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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Camas Administrators asked to join Common Core conversation

Doreen McKercher : October 24, 2014 3:28 PM : News

Early this week, Camas School District leaders were invited to share their perspectives on Common Core with members of the Quality Education Council (QEC) who heard presentations from districts around the state.

Jeff Snell, Deputy Superintendent, and Lisa Greseth, Director of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, spoke about the impacts of Common Core including changes in teaching, learning, and technology.

Highlights of the presentation included the district’s professional learning system related to how educator growth is supported. Specifically, the district engages the use of peer-to-peer support through the development of teacher learning leaders in all schools. The model supports teachers with a variety of professional learning structures including assisting teachers with student growth goals, helping staff work on new initiatives, and even one-on-one coaching. The district also employs key positions referred to as Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs). These TOSAs facilitate collaborative approaches to instruction, foster Professional Learning Communities, and create targeted professional development opportunities for teachers.

The Quality Education Council (QEC) was created by the Legislature in ESHB 2261, the major education reform bill passed during the 2009 session. Its purpose is to develop strategic recommendations for implementation of a new definition of Basic Education and the financing necessary to support it.

QEC members include four state representatives and four state senators (with equal representation among Democrats and Republicans). In addition, council members include one representative each from the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education, the Director of the Department of Early Learning, the Office of the Governor, the State Board of Education, the Professional Educator Standards Board and the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee.

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Papermaker swimmers edge Mountain View

Doreen McKercher : October 22, 2014 8:32 AM : News
swim-postEugenia Beale helped the Papermakers win the 400 and the 200 freestyle relay races Thursday, at Cascade Athletic Center. She also finished second in the 500 free and fourth in the 200 individual medley. Photo by Dan Trujillo.

Wins in the 200-meter freestyle relay, 100 backstroke and 400 freestyle relay carried the Camas High School girls swimming team to an 87-83 victory against Mountain View Thursday, at Cascade Athletic Center.

“This was the start of our championship season,” said head coach Mike Bemis. “It took us a while to take that to heart. It was a fabulous way to end the day on that last relay.”

Sierra Colletto, Alexandra Hall, Anna Panebianco and Eugenia Beale clinched first place for the Papermakers in the 400 free relay with a time of 3 minutes, 59.74 seconds.

“It felt fan-freaking-tastic,” Colletto said. “It was such a good race. I think everybody wanted to win.”

Colletto and Hall kept Camas in the lead, before Panebianco dove in and created some breathing room. Beale delivered a strong final lap to secure the victory.

“Just get as far ahead as I could,” Panebianco said. “That’s all I was focusing on.”

Read the full story at the Post-Record.

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Memoir in Poetry & Art: Essence of Self

Doreen McKercher : October 21, 2014 3:37 PM : News
Library Show FlyerSecond Story Gallery at the Camas Public Library hosts student artwork from new Integrated Arts and Academics program at CHS through October.

The collection of student work from the CHS Integrated Arts and Academics (IAA) features a blend of memoir poetry and the atom as metaphor for self in their artwork. The show consists of masks, glass tiles, oil pastel triptychs, and more. Forty-six ninth graders in the new IAA program have the opportunity to connect what they are learning in Pre-AP English and Physical Science, and then communicate their learning in art that is meaningful to them.

“In addition to integrating the academics with the arts, the program vision is for students to work with professional, visual and performing artists and always share their work with an audience. It makes learning more relevant and real-world. Showing their art publicly at the Second Story Gallery is a lifetime opportunity for them,” commented Gina Mariotti Shapard, the program’s leader at Camas High School.

In September, students explored the notion of “essence” as their theme in memoir poetry, physical states of matter, and the atom’s structure in science. They have been working with local artists such as Dancer, Renee’ Adams of Riverside Performing Arts, as well as Artist, Becca Kenck-Crispin of Wells Glass Studio thanks to a major grant from the Camas Educational Foundation.

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Evening on Broadway

Doreen McKercher : October 21, 2014 3:21 PM : News

broadwayStudents of Camas High School’s award-winning drama and music departments will be performing popular selections from Broadway musicals in their second annual Evening on Broadway on October 27 at 7 PM.  Tickets are $5 and will be sold at the box office, which opens at 6 PM.  This year’s blockbuster sequel brings more choreography, costumes, and songs from America’s favorite shows.  For more information, contact Ethan Chessin at

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CHS Drama Department presents A Christmas Carol

Doreen McKercher : October 14, 2014 10:55 AM : News

Christmas-Carol-post“If I had my way, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.” –Ebenezer Scrooge

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” tells the classic story of a mean-spirited, miserly and rich old man, a poor but optimistic clerk, and three visiting ghosts each with a unique message about the meaning of Christmas. The story was immensely popular when it was printed in 1843, and remains popular more than 170 years later.

