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Riverdale Review DISTRICT 51J

Spring 2015

Another bridge-building win for Riverdale RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL – Riverdale once again claimed bridge-building victory, this time in the 2015 International Bridge Building Competition, which we sponsored for the first time in our own backyard. Congratulations to senior Brendan Corcoran for earning first place and to senior Tal Volk, who placed fifth. The top five winners received cash scholarships sponsored by Riverdale and Vernier Software, which also provided contest testing equipment. Riverdale hosted close to 60 competitors from 30 regions around the U.S. and in Nepal – approximately half traveled to Portland to compete in person, and the other half mailed their bridges. Many thanks to teacher Mark Wechter for undertaking complex competition specifications and logistics, and to Jill Hall and the student committee who volunteered to plan the event. The Oregonian covered the contest, calling Riverdale "the Yankees of bridge competitions" due to our significant number of wins and dedication to bridge-building excellence.

Riverdale sees bond savings

Many fields of study

Photo by Brian Black

RIVERDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT – Annual Field Studies play an integral role in Riverdale’s experiential learning style. Students in grades 6-12 venture away from the confines of classrooms each spring for a chance to experience the world and bond with other students.

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Photo by Erik Holmgren

Grade school excursions

Our 6th graders ventured to Outdoor School, a week-long, science-based program run by the Multnomah Education Service District. They were out in the field daily studying water, plants, soil and animals through nature exploration and handson activities. With many area schools represented, our students met and interacted with students from diverse backgrounds, leading to new and exciting social experiences. At the same time, 7th graders experienced their own Riverdale variation on Outdoor School in Sandy River, this one focused on social studies. They learned basic survival and navigation skills, and used GPS to search for geocaches hidden on the site. Then, Riverdale’s “Amazing Race” had teams of students traversing Portland competing in historical, cultural and economic challenges. Finally, Medieval Day challenges included jousting (with pool noodles), lighting a fire with a single match and performing for the king at a dinner feast. The 8th graders explored Ashland, attending two Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays and an OSF poetry workshop. During “Ye Olde Project Runway” costume workshop at Southern Oregon University, students

Riverdale's Brendan Corcoran (first place), left, and Tal Volk (fifth place), right, join the second place winner from Southern Nevada.

Top: At Outdoor School, 6th graders have fun with water. Bottom: Freshmen and new students bond during organized activities at Wildhorse.

replicated Elizabethan dresses in 30 minutes, using only newspaper, tape and scissors. Highlights also included meals at the university’s dining halls and touring the Harry & David factory.

High school adventures

High school students also enjoyed an Ashland excursion (read a student account of the trip on page 8), along with various other Field Studies options. All freshman and new students attended Wildhorse, run by older student leaders and directors who planned the week's activities Continued on page 8.

RIVERDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT – Recently, Riverdale was able to refinance a portion of the 2009 Grade School Construction Bonds, given the low interest rates available. This process not only resulted in savings for local taxpayers, it also had a positive impact on the district’s bond rating. Riverdale’s new AA rating is the highest rating for an Oregon school district. The interest rate on the bonds dropped from 4.45 percent to 1.84 percent. Riverdale residents will see the resulting savings of $313,833 in slightly lower tax rates over the next nine years – approximately 6.5 cents per $1,000 in taxes. “We’re happy we could create savings for residents and the AA rating is very good for Riverdale's future,” says Superintendent Terry Brandon.

Food For Thought A message from your superintendent: Common Core and the impact of testing

I recently read an article addressing the Common Core and Smarter Balanced testing debates that resonated with me and made me contemplate the discussion here at Riverdale. The author, Dave Powell, said, “Let’s be careful about blaming the concerns being expressed about Common Core on the standards themselves, or on the idea of standards more generally. Right now, it’s testing season so our attention is drawn there. It’s undeniably true that the tests came out way too quickly and weren’t ready, as they say, for prime time.” He goes on to say, “But focusing too much on the tests misses a larger point that’s worth considering: without standards for professional practice, without a shared sense of why we want schools to exist and what we hope students will learn to do there, educators are always going to be exposed to … outsiders with potentially dangerous ideas that can undermine even the most basic conception of what an education is …” I think it’s important to note that Common Core doesn’t exercise as much control over what teachers teach as the greater populace seems to think. After all, it is a set of standards, not a curriculum. While aligned with the Common Core, what sets Riverdale’s academic program apart is our integration of the Ten Common Principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools. We focus on helping students learn to use their minds well, emphasize depth over breadth to instill mastery of subject matter, personalize our teaching for our students and stress high expectations while fostering an “unanxious” environment in which students feel empowered to learn. Our students learn well. They grasp the material. They exceed in tests and demonstrations of their knowledge. They go on to great colleges and impressive careers. This is one of the main reasons parents choose to send their children to our schools. No one likes over-assessment. We know students may not feel like taking yet another test. However, Smarter Balanced testing allows our students to demonstrate – to the state, to their teachers and to themselves – proficiency in the Essential Skills of reading, writing and mathematics needed to fulfill their graduation requirements. It is also a way to prove that they have met a set of standards that forms the basis of why schools exist and the hopes we have for our children not just to learn information, but to learn how to learn. After all, that is our end goal. Testing is a requirement for schools and directly affects school rankings. In previous years, schools with participation rates below 95 percent faced a significant ratings penalty – dropping entire rating points, from 5 to 4, or from 4 to 3 and so on. Our schools could be very vulnerable to this penalty because of our small student body. These factors are contemplated by families choosing schools to attend and neighborhoods in which to reside. We are confident that Riverdale students are well prepared for the rigor and content of Smarter Balanced assessments, and more importantly for the challenges life and learning will throw at them. Sincerely, Terry Brandon


