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Superintendent's Blog

Hello Hockinson Families!

I am Steve Marshall, your HSD Superintendent. I have been trying to figure out how to better stay in touch with you. This blog is an attempt to do just that! My intention is to post here regularly to keep our families current with district news items that may not necessarily appear in our quarterly newsletter.

Your time is valuable. So, by taking the time to read about what is going on in the HSD, you are making an important investment in our schools - and great schools don’t just happen. They require a team effort by the entire school community: school employees, students, parents and community members. Thank you being part of the HSD Team! 


February 16, 2021

Thank you to Operations Director Shaniko Ristau, who tackled the daunting challenge of clearing the snow in our parking lots yesterday so our students could attend school today! 

2-15 Snow Plow

Barring any other unforeseen weather events, we are still slated to end our school year on Wednesday, June 16 as originally scheduled!

February 12, 2021

Today our HR Director Julie Dobbins noted the irony of a snow storm arriving on the day that was designated as a snow-make up day. How convenient! Could it be a sign that our luck is changing?! (I am knocking my knuckles on my wooden desk as I type this 🙄).

February 3, 2021

We have hit the mid-point of School Counselor Appreciation Week so it is definitely time to salute our quintet of compassionate, competent counselors: Vickie Hermann (HHES); Jessica Ambrose (HMS), and Myke Pace, Brian Kimber, and Alizz Quarles (HHS)!

February 2, 2021

Instructional Tech

A big shout out to the HSD Instructional Tech Team that does a lot behind the scenes to support teaching and learning in our district. It has been said for centuries that "all roads lead to Rome." Well, in 21st Century education, all roads (or superhighways!) run through the Tech Department. "Tech support" is a phrase that not only connotes the act of troubleshooting, it also speaks to the necessity of having the equipment and services needed to make lessons, grading, assessment, projects, and communication happen!  In our weekly meeting today, our 3-person Tech Team covered responsibilities ranging from protecting student privacy, evaluating learning applications, maintaining inventory, and even the live-streaming of athletic events this spring. (There was much more.) The point is: These specialists make a difference to the HSD every day and you would never know it...well, unless there were an outage! Thanks Tech Dept.

February 1, 2021

Today was a big day at HHES ... its second in two weeks! Our Grade 4 and 5 students are on campus and what was really neat to see was how they looked to their K-3 siblings and classmates to model the school's safety practices.

grade 4

Thanks, too, to all of our parents who completed the monthly health attestation form so Associate Principal Meredith Gannon could coordinate the entry of all of the 600+ students into school. (So, yeah, Meredith deserves a big Thank You, too!)  Addition: At tonight's Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, an HHES parent asked if the Attestation Form could be posted on the HHES website. Links are currently sent out via email and social media, but we are looking at how to best provide monthly access to this document. Stay tuned!

African American History Month

Today is also the first day of African American History Month, a "tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society." (https://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/) The ethnic profile of the Hockinson School District is predominantly white (90% White, 5% Hispanic, 3% Asian, 1% African American, and 1% Two or More Races) so it is important to provide opportunities that promote awareness, education, and respect in our schools. While this is a month-long event, our district's commitments to ensuring equitable access to learning and preparing all students for future success are year-round!

January 29, 2021

Happy Friday! January 29 is a busy news day for the HSD. This entry will attempt to touch on all of these news items. Warning: Some of this content is essential, some of it is lighthearted...

49.4% Day

Today marks the end of Semester 1 and the prelude to the 50% mark on Monday, Feb. 1.  That day will also be the first day of school for our 4th and 5th Graders. Good luck to HHES as they finish off their reopening sequence!

A former colleague keeps track of all of the national celebration days and sends them out periodically. He shared that in addition to essentially being the halfway mark of the school year, today is also Fun at Work Day (or, for many of you, Fun at Home Day.)  It’s also National Puzzle DayCurmudgeon’s Day; and Thank Your Mentor Day. Who knew?

Mask Requirement

Moving right along... As more staff and students return to our campuses, I wanted to make you aware that the HSD has kicked off an initiative on mask education. Essentially, all staff and students are expected to wear masks that appear on the CDS's "Do" list (and to leave the "Don't" masks at home):

covid-19-health-check-app-2 (1).jpg

 

A copy of the message we are sending out to our parents is included at the end of this email.

Updated Daily Attestation

Consistent with the 1/26 update to DOH Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Symptom Screening of Staff and Guests, we have added a 6th question to our daily attestation form:

Within the past 14 days, has a public health or medical professional told you to self-monitor, self-isolate, or self-quarantine because of concerns about COVID19 infection?   

The hope is that you honestly answer "No" to that question. If not, your COVID Site Coordinator should already be notified and you should be working from home.
 
Reykdal Announces Vaccination Plan
Today, OSPI Superintendent Chris Reykdal revealed the details of this "Get Ready" Plan to vaccinate teachers and school workers by the end of the spring. By partnering with Kaiser Permanente and other agencies, he hopes to open a number of vaccination locations across the state with the goal of vaccinating at least 80% of school employees. As I understand it, the tentative vaccination sites are Skyview, Battle Ground, Camas, and Heritage High Schools.  Plans could change, though, and if they do we will keep you current.
 
HHS Graduate Sets World Record
Taylor Guzman (Class of 2014) recently set a world's record by catching a 69-yard pass behind his back. You can watch the news story HERE.
taylor-guzman-world-record-holder-01282021.jpg
 
Congratulations Taylor and congratulations everyone - you have made it halfway through the 2020-21 school year. Can you believe it?! Let's make the second half twice as good as the first!
 
