Washougal, WA — Second grade art students of Columbia River Gorge Elementary are already getting into the holiday spirit by created ornaments for Washington Governor, Jay Inslee’s Christmas Tree.

CRGE art teacher, Joanna Sickels, saw the opportunity and applied to have CRGE participate in the project. “It is important for students to share their work and have it seen by a wide audience,” she said.  “Projects that bring works out into the public like this help kids to invest in their art. This is also such a great opportunity to highlight our new art elementary program and let the state know that Washougal School District offers art instruction to all K-5 students.”

Since 2013, the Governor’s Mansion has requested ornaments made by students from around the state to decorate the mansion’s Christmas Tree.  The mansion receives a high number of visitors during the holiday season and guests greatly enjoy seeing the work of K-12 students from Washington State that decorates the tree.

“I’m delighted that Columbia River Gorge Elementary applied to participate and was selected,” said Anne Banks, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Learning and Teaching Program Supervisor.  “This year the theme is “Sea Creatures” and we are all looking forward to seeing the ornaments they are creating!”

Once Sickels learned the school was selected and the ornament theme, she emailed the staff to find out who was teaching about the ocean.  “That is a second-grade subject so second graders were selected to create fish, integrating the two subjects,” she said.  “I tell students that science and art are best friends, and math and art are best friend.  Integrating arts in classroom subjects can show students how art is connected in so many ways to what they are learning.”

For their project, Sickels chose traditional Japanese paper-folding to create an origami fish.  After folding the fish, students used decorative papers to collage and create attractive designs. “Origami is a beautiful medium,” she said. “The project allows them to use their personal creativity to make it their own unique fish ornament.”

According to Banks, the response this year was huge from classrooms across the state who wanted to participate, however, just twenty-two classrooms could be a part of the project. They were selected based on their art descriptions, ESD region, and whether they were an elementary, middle, or high school so that all regions and grade bands were represented in the statewide opportunity.

Washougal, WA – Canyon Creek Middle School parents and special guests experienced “A Day in the Life” of their students on Monday, October 29 at the seventh annual “CCMS Take Your Parent to School Day.”

“The goal is to bring these parents in for first-hand experience in the classrooms and to see what their students are learning and how they are being taught,” said CCMS principal, Sandi Christensen. “It’s great for them to see our wonderful teachers in action and get the chance to spend this time with their middle school child.”

Christensen said she hopes this time together will help promote conversations at home about friends, teachers, classes and what students are learning.

“Once parents see their student in their element here they can be better able to provide support in their education,” she said.

More than one-third of CCMS students had an adult accompany them to classes.  “It was our most well attended parent day yet,” Christensen said.

Parents were not the only ones who took part in the day with many grandparents, aunts, uncles and other special adults in attendance.

Jemtegaard Middle School held their parent day on October 25, 2018. The Washougal School District will continue to do these events.


Washougal WA – Washougal area employers, business leaders and educators came together for an evening of collaboration on October 25 at Washougal High School to help the Washougal School District (WSD) Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department leverage existing school programs to prepare the future workforce.

“Businesses are asking us for skilled workers,” said WSD CTE Director, Margaret Rice.  “We want them to understand the current work being done and the programs offered here to prepare our students for their post-secondary education and careers. An important step in this process is to create meaningful standards that, once met, demonstrate to potential employers that this student has learned the skills needed to be successful in a specific industry.”

Keynote speaker Brock Smith, from Precision Exams and Industry Engaged, explained to the nearly 50 attendees that standards are the common language between industry and schools to help quantify the education experience for employers.

“We need industry to be involved and help to set these standards to assist in shaping curriculum and prepare students to be the future workforce,” he said.

Establishing meaningful standards is where Industry Engaged, an online survey program comes into play.

“Employers can use this tool to become a part of the ongoing review and revision of the standards, assessments and available certificates of more than 170 CTE offerings,” Smith explained.  “This ensures that by the time a student has earned a certificate, or a stackable credential, that the knowledge and skills employers desperately need are represented and recognized by those very same employers.”

“I felt the evening was successful,” said Rice. “Creating meaningful opportunities for business and industry folks to partner with education has not been an easy endeavor, with the typical ask being more than most can give.”  Rice pointed out that this industry engagement tool is not only simple to participate in, it’s easy to pass on to others.  “It also provides the added bonus of a direct benefit to students by way of certifications,” she said. “It’s a win-win-win all the way around.”