Digging for dinosaurs RIVERDALE GRADE SCHOOL – Riverdale’s primary blend classrooms were on a hunt for dinosaurs. A paleontology unit had them freeing a Triceratops' spine from rock at OMSI, pulling bones from sand and carefully excavating chocolate chips from cookies (“Chocolate Chipasaurus”). After imagining what dinosaurs might have eaten when roaming the Riverdale field, students crafted representational scat by embedding food for omnivores, herbivores and carnivores in salt dough, which they disassembled when hardened. Artistic moments included a Jurassic mural in the hall and hand-formed clay dinosaurs, along with drawings of bones, habitat and whole dinosaurs for their final projects. Once the students organized their research notes and drawings onto presentation posters, they proudly invited their families in for a special exhibition.

Simple machines? RIVERDALE GRADE SCHOOL – Rube Goldberg machines may be simple, but building your own is anything but. Hands-on experimentation while learning about levers, pulleys, wedges and inclined planes is one thing, says 6th grader Eddie H., but applying the theories to a fullscale model while working in a group adds complexity. “Navigating group dynamics is the key to success,” says science teacher Dietrich Nebert. There’s also a writing component in which students practice third person writing skills to describe the machine they’ve created and convey measurements and formulas. Each group not only needed its machine to work, but also to connect with other groups. Says Emma J., “It’s a lot harder than we thought. Everyone in here has changed their design several times to accommodate changes made by Venous S. and classmates the group before build their simple machine. or after them.” Riverdale Review

Academic Highlights Singing while you learn RIVERDALE GRADE SCHOOL – It began with a reading comprehension lesson. To make the text exciting for those who struggle, and inspire them to dig a little deeper, 4th grade teacher Heidi Hutchinson turned to music lyrics. “I wanted them to find the meaning behind the words,” she says. “Text is all around, and understanding the author’s message is important. In songs, it’s in the chorus.” Camille Bloom, right, teaches 4th graders to So, she picked two awaken their inner songwriters. songs for her students – “Mean” by Taylor Swift, about rising above negativity, and “Roar” by Katy Perry, about finding your own voice. In class, students read lyrics, discussed possible meanings and found supportive evidence in the songs. “They had to dive into the words and the metaphors, separate from the themes in the music video,” Miss Hutchinson says. Students then wrote their own songs about these topics. They responded so well to the lesson, Miss Hutchinson called upon her friend Camille Bloom to teach a songwriting workshop in class. Bloom, a professional touring musician and experienced educator, uses original music as a vehicle to connect with kids all over the nation. Her workshop combines a live performance with a demonstration of the elements of strong songwriting, followed by in-class writing activities. By dissecting her songs, Riverdale’s 4th graders learned about lyrics and melody, finding a topic, creating a voice and developing song structure. Bloom led the class in a group rhyming exercise with an impromptu lyric, “Spin your partner short or tall,” and asked students to match the meter and rhythm. The class noted the line had seven syllables, and one student exclaimed, “It’s like a haiku!” Completing the rhyme, students created lyrics such as, “Dance all day in a waterfall” and “Three little oddballs waiting in the hall.” Next, it was time to start writing their own songs in small groups. Titles range from “The Future is Near” to “Friendship and Fried Chicken.” Sophie S., one of the authors of the latter explains, “I like to make up songs on my own – mostly about food.” As students worked individually, drawing bubble maps to think of song topics or titles – a hush came over the room. All the energy and silliness from the start of the workshop fell away as students put on their thinking caps and took their songwriting seriously. Some were still on topics while others wrote full-fledged song lyrics. Louisa H. pulled out her guitar to create a melody. Inspired by hearing Bloom perform earlier, Lucie M. wrote a song about a friend – an imaginary friend, that is. “Some kids think it’s silly Riverdale Review

or immature to have imaginary friends, but I don’t think it is,” she says. “Elementary grades are generally less inhibited so it’s really neat to work with them,” says Bloom, who notes that one of the reasons she left teaching was to reach a broader audience beyond her classroom. Now, she empowers kids across the world to use poetry as an outlet for emotions, find positive channels for stress and build confidence in their abilities. Asked about the Bloom’s workshop, Mercedes P. says, “It’s amazing. She has a beautiful voice and beautiful songs, and she’s beautiful inside and out.” Sounds like the start of a new song…

GSA’s Valentine’s Tea: An inclusive celebration RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL – While Valentine’s Day was almost four months ago, it’s worth mentioning an event that helped reinforce the sense of inclusiveness for which our high school strives to provide for all students. The annual Gay Straight Alliance Valentine's Tea, a tradition for the past 10 years, was conceived as a way to let all of the school's students know there are others who appreciate them for who they are and their unique contributions to our school community. The room was decorated in pink and red, with one wall covered with more than 250 valentines – a handwritten card for every student and staff member, often acknowledging something personal and special. There was Valentine’s Day-themed music playing and local bakeries donated tea and pastries to make the festivities even sweeter. As hundreds of people poured into the room to find their cards and grab some treats, each one left with a huge smile on his or her face. Thanks to GSA club members and supervisor David Thompson for making everyone at the high school feel so loved.

