CSD announces all-day kindergarten

Doreen McKercher : March 12, 2015 4:31 PM : News


At their regularly scheduled board meeting Monday night, the Camas School Board voted unanimously to establish a District-wide, full-day kindergarten program beginning in the 2015-16 school year. The implementation cost is an estimated $658,000 to cover additional staffing, instructional materials, furniture, and building adjustments. The implementation will be funded from district reserves until the State of Washington funds full-day kindergarten for all school districts which is expected to begin with the 2017-18 school year.

“This is very exciting, and I think it’s very much needed,” commented Board President Mary Tipton. “The LEAP program was such a great first step toward full day kindergarten; this will make us stronger in our transition,” she added.

Kindergarten registration is currently underway, and school orientations are scheduled in May 2015;; parents can find FAQ and registration information and materials at

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CHS Drama Department presents Cabaret

Doreen McKercher : March 5, 2015 5:33 PM : News



Performances are March 13, 14, 20, 21 at  7:00 PM and matinee at 2:00 on March 21. Tickets are $7 for students with ASB, Seniors, Veterans, and children 8th grade and under, and $10 for adults. CHS staff admission is free!

Questions have been raised regarding some of the material in the show. If you have concerns about the content, read the Director’s Notes for guidance.

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National Honor Choir

Doreen McKercher : March 5, 2015 5:17 PM : News

Click to enlarge

Last week, nine of our Grass Valley Elementary (GVE) students participated in the National Children’s Honor Choir, MS/JH Girls and MS/JH Boys Choirs for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) in Salt Lake City. It was a phenomenal experience for our GVE and Skyridge students, and for me to watch them perform in some of the world’s most famous venues: The Mormon Tabernacle, Abravanel Hall, and the LDS Conference Center which holds 20,000 people. The finale was a group performance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Orchestra at Temple Square, the Singing Sergeants, Grammy/Emmy award winner Sylvia McNair, and Santino Fontana who grew up in very small town in Washington State and is the voice of Prince Hans in the movie “Frozen.”

“These students have tremendous dedication. They learned their music in advance, rehearsed 6-9 hours each day, maintained superior behavior, attention and focus and represented Camas at the highest level among students from around the United States,” commented GVE choir director Natalie Wilson. “I am so very proud of each of our Camas students!”


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District seeks facilities committee members

Doreen McKercher : March 2, 2015 12:21 PM : News


The Camas School District is forming a Facilities Committee as an advisory group to the Camas School Board and Superintendent.  This committee will provide an opportunity for patrons from the community to have input into future facility needs in our district.  The following questions and answers are designed to provide interested parties more information about this committee. If, after reviewing the information below, you are interested in participating on this committee, please complete the attached application and return it to the address indicated.

Application in Word: Facilities Committee Application

Application in PDF: Facilities Committee Application

 Q & A

What is the Facilities Committee?  The Facilities Committee is a group of 30-40 parent, non-parent patrons, and staff members of the Camas School District.   Applicants will be selected by a review board who will work to build a broad-based group to give a wide representation of our community.

How often will the Facilities Committee meet?  The committee will meet from 6:30 to 8:00 PM on the following dates:March 17, March 31, April 14, May 5, May 19, June 2, and June 16.

Where will the Facilities Committee meet?  At the Zellerbach Administration Center in the Dennison Board Room, (address noted above.)

What are the qualifications for membership?  Membership requires only residency in the school district and a sincere interest in education.

Whom do I contact if I have additional questions?   If you have additional questions, please feel free to call Gail Gast at 833-5412.

What do I do if I am interested in becoming a member?  If you would like to be considered for membership, please complete the attached application form and return it no later than Friday, March 13, via:

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Jasinsky helps lift Camas boys to state for first time since 1964

Doreen McKercher : February 25, 2015 1:19 PM : News


Camas’ Trevor Jasinsky blocks a shot by Battle Ground’s Andrej Besara at the 4A Boys District Tournament, Friday, February 20, 2015. (Steven Lane/The Columbian)

They used to talk about going to the Tacoma Dome, to play for the state championship.

