All-Region football: Price owes his success to ‘Camas system’

Doreen McKercher : December 16, 2014 11:36 AM : News

James Price credits the system for his success.

It is not just a football system, he said. It is the Camas system.

“I had to progress as a student and as an athlete if I wanted to eventually fulfill a leadership role with Camas football,” Price said.

Considering he might play college football in the Ivy League, it’s safe to say he knows what he is doing in the classroom.

To watch him play high school football, clearly he is a talent on the field.

Price led the region in receptions and receiving yards by huge margin. He set a school record with 12 touchdown catches for the Papermakers. Plus, he was one of the top defensive backs, with four interceptions.

The Class 4A Greater St. Helens League coaches voted him the co-player of the year on offense. The Columbian is naming Price the All-Region football player of the year for all that he did.

Price said his breakthrough season as a senior started years ago, by learning from older players, by putting trust in his coaches, by opening his mind to his teachers.

“The community of Camas is definitely the place you’d want your child to grow up in. The support you’re going to get athletically and academically is tremendous,” Price said. “The coaches and teachers are trying to put you in a position to succeed. If you trust the system, you’ll be in the right place at the right time.”

A year ago, Price was the lone “full-time” junior starter on one of the best teams in the state. Price said those seniors told him he had the ability to do something great if he put his mind to it.

Price then went out and had seven 100-yard games this season. He caught at least one TD pass in nine of the team’s 11 games. Oh, and Camas went 9-0 in the regular season for the third year in a row.

In the classroom, Price has produced a 3.7 grade point average while taking advanced placement classes every year. Earlier this month, he went on a college visitation to Columbia University in New York. Yale and Harvard are also interested in Price, as a student and an athlete.

Read the full story at The Columbian.

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Senior School Board Showcase

Doreen McKercher : December 10, 2014 2:16 PM : News

On December 8, 2014, the entire Camas High School Math, Science, Technology Magnet senior class presented their summer internship work and projects to the Camas School District school board and community at the Zellerbach Administration Center. After the poster fair, staff, students, and community convened for the regular school board meeting and listened to formal presentations of internships by seniors Meghal Sheth and Reesab Pathak.

Ms. Sheth continued her work this year at Washington State University Vancouver with Dr. Allison Coffin. She studied “Zebrafish hair cells, which are are structurally and functionally similar to those in the human inner ear, and examined the potential for bisphenol-A (BPA), the common monomer used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, to kill hair cells.” Her work in this study provides additional evidence about the damaging effects of BPA on both aquatic organisms and human health: Does BPA Cause Hearing Loss? Assessing the Potential Ototoxicity Induced by Bisphenol-A in Danio rerio (Zebrafish) Lateral Line

Mr. Pathak conducted an internship over the last year and a half at OHSU working on a research team to better understand HIV. “With over 35 million people living with HIV today and a long history of vaccine failure, an unconventional vaccine is urgently needed.” His work shows that “non-classical Rhesus MHC-E restricts RhCMV/Gag vaccine-induced CD8+ T cell responses … This data suggests that this vaccine could have efficacy in humans.” He has received a co-author credit in this study that will be published in the December 2014 Journal of Immunology: Universal, MHC-E restricted killer T cell responses: Identification of a novel immune response against HIV

Congratulations, seniors, on your successful internships and projects!

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Call for Entries: Student Film Festival

Doreen McKercher : December 8, 2014 6:19 PM : 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 4, 2015. Click here to download the Official Rules.

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The giving goes around and around

Doreen McKercher : December 5, 2014 4:04 PM : News

It started with a donation from Safeway, which became a learning opportunity for Camas students, who then, in turn, donated non-perishable items to local food banks through the Stuff the Bus competition at Camas High School.

The local Safeway store here in Camas, through a corporate giving program, granted $1,000 to Camas School District with the goal of feeding local, hungry students. Dana Lighty, director of Special Services, thought a great learning experience could develop from this opportunity; she tapped special education teachers Hank Midles and Cory VomBaur to enlist students in the Camas High School Life Skills Program to turn the money into food.

Armed with calculators and clipboards, these eager students were thrilled to hone their shopping prowess through friendly competition. Four teams were given the charge to purchase $250 worth of non-perishable food items, strive to make the most of every dollar, and stay within budget. The students put a lot of thought into their purchases leaning on past experiences to determine what types of food to purchase, which food items they felt people would like to eat, and balance it all to stay on budget.


A special thanks goes to the Camas Safeway staff members who assisted the students with the checkout process and who also retrieved the shopping carts from the Life Skills House; the Camas Educational Foundation which processed the donation for Camas Schools through its 501(c)(3) status; and the Camas School District staff members who made this learning activity both productive and fun.