A full wall of handmade Valentine's Day cards brought a smile to every high school student and staff member.


Academic Highlights

Mock Trial Blue Team members, from left: Cary Hagan, David Hugel, Nate Klein, Haig Douzdjian, Hugh Halvorson, Sarah Millender, Isabelle Gilges, Sophie Hamilton, Sarah Gordon, Tristan Nurse, Xander Klas, Jack Reamy. Missing: Holly Scrugham.

Riverdale mock trial team makes its case for third place RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL – At the Multnomah County Courthouse on Feb. 25, just days before the regional High School Mock Trial Competition, Riverdale’s 13-member Blue Team is rehearsing its case. Teacher and head coach Jeff Brown acts as the presiding judge, while a panel of advisors sits in the jury box giving real time feedback. The student attorneys and witnesses are poised, articulate and well rehearsed – almost entirely off book. It’s easy to see how in a few short weeks this team will go on to take third place in the state finals. This year’s civil suit, Avery Leon v. Chinook County Transportation District and Lindsey Palmer, involves police officers using excessive force with a Taser on an innocent person. Riverdale’s two teams – the White Team comprising students in the Mock Trial class and the Blue Team comprising former students who meet outside of school – have spent the entire second trimester preparing. They have researched the rules of evidence pertaining to the case. They have written, memorized and performed their roles countless times, completely transforming into their characters. Witnesses must convey the emotion of the situation as if they had really been at the crime scene. Prosecutors and defense attorneys must continually adjust their strategy to any objection or testimony presented by their opponents. The competition, organized by the non-profit Classroom Law Project, begins with more than 70 teams competing in regional competitions across the state and culminates with the state finals. Mr. Brown, who has been teaching and coaching Mock Trial for eight years, says this is the most difficult competition in high school and the most competitive. “All the preparation is for one day – if you don’t finish in the top four, you don’t move on to state.” Though, he adds, “the


academic skills involved – critical thinking, critical reading, supporting arguments with evidence, writing, revision, teamwork and helping one another to be the best they can be – transfer to college and the work place.” During the rehearsal, Riverdale’s advisors – James Babcock, an attorney and Riverdale alumnus; Hannah Michelotti, Riverdale alumna and member of Riverdale's 2005 winning state championship team; and Gena Douzdjian, a parent whose four sons have each participated in Mock Trial – offers tips for addressing the court, time management and delivering strong and believable testimony. At the competition, teams argue the case before three-judge panels consisting of attorneys and educators or other community representatives. Each team stages the case three times – arguing each side at least once. The top teams from each region – including Riverdale’s Blue Team – go on to compete for the Oregon title in the state finals. “They were all excited and really brought their ‘A-game’ to state,” Mr. Brown says. “They performed their best in the last round and although they didn't win state, they were happy finishing in the top three.”

No ordinary trip to the zoo RIVERDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT – There was a stampede at the Oregon Zoo on Feb. 20, but it wasn’t the animals. It was approximately 125 Riverdale students stepping off school busses and charging for the zoo entrance, with their chaperones in tow. The anticipation for this annual tradition began in the fall, as Riverdale High School juniors began corresponding with their 1st and 4th grade buddies from the grade school. Through a series of handmade cards, the buddies had a chance to get to know each other and discuss some of their favorite animals. The juniors, who spent second trimester in Comparative Zoology studying invertebrates, arrived at the grade school campus with special signs to greet their buddies. Then it was off to the zoo for a memorable day spent together observing animals from the Great Northwest to the African Rainforest, with a break to share lunch. Teacher Laurie LePore saw the field trip tradition come full circle this year, as many of the juniors had been on the trip when they were in 1st grade… and she has the photos to prove it! Junior Alison Scarlett enjoys some zoo fun with 1st grade buddies Luca B. and Sy J. Riverdale Review

