Washougal, WA — What’s in a name?  That is food for thought for Washougal School District students who have been challenged to submit name ideas for the district’s new Career and Technical Education (CTE) food truck.

The food truck was purchased last spring by the WSD CTE Department with the goal to create project-based learning opportunities and eventually a student-led business. 

“This truck will literally be a vehicle for learning,” said Margaret Rice, WSD CTE Director.  “Literally!  It is also an extension of our professional kitchen facility in the Excelsior Building at WHS.”

The contest launched February 1 and will run until February 26, giving WSD students of all ages plenty of time to get their creative juices flowing. 

“We have had some really great entries so far,” said Rice. “Students are putting excellent thought around meaningful themes and describing how they came up with the name.  I am looking forward to seeing what else students have to contribute to this contest.”

Contest details are at  Students must submit their idea using their school district email.

The learning around the food truck will reach beyond the development of the name, food plans and food service.  WHS students will participate in all aspects of the project development including business plans, learn about health department rules, navigate through local permitting and licensing, develop manuals for training and safety and even the creation of marketing and truck maintenance. 

Rice hopes students participating in the name contest feel like they are a part of history in the making and can help to drive the excitement for the truck and the learning opportunities it represents.  “We expect this truck and the program to be around for a long time,” she explained. “Young students will be able to remember their part in helping find a name when they get to the high school and can begin participating in its operation.”

Washougal, WA — The successful Washougal School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) program focuses on providing students with real world experiences led by knowledgeable, passionate staff.  The newest addition to that staff is Alexandra Yost, Washougal’s first CTE Professional Technical Assistant or Pro Tech, for short. 

“We are delighted that Alex is bringing her extensive business and culinary background to the team,” said Margaret Rice, WSD CTE Director.  Yost is the former owner and chef of OurBar in downtown Washougal and is currently a member of the Washougal City Council. She is also very politically active in the area, and frequently attends and organizes local Black Lives Matter (BLM) rallies condemning police violence while calling for racial equality and justice. She has also advocated for defunding the Washougal police.

“Alex’s focus along with supporting CTE teachers will be managing two new, exciting CTE educational opportunities that feature project-based learning,” said Rice. “One is the development of a CTE operated food truck and the second is implementation of a Green Schools Program to our high school in collaboration with WSD Culinary Services.”

In spring 2020, a food truck was purchased by the WSD CTE Department with the goal to create a student-led food truck business.  “This truck will literally be a vehicle for learning,” said Rice.  “Literally!  It is also an extension of our professional kitchen facility in the Excelsior Building at WHS.”

The learning around the food truck is expected to reach far beyond the development of food plans and food service. 

“WHS students will participate in all aspects of the project development,” explained Yost.  “Students will work on a business plan, learn about health department rules, navigate through local permitting and licensing, develop manuals for training and safety and even the creation of marketing.  There will also be opportunities in manufacturing, welding, small engine service/repair and maintenance for students interested in those CTE experiences.”

When operational, the food truck will be available for hire to serve the community at events and will be student led.  Yost is developing a team of mentors to counsel students in this project work.

“We want as many aspects of the food truck as we can to be project-based and student led/created so the first step is a contest to develop a name and will be open to all students of WSD,” explained Rice. “The name should be representative of our community, perhaps with some derivative Washougal.  It needs to be appropriate for all ages, be catchy and not already copyrighted.” 

The contest process is in the works and will be announced soon and run through February 26. Details can be found on the Washougal School District website at  The next student contest will be to design the artwork to adorn the truck.

Yost is also tasked with development of a CTE Green Team.  This effort will bring education, sustainability, and reduced carbon footprint to the WSD High School Culinary Services department, which became self-operated over the summer.

“A major aspect of that transition has been the move to scratch production of meals,” said Rice. “With that change it was also the right time to bring the Green Schools concept to the high school.  Our students have been sorting and recycling food waste and trash in our elementary and middle schools for some time. The high school program will provide an opportunity for students to continue these efforts.”

“Ultimately we want to take this Green Team experience and education down to the classroom level as well as eventually developing a Green Ambassadors program in which students are driving the program forward leading a sustainable program that can be passed on for years to come,” said Yost.