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Camas students perform at Hometown Holidays event tonight!

Doreen McKercher : December 5, 2014 2:38 PM : News

Enjoy the musical talents of Camas students from across the district tonight at the City of Camas Hometown Holidays event in downtown Camas. Highlights of this family event include performances by the Fox Pack Swingin’ Ukes, the Prune Hill Bell Choir, Baller and Woodburn choral groups, jazz bands from both Liberty and Skyridge middle schools, and the Select Vocal Ensemble, Brass Choir, and Saxophone Choir from CHS. Click here for a detailed schedule of events:

There will also be crafts, hay rides, dance performances, art displays, and Story Time at the Camas Public Library. According to Mayor Higgins, this is one of the best events of the year, so don’t miss it!

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Hour of Code December 8-12

Doreen McKercher : December 4, 2014 5:02 PM : News

We live in a world surrounded by technology. And we know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. But only a tiny fraction of us are learning computer science, and fewer students are studying it than a decade ago.

That’s why our entire school district is joining in on the largest learning event in history: The Hour of Code, which takes place during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 8-12). Last year, 15 million students tried computer science in one week. This year, we’re joining students worldwide to reach 100 million students!

CHS Students who are working on their Hour of Code Friday, December 12, will be allowed to use their personal devices during the Hour of Code activity.

Our participation in Hour of Code is a statement that the Camas School District is ready to teach these foundational, 21st century skills. To continue bringing programming activities to your students, we want to make our Hour of Code event huge. We encourage you to ask your students about their Hour of Code activity next week.

See for details, and help spread the word.

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Elementary report cards go home December 11

Doreen McKercher : December 4, 2014 4:08 PM : News

On December 11, Camas elementary students will bring home the first report card of the year. Parents will notice changes to the report card related to learning standards. Additionally, fourth and fifth grade student progress toward grade level expectations is now indicated using a 4-3-2-1 scale. This is the same scale used in grades K-3.

To learn more, visit our new Elementary Report Card page to view an informational video, an FAQ, and sample report cards:

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CSD participates in national summit

Doreen McKercher : December 4, 2014 11:02 AM : News

Jeff Snell goes to Washington D.C.

Jeff Snell, deputy superintendent, joined other educational leaders from across the country to support digital learning. Snell poses under a portrait of President John F. Kennedy at the White House.

When Jeff Snell heard President Barack Obama thank him and the staff for the work they were doing, the Camas School District deputy superintendent had one word to describe it: Surreal.

“It was a privilege to be with and learn from more than 100 educational leaders from across the country,” he said. “We are all working on similar challenges in our service to students and the opportunity to tap into their ideas and share was tremendous.”

Snell participated in Obama’s “ConnectED to the Future,” summit at the White House, which supports the transition to digital learning.

How Snell went from the administration offices at the CSD to the Oval Office began in the spring with a call from Arne Duncan, the federal Department of Education secretary.

“He called CHS teacher Mark Gardner’s classroom to congratulated Mark on his leadership and ask about some of the professional development programs we were utilizing,” Snell said. “From there, the Department of Education asked me to help plan the ConnectED Summit and asked the district to apply.”

Camas was one of three districts in the state of Washington, and the only one in Clark County, to be selected.

During the event, superintendents from across the country brainstormed ideas and shared what they are doing in their districts to connect students with technology and empower teachers to use it in the classroom. Attendees also listened to Obama and Duncan speak about the ConnectED Initiative and the Future Ready Pledge.

Snell shared how in one low-income district in California, school buses were equipped with wi-fi and parked in the neighborhoods, so that families could access the Internet for free.

“There are people out there doing some really innovative things to get the kids connected,” Snell said. “In Camas, we are very fortunate because connectivity isn’t an issue here, although we will continue to engage our stakeholders and see what they need.”

Read the full story at the Post-Record.

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Camas grad Odin Coe to leave Montana St., join elite U.S. Navy program

Doreen McKercher : December 3, 2014 10:46 AM : News


In his junior year at Montana State, defensive end Odin Coe tallied 46 tackles, eight for loss and six sacks. The Camas grad is forgoing his senior year to join the U.S. Navy. Photo:Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/Bozeman Daily Chronicle

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Bo Beck remembers Odin Coe as a defensive force who immediately stood out on film because of both his athleticism and those distinctive golden locks.

Montana State’s defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator could not help but a notice a change in the Camas native when Coe ventured to Bozeman for his official visit.

“I asked him, ‘Why’d you cut your hair?’” Beck recalled Monday. “He said, ‘I didn’t want it to define who I am.’”