Take care -
 
Steve
 
PS I was able to lend a helping hand to Shaniko Ristau, HSD Operations Director, and Randy Dickinson, HHS Custodian, today. The two used the opportunity of a non-attendance day to install new plywood backboards in the HHS Field House to get ready for the return of HHS sports on Feb. 1. These backboards will protect the insulated walls from soccer balls, softballs, baseballs and maybe even the occasional wrestler! Once painted, they will really pop with school pride.
 
The HSD was given a great price on this plywood by SHUR-WAY Building Center. Thank you, SHUR-WAY! We could not have done this project without your support.
 
New Plywood Backstop in HHS Field House
 
January 21, 2021

Due to a drop in student enrollment our district finds itself in a significant budget deficit.  We are trying to address this shortfall in four different ways: Reductions; Public awareness and involvement; Finding efficiencies; and Creating enhancements.   Today, I had a great meeting on the latter: Increasing financial support for our school programs!  It was productive and inspirational: The HSD is exploring and applying for a number of grants that we hope will sustain our district and actually improve our instructional program while we make the decisions that need to be made to keep the district financially viable. We are also looking to use state emergency funds in a way that gives us a long-term benefit (e.g., instructional technology that can serve our students for 5-7 years) rather than for short-term returns-on-investment.

January 19, 2021

These pictures say it all - or, at least, they say a lot about the first day of in-person learning for our Grade 1-3 students at HHES! Parents who opted for small group, in-person model were all smiles as they dropped off their students for a half day of classroom learning.  Many took pictures as their son or daughter queued up to enter the building. Although they were masked, I could tell our students were excited, too. They also gave off an unmistakable "Day 1" vibe consisting of new haircuts, new backpacks and jackets, nervous waves to friends, and impeccable cooperation with directions.  

These students joined their counterparts in Kindergarten who have been in school since November 2 following a 2-day-a-week format. But starting today, all K-3 students are on a 4-day, half day model (AM Session: 8:30-10:30 am and PM Session: Noon-2:30 pm).  Students in Grades 4-5 will return on February 1. 

The pictures also show our commitment to student and staff safety: Masks; Social distancing; Hand hygiene (including sanitizing station at the door and throughout campus); Cohorting of students; and Enhanced cleaning, ventilation, and air filtration. What they do not show is the partnership of our parents and students: These students were ready to go academically thanks to your partnership with remote learning over the past 6 months. They were ready for safety because most all had watched the safety video that HHES had sent home beforehand.

January 18, 2021

A big thanks to our Hockinson Music Boosters, who organized today's Hockinson Community Cleanup in honor of MLK Day of Service. The Boosters partnered with SOLVE to make this event possible. 

I enjoyed seeing our students, parents, and community volunteers make a positive difference in our community. I also really enjoyed meeting all of these people and checking in with them on how things were going with school and how we might improve.  In a year in which I have had to react and deal with the reality that much is out of our control, it was refreshing to be able to act proactively. The fact that it was a team experience was icing-on-the-cake.

pic

Jen Teckenburg of the Music Boosters said that she hoped to make this an annual service activity. An event that brings everyone together and beautifies Hockinson? I'm in!

January 14, 2021

Back in the planning process with our secondary leaders. We have heard from many parents this week: Some want to reopen our schools now. Others have expressed their preference to stay at home and are encouraging us to prioritize student and community safety over reopening. Easy, huh? So we are approaching this planning with many considerations in mind. As one administrator said today: "We want a plan that works for our students and families - and we want that plan to endure."

January 13, 2021

I crossed paths with the HSD's Grounds - Mario and Steve - guys this morning. These two work hard and make a huge difference on our district's four campuses. Due to staffing reductions, they face a mountain of work every day. They cut down dead trees, remove tons of leaves, maintain our sports fields, repair irrigation ... and last week they repaired something that has annoyed me for a year and a half: They fixed the drainage issue at the HMS turnaround! This constant flow of water created a great algae smear that, of course, turned to ice in freezing temperatures. So, it looked terrible, it was dangerous, and left as is would have damaged the asphalt. While estimates for this project ran around $10,000, Mario and Steve did it for {drumroll} under $100. That is the Hockinson Way!

A few hours later, I met with our secondary principals to fine tune our middle school and high school reopening plan. We are getting creative because guidance from our Governor and DOH gives us the threshold of 350 infections/100k/14 days to reopen middle schools. The threshold for high school is 200 infections per 100,000 over two weeks. As of yesterday, Clark County's infection rate stands at 397.95. Why can we open HHES during this "High" period? Our state allows K-5 in-person learning because early learners are identified as a high need population and research has shown that children do not transmit the virus at the same level as as adults. 

January 12, 2021

A long, but productive day.  Big appreciation to our HEA representatives who showed a lot of commitment to both our district's teachers and their students tonight - which is more complicated than you might think, especially during a pandemic. They bargained from 3-11:30 pm. Yes. 11:30 pm.  A shout out to our building principals as well. We all stuck it out so the MOU on working conditions could go to teachers prior to HHES reopening for Grades K-3 next Tuesday. 

I delivered some social distance decals at HHES today. Two things: 1. Yes. This does fit in the job description of a small district, especially one in a budget crisis.  2. I am very impressed with the safety planning Josh and Meredith have done (and are still doing!) and equally appreciative of Angie's huge heart for HHES students, their families, and the classified employees she represents as HESP President.

