A blend of innovative ideas tempered with common sense has built a long tradition of solid performance in the Camas School District. Measures of student achievement in the core subject areas are consistently strong when compared with performance of students in the state and region. Five priorities guide our curriculum development:
- A preeminent emphasis on reading instruction because it is linked to all other academic success
- Tight articulation among schools relative to state and district standards
- Adoption of programs with a proven track record
- Broad-based teacher involvement in program development
- A focus on teacher training and recruitment as the best way to improve student achievement
Programs at the Elementary Level
Although the Camas elementary schools are recognized most often for their strong “basic skills” program, other programs help define the unique “Camas experience.” A few include:
National Science Foundation Grant: An exciting grant program involving many other districts in Clark County. Teachers learn to use highly motivational science kits emphasizing “hands-on” exploration of life, physical and earth science.
Character Education: Many buildings work systematically to impart and reinforce standards of good character. This focus on attributes like “honesty,” “responsibility,” “empathy,” “goal setting,” “courtesy,” etc. permeates many of the classroom and school activities.
Second Step: A nationally recognized program, “Second Step,” focuses on violence prevention and conflict resolution by teaching students problem solving, anger management and peer interaction skills.
After School Enrichment at the Jack, Will and Rob Boys and Girls Club: Camas is home to a wonderful facility located adjacent to Helen Baller Elementary School. Named for three former Camas brothers who were killed in a tragic accident, the Boys and Girls Club offers a wide array of art, music, technology, games, and other activities to Camas students during the after-school hours.
Programs Supported by the Camas Educational Foundation: A nonprofit foundation established by Camas parents and community members helps to support district programs. These funds have contributed to a variety of programs including manipulative math centers in each elementary building, special science workshops, the Missoula Children’s Theater, teacher mini-grants, materials for the Waterford Reading program, and many other projects.
Programs at the Middle School Level
Although Camas schools are recognized most often for their strong “basic skills” program, other offerings help define the unique Camas middle school experience. A few include:
Demonstration Tasks: In the early 90’s, Camas was one of the first districts to implement specific standards or “exit requirements” for all students. These requirements are specific to grade levels and subjects. Students must complete several “demonstration tasks” that allow them to exhibit their skills and performance levels in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, science, etc. Students are expected to meet the “proficient” level on all exit requirements beginning in the sixth grade. Opportunities to demonstrate “exemplary” performance also exist.
Leadership Opportunities: Both middle schools offer students unique opportunities to engage in a wide variety of school pride and community service projects. These activities help adolescent students refine leadership and organizational skills necessary for good citizenship as well as future success in high school and beyond.
Learning Blocks: As much as possible, students in grades 7 and 8 work with the same teacher for instruction in language arts and social studies. They also stay with their same cohort student group for most of their core classes. This helps ease the transition from the “home room” routine found in the elementary program. This format also makes it easier for students to form bonds with new friends and with teachers.
Pre-Advanced Placement Offerings: Over the past decade, the number of Advanced Placement courses at Camas High School as well as the numbers of students enrolled in these classes has increased dramatically. The Camas School District also believes that we can prepare every student for higher intellectual engagement by starting the development of skills and acquisition of knowledge as early as possible. Addressed effectively, the middle and high school years can provide a powerful opportunity to help all students acquire the knowledge, concepts, and skills needed to engage in a higher level of learning. Camas teachers and administrators have attempted to design Pre-AP courses—focusing primarily on English and social studies content—that provide our 6th -8th grade students with these advanced skills.
Students who meet placement criteria can take Pre-AP and advanced math course work at the sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Both the pace and content of these courses are more demanding than in other classes.
Programs at Camas High School
Although Camas High School is most often recognized for its strong academic program, other offerings help define the unique “Camas experience” found there. Here are just of few of these specific offerings:
Rigor, Relevance and Relationships in a Unique Facility: With the opening of the new Camas High School in 2003, students were provided with a facility that offers the very best in learning, design, technology support, and architectural innovation. The instructional program, developed with citizen and educator input, creates a sense of personal learning communities for students. The highest emphasis is placed on teacher quality and building relationships with every student.
Camas High School is most often recognized for its rigorous, challenging curriculum. A wide variety of electives and learning opportunities help define the unique “Camas experience.” All seniors at Camas High School must complete a “senior project.” These projects allow students to intensively research an interest area both inside and outside the school day. The project includes a major research paper, 20 to 40 hours of outside exploration and production with a mentor. Students may also participate in Advanced Placement (AP) course work that challenges students to their fullest potential. The participation in these courses has increased over 300% in the past six years. A minimum of 22 credits is required for graduation. The daily schedule consists of six classes. There are two eighteen-week semesters.
Exciting Extracurricular Programs: Selective colleges tell us that a student’s extracurricular experiences are often as important as his or her academic performance when applications are reviewed. Camas High School has a long and proud tradition of student involvement in the performing arts. Athletic and club participation is varied and student participation is very high.
Programs at Hayes Freedom High School
In the interest of meeting the needs of all students in the Camas School District, the Camas School Board recently approved the recognition of Hayes Freedom High School as a stand-alone high school designed to provide personalized instruction and individual attention for high school students who prefer to direct their own educations to a greater degree. Hayes Freedom was known previously as the Camas Alternative High School Program or C.A.P. Hayes Freedom was named after Denis Hayes, a Camas H.S. graduate who is credited with developing Earth Day, and Freedom for our cherished belief in the importance of this attribute in education.
Hayes Freedom is a non-traditional school where students and staff can learn, grow, and experience life and education in a way that works for each individual. Projects and courses are designed by staff to align closely to district, state and national learning standards. In addition, students take control of their own educational plans. Hayes Freedom High School is a place where students can find their own voices. Students learn quickly that they have both the right to their opinions but also the responsibility to listen to and respect the views of others.
Students at Hayes Freedom must be self-motivated, responsible, and willing to commit to both long and short term community based service learning projects. A premium is placed on student integration of learning across disciplines. Hayes Freedom students are required to analyze problems from multiple viewpoints and articulate comprehensive responses.