Washougal, WA — Washougal Police were out in force the morning of November 13 at the Washougal High School parking lot to catch students. Catch them doing good, that is! Students who were found wearing seat belts were rewarded with a $5 gift card from Dutch Bros Coffee.  This was a part of the Target Zero Safe Driving Task Force “Click it Bro” program in partnership with Unite! Washougal.

“It feels good to be out here to reward good behavior,” said Washougal School District Resource Officer and WHS Alumni, Kelly Anderson. “It is great to be working with Target Zero on this and reinforce the importance of seat belt use.”

The Target Zero program believes our culture should motivate people to aspire to become safe drivers, in the same way, smoke-free environments are now valued.

“We need our culture to embrace, celebrate, and promote the responsibility each of us has to be a safe road user,” said Hillary Torres, Region 6 Target Zero Manager. “When we reach this place, being a safe driver will not only be important for our own self-esteem and sense of belonging, but it will also be the foundation to ensure the safety of our family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.”

Through a grant from State Farm, Target Zero provided one hundred $5 Dutch Bros certificates for high school drivers “caught doing the right thing” by wearing their seat belts at five area high schools throughout Clark County. Dutch Bros matched this with an additional $500 of gift certificates. These certificates are being given out by School Resource Officers at each location.

“Unite! Washougal is excited to be leading on the organization of this project,” said Margaret McCarthy, Unite! Drug Free Community Program Coordinator. “This is also an excellent way of promoting positive relationships between law enforcement and our youth.”

Torres and McCarthy attended statewide prevention training and through discussions, discovered opportunities to work together and are planning to bring several future programs to Washougal.

Target Zero

“A group of WHS ASB students called PEP Unite! are the leaders of this project,” said Megan Kanzler, Unite! Drug Free Community, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Washougal Youth to Youth Advisor and WHS Interact Advisor. “They are a leadership workgroup that is focused on positively engaging people in their community. A part of their work was to collect data on student seatbelt use at the high school before today and then follow up to see if the program helped to change behavior.”

On September 26, PEP Unite! members volunteered to stuff envelopes with the Dutch Brothers certificates and appreciation awards to be distributed by SROs at WHS and other schools. Washougal Mayor and Rotary member, Molly Coston, also volunteered to help.

“Steps like Target Zero are moving us in the right direction around safe driving to make our community a better place to live,” Coston said. “I appreciate the idea of saying thank you for positive behavior.”

“It’s all about community,” said Brianna Gonser, WHS Interact President. “It is about being positive and about being safe. All the Target Zero partners have the same mindset and values, which is cool. It is great to
notice the positive. The positive does exist and is worth celebrating.”

WHS juniors Olivia Dinnel and Brianna Ruth were stopped on their way into the parking lot as a part of the program.

“At first I wondered what the officers were doing and did not know what to expect,” said Ruth. “I think it is really cool that they are giving rewards for wearing seat belts. I think it will work to encourage other students to wear them.”

“We need to collectively make safe driving not just normal, but admirable,” said Torres. “Together we can improve safe driving beliefs and behaviors until we reduce the risk of death and serious injury to zero — because every life counts.”

Target Zero is a call to action. It shakes the roots of the belief that “accidents happen” and that the loss of life and health are acceptable outcomes of driving. Other initiatives they support include signaling, not
speeding, and avoiding driving while distracted.

Target Zero
Rewarding good behavior.

Washougal WA – Washougal High School held their second annual Pathways Conference for students on Thursday, November 7.  This year’s focus was careers in Hospitality, Tourism, Human Services, Ag, Food and Natural Resources.  The event was designed to prepare students for the world of work while bringing a more personal approach to the standard “Career Day.”

“We’re really trying to provide students with exposure to a professional conference setting while giving them an ‘up close and personal’ learning experience from local business folks about career pathways that are of interest to them,” said Margaret Rice, Washougal School District Career and Technical Education Director.

Conference planning began last year in order to identify and recruit a wide variety of professionals to speak.