January 11, 2021

My New Year's Resolution to update my blog is obviously a few days behind schedule. /-: Resolutions, like many best intentions, aren't always acted upon.  But I aim to keep this one.  As a small district without a communications manager, I am aware of the constant challenge of keeping families informed and current. During the COVID era, I know our students, parents, and community are wondering: "What is going on?" and probably "What does the Superintendent do all day?"  My entries will try to answer those questions in short form. Details on major issues will be available in the news stories on the HSD web page, in emails, or in our newsletter articles.

Also, I do not maintain a presence on social media. I just don't have the time...my waking hours are devoted to the HSD and my family.  So I am thinking that this will be my pseudo-social media platform. So I am going to start establishing a habit that I hope benefits you, me, and the HSD.

Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2020

I wanted to reach out to you before we all embark on the first school year in HSD history to begin completely online! We are kicking off the 2020-21 school year with HSD Remote Learning and Hockinson Virtual Academy and with these new platforms will likely come some new challenges. However, we wanted to make sure you know that you and your student(s) will have access to district support should you experience any issues with these online learning platforms. 

I encourage you not to panic if you experience a tech issue tomorrow. We’re here to help! Our teachers and tech team members are available and will do their best to resolve any issues you may encounter while getting used to this new way of learning. Remember that we are all in this together and we are here to support you every step of the way! 

What to do if you encounter a tech-related issue:

Send an email to techsupport@hocksd.org that describes the problem you are experiencing. Please include your contact information so we can easily get back to you. You can also call our tech support team at (360) 448-6402. If you do not get a live answer, please leave a detailed voicemail. Our tech team will be regularly checking their inboxes and will get back to you as soon as possible.

We are aware that households have different levels of internet connectivity. If your student experiences poor video quality during Zoom class sessions, try closing the internet browser (not the Zoom window but the web browser window) or turn off video and proceed with audio only. Another option is to seek out wi-fi at an HSD building. We have limited seating at each school for students in need of wi-fi. Contact your school’s main office for more information. We will do our best to accommodate any student seeking wi-fi in the weeks to come.

If your student is enrolled in HVA and is in need of assistance, please contact:

HVA Grades 6-12

josh.johnson@hocksd.org

carolee.mcafee@hocksd.org

 

HVA Grades K-5

meredith.gannon@hocksd.org

cary.delbridge@hocsd.org

We worked very hard over the summer to create these online formats - and our teachers and support staff are ready to work hard to support your students this fall so they have a positive experience with remote/online learning. That said, I am also aware that we could not do this without you.

I remember passing along a similar article last spring when we quickly transitioned to at-home learning, but I wanted you to have a few reminders handy as your family gets back into school mode: 8 Tips to Help Your Child Learn at Home. I attended a series of online learning seminars last spring and one piece of advice stayed with me: Have your student approach home learning like they would if they were attending school in person. For instance, students might want to prepare a lunch in advance and change clothes in the morning as if they were leaving home for a typical school day. These behaviors, in addition to having a schedule and a designated study area free from distractions, help students get mentally prepared to make the most of online learning.

Thank you for all you are doing, and will continue to do at home, to support your student’s education. Your support and partnership is appreciated more than you know.

 

Steve

 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

This week's blog is another insight into intra-district communications. It is an email I just sent out to HSD staff. Warning: It's pretty random. What will those elements create when combined? Read on and find out if I can tie it all together...

My first random reference? "2001: A Space Odyssey." I remember watching this movie and wondering, “I wonder if we will ever have video conferencing?” Well, I no longer wonder. After weeks of Zoom meetings, I am now wondering, “Will I ever have a day without video conferencing?!” I will admit that I never imagined having a portable tablet that could be used for video conferencing. Yet, here our students are using their (now outdated) iPads to access your instruction remotely...during a pandemic - the possibility of which has inspired a number of other Hollywood thrillers.

Random thought #2: “Back to the Future.” Over the past few months, I have been researching Hockinson’s past. This weekend, I came across an article in the August 30, 1938 Columbian entitled:

CLARK BROWN VISITS Hockinson and Finds Cooperative Store Moved with Plans for a Modern New Building to Replace Older Structure 

Now, I am NOT saying that online education is going to replace in-person education, but I found these quotes on change somewhat relevant as we work to install a new educational model in an effort to keep up with these high-tech and “stay at home” times, just as our predecessors in Hockinson changed with their times.

As we parked our car the other day at the Hockinson Cooperative company, we noticed that the old store was empty. A sign on the window said, "moved just across the street." Across the street we visited Leonard Pietila, Hockinson's mayor and business manager of Hockinson Cooperative company. "Yes," he said, "the old store [is closed] and a new building will take its place... there is a tie of affection that binds us to this old building...Time was when it was a much smaller building than now and Hockinson a sparsely settled community. In those days, ox teams could be seen on our streets on trading days. A hitching post stood near and farmers hitched their horses, strolled into the store, purchased coal oil, halters and provisions, and then if it was winter time, sat down by the old stove, smoked a while and visited.” Five languages were spoken in the old store, English, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. This community, one of the most prosperous in Clark county, with its excellent schools, dairy farms, and poultry farms, can point with pride to those who came from the far away Scandinavian peninsula. 

