Vernonia Schools News

Students and Community Take Action Against Hunger

Laura Rice is the Student Body President at Vernonia High School this year.  Rice is getting ready and organizing  this year’s  annual Presidential Challenge.  Rice has chosen  “Action Against Hunger”  as the charity she is working for to raise funds during the week of April 7-12

Rice says she is planning games, having “meaningful color dress up days”, and selling snow cones and silicone bracelets at lunch as activities for students, teachers and staff during the school week.

On  Friday (the 11th) she has organized  “Vernonia’s Taking Action Against Hunger”  with a bake sale and entertainment by a hypnotist, starting at 7:30 PM at the Vernonia School ($10.00 admission and a $35.00 family flat fee).

On  Saturday (the 12th) Rice will host a community movie night, where they will be showing Disney’s “Frozen”.  This will start at 6:00 PM with a $5.00 suggested donation. All ages are welcome. This also will be taking place at the school.

Rice has an online fundraising page where people can donate online, follow her progress, and view pictures of the events:

Loggerbots Host Open House

LoggerbotsAssembly-webThe Vernonia Loggerbots hosted an Open House on February 15th.  The Loggerbots are preparing to compete for the third year in the FIRST Robotics regional competition.  Last year the Vernonia team finished a very surprising 3rd out of 59 teams.  The Loggerbots invited the community to see their newest creation as they were putting on the final touches, as well as their robots from the past two years.  They also demonstrated their newest acquisition, a  3D printer.  They showed video of their team from the competition last year, as well as  a video that showed this year’s challenge.  Team member Kaitlyn Eyrrick acted as MC and directed visitors to different areas of interest as well as narrating the video.  Other members of the team demonstrated the older robots, were available to answer questions and worked with project mentors as they assembled and tested their newest robot.

Kaitlin Eyrrick

Kaitlin Eyrrick


3D Printer

3D Printer

VHS Seniors Present Projects

The presentation of Senior Projects is an annual rite of passage at Vernonia High School.

Each year, as a precursor to graduation and the end of their high school days, students dress themselves up in business attire, head to school in the evening and nervously step in front of a panel of community judges to make an eight to ten minute speech.  Following the speech the looks and sighs of relief are evident as the students realize they have taken one more big step towards graduation day.

The Senior Project is a hands-on and experiential learning opportunity for students to work side-by-side with a career mentor.  The students spend at least twenty hours working and observing while “on the job,” then must prepare a visual display and public speech which outlines their experience and what they learned.  It is the only required public speaking that students must complete at VHS, so their nervousness is understandable.

The Senior Project presentations are the end of a long road.  In their junior year, students sign a Letter of Intent, describing the job shadow they plan to complete.  In recent years, students have gathered, on the day of presentations, in the school gymnasium to present their projects in a more informal “arena” setting.  Students have a chance to talk about and explain their projects to visitors and under class students under less stressful conditions.

For the evening presentations, Senior Project advisor Rachel Wilcoxen introduced several minor changes to the structure this year.  First, she allowed the students to self-choose the groups they would present in, allowing students to be with their friends and support each other.  Wilcoxen also informed the students in the morning who would sit on their panel of judges, which also seemed to help relax the students.

According to several of the judges, (most of them do this year after year) this class of students seemed to be extremely well prepared and more relaxed.  “These were some of the best Senior Speeches we have seen,” seemed to be the consensus.

Here is a brief description of some of the Senior Projects this year:


Brooke Johnson

Brooke Johnson

Brooke Johnson did a job shadow with the Timber Patrol.  “I want to work in law enforcement and I also want to do something in the woods, and this involves both of them,” explained Johnson. Johnson  rode on patrol, checking locks on gates, looking for vandalism, and checking permits.  Johnson explained that sometimes the Timber Patrol has to confiscate items collected in the forest, like mushrooms, and that they also investigate logging accidents or criminal activity on timber property.


Stephanie Castro worked with local Message Therapist Heather Lewis as well as Physical Therapist Brian Lange in Portland.  Castro is interested in pursuing a career as a Physical Therapist.  She became interested after suffering a serious sports injury.  “That was my inspiration, because after my ACL surgery I really liked what they did in Physical Therapy,” said Castro.   As part of her Senior Project Castro also created an education plan for herself which included researching college choices.  Castro says she plans to enter a community college Registered Nurse program at either PCC or Mt. Hood, then attend  Linfield College to get her Bachelors Degree in nursing so she could start working as a nurse.  She would then attend Pacific University to get her degree in Physical Therapy.