“We had representatives from Disney College to Agri business to event planning,” said Lisa Leonard, WSD Career Specialist and Work Site Learning Coordinator.  “We are so grateful to all of our speakers who took time out of their busy day and away from their businesses to share their expertise.  Many were either Washougal residents, alumni or own a business in Washougal.”

The conference keynote speaker was WHS Alumni Matthieu Grant, who spoke about opportunities and skills needed to work for Disney.  Other break session speakers included Drew Bergerson, Quest Events; Alex Yost, Our Bar; Mychal Dynes, Little Conejo; Michelle Weeks, Good Rain Farm; Robert Hensley, iFill Cup; Nathan Day, You Move Me; Beth Nelson, United Flight Attendant; Tera Yano, Sea Mar; Jayodin J. Mosher NIC-M, Interpreter for Sorenson; and LaDonna Davis, Cosmetology, Hairy Kari’s.


After a morning of speakers, students loaded buses to visit either Ilani Casino in Ridgefield or Skamania Lodge in Stevenson.   

“Both businesses went out of their way to show students a wide variety of career
opportunities,” Leonard said.

The Ilani Casino Human Resources representatives provided Pathways Conference students with a complete overview of career opportunities as well as a tour of their guest services.  

“They were very encouraging to the students,” said Leonard. “You could tell they are very passionate about what they do.”  

Students also heard about the company’s tuition reimbursement for full-time employees and how they promote from within.

“Students were able to hear about every aspect of guest services at Skamania Lodge,” said Leonard.  “The team there is great!  Our Culinary teacher would hope to build an apprenticeship program with Skamania for students interested in hospitality careers.”

“Our goal is to have a Pathway Conference each year covering all 16 Career Clusters over a 4-year period that way our students the opportunity to participate in a different conference each year of their high school
career,” said Rice.

Washougal, WA — Washougal High School Fine Arts Woodworking students have to think “outside the box” when faced with a design and manufacturing issue posed by a local business called Foodie in Training

The Camas-based startup, Foodie in Training, offers subscribers a collection of tried-and-true recipes to help bring a family table experience back to today’s time-strapped, technology dominated household.  Their members receive monthly recipes, how-to cooking videos and quarterly mailings of recipes to add to their collection; recipe cards which fit nicely into a robust Foodie in Training recipe box.  

“The basic challenge was for students to make a better box at a better price,” explained Brent Mansell, WHS Wood and Metal Technology Teacher. “With the target finished price $10 per box, students had to think critically about materials used, including type of wood, hinges, stains, and nails, as well as how to reduce labor costs by choosing the best cut of wood and keeping in mind efficient assembly time.” 

In a presentation to students in October, Foodie partners Stephanie Millman, Kelly Bruce and Kasey Morales, explained their recipe boxes were previously constructed by a crate manufacturer in Wisconsin from scrape pallet materials.

“After three orders, we found that they were too heavy and expensive to ship and the quality was not high enough to represent our brand,” Morales explained.  “We like the rustic look of the existing boxes, the fact they are made in the USA, and the internal size that allows for the expansion of a recipe card collection.”

What they were not satisfied with was the weight (leading to a high cost of shipping) and the overall appearance of the finished piece. 

Building a better box.

“We’re delivering a high quality, tactile experience,” explained Morales.  “We want the boxes to look good enough to proudly display on kitchen counters.” 

The three most important aspects for students to consider were design, function and cost.  

“We asked the students to keep the customers in mind,” said Millman. “Our target market includes Foodie members and gift givers.  We asked them to do their own research and consult with their family about the project to get their thoughts.” 

Once students heard the design parameters and expectations, they got busy taking measurements of box samples, jotting down notes on paper and creating new design ideas.  Their next step was to take those ideas out to the wood shop to begin creating prototypes. 

“Students are learning valuable lessons through this process,” said Mansell.  “They are considering the needs of a customer in the look, function and quality of the final product.  They are also realizing how their time is money and the importance of considering how manufacturing elements affect the cost to construct each box.”  


