Portland Community College has pledged to open a new center in the county in 2017, and between now and then, it is our intent to keep the communication lines open.

To that end, we have conducted web surveys with local high school teachers and staff. We have met with key regional employers over breakfast, and we have held two open forums where we asked local people to prioritize their expectations regarding the programs the new center might offer. When added together, we have communicated directly with more than 150 residents of Columbia County (“PCC holds forums in Columbia County,” June 13, 2014). But we are not even halfway to our goal.

In late September, we will visit ninth- to 12th-grade students in St. Helens, Scappoose and Vernonia and ask them to complete printed surveys with questions familiar to those who attended the open forums. We will host a fall breakfast meeting with area school counselors to seek their impressions. And finally, we will refine our questions and schedule more time for an open discussion with you and your neighbors when we meet again at Meriwether Place in St. Helens on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 6 p.m. When the time comes, we hope you will encourage your family members, neighbors and co-workers to engage in these events. The more we hear from you, the greater our chances of success.

While the brass ring in Columbia County is a new PCC center, we continue with other projects to improve the teaching and learning environment in the county (“PCC gives Vernonia School its old computers,” June 6, 2014). At the end of May, PCC delivered 85 surplus computers to the Vernonia K-12 school. The surplus was created when new classrooms came on line as a result of bond construction. Our technology upgrade allowed us to assist our partners in Vernonia. We are also working with the Vernonia school leadership to determine the need and type of online classes PCC might deliver to the high school. More than 40 students have indicated an interest in this option. The goal is to have things ready for fall term.

As in previous years, students in Columbia County have gotten a jump on earing college credits while still in high school through our dual enrollment offerings. For the past academic year, 104 Columbia County students enrolled in dual credit programs, earning 452 credits, with a tuition savings of $41,584.

While all current efforts are focused on the more traditional students, PCC has courses that are open to anyone who would like to improve a skill or simply have some fun doing something new. If you are interested in current PCC course offerings in Columbia County, please visit for additional information.

At Scappoose High School, we offer classes in Beginning Keyboarding, Keyboarding for Speed/Accuracy and Personal Health.

At St. Helens High School, we offer Introduction to Algebra and 15 welding courses. We could use your help filling the welding classes at St. Helens High School. It’s open enrollment and all are welcomed.

We look forward to more face to face communication with people who live and work in Columbia County. Enjoy the summer, and we’ll see you in October.

Sandra Fowler-Hill is the campus president at Portland Community College Rock Creek.

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