MaCayla Fennel

MaCayla Fennel

MaCayla Fennell  did an internship at Tuality Hospital in the Labor and Delivery unit.  Fennell says she was able to do many things while on the job for twenty-four total hours, including performing hearing and PKU tests, and weighing some babies.    The most exciting part of her experience was being in the operating room and observing a live birth during a cesarean section procedure. “It was different, but it was really great to watch because I am a very visual learner,” said Fennell.  “It was great to see how it was done and how to take care of the baby afterwards.”  Fennell says she “…absolutely” wants to pursue a career in OB GYN, which involves four to six years of college.


Nikita McCord was interested in a career in Emergency Medical Services.  McCord experienced two sides of this field by doing a job shadow with both a paramedic and a dispatcher.  McCord traveled to the Warm Springs Reservation for her shifts in the dispatch center.  She said the dispatch was especially interesting because that center handles emergency medical calls as well as police and jail calls.   She also rode with paramedics in Jefferson County where she helped with paper work, gathering needed equipment and gear and observing.  Although McCord says she is no longer interested in pursuing a career as a paramedic or dispatcher, she is still interested in the medical field and might pursue nursing or medical imaging.


SeniorProjectsBridgerSteward-webBridger Steward worked at Abundant Life Church camp in Clackamas with Dennis Gorton and learned about being an Executive Chef.  Steward worked there for four days and helped prepare lunch and dinner for 400 people each day.  Steward says he helped make grilled cheese sandwiches, a taco feed, deli meat sandwiches and roast beef.  Steward is no longer interested in becoming a chef, although he says cooking will always be a hobby.  Following a summer of working outdoors for Northwest Youth Conservation Corp, Steward says he would like to pursue a career in Parks and Recreation or Fish and Wildlife.


Jerimiah Hammons restored a 1974 Dodge Swinger as his Senior Project. Hammons worked with his father to complete the restoration.  He says the project took almost a year of work to complete.  He had to deal with a lot of rust and body work, did some welding, painted and sanded numerous times because of the age of the vehicle, applied several coats of primer and then applied several coats of paint before the final coat and then several clear coats and a final polish.  Hammons also had to clean and paint the trim and install a new windshield.  Hammons says he learned a lot of skills that he can use to buy, restore and re-sell cars for profit.


Laura Rice co-directed the Vernonia Ballet’s “Nutcracker” this holiday season with Jessica Davis.  Rice has been a dancer in the local ballet for many years.  For her project Rice helped sew costumes, painted backdrops, drew the artwork for the program cover, choreographed several dances and  directed the two rehearsals and the recital. “It went well, but there were also a lot of little things that went wrong, like there always is,” said Rice about her directorial debut.  Rice says she would like to pursue a more reliable career, and plans to go into speech therapy, although she would like to continue in the dance field as a way to make money and have fun.


Felicia Schirmeister did a job shadow with a dental hygienist, Tina Rhett,  at Gentle Dental in Hillsboro.  Schirmeister’s mentor let Felicia clean, floss and polish her teeth, so she had a chance to have a real hands-on experience.  Schirmeister says she spent thirty-two hours working and observing with Rhett.  She says this is definitely the career she plans to pursue and will begin work on her Bachelors Degree at PCC in the fall and hopes to finish at OHSU.


Jacob Medearis

Jacob Medearis

Jacob Medearis intends to pursue a career as a trombone soloist.  He spent his time on his Senior Project working with Charles Reneau, the bass trombone player with the Oregon Symphony and also Medearis’s private instructor.    Medearis has participated in Honors Band programs as well as the Metropolitan Youth Symphony and has competed in numerous solo contests.  Medearis says he is learning how to better himself as a musician and how to perform in public.  “I have loved music my whole life and really like to share that passion with others through my playing,”  says Medearis.  Medearis is scheduled to go on a two year mission following graduation.  When he returns he will likely attend Brigham Young University to study Musical Performance and hopes to continue his musical studies and earn a Masters Degree.