Columbian Photo

Warren Mattson [working on the cooling system for the store] said: "The old must make way for the new, so we are building a new structure with a full basement. We organized this cooperative in 1920 and have seen times when all looked very discouraging, but we stuck and we are glad we did. Many a problem had to be solved, credit had to be extended to our old customers to help them out in times of stress, and in so doing, we felt we were not only aiding them but our community. Sure I have a feeling of loss to see the old building fall. But we will forge the old when we get the new one." 

And somehow, our current situation and this old news story made me think of a line from Shakespeare’s comedy, "Twelfth Night," my final random connection. In it, one of the characters says: 

“... but be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.”  

(Sure, this character was unknowingly making a fool of himself. But just go with it...)

I know that we are all stressing out - to varying degrees - over the rapid changes in our jobs as well as The Unknown. But I really feel that we have had an opportunity for greatness thrust upon us. We have been dabbling in online education for a while, but in part because it has been optional, our progress has been uneven. Well, now we don’t really have a choice in the matter. We are innovating in a crisis.

Where does this leave us? It leaves us two weeks into the implementation of at-home education. In other words, we have likely entered the famed Implementation Dip, which Michael Fullan defines as a downturn “in performance and confidence that occurs as people encounter an innovation that requires new skills and new understandings.” 

In his book, "Leading in a Culture of Change," Fullan says that leaders and teachers should expect the implementation dip and understand that people are “experiencing two kinds of problems when they are in the dip - the social-psychological fear of change and the lack of technical know-how or skills to make the change work."

Yep. There’s more to it, but that about sums it up.

How do we climb out of the uncertainty, fatigue and frustration of the Implementation Dip? I do not have the answer, but you do. The momentum and the ascent is powered by determination (the Sisu factor I mentioned on March 28), collaboration and support.

That last factor is in short supply, I know, mainly because this challenge is new for everyone -- national and state leaders, school administrators, teachers, students and parents. There is no template. However, there are processes and there are practices. Your principals and I watched a video last week that provided one person’s take on these processes and practices. If you have a spare hour (stop laughing) you can watch the video here:

Watch: Jeff Utecht’s Distance Learning Keynote Address

Or you can skim through my notes here. Your principals and I will be attending Jeff’s sessions over the next few weeks and will share some of the key takeaways with you.

And there is one more factor to add to determination, collaboration and support: time. Right now, "many a problem needs to be solved." And many a question needs to be answered...and those answers are taking a while. Sometimes we are waiting on the state for direction. Other times, we work through them in long meetings. And other times we settle on an answer, only to back-peddle when we get new information. But they will come in time.

These things make us miss the familiarity of the face-to-face model of education all the more. 

But we will “forge the old” in this new interim model. So keep after it. Greatness awaits. We are in times when "all looks very discouraging," but we need to find comfort and wisdom in the words of Warren Mattson: "Stick with it. We'll be glad we did." Chances are, when all is said and done and we return to our schools, we will have a more contemporary and versatile version of teaching and learning to show for it.

Steve


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hello HSD,

In the interest of “pulling back the curtain,” I’d like to share a letter with you that I recently sent to our district staff members. It’s all about using resourcefulness and persistence to keep learning alive through unconventional means.

Dear HSD staff,

This week's weekly update is a departure from the normal format. It is a message that blends language, history, present challenges and optimism for the future.

Right now, epidemiology is the name of the game. Our personal and professional lives have been upended by a statewide effort to control the spread of the coronavirus. But I have done some reflection and found inspiration in etymology (the study of words and their history).

Interestingly, this outbreak almost coincides with the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 100th anniversary of the worldwide flu epidemic and the 150th anniversary of the HSD. There are lessons we can learn from our history, and for the purpose of this email, there are two particularly relevant lessons that happen to be contained in a couple of words with international origins:

Eureka

“Eureka” comes from the ancient Greek word εὕρηκα heúrēka, meaning, “I have found (it).” It is closely related to heuristic, which refers to experience-based techniques for problem-solving, learning and discovery. The initial “h” is dropped in some European languages, but preserved in others, such as Finnish, Danish and German.

Sisu

One of my grandfathers was Finnish and I remember that he equated “Sisu” to spirit and toughness. He illustrated it with stories of how Finnish soldiers used wile, white jumpsuits and skis to overcome the invasion of a much more powerful Russian army. Below are a couple of more elaborate definitions of this personal quality:

Extraordinary endurance in the face of adversity; persistence, determination, guts; full of tenacity, courage, resolve, willpower and an indomitable spirit.

Extraordinary determination, resoluteness and courage in the face of adversity. An action mindset which enables individuals to reach beyond their present limitations and take action against all odds and transform barriers into frontiers. An integral part of Finnish culture and also a universal capacity that we all share.

As you know, Hockinson was founded by Finnish settlers who originally named the town Eureka, and early life here was not easy. It required Sisu. 

So you see where I am going with this. 

The coronavirus is putting us to the test. I know there is worry about implementing online instruction. I acknowledge the obstacles and the work it will require, but for the sake of our students, we have to rise to the challenge and figure it out. I am grateful that we have the resources to make this happen. We have online resources and we have each other; at-home teaching and learning will depend on the involvement of the three big players in public education: Our parents, our students and you. I think everyone is ready to move forward.

It is time to show our wile, resourcefulness and persistence, and keep learning alive through unconventional means. As it should be in education, the adults will be making discoveries alongside our students. There are about to be some serious “Eureka” moments, and I hope you find that exciting. It makes sense if you also find that scary or intimidating. The dividing line between excitement and fear is very fine, but we have over a week to steel ourselves. When we return from Spring Break I expect all of us to be ready to confront any fears that remain by digging in, reaching beyond our present limitations, and taking action against all odds “to transform barriers into frontiers.”