Academic Highlights 'Riverdale Reads' takes flight with passports and journals

RIVERDALE GRADE SCHOOL – Read Across America Day on March 2 celebrates Dr. Seuss' birthday and shines a brief light on reading. This year, Riverdale Grade School took the opportunity to host a Read Across America Week filled with readingStudents record their reading progress in themed activities custom journals and passports. and the launch of a new program designed to support year-round daily reading. “The Riverdale Reads program is intended to bridge reading efforts at school and at home,” says Joanna Tobin, grade school principal. “Thanks to the generous support of our Parent Teacher Club, we have provided a reading passport and journal to all students.” In addition to the many classroom-reading assignments, Mrs. Tobin says the school encourages all students to read a minimum of 20 minutes a night. At this rate, they will be exposed to close to two million words each year, increasing their vocabulary proficiency and inspiring a lifelong love of language. By comparison, students reading for only five minutes a night would be exposed to less than 300,000 words. The passport, which features each child’s photo and 27 pages for stamps, is intended to spark interest as students celebrate their reading accomplishments in a wide variety of genres – from periodicals, poetry and biographies to all types of fiction – and through a range of grade-specific reading adventures. The journal is expected to be a valued repository for reading efforts, serving as an inspirational scrapbook and fun reading log. The idea for the program came through Riverdale Grade School’s Site Council, after reading and discussing Donalyn Miller’s books “The Book Whisperer” and “Reading in the Wild.” According to Miller, “The purpose of school should not be to prepare students for more school. We should be seeking to have fully engaged students now.” Students were certainly engaged during Read Across America Week, which included two assemblies and various “Drop Everything and Read” moments, brought guest readers to class, introduced the new Read to the Dogs program (see article to the right) and so much more. Staff and students can hardly wait for next year! In the meantime, they will certainly keep reading.

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We're reading to the dogs RIVERDALE GRADE SCHOOL – In an effort to encourage and nurture the love of reading in our elementaryaged children, Riverdale Grade School has joined with Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams (PACTT) Program (a collaboration between DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital and Guide Dogs for the Blind) to bring animalassisted therapy to the school to enhance our students’ reading experience. The program began in March. Riverdale Grade School Principal Joanna Tobin saw the Read to the Dogs program as an opportunity that aligned with our language arts program goals. “Having a dog therapy program as part of our school will be a welcomed addition and we are thrilled to partner with PACTT,” Mrs. Tobin says. "Our language arts program is focused on developing a love of reading and an appreciation for language. The Read to the Dogs program provides the opportunity for students to feel comfortable and set aside any anxiety or worries they may have about their reading proficiency, thus increasing the overall eagerness of our students to read.” The Read to the Dogs program is designed to provide students who are learning to read more time with the dogs. Therefore, full-day kindergarten through 2nd grade classrooms will have one hour a week with the dogs. "Yet, as interest has been so significant, we added time for 3rd and 4th grade classrooms to celebrate reading with dogs," says Mrs. Tobin, adding that this approach is slightly different. "Whereas in the primary grades students read independently or in partner groups with the dogs, in the 3rd and 4th grade classrooms we see more classroom activities, such as students reading aloud with their class to the dogs." Five PACTT teams have been visiting classrooms this spring and the program will continue next year. “The dogs quietly entered our classroom and became part of what we do,” says Debbie Gorenstein, 1st-2nd teacher. “It is natural to read to a dog. The children wanted to show their reading strengths to Vino or Kellogg and the dogs lapped it up.” “Seeing the excitement in kids reading to the dogs is eyeopening,” says Kathy Loter, PACTT Program Coordinator with DoveLewis. “Reading is traditionally seen as a solitary activity ... But when we bring social interaction into the mix it can really brighten the act of reading – live readings to groups, parents reading to their Grade school principal, Joanna Tobin, children and children left, pops in to see students read to Mia, reading to dogs.” pictured with handler Dionne.


Academic Highlights The class of 2015 earned admission to these colleges:


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Academic Highlights Creating a capstone

A banner year for college acceptances RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL – Senior year is winding down and members of this year’s graduating class have their whole lives ahead of them. And it all begins with selecting the right college. At Riverdale, we are particularly proud that our college-going culture begins freshman year, when students envision their post-high school futures. As all students work to fulfill core graduation requirements, they also have time to design an individualized path toward college acceptance and/or career realization. Supported by rigorous academics and comprehensive college counseling services, our students experience an outstanding college acceptance rate. Equally important, our students are happy with their college choices. “We want Riverdale students to be the strongest possible candidates to the colleges of their choice,” says Michael Murray, school counselor. Interestingly, Mr. Murray adds, three of the approximately 15 seniors who have attended Riverdale since kindergarten or 1st grade, have collectively been admitted to 26 universities, including many of the most selective colleges in the world – Duke, Yale, Dartmouth, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Brown, Vanderbilt, Colorado College, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, Scripps, Tulane, Northeastern, Smith and Rensselaer. The other twelve "lifers," as he calls them, add Pepperdine, University of San Francisco, Bard, Colby, Kenyon, Riverdale Review

Oberlin and many others to the list. Riverdale’s college advisor, Jill Hall, agrees it’s been an amazing year for college acceptances – with 300 acceptances to 153 different colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Plus, the class of 2015 was offered more than $6,325,000 in merit- and need-based aid. “I have been so impressed by this class, not only because of their amazing accomplishments, but also because of the thought they gave to their college choices,” Mrs. Hall says. “Not one student sought out exclusivity at the expense of fit." Why is “fit” so important? Mrs. Hall says there are many factors that impact a college decision. “We encourage students to look for colleges that meet their academic goals, as well as those that offer the perfect learning environment for them, whether it's a large or small college, rural or urban, what extracurricular activities are important to them and, most importantly, meets their financial requirements.” For instance, one senior turned down some of the most highly ranked colleges in the U.S. in favor of a full ride at a research institution that, in addition to other perks, offers this student paid summer experiences and internships both here and abroad. "We fully expect this student to accomplish amazing things," Mrs. Hall says.

RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL – Unique to our high school, Senior Exhibition is the capstone of the Riverdale education. The experience invites students to delve into a controversial topic that engages, challenges and calls them to action. All seniors complete an extensive interdisciplinary project – crafting an essential question, conducting research, interviewing experts, writing a lengthy academic paper and, finally, presenting their findings to an audience of teachers, students and community members. “Students are encouraged to shadow, conduct interviews and connect with as many professionals in the field as possible to further inform their understanding of the subject,” says course teacher Laura Pridmore-Brown. This year, she says, virtually every student has reached out to renowned experts, such as Bill Gates, Gloria Steinem and Michael Pollan. “While the students may not have heard from the individuals directly, they were contacted by assistants who referred them to topic-related resources.” Examples of expert connections include: Charlotte Loegais corresponded with race relations expert Tenishi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic Monthly, regarding “Racism and Police Brutality.” For “Addressing Sexual Victimization on College Campuses: Practice and Policy,” Isabelle Gilges viewed “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary exposing issues surrounding sexual victimization on college campuses, and worked to bring the film to Riverdale for all students to see. Caroline Edwards used social media to connect with Hollywood actresses and directors regarding “The Underrepresentation of Women in the Film Industry.” For “Zoos: The Balance Between Captivity and the Natural Environment,” Zach Tusing consulted experts from the Oregon Zoo about conservation and habitat creation. Samantha Schultz connected with several high level academics and UN officials who have worked to end “Illicit Arts and Antiquities Trafficking.”


Academic Highlights Field Studies: Ashland Spotlight

Fields of study (continued from page 1)

RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL – Cooping up 40-plus students in a school bus for a five-hour adventure is a daunting task, but Riverdale staff Laurie LePore, Jane Bray, Michael Johnson and Jill Hall made it seem easy. It only took an hour-long lunch break in Eugene and an ice-cream pit stop to keep boredom low and spirits high. After the long ride, Ashland’s breezy, sunny atmosphere and beautiful scenery was a welcoming sight. The small town is filled with historical, natural and cultural attractions. Ashland Springs Hotel, our kind host, has been welcoming visitors for 90 years in the heart of town. “The hotel was amazing, with views of all of Ashland,” notes Timmy Gentry, a sophomore who stayed on the eighth floor. We were walking distance from all of Ashland’s major attractions, including the 93-acre Lithia Park, filled with beautiful trails, breathtaking forest, creeks and wildlife. Students were also close to Ashland’s infamous Lithia Fountain – bubbling mineral water that has many health benefits (but also smells like rotten eggs!). Bird watching, a low-key and educational activity that taught us how to identify various bird species, was followed by a service-project, in which we pulled out an invasive and poisonous plant species destroying Ashland’s wildlife. Restaurants and boutiques lined every street. Ashland Springs Hotel provided a delicious continental breakfast, but for lunch and dinner, students were on their own. Popular lunch locations included Martoli’s, a rock and roll pizza joint, and Home State BBQ, where many ordered the brisket sandwich. A lot of students brought dresses and ties for fancy nights out. Popular eats were Pasta Piatti, a classy Italian restaurant where the fettuccine alfredo was

Several students opted to remain in town for some fun and games. They exercised their skills at negotiation, cooperation, tactical play and strategic planning by learning new and unique games that ran the gamut from citadels to cowboys, and from Camelot to Carcassonne. There were also visits to gaming venues, including GameStorm, a Pacific Northwest gaming convention held in Vancouver, Washington. Others crafted independent field studies, many including college visits. One ambitious student spent two weeks driving up the east coast looking at schools – an arduous endeavor he does not recommend!


High school students enjoy both culture and nature in Ashland.

a big hit, and Umi Sushi, a hip Japanese restaurant where students sampled an assortment of sushi. The attraction we truly came to see was the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a $33 million industry. The first performance, a 1950’s musical called “Guys and Dolls” was a fanfavorite. Sophomore Kathryn Luu says it was her favorite “because of the sets and costumes and actors!” The second show, “Much Ado about Nothing,” took the audience on a roller coaster of emotions, from tears of laughter to tears of sadness. The acting and chemistry of the leads was phenomenal. The last performance, “Fingersmith,” a Victorian-era crime thriller, had all students at the edge of their seats. “I don't want to give anything away, but it was quite shocking… and scandalous,” says sophomore Stephanie Taylor. “I thought it was really good.” Overall, students felt free to explore the artistic, historical and natural sights in Ashland. “Ashland was an amazing and unique experience,” says sophomore Moriah Hull. “It allowed us to build and strengthen friendships and be exposed to a variety of excellent theater.” On behalf of the students that experienced this memorable trip to Ashland, I’d like to thank Mrs. LePore for this special and unforgettable adventure.

and supported by many other students who served on the food crew. Participants spent the week expanding their social circles and joining in writing workshops, yoga, obstacle courses, high ropes courses, games, art and group dynamics activities. This year featured a “hill relay,” in which competitors climbed a hill while stopping at various stations to do silly things. One student described the trip as “a way for everyone to bond and share what’s going on in their life, and you realize that a lot of the things you’re going through, everyone else is going through, too.” At Summer Lake, a seven-hour drive away, 24 seniors used the mountains and deserts of Southeastern Oregon to study the geology, natural history and culture of the rural West. They filled their days hiking and their nights reflecting on their outdoor travels while sitting in natural hot spring tubs made of rocks. Students didn’t seem to mind the “slimy water that smells like sulphur.” While there was a lot of free time to get to know fellow students, the trip also included a service project at a wildlife refuge, where they cleaned up the area following damage from a windstorm and took apart bird enclosures. Summer Lake photo by Tal Volk

by Noa Cohen, class of 2017

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Faces of Riverdale

Photos by Vesna Kostur

Saying farewell

Left: Jorden Cohen and Cole Burchiel play married couple, Golde and Tevye. Right: Bailey Grayson haunts the cast as the ghost of Fruma Sarah.