Mariah Cook

Mariah Cook

Mariah Cook created an imagined bakery business called “The Yummies” for her Senior Project.  Cook says she watched several baking videos as a mentoring tool.  She created a recipe book filled with favorite family recipes, many handed down from her grandma, and even provided samples of her work for visitors to her display.  “The theme of my business was ‘Baking Creates Memories,’” said Cook.  “When you smell something like brownies it reminds you of a happy time.”  Cook did much more than bake numerous tasty treats.  She created an advertisement and business card for her business.  She  also chose an available building in Vernonia and spoke with a  local bank about options for financing her project.  “I learned a lot of ways to lower interest and a lot about finance in general,” say Cook.  “I learned that credit is like a reputation-it takes forever to build but is easily lost.”  Cook says she learned she is not interested in pursuing baking as a career, but would like to continue as a hobby.  She is very interested in teaching and music.



Heather Patton

Heather Patton

Heather Patton spent last summer in Virginia with her uncle who is a bovine specialist and also a professor at Virginia Tech University. Patton worked as a Veterinary Tech for her Senior Project.  “I did a lot of interesting things, consisting of both the gory and the not so gory,” said Patton.  Patton says she assisted in surgeries, drained an abscess, castrated a bull, gave lots of vaccinations and helped treat pink eye.   Patton says she would like to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, although she says she would prefer to not work with such large animals.  She plans to attend college at ether BYU or Southern Virginia University to major in Biology because her dream job is to do field research on animals or in botany.

Vernonia Loggerbots Get Ready to Rumble

Loggerbots-webThe Vernonia High School Loggerbots are getting ready to compete in the 2014 FIRST Robotics competition.

As they prepare for a new challenge this year, the Loggerbots are planning to host an Open House on Saturday, February 15 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM in the Vernonia School, Room 143 to preview their robot for their supporters and the rest of the community.  Anyone interested in learning more about the FIRST Robotics competitions, the VHS Loggerbots team, or about becoming a sponsor, is invited to attend.

Last year, in just their second year of competing, the Loggerbots surprised almost everyone when they finished third in a field of fifty-nine teams at the Regional competition at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Read More

Logger Boys Take Third at Cougar Classic, Girls Lose First of Season

The Vernonia Loggers boys basketball team defeated Santiam 52-35 on Saturday, December 28 to take third place in the Cougar Classic holiday tournament.  The Loggers are now 4-5 on the season.

The Lady Loggers lost their first game of the season to Santiam in the championship game of the Cougar Classic, falling 51-50.  Vernonia is now 8-1 on the season.

Both the boys and girls return to action on Saturday, January 4 with away, non-league match-ups against Southwest Christian.  Vernonia resumes Northwest League play on Tuesday, January 7 at home against Portland Christian.

VHS Forestry Program in Third Year

Forestry1-webThe Vernonia High School Forestry Program is now in its third year under the direction of instructor Byron Brown.

The program has several hands-on projects that teach students real life skills:

•  Students are learning compass and pacing skills;  how to read a compass, take a bearing and learning your  “pace” in order to measure distance. Students also learn how to set up a course and write directions, as well as how to take inventories and surveys.

•  Students are learning to identify plants, trees and habitats using both outdoor experience and power point presentations indoors.  They are also learning to identify invasive species and removal methods.  In addition, students are learning seed collection and seed sowing that will be used in the greenhouse which is under construction and in their own restoration projects.

•  Students continue to work on the “Old Mill Marsh” wetland restoration project where they have been planting native wetlands trees and shrubs and removing canary grass and scotch broom.  The Forestry Class has now  taken responsibility for this project and have been using “Sustainability Days” (three  days set aside each school year that focus on outdoor education) as an opportunity to teach other VHS and VMS students about the purposes and methods of the project.

•  Students are learning basic forest measurements using clinometers, increment borers and spencer tapes.

• Students are also working on a restoration project at Stub Stewart State Park.  The Park is thinning some stunted areas of the park from 700 trees per acre to 90; the class’s job is to develop and implement a plan to restore the understory and ground plants to create a more diversified and wildlife friendly environment. They plan to begin planting operations in the spring.

“We plan to continue to take advantage of our rural forestland location as a great outdoor laboratory,” says Brown about the program.

In the classroom students are learning about forest ecology, species habitat and tolerances, tree and plant identification and chainsaw safety.