According to Smith, the ability to connect industry and education with a tool to review and give input on standards will result in teachers teaching and students learning the skills employers look for when making hiring decisions. “When businesses dedicate time to review education standards in subjects their future workers are learning, it benefits more than just their business; it helps our local economy, is a tremendous help for educators and is a great advantage for students,” Smith said.


Culinary students prepared the dinner.

“Helping a student discover an aptitude and area of interest early in their education provides greater purpose, empowers them, builds confidence and brings meaning to learning,” Rice said.  “It answers the question every student has, ‘When am I ever going to use this?’ because they apply their learning in a practical way that links to their career pathway which keeps them more engaged.”

That engagement is why research shows that CTE students graduate at a 12 percent higher rate than those students who are not CTE concentration completers (360 hours of CTE instruction in one focus CTE area of study).  The positive impact of a high school graduate on a local economy is significant and measurable in increased consumer spending and an increase in contributed state and local taxes.

The evening was sponsored by current business partners.  Harry White from Waddell and Reed sponsored the dinner and Heather Jones and Starbucks sponsored the coffee bar.  The event was staffed with skilled WHS students from Advanced Culinary who planned, prepared and served the dinner, by Future Business Leaders of America members who welcomed guests and assisted participants with signing in. Even the artistic table centerpieces were created by Fine Arts Woodworking and Metals Craft & Production students.

“Our goal this evening was to help bring awareness to local businesses of the programs we offer as well as our work to connect classroom learning with the skills businesses are looking for in their employees,” said Rice. “Input from local industry coupled with recognition of the Career Skills certificates adds tangible value for students as it directly ties the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to a pathway leading to high-demand jobs with local employers.”

Rice is working with her teachers to expand WSD local partnerships to gain insight into the needs of industry. One way they are doing this is through their Program Advisory Committees. These committees focus on providing direction, help to set and achieve goals, and assist in accessing resources to support students within specific program areas within the CTE Department.

“We have found that the key to developing the future workforce is connecting employers with the right students and job candidates early in their educational process,” Rice said. “We also want employers to see the validity of these certifications and give students who have met the standards they have helped develop an opportunity to show them what they know maybe through a professional interview or internship.”

To learn more or to become involved in the engagement process asked of local employers, visit   If you have questions, ideas or want to get involved in Washougal CTE initiatives, contact Rice at (360)

Unite! Washougal Youth Coalition invite youth and their parents to join in planting red tulips and tying red ribbons around downtown Washougal this coming Saturday, October 20th, in preparation for Red Ribbon Week.

Washougal Mayor, Molly Coston, proclaimed October 23 – 31, 2018 as Red Ribbon Week in the city of Washougal, Washington. This proclamation was declared at the September 8th City Council Meeting. All citizens of Washougal are urged to join in special observance of Red Ribbon Week. (Official Proclamation included below).

Members of the Unite! Washougal Youth Coalition are “Planting the Promise” to keep Washougal drug free! Planting red tulips in the fall is a great way to participate in Red Ribbon Week. In the Spring the red tulips will serve as a reminder to Washougal residents that we live, work, and play in a beautiful, healthy and drug free community!

Participants need to complete a youth or adult waiver and must be turned in either to the City of Washougal or Deb Connors no later than 1pm on Friday October 19th.

What: Unite! Washougal Youth Coalition Community Project for Red Ribbon Week (planting red tulips and tying red ribbons)  *Must complete a waiver

When: Saturday, October 20th from 8:30am – 10:30am

Where: Downtown Washougal (meeting in front of Washougal Coffee Company – 1700 Main St #130, Washougal, WA 98671)

Who: Washougal youth, their parents, and other interested community members (those under 18 years of age will need to have a completed permission form and volunteer waiver form)

Contact: Deborah Connors, Unite! Washougal CPWI Coordinator, or 360-713-1232

Washougal, WA — The 2018 Arts Ambassador Scholarship recipients were honored at the recent Enspire Arts Celebration Gala, which was held Saturday at the Black Pearl. The Arts Ambassador Scholarship Program is a newly established program offering $500 scholarships towards instruction in any art form and available for students in grades 6-12 throughout Clark County.

