Columbia River Newsletter

November 2018

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Columbia River High School

800 NW 94th St.

Vancouver WA 98665


Principal: Alex Otoupal

Associate Principal: Rob Duncan

Associate Principal: Ken Roberts

Associate Principal/Athletic Director: Tony Liberatore

News From The Principal

Academic Interventions

Columbia River High School has dedicated time to Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for more than 10 years. Because the Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) and the greater community agree to spend the time and have made the financial commitment to continue PLC work on a weekly basis, it makes sense to provide evidence of training, promising practices and an outline for the future of the PLC work at River. Most specifically, we want to show how we will help our students within their academic day.

Start with the experts:

In higher performing school systems, “teachers identify struggling students as early as possible, and direct them towards a variety of proven interventions strategies, developed at both the school and district level, that assist all students in mastering grade-level academic objectives.” National Center for Educational Achievement, 2009, p. 34)

“One of the most productive ways for districts to facilitate continual improvement is to develop teacher’s capacity to use formative assessments of student progress aligned with district expectations for student learning, and to use formative data in devising and implementing interventions during the school year.” (Louis et al., 2010, p. 214)

“If a school can make both teaching and time variables… and target them to meet each student’s individual learning and developmental needs, the school is more likely to achieve high levels of learning for every student” (Mattos & Buffum, 2015, p. 2)

“One of the most important things leaders can do is to create the conditions that allow people to experience progress in their work and then recognize and celebrate their accomplishments, even small accomplishments” (Amabile & Kramer, 2011)

What is River doing to remain high performing and to address student needs?

River faculty recently reviewed data sets from the first quarter of the 2018-2019 academic year in addition to reviewing the overall credit accrual for the Class of 2019, 2020 and 2021. (Note the class of 2022 will be awarded earned credits for semester 1 at the conclusion of the semester in January 2019.) We know the work to be done.

We have designed systems of tiered support by grade level to address attendance and behavior concerns. The next, bold step for us is to focus on our academic interventions.

This means we must become more strategic in supporting students academically within the classroom by teachers who know their learners best.

If you were at River last year, you may remember our January work on study skills, organization and preparation for finals in “J-Term” Sessions. We received very positive feedback and have built upon that effort by connecting to PLCs.

Last week, River teachers coalesced and designed a schedule that will take place on Mondays that will drive the Monday afternoon PLC work. Students will have a rotating block of time designated by period allowing for an additional 41 minutes of contact time.

These precise support systems in each class and will take place every week students as progress {with the extended time} through their current schedule. November 5, for example, is focused on academic intervention for period 2. Students will stay in their period 2 class for 41 additional minutes. If students are invited by a different teacher to work on a re-take, re-do or re-assessment activity, we expect students to take full advantage of the opportunity.

What it is for River students

Opportunity to check progress using Skyward

Opportunity for personal academic organization

Opportunity for checking understanding in targeted academic areas

Opportunity for re-take, re-do, make up course work

What it is not for River students

This is not… a time to leave campus

This is not… a time to be social

This is not… a time to be on the phone/social media

This is not… a time to waste on non-academic activities

What it is for River Faculty

Opportunity to check student’s progress and execute targeted academic interventions for struggling students.

Opportunity to provide academic extensions for students.

Opportunity for modeling academic organization.

Opportunity for checking understanding in targeted academic areas.

Opportunity to re-teach, re-view, re- assess students who need additional time.

What it is not for River Faculty

There is no expectation of additional classroom and lesson preparation by teachers.

There is not additional duty/ responsibilities to be assigned to teachers.

River’s graduation rate has exceeded the district average and the state average and our like peers for decades. River is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School with an exceptional pass and success rate on the IB Exams. River has been recognized by Newsweek, US News & World Report and achieved numerous local, state, national and international awards. Most recently, River was awarded the IB Excellence & Equity Grant (2018) and is an active participant in the IB E2 Initiative.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns:

Alex Otoupal, Principal

Columbia River High School
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News From The CR Athletic Director

Congratulations to CR Boys Tennis they were crowned district champions on Oct 19th at Club Green Meadows. In addition to the district title they won their 5th straight undefeated league championship. Individual honors include:

Player of the Year - Nate Kessi -(12) - Columbia River

2nd Team - Wilson Keller - (11) - Columbia River


1st Team - Max Firstenburg (11)/Alex Miller (11) - Columbia River
1st Team - John Rudi (12)/Hayden Thompson (10) - Columbia River
Co - Coach of the Year - Jim Sevall.