Actually, Trevor Jasinsky said, they used to joke about it.

“Who would have ever thought Camas basketball could do that?” asked Jasinsky, a senior leader for the Papermakers. “Now, we’re one game away from that. It’s a pretty awesome feeling.”

Camas takes on Kentwood at 4 p.m. Saturday at Puyallup High School in the first round of the Class 4A state boys basketball tournament. The winner will advance to the Tacoma Dome. No matter what happens Saturday, Camas has already done more than most of the boys basketball teams in Camas history.

Jasinsky looked up to the banners for each sport in the Camas gym the other day. The boys basketball banner is not exactly filled with a bunch of accomplishments. The last trip to state for the program: 1964.

“Pretty big drought,” Jasinsky said. “It’s obviously a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Read the full story at The Columbian.


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Senior project spotlight: Donovan MacGowan

Doreen McKercher : February 25, 2015 12:47 PM : News

Learning real-world skills

Senior projects give students an opportunity to serve the community, explore careers


CHS student Donovan MacGowan photographs students at the Papermaker Preschool for their yearbook. MacGowan is designing and printing the yearbook for his senior project. Photo: Danielle Frost

Name: Donovan MacGowan

School: Camas High School

Age: 17

Project: Provide content for, design and print a yearbook for Papermaker Preschool, located on the grounds of Camas High School.

Why?: “My photography teacher mentioned it as a need that would suit my interests.”

What did you do?: “I researched the best place to print my yearbook, laid out a plan for what I would put in there, took photos of different events and talked to kids and parents.”

Mentor: Doug Huegli, CHS photography teacher.

Total hours estimated to complete project: 45

Most important thing you have learned: “How to work with kids and make sure I keep their attention, as well as working with their parents.”

Read more at the Post Record.

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Senior project spotlight: Daniela Garcia

Doreen McKercher : February 25, 2015 12:32 PM : News

Learning real-world skills

Senior projects give students an opportunity to serve the community, explore careers

HFHS student Daniela Garcia volunteered with several anti-human trafficking organizations for her senior project. She will present the DVD “Chosen,” to fellow students in March. The video tells the story of how one young woman fell prey to human trafficking and how to avoid it. Photo by Danielle Frost

Name: Daniela Garcia

School: Hayes Freedom High School

Age: 18

Project: Volunteering with anti-human trafficking groups National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation, Shared Hope International, as well as the Clark County Human Trafficking Task Force.

Why?: “I have always had a passion for victims of human trafficking.”

What did you do?: “I went with my mentor to many different events and a conference about violence and exploitation. I am also going on a ride along with a Portland police officer, and doing a presentation at Hayes and hopefully Skyridge Middle School.”

Mentor: Michelle Bart, president and co-founder of NWCAVE.

Total hours estimated to complete project: 30.

Most important thing you have learned: “You really never know who could be a victim of human trafficking. It could be your neighbor, your best friend or your family member. Awareness is very important.”

Read more at the Post Record.

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Swimmers say: REMEMBER CAMAS

Doreen McKercher : February 24, 2015 5:37 PM : News

The Papermakers didn’t need a diving board to spring to second place at the state meet Saturday.

Three championship performances, three fourth-place finishes in the relays, and three additional strong swims got the job done.

As those eight boys stood on the podium with smiles on their faces, the Seattle based schools, coaches and King County Aquatic Center officials were left to wonder where Camas came from.

