Oregon City classes offer wide range of opportunities

by: PHOTO BY: SUZ MAUS - Lynda Brand, who teaches creative-writing and art classes through Oregon City Community Education, is known for her Beatrix Potter-style drawings.Suz Maus still has bruises from when she was attacked in front of her apartment near Jefferson Street in Oregon City on Feb. 7.

Maus’ attacker turned out to be a diagnosed schizophrenic who had not taken his medication, but all she knew at the time was that she wanted to get away. She tried to step back but ran into a gate that opened toward her, and the assailant started pushing her.

“All those chemicals start to rush into your brain when you’re approached, so I would handle it differently now,” Maus said. “It’s very rare to have that stranger-to-stranger contact, but we still need to be prepared.”

by: PHOTO COURTESY: TRAILS END MARTIAL ARTS - Howard Griffiths of Trails End Martial Arts teaches 'survival mind-set' and physical-training techniques in Oregon City Community Education programs.Maus has decided to try to turn her harrowing experience into a learning experience for others as well. The supervisor of Oregon City Community Education will be a guest speaker at a crime-survival class with Howard Griffiths, a former Gladstone police officer who now runs the Trails End Martial Arts studio in the city. By teaching a “survival mind-set” and physical-training techniques to members of the public ages 12 and over, they hope to better equip their students for potential criminal situations.

Crime Survival, costing $50 for two sessions, is among several new classes being offered by Maus’ department at the Oregon City School District.

For $89, Byron Boyce, a local natural resources expert, offers three field trips to various locations throughout the Willamette Valley to learn about fire ecology or wildflowers.

by: PHOTO BY: SUZ MAUS - Students enrolled in a June 1 ceramic bead-making class can take home their own colorful creations.Lynda Brand’s $85 creative writing and art classes are now open to anyone ages 12 and older. She is known for her Beatrix Potter-style drawings.

“Adults are enjoying having these precocious younger students with them,” Maus said.

Another new class promises to introduce a entire language an $50 sessions for adults or for adults with young children.

Brenda Bonk, a Signing Time Academy-certified instructor in American Sign Language, moved recently from Central Oregon to the Happy Valley area. Her company, Simply Signing NW, encourages parents to use ASL in daily life with their children, even when they’re in infancy.

Sign language is associated most with the deaf community, but Bonk has extended its application to child development. A word like “purple” can be difficult for a young child to say, but easy to sign. Even using just a few basic signs — eat, more, play, milk, all done — can help ease frustrations, Bonk argues.

“Maybe if they’re stuck in the grocery cart, they’ll sign ‘all done’ rather then have a fit, although it’s not guaranteed,” Bonk said. “By teaching a toddler to sign, you’ll more easily overcome any developmental difficulties. You’re just giving them more tools to communicate by saying eat while you put your fingers up to your mouth.”

Bonk received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and early childhood development from Oregon State University in 1994. She brought up her daughters Natalie, 3, and Kendra, 6, using ASL before they were a year old.

For more information or to register for Oregon City Community Education classes, visit For questions contact 503-785-7993 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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