Rest up over the coming days and get ready. We will Sisu through this together.

Sincerely,

Steve


Monday, March 16, 2020

I have said this many times over my career in education: Great schools are the product of a community, school staff and students who all buy into the importance of a high-quality education. I know it is not an original thought. But it is accurate.

This concept is built on the assumption that each group - in its own way - contributes equally. Traditionally, this has looked like educators and students participating in the teaching and learning process in a school setting and parents supporting this process at home or as on-campus volunteers.  Well, the decision to close schools through April 24 has disrupted this configuration. For the interim, formal education has shifted to the home, where a lot of education already takes place between students and their parents and families.

This is obviously a big adjustment. Educators now find themselves in the support role. Over the next few days, HSD administrators and teachers will be exploring ways to effectively facilitate distance learning. However, as my 8-year-old son reminded me, we cannot underestimate how students can contribute to the success of this new model. 

My son’s name is Brady. On Friday evening, he approached my wife with an idea: He wanted to create a home school schedule so he could continue to learn. He created what he felt was a realistic (10:30 am start time) self-directed learning program. Here it is:

Brady's schedule

Huh?

Brady’s schedule reset my attitude. On Friday, I was overwhelmed with the logistics of trimming 4 weeks worth of seat time and redesigning our educational model. This responsibility was 100 percent on my shoulders. Then Brady reminded me that student learning is a shared responsibility and students bear some responsibility for their education. 

Now, Brady is a pretty determined 2nd Grader. I do not doubt that he can stick to his plan. Realistically, though, he will need monitoring and encouragement from us to stay focused. Plus, he can only do so many adaptive online learning programs. At some point, he will need to have access to curriculum and instruction that is aligned with 2nd Grade standards and prepares him for the expectations of 3rd Grade. This is where the school and teacher enter the picture, and I want you to know that we are up to the task. But we will need a little time to get organized.

And this brings me to my final thought.  When counseling students who are behind in school, I encourage them to do the work first, then have the fun (this is not to say that school work can’t be fun, but you know what I am saying). As I have learned from personal experience, you run a big risk if you reverse the order. So, as much as possible, I ask that you and your students do your best to create a structure that will help to get them through the next few days of independent learning with their school year habits intact. 

We will be joining you soon.

Steve


Sunday, March 8, 2020

Hello HSD,

I hope this weekend's newsletter finds you rested and, yep, healthy. As you likely already know, late Friday Clark County Public Health announced the first case of coronavirus in our county. While that man is currently in isolation at PeaceHealth, I tried to find out if he lives in Vancouver, east county, or north county, to no avail. I figured that kind of information would not be released...but at the same time, I knew many in our community would want to know.

So, we head into this week in the same status as last week: No COVID-19. but cautious. I ask for your continued help with keeping us that way by reinforcing good hygiene habits with students. Also, starting tomorrow our custodians will be disinfecting our buildings three days a week. I ask for your understanding because this extra focus on sanitizing our classrooms and common areas will come at the expense of tasks like vacuuming and general cleaning.

I know this might surprise many of you because the top story in the news is the coronavirus and the shelves of toilet paper and bottled water at grocery stores have been stripped bare... but there are other topics to cover in the HSD. Here are just a couple:

HHS Vans

HSD vans

A few weeks ago, Hockinson HS purchased two 10-passenger vans through our state's surplus program.  This week, I heard that there were some questions about this purchase - in particular, “How can a school district that says it has no money go and buy vans?” So I will share with you some details that will hopefully answer those questions. Here is the rundown:

The total cost of both vans was $12,000. Josh Johnson, HHS Associate Principal and Athletics/Activities Director, had inquired about new vans and the lowest price he could find for one van was $17,000 + taxes.

The price was split evenly between the HHS general budget, HHS Athletics budget, HSD General budget, and the AAA Boosters.

They are not new. The vans are from 2010 and each have over 110,000 miles. But they are in very good condition!

The vans are the right size and were the right price. Josh and Andy Schoonover, HHS Principal, were looking for a cost-effective way to transport some of our smaller teams and clubs to local competitions. These fit that purpose. Cascade Transportation does provide us with great service, but bus transportation makes most sense when you fill the seats. Since the price is the same for a team of 10 as it is for a team of 45, vans will give HHS another option for its smaller programs. This past fall, it cost more than $500 for the boys golf team to take a bus to Longview and $450 to travel to Woodland. Using the IRS mileage rate, these trips would cost our Athletics program less than $100 altogether if they used a van with the coach as a Type II driver.

While there are many costs (e.g., facility repairs, insurance, and necessary contracted services) we cannot control, we are trying to reduce our expenses wherever we can. These vans were purchased to reduce costs, once they get rolling. They still need a thorough mechanical inspection and the school is developing check-in/check-out procedures so we can keep them in good condition.

The Laramie Project

The recent production of The Laramie Project is an illustration of what is possible when students are given the opportunity to follow their passion. I will admit that there was a little trepidation when senior Musse Barclay approached me and Andy with the idea of putting on this play. Since this was proposed as a student-led production, I will also admit that there was even a little doubt that they would be able to pull it all together. After all, putting on a play is a huge undertaking, and the timeline was short. 