Important Dates For Seniors - From The CR Senior Boosters

Nov. 7 - Senior Boosters Meeting 6pm Gallery

Nov. 8 - Senior Pictures/Quotes Due

Nov. 8 - Scrip Orders Due by Noon

Nov. 9 - Trailblazer Orders Due

Nov. 30 - Donut Days

Dec. 3 - Poinsettia Order Pick-Up


Website -

Facebook - CR Senior Boosters

Instagram - @crseniorboosters

Twitter - @CRSRboosters

Email -

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Courts For Kids

There are still spots available on the Spring Break Courts for Kids trip to Panama. See Ms. McAnally in room 610 for more information or visit for more information.

Boys Tennis

The Columbia River boys tennis team won their fifth consecutive league championship and 33rd in school history this fall. The Chieftains also went undefeated in league play for the fourth consecutive year. Members of the varsity team are: Andrew Boyea, Reid Carlson, Max Firstenburg, Diego Guadarrama, Wilson Keller, Nate Kessi, Theo Manu, Alex Miller, Matt Rudi, John Rudi, Corbin Sarvela, and Hayden Thompson.

The Chieftains had seven players named to the all-league team. In singles freshman Matt Rudi earned honorable mention, junior Wilson Keller was voted to the second team, and senior Nate Kessi was selected "Player of the Year." In doubles Columbia River had two teams named to the first team: juniors Max Firstenburg and Alex Miller along with senior John Rudi and sophomore Hayden Thompson.

Columbia River also won the district title with 23 points to second place Centralia's 12 points. Nate Kessi and Wilson Keller teamed up in doubles to place second and qualify for the state tournament in May. Max Firstenburg and Alex Miller took fourth in doubles while Matt Rudi placed fourth in singles. The Chieftains are coached by Jim Sevall, Michele Rudi, and Kevin Erickson.

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Columbia River FFA

Columbia River FFA will be selling holiday wreaths and centerpieces during the month of December. Please contact for details or to place an order.
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November News From The CR Prevention/Intervention Specialist

November is Tobacco awareness month. Please take a moment and talk to your student about the dangers associated with nicotine and tobacco. Below are some statistics and talking points.

Tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence.

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18, and 99% first tried smoking by age 26.
  • Each day in the United States, more than 3,200 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and an additional 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers.

Flavorings in tobacco products can make them more appealing to youth.

In 2014, 73% of high school students and 56% of middle school students who used tobacco products in the past 30 days reported using a flavored tobacco product during that time.

  • 16 of every 100 high school students (16.0%) reported in 2015 that they used electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days—an increase from 1.5% in 2011.
  • 6 of every 100 high school students (6.0%) reported current use of smokeless tobacco.

Factors associated with youth tobacco use include the following:

Social and physical environments

  • The way mass media show tobacco use as a normal activity can promote smoking among young people.
  • Youth are more likely to use tobacco if they see that tobacco use is acceptable or normal among their peers.
  • High school athletes are more likely to use smokeless tobacco than their peers who are non-athletes.
  • Parental smoking may promote smoking among young people.


Some brands contain chemicals including formaldehyde -- often used in building materials -- and another ingredient used in antifreeze that can cause cancer.

Flavors in e-cigs also raise red flags. Some use a buttery-tasting chemical called diacetyl, which is often added to foods like popcorn. When it's inhaled, it can be dangerous.

"Diacetyl is a well-known harmful chemical, which, among other things, causes a lung disease called 'popcorn lung,'" says Erika Sward, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our Prevention/Intervention Specialist, Echo Moran-Prince, at 360-313-3840 or by email

Mark Your Calendar


Dates to know

Nov. 5 – Forty-minute early release, all schools

Nov. 12 – Veterans Day holiday, schools and district offices closed

Nov. 19 – Forty-minute early release, all schools

Nov. 21-23 – Thanksgiving break, school closed (district offices closed Nov. 22-23)

Nov. 26 – Forty-minute early release, all schools
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