“We are very excited to connect with a local business that can bring a real-world problem to our classrooms and students,” said Margaret Rice, Washougal School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director.  “Not only are CTE students presented with an actual business challenge to solve, but once a winning box design is created, the Foodies will have a better product and will need ongoing manufacturing which could result in a job for students.”

“This has been a very exciting process for us,” said Morales.  “We love providing this classroom opportunity for our high school students and are impressed with the enthusiasm they have brought to the project.” To demonstrate student pride, the final boxes will be signed by the individual students who built them. 

WHS sophomore, Aiden Baalaer, admits that this project feels different from other class assignments.

“It seems like we are working as a team on a real job,” he said.  “It is challenging to make sure that every part of the box fits flush and perfect.”

Baalaer enjoys the hands-on aspect of woodworking.  Before the box project he built a scribe and a cutting board.

In the classroom.

“In this day and age, it seems like more people are moving toward working with technology, so it is good to learn a skill that you use hands, tools and saws for,” he said.  

“We would like to continue to work with local businesses to provide authentic business challenges for our students in the classroom,” said Rice.  “Real-world application of 21stCentury Skills like problem solving taught in this way are critical for students heading into the job market.” 

Customers can get a look at the student created boxes and learn more about Foodie in Training at the upcoming Washougal High School Bazaar on Saturday, November 16. 

“We are excited to meet new customers and show off the wonderful talent of these WHS students!” said Bruce.

For more information about Foodie in Training contact Bruce at 360-771-7893 or find them online at


What started as a small business networking group 12 years ago has turned into an annual Camas and Washougal School District food drive to benefit Children’s Home Society, the C.A.R.O.L. program and the American Legion of Skamania County.

It’s called Stuff the Bus.

“Typically we raise on average 60,000 pounds of food,” said Tabitha Shaffer, a Stuff the Bus organizer. “A couple years ago we hit 80,000 pounds, and we literally stuff the buses. There are usually two or three buses from each high school. A total of four to six buses, and we drive around to all the local schools and pick up literally tons of food! It’s a great event!”

Beginning November 1, the area schools will begin collecting food in designated bins. 

“We pick up all the food on December 6 from the schools in Camas and Washougal,” said Angie Cherry, a Stuff the Bus organizer. “We collect from everyone who has participated, and all of the kids get a high five as they help us load the food in the bus.” 

Each bus is weighed before it’s filled so organizers know how many pounds have been collected. Last year, Washougal beat Camas — but it’s a friendly competition. The students bring in canned food from home and sometimes classrooms are even rewarded for their efforts. 

Beginning November 1, the Stuff the Bus organizers will rally the schools to start collecting food. Volunteers will stand out in front of Safeway (November 23, 24 and 27 from 10 am-6 pm) asking for food or money donations, and Grocery Outlet also runs a promotion for food bags that can be purchased, which helps Stuff the Bus get more food for their program. 

“Our goal is to provide enough food for the entire year so that our beneficiaries can give to people in need,” said Cherry.

The C.A.R.O.L. Program gathers and delivers toys for kids 18 and under, as well as family food boxes during the holiday season. The American Legion of Skamania County distributes food baskets to Veterans and Children’s Home Society distributes about 365 bags of food to families in need per month. 

Children’s Home Society also supplements the backpack program.

“Every year we count on our community to support the program with cash and food donations,” said Shaffer. “We usually raise about $7,000 per school district, which goes directly to the cause with the exception of our operating costs. Starbucks in Camas and Washougal also donates coffee and hot chocolate.”

And it all comes to a fun finish on December 6, kicking off with a meeting at each High School. They load kids on the buses and then they go to the schools and collect from the area middle schools — all with a fire and police department escort.

It’s literally stuffing the buses.

Once collected, the goods are delivered to the non-profits.

Stuff the Bus is looking for businesses or people to sponsor the event. Sponsors get their name on T-shirts and get advertising on their website —

Food donated to Children’s Home Society.