But these 25 students amazed me with their organization, skill and dedication. They had a purpose and they delivered. If you didn't already see the recent article in The Columbian on this play, here is the link:

https://www.columbian.com/news/2020/mar/05/audience-meant-to-be-uncomfortable-seeing-laramie-project-at-hockinson-high

That article inspired a couple who lived in Hazel Dell to come and watch the play on opening night. They stopped me to tell me that and compliment our students for their leadership, teamwork and talent. I am confident that these HHS Theatre students inspired many others in the same way. Thanks to Greg Saum and the HHS community for supporting this play.

ESD 112 Art Show

Shifting the focus from the theater to the art studio, I wanted to give a shout out to HHS Art Teacher, Tanya Hochhalter, and her students who submitted works of art to the ESD 112 Superintendent's Art Show.  Here is just a sample of what our students produced:

Art 1Art 2art 3

They represent different mediums, but they are all creative and, as you can see, high quality. The big art show is officially on Wednesday, March 18 from 5-7 pm at the ESD 112, but the artwork will be displayed for weeks afterward.

Employee Appreciation

Starting March 9, the HSD is observing Classified Employee Appreciation Week and I am going to ask you to bear with me as I go on a birdwalk. I know this week's blog entry seems to be HHS-centric. That was not intentional. However, it does give me a chance to talk about teamwork and shared success. The unique thing about HHS students is that, in many cases, they have been taught and supported by many, many HSD employees from kindergarten through to graduation. Similarly, all of our employees - classified, certificated, non-represented, and contracted - play important roles in our district. We all belong to the same team and we contribute to the same mission. 

So, this week is set aside to honor our classified employees. Please make good on that opportunity by expressing your appreciation in whatever style is most comfortable to you: A hug, in-person thank you, card, or email...or better yet, a treat.

Steve


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Hello HSD,

I had an extra day in February and I still did not post this entry until March 1. What can I say? The school year is picking up. But, as you will see, the increased workload comes with increased good news, too. I am going to cluster this news thematically and while I want to make sure you read the section on “Good Health” I am going to start with the first theme of...

Generosity

1. Thank you to Sue Thompson and her Jazzercise devotees who, as they have in years' past, donated money into a “Hearts for Kids” fund. This year, they contributed a total of $605 to help low-income HSD students pay for things such as yearbooks, sports fees, eye glasses and school supplies. During the holidays, Sue and her friends raised $1,400 to support Hockinson families-in-need. Sue informed me that during her years as a counselor in the HSD she became aware of the hidden, yet prevalent, poverty in our community. She raises these funds so teachers and counselors do not have to support our students out of their own pockets.

If you are or become aware of a student or family who would benefit from a little financial support so they can cover the cost of a school essential or a fee, please let your building administrator know and they will see what is available in Sue's fund.

2. I want to give a shout out (or maybe I should call it a screech out) to students and staff of Hockinson High School who recently raised $1,557 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - that is $300 more than they raised last year and included a $370 “Miracle Minute” collection at the kick-off assembly! This “Pennies for Patients” coin drive was organized by ASB Advisor Beth Tugaw and her Leadership students. 

3. Finally, congratulations and thank you to our PWT volunteers who coordinated a very successful Book Swap, which is kind of a “give one, get one” kind of event that helps our parents maintain age-appropriate home libraries as their children grow up. Here is the recap from Jamie Hebert, PWT volunteer:

“We had a total of 6,185 books donated this year; 1,000 of those were from the Middle School who we partnered with for the first time this year thanks to the efforts of Middle School Librarian, Sandra Stroup, and parent volunteer, Heather Porter. We had over 400 attendees, including Buzz, our mascot, who continues to be a welcome addition to all of our school events, eliciting smiles from students and parents alike. Katy Anderson and her team deserve special recognition for the literacy AND math activities that they both coordinated and hosted for the evening. And last, but not least, this year’s Book Swap coordinators Ami Hamlin and Stacie Burnham deserve a round of applause as do all of our teachers and volunteers who collected and hauled books over a period of four weeks, including our high school National Honor Society students who helped set up and break down the event this year. This is truly a community event!”

hhes book swapbook swapbook swap books

Fun & Learning

Speaking of assemblies, the students at HHES had a special assembly on Friday. OperaQuest NW stopped by to entertain and educate students about musical theater. HHES Associate Principal Meredith Gannon shared that 3rd Grader Cruz Crouch (pictured) and other student volunteers joined the performers on stage while students in the audience served as the chorus. 

opera1opera2

Opera-man reportedly gave the learning experience five handkerchiefs – his highest rating! Great job, HHES!

sandler

Good Health

It appears that the Coronavirus is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Although there are no cases of this virus in the HSD, our custodians are taking preventive steps against it and other viruses in our schools. For them to do their jobs, I am asking for your understanding and for your help.

First, your understanding: Your room may not get vacuumed as frequently as normal. Our custodians are going to be spending a lot more time sanitizing desk tops, handrails, door knobs and counters, which will take away time from other tasks.

Second, your help: On Mondays and Wednesdays, please ask your students to leave their chairs down at the end of the day so our custodians have access to tables and chair surfaces.

Thank you to Shaniko and our custodians for being proactive. Also, while those of you who are HSD parents already saw it, I thought I would share the letter that went out to our families on Friday evening. It is a tricky message to deliver. but we wanted them to know that we are aware of the potential health threat that the coronavirus poses and that we are getting organized to respond to it, if necessary.

Sunny weather

I looked out my window on Thursday and I have never seen so many happy students and community members… and rugby players. It was sunny and they were enjoying the warm and dry conditions on the HMS track and field.

hms

And there you have it! The HSD community doing its best to connect each student with an activity or area of interest.