Each recipient of a scholarship will provide an arts based community gift to serve the residents of Clark County. Enspire Arts sought students dedicated to their craft, having a strong desire to keep learning and a motivation to enrich the lives of others. Some students have already had several years of study and some are just beginning their formal instruction. Yet, in all of them there is potential to make a positive and meaningful contribution to the community of Clark County.

Aaron Greene is a senior at Union High School and his community gift will be creating a Peer to Peer String Instruction Program to support the school’s orchestra, as well as provide free lessons to those that may otherwise not have access.  In its first year, the program will have 4 tutors, serving 10 students.

Zoe Hill is an 8th grade student at Jemtegaard Middle School and her community gift will be Reaching Others Through Art.  Zoe will be creating a series of comic drawings highlighting the mental dialogue associated with certain mental conditions. This artwork has the potential to open the doors for discussion with local youth and the challenges they are facing.

Zayah Shore is a 7th grade student at Liberty Middle School and her community gift will be Sharing the Love of Music.  Zayah is zealous to encourage young students to give music a try. She plans to visit elementary classrooms to share what it’s like to learn a new instrument and to encourage kids not to be a afraid of a challenge.  

Zachary Lipinski is a junior at Heritage High School and his community gift will be Connecting with Others Through Music.  Zachary’s love of music has drawn him to want to become an orchestra teacher. Zachary will be providing free public music performances around Clark County.

Cassidy Watson is a junior at Camas High School and her community gift will be The Joy of Dance.  Cassidy is a talented young dancer and is excited at the opportunity to share her joy of dance with others.  Cassidy will be offering three contemporary dance workshops to youth around Clark County.

For more information regarding Enspire Arts, their programs, ways to get involved and making a donation, please see

The 2019 Arts Ambassador Scholarship application period will open March 2019.


From left: Aaron Greene, Zayah Shore, Cassidy Watson, Zoe Hill, and Zachary Lipinski.

Washougal, WA – Princesses, superheroes and witches, oh my!  Local families are invited to wear their Halloween costumes and receive their very own FREE pumpkin at the annual Downtown Washougal Pumpkin Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 27 from noon to 3pm at Reflection Plaza.  The event will take place rain or shine and is presented by City of Washougal and the Downtown Washougal Association.

Nearly 1,000 pumpkins will be on hand thanks to a generous donation from Columbia River Realty and City of Washougal support.  A straw hay maze will be created for kids to walk through to select their special pumpkin.  All pumpkins are free, one per child, while supplies last.

“The Pumpkin Harvest Festival has grown in popularity each year,” said Rose Jewell, event organizer and City of Washougal Assistant to the Mayor and City Administrator.  “It is wonderful to see so many Washougal families come out and enjoy this fun event.”  Previously held Wednesday afternoons during elementary school early release, last year the event was moved to Saturday and saw an increase in participation with entire families able to attend.


The event is completely free and will also feature carnival games with candy and toy prizes run by student and community volunteers, face painting, balloon animal makers sponsored by IQ Credit Union, apples donated by Washougal Family Dental, popcorn from the Washougal Fire Department, a selfie station and more.

“We love to host events such as this in downtown,” said Heena, DWA president.  “After families enjoy the activities at Reflection Plaza, many stay to explore shops and restaurants in downtown Washougal.”

Volunteers are still needed.  If you would like to help please contact


Dressed up for the Pumpkin Harvest Festival!

Vancouver, WA — At their annual ESD 112 Principals’ Meeting, a group of Washougal students presented the results of their April Kindness campaign, which was done to honor victims of February’s Parkland shooting massacre, and to remind people to treat each other with respect.

The five students, who attend Washougal High School, representing the Unite! Washougal Youth Community Coalition, reported on the origins of the campaign, its activities, and its statistical results.

ShaylaRae Tyner explained the campaign’s origins, which are rooted in this writer’s relationship with Ryan Petty, whose daughter, Alaina, was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

“The editor [at Lacamas Magazine] had a personal connection with the Parkland incident, and he wrote an article, which later led our mayor [Molly Coston] make April the month of kindness, which brought kindness into our community and into our schools.”


Leaders of the Unite! Washougal Youth Community Coalition reacted to the mayor’s proclamation and created a special kindness campaign that had significant local impact.

”We created a project called Kindness Week for our school and community to promote thoughtfulness and care,” said Amara Farah. “We created three major goals with this opportunity and we wanted to promote positive action and give people a reason to smile. We wanted to create some source of community after the Parkland impact, and our Mayor declared April Kindness month and we wanted to include the entire community by providing fun activities and random acts of kindness.”