This environmentally focused program sits firmly in WSD’s mission pillars of sustainability and stewardship of resources, partnerships to support students, educational engagement, and equity to include all students. The goal is to involve students to significantly reduce our carbon footprint and contributions to the landfill while taking these experiences forward in life.  Their efforts also help to save District operational funds by reducing waste and disposal costs.  

“The program also brings in aspects of our career and college readiness by introducing students to companies such as Waste Connections,” said Rice.  “They will see various elements of career opportunities they may not have realized existed. In a time when it seems like everything is changing and nothing is ‘normal’, we are trying to take every opportunity to teach our students how to learn from change, collaborate and adapt to find efficiencies in the ‘new’ so we can continually improve the current situation.”

Washougal, WA — Washougal High School’s new Panther of the Month Program celebrates the individual achievements of students by sustaining a culture of learning that not only values academic success but elevates awareness of student contributions to the Washougal community at large.  

“We have so many amazing students to celebrate in our district,” said Michelle Massar, WHS Associate Principal.  “We are excited to launch this program to recognize them and to help share their contributions with our community.”

Student nominations and selections are based on the WHS Pillars of P.R.I.D.E.  Those are perseverance, respect, integrity, diversity and empathy. 

“Staff members nominate students to be considered for the award,” said Massar.  “The WHS Climate and Culture committee selects one nominated senior, junior, sophomore and freshman to receive the award each month.”  

The January 2021 Panthers of the Month are:

Wyatt Sims, Class of 2021 – “Wyatt has made my job as a teacher enjoyable. He participates in class and documents his labs. I enjoy reading about his lab work and learning more about him through these experiences. He is a fine young man, and I am impressed with his work ethic and core values.”

Jacob Streuli, Class of 2022 – “Jacob is always engaged in Zoom and the quality of his assignments is outstanding. If he needs help, he seeks it out. But what I appreciate even more is his positive attitude and leadership abilities!”

Alyssa Harness, Class of 2023 – “Alyssa is working hard during both synchronous and asynchronous times and earning amazing grades. She is a great kid and is putting in the hard work.”

Amanda Acevedo, Class of 2024 – “Amanda is a student who constantly tries to engage her classmates in our classroom. She tries to get everyone into the conversation and even if she does not succeed, she still tries again the next day. Her presence in the Zoom classroom makes our classroom better.”

“Students are being recognized with a yard sign placed within the first five days of the month, their names on the WHS reader board, social media announcements, photos displayed in the school’s front lobby, and more,” said Massar. “We are really proud of these first four honorees.”

The Camas-Washougal Community Chest is pleased to announce the early award of emergency grants to two local non-profit organizations delivering essential services to homeless families in Camas and Washougal.

ReFuel Washougal operates a severe weather shelter in the Washougal Senior Center whenever the local overnight temperature drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. They provide a dinner, overnight sleeping cots and breakfast. They also offer free meals on Friday to the homeless and low income households. Because of COVID-19 restrictions they have not been allowed to use the senior center’s kitchen. The grant will allow them to buy a microwave, ice machine, food processer, serving supplies and food for their meals and emergency food pantry.

St Anne’s Episcopal Church at 2350 Main Street in Washougal offers an overnight Safe Stay Program in their parking lot to homeless families sleeping in their vehicle. In 2017 the Community Chest helped St Anne’s install a shower for the use by the homeless using their Safe Stay Program. This grant will allow St. Anne’s to install a washer and dryer for use by the families to wash and dry clothes and bedding.

The CWCC is a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization for federal charitable tax deduction purposes. CWCC raises money and awards grants to help local non-profits thrive. CWCC is evaluating another 29 grants and will be issuing more grants in early March 2021. More information and donation forms can be found on the CWCC’s website at Please donate if you can, to help those in need in these challenging times.


Washougal, WA — The roles of Washougal School District School Counselors have been altered during the pandemic, in the sense that the journey has changed, but not the destination. Their goal remains to build relationships with all students and families and provide children an outlet to be seen and heard.

“During a typical school year, I am able to see my students at any point throughout a school day, which makes it much easier to have quick check-ins, help problem solve in the moment, and to help students de-escalate and be in a state where they are ready to learn and engage with others,” explained Alysia Noriega, Hathaway Elementary School Counselor. “During remote learning, this is obviously much more difficult to do. While I am still able to connect with my students through many different means such as whole classroom lessons, small groups, and one-on-one, it takes much more coordination between myself, the student, and their families to make it happen.”