Thank you for encouraging our students, creating interesting learning experiences for them, and doing your part to keep them (and yourselves) healthy!

Steve


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hello HSD!

I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend! Let's kick off this week with some positive stories from across the district:

InvestEd comes to the HSD

I am happy to report that HHS and HMS will receive funding through the InvestEd Foundation in 2020-21. This program, formerly the Saul Haas Foundation, provides funds that can be accessed by students-in-need. These funds can be used for everything from eye glasses and bus fare to coats and school supplies – whatever the school approves. 

There are two components to InvestEd:

  1. Funding based on the number of students who qualify for Free & Reduced Lunch benefits (although students do not need to qualify for this to access InvestEd funds).
  2. A matching program in which the Foundation matches any funds raised by the school up to $500. While we are expected to spend 90 percent of our allocated funds (1), we are allowed to roll over all of our matching funds from year to year.

We want every student to have the ability to access educational and extracurricular opportunities. This program helps to make that possible.

Hockinson HS Jazz Band Places 1st at 2020 Clark College Jazz FestivalJazz Band

The HHS Jazz Band captured the top spot for the 10th time in 12 years at the 2020 Clark College Jazz Festival! This year, they finished atop a field of 11 schools, including Lake Oswego HS (2nd Place) and Washougal HS (3rd Place). 

Congratulations to HHS Jazz Band members:

Sydney Henwood, alto sax; Owen Teckenburg, alto sax; Tanner Linton, tenor sax; Parker Bruning, tenor sax; Ethan Hsu, baritone sax; Davis Baker, trumpet; Josh Saeman, trumpet; Gavin Hubler, trumpet; Max Dorotik, trumpet; Caleb Timbreza, trumpet; Kellan Brinkman, trombone; Brandon Berry, trombone; Jonah Charles, trombone; Abby White, trombone; Caden McNair, trombone; Kaisho Barnhill, piano; Austin Weber, bass; and Sawyer Smith, drums.

Hockinson students stand out at Future Business Leaders of America competition

FBLA studentsAnother round of congratulations goes to students that participated at the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Regional Competition!

1st Place: Jasmine Shigeno, Kelton Duncan, Pierce Barrett, Brecken Guinn and Jaeden Tedsen

2nd Place: Jack Hoefer, Sydney Dahl and Jacob Maitland

3rd Place: Nolan Chappelle

4th Place: Josh Duvon

The FBLA State Competition takes place in early April.

Nutrition Services Program earns a perfect score!

Our food services program is subject to a comprehensive federal audit every three years. This is an extensive process that covers everything from fiscal reporting and meal service requirements to free & reduced lunch applications. Thanks to the hard work of our district and school staff, the program earned a perfect score. This is quite a distinction and an achievement that’s not a reflection of just a few days or weeks of effort; it is based on our entire program over time.

School Board Appreciation Month

Last month, Governor Jay Inslee issued a proclamation in observance of the 25th Anniversary of School Board Appreciation Month. We formally recognized our Board of Directors at a late January meeting for their dedication to the staff and students of our district. These five leaders volunteer their time and share their expertise for no compensation other than our thanks, of which they are very deserving. Though it’s been said many times, thank you, HSD School Board!


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Hello HSD!

I hope everyone is having a great week! I'd like to start off today's blog entry by congratulating the HHS Girls Basketball team for advancing to the next round of the District Tournament by virtue of their dramatic overtime win over Rochester! Good luck tomorrow vs. Washougal, ladies!

1-2-3 Grow & Learn123 Grow and Learn

In 2018-19, the HSD’s WaKids readiness scores of our incoming Kindergartners were some of the lowest in the area. That creates quite a challenge for our Kindergarten teachers as well as for the children themselves. So, the hope is that programs like 1-2-3 Grow and Learn can help our young learners develop their academic and social skills so that their transition to school is a positive one.

Since this once-a-week program’s launch last month, attendance has exceeded expectations! Between kids and caregivers, I would estimate that the Grow and Learn room has been filled with around 30 people. The program, which runs through early June, is made possible by an early learning grant from ESD 112.

Student enrollment

Our district’s enrollment has been increasing in recent months. This is a welcome trend because our enrollment had fallen short of projections during the first few months of the school year. The budgeted student annual-average-full-time-equivalent (AAFTE) for this year is 1,919. However, we started with 1,902 FTE students in September. If we had remained at that level our costs would have exceeded our funding, which is never a good thing.

On our January count day, our student enrollment stood at 1,932 FTE. As it now stands, Hockinson Heights is 9 FTE under budget, Hockinson Middle is 4 FTE over and Hockinson High School is exactly on budget. Unfortunately, these additions have not been uniform across K-12, and in some cases have magnified overages that already existed at certain grades. The bad news is that they will likely remain in that status because we do not expect to add enough students to fund an additional teacher(s) for second semester. However, the good news is that it looks like we will avoid a really bad financial situation. We entered this school year using money from district reserves to contain personnel cuts. Our outlook would have really deteriorated had we gone further in the red.

Grounds team at work

Our grounds team has contributed a new fence to the HHES playground. People have long mused whether fences keep people in or out, but this one primarily keeps students off (of a wall). Our main reason for doing this is student safety, but it doesn't hurt the look of the school's community garden either!

HHES fence project

Fun Days!