Kasey Calwell captured two state championships for Camas in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke Saturday, at the King County Aquatic Center, in Federal Way. The Swimmer of the Meet also helped the Papermakers earn fourth place in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. Photo: Dan Trujillo

Kasey Calwell captured two state championships for Camas in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke Saturday, at the King County Aquatic Center, in Federal Way. The Swimmer of the Meet also helped the Papermakers earn fourth place in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. Photo: Dan Trujillo

“Nobody up here thought that little Camas, a suburb of the suburb of Portland, could put a team like this together,” said senior Kasey Calwell. “Everybody worked hard to get here, and we left it all out there for our school and our community.”

Calwell captured state championships in the 200-meter individual medley and the 100 breaststroke with All-American times in both events. His 56.53 second finish in the breaststroke set a new school record and became the fifth-best time at the meet. His 200 IM time of 1:51.1 is the sixth-best at the meet and set another school record.

After helping the Papermakers gain 100 points, Calwell was the choice for the Swimmer of the Meet award. He put the focus back on his swimming family.

“I said from the beginning of the season that we had a special team. Top three at state is something we all dreamed of, but I don’t know if I ever fully believed it in my heart until today,” Calwell said. “It was such an incredible finish. From the first dive to the final touch, we’re brothers.”

Senior Lucas Ulmer let his wingspan and desire carry him to first place in the 100 butterfly. His time of 51.1 seconds set a new school record.

“The way I finished is the way I always dreamed,” Ulmer said. “It all came down to that last 25 meters. When you put in the work, look up at the board and see a ‘1’ next to your name, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Ulmer also earned sixth place in the 100 backstroke (53.6) just minutes after helping the Papermakers finish fourth in the 200 freestyle relay.

“It was a whole lot of effort in my last high school meet,” Ulmer said. “The littlest points mattered to every single one of us.”

Read the full story at the Post Record.

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Learning real-world skills

Doreen McKercher : February 24, 2015 2:21 PM : News

Senior projects give students an opportunity to serve the community, explore careers

The senior capstone project: Over the years, students in Camas and Washougal have come up with some fairly unique and interesting ideas. These have included everything from teaching leadership classes to young children to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Completing a senior project has long been a graduation requirement at high schools in Washougal and Camas. The state stopped requiring it in June 2014, but both districts decided it was in the best interest of students to keep it in place.

Carol Boyden serves as associate principal of Washougal High School and principal of Excelsior High School, the district’s alternative school.

“The greatest benefit to having students do senior projects is the sense of accomplishment they feel upon their completion,” she said. “Many students have never undertaken a project of this nature and had the bulk of the responsibility for its success rest soundly on them.”

Susan Asher is associate principal at Camas High School. She noted that senior projects give students the opportunity to experience potential career fields in which they have an interest, whether through job shadowing, creating or constructing something or through volunteer service.

Read the full story at the Post Record.

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Camas girls seal spot to 4A state basketball regional

Doreen McKercher : February 23, 2015 11:46 AM : News

Papermakers hold off Battle Ground in second-place game

The Camas Papermakers are going to the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament.

The Battle Ground Tigers made them work for it, though.

Emma Jones was true on two free throws with 32 seconds left to break a 48-48 tie, then was in on a blocked shot to secure the lead, helping Camas to a 51-48 victory over the Tigers in the second-place game of the 4A District 4 girls basketball tournament Friday night.

Camas defenders Nikki Corbett (25) and Emma Jones (21) block a potential game-tying shot by Battle Ground's Jossilyn Blackman (42) in the last seconds of Friday's game. Camas beat Battle Ground 51-48 in the second-place game of the 4A District Tournament to clinch at state regional berth. Photo: Steven Lane

Camas defenders Nikki Corbett (25) and Emma Jones (21) block a potential game-tying shot by Battle Ground’s Jossilyn Blackman (42) in the last seconds of Friday’s game. Camas beat Battle Ground 51-48 in the second-place game of the 4A District Tournament to clinch at state regional berth. Photo: Steven Lane

The Papermakers should find out Sunday who they play and where they will play in the state round of 16. Battle Ground’s season came to an end.