The brand-new roundabouts on State Route 14 in Washougal were officially open for business earlier this week at an official ribbon cutting at Steamboat Landing Park, which was attended by local dignitaries including Mayor Molly Coston, Washougal City Council members, Port of Camas-Washougal Commissioners, and State Senator Ann Rivers.

“It is officially open to traffic, and is functionally complete,” said Tamara Greenwell, Communications Director for WSDOT’s SW Washington Region.  “They are the way they’ll need to be to move forward. We still have a couple slip lanes closed, and there will be landscaping and touching up loose dirt and planting, then finishing all the electrical work. Electrical work is all of the lighting on the sections, which is being updated and we’re waiting on electrical cabinets to power the lights.”

They are installing a Washougal sign and the roundabouts feature stunning metal artwork/sculptures by Angela Ridgway. They are now there on the grounds. 

VIDEO REPORT: To watch a video on the ribbon cutting, click here.

“It’s a really beautiful welcome to Washougal,” said Tyler Yeoman, the project’s chief inspector. “We still have soil and plants to make it look better.”

The total cost for both roundabouts is $7.5 million, which includes design, construction, new lighting, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and landscaping. 

At the ribbon cutting.

The new ITS equipment will track traffic and alert WSDOT about any issues. That will be installed in November. There are minimal traffic impacts, and Greenwell said the project will be 100 percent complete by the end of the year.

The started in late May — right after Memorial Day.

Washougal, WA — Washougal area employers, business leaders and educators came together for an evening of collaboration on October 17 at Washougal High School to help the Washougal School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department leverage existing school programs to connect with and 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, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Precision Exams, works with local and state education and workforce development agencies to connect workforce and CTE in ways that help students make more informed decisions on their pathway and career options. He explained to the nearly 50 attendees that standards are the common language between industry and schools to help quantify the education experience for employers. One key aspect is then communicating employer information back to the appropriate candidates as demonstrated by individual aptitude. “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.

As part of the assessment platform, provided by Precision Exams, employers can signal to students and future candidates which of their earned credentials represent the desired knowledge, skills and aptitude for the positions those employers are hiring. “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 190 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 love that this Business Connections workshop is becoming an annual event,” 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.

“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. Our State recognizes the importance of this too and has created a variety of Pathways that students can take to graduate from high school related to their post-high school education and career plans.” 

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; Courtney Wilkinson branch owner of Country Financial sponsored the dinner and Mallorie Henker owner of Outlaw Coffee sponsored the coffee bar.  The event was staffed with skilled WHS students from Advanced Culinary who planned, prepared and served the dinner, by members of Future Business Leaders of America, SkillsUSA and our Associated Student Body 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.

Talking to CTE members.

“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 partnering with employers to connect them 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)

A Washougal School District teacher and a long-time school volunteer were recognized as Real Heroes of Clark County through the Learn Here project honoring individuals for outstanding service to students and education in Clark County. Dani Allen, art teacher at Jemtegaard Middle School and Rona Ager, parent, Booster Club member and STEAM advocate, were recognized at an award program on October 17 with 21 other honorees. 

The countywide program, created by Identity Clark County, recognizes educational staff and volunteers in partnership with educational institutions for their efforts to serve the Clark County school communities.  Sponsors of the award program were RealLiving Real Estate Group, Port of Vancouver USA and NW Capital Mortgage. 

Dani Allen

Dani Allen is an outstanding art teacher at Jemtegaard Middle School, a position she has held for the past five years.  She has worked for the Washougal School District for 12 years in a combination of Special Education and Art positions.  Allen is a passionate advocate for public art, partnering with the City of Washougal and the Washougal Art and Culture Alliance to showcase student art through projects like murals in parks, art displays at City hall, and art galleries as part of Washougal Youth Art Month.   She and her Club 8 students recently completed a mural on a retaining wall in downtown Washougal at D and Durgan Streets. 

