Creative class gives students freedom


News intern

It isn’t a well-known fact that Jazzy Cohen sings.

Most people know her as an athlete, excelling in soccer and in track. The senior doesn’t let many people know about her talent as a pianist and her unique and beautiful voice.

She records her own CDs, and was also the lead in the popular high school band “Zipha” two years ago.

Cohen’s talents are just one example of what’s happening in the second-year class known as Music Independent Study at Hood River Valley High School.

As the name suggests, this class is a safe-haven where student musicians are free to write, practice, and perform their own music.

“There are many students with musical interests that go beyond performing groups such as band and choir,” said Music Director Mark Steighner.

“This class gives them a chance to play guitar, work on song writing and recording, music theory, and learn from each other.”

Because of its focus on independence, students in this class are encouraged to work on their own, but may ask for assistance from Steighner whenever it is needed. “Students in the class design their own curriculum — they decide what they want to work on, what skills to improve, and what projects they would like to undertake. They plan the steps that will help them reach their goals and I act as a provider of resources-books, techniques, information, etc.” Steighner said.

Rob Chrisman is one of two original students in Music Independent Study. As a guitarist, Chrisman is known for his dedication. The 18-year-old senior has been playing since the seventh grade. He put his skills to work as the lead guitarist and vocalist for the local band 2% last year, but because the rest of the band has graduated, he is now working solo.

Chrisman is currently using his class time to write and produce a new song. “I’m doing the whole thing myself: guitars, drums, bass, vocals ... everything,” he says. Chrisman is a big advocate for Music Independent Study.

“I feel that this class has given me a chance to further my knowledge of music, and perfect my skills,” he said.

“I feel honored to be part of the first of many groups to go through this program.” Chrisman plans on studying music in college, and pursuing a career in the music business.

Like Chrisman, Cohen has been focusing on solo work this year.

Cohen is a second-year veteran in Music Independent Study, and is currently studying piano material and music theory.

When asked what she liked most about the class, Cohen replied, “The freedom. Oh wait ... the independence. We plan our own curriculum. I like the fact that I have my own little room to work on my music. I enjoy the solitude.” Cohen plans on applying to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. She would like to join the music business, as a songwriter or a producer.

The popularity of the class is evident, as enrollment has tripled since last year. Unfortunately, Music Independent Study shares a problem that is common in many HRVHS classes.

“The only drawback to the class is space and resources. There aren’t enough rooms and equipment for everyone,” Steighner said.

Students taking the class are graded with a progress review at the end of the quarter, and a showcase performance at the semester. The progress review is essentially just the students performing for the class and Steighner.

The showcase performance will be during the Winter Concert at HRVHS. The talent and effort put forth by Steighner and these students promises that this year’s performance will be a definite success.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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