Local kids head back to school

September 7, 2011

For students, parents and the principal, an air of excitement and confidence filled the busy hallways of Westside Elementary School Tuesday morning.

It was the first day of school for elementary students in Hood River County School District, and scenes like the ones at Westside likely played out everywhere in the district. Horizon Christian School also started classes Tuesday.

Kindergartner Rylan Brennan led her father, Mark, down the hall when the bell rang.

"She was pretty eager. I guess I was surprised," said Mark Brennan, who accompanied Rylan to Gretchen Von Lubken's class. After a quick hug, Dad was out the door and Rylan sat down on the brightly colored gathering rug and looked around with a huge smile at her classmates, waiting for what was to come next.

In the library, Yair Lachino, a second-grader, waited for classes to begin by playing checkers with his friends Allen Trejo and Steven Toche.

"When I was in kindergarten I didn't know what to do," Yair said.

Now what do you know?


Principal Ed Drew greeted everyone who walked down the hall, exchanging handshakes and hugs with current and former students.

Westside is a single school again, with the elimination of the dual-language Dos Mundos Charter Program after a three-year run within the Westside facility.

"That's the big change, and losing three classroom teachers," Drew said. "It means our class sizes will be a little bigger. We're looking at about 26 per room."

The school will have three portables this year, but their uses are mixed with only one serving as full-time classroom. One of the four portables on the grounds will be moved to May Street this fall.

"It's good to have the teachers and students inside the building; lots easier to keep in contact," Drew said.

The biggest smile of the morning might have been Drew's. Asked if he was excited for the new school year, he said, "Oh, yes. We've been at this since Aug. 1, without kids. It's no fun without the kids.

"Let's get them smiling and into the classroom and into the routine. It won't take long."

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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