Over the course of a few weeks, the group created a series of fun lunchtime activities designed to get people connected and to put kindness at the forefront of their daily lives.

”From the first day to the last we only saw an increase in participation,” said Rachel Lyall. “With our school principal saying in a time in our society when the norm is to criticize and blame, kindness week modeled the complete opposite.”

Chloe Connors said the activities included a compliment battle, and at Friday’s meeting the students showed the principals a brief skit on how the compliment battle worked, where students tried to out do compliments with each other. The also reported on their kindness boards where people wrote good thoughts. The team created hula hoop competitions that became quite popular. Students filled out smile grams to lift each other up — which increased over the campaign.


The team honored the students and teachers who were killed and injured in the February Parkland, FL shooting.

There was great enthusiasm from fellow students about continuing these types of activities throughout the year. WHS does plan to continue these kindness campaigns, and Kurtis Villareal said they witnessed groups of kids who never spoke to one another start to open up and communicate.

Villareal reported on the statistical findings before and after the campaign.

”We sent out a survey at the beginning of our kindness week, and at the end because we wanted to know if our students at WHS thought we had a positive culture,” said Villareal. “When we sent this out most people didn’t think that we were so positive, but with the all the activities we saw a big increase in the school culture being positive, which is really awesome.”

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Washougal, WA — Proposition 8 is a City of Washougal ballot measure for the November 6, 2018 elections, which gives voters the opportunity to decide whether to change Washougal’s form of government from Mayor-Council to Council-Manager.

It’s a change incumbent city council members requested early in Mayor Molly Coston’s first term, and one that she’s neutral on.

“I support it,” said Washougal City Councilor, Brent Boger. “Checks and balances is not really an ideal system for a city the size of Washougal. I’ve worked in City Manager systems and in strong Mayor systems.”

The issue is also something that the City of Camas is mulling.

Why is the Proposal on the Ballot?

In March 2018, Coston appointed the Citizens Government Advisory Committee and charged them with the task of determining whether it was the right time to transition to a Council-Manager form of government. The Citizens Government Advisory Committee recommended that the City Council place on the November 2018 ballot a measure to adopt the Council-Manager form of government for the City of Washougal. On May 29th, 2018 the Council adopted a resolution placing this issue on the November 2018 ballot.

What is the Council-Manager form of government? (PROPOSED FORM)

In a Council-Manager form of government, power is shared by an elected legislature consisting of a seven-member Council, which is responsible for policymaking and adopting the budget, and a professional city manager, appointed by the Council, who is responsible for administration of the City. Each City Council member serves a four-year term. The Mayor serves as a Council member and community representative, presides over Council meetings, but has no executive power. In this form of government, the Council selects one member of the Council as Mayor, or voters can choose to have the Mayor be directly elected.

A professional city manager is hired by the Council and is responsible for administration of the City. This includes the daily operations of city government, handling personnel functions (including appointment and removal of employees), and preparation of the budget for submission to the City Council for their review and approval. The city manager is directly accountable to and can be removed by a majority vote of the City Council at any time. Under the Council-Manager statutes, the City Council is prohibited from interfering with the manager’s administration.


What is the Mayor-Council form of government? (CURRENT FORM)

In the Mayor-Council form of government, the Mayor is elected at-large and serves as the City’s Chief Administrative Officer and the seven-member City Council is elected to serve as the legislative body of the City. The Council has the authority to formulate and adopt city policies and the budget and the Mayor is responsible for carrying them out. The Mayor attends and presides over Council meetings, but does not vote, except in the case of a tie. The Mayor has veto power over the legislation passed by the City Council, but the veto can be overridden by a majority plus one of the entire Council membership.

A professional city administrator can be hired to serve under the Mayor and assist with administrative and policy-related duties. The City of Washougal currently has a city administrator.

If Proposition 8 passes, how will Washougal transition to a Council-Manager city?

The current Mayor would become an eighth Council member and the Council would continue with eight members until the expiration of the current Mayor’s term of office (December of 2021). The City Administrator would become an Interim City Manager until the city hires a new City Manager or appoints the Interim City Manager on a permanent basis. The eight member Council would designate one of its members to hold the position of Mayor. When the current Mayor’s term expires, the Council would then revert to seven members. After the transition, the Council could decide to place another ballot measure on a future ballot to ask voters if they want to directly elect the Mayor instead of the Mayor being appointed by the Council. In the resolution placing the change in form of government ballot measure on the November ballot, the Council expressed its intention to place a ballot measure to directly elect the Mayor on a future ballot if the change in form of government passes.

