News

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.

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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

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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 koin.com.

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Mr. Pathak Goes to Washington

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

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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

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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.”

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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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Gymnasts jump for their love

Doreen McKercher : December 19, 2014 10:58 AM : News

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Alexis Sabatini leaps high off the balance beam for Camas.


Tight knit Camas team reaches for state opportunity

The Camas High School gymnasts are setting the bar higher every single day and jumping for it.

This is the only way they can grab that opportunity to compete at the state championship meet as a team for the first time in school history.

“After winning districts last year, getting to state as a team is the next step,” said junior Caleigh Lofstead. “We all want the same goal. It’s no longer just an individual goal.”

Without having to go through a regional meet this season, the winning team at districts advances to state. Head coach Carol Willson said the Papermakers don’t have the depth, but they do have the determination.

“Union has 35 [gymnasts]. On depth alone, they should win,” Willson said. “But I have faith in my girls.”

Camas also has experience. Lofstead reached the state meet as a freshman and a sophomore. Last season, she competed at the Tacoma Dome with Ashley Carter and Emily Karkanen. This trio is beaming with confidence along with returning Papermakers Tamaki Murata, Hope Richter, Alexis Sabatini, Rio Smith and Riley Truitt.

“We are very close,” Sabatini said. “We’re competitive with each other, and we make each other better.”

Camas defeated Heritage 151.3-134.4 Dec. 6, at VEGA. Lofstead finished in second place in the all-around competition with 31.4 points. She won the vault with an 8.8, tied for first place on the bars with a 7.6 and took third place on the beam with a 6.5.

Sabatini took third place all-around with 30.95 points. She snagged second place on the beam and third place on the bars. Truitt (29.7), Karkanan (29.55) and Richter (28.65) earned fourth, fifth and sixth place all-around.

Read the full story at the Camas Post Record.

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Swimmers test their limits

Doreen McKercher : December 18, 2014 10:44 AM : News
Camas boys are making a splash on local, state and national levels

Adrenaline is John Utas’ ally, but it can also be his adversary.

He’s one of the fastest swimmers on the Camas High School team, but his ability to recover in time for his next race remains a constant uphill battle.

Utas walks around the pool and shakes his muscles, trying to get the feeling back in his arms. He uses a small oxygen tank to regulate his breathing. He also consumes energy drinks and glucose when necessary.

“Doctors are still looking into it,” Utas said. “I’m not getting enough oxygen in my body to pump up. It makes it harder for me to recover after races, and it also restricts me from swimming long distances.”

Despite these challenges, Utas is big key for Papermakers in the 50-meter freestyle and the 100 breaststroke, as well as the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay events. His friends on the high school team and the Columbia River Swim Club make these exhausting meets worth it to him. Plus, he loves to compete.

“Just the adrenaline and emotion of moving through the water as fast as I can,” Utas said. “And the people I get to meet. I have great friends at Camas and in the club. It’s a very big part of my life.”

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Utas turned to swimming full time after he was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. A small piece in the back of his skull had to be removed to clear a blockage of spinal fluid. After the surgery, he could no longer participate in contact sports.

“My choices were tennis, swimming, or track and field. I chose swimming,” Utas said. “I enjoyed going to club practices. Soon after that, it became competitive.”

Not much has changed. On Saturday, Utas scored the third most points at the Sprint Pentathlon, in Longview. He earned first place in the 25 free (11.64 seconds) and the 25 individual medley (12.45), second place in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.75) and third place in the 25 backstroke (13.51) for a combined total of 55 points.

Read the full story at the Camas Post Record.

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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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A view from the ‘inside out’

Doreen McKercher : December 16, 2014 10:32 AM : News
Bruce Westfall to represent Director District 3

The Washougal School District inducted its newest school board member, Bruce Westfall, at the Dec. 10 school board meeting.

A teacher in the Camas School District, Westfall will represent the patrons in district three.

Bruce Westfall

Westfall, 62, and his wife, Anita, who is also an educator, have lived in Washougal since 2005 and in Clark County since 1985.

After a career as a newspaper reporter for more than 15 years, Westfall made the switch to education and has been teaching 14 years in Camas at the fifth and sixth grade levels. He has three grown children who attended Evergreen School District schools.

“Teaching has been fun, energizing and challenging…but more importantly, we’ve seen how education can elevate the lives of young people and improve the lives of those around them,” Westfall said in his letter of interest to the board.  “I also believe that a good, strong school system can elevate a community as well.”

The Westfalls’ interests in children and education reach far beyond the local area.

They have traveled and worked with kids in places like Romania, Kenya, Uganda and Honduras as well as supported scholarships for students in Central America and Africa.

“People might wonder why a teacher should be on a school board,” Westfall said. “But I think it might be useful to have someone on the board who has worked in a classroom and seen a school system from the inside out rather than from the outside in. Different perspectives should make a school board stronger.”

Read the full story at the Camas Post Record.

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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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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.

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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: http://goo.gl/F7rrdY

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 http://goo.gl/NChz5V 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: http://goo.gl/v8O3Z1.

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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

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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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Camas represented at White House ConnectED to the Future Event

Doreen McKercher : November 19, 2014 2:56 PM : News

Today, President Obama hosted “ConnectED to the Future,” a convening with superintendents, including Camas School District Deputy Superintendent Jeff Snell, who will lead their schools and districts in the transition to digital learning. The event builds on the momentum of the ConnectED Initiative, a plan the President announced in 2013, to connect 99% of students to high-speed internet and empower teachers with the technology they need to transform teaching and learning. An important part of this initiative is ensuring that digital connectivity supports innovation in America’s classrooms. That is why, this fall, the Administration launched the Future Ready Pledge to help school districts develop a culture where teachers harness the power of technology to personalize learning and provide quality digital content that fosters student inquiry and creativity. Through this pledge, superintendents from across the country are committing to lead a transition in their districts to innovative teaching using technology. Participants will also work in partnership to share best practices with other school districts.  During the event, President Obama will host a digital pledge signing ceremony with over one hundred superintendents to be joined virtually by hundreds more across the country.

Since the President’s call to action in support of the ConnectED Initiative, more than $4 billion in public and private funding has been committed toward expanding high-speed Internet connectivity for America’s schools and libraries. Additional details about the conference will be released at a later date.

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