Allen cultivates an appreciation for different artistic styles and media, with a program that engages youth in art that is relevant and meaningful to them.  Students share that Allen helped them understand art as an idea, and grow an awareness of the importance and beauty of their ideas, and that she helps build their confidence, supports them when they are not having a good day, and teaches them that they can do amazing things with their lives.  Allen continues her work with students through projects in the school’s Club 8program, which offers after-school enrichment activities and interest exploration.  Allen leverages student interest in technology to expand their artistic skills, with creative lessons involving stop motion animation and film making. 

Pork Belly Bites at Tommy O’s at the Camas Hotel. Available during Happy Hour! Visit

Allen is a champion for students with special needs and differences, too.  She started a Unified sports program in 2014, first with soccer, then later with multiple teams, and eventually multiple sports.  The Unified sports teams include students with special needs and abilities, helping them grow their skills so they can practice and compete with other teams around the region.  Her soccer team won the silver medal at the state tournament last season.  Allen was also a Gay Straight Alliance advisor for students in several schools, recognizing the impact these clubs have on promoting student inclusion and well-being, as well as fostering a safe school climate for all learners.

Rona Ager

Rona Ager has been volunteering in classrooms and supporting the Gause Elementary Boosters for nearly 10 years.  She is known for spearheading and taking the lead on numerous Booster projects and is always available to help where needed around school.

Ager created and oversees the grade level enrichment program and Booster supported assemblies, bringing in at least two or more fun and unique experiences for students each year.  A personal goal was to help organize with other elementary schools to negotiate discounts when contracting for presentations.  This idea paid off with a guest storyteller assembly last year and this year with the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Museum.

Her special interest in the support of STEAM projects lead her to organize a Science Night five years ago which has become a family STEAM Night.  The past two years, the event included a Science Fair with a student science project competition during the school day for ages kindergarten to fifth grade.

She organized volunteers to help support Booster and classroom activities, took care of the bulletin boards and display case/communications, led the BoxTops and Labels collection fundraisers (one year bringing in more than $2,000 in box tops), enhanced and organized the Mustang Market, managed and started the monthly birthday display case, and has stepped up to hold various Booster Club officer roles through the years.

When beloved Gause teacher, Alisa Vail, passed after a battle with cancer, Ager organized the purchase, installation and unveiling ceremony of a Buddy Bench to honor Vail.

Ager stepped up to lead the Mustang Hall of Fame Celebrations which rewards positive student behavior, she broadened it from an extra recess to now include shows, games and special activities three times a year.  She has also arranged events honoring veterans at the Veterans Day assemblies for Gause Elementary School and Jemtegaard Middle School (JMS) as well as the “Honor roll/On a roll” at JMS. She has assisted with Sport-a-Thon, Family Fitness Night, Artists in Residency and Teacher Wish List programs.

“None of what I have done over the years has been without collaborating with so many other fantastic and committed volunteers and staff doing all kinds of other things as well as backing up and supporting the areas I have led,” she explained. “It truly is a team activity to support our schools and students.  It’s been an honor being a part of making great things happen in the Washougal School District!”

By Jodi Thomas, ESD 112

Washougal, WA — Washougal students from Jemtegaard and Canyon Creek Middle Schools are the newest contributors to the surge of public art in Washougal.  On October 12, a crisp, sunny Saturday morning, more than 25 student artists from the Club 8 after-school program met to create a patchwork Chinook salmon mural on a public retaining wall at the corner of “D” and Durgan Streets downtown.

The creative mural work began weeks ahead when Club 8 students, lead by JMS art teacher, Dani Allen, met with local muralist Travis London to come up with their individual designs for the piece.   Allen was the driving force behind the project that has been envisioned for several years.

“This was a great example at the partnerships that take place in Washougal to support art,” said Allen.  “City of Washougal supplied the location and cleaned and primed the wall.  Washougal Schools Foundation provided a grant for the paint and a consulting fee for Travis.  Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance worked to bring these relationships together and Washougal School District supports the middle school Club 8 after-school program.”