“Weekly lessons in social emotional learning are important at any time,” said Catherine Post, Gause Elementary School Counselor. “Right now, they are especially important because of the situation we are in. The lessons provide tools for students to utilize when they are struggling with our current schooling situation. These skills will also be of value when we are able to continue with in person learning again.”

It is important that every Washougal student has someone they feel comfortable with and can turn to in times of need. 

“By having these weekly lessons, I am guaranteed time with all my students,” said Noriega. “I can focus on continuing to build on the relationships I have already established with them, as well as develop relationships with our new Hathaway kiddos.” 

Additionally, it is important for students to spend time building social/emotional skills and language. Having a designated time each week to come together as a whole grade level and learn more about themselves and each other provides an enriching opportunity. 

“Because the students don’t have recess and other outlets for interacting with their peers, my lessons are a combination of check-in time to hear what everyone is doing and excited about, lessons from the district approved social emotional curriculum of Second Steps, and extra videos and games that apply to those lessons,” said Post. “The 30-minute sessions with each grade are very organic in feel. Each grade may need something different on any given day, so I remain flexible to let them have more or less of any of the lesson parts depending on how things go.”


Noriega has a similar approach. 

“I have been able to do a variety of different lessons and activities with my students, and the focus of these lessons vary from week to week, and from grade level to grade level,” she explained. “Topics we have covered this year include coping strategies, problem solving, emotion regulation skills, growth mindset, friendship building, and bullying prevention.” To keep students engaged, Noriega keeps things as interactive and fun as possible, and often incorporates videos, games, drawing activities, read-alouds, and activities that allow them to move.

“This year has brought on a host of different challenges that we didn’t know we would have to endure,” admits Noriega. “I believe one of students’ greatest challenges during this time is not having access to a learning environment that is consistent and structured. As a parent myself, I know how difficult it can be to balance my own work while also helping my kids with their schooling.”

For students to fully engage with their work and get the most out of their school days, it is helpful for them to have a consistent routine, be in a place that is free of distractions, and to be spending an adequate amount of time each day working on academic-related activities. However, it can be difficult for some families to create this kind of environment at home, which can create challenges for our students’ success.

Amongst all the obstacles that this year has brought, Post and Noriega have been able to do their job in a meaningful, successful way. “One main area of success is that I have been able to build strong, positive, and unique relationships with all of my Hathaway students,” said Noriega.  “I have been able to do this not only through my weekly SEL zoom lessons, but also by hosting small lunch groups, working with students 1:1, doing home visits, and delivering personalized notes to students.” 

“This year I have seen success in getting students with barriers to connect with their teachers,” added Post. “I have seen kindergarteners learn how to be students. I have also worked with staff and talked with them about tools to help with their emotional health because we cannot help our students if we do not take care of ourselves. Our Gause students know we care about them, and that is the best feeling of success.”

Hindu prayer will open meetings of both Washougal City Council and Clark County Council in Washington on January 11 and 19 respectively, containing verses from world’s oldest extant scripture. 

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will deliver the invocations from ancient Sanskrit scriptures remotely before both Clark County Council and Washougal City Council. After Sanskrit delivery, he then will read the English interpretation of the prayers. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages. 

Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, will recite from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use; besides lines fromUpanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He plans to start and end the prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.  

Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed plans to say “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”; which he will then interpret as “Lead us from the unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, and Lead us from death to immortality.” Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he proposes to urge county councilors and city councilmembers and others present to keep the welfare of others always in mind. 

Zed, a global Hindu and interfaith leader, has been bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award. Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, on the Advisory Board of The Interfaith Peace Project, etc. He has been panelist for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post; and produces a weekly multi-faith panel “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication for over nine years. 

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA. 

Washougal, WA — Remote learning has been a challenge to navigate for all students, teachers and administrator, but for two first-year teachers at Washougal High School, the challenge comes as they begin their careers in education.  

Jered Barker, WHS 9th and 10th Grade Algebra/Geometry teacher said his biggest challenge has been to build a relationship with students.

“Relationships are the key to any successful classroom and in the virtual world it has become increasingly difficult,” he said. “Students rarely have their cameras on, so I don’t even know what some of my students look like outside of one picture in their Skyward account. I love building relationships with my students so I have done the best I can with what they will give me.”

Elise Piet, WHS 9th Grade English and 10th Grade World History agrees. 