To learn more, visit


Washougal Mayor, Molly Coston, takes the oath of office from Judge John Hagensen.

Washougal, WA – Washougal is rolling in barrels of fun with its annual Oktoberfest event on Friday, September 28 from 5-11 pm and Saturday, September 29, from 2-11 pm. The event is in its 6th year and will be held at Reflection Plaza, 1703 Main Street, Washougal.  Proceeds will benefit the work of the Downtown Washougal Association, a group of local merchants and volunteers dedicated to building business and creating community in Washougal.

Delicious German food will be available at the event from Alex Smokehouse.  A variety of other dining options will be available from several food truck vendors. Friday and Saturday evening entertainment will feature DJ dance music spun by DJ Pyum.

The beer garden is going to be bigger and better this year and will feature local brews from 54-40 Brewing, Doomsday Brewing and Grains of Wrath.  Tooleybender Cider Co will be providing the cider.  Beer garden entry is $14 and includes a 2018 commemorative stein and first beverage (while supplies last, 500 daily).  After 2018 steins are sold out, previous years’ steins will be offered with first drink for just $8.  Additional beer and cider will cost $5.  A nominal $1 donation for admission will be asked for entry to the beer garden without a drink or stein purchase.

Family-friendly fun will be provided from 2-5pm and feature Paint Rollers, mobile paint party and more.   Event vendors will include Renewal by Anderson NW and other local craft vendors.  If you are interested in being a vendor, contact DWA at

Event sponsors include Country Financial and tourism support was provided by the City of Washougal hotel/motel tax funds.

Volunteers are needed and should contact to sign up.

Washougal, WA — In their ongoing campaign to build a new Washougal Library, branch manager, Rachael Ries, addressed Camas-Washougal Rotary members Thursday morning about their goals and objectives.

The existing 2,400 square foot library, which was built in 1981, is cramped quarters and isn’t adequately serving the local community as Washougal has simply outgrown it. The Washougal Library is part of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library (FVRL) District, which stretches all the way to Goldendale.

“We are getting the word out that we need a new library,” said Ries. “To help us with the constraint, communities members like Alex Yost are putting up pop-up libraries around town.”

New Library Study

Ries reported that a recent study indicated they need a 10,000-12,000 square foot facility, with a projected cost of $4.5 million to build from the ground up. $1.1 million has been set aside by Fort Vancouver Regional Library for the new Washougal building; $157,000 has been raised by private donors; and they raised a little over $30,000 at the 2018 Dinner in White on the Columbia.

A new library would do the following:

  • Provide ample and more comfortable seating.
  • Provide greater community access to technology.
  • Expand book collections for all age groups.
  • Provide good community meeting spaces.



The Washougal Library wants to have a space in downtown, and either wants to build from the ground up, or find a lease to own space in a multi-use partnership.

As part of their fundraising efforts, the Friends of the Washougal Community Library is hosting a book sale on September 28-29, which will be on Main Street at the corner retail space across from the post office. Hours are 9-5 on Friday and Saturday. On Saturday, from 4-5 pm, there will be a bag sale. It’s $3 for the bag.

Why are they scrambling to find money?

“In our district, we also have three other building projects — Woodland, Ridgefield, Washougal, plus the library system will have to relocate their headquarters, so there is a lot going on,” said Ries. “The headquarters is being encouraged to move out faster than our lease stipulates. And, we are trying to do this without asking for a bond. We have limited options of where to build it.”

Bucking national trend?

A lot of libraries around the country are closing. Is there a risk of local libraries closing down?

“The answer is no, here locally,” said Ries. “There is more use of e-books, but people will take what’s most readily available. The trend toward ebooks is with an older population. They would also like to have writer’s groups meet at the new facility. Kids are reading many books.”

Ries said they haven’t set an actual goal of when to have monies raised or when they’d like to build it, but they are working hard to get to the estimated $4.5 million cost.

“Every year the cost goes up,” Ries said. “That is from ground to completion — on our own. If we could use an existing shell, the cost would be less.”

To learn more, visit