“It’s great working with middle school students,” said London. “They enjoyed learning the process of mural creation.  I met with them just once and gave them tips and direction on how to take these designs from paper to a wall. They did great!”

London conceived of the Chinook salmon design to serve as a template because of how the fish represents the Washougal area.

According to Allen, the message around the mural was to celebrate diversity and individuality.  


“Students took inspiration from the theme that being different is ok and differences should be celebrated,” she said.  “They wanted the images to be positive and inspirational.  The students took their design and this project very seriously.  Just look at how many kids came out early on a Saturday to be a part of it.”

“I love painting and love making our world a better place,” explained Aubrey Kleiva, JMS 6th grade student.  “It is cool because I can make people smile through art.”  Her section of the mural included a quote to
offer encouragement.  Her words are; “Life can be a rough current but just keep swimming through it.”

Allen and her Club 8 art students were also responsible for creating a mural on the baseball shed at Lower Hathaway Park ball field in 2018 and are already looking at locations for their next public art project.

There’s been a surge of public art in Washougal:

Creating the mural.
The completed mural.

Washougal, WA — The City of Washougal is inviting local families to the annual Downtown Washougal Pumpkin Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 26 from noon to 3 p.m. at Reflection Plaza.  Everyone is encouraged to come in their Halloween costume.   The event will take place rain or shine and is presented by City of Washougal.

Nearly 1,000 free pumpkins will be available for children thanks to generous donations from Columbia River Realty, Dental Excellence and support from City of Washougal.  A straw hay maze will be created for kids to walk through to select their special pumpkin.  Pumpkins are limited to one per child, while supplies last.  Children must be accompanied by an adult.

“The Washougal community really enjoys our family fun events such as The Pumpkin Harvest Festival,” said Rose Jewell, event organizer and City of Washougal Assistant to the City Manager. “It continues to grow with more sponsors and partners and each year we add new fun activities!”  


The event will feature carnival games with candy and toy prizes, balloon animal makers sponsored by IQ Credit Union, apples donated by Washougal Family Dental, popcorn from the Washougal Fire Department, safety treat bags from Washougal Police Department, a selfie station and more.  Other sponsors include Rivertalk Weekly and Washougal Business Association. 

Volunteers are still needed.  If you would like to help please visit the WBA website at or contact Jewell at

A look at the past events:

Washougal, WA – Columbia River Gorge Elementary first graders are getting a helping hand from Jemtegaard Middle School students to practice problem solving and engineering skills as they explore how the human hand works.

“We are currently studying the whole human body which includes the skeletal and muscular systems,” said Allison McGranahan, CRGE first grade teacher.  “Using paper hands along with string, straws and tape to represent muscles, bones and tendons, older students helped the younger students examine how these systems work together to make a hand move.”

Last year, McGranahan and fellow first grade teacher, Sydney Termini, were looking for projects to support this learning and were drawn to the engineering component of this lesson.

“This work required a bit of one-on-one help, so we approached the middle school and they agreed to assist us,” McGranahan said.


This year JMS science teacher, Greg Lewis, recruited his Robotics class to lend a hand.  

The project work was completed over two days, September 27 and 30. “Some of our first graders were a bit overwhelmed the first day with so many instructions and materials,” said McGranahan.  “But having a buddy beside them to ask questions and give advice made all the difference.”

“We are always looking for additional opportunities for middle school students to explore engineering experiences and to practice leadership and teamwork,” said Lewis.  “This project challenges our students and helps them to get outside of themselves and engaged with younger students.”

“It is exciting to see these first graders looking deeper into the study of a body part,” said Termini. “The involvement of middle school students made it wonderful for our students to hear from someone other than a teacher on a project.  This has been good for them to be able to talk through design issues and get attention from middle school students.  It’s very fun!” 

“We are also seeing energy and focus on this work from some students who might usually be reluctant to participate in projects,” McGranahan said.  Lewis commented that he too saw the same benefit with excellent participation from several of his middle school students who do not always get involved.