Third year students John Dass, Adonis Hopkins, and Cole Harbour are Teaching Assistants and function as group leaders, which is part of student learning model that involves teaching others—you learn better when you teach something to someone else.

The direction of the program is shifting slightly to include:

•  More science- Watershed studies that lead to restoration projects that the students will design, grow the plants they will use, plant them in accordance with their plan/strategy, maintain the sites, monitor and keep records of the results.  Projects that were started last year and this year will be on-going for many years.

•  Scientific experiments involving invasive species control; experimenting with different control methods and keeping records of the results.

• Partnerships- Work with the State Parks, the Upper Nehalem Watershed Council, DEQ, small woodlands owners, the local timber industry and others where the program can provide “hands-on” learning opportunities for students on projects that really matter.

The Forestry Program has a webpage connected to the Vernonia School District website, under the High School, with photos and articles written by students.

The program is also running several fundraisers this year including firewood- currently green maple at $50 per ½ cord picked up at school or $60 delivered (they are planning on having some other firewood options soon), and Christmas trees, any size for $25—fresh cut and local beautiful noble fir—you can’t buy better trees anywhere!  They are from Mark Deyer’s tree farm; Deyer has been helping students learn timber cruising, log scaling, compass and pacing and even tree falling since the beginning of the program.

Forestry students have tree planting equipment and are looking for some tree planting projects.  If anyone has an area they need planted this winter or spring and has the trees, that isn’t too far away or too big, the class could be available as a tree planting crew.

The program has also formed a Logging Competition Team, with Brent Dass in charge.  The team had a successful first season last year and has already done well again this season.

“This program is designed to train our students for future occupations that would allow them to continue to live and raise their kids in our community,  have rewarding and satisfying jobs, and maintain and sustain our way of life,” says Brown.


Meet the Exchange Students


Paul Lemaron, Ani Danielyan, Alejandro Rubiera and Chi Ting Lee

Paul Lemaron, Ani Danielyan, Alejandro Rubiera and Chi Ting Lee

Each year Vernonia High School and the community host a group of Exchange Students from around the world; this year Vernonia has welcomed nineteen of these young people into our community.  Over the last few months Vernonia’s Voice has met these students in small groups and introduced them to you.  This is our final group of Exchange Students this year.


Ani Danielyan- Ani is a senior from Armenia who is living with the Hayes family. This is Ani’s first time ever traveling outside her home country.  She says she wanted to become an Exchange Student to “discover a new world,” and to meet new people.  She also says it was a great opportunity to improve her English.  Ani says Vernonia is “…perfect for me.  I love every single thing here.”   Ani says the people here are very nice, friendly and caring and says she could live here, “…for a very long time.”  Ani says after graduation she plans to enter university in Armenia and study to become a dentist.   Read More

Meet the Exchange Students

Vernonia High School and the Vernonia community are hosting nineteen foreign exchange students this school year.  Each year Vernonia’s Voice takes some time to meet these students and introduce them to our readers.  This is the third installment in this series.

Left to right:  Katerina Brejchova, Johanna Lange, Tonia Giordano,  Emil Hardenberg and Alexandre Thuet.

Left to right: Katerina Brejchova, Johanna Lange, Tonia Giordano,
Emil Hardenberg and Alexandre Thuet.

Alexandre Thuet is from a small town west of Paris, France.  Alex is a senior and  is spending this year living with the Adams Family.  Alex is playing saxophone in the school band.  He also played football this fall and plans to play basketball and baseball.  Alex says he has previously traveled around Europe to Spain,  England, Portugal, Italy, and Poland.  He has visited the United states four times in the past, traveling to New York and Washington, D.C. twice and  also made a road trip up and down the east coast last year.  He says his favorite subject this year is Spanish.  Alex said he became an exchange student  to learn to speak English fluently.  He also said he loves the United States and he wanted the chance to live in America for a year, not just visit as a tourist.  Alex says he likes Vernonia because it is small, almost exactly the same size as his hometown in France.  He says he likes that everyone knows each other here. Read More

Meet the Exchange Students

Vernonia High School has nineteen foreign exchange students this year.  Each year at the start of the school year Vernonia’s Voice takes time to meet with these students, welcome them to our community and introduce them to our readers.  Please meet our second group of exchange students.

