Tag Archive for: Washougal Schools

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 is introducing a new Advanced Placement (AP) course titled Computer Science Principles this year, bringing the total number of AP courses to 13.  AP courses offer a rigorous, collegiate level curriculum that prepares students to succeed in college and other educational and training programs after graduation.  

The Computer Science Principles course will feature volunteer instructors through the Microsoft Philanthropies TEALS program, bringing subject matter experience and opportunities for students to learn alongside industry professionals.  In addition to computer science, students at WHS can take AP courses in subjects like art, calculus, biology, chemistry, English, music theory, physics, psychology, Spanish, and history.   Students who complete the course can register for the AP exam in May, and students who perform well on the exam can earn college credit, providing an opportunity to skip introductory coursework when they enroll in college.  

“We are excited about adding a new AP course subject for the 2019-20 school year,” said Aaron Hansen, WSD Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Student Services. “Last spring we were intentional with our message to students that we wanted all of our students to challenge themselves academically. Our AP enrollment reflects the good work our counselors did as we have many more students enrolled in AP courses this coming school year.”

Computer Science

According to Hansen, students who take AP courses learn valuable college-level study skills that will benefit them in all their high school classes and beyond. One of the benefits of taking an AP class is the exposure to the level of thinking, rigor and academics that Washougal students will experience in college, not to mention earning college level credit. “We are planning to continue to add more AP offerings at WHS as well as continuing to encourage all students to stretch themselves,” he said. “The work our students are doing now is preparing them to compete in the global economy and be able to effectively participate in a rapidly changing world.”

“Some families or students may believe that AP offerings are only available to students who ‘already get it’ or who already have all of the skill sets necessary to be successful in an AP course,” said Sheree Clark, WHS Principal.  “This in fact is not the case at all.  While our AP courses are rigorous, there is a high level of support within a small classroom setting that will coach and teach our students the skills necessary to be successful in these programs.”

Additionally, Clark points out that some believe AP courses are only for students on a 4-year college track.  “While having AP courses on a students’ transcript for 4-year colleges can significantly increase a student’s chance for acceptance, these courses also provide essential 21st Century Skills needed for other post-secondary programs including apprenticeships, vocational programs and other career focused programs,” she said. “Many of these post-secondary programs and careers are seeking out candidates who are willing to take risks, work hard and challenge themselves.”

WHS students can also earn college credit while studying at WHS by taking College in the High School coursework in pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Spanish through a partnership with Central Washington University, and many additional courses through Dual Credit courses with Clark College and Mt. Hood Community College. 

Helping students be prepared and be able to contribute to their community through career and college opportunities is a pillar of the new WSD Strategic Plan.  These AP options prepare students academically to succeed in college and build job readiness skills to expand career opportunities.  Students and families interested in learning more about Advanced Placement, Dual Credit, or College in the Classroom coursework can contact their school counselor.  More information can also be found at http://www.washougal.k12.wa.us/whs/dual-credit-classes/

“At Washougal High School we believe that students should have every opportunity and access to rigorous courses, we want to see more of our students challenge and stretch their thinking beyond what is easy; if you take on the challenge, we will provide the high level of support,” Clark said.

Washougal schools are making major efforts with substance use prevention in their middle schools as leaders recognize that making healthy choices are not always easy, regardless of age.  But those decisions become more challenging and complicated for middle school aged youth who are trying to find independence, define themselves, as well as fit in.  

Leading efforts in the Washougal School District for both Jemtegaard and Canyon Creek Middle School to empower students to make healthy choices and have their voices heard is Wendy Butler, Student Assistance Professional for Prevention and Intervention from Educational Service District 112.  She works in close partnership with school principals, associate principals, school counselors, social workers and secretaries, Unite! Washougal Community Coalition and more.  

Butler is a part of the statewide Student Assistance Prevention-Intervention Services Program (SAPISP), administered by ESD 112 in selected Clark, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz and Klickitat county middle and high schools. Tamara Crites is the specialist at Washougal High School.

SAPISP is a comprehensive, integrated model of services that focuses on substance-use prevention and other supports. The program places Student Assistance Professionals in schools to foster safe school environments, promote health and prevent alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse.