“I wanted to do it for the seniors,” said Jones, a sophomore. “And I wanted to go to state. I just knew I had to make them, and I blocked everything else out.”

Battle Ground got the ball inside to Jossilyn Blackman — who had 24 points and 10 rebounds — but the Camas defense was waiting for her. Jones and Nikki Corbett timed her shot, and one or both of them got a piece of the ball.

Brenna Khaw then made one free throw with 13 seconds remaining. Battle Ground’s final 3-point shot went in-and-out.

“In that kind of game, we needed to keep our composure,” Khaw said. “We couldn’t just hand them the game and keep making mistake after mistake. It was really hard because their crowd got so excited.”

The Tigers faithful were hoping for a surprise outcome in this one. Camas shared the 4A Greater St. Helens League title with Skyview and beat Battle Ground three times earlier this season.

Battle Ground coach Joe Potter said Friday was his team’s best game of the season. That’s all one could ask for as a coach, he said.

Khaw finished with 14 points to lead a balanced Camas attack. Courtney Clemmer had 12 points and Corbett finished with 11.

Read the full story at The Columbian.

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District refinances bonds

Doreen McKercher : February 10, 2015 3:23 PM : News

Camas School District has refinanced its callable 2007 bonds in order to take advantage of lower interest rates. The recent refinancing will save the District’s taxpayers a total of over $4.79 million during the next 12 years. Superintendent Nerland emphasized that these savings flow directly to taxpayers through reduced tax levies and are not available for District expenses. “This is a direct savings to our community members in the form of taxes they expected, but will not have to pay,” Nerland said.

The Camas School Board accomplished these savings by approving the issuance of $54,855,000 in refunding bonds on February 4, 2015. The District has been monitoring bond market conditions, and recent low interest rates allowed the District to exceed its savings target. Interest rates averaged 1.97% on the new bonds compared to 4.69% on the old debt.

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Henna heals, empowers teen with alopecia

Doreen McKercher : February 4, 2015 4:01 PM : News

Camas senior’s artistic abilities help empower 19-year-old

Madison Powers started losing her hair in first grade.

Powers, now 19, was diagnosed with alopecia as a child and, initially, wasn’t bothered by her baldness. Neither were her classmates. Powers’ hair grew back before long, but by middle school, she had big bald spots that couldn’t be hidden by creative hair styling. As a middle-schooler, Powers’ classmates weren’t as accepting of her differences. They were mean, often bullying the young girl because of her medical condition.

Abby Engel, a senior at Camas High School, creates a henna crown for Madison Powers, 19, who was diagnosed with alopecia as a child. Engel is part of an international organization, Henna Heals, that creates and advocates for henna crowns as a form of empowerment for people experiencing hair loss. (Jessica Daniels Photography)

Abby Engel, a senior at Camas High School, creates a henna crown for Madison Powers, 19, who was diagnosed with alopecia as a child. Engel is part of an international organization, Henna Heals, that creates and advocates for henna crowns as a form of empowerment for people experiencing hair loss. (Jessica Daniels Photography)

“My confidence level was horrible,” she said. “I did not feel beautiful. I felt like I was some creature. I didn’t feel human.”

Things improved in high school — both her medical condition and her interactions with classmates — but Powers still lacked confidence.

That’s changed, though, in the months since Powers learned about an organization called Henna Heals and met Camas High School senior Abby Engel — the teen whose artistic abilities empowered the Vancouver woman.

“I couldn’t walk out of my house without something on my head, and now I do,” Powers said. “I can walk out of my house and feel confident and beautiful about myself.”

Creating crowns

Henna Heals is a community of artists who create and advocate for henna crowns — designs drawn using henna paste that stains the skin — as a form of empowerment for people experiencing hair loss. The organization’s creators are based in Toronto, but participating artists span the globe.

Engel, 17, first learned about the organization from a couple of her mom’s friends. They knew Engel has covered her hands, arms and legs with henna artwork since she was in the seventh grade. When they saw an article about Henna Heals on Facebook, they shared it with Engel.

