Tag Archives: VHS

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

Meet the Exchange Students: Part 2

Paul Mehring is from Munich, Germany and is living with Shelley Hennesey and Joe Fennell.  Paul is playing football this fall and is a running back and linebacker.  He says he plans to play basketball this winter and may try track and field in the spring.  Paul says he likes American steaks, which he says are very juicy and tasty.  Paul says he likes that in Vernonia, “…everybody knows everybody,” and everyone is friendly.   He says he likes that everyone supports the school teams.  “It’s a way better atmosphere at the games than in Germany,” says Paul.  Paul says he has traveled to South Africa, France, Sweden and often vacations in Italy. This is his first time in the United States.


Julie Courchet is from Marseille, France and lives with Steve and Sue Whiteman.  Julie is running cross country this fall.  She says that Vernonia is very small but everyone is very nice.  She says her favorite American food is hot dogs.  This is the first time Julie has ever traveled anywhere outside of France.

Left to right:  Paul Mehring, Julie Courchet, Kristine Lauenborg,  Sandra Meyer and Guilherme Botelho.

Left to right: Paul Mehring, Julie Courchet, Kristine Lauenborg,
Sandra Meyer and Guilherme Botelho.


Kristine Lauenborg is a junior from Denmark.  She is living with Tracy, Mike and Emilee Easlon.  Kristine is running cross country this fall.  She is also on the cheer squad and is one of the loudest supporters in the student section at volleyball matches.  She says she will try out for basketball and may try either softball or track in the spring.  Kristine says the food here is not much different than in Denmark but says she loves American candy, especially Skittles and Nerds.  She did say that her host mother Tracy is an excellent cook and loves her meals; in fact several other exchange students commented on the great food served at the Easlon home.  Kristine says she will finish high school when she returns to Denmark and plans to study law at university. She says she likes the different experience of living in a small town, but doesn’t like that Vernonia is so far away from everything else.


Sandra Meyer is a junior from Hamburg, Germany.  She is spending her year in Vernonia with Melissa, Bob, Maddie and Megan Zavales.   Sandra is on the VHS cheer squad and is also running cross country this fall.  She says she would like to try out for basketball in the winter and softball in the spring.  Sandra says she has traveled in the past to the Netherlands and Turkey and this is her first time visiting the United States. Sandra says the burgers in the United States are much better than in Germany.  She says Vernonia is like “…a big family,” which is different from the big city of Hamburg.  Sandra is one of six exchange students from Germany living in Vernonia this year, which means she has too much opportunity to, “speak in German and not practice my English,” she says. Sandra says she will return to Germany next year to finish high school.


Guilherme Botelho is a senior from Portugal where he lives on the coast, just five minutes from the beach.  “Will” is living with Shelley Hennesey and Joe Fennell in Vernonia.  Will says he used to enjoy surfing in Portugal, but since picking up his father’s old camera, he now enjoys photographing surfers more than surfing itself.  In Vernonia, Will is a tight end, corner back and the punter on the football team.  At 6’ 4” he is also really looking forward to the basketball season this winter and will try track in the spring.  Will says he “…came here for the hamburgers!”  He says he loves American fast food.  “Some of the other exchange students are worried about healthy food; I’m not.  I’m all into fast food and sports,” says Will.  He says he has always felt a call to come to America and says he has been dreaming about this trip for many years.  He says he hopes to return to Portugal in the summer, check in with his parents, and hopefully return to the U.S. to play basketball, attend college and study chemical engineering.   Will says he really likes traveling and has been encouraged by his father, who is Brazilian and travels for work and thinks it important for his children to be open minded about the rest of  the world.  Will has traveled to Spain, France, England, many times to Brazil, and Tanzania for an African safari.  He has visited the Unites States once before and went to New York City and Disney World in Florida.