“It is difficult to get to know my students and their needs,” she said. “I have to help my Freshmen navigate high school and the demands of it, without them ever having set foot in the building.”

Both Barker and Piet use conversation starters in their ZOOM classrooms to help develop connections.

“I spend time every class talking with the students about their interests, things that have happened to them,” explained Piet. “The time I spend getting to know the students has paid off ten-fold as they are more likely to come to class, engage, and feel valued in my classroom.”

Barker starts his class with a silly question that has nothing to do with academics.

“The goal is to get the students talking to me and to each other,” he said. “This has built a sense of community in our classroom. I get to learn what they like and dislike and interesting facts about each student.”

Barker came prepared for the distance teaching having attended Western Governors University, which is a completely online University.

“All my classes were taught using a webcam with a teacher sometimes I never even saw,” he said. “All the work was left up to me to complete at my own leisure, so I know how the students are feeling because this type of learning involves a lot of self-motivation to get work done.”

Piet attended Washington State University Vancouver, and her program focused a great deal on restorative practices. 

“That relationship building aspect has helped me navigate classroom management and community and culture,” she explained.  “I also took a Technology in the Classroom course that has helped me navigate online learning, so I am able to better help my students when they have questions with tech.”

“For both of these educators; the first year of teaching is a scary and tumultuous time,” said Sheree Clark, WHS Principal. “The fact that they were not only willing but excited to start their first year of teaching during a pandemic, speaks to their dedication as educators.” 

Clark has heard feedback from both parents and students that Piet’s class is engaging and the students feel truly cared for.

“Elise also has a way of making history come alive and connect it to current world issues,” said Clark. “And Jered brings with him an energy that engages students yet challenges their math thinking skills. He has taken bold technical steps by using multiple platforms to help students engage during remote learning.  We are delighted Jared and Elise are both Panthers!”

Piet said she feels students are much kinder to not only their peers, but to themselves, which is a positive result of remote learning.

“They have really stepped up to the plate and are trying to help each other get through this,” she said. “Not just in my classroom, but district-wide students are volunteering, helping out, sending virtual hugs, and checking in with each other.”

An unexpected positive for Barker has been having more time at home with his newborn daughter. 

“It has been a blessing to get to work from home and see my daughter all day and help my wife out by changing diapers in between lessons,” he said. “It has not been easy or the first year that I expected but I am grateful to have a job and work with an amazing staff,” Barker admits. “I know going forward this will only make me a better teacher because I have learned new ways of teaching that I never would have thought of without the distance learning. I cannot wait to get into my classroom and see my students, some for the first time!”

Jered Barker, WHS 9th and 10th Grade Algebra/Geometry teacher.

Washougal, WA – Washougal School District is making plans to reopen a two-day per week hybrid learning model in January.  Following Washington State Department of Health updated guidelines for school reopening released this week, the district will begin the phased implementation of its hybrid model, starting with students in grades K-3.  The hybrid model features both school and remote learning components.

“We are so excited to welcome additional students back in-person, we know how critical this is for student success,” said Mary Templeton, WSD Superintendent.  “We know this will be a huge support to our students and their families, and make so much more learning possible.”

These new state guidelines include new metrics, based on emerging research and data gathered by state and national officials, that will allow schools to have increased in-person learning opportunities for students.  

“We are working with our teachers and staff, public health officials, and other area school districts to review our safety protocols,” said Aaron Hansen, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Student Support, in a letter to parents and staff.  “We will get students into classrooms as quickly as we safely can within these new frameworks.”  School and class schedules will be posted as soon as they are available.

The WSD timeline calls for grades K-3 to begin the hybrid model starting Tuesday, January 19, 2021.  Grades 4 & 5 would begin the hybrid learning model starting shortly thereafter, as long as transmission in the school environment is limited.  Students are placed in small cohorts, or groups of 15 or fewer students per group.  They will be assigned their group alphabetically by their guardian’s last name. 

“We want our families to know they have a choice to come back to the classroom in the hybrid learning model, or to stay in distance learning,” said Templeton.  “Families can let the school office know if their student will remain in full-time distance learning, and teachers are provided time each week to support these students.”

According to state guidance, plans for middle and high school will be available once the spread of COVID in our community declines to levels specified in the updated reopening guidance (average cases per 100,000 over 14 days below 350 for middle school, below 200 for high school).  “In order to serve more students in our classrooms safely, all of us must wear masks, watch our distance, and wash our hands,” added Templeton. “Health officials studying the spread of COVID emphasize these simple, but critical steps the entire community can take to enable next steps in our reopening.” 