Setting the stage for tradition by Nate Pereira, class of 2015

RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL – This year’s winter musical was “Fiddler on the Roof,” handpicked by the Riverdale Drama Club. Clara Hillier returned to direct the show, while music teacher Heidi Schnizlein directed the music. "Fiddler on the Roof" was performed in the World Trade Center, home of previous Riverdale shows. The story is about a Jewish village in pre-Revolutionary Russia in the early 1900s, and concerns a poor milkman named Tevye. Tevye must straddle the line between tradition and love for his daughters as they each marry controversial husbands. Finally, political pressures and choices divide the family. The show’s more somber tone was a change of pace for Riverdale musicals. “The material in this show is a lot heavier than in previous shows I’ve done,” says senior Leksi Kostur. “The plot is also a lot more complicated than other shows. It’s more meaningful than your average musical.” Due to the show’s serious content, the cast had to master more mature acting styles. "Fiddler on the Roof" required a lot out of its cast members. Sophomore Isabel Pereira said her “biggest challenge was motive: trying to figure out why my character does what she does and how to portray her accurately.” No matter how deeply they had to dig to show their characters’ emotions, the cast put on a great show. “I’m really impressed with how people have invested themselves in the story and have been able to truly empathize with their characters,” says senior Cole Burchiel, who played the lead role.

One act wonder RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL – Trying something new this spring, 21 members of the the high school drama club presented a Festival of One Act Plays at Lake Oswego's Lakewood Center for the Arts. Directed by Clara Hillier and Heath Koerschgen, the show featured hilarious works by David Ives and Abbott & Costello, ranging from melodrama to murder. Principal Paula Robinson called it "amazing, fantastic fun." Original poster artwork by senior Samantha Schultz. Riverdale Review

RIVERDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT – We appreciate all these individuals have done for our schools and our students, and wish them all the best as they embark on the next chapter in their lives. Jane Bray, high school educational assistant, has provided emotional and academic support to students during the past nine years at the high school and two years before that at the grade school. Nora Bundy, grade school instructional assistant, came to Riverdale’s extended care last spring for her first job in education. She plans to travel before starting a teaching fellowship next year. Christina Coleman, grade school instructional assistant, has been with Riverdale for two years. She will now become a full-time 4th grade teacher on the Oregon Coast. Betsy Edwards, grade school administrative assistant, has made everyone smile in her year at the grade school. She also served on Riverdale’s foundation for seven years and volunteered at the high school for two. She’s moving to be closer to family in Colorado. Gary Hummel, high school custodian, has been a valuable member of our community for the past nine years. His trademark headbands and goofy shirts will be missed, but not as much as his willingness to lend a hand, a joke or a hearty laugh. Dan Palma, high school teacher, provided leadership and vision to help shape the high school from its inception. Whether helping implement the Coalition of Essential Schools' philosophy, leading the first senior exhibitions or promoting student growth through clubs and classes, his enthusiasm, support of students and love of learning always shined through. Michelle Pine, high school special education teacher, implemented positive communication systems with staff and techniques to help students succeed during her two years at the high school. Her empathic nature has been a true asset. Kathy Rodeman and Patrick Rodeman, business services, became integral members of the team during their time (Kathy since 2011, Patrick since 2013) managing Riverdale’s books and budgets. Molly Scholz, grade school music teacher, is retiring after 10 years of working tirelessly to build one of the best K-8 music programs around. Molly has inspired and encouraged our students to be outstanding musicians and great young people. Sean Williams, technology innovator, helped boost our technology infrastructure over the past year and lay the groundwork for many tech enhancements still to come.


