honors healthy living. Find toolkits, resources, and information about addiction, prevention, and resilience for adults and youth at PreventCoalition.org

Voice

Listening at a past Use Your Voice workshop.

Washougal, WA — Inspiration is all around Columbia River Gorge Elementary school, and a single kind act has grown into a school-wide Kindness Project to shine a spotlight on positive behavior.

“This all began with creation of a holiday giving tree at the school to help a few local families,” said Christa Kornoski, CRGE Booster.  “It was tagged with 30 gift requests that our school community would volunteer to purchase.  The tags were depleted in two days so we added more families and, by the end, had a total of 74 gift requests.  Every one of them were fulfilled!  This tree demonstrated to students what a caring, giving, and supportive community we have here.”

With the success of the giving tree, the Boosters began thinking about ways to extended kindness beyond holiday giving and create something that could involve every child.

“We began looking at ways of organizing and recognizing random acts of kindness,” Kornoski explained.  “A sample calendar featuring daily kind acts was brought to us by fellow Booster Laura Kelly and we loved the idea.” The group brainstormed simple things students could do at school or at home to develop three calendars; one for young children, one for older and one that is a combination.

“This is when we heard that two 5th grade girls, Grace Hack and Bella Bradford, were also working on creating a kindness initiative,” Kornoski said. “So, we integrated their ideas and energy with ours. They created the calendar for the 4th and 5th graders.  We felt that this idea would be more influential coming from peers rather than parents at the upper elementary grades.” Suggested items on the calendar include writing a thank you note to your bus driver, sitting with someone new at lunch and cleaning out your parent’s car.

The next step in the project was recognizing the kindness students were showing. This is where Steve the Snowman came in.

“Steve is a life-size paper snowman on the hallway wall at CRGE,” Kornoski explained. “Each act of kindness a student shows can be written on a snowball tag and attached to him for all to see.  The goal is to have Steve completely covered with snowballs.”

And it is working.  The month-long CRGE Kindness Project began November 25 and will continue until the start of Winter Break and Steve is so filled with tags of good deeds that a new Sally the Snowman has been added.  Each tag lists the student, their teacher, their kind action and can be written by the student themselves or by a teacher or student who witnessed someone doing something nice.  A random tag is picked each morning to be read during the school news broadcast.  “The classroom with the most acts of kindness will be interviewed by the school’s morning news on why kindness is so important to them,”’ Kornoski said. “We decided it was best to reinforce this behavior by recognition rather than rewards or prizes.”

The plan is to continue after winter break with a Kindness Leadership Club that will meet once a month with a spring event before the end of school.  “We want to encourage kindness as something that will be in students’ thoughts throughout the year,” Kornoski said.  Her hope is that they will take this momentum with them into middle school.

Preparing for middle school is on the minds of Hack and Bradford and they feel this club will help ease that transition by reminding students about the importance of kindness.  “There can be a lot of unkind things that go on in middle school,” Hack said. “This club will help students understand the importance of being kind and inspire them to do their best to treat people nice.”

“We also hope our efforts will grow to the point that we could qualify for a grant to implement a large community project,” said Bradford.

“One of our goals is to change the narrative to focus on the positive things people do rather than the negative behaviors,” Kornoski said.  “We want these students to understand that one kind act can make a significant difference in a person’s life.”

Kindness

Putting a spotlight on positive behavior.