For more information visit the WSD website at:


Washougal, WA — For the first time ever, Washington State and Oregon held Blood Donor Day on December 18 to commemorate the Amtrak 501 passenger train heading from Seattle to Portland that was tragically derailed on December 18, 2017, prompting immediate action by first responders to aid everyone aboard the train. Injured passengers were transported to local hospitals, and cared for with the blood donations made by our community. The care provided was only possible because our shelves were stocked, weeks prior, with enough blood.

“But our efforts to keep a health and safe blood supply doesn’t end there,” said Lauren Reagan, of Bloodworks. ”Bloodworks needs all donors to keep donating throughout the winter season to help our preparedness plan and be ready for anything. Donating blood is a simple act that can mean so much to those in need.”

Today’s special day is also preparation for January, which is National Blood Donor Month.

January is National Blood Donor Month, so what better time to make a donation and impact someone’s life? That “someone” could be a loved one or friend,” said Reagan. “It’s the time of year when local blood supplies are dipping due to high patient demand. Don’t wait until a person close to you needs blood, act now by giving at a Pop-Up Donor Center near you.

The next Pop-Up Donor Center will be held January 4 and 5 at the Black Pearl on the Columbia, which is located at 56 South 1st Street, Washougal, WA 98671. Hours are 8:30-2:30 pm each day.

Link to Book Appointment:

Bloodworks Vancouver Donation Center: 9320 NE Vancouver Mall Blvd Ste. 100 Vancouver, WA 98662

All donations are by appointment only. The one hour donation appointment is a safe and essential action to support local hospitals and patients. The pop-up centers are being conducted in accordance with social distancing guidelines. No walk-ins, guests, or people under age 16 are permitted onsite. All donors are required to wear masks during their appointment. Bloodworks has posted information addressing questions and concerns for blood donors at


Washougal WA  — Washougal School District’s mission to know, nurture and challenge all students to rise was given a boost last spring when it was awarded a Pre-K Inclusion Champions grant worth $20,000.  The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) grant aligns with the state’s goals of prioritizing inclusive practices in early childhood learning as well as the K-12 system.

“This is the perfect grant for us as our district focuses on equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Penny Andrews, WSD Special Education Director. “By creating supportive and inclusive classrooms and learning experiences for our preschool students, we are laying the groundwork for improving our inclusion practices into K-12 classrooms. Part of the grant money is designated for creating inclusive classrooms for our earliest learners by having activities designed for learners with specific needs.”  

The inclusive practices grant is helping school districts shift to a model where students with special needs are able to access general education classroom settings as much as possible.

Other funds are being used for professional development including an inclusionary practices book study, Universal Design for Learning in the Early Childhood Classroom,  for all preschool staff as well as a series of seminars through ESD called The Inclusionary Practices Project that staff are participating in.

“This year, as we focus a lot of energy into equity, the Pre-K Inclusion Grant from OSPI has been of great support,” said Leslie DeShazer, Birth-5 Teacher on Special Assignment. “A portion of the grant money was used to purchase material to support inclusion in our six preschool classrooms.”


They include equity driven books to support social/emotional differences, tools to accommodate fine/gross motor differences, tools to accommodate sensory processing differences, and tools to accommodate communication differences. 

“The materials purchased with the grant will provide the opportunity for students with special needs or learning differences to participate and attend preschool with their general education peers,” said Maggie Jennings, preschool speech language teacher.  “Inclusion is a wonderful opportunity for students with special needs as well as their general education peers.”  

“I’m confident that these materials will help each and every one of our students feel more supported and empowered in our preschool classrooms,” DeShazer added.  “In combination with the professional development our teachers have been hard at work with, these materials will make the huge task of embracing equity much more attainable.” 

“I can’t tell you how impressed I have been with the preschool classrooms during ‘regular times,’ but especially this year with the COVID challenges,” said Mary Templeton, WSD Superintendent. “They have all created inviting, vibrant, exciting environments for our youngest learners! I appreciate their commitment and passion to see our littlest ones known, nurtured, and challenged to Rise!  The investment of this grant into equity makes my heart happy!” 

The grant ends in spring of 2021.