Coe shed the long mane once more shortly before Saturday’s FCS playoff opener against South Dakota State. One day later, after a 47-40 defeat, player and position coach gathered for an emotional meeting.

The 21-year-old informed Beck he was foregoing his final season of eligibility and joining a Navy officer-training program.

“When he told me, it was like a lot of things finally fit into place, especially the haircut,” Beck said. “It was tough for both of us, and then he had to go tell the guys, so I know that’s hard. … He had to keep telling people over and over, and he was worried about how people would react, but I think the responses he got really put him at ease.

“The best one I heard was, ‘Man, I’m glad that kid is on our side.’”

The university studies major is on track to graduate in May. Coe is expected to join the elite program, for which Beck was told only 20 were selected nationally, sometime during the summer.

“It was a surprise, but I totally get it,” head coach Rob Ash said Monday night. “Odin has apparently been pursuing this for quite some time, and I want guys to be able to follow their dreams. … He’s a dependable guy, a high-character guy and a great leader, and I wish him the best.”

“He’s talking about making a decision for what he’s going to do the rest of his life, and the window for that opportunity is right now,” Beck added.

“The story he had about what he’s going to be doing, you couldn’t talk him out of it — nor would you want to. I’m just disappointed for us because we don’t get to spend another year with Odin Coe the person.”

Read the full story at The Columbian.

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2014 Stuff the Bus Canned Food Drive

Doreen McKercher : November 17, 2014 5:43 PM : News

A message from CHS Leadership

Dear CHS Parents and Supporters,

Happy Holidays everyone! We hope you enjoyed the little winter blast we just received. If you’re not already aware, Stuff the Bus is back! On Friday, December 5, from noon-5 PM we will be stuffing the buses with boxes of canned food in front of Camas High School. Last year, the CHS community donated over 42,000 pounds of food. Together with Washougal High School, 72,000 pounds of food was collected – enough to feed 200 families for one year. This year, we want to do even better. In these tough times, more and more families are in need, and it’s our goal to help as many of these families as we can.

There are many different ways that you can help us reach our goal of amassing at least 45,000 pounds of food:

  • First: Donate any non-perishable food items. These can be sent with any Camas School District student, and/or can be dropped off directly at Camas High School between now and Dec. 5 and be sent to their 1st period teacher for the competition.
  • Second: Join us at Burgerville in downtown Camas Wednesday, Nov. 19, from 4-9 PM, where 10% of all profits will be donated to the Camas Stuff the Bus efforts.
  • Or third: Make a cash donation at the front counter at the ASB window at Camas High School between 7 AM-3 PM through Dec. 5.  Donations will also be accepted at the District Online Payments website under CHS fundraisers. We are hopeful that the CHS community will match or do better than last year with $6,000 to purchase non-perishable food items at local grocery stores.

Please remember that everything we collect will remain in our community and support local families this year as well as next year. It is our hope that every family in need will receive food during these holiday season. With your help, we can make this a reality.

Thank you for helping us Stuff the Bus!


CHS Leadership Students

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Local youths jump into ballet roles

Doreen McKercher : November 17, 2014 3:56 PM : News

Annie Garcia of Camas dances with the Portland Ballet. (Blaine Truitt Covert)

Annie Garcia of Camas dances with the Portland Ballet. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert


Annie Garcia has learned many ballet moves since she began dancing at age 3, but there’s one in particular that will always be the Camas High School senior’s favorite.

And it’s a move people can watch her perform on Thanksgiving weekend at the Portland Ballet.

“I’ve always been a jumper,” said Garcia, 17. “I love grand allegro — the big jumps across the floor. It feels like flying to me.”

Garcia will fly across the floor periodically during her four roles in “The Portland Ballet Dances A Fairytale Holiday,” where she will dance as characters in John Clifford’s “Tales From Mother Goose” and “The Enchanted Toyshop.”

And Garcia will be joined by three other young Clark County dancers in the shows, which will be performed to live music from the Portland State University Symphony.

Kayla Adams, 16, and Cassidy Swanson, 11, students at the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, and Lauren Grover, 11, a sixth-grader at Shahala Middle School, will join Garcia on the stage.

While Garcia said she’s excited about her two lead roles, as Princess in the “Princess and Pagodas” segment of “Mother Goose” and Giselle in “Toyshop,” the performance she relates to most is a smaller role as the Shopkeeper’s Wife in “Toyshop.”

“I think there’s a lot of depth in that role,” Garcia said. “She and the shopkeeper, they aren’t all that successful. Their life isn’t all rosy. I think it would be easy to do it simply, but there’s so much depth to it that I really enjoy.”

