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The “Greenhouses for Good” project at The Dalles High School delivered its first bulk donation of lettuce to the local Oregon Food Bank last week.

The project began in the spring of 2018 and incorporates engineering, horticulture, and community service.

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Superintendent Candy Armstrong announced she’s retiring in July 2020, and the D21 school board is gearing up for a lengthy replacement search that will involve community input.

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Inclement weather impacts local services: TUESDAY UPDATE: Columbia Gorge Comm. College: Both campuses closed. UPDATE 6:13 a.m.-North Wasco County Schools will be CLOSED Tuesday, February 5th, 2019 due to inclement weather. OCDC Headstart: 2 hour delay for The Dalles and Odell Centers. (Effective tomorrow - Tue Feb 5th) Goldendale Sch. Dist.: 2 Hours Late Hood River Co. Sch. Dist.: 2 Hours Late, AM/PM Buses on snow routes White Salmon Sch. Dist.: Closed. Parent/Teacher conferences canceled for today. Mid-Columbia Children's Council: The Dalles/Wahtonkah 2 hour delay; Tygh Valley Head Start 2 hr delay; Carson AM class canceled, PM class on time; Petersburg AM class 11-2:30, bus on snow route, PM class canceled; OCDC Headstart: 2 hour delay for The Dalles and Odell Centers. Parkdale bus on snow routes. Klickitat Sch. Dist.: 2 Hours Late (Effective - Tue Feb 5th) Lyle Sch. Dist.: 2 Hours Late, No AM preschool, AM/PM Buses on snow routes (Effective - Tue Feb 5th) Columbia Gorge Comm. College: Opening at 10 am. Classes scheduled prior to 10:00 am are canceled on both campuses. (Effective - Tue Feb 5th) Centerville Sch. Dist.: 2 Hours Late (Effective - Tue Feb 5th) Wishram Sch. Dist.: 2 Hours Late, No AM preschool. No Zero Period (Effective - Tue Feb 5th) Sherman Co. Sch. Dist.: 2 Hours Late (Effective - Tue Feb 5th) So. Wasco Co. SD: 2 Hours Late (Effective - Tue Feb 5th) MONDAY Columbia Gorge Community College: Both campuses will be closing at 5 p.m. Dufur School District will be closed, as of 7:46 a.m. update. UPDATE Sherman County. School District: Closed UPDATE Mid-Columbia Children's Council: Tygh Valley Head Start: Closed South Wasco County SD: 2 Hours Late

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Those long bus rides for Dufur school students are a lot quieter these days, reports bus driver Josie Turner. That’s thanks to a Google project which has installed wi-fi on three buses, given each student in the school a Chromebook, and even provided tutors for the bus rides to help with homework.

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The D21 school board gave the go-ahead Jan. 16 for staff to look at starting a dual language immersion program. Dual language immersion is a form of bilingual education in which students are taught literacy and content in two languages. It contrasts with full immersion, where instruction is entirely in the non-native language.

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The Wasco County Commission approved entering into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to help fund the Skills Center and Housing Construction Project at Columbia Gorge Community College during its regular session Jan. 16. The agreement between the county, city and college dedicates $3.5 million in Enterprise Zone funding to the project.

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Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) will pursue an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with The Dalles and Wasco County for $3.5 million in enterprise zone funds and proceed with a $7.6 million full faith and credit bond for construction of a skill center and housing project at The Dalles campus following a unanimous vote by the Board of Education at its January board meeting.

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The Gorge Technology Alliance (GTA) named Maza Brady Technology Leader of the Year and Lu Seapy STEM Education Leader the Year at its sixth annual award ceremony Dec. 11. “The prior award categories had been Tech Leader and Tech Company of the Year,” said GTA Executive Director Jessica Metta.

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The Dalles High School saw a record number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests, and a record number of students reaching AP Scholar status as juniors in the last school year. Students achieve AP Scholar status if they get a score of 3 or better, on a scale of 1-5, on three or more AP tests.

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District 21 is seeking grants to do a long-range facilities plan and facilities assessment, and also plans to seek a $4-million matching grant from the state when it again asks voters to fund new schools.

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Wahtonka Charter School student Jacob Bartholomew quickly settled on what he would teach kids at the school’s new afterschool program: how to prepare for a zombie invasion. His idea was solid: in a quick poll of kids at the program earlier this week, most of them listed the “zombie class” as their favorite.