Faces of Riverdale Dancing toward her dream

Hands-on math

RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL – Charlotte Logeais was drawn to ballet later in life – she was 9. Most dancers begin at age 3, she says. And at 5’9”, she stretches the limit for professional dance aspirations. Tall dancers often find themselves at the back of the pack, hard-pressed for solos. In fact, professional solos are an elusive dream for most dancers – tall or short – with merely 1 percent of student dancers finding a dance company home. Yet, Charlotte defied the odds and in August heads off to her new job dancing with Michigan’s Grand Rapids Ballet. “Performing is my favorite thing,” she says, citing the combination of physical activity and artistic expression. “You spend all this time rehearsing and when you finally perfect the steps enough to focus on the performance, you bring your own story to it and connect with the audience.” While most dance companies make dancers pay their dues by climbing the ranks before taking center stage, Grand Rapids Ballet (an “unranked” company) will give her the opportunity to compete for coveted solos from the start. That’s why Charlotte, who has enjoyed many lead roles in her seven years with the Portland Ballet’s Youth Company, was thrilled to receive the offer from this particular company. Another reason is the artistic director, Patricia Barker. A tall dancer herself, Barker will “understand how my body works,” Charlotte says. “I’ve also heard she focuses her time on developing young dancers.” Fate struck earlier this year at the Youth America Grand Prix, the biggest ballet competition in the world, when Charlotte placed in the top 12 for contemporary and classic solos. Barker was a judge and also taught a master class Charlotte attended. When, months later, Charlotte’s audition video landed on her desk, Barker remembered her and called to offer her a position. The offer came on the same day Charlotte learned about a significant art scholarship to Pratt Institute in New York, along with invitations to audition for the Opéra National de Bordeaux in France and the Staats Opera Ballet in Germany. But, as dancers are trained to do, Charlotte leapt at the chance to dance professionally – as her mother had before her. “She danced with the San Francisco Ballet, where I’ve taken some summer intensives. It’s interesting to share that same dream with her,” says Charlotte, who has maintained a grueling schedule for years – days stretching from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. filled with school and homework, plus six dance classes and three rehearsals a week. She says she couldn’t have managed it without Riverdale’s flexibility. Charlotte Logeais performs For now, Charlotte has deferred Pratt a classical solo at the Youth for a year and will see where her dance America Grand Prix. career takes her. “It’s what I’ve worked for since I was 9,” she says. See Charlotte perform by visiting

RIVERDALE GRADE SCHOOL – In February, 7th-8th grade math teacher Nancy Fowler presented at the MidSchool Math National Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her presentation, “Middle School Kids Still Like to Play,” focused on the importance of engaging students in problem solving activities – especially those that are interactive and reinforce concepts. “When moving from elementary school to middle school, math leads away from the concrete to the abstract,” Ms. Fowler says. “Students at this age are still so eager to investigate and play and figure it out. They learn better by looking at it from all angles, and it’s best practice to equip them with various ways to solve a problem.” Her favorite part about teaching is when her students really get what she’s taught and it moves beyond just a memorized formula. “It’s important for them to not just understand the concepts, but to see math as sensible, useful and worthwhile, and something they’re capable of doing.” Rather than just speaking in front of an audience during her presentation, Ms. Fowler led approximately 70 teachers through a series of three lessons: a 6th grade lesson on algebraic patterning and sequencing using table settings as a visual and requiring her “students” to make a general rule for finding out how many people could sit at any table grouping; a 7th grade lesson in geometry using string to find the circumference and diameter of Lucite circles, thereby discovering the relationship is always the same because of Pi; and an 8th grade lesson in volume using an online application that lets students fill virtual containers to find formulas for the volume of cones, spheres and cylinders. With all her math training and 22 years of experience teaching middle school math, Ms. Fowler sees that teachers learn best when they do the math their students are doing. “This way they see where difficulties or misconceptions about the problems or formulas could cause their students to get stuck, and they can prepare approaches to help them move forward,” she says. Her goal was for teachers to walk out of her presentation with something to use in their classes the next day. And that’s exactly what many of them said they were going to do.


Riverdale Review

Athletics RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL Boys’ Golf had an outstanding season this year, highlighted by three golfers – senior Tristan Nurse, junior Will Couche and sophomore Oscar Logeais – all finishing the district golf tournament in the top 10 and receiving second team all-league honors. Freshmen Nicholas Grayson, Angus Gruner and Trenton Morris round out the district varsity squad that finished third place this season at districts – just one place shy of state qualification as a team. Girls’ Golf saw a surge of young talent this season. Led by returning players, junior Sarina Walters and sophomore Sophia Baker, the Mavericks welcomed four new freshman, Rachel Couche, Mel Henderson, Chloe Sellers and Shayla McPherson, to the team. The future looks bright for the Mavericks as they will have six returning players next season, the largest the team has ever been. Boys’ Tennis had yet another successful season. Several players including doubles team of senior Krystof Komers and sophomore Grant Roulier, along with singles player junior Matous Komers, were seeded in this year’s district tournament. Thanks to a strong regular season finish, the boys' No. 1 singles and doubles teams entered the district tournament with the highest seed ever on the boys’ side for both spots, No. 5 and No. 4 respectively. All three players listed made it through to the district quarterfinals before bowing out, just one match shy of state qualification. Girls’ Tennis had another outstanding season, highlighted by junior Michelle Ly and senior Elizabeth Berry’s performances at the district tournament. Despite injuries in both legs and limited mobility, Michelle showed incredible courage and fortitude making it to the district final only to lose to the two-time defending state champion in the final. She finished the season with a third seed in the state tournament. Elizabeth Berry had an incredible tournament, beating the number one player at OES in the first round. She won the first set 6-4, was down 1-4 in the second set and battled back to win the next five games in the set for a 6-4, 6-3 win. Elizabeth reached the quarterfinals but just fell short of qualifying for state. Track and Field finished strong this season as the Mavericks returned to 3A competition in the Lewis & Clark League. Several athletes posted personal best times, as six school records were broken this season. Senior Guy Eroh finished first in the 3000m, and fourth in the 1500m. The girls’ team finished in third place overall at the tournament, highlighted by outstanding finishes at districts: junior Alex Scott finished first in the 800m, third in the 300m hurdles and seventh in the 400m; freshman Gillian Styring finished first in pole vault, fifth in the 100m hurdles and sixth in the 200m dash; junior Katherine Pelz posted first place in the shot put and fourth in the triple jump; sophomore Lilah Abrams finished third in the 1500m; and junior Cindy Abrams finished fourth in the 800m. Congratulations, girls, on your third place overall finish at districts. The 3A state tournament held at University of Oregon saw several outstanding finishes for the Mavericks. Senior Guy Eroh finished sixth place in the 3000m with a time of 9:26. Junior Katherine Pelz threw a 115’10” in the discus finishing third overall. Junior Riverdale Review