Read the full story at The Columbian.

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Thanksgiving Break

Doreen McKercher : November 17, 2014 3:47 PM : News


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Inclement weather makeup day: February 13, 2015!

Doreen McKercher : November 17, 2014 3:45 PM : News


The first makeup day for school closures due to inclement weather is February 13, 2015. All other makeup days will be added to the end of the school year. 

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Camas’ Gabe Lopes having breakout year at linebacker

Doreen McKercher : November 14, 2014 3:34 PM : News

Camas defenders Gabe Lopes, left, and Trevor Wochnick break up a pass against Monroe in 2013. Though he was a backup last season, Lopes used that experience to propel him. Now he's is one of Clark County's best defensive players. Photo: Steven Lane/The Columbian

Camas defenders Gabe Lopes, left, and Trevor Wochnick break up a pass against Monroe in 2013. Though he was a backup last season, Lopes used that experience to propel him. Now he’s is one of Clark County’s best defensive players. Photo: Steven Lane/The Columbian

 Senior moves from obscurity to spotlight as one of area’s best defensive players

Another year, another league title.

Another undefeated regular season.

Another player of the year honor.

That’s the Camas way these days.

Football stars graduate, making room for other players to become football stars on their own.

Gabe Lopes does not seek the spotlight. He keeps quiet and tries to do his assignment. As a senior linebacker at Camas, he performed so well that the spotlight found him. Last week, it was announced that the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League coaches voted Lopes as the defensive player of the year.

“It just felt really great that people actually acknowledged all the work I put in,” Lopes said.

It was a Camas sweep, too. Wide receiver James Price and quarterback Liam Fitzgerald were voted co-players of the year on offense. Price was already a known name in the football community. Fitzgerald plays the sport’s glamour position.

Lopes, though, pretty much played his way out of obscurity and into the limelight.

“It feels great when you’re out there and you’re doing your job, and your whole team is working together and you’re actually playing like it’s designed,” he said.

Read the full story at The Columbian.

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2014 Phone-a-Thon

Doreen McKercher : November 7, 2014 4:52 PM : News

CEF1Note to CSD Families: A Camas student may call you next week on behalf of the Camas Educational Foundation’s annual Phone-a-Thon.

Students will be calling Camas families asking for donations to support the Foundation’s important mission of bringing enhanced curriculum opportunities to Camas schools.

This past year, CEF awarded over $90,000 in grants to support incredible projects our teachers are bringing to our students, all thanks to generous donations from our community.

So, if you receive a call from one of our Camas youth, please give them a couple minutes of your time. If you choose to donate, well, that will just make their day, and of course, all donations are tax deductible.

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Camas steps up safety in schools

Doreen McKercher : November 3, 2014 11:30 AM : News

If an unthinkable act of violence were to happen in a Camas school, would staff be prepared? According to Bryan McGeachy, the district’s director of operations, “We would. We have been hard at work on revising safety plans and updating essential information,” he said.


Camas awarded state safety grant for panic buttons

This summer, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction awarded 80 districts across the state of Washington including Camas School District with a grant to install an emergency response system.

The $64,495 security grant from OSPI helped the district to install new panic and lockdown buttons, a new security camera platform, and new camera servers at each school.

The installation and use of the panic button expedites the arrival of law enforcement units when traditional phone calling to 911 is not an option and speed is essential. The activation of the panic button will signal to the security provider’s monitoring center, which has been instructed to immediately call 911 to dispatch local law enforcement. The lockdown button will provide the capability to immediately lock down exterior doors in an emergency situation. Upon arrival of first responders, the monitoring center will be able to unlock the doors for quick entry.

The district also installed improved camera software and new camera servers in each building which can provide law enforcement with access to the live camera feed.

Run. Hide. Fight.

After the lessons learned from the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, school
staff and students will soon have options other than locking classroom doors and hiding as previously practiced. Once fully implemented, the run, fight, hide protocols will enable staff members to quickly assess the situation and decide if having students run for safety, hide themselves in a classroom, or fight the assailant is the best response to a bad situation.

The new protocols are not yet fully implemented in schools but that is the goal. The district is working hard with principals, staff and teachers to discuss methods of safety. “Not all of these protocols are appropriate for every grade level. In some instances, having little kids running to safety may not be the best option,” says McGeachy.

Real-life scenarios help prepare for the worst

To help improve effective responses, Camas staff members attend safety summits such as the one in August sponsored by the Safe Schools Task Force in Clark County. Administrators and key personnel took part in workshops such as: Active Threat Response, Threat Assessment, Bullying, Incident Command, and Drug Trends.