The Camas High School Drama Department presents this timeless tale, adapted by  Romulus Linney, over two weekends in November.

Performance Dates:
  • November 7, 8, 14, and 15 at 7 PM
  • November 15 at 2 PM (ASL interpreted)
Tickets Prices:
  • Adults and students without ASB – $7
  • Students with ASB, Honored Citizens, – $6
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Guermali brothers have Camas cross country cruising

Doreen McKercher : October 10, 2014 2:32 PM : News
Ex-Union runner finds new home with Papermakers

There were no angry glances or furious sprints as the two leading runners headed shoulder-to-shoulder into the homestretch.

For Said and Yacine Guermali, Tuesday’s cross country race at Pacific Park wasn’t unlike countless runs they’ve done together.

Only Tuesday, the brothers wore matching Camas High School singlets as they crossed the finish line of the 5,000 meter course in 16 minutes, 45 seconds.

Rewind one year, much was different. Said was one of the top runners for Union, which Camas faced along with Mountain View on Tuesday.

The senior now runs for Camas because of what he called a family decision. In the moments before the race started, he exchanged handshakes and joked with his former Union teammates.

“It was really bittersweet because I made some great relationships with Union,” Said Guermali said. “The whole team, I still love them today. I still hang out with a lot of them. The coaching at Union was exceptional. But just personal reasons involving moving to other houses made it harder for us to stay at Union.”

Also last year, Yacine would never have been in the lead pack of a varsity race. The sophomore hadn’t broken 19 minutes until this season. Tuesday, he stuck with his older brother as they pulled away from Union’s Tristan Robins and Jordan Moore over the second half of the race.

“He’s like a role model,” Yacine Guermali said. “Having him there to push me, I don’t give up.”

Read the full story at the Columbian.

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District seeks health committee members

Doreen McKercher : October 9, 2014 3:31 PM : News

The Camas School District is seeking individuals to serve on the district’s Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC).

Ideally volunteers would have a background/interest in one of the following areas: comprehensive school health education, physical education, health services, nutrition services, counseling, psychological or social work, health promotion for staff, and/or family/community experience. Committee members will also serve as a representative/liaison for a specific school building – elementary, middle or high school. Parents, teachers, and community members are encouraged to apply.

SHAC consists of about 20 school district stakeholders who advise school administrators and board members on a variety of health and fitness issues. Four meetings are held during the school year. SHAC members serve a three-year term.

Interested citizens are encouraged to send a letter of interest and resume to Molly Ndoloum, RN, MSN, at 1612 NE Garfield Street, Camas, WA 98607 or to by October 20, 2014.

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Love for volleyball grows

Doreen McKercher : October 9, 2014 2:48 PM : News

Camas volleyball players, coaches and fans celebrate after the Papermakers beat Battle Ground Sept. 30, at Camas High School.

Camas volleyball players, coaches and fans celebrate after the Papermakers beat Battle Ground Sept. 30, at Camas High School.

Papermakers beat Battle Ground in five-set thriller

Playing in front of a packed warehouse at Camas High School propelled the Papermakers to a five-set victory against Battle Ground Sept. 30.

“It was probably the best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced at a volleyball game before,” said senior outside hitter Lauren Harris. “Once the final point was scored, I’ll never forget how the crowd just filled the court.”

Harris paired 20 kills with 28 digs and 2 blocks to help Camas defeat Battle Ground 23-25, 27-25, 23-25, 25-13, 15-10. Carly Banks added 25 kills and 2 blocks. Christina Elliott earned 58 assists, 18 digs and 2 aces. Sophi Jacobson delivered 13 kills, 7 digs, 5 blocks and 2 aces. Anna Roche contributed 7 blocks and 4 kills.

“Hard work pays off, and it really did when we had to go five with them,” Banks said. “Having that huge student section to play in front of is something we’ve always wanted. All of us fed off that excitement and it gave us more energy to play.”

Head coach Julie Nidick said the Papermakers trailed by 10 points in the third set before getting a second wind.

“The tenacity they showed was pretty special,” Nidick said. “They believed they were the better team. They didn’t want to let all those fans down.”

Read the full story at the Post Record.

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Elementary Conference Week: October 27-31, 2014

Doreen McKercher : October 8, 2014 2:22 PM : News

This year, the Camas School District is providing a full week of early release days dedicated to elementary conferencing with families.  During the week of October 27-31, 2014, all elementary schools will operate on an early release schedule (9:00 a.m. – 1:10 p.m.).  Kindergarten students will attend school on a rotating schedule of every other day of school during this week.

  • PM Kindergarten students will attend school on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during conference week.  They will not attend Tuesday or Thursday.
  • AM Kindergarten students will attend kindergarten on Tuesday and Thursday of conference week.  They will not attend Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

If your child’s dismissal plan will differ from his/her regular plan due to the early release schedule, please let your school office know.