Julius Haake , Shavarsh “Archi” Muradyan , Anton Yakovenko,  Anastasia Mihalciuc and Alex Plaschevici.

Julius Haake , Shavarsh “Archi” Muradyan , Anton Yakovenko,
Anastasia Mihalciuc and Alex Plaschevici.

Anastasia Mihalciuc is a senior from Moldova who is living with the Naillon family.  This is Anastasia’s first time traveling outside her country.  Anastasia says she likes Vernonia because it is not a big city.  She says it is very beautiful here with beautiful views.  She says the people are very nice and very helpful.  Anastasia says her favorite American food is waffles.  She is running cross country this fall and may run track in the spring.   Anastasia says after her year in Vernonia she will return and finish one more year in her school in Moldova and then she plans to study abroad. Read More

Meet the Exchange Students

Each year the Vernonia School District and the Vernonia community invite a group of foreign exchange students from all around the world to spend a school year living and learning in our small town.  Families open their homes and become adopted parents; new, lifelong friendships are started and our students and residents have a chance to learn about life and culture in a variety of places-some we may not have even heard of before.  Over the last few years the groups of students has grown progressively larger; this year Vernonia is host to nineteen foreign students.  Each fall Vernonia’s Voice takes time in our pages to meet and introduce each of these students to the rest of our community.  If you have the pleasure of meeting any of these visitors, please take time to say hello and help them feel welcome.

Silas Mansig is a senior from Gedved, a small town in Denmark.  Silas is staying with Jon, Kinnell and Bridger Steward.  He is playing football this fall and will play basketball and baseball this year as well.   Silas say he has met a lot of nice people and says he likes that Vernonia is a small community where everyone knows each other.  Silas says his favorite classes are Construction and Yearbook and his favorite food here in the United States is pizza. Silas says he will go to school in Denmark after he returns from Vernonia.

Sara Mayer-Villeneuve is from Quebec, Canada near Montreal and is staying with  Mark, Deanna and Kelsey Brown.  A senior, Sara says she likes the personal feel of small town Vernonia. Sara says her favorite class is Spanish, which she is learning for the first time and she also enjoys Algebra and Leadership.  “I like all my classes,” she says.  Sara is playing volleyball and says maybe she would like to try cheerleading as well.  She also hopes to run track in the spring.  Sara says she  will return for more schooling in Quebec and then University when her year in Vernonia is over.

Left to right:  Silas Mansig, Sara Mayer-Villeneuve, Sam Hout, Dominique Woods and Emma D’Onghia.

Left to right: Silas Mansig, Sara Mayer-Villeneuve, Sam Hout, Dominique Woods
and Emma D’Onghia.

Sam Hout is from Abitibe, in western Quebec, Canada.  Sam is a senior and is living with the Rethwill family.  Sam says Vernonia is a lot like his small home town in Canada and thinks there are lots of activities for students to be involved in. He says he had a chance to try Clam Chowder for the first time and really likes it!  Sam is playing football and says he may try wrestling and baseball.  Sam says his favorite class is Advanced Conditioning because he has a chance to do training for himself.  Sam says he is spending this year in the United States because he doesn’t know what he wants to study in the future.  He says he will continue his schooling and go to University.

Emma D’Onghia is a junior and is living with the Landers family.  Emma is from Glen Iris, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.  Emma thinks Vernonia is a good place for Exchange Student because there are less people to get to know and everyone knows who they are.  Emma says her favorite classes are Yoga and Teaching Assistant.  Emma is running cross country this fall and will play basketball in the winter and run track in the spring.  Emma says her favorite new food is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Emma, who is just fifteen, has two more years of high school to complete when she returns to Australia, and says she would like to go on and study something sport related in college.

Dominique Woods is a junior from southern Germany near Stuttgart.  Dominique is staying with Ron, Trish and Ronnie Maldonado. Dominique likes it in Vernonia because he says there is more going on here than in his small town in Germany. Dominique is playing football and says he will also play basketball and baseball for the Loggers. Dominique says he really enjoyed trying cornbread for the first time when he was at the Glass home for dinner.  Dominique says his favorite class is Health because it is very interesting and also Advanced Conditioning.  Dominique still has two years of high school to complete when he returns to Germany.  After that he says  he would like to return to the United States for college.