Snow and ice kept La Salle Catholic College Prep students from attending classes in January, but it didn't keep them from learning.

Snow and ice kept La Salle Catholic College Prep students from attending classes in January, but it didn't keep them from learning.

On four of the days the weather forced the unincorporated Milwaukie campus to close, teachers went online to assign work for every class each student would have attended that day. The students had until afternoon or evening to complete and submit the assignments to Schoology, the school's learning management system. Teachers answered questions via email.

PHOTO COURTESY: LISA DANIELS - La Salle student Mollie Kuffner studies at home during one of the Milwaukie-area school's Digital Learning Days."The core of this idea is to keep learning going for the students even when the weather does not allow us to be on campus," said La Salle Prep Principal Andrew Kuffner. "We have all of these amazing digital tools at our fingertips and already integrated into our classes, why not leverage them in this way?"

Digital Learning Days are possible, Kuffner said, because of La Salle's growing focus on digital learning to prepare students for college and work. The school's 1:1 Mobile Learning Program requires every one of its 700 students to have an iPad to take notes, submit assignments and read textbooks. Students also take online classes on digital citizenship and rights and responsibilities, while teachers use technology to give students feedback and assess what they know.

Kuffner introduced Digital Learning Days after La Salle, like most schools in the Portland metro area, closed for several school days due to inclement weather this winter. If there are too many unscheduled closures, schools must add more instructional time to the school year.

After ice coated the area's streets Jan. 9, La Salle held its first Digital Learning Day. Students in Gary Hortsch's religious-studies class followed a prayer service at home. Students in Victoria McDonald's English class took a quiz on "To Kill a Mockingbird." And, using an online forum, students in Mike Doran's economics class discussed a news article.

"I think it was a very effective way of learning," La Salle senior Connor Denning said of Digital Learning Days. Several other Catholic schools were so intrigued at how La Salle kept classes rolling during the snowstorm that they launched their own Digital Learning Days.

Kuffner said many parents appreciated the flexibility of its four Digital Learning Days. Not only did the lessons keep children off of unpredictable roads, they kept them thinking.

"It isn't like students were sitting at home; they were engaged, they were learning," he said. "That's what we were going for."

Gladstone student wins state honor

Gladstone High School student Daniel Diaz Rodrigues will be honored this month with the Matt Bailey Student of the Year Award. PHOTO COURTESY: LESLIE ROBINETTE - Gladstone alum Daniel Diaz Rodrigues won a state award for students with disabilities. He now is employed in the kitchen at John Wetten Elementary School.The honor is given to a student with disabilities who succeeds in launching a career. This is the second time in five years that a Gladstone student has won the statewide award.

During Diaz Rodrigues's years at Gladstone High School, he developed job skills by helping in the greenhouse, making wreaths, working for the Backpack Buddies and Food Pantry programs, and helping in the school kitchen. As a result, he was able to land a paying job working in the cafeteria at John Wetten Elementary.

"It's been a team effort to train Daniel and help him build job connections," said Youth Transitions coordinator Toni de Peel. "I attribute a lot of his success to his parents, who taught him motivation and a strong work ethic."

Citizens encouraged to 'Get on Board'

The May 2015 election saw the lowest number of candidates for Oregon school-board seats in a decade, and nearly three-quarters of all candidates ran unopposed.

To combat that trend, the Oregon School Boards Association last week launched the Get on Board campaign designed to ensure that Oregonians from all walks of life consider investing their time and energy by serving on local school boards.

"We hope that this campaign will encourage Oregonians to become a voice for students and make a difference in the lives of Oregon's young people," said Jim Green, OSBA's executive director. "We hope to see sitting board members offer their expertise for another term, and motivate community members — including persons of color — to take up the challenge of volunteer board work."

On Feb. 4, the filing period opens for seats on more than 200 boards of local school districts, education service districts (ESDs) and community colleges. Candidates must file by March 16 to be eligible for the May 2017 ballot.

To help prospective candidates answer questions about the process and prepare them to become school board members if they are elected, OSBA is offering two free webinars on Feb 9 and 15. More campaign resources can be found at

Food Pantry awarded grant funds

The Gladstone Food Pantry received a $2,000 grant from Clackamas County to provide monthly cooking demonstrations by a professional nutritionist. The program is funded through the Healthy Eating/Active Living initiative. The program will provide recipes nutrition information, and ingredients.

"Many families we serve lack basic kitchen skills, have limited cooking facilities, or are not familiar with the produce we provide," said Food Pantry leader Leslie Robinette. "These cooking demonstrations will help pantry visitors learn to prepare delicious meals from healthy foods like kasha, cauliflower, garbanzo beans and butternut squash."

The Gladstone Food Pantry, located behind Gladstone High School off Nelson Lane, is open from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

Project Prom helps teens afford special night

Because prom night makes memories that last a lifetime, Gladstone High School's Key Club is on a mission to make sure low-income classmates have a chance to participate.

The group has organized Project Prom, a series of fundraisers to provide students transportation to the Abby's Closet event, which provides girls with free prom dresses.

The project kicked off last night with a fundraiser at Gladstone Baskin-Robbins, raising $100 for the effort. Three more Baskin-Robbins fundraisers are planned with support from the Gladstone Fire Department, Gladstone Police and GHS students.

Visit the Gladstone Baskin-Robbins for $1.99 ice cream from 5 to 9 p.m. Feb. 7 and 14, and half the proceeds will support the project. Added donations are welcome each of those nights.

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