Please note: Camas Extended Day and the Jack, Will, Rob Center will be open early for participants during conference week. Camas Community Ed after-school classes for students are cancelled on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of conference week.

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Bringing cultures together

Doreen McKercher : October 8, 2014 12:46 PM : News
CHS students, teachers travel to Poland to teach conversational English

When Stephen Baranowksi graduated from Camas High School in 2006, he had a unique opportunity to be a student volunteer at the city’s first conversational English Language Camp in Poland.

Eight years later Baranowski, now dean of students at Liberty Middle School, went back to Poland as the team leader of a group of several student and teacher volunteers. The 23-day trip included a teachers’ workshop in Zabierzow and annual high school English Language Camp in Morawica, with more than 40 Polish students in attendance.

Additionally, the group went on numerous tours and excursions all over Poland so they could learn more about the culture and history of the country.

The trip is organized through the Camas Sister City Organization, which has sister cities in Krapowice, Morawica and Zabierzow.

“I had an opportunity to be a student volunteer on the second Sister City exchange to Poland and had my eyes opened to what a tremendous program this is for participants on both sides,” Baranowski recalled. “Having had this experience, it made it an easy choice when speaking with Lloyd Halverson about the possibility of being part of a team of teachers to make the trip this last summer. We put together a great team, full of energy and enthusiasm for the students, and created a program that we felt made a real impact on both the teachers and students we worked with in Poland.”

Read the full story at the Post Record.

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Camas wins round one of soccer rivalry

Doreen McKercher : October 7, 2014 4:35 PM : News

Camas soccer shuts out Union

Anyssa DeVera, Perri Belzer and Maddy Belzer watch Camas goalkeeper Lauren Rood punch the soccer ball away from the Union Titans Thursday, at Doc Harris Stadium.Photo: Dan Trujillo.

With throbbing legs and thumping hearts, the Camas High School girls soccer players remained bound and determined until the final whistle.

“Our goal was to go out and play with heart and play with passion,” said goalkeeper Lauren Rood. “It comes down to who’s going to fight to get the ball in the net and who’s going to fight to keep the ball out of the net. Games like this show that we really are a sisterhood. We are a team. We are a family.”

The Papermakers bested the Union Titans 1-0 Thursday, at Doc Harris Stadium, to move up to first place in the 4A Greater St. Helens League. Anyssa DeVera delivered a powerful goal in the 44th minute.

“I was going for a cross, but it curved. I was thinking, ‘please go in,’ the whole time,” DeVera said. “We all wanted it. Just getting that goal was a huge lift.”

Camas stepped up as a unit on defense. Rood jumped up and dove across the net to make five saves. Mason Minder and Maddy Belzer anchored the backline. Alyssa Tomasini, Perri Belzer and DeVera didn’t give the Titans much wiggle room to attack.

Union gave everything it had during the final two minutes and extra time. Minder cleared a ball out in the open, but the Titans came back up with it and earned a corner kick. Rood leaped into the pack of potential shooters and defenders and punched the ball away. Minder made one more clear before the referee blew the final whistle.

“The only thing going through my mind was get the ball up and don’t let them through,” Minder said. “I got chills. It was the best feeling after a game this year.”

Read more at the Post Record

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Big Learning, Little Learners

Doreen McKercher : October 1, 2014 11:42 AM : News


Please join us for an evening of family-focused learning activities to support early learning and school readiness skills. This program is open to young learners, ages 3-6 in the Camas School District, and their parents. We will focus on early literacy and math skills and provide free materials for you to take home and use to continue the learning at home. Emphasis on kindergarten readiness skills.

Space is limited to the first 40 families to register!

Click here for more information and to download the registration form.

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Healthy Youth Survey provides important information about adolescents

Doreen McKercher : September 25, 2014 2:32 PM : News

hys-postThe Healthy Youth Survey (HYS) is a collaborative effort of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Department of Health, the Department of Social and Health Service’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, the Department of Commerce, and the Liquor Control Board.

The survey provides important information about youth in Washington. County prevention coordinators, community mobilization coalitions, community public health and safety networks, and others use this information to guide policy and programs that serve youth. The information from the Healthy Youth Survey can be used to identify trends in the patterns of behavior over time. In October 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012, students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 answered questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related risk and protective factors.

The Camas School District will administer the Healthy Youth Survey to sixth, eighth, tenth, and twelfth grade students during the week of October 13-17, 2014. This year, the HYS will include optional questions regarding sexual behaviors, orientation, and abuse. Information about the enhanced survey can be found here.  Additionally, the HYS Question and Answer Fact Sheet found here is very informative.

The district uses the data collected from the survey to make informed decisions around safety and student growth. Parents who wish to opt-out of participation of this survey may do so by contacting your student’s school office.  If you have questions, please contact Glenn Hartman, Intervention Specialist, at 360-335-3000 ext. 78407.