The split-rail fence reminded me that this year’s Hockinson Fun Days theme is “Wild West – A Celebration of 150 Years of Hockinson Schools!” If you are planning on joining the Fun Days scene, you will want to circle May 29 & 30 on your calendar.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Light bulbs going on!

Let's get things started with "Eureka!" - a word that has long been used as an exclamation of discovery akin to a light bulb coming on.  

light bulb image

As many of you know, Eureka was the original name for this area. It was also the name of the community's first public school. The residents responsible for establishing that school held their first board meeting precisely 150 years ago! To mark this occasion, we've established this 150 years of HSD web page, which we will continue to add to in the coming weeks and months. Additionally, the district has formed a 150th Anniversary Committee, which consists of past/current employees, community and parent representatives (here's a photo!). This committee is tasked with putting together a celebratory event for the entire community. Stay tuned for more information on that. 

"Eureka!" did not come out of HHS Principal Schoonover's mouth, but he was definitely excited to see all of the lights finally working along the entrance to the high school. Until last week, only a small percentage of them would turn on, posing a safety issue in the evenings. While the original bids to fix this issue were too expensive, our Maintenance/Operations Supervisor, Shaniko Ristau, kept after it. He reached out to a new contractor and to Clark Public Utilities. The result? New LED lights at a low cost to the district!

HHS lights

Shaniko has partnered with Clark Public Utilities in the past on a number of light replacement/energy conservation projects. He is also currently exploring the possibility of installing street lamps at the entrances to all HSD schools. 

What's going on at the HSD Warehouse and old Middle School site?

While on the topic of efficient operations, there have been a few questions about what our grounds and maintenance employees are up to at the former Middle School building and the HSD Warehouse (behind the new middle school). Here's the answer: When they're not pruning or doing other seasonal work outside, the maintenance crew has been turning their focus inside and following a "5 S" program to clean and organize both sites. Now that probably leads to another question: "What is 5 S?" 5 S is a system for organizing spaces so that work can be performed efficiently and safely. It applies the old idea of putting everything in its place and keeping the workplace clean, which makes it easier for people to do their jobs without wasting time or risking injury.

grounds crew

The five S's are: 1. Sort (throw away, surplus or keep); 2. Set in place (according to frequency of use); 3. Standardize (standard operating procedures and visual reminders like floor markers and labels on shelves); 4. Shine (a commitment to keeping things clean); and 5. Sustain (keep it going).   Additionally, they are repairing our equipment in-house to save on repair costs and get prepared for spring.  

Learn about a teacher: Leslie Pershall

Leslie PershallThis interviewee emphasizes 5 Rs in her classroom: Relevance, Relationships, Responsible decision-making, Respect and ca-Reer preparation. Okay, I obviously had to stretch things on that final one, but I wanted to recognize HHS health teacher Leslie Pershall's willingness to pursue Career Technical Education (CTE) certification on top of her master's program to create the foundation of a Health Sciences pathway for our students. 

After interviewing Leslie, I realize that many of you are already familiar with her and her family. However, there is always something to learn...

Job: Health teacher at Hockinson High School

Worked in the HSD since: 2015, but she has been in our district for a few decades as a former K-12 student and 2010 graduate of HHS. Upon earning her Teaching Certificate, Leslie was encouraged to look for job openings in the district. She did exactly that, applied for an open position and got it! She has loved her job ever since. 

Noteworthy: Unlike many teachers, Leslie's parents did not work in education. She was influenced by a number of elementary teachers including Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Fern, Mrs. Dodson, and Mrs. Hedman.  

Family: Leslie has four brothers (three older and one younger). She credits them with imparting on her a couple of prominent life lessons: Be yourself no matter what, and be straightforward. Leslie also shared that playing games as the "5th brother" helped her to develop a competitive attitude as well as a thick skin. The summer of 2015 was a busy one for Leslie: In addition to marrying her husband, she also graduated from college and got a job. The Pershalls have one son, Grant. He is nine months old and full of Pershall spunk!

Hobbies: Leslie and her husband like to hike in the Columbia River Gorge. If she had to choose, her favorite hike is Wind Mountain (Washington side). She also likes to kayak in Round Lake or Lacamas Lake - not necessarily for the water quality, but more for the convenience.

Talents: Leslie knows how to golf and her favorite local course is Camas Meadows. She honed her skills as a golfer at HHS and participated in the state golf tournament. She is not quite sure she has musical talent, but she loves to sing, especially 80s and 90s songs. Leslie and her husband have been known to karaoke. 

Leslie also has a hidden talent: She has a knack for catching fruit snacks in her mouth. It has been documented that she can handle both trick shots and long-distance passes. I looked on YouTube and could not confirm her claim that she caught a fruit snack that was thrown from a distance of 71 feet!

What she loves about the HSD: Leslie looks back on her 13 years as a Hockinson student with fondness. She feels the same about her 4.5 years of teaching in the HSD. In particular, Leslie enjoys working with Hockinson students. She thinks they are different - in a good way. As members of a small campus, she likes that HHS students are involved in many different activities and have the opportunity to develop their talents.

Leslie believes in the power of relationships. She has found that it makes her job easier and more fulfilling when she connects with each student as a person, so she does her best to show her support at plays, games and other student activities.

She views teaching as more of a lifestyle than a job. On many occasions, she feels more like a coach and a mom than a teacher - and she is cool with that!

A dedicated teacher makes all the difference. Our district is so fortunate to have teachers like Leslie demonstrating an amazing commitment to our students everyday. 

Thank you for reading! Be sure to visit this page again soon for new entries. -- Steve Marshall