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Prospects for a student housing facility and regional skill center at Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) moved forward Monday as The Dalles council voted unanimously to develop an intergovernmental agreement with the college and Wasco County to use enterprise zone funds for the student housing facility. “These funds can be used for the greater good, and this could fit with that definition,” said Mayor Stephen Lawrence.

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The D21 school board heard at a listening session last Thursday that schools need replaced, but the recently failed bond to replace four schools sought too much money, over too long a period. A number of people said the district had low income or blue collar residents who couldn’t afford the bond.

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Wednesday, Nov. 14, was a great day for poets in The Dalles, with stories and poetry at the library with Native American storyteller Ed Edmo and a visit from Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford.

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Columbia Cascade Housing Corporation and Columbia Gorge Community College are sponsoring the “ABC’s of Homebuying” Saturday, Dec. 1, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the The Dalles Campus of CGCC.

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The growing ASPIRE program at The Dalles High School, which helps prepare students for post-high school training and education, is looking for more volunteers. Right now 65 seniors are taking advantage of the college counseling program, which pairs students with an adult mentor who helps guide them through the process of finding post-high school training, be it in the military, the trades, or at two- or four-year colleges.

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In the wake of the resounding defeat of the $235 million school bond, two school board members have quit. Ernie Blatz, the longest serving member of the board, who said he has served since 2004 or 2005, said, “I’ve been trying to get a high school since 2003, and I’m just done trying to get it. Let somebody else work on it.”

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The D21 school board will host the first of several listening sessions next Thursday, Nov. 15, at the middle school to hear from citizens in the wake of a resounding defeat of its $235 million bond authority measure. The measure went down with just a 40.8 percent yes vote.

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A local woman has filed a complaint with the state alleging the school district violated election law by using persuasive, rather than explanatory, language in describing a bond measure to build new schools. District 21 Superintendent Candy Armstrong said, “We do not believe that we have violated Oregon election law, but we will fully cooperate with the investigation.” (This story has been updated with comments from Trudy Lupkes from the Strong Community Schools Political Action Committee.)

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A staff member at Chenowith Elementary School was placed on paid administrative leave pending investigation of reports that one or more students had been “pulled or pushed” during a recess, according to a press release issued Friday afternoon, Oct. 19, by Brian Schimel, director of human resources for District 21. An ongoing police investigation is now underway, the release said. “North Wasco County School District has policies and procedures in place to protect students and staff. All staff are expected to maintain professional boundaries with students at all times,” the release added.

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As the Nov. 6 vote approaches on a $235 million bonding authority to replace four schools, a local woman caused a stir on social media last weekend questioning the district’s decision not to seek a $4 million matching grant for the project. A district official said North Wasco County School District 21 tried but failed to get two smaller planning grants that would’ve helped the district create the extensively detailed reports necessary to seek the larger grant.

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Wasco County Assessor Jill Amery sent out a press release last week to explain how passage of a measure to fund new schools would affect property taxes, but her description is being disputed by school officials and supporters of the bond levy. Amery’s account of how Measure 33-98 would play out is refuted by Randy Anderson, chief financial officer for North Wasco County School District 21, and Dr. Analene Pentopolous, chair of the Strong Community Schools committee, proponents of the bond.

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Gov. Kate Brown released her seven-step education policy agenda on Monday, components of which will be included in her proposed 2019-21 state budget, her spokeswoman said. “The governor strongly believes that in order to effect change for Oregon’s students, a multi-pronged approach is vital,” said Kate Kondayen, a press secretary in Brown’s office.

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The Sherman County School District will celebrate the induction of four individuals and one foundation into the Sherman County School District Hall of Honor during half-time of the Friday, Sept. 28, home football game against Enterprise High School.

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Some 50 people attended the kickoff event Aug. 4 for supporting the $235 million bond measure that goes before voters in November to replace four schools in The Dalles. Phil Brady, a teacher at the high school, said the group was participating in something historic. “There’s not many times when something this big gets started.”

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Brian Goodwin, principal/teacher of Wahtonka Community School, agrees with naysayers that the school is a dangerous place to be — but hear him out. It’s only dangerous, he said, to apathy and to kids graduating without real skills.

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It’s been a busy month for Dr. Marta Cronin, the new president at Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC): She’s moved across the U.S., from Port St. Lucie, Fla., to The Dalles, which included a road trip of 3,100 miles. A month on the job, she has settled in, found a place to call home, and attended her first board meeting.

