Tag Archives: Vernonia High School

VHS Winter Sports Preview

Girls Basketball- Lady Logger head coach Steve Whiteman heads into this season with another line-up loaded with talent, varsity experience and depth. The  Lady Loggers are two time 2A Northwest League Champions, and are looking to three-peat this year after going 41-8 over the last two years.  “This team is of that same caliber,” says Whiteman about this year’s squad.

VHSWinterSportsGirlsBasketballPreview-webReturning seniors Julia Fletcher and Meghan Sullivan will anchor the line-up, with Sullivan playing regularly in the post.  Fletcher is a powerful player and will be one of the first choice offensive weapons.  Both were All-League players last season.  Whiteman says he expects to see Sullivan become more active in the offense this year.  “She is going to be hard to stop this year,” says Whiteman.  Another senior, Makayla Adams is assisting coach Whiteman as part of her senior project and is acting as manager, statistician, player and coach.

Returning juniors Paige Smith and Sara Smith will both play important roles in this year’s team.  Paige will be a  key player in the post.  Sara, who Whiteman says is the most improved player from last year,  can play just about any position and has seen time in practice as the back-up point guard as well as in the post.  “Sara will make a huge difference this year,” says Whiteman.  Another  junior,  Jocie Roberts, saw some varsity action last year and brings a deadly outside shot to the offense.

Exchange student Marketa Veselkova from the Czech Republic is expected to play as the starting point guard and also has a great outside shot.  “She is one of the fastest players I’ve ever seen,” says Whiteman.  Maria Alverez from Spain and Lisa Paje-Rius from Monaco are also both good players who will also see playing time in the back court on the varsity.  Whiteman says to watch for Paje-Rius on the fast break.

Sophomore Peyton Wolf should see some time for the varsity at all the guard positions, including point guard.  Another sophomore, six-footer Megan Ely, has really improved her game in the off season, according to Whiteman, and is projected to be a power in the post and grow into a very good player.

“We have a really good combination of players,” says Whiteman.  “It’s a really complete team with a lot of maturity and basketball IQ.” Read More

VHS is Pilot for PCC Distance Learning Program

Vernonia High School has started a Distance Learning program through Portland Community College (PCC) which allows Vernonia students to concurrently earn both high school and college credits.

“It is critical for us to have opportunities for our students to earn college credits before they leave high school,” said Vernonia School District Superintendent Aaron Miller about the program.  “There are lots of high school programs that are providing dual credits and we need to continue to look  at opportunities like that for our kids.  It helps solidify their learning in high school and it gets them thinking about their future and their plans and how they’re going to get there.  It’s an essential piece of our education process.”

The Distance Learning Program began this fall as a pilot program and has been operating smoothly so far.  According to high school principal Nate Underwood and School Counselor Pete Weisel, the program was initiated last spring when Vernonia  juniors and some high achieving sophomores were offered an opportunity to take the Compass college placement testing.  With  limited funding the District still wanted to find a way to begin offering students who were ready, and could test into college level courses, some type of expanded educational opportunity.

“We wanted to see what classes they were interested in and what they were able to test into,” said Weisel.  “This is a way for us to replace Advanced Placement classes.  The District doesn’t have enough students to justify paying a teacher to teach these types of classes, but we can still provide students with some college level cirriculum.”

“I think this is a step in the right direction to meet the academic needs of our students,” says Underwood.  “It’s a baby step, but it is a step for us.”

Weisel says that not only is this a pilot project for VHS, but it is also a pilot project for PCC, who Weisel says hasn’t really worked this way with a high school before.  “With PCC expanding into Columbia County with a physical location in the next few years, we’re hoping that having that campus  here will only help our students in terms of having access to PCC instructors,” says Weisel.  Read More

VHS Offering Career and Technical Educations Programs

Students at Vernonia High School will have several opportunities to participate in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs this school year. Each and every one of these CTE opportunities are available to ALL students regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or religion.

Digital Arts, Forestry/Natural Resources, Engineering and Construction are CTE programs that will be offered to ALL students at Vernonia High School during the 2014-15 school year. Digital Arts, Forestry/Natural Resources, and Engineering will be offered throughout the year, while Construction class will be available in the spring after construction on the new shop building is complete.

If you have any questions regarding CTE programs at Vernonia High School, please contact Aaron Miller or Nate Underwood at 503-429-1333.


VHS Student Interns Learn and Work Through CTE Program

Current and former Vernonia High School students have been working and getting paid this summer through a grant program the School District received this past year.

The Vernonia School District, in partnership with the Upper Nehalem Watershed Council (UNWC) and Stub Stewart State Park, was the recipient of a one-year Career and Technical Education (CTE) Grant through the Oregon Department of Education and the Bureau of Labor and Industries.  The grant pays for six student summer interns, providing work and learning opportunities which allow the students to develop the skills they will need to prepare for their future in college, trade school and the work force.