“I was in awe of what they do,” Engel said. “I thought it would be so cool to be a part of that.”

She contacted Henna Heals and applied to be added to their database. In October, she got an email from her first client, Powers, who heard about the organization through Facebook, as well.

Read the full story at The Columbian.

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Student Film Festival: Entry Deadline Extended to February 17

Doreen McKercher : January 27, 2015 6:19 AM : News

Yeah, having your schoolwork posted on the fridge at home is cool. But having a video you made posted on the Camas School District website and screened at the Liberty Theatre in downtown Camas? We think that’s pretty cool, too. That’s why we’re excited to announce the first-ever Camas School District Student Film Festival: a video contest created just for K-12 students, and whose finalists will have their short films shown at the Liberty Theatre. Finalist videos may also be featured on the District website, YouTube channel, and social media pages.


Contest ends February 17, 2015. Click here to download the Official Rules. Enter here.

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Wash. middle schooler opens ‘community closet’

Doreen McKercher : January 23, 2015 9:37 AM : News


Middle school can be a tough time for kids who don’t have a lot of clothes. KOIN 6 News met a young man who opened up a store inside his school, where everything is free.

Liberty Middle School in Camas, Washington is the home of the Lions. It’s also home to something rather unique – the “Liberty Community Closet.” Student Gared Skorick unlocked the door and, minutes later, students began pouring into the room. “Oh, I like this!” young girls are overheard saying, as they peruse the clothes on the rack. It’s as if they’re shopping at the mall.

The closet has everything: shirts, pants, pajamas, shampoo, conditioner, hair products, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and school supplies. Everything is donated. Everything is free.

“His brainchild was to create this closet,” principal Marilyn Boerke said of Gared. “He’s put blood, tears and passion into helping students at Liberty Middle School.” Skorick told KOIN 6 News he once attended another school, and didn’t have many things. The school had a similar community closet and he used it. So, he pitched the idea to Principal Boerke. Her reaction?

View the full story at

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Mr. Pathak Goes to Washington

Doreen McKercher : January 21, 2015 11:56 AM : News


Magnet Senior Reesab Pathak was named yesterday as a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search 2015.  Mr. Pathak conducted an internship over the last year and a half at OHSU where he worked on a research team to better understand HIV.  His work there, including a recent co-author credit in a study published in the December 2014 Journal of Immunology:  Universal, MHC-E restricted killer T cell responses: Identification of a novel immune response against HIV was the basis for his selection as a finalist.  Congratulations, Reese!

For a closer description of the trip he will take to Washington, D.C., in March, which includes a meeting with President Obama at The White House, see information below from the Intel STS Website & Press Release:

“On January 21, 40 high school seniors were named finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search 2015, a program of Society for Science & the Public. Finalists will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. from March 5-11, where they will undergo final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for $1,012,500 in awards, including the three top awards of $150,000 each. These finalists were chosen from the select pool of 300 high school seniors named semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search 2015 on January 7.”

“The Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS), a program of Society for Science & the Public (SSP) is the nation’s most prestigious science research competition for high school seniors.  Since 1942, first in partnership with Westinghouse and since 1998 with Intel, SSP has provided a national stage for the country’s best and brightest young scientists to present original research to nationally recognized professional scientists.”Intel STS Website & Press Release

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Two Camas students win national awards

Doreen McKercher : January 20, 2015 3:41 PM : News


From left, Mary Tipton, Camas School Board chairwoman; Laura Nowland, transportation director; and Mike Nerland, district superintendent. Photo: Danielle Frost

Two Camas students received national awards for their entries in the School Bus Safety Week poster contest. The theme was “Be Smart — Be seen, I wait in a safe place!”

Thousands of school districts in more than 40 states participate in local and state-level competitions to select art work that depicts school bus safety related themes, and encourages and promotes school bus safety.