Alex Scott finished 12th in the 800m. Freshman Gillian Styring vaulted 9 feet in her first state tournament earning her a sixth place finish in the 3A pole vault.

RIVERDALE GRADE SCHOOL The Falcons had a successful Track and Field season right from the start. In the team’s first meet, every athlete set at least one personal record. Throughout the season, athletes worked hard and showed a significant amount of growth. The team also maintained great motivation in spite of not having an official league in which to compete this season, due to restructuring of the Portland Interscholastic League. The team attended a variety of meets in order to have a complete schedule, including some new meets in West Linn. Without an official district meet at the season’s end, coaches and parents pulled together a two-day Riverdaleonly district meet. Riverdale Lacrosse had a record turnout. The season ends June 6. More details can be found at

Photo by Brian Black

Spring sports wrap up

Senior earns figure skating award RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL – Dmitri Murphy has been awarded a Gold Level Graduating Seniors Award by U.S. Figure Skating, the national governing body for the sport of figure skating in the United States. This program recognizes student-athletes who have worked hard to pursue skating while maintaining academics. While figure skating is not a traditional school sport, it requires the same dedication, perseverance and time management as any varsity sport. Congratulations, Dmitri!


Riverdale Review Spring 2015


Riverdale School District 11733 SW Breyman Ave. Portland, OR 97219

Inside this issue: • Latest News • Food For Thought • Academic Highlights • Faces of Riverdale • Athletics • Events and Activities

P. 1 P. 2 P. 2-9 P. 9-10 P. 11 P. 12

Events and Activities A celebration of the arts RIVERDALE SCHOOL DISTRICT – On April 22, Riverdale School District opened the doors of its high school to students, families and community members for its annual District Arts Show Artwork as far as the eye could – a K-12 celebration of both see at the District Arts Show. visual and performing arts. "At a time when most public schools are cutting back on the arts, Riverdale continues to demonstrate its commitment to both visual and performing arts," says Riverdale School District Superintendent Terry Brandon. "Students at Riverdale Grade School and Riverdale High School experience an extensive artistic learning curriculum and a strong program for musical expression." High school music teacher Heidi Schnizlein thanked the administration of both schools for their support in keeping the arts and music program, and this annual celebration, going strong. Attendees echoed her sentiment as they stopped to chat in the halls. The District Arts Show spotlights the creative endeavors the district's students have been undertaking all year. The high school was filled with a wide range of 2D and 3D visual art produced by almost every student in grades K-12, including several senior artist showcases. Art ranged from drawings of cupcakes and dinosaurs by the younger grades to detailed portraits, mixed media abstract pieces and life-size human forms constructed of plastic wrap by the older grades. There was even a classroom art station set up for younger guests to draw and color to their hearts' content. Plus, there were a variety of musical performances throughout the evening. Students were stationed around the building playing guitars and keyboards as others sang. In the library, guests heard from several middle school pianists, the high school's Bella Voci Choir and several high


school solos and group singing performances. The crowd joined in the clapping and stomping during the performance of a trilogy of songs by Queen, which started From left, Torrin Kelly, Isabel Pereira, Leksi off with "We Are Kostur, Nate Pereira and Brian Gentry the Champions," perform a Queen trilogy. followed by "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" and "Killer Queen." After that, the tempo slowed as the choir sang "Ave Maria." The room was packed and the crowd was captivated. See photos and videos at

The sun'll come out, June 5-6 RIVERDALE GRADE SCHOOL – This year, Riverdale Grade School’s drama workshop is presenting “Annie Jr.” Through a brand new partnership, this PTC Community School program will be led by theater professionals from the Lakewood Center for the Arts. Performances are on the grade school stage at 6 p.m. on June 5, and at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on June 6. Tickets are $3 at the door (cash only).

Mark your calendar June 9 June 11 June 12 Aug. 12 Aug. 25

Senior Reception (1 p.m.) and Graduation (7 p.m.) 8th Grade Promotion (7 p.m.) Last Day of School High School Registration Grade School Registration

Riverdale Review

Profile for Riverdale School District

Riverdale Review - Spring 2015  

Before the 2014-15 school year draws to a close, take a look at the top stories from Riverdale School District, Portland, Oregon.

Riverdale Review - Spring 2015  

Before the 2014-15 school year draws to a close, take a look at the top stories from Riverdale School District, Portland, Oregon.