Bridger Steward

Bridger Steward

Two students, VHS graduate Bridger Steward and Quentin Skanes, who will be a junior next year at VHS, are working at Stub Stewart State Park as Park Interns.  Steward and Skanes are  performing all the duties that an Assistant Ranger at the park would be responsible for completing.

Jake Harbour and Jared Whitton were hired and are working at the Vernonia School District in the maintenance department, maintaining the plants at the greenhouse, maintaining campus grounds, and getting classrooms ready for students in the fall.

Ben Skanes and Adonis Hopkins are working at the UNWC, learning to use Geographic Information System (GIS), performing analysis of road stream crossings and the impact on salmon access to spawning and rearing stream habitat.  They also perform other field and watershed restoration work.

According to Stub Stewart Park Office Manager Betsy Miller, who is supervising Steward and Skanes, eleven students applied for the six total positions through the CTE training program at VHS.  The students work four days each week for five hours a day.  They are paid around $10 an hour for twenty hours for the six weeks the program is scheduled to run.  Read More

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 High School Plans Athletic Hall of Fame

Vernonia High School Athletic Director Gordon Jarman has announced plans for an Athletic Hall of Fame at the school.

The Hall of Fame is being  established for the purpose of recognizing former Vernonia High School student athletes or coaches for their outstanding achievement in athletics while attending Vernonia High School. Also eligible are outstanding community members that have contributed  to the Vernonia High School athletic programs, as well as students that have graduated from Vernonia High School and have gone on to achieve outstanding recognition in athletics after they have graduated from Vernonia High School.

The official Categories for Selection are as follows:

Group one: Older athletes-those nominees that have graduated from Vernonia High School prior to ten years ago.

Group Two: Modern Day athletes-those athletes that have graduated from Vernonia High School at least five years previously but not more than ten years.

Community Members: Those members of the Vernonia Community that have, over time, exhibited by their volunteerism, dedication to Vernonia Athletics, and contributions to Vernonia Athletics,  commitment  beyond the normal realm of what is expected for individuals to contribute.

The Criteria for Selection is as follows:

Team Sports: Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Baseball and Softball.  The inductee must meet the following criteria.

• The inductee must have graduated from Vernonia High School

• The candidate must have been out of school for at least five years before being inducted.

• The athlete must have been selected as an all-state athlete on the first or second teams or must have been selected to play in the East West shrine football game, the state all-star basketball series or in the state all-star baseball/softball series.

Individual sports: Cross Country, Wrestling, Track and Field, Equestrian, Golf.  The inductee must meet the following criteria.

• Place first or second in the OSAA sponsored state meet for their sport or,

• Place first or second in the OHSET state meets or,

• Place in the top three in the state Freestyle or Greco Roman wrestling meet or

• Be selected to the Oregon Coaches Cultural Exchange wrestling team.

Nominees can be submitted to the Vernonia High School Athletic Director in writing with verifiable qualifications to be considered for induction into the Vernonia High School Athletic Hall of Fame.  The Athletic Director will compile all nominations and present them to the selection committee for consideration.  After the selection committee has reviewed all nominations they will determine the number and names of those to be selected to enter the VHS Hall of Fame.  That number is not to exceed six individuals and one team per year.

The Selection Committee shall be made up of the following people:

• The Athletic Director,

• The High School principal or his designee,

• The president of the Vernonia Boosters or their designee,

• Two community members/ volunteers.

After the selections to the Vernonia High School Athletic Hall of Fame have been made, an induction ceremony will be held.  The athletic director will contact the inductees and inform them of their selection and invite them to participate in the ceremony.  Pictures of each inductee will be taken for placement on the Hall of Fame wall, and commemorative wall plaques will be provided for the inductees.  The ceremony will be held away from the school site and will include a ceremonial dinner.

Older Vernonia Grads Are Giving Back

Many Vernonia Alumni are still connected to their former community, particularly their old school and now the new school.

Jim and Kathy Eckland started The Vernonia Alumni Sports Initiative in October, 2012, to raise funds for the completion of athletic fields and facilities at the new schools.  According to Jim Eckland, during the past 15 months over $50,000 has been contributed by 130 Alumni, in amounts ranging from $20 to $10,000.

The VHS Class of 1973 raised over $10,000 at the Give Back Bash  and donated it towards the Alumni Sports Initiative.

The VHS Class of 1973 raised over $10,000 at the Give Back Bash
and donated it towards the Alumni Sports Initiative.

In addition, members of the Class of 1973 organized the “Give Back Bash” in early August and donated over $10,000 to the fund.  An additional  $4,000 was contributed through the Gary Davis Memorial last winter.

With almost $65,000 raised in just over a year,  the Vernonia Education Foundation now has enough money set aside to begin work on a softball field at the new school campus later this spring.

Significantly, most of the $50,000 the Ecklands have raised through the Alumni Sports  Initiative has come through the hard work and generosity of past graduates.  Even more significantly, 98% of those funds were contributed by Alumni who graduated prior to 1975. Read More

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