WRHS choir kids sing praises of two-day stay at camp

“There’s never enough time during a class,” White River High School chorale director Robin Howard lamented to the White River School Board. But she gained some ground by thinking outside the box – setting up a choir retreat.

Howard, along with students Stephan Dominguez, Sarah Worley and Jessica Tidwell, shared their experience with the board at its regular meeting Jan. 11.

For two days recently at Sunset Lake Camp in Wilkeson, WRHS choir students developed friendships and learned skills to enhance their singing performance.

Howard said she wanted the group to bond, become inspired, gain better sight-reading skills and work with a clinician.

Dominguez, who spoke about the bonding, said the team-building games the students participated in helped negate the group’s cliquishness.

Worley found the clinician Kyle Haugen, an assistant director with a semi-professional community choir, a wealth of information.

“He really opened up our eyes to the little details of a song we’ve never explored before,” she said.

Tidwell said she found the entire two days inspirational. She said she picked up a number of tips for better performance and found the late Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain’s aunt, who was the guest speaker, to be energizing.

In other business, the board:

• was updated on the district’s elementary reading program by Foothills Elementary School teachers Hilary Hamlett and Denise Shaleen. The program is part of the district’s learning improvement plan.

“We were all working toward standards,” Hamlett said of the prior program. “But the ways we were getting there were quite different.”

Across the district in each elementary school, students are learning the same skills and being assessed at the same levels at the same time.

“It doesn’t matter what school you are in at any time in the district,” Deputy Superintendent Janel Keating explained to the board. A student, she said, who switches schools within the district mid-year will find themselves learning the same thing.

“They’ve made a lot of progress,” Keating said of the teachers. “There’s been a lot of hard work.”

• announced its next special meeting will be Jan. 25 and its next regular meeting will take place Feb. 8, both at 6 p.m. in the district board room.

• was honored by Superintendent Tom Lockyer and district staff. January is National School Board appreciation month. In addition to flowers, board members received a library edition of Keating and Bob Eaker’s recent book, “Every School, Every Team, Every Classroom: District Leadership for Growing Professional Learning Communities,” which features the district’s journey through the PLC process and getting students to learn more.

• OK’d an administrative internship for WRHS teacher Jer Argo. Argo, a White River graduate, has been a teacher in the district for 16 years and has been working on his administrative credentials for about the past five. He is studying with Heritage University, working toward a principal certificate. He joins fellow WRHS teachers LeeAnn Alfano, Cody Mothershead and Amy Miller, who are also interning with the district.

• approved out-of-state travel for Adam Uhler to attend the PLC Summit in Phoenix.

• approved an agreement with Orting School District for education services to disabled students.

• Approved the transfer of $7,523 to Pierce County Elections for the November election.

• hired long-term substitute teacher Amanda Boyle, licensed practical nurse Ashley Jameson, career information specialist, one year only, Koleen Johnston and instructional paraeducator Mark Ziegler.


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