“One of the exciting things about prevention efforts with middle school-aged students is that it feeds up and feeds down,” Butler explained.  “This means they can still remember themselves before they may have hit a bump in the road.  They can still feel the positive effects of good choices they made when they were younger.  And we get to provide opportunities for them to look forward toward their goals and help empower them to get there. “

Butler approaches the middle schools’ overall prevention program in three components: universal prevention, which are big picture projects; small group conversations; and relationships with individual students.

“Universal prevention activities at both JMS and CCMS have so many fun pieces to them,” she said.  “They involve large groups and at times the entire school community.”

Examples include Red Ribbon Week, special guest speakers like Madison Langer from Tobacco Free Kids who shared straight talk about her journey in to and out of drug use, the Youth to Youth club that meets after school and at lunchtimes to work on prevention initiatives; and Real Talk, an interactive video presentation on facts about vaping that led to lively class discussions.  

Aquatics Center

One of the newest projects is Courtyard Connections which takes place at the JMS courtyard at lunchtime. It began as an idea out of JMS music teacher, Dr. Snapp’s guitar class.  “Music and playing guitars are such a great way to make connections,” said Butler. “When we started, I thought each student would take turns, but no! Everyone plays at the same time in their own area.  Other students come out and will sit and listen.  Some will ask if they can try playing and others will share.” 

“There are so many smiles,” she added. “It is happening so organically.  Students who participate are feeling valued and know this is a safe place to try new things.” 

Sports activities: Substance Abuse Prevention

Sports activities are also important for students to access. They teach life and interpersonal skills and keep students involved and engaged doing something fun that is linked to the school.  Butler enjoys leading clinics for both basketball and volleyball and hosts open gym for students to play and shoot hoops. 

Butler stresses that the best prevention is becoming involved in something a person likes to do that is healthy.  “Students are encouraged to explore a variety of interests and then we figure out how to help them try it,” she said.  

A significant challenge for students can be the transition from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school.  It can be scary and overwhelming for students who are unsure how they will fit in.  The Welcome Wagon and Bridges to Success programs help relieve fears and give students confidence to take their next step in education. 

“Welcome Wagon features positive and supportive notes from middle school students to fifth graders to help introduce them to their new school,” said Butler.  “We will also create banners to put outside of each 5th grade classroom with welcoming messages from the middle schools.” 

Similarly, the Bridges to Success program invites high school students to sit down and talk with 8th graders. “Students prepare questions ahead of time for the high school students to address,” Butler said. “The messages from these older students are amazing and comforting to the younger kids.  Two years ago, a student gave some great advice and talk passionately about not having to change who he was when he came to high school.  He encouraged students to keep doing things their own way and get involved with others with similar interests. He said if they stay true to who they are and try to get along with others, they will find positive ways to fit in.”

Small groups

A second component to substance use prevention is gathering with small groups of students that have similar concerns, interests and goals based on a survey at the beginning of the year.  Topics include discussions around self-empowerment, being new to the school, or taking a stand against alcohol/drug use. 

“Our groups meet once a week,” Butler said.  “We are trying to remove barriers for students in order for them to feel supported and get what they need for themselves or others so they can focus on school.”

One-on-one Meetings

The third component in substance use prevention is being available to meet with students one on one.  “Students are welcome to knock on my door any time,” Butler explained. “They might be struggling with an issue, or want to learn how to help a friend, or maybe they are looking for the truth about something they heard.  For instance, there is an idea that ‘everybody’ is vaping or that it is ‘safe,’ and that is just wrong! I am happy to discuss the facts with them.” For Butler, it all comes down to offering trust, respect and a safe place for students to talk. 

“At some point most students will be faced with a decision whether or not to take part in something which they understand is not a healthy choice,” Butler said. “We know that if they have a plan ahead of time for what they will say or do, they are more apt to avoid doing something they do not want to.”

A strong message Butler sends to students is that decisions today will affect the choices they will have available to them tomorrow.  “They tell me they do not want adults to control them,” she said. “But look at the control that nicotine can have over someone.  It will their money, it will demand their time and it will reduce their health.” 

“I ask them to please listen to what I say, and you are welcome to throw it all away or perhaps keep a piece of what you heard,” she said.  “You never know when a situation will come that a seed of an idea or knowledge we have shared will come to their mind and help them to make a good choice.”