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School briefs for March 16

Clear Creek earns national recognition

Clear Creek Middle School in the Gresham-Barlow School District has been selected as a national demonstration site for the Advancement via Individual Determination System (AVID).

AVID is a program that works to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges and succeed in post-secondary education and training.

'AVID turns underperforming students into college-going scholars,' said Superintendent Jim Schlachter. 'It is an honor to have Clear Creek Middle School chosen as a national demonstration site.'

When AVID's methodologies are used throughout subject area classes, performance levels improve for all students, but especially for those students who are least likely to attend four-year colleges, the district said.

Clear Creek is the first AVID Demonstration School in the state of Oregon, and is one of 125 demonstration schools in the country. As a national demonstration school, Clear Creek will take on the role of an AVID learning site for other schools and organizations around the country and around the world. At Clear Creek, visitors will observe a 'highly evolved AVID system,' the district said.

The announcement that Clear Creek had been named a national demonstration school took place at a Feb. 23 school assembly and followed a review of the school and its program by a validation team led by Julie Elliot, AVID's national demonstration schools director.

AVID has been adopted by more than 4,500 schools across the country. The Gresham-Barlow district has the AVID Program at its two high schools and three of its five middle schools. This year, approximately 450 Gresham-Barlow students are enrolled in AVID classes.

Reynolds School District wraps up online survey

More than 900 Reynolds School District residents responded to the district's online survey.

District leadership will use the responses to help shape the 2011-12 budget.

The school board will be briefed on the survey results at its monthly meeting, 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, at Fairview City Hall Council Chambers, 1300 N.E. Village St.

The results will be posted on the special budget website, ReynoldsTomorrow.com, on Friday, April 1.

'We have not analyzed the survey data yet, but we're delighted with the unprecedented high level of community participation,' says Superintendent Joyce Henstrand. 'Knowing what the public's priorities are will make it easier for us to make the tough decisions and plan for the future.

'The Reynolds Tomorrow program was created as an alternative to the traditional way of gathering public feedback. Rather than hold a meeting or two and hear from a dozen citizens, we've heard from nearly 1,000,' Henstrand says. 'And it's easy to quickly ask the same group follow-up questions.'

ReynoldsTomorrow is the joint creation of the school district and CFM Strategic Communications of Portland.

'The survey results show people want to be asked and involved with decisions in their community,' says Tom Eiland, the CFM Partner who will brief the board. 'But they want to be asked on their terms, in a convenient and thoughtful format.'

Although the survey is now closed, district residents are encouraged to continue to register at ReynoldsTomorrow.com so they can receive updates and get notices of additional surveys, if the district decides to do more.

Phone-A-Thon raises more than $35,000

The Gresham-Barlow Education Foundation's annual Phone-A-Thon raised more than $35,000 in pledged donations.

During the event, which took place Feb. 21-24, students from the district's high schools called parents and community members asking donations toward the purchase of the district's elementary reading program 'Literacy by Design.' This program aims to improve the reading skills of every elementary student in the district. The event also provides a fundraising opportunity for high school student groups.

'Thank you for answering the call, we appreciate the community support,' said Foundation Chairman Mike Miller.

Community members can continue to donate by visiting gbefkids.org.

The foundation thanked The Gresham Outlook, Fred Meyer Gresham, Gresham Ford, the Tails of Abbygail, Books for Giving and Key Bank Troutdale for their added support.

The Gresham-Barlow Education Foundation was formed in 1994 to assist the schools of the district in providing the best possible educational opportunities for its students

Student wins Guistwhite Scholarship

When Mt. Hood Community College student Onjalai Flake was first invited to join Rho Theta, the Mt. Hood chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the largest honor society in America, she had a sense that it might be a smart move for her education.

She had no idea how right she would be. Earlier this month, Flake was chosen from more than 1,340 applicants to receive one of just 20 Guistwhite Scholarships from Phi Theta Kappa, the official honor society of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Flake was awarded $5,000 for baccalaureate studies after obtaining her degree from Mt. Hood.

The Guistwhite Scholar Program is named in honor of Dr. Jack Guistwhite and his wife, Margaret. Dr. Guistwhite established the first designated transfer scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa members at Florida Atlantic University in 1975.

'Rho Theta is much more than people realize,' Flake says. 'This is an investment in your future. Membership has opened so many doors for me, it's been an amazing opportunity for growth, leadership and service.'

Beth Sammons, Mt. Hood instructor and Rho Theta's faculty scholar, agrees.

'Honor society members like Onjalai aren't just high-achievers in their courses,' she said. 'They are developing as the leaders who will help us address the national and global challenges we face and the opportunities that go with them.'

Flake, whose plans after graduation involve the University of Hawaii and eventually the hospitality industry, serves as a student ambassador for the honor society and also worked on Phi Theta Kappa's national initiative to increase college completion rates.

'Over the past three years, Onjalai has been an inspiration to me and all of those she has interacted with throughout our community,' adds John J. 'Ski' Sygielski, college president. 'Since her arrival at (the college), she has continued to excel and flourish in both academic and co-curricular activities. She has engaged more students than anyone I know in taking advantage of all the programs and services made available to … students. Her dedication to not only her own studies but to that of her peers has made her someone this college community highly appreciates, respects and values.'

Membership in Rho Theta is by invitation only, for students with grade point averages of 3.5 or higher. At Mt. Hood, 280 students joined Rho Theta in 2010.