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State of the Community: Camas officials celebrate year of growth

Doreen McKercher : September 24, 2014 3:56 PM : News

Updates from city, school district, port point to positive signs

Construction is thriving again in Camas after stalling during the Great Recession, but Mayor Scott Higgins says some longtime residents think the city’s growing too fast.

Higgins defended the city’s growth in business and housing in his State of the Community speech Tuesday night, making his case for a prosperous future for the small city of about 20,000 residents.

“What’s happened over the last 10 years is, Camas grew, and I would say it grew smart,” he said. “We care about getting this right.”

Higgins shared the stage at Camas High School’s theater with Camas School District Superintendent Mike Nerland and Port of Camas-Washougal Executive Director David Ripp. Each took a turn highlighting some positive signs for business, housing and the city’s schools as the end of 2014 approaches.

Read the full story at the Columbian.

 One Voice, One Vision, One Community


Presentations from the event

City of Camas

Port of Camas-Washougal

Camas School District

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Geiger’s efforts lands her in Idaho Vandals Hall of Fame

Doreen McKercher : September 22, 2014 11:23 AM : News


University president Dr. Chuck Staben on the left and Athletics Director Dr. Rob Spear on the right pictured with Sherrie Geiger. (University of Idaho photo)

When a letter arrived in June from the University of Idaho Vandals Hall of Fame, Sherrie Crang Geiger and her husband Tom joked that it was probably a request for a donation.

Instead, the letter was about her contribution to Vandals sports. A national champion and Idaho record-holder in the 5,000 meters, Geiger was inducted on Sept. 12 into the Vandals Hall of Fame.

“It was a shock and an honor,” she said. “I was not expecting it at all.”

Geiger’s place in Idaho sports lore includes a record that stood for three decades and national championship. She competed in cross country and track and field between 1981 and 1985.

As Sherrie Crang, she did not win a state championship at Hudson’s Bay High School — her best finish at a state meet was second in the 2-mile. But in 1982, as a freshman at Idaho, she won the AIAW Division II national championship at 3,000 meters. That effort helped the Vandals finish second as a team.

The NCAA took on women’s sports in her sophomore year, and Geiger twice qualified for the NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships, running the 5,000 meters in 1983 and the 3,000 meters in 1984 at Eugene.

Read the full story at The Columbian.

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Camas teacher is finalist for Presidential Award

Doreen McKercher : September 18, 2014 5:00 PM : News

Tara-Obermiller-postState Superintendent Randy Dorn announced that five teachers from Washington have been selected as state-level finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The finalists were selected over the summer by a statewide selection committee comprised of content area experts and award-winning teachers. Their nominations were recently confirmed by the national PAEMST program.

About Tara Obermiller
Tara is in her sixth year of teaching. She currently teaches third grade at Woodburn. Tara’s classroom is alive with hands-on instructional tools including manipulatives, iPad apps, visual models, whiteboards, fraction strips and more. She has embraced technology and integrated it into her daily lessons. These tools aren’t just props. They kindle a classroom culture full of vibrant discussions and risk-taking. Tara is also an expert at using data to guide instruction. Her efforts have recently led to the creation of a Wednesday math intervention time that engages volunteers to work with specific students on the specific skills they are struggling with. Tara’s skill as a communicator and her dedication to the profession also make her a standout. One parent observes, “I cannot think of any other who so full exemplifies dedication to and excellence in teaching. Being a teacher isn’t just something Tara does; it is who she is.”

“What makes these five teachers so great is the hands-on learning that’s happening every day in their classrooms,” said State Superintendent Randy Dorn. “Under the guidance of Deborah, Tara, Sadie, Lorianne and Meredith, students are solving real-life problems, collecting scientific evidence and presenting their findings to each other and the communities. That’s how we build a new generation of scientists and engineers, and I’m proud to call each one of these amazing individuals Washington teachers.”

The national PAEMST program typically announces national award recipients in the spring. State-level finalists are recognized by regional and state math and science associations and invited to several annual state events for award winning educators.

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Student starts charitable closet at Liberty Middle School

Doreen McKercher : September 11, 2014 10:57 AM : News


Liberty Middle School student Gared Skorick, 13, got a taste of need — and generosity — when family troubles landed him in Anacortes with next to no possessions for a couple of months.

“It was a very rough time,” he said, but the school staff there was incredibly nice and helpful.

Once things settled down and he got back to Camas, Skorick said, he started noticing how needy some of his own peers are. So he launched the Liberty Community Closet — a clearinghouse of clothes, shoes and personal hygiene products such as soap, toothbrushes and shampoo for students who “need help like I needed help,” he said.

Donations of clothes, supplies and cash are always welcome at Liberty Middle School, 1612 N.E. Garfield St.; call 360-833-5850.

Story published by The Columbian.

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