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D21 earlier this year surplussed 70 of its 100 acres of property in Columbia View Heights, retaining 30 acres for a possible future school site. By doing so, Northern Wasco County School District 21 can now sell the property, said D21 CFO Randy Anderson. But that step is quite a ways off, he said.

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English classes for speakers of other languages are being offered this summer by Columbia Gorge Community College. Classes are scheduled in the college’s Hood River – Indian Creek Campus for all levels on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 6 to 8 p.m.

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Fall registration at Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) began July 9 for returning students and July 11 for new students. Classes start Monday, Sept. 24, and the college encourages prospective students to register as early as possible.

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Coaches met with the D21 school board in late June in hopes of creating a better system for using school and community sports facilities. They left with a goal of better communication, a plan to explore scheduling software that is more user friendly for both coaches and building administrators, and possibly centralized scheduling.

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The D21 school board voted Thursday to seek a $235 million bond authority in November to build four schools after hearing polling of likely voters found support for it at 53 percent. After more information and messaging was given to those surveyed, support increased to 61 percent.

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Columbia Gorge Community College has assumed operations of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult/Dislocated Worker program, joining the WIOA Youth program CGCC began managing in 2017. These programs were previously administered by Mid-Columbia Council of Governments and are contracted through the East Cascades Workforce Investment Board.

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The D21 school board will consider a resolution in July to back Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue in seeking a more equitable distribution of payments from Google to local tax entities. MCF&R Chief Bob Palmer told the North Wasco County School District 21 board June 14 that other entities had already signed on to the concept.

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The D21 school board voted unanimously last Thursday to sponsor Wahtonka Community School as a charter school. Now comes the delicate work of the budgetary hand-over from the district to the new school.

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Attending college can be a challenge. Personal finance, time management, language barriers and life’s everyday stresses sometimes lead students to drop classes or quit college entirely. That’s where “learning communities” help make a crucial difference — students discover they don’t have to face these challenges alone

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Shirley Harris could never get through to her academically struggling granddaughter, but the teachers at Wahtonka Community School could, she said in emotional testimony to the D21 school board last week. Now, her granddaughter is at the top of her class, and “she’s thinking about going to college.”

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Matt Rutledge, a fourth/fifth grade teacher at Mosier Community School, was named 2019 Regional Teacher of the Year for the North Central region, receiving a $500 cash prize and a candidacy for Oregon’s 2019 Teacher of the Year.

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Gillian Wolf, who lives in The Dalles and is a junior at Hood River Valley High School, recently donned a Disney princess costume, and, with two fellow students also in costume, sang for kids at hospitals in Portland. The effort was part of Wolf’s extended application project, a requirement for each junior at Hood River Valley.

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The local Columbia Gorge STEM Hub won a $50,000 grant after being named a top-eight finalist in a nationwide competition aimed at improving technology access for students. It was the only candidate from Oregon to be named a finalist.

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4-H students from The Dalles beat out middle school teams from across the state this month to take top awards in Game Design and Theme and Story at the 11th annual Oregon Game Project Challenge (OGPC) Main Event. The event hosted 59 middle and high school teams.

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With the retirement of The Dalles High School Principal Nick Nelson, current Vice Principal Kurt Evans will move into the top slot on July 1. Evans, a native of Mosier who was a high school and college track athlete, began his teaching career in Portland and worked his way east, teaching in Cascade Locks for a few years before coming to the then-newly formed North Wasco County School District 21.

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Nursing students starting at Columbia Gorge Community College next fall will enter a new program designed to meet changes in the industry and increase access to four-year degrees. The curriculum also allows students a seamless transition from community college to Oregon Health & Science and University, where they can take an additional year of coursework to earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing.

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A compactly designed proposed high school, centered around a courtyard allowing natural light into classrooms, was unveiled to the final meeting of a master planning committee May 3. Architects were also able to fit all the requested sports fields on the 29-acre property at West 10th and Chenowith Loop.

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Two Marines will not be allowed by school policy to wear dress blues to their June 9 high school graduation, but administrators have made some concessions to recognize their military service. The mothers of Zain Hartsook, 18, and Brayden Anderson, 17, believe their sons should be granted an exemption to the requirement that they wear traditional cap and gown to The Dalles High School commencement exercise.