Also, at Camas’ secondary schools, all principals and associate principals took part in “what if ” scenarios in Table Top discussions where real emergency situations were explored. This month, all elementary principals will participate in Table Top scenarios to help them be better prepared. “There could be a hundred different scenarios administrators could face, such as a disgruntled patron, a fire, weapons, etc. These discussions of real-life situations can really help,” says McGeachy.

As a matter of course, Camas schools used to go into full lockdown every time there was a neighborhood disturbance. Students were not allowed outside and remained inside locked, dark classrooms, and were instructed to remain silent. The practice was disruptive to class learning and now is considered unnecessary in most cases. Today, school administrators use more flexible guidelines to quickly assess threats. If there is a neighborhood disturbance reported by police, outside entrances are locked and activities curtailed as seen appropriate. Students, however, may be allowed to move inside the building as usual.

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2020 and beyond…

Doreen McKercher : October 31, 2014 9:00 AM : News
District launches strategic planning process to help guide the future

What experiences do we want students to have in order to graduate from Camas schools well prepared for success in college and careers? What are we most proud of in our past? Where do we want to be in 2020 and beyond? Those are a few of the questions asked of community leaders, board members, and staff members as a springboard to create a comprehensive strategic plan which will guide the district’s work well into the future.

We want participants to think big, and ask questions like ‘what if…?’ ~ Jeff Snell
In addition to numerous interviews being conducted, the creation of a strategic plan involves visitations to observe other highly successful schools. There will be staff and community engagement sessions, analysis of parent surveys, development of common themes, goals and objectives, and tasks and timelines woven into a detailed action plan. Listening groups, problem solving opportunities, and workshops will challenge the district to think big about the future of Camas schools.

“We want staff to share those moments when they felt most alive, engaged and empowered and what the student outcomes looked like at those times,” said Deputy Superintendent Jeff Snell who, along with Superintendent Mike Nerland, is leading the planning process. “We want participants to think big, and ask questions like ‘what if…?,’” he added.

Those big ideas will be a significant part of what’s included in the end product. Snell said all of the elements in the strategic plan are designed to strengthen current student supports and drive new initiatives focused on maximizing student learning.

“Creating a strategic plan will be as much about the journey as it is about the outcome,” said Snell. As classroom technology and instructional practices evolve, change and grow, an effective strategic plan must adapt to new educational research, practices and initiatives.

In addition to a focus on desired student engagement and outcomes, the plan will include a look at facility needs and capacity as well as the learning spaces required for today’s educational programs. “We’re getting to a place where capacity in our schools will need to be addressed,” said Snell. “It’s important that the educational program drive the kinds of facilities that provide the best learning opportunities.” The district has added nearly 1,000 students since voters approved its last capital facilities bond in 2007.

“We have a great infrastructure. We must continually assure all the supports are in place for students to be successful,” he said.

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Robotics program spans all grade levels

Doreen McKercher : October 29, 2014 2:00 PM : News


Camas School District’s robotics program began in 2007 with just five students and a handful of parent volunteers cheering the team to a 24th place finish in the F.I.R.S.T. Robotics competition that year. Fast forward to today, where Camas High School’s Team Mean Machine–30 members strong–consistently competes at the World Championships. Today, robotics clubs exist for all grade levels throughout the district and a Robotics Engineering Program of Study (REPoS) is being integrated into curriculum across the district. This program introduces students to robotics using State Learning Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. Camas School District’s robotics program has something for every level of learner. Whether it’s an elementary student taking her LEGO skills to the next level, a middle school student programming a robot, or a high school student in a state or national competition, robotics has created a hands-on bridge for tactile learning.

Skyridge Middle School teacher Lindsey Swezea says she has enjoyed watching her students’ enthusiasm about this different style of learning. “Ninety-nine percent of the students in my classes grew up playing with LEGO bricks,” she said. “Their minds already process information this way. It’s part of their childhood.”

Swezea says it’s all about teaching students how to use basic design and engineering and apply that skill set to programming. As one of the most popular elective middle school classes, Swezea will have more than 300 students in her robotics classes this year.

“It’s a great way for students to learn problem solving through a hands-on tangible learning application,” said Swezea. “Students learn in different ways and robotics gives students a tactile approach to solving a problem. They can take this approach to a career in the medical field or as an electrician. The possibilities are endless.”

Swezea points out that robotics support student learning at all different levels because students can move at their own pace. “Some middle school students are already doing their own coding,” she said. “There is room for a lot of creativity, and students continue to challenge themselves.”

“Our robotics program is fortunate to benefit from some very passionate people who see the importance of offering this type of opportunity for Camas students,” added Swezea.

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