The winning posters are used to promote the themes.

This year, two of the state winners went on to compete at the national level and each took third place in their division.

The students are Kandai Shimada, a sixth-grader at Skyridge Middle School, and Shalaka Deshpande, a second-grader at Grass Valley Elementary.

Read the full story at The Post Record.

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An invitation to participate: 2020 Focus Groups

Doreen McKercher : January 7, 2015 3:33 PM : News
Parents and community members invited to participate in focus groups

A key element of the culture within the Camas School District is continuous improvement. To that end, the School Board is updating the district strategic plan and seeks to gather feedback from our community.

We will gather honest and aspirational feedback on Camas School District’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and challenges.  A professional strategic planning facilitator will conduct listening sessions, compile data, and work with our board to develop a draft plan.

The goal is to develop criteria that reflect the values and priorities of our community and drive our strategies and action plans to meet the needs of our students today and in the future.  Once criteria have been established, work groups will develop action plans to deliver outcomes to prepare our students for 2020 and beyond.

Below is a schedule of focus group sessions; each will last approximately 90 minutes.  Unless noted, all sessions will take place at the Zellerbach Administration Center in the Boardroom. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to add your thoughts to the conversation about where our district should head over the next 3-5 years.  Your opinion matters.

Please sign up for a session by using this link or calling Doreen McKercher at the district office at (360) 833-5563.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
  • Secondary Certificated: 3:00 – 4:30 PM
  • Community Members: 5:30 – 7:00 PM


Wednesday, January 28, 2015
  •  Parents: 9:00 – 10:30 AM
  • Classified Staff: 3:00 – 4:30 PM
  • Parents: 5:30 – 7:00 PM


  Thursday, January 29, 2015
  • Elementary Certificated: 4:00 – 5:30 PM
  • Parents: 6:00 – 7:30 PM


Friday, January 30, 2015
  • Classified Staff: 2:30 – 4:00 PM
  • *Community Members 5:30 – 7:00 PM (Camas Comm. Center in Oak Park)

* This session includes a spaghetti dinner. When registering, please include number guests who will attend with you, and let us know if you’ll need childcare. The event and childcare are offered free of charge. 

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Collaboration & communication

Doreen McKercher : December 31, 2014 11:25 AM : News
Administrator named regional Principal of the Year

When asked how it feels to be named a regional Principal of the Year, Aaron Smith is flummoxed.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a little embarrassing. I don’t shy away from the spotlight, but I know this is because of the team here, not just my efforts. It is humbling and I appreciate it, but this represents the hard work of everyone.”


Aaron Smith, principal at Skyridge Middle School, was recently named the St. Helen’s Region Distinguished Principal of the Year. Here, he chats with eighth-grader Grant Heiser.

Smith is in his sixth year as principal of Skyridge Middle School in Camas. Recently, he was named the St. Helens Region Distinguished Principal of the Year.

Smith was nominated by Marilyn Boerke, principal at nearby Liberty Middle School.

“Aaron is an excellent middle school administrator and instructional leader,” Boerke said in her nomination letter. “He embodies dignity, respect, good humor, and professionalism in all that he does.”

She continued that he can be counted on to consider situations from all points of view, seeks opportunities for collaboration and arrives at decisions focused on the well-being of students.

“Aaron has systems in place to ensure collaboration and effective communication, including a shared leadership team and a strong focus on Professional Learning Communities that is evident in the positive learning environment and student growth evident at Skyridge,” she said.

Boerke and Smith have worked together in PLC groups and collaborated on other projects.

“We have a very close working relationship,” he said. “It is wonderful to work in a district where other administrators are so congenial and there is a great relationship between both middle schools. We all love working with this age group.”

It is not the first time an administrator from Skyridge has won the principal of the year honor. In 2013, assistant principal Clint Williams received the recognition.

Read the full story at the Camas Post Record.

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