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(November 2017 Newsletter) Turning an Interest in Agriculture into a Career

over 2 years ago

By Nhan Pham

EHS - Ian McGregor is known to some as the “Corn Kid,” but don’t let the nickname fool you. McGregor is all business. In fact, this Eastmont High School junior is well on his way to becoming a master of his corn- growing craft. One bushel at a time.

In just a few short years, McGregor has found the gumption to grow his own corn, sell it, compete and win awards, and network with some agriculture industry bigwigs.

“This kid is a corn guru,” said Jeff DeJarnett, a plant biology teacher at Eastmont Junior High School and an FFA adviser in the district. Two years ago, McGregor was a student of DeJarnett’s class. Even back then, McGregor displayed interest in growing corn and potatoes.

From there, McGregor experienced a meteoric rise. Thanks to encouragement from mentors like DeJarnett, McGregor entered his crops into local fairs and became grand champion.Even back then, it was clear McGregor had a real knack for this field. DeJarnett saidMcGregor quickly learned many ins and outs of the industry, grasping concepts like moisture levels in different types of corn. For someone his age, McGregor was certainly ahead of the curve in terms of agriscience knowledge.

Not only that, a lot of this McGregor taught himself.

“He has a better awareness about the corn industry than some agriculture teachers,” DeJarnett said.

DeJarnett said he believes McGregor is an incredible individual who is humble about his achievements. For someone so young, FFA advisers often comment how McGregor already has knowledge worthy of an industry veteran despite his age.

There is no doubt, DeJarnett said, that McGregor has a promising future ahead of him in agriculture.

But for now, it’s still one bushel of corn at a time, plenty of accolades to collect and lots more to learn from the industry for McGregor. He is still a junior in high school, after all.

“I wish I could clone him,” DeJarnett said. “He showcases what we want to strive for in the FFA classroom.”

We chatted with McGregor for a corny Q&A:

Well, I was around 10 or 11 and I planted only about 80 corn plants. And I liked to crop more than the other things. So the next year, all I planted was corn, and it has been getting bigger every year.

2. Who nicknamed you “Corn Kid?”My FFA advisers.

My FFA advisers.

3. Where do you currently grow your corn?

Doug and Jan Bromiley had a piece of irrigated ground by their home that they let me grow the corn on this year. Also, I planted some at my uncle Scott Kane’sproperty and our orchard in RockIsland. I planted Russet Burbank potatoes at my house.

4. How often do you grow your corn throughout the year? During a given week? Do you work on growing corn before/after school/both?

Generally aim to plant as early as possible to try to get your sweet corn in before your competition. This year was the first time I had grown sweet corn and was a big success, I had been growing grain corn test plots in years past. I also had started planting russet potatoes and have received great help from Quincy farmers, Rex and Melva Calloway. Potatoes are planted earlier than corn by a long shot.

5. Do you sell your corn or bring it to places like school to share with others?

I was able to sell all of my sweet corn to White Trail fruit stand in Quincy this season. Also to friends and family.

6. What are your immediate goals with your corn growing?

I want to keep growing as much as I can to learn as much as I can for future use. Randy Dowdy a very successful farmer from Valdosta, GA has been an inspiration for me to keep doing this.

7. After graduating high school, do you intend to take your corn-growing interest even further (e.g., college education, apprenticeship, etc.)?

Yes, I want to be a field rep for DuPont Pioneer, DeKalb or the McGregor company.

8. When not growing corn, what are your other hobbies/interests? 

I very much like hunting and shooting trap.

9. Do you have an ultimate dream you would like to accomplish with your corn growing?

I would like to enter a yield contest the National Corn Growers Association puts on every year called the National Corn Yield Contest. This is a yield contest with grain corn where growers from across the nation compete to produce as many bushels per acre that is possible for grain corn. Last year, Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy hit a new world record of 521.39 bushels per acre. That’s a lot of corn. A bushel of corn is roughly give or take 55 to 60 lbs.

10. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

I would like to thank all the people who make my project possible:

Doug, Scott, Jason and Jan Bromiley

The McGregor Company


Kevin Zander with DeKalb

Doug Barns with Seminis Seeds

Brian and Darren Hefty

Melva and Rex Calloway

Washington State Potato Commission

Wilbur Ellis Basin West

All my FFA advisers

Ron Baugher with Crop Production Services

Augie Kooistra of Augie’s Ag Sales Ephrata

Brian Lewis and Chad Record with

DuPont Pioneer

Superintendent & School Board News

8 months ago



A strategy to improve services to parents and employees is to conduct annual surveys of employees, parents, and students. One outcome from this year's survey results is to do a better job providing information on District activities. To do this, we will continue using text messages for emergency drills, social media for building and program activities, our quarterly newsletter for District activities, and this news web page to share updates on current projects and new releases. 

- Superintendent Garn Christensen

Current issues that will have ongoing updates include

  • November 6, 2018, ballot item for Eastmont voters to determine if the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School is changed  
  • Construction of new school bus storage and repair facility 
  • Construction of 20 new classrooms and 4 new cafeterias
  • Improvement of ADA access to campus facilities
  • Schedule for implementing reconfiguration of Eastmont Schools to K-6 neighborhood elementary schools, two grade 7 - 9 junior high schools, and one grade 10 - 12 high school



After almost a year of study, input, and discussion, the Eastmont Board of Directors approved the future configuration for schools. Over the next 5 years we will transition to the following: 

Cascade K - 6

Grant K - 6

Kenroy K - 6

Lee K - 6

Rock Island K - 6

Clovis K - 6

Sterling 7, 8, 9

Junior High 7, 8, 9

High School 10 - 12

This change will require the construction of over 20 additional classrooms at current schools and cafeterias at Cascade, Kenroy, Lee, and Rock Island.  Configuration changes may start in 2018-19, but will not be completed until 2020-21. Funds for these additions will come from the $10,000,000 K-3 class size reduction grant and the 2018 capital levy.  Information on timeline and moves will be included in employee and community newsletters. These changes will also require an update of student attendance areas. 

Links to Other School & District Social and Printed Media

over 2 years ago

(November 2017 Newsletter) Alumna Spotlight: From EHS Valedictorian to Yale Grad

over 2 years ago

By Nhan Pham
These days, Alder Keleman can certainly say she has come a long way from just being an alumna from the Eastmont School District since the first grade. 

As one of five valedictorians from the class of 1998, Keleman is an environmental anthropologist with educational pedigree from the likes of Yale University. Over the years, Keleman has been to Latin America, Europe and Australia and has done elaborate research projects on topics like agrobiodiversity.

But something seemingly ordinary proved to be a major starting point for all of these educational pursuits and adventures around the world - Spanish class in ninth grade. Sometimes, all it takes is some sort of catalyst to guide your life toward a certain direction. Spanish class for Keleman became more than just a class elective. It would pique her curiosity and pave the way for her academic journey.

Thanks to some excellent teachers in her Spanish classes, Keleman and other students received encouragement to interact with their classmates. Keleman dabbled with Spanish lessons in elementary and middle school. But from ninth grade and onward, she started to learn the language more extensively as a
proper extracurricular. 

To this day, she is now proficient in multiple languages that include Spanish and Portuguese. At Eastmont High School, Keleman participated in yearbook and was a member of the Swim Team. She also did
club swimming year-round. 

She played viola in orchestra and took part in a youth symphony group in the Wenatchee area. After graduating high school, Keleman studied at Scripps College down in California, where she majored in biology and Latin American studies. 

As an undergrad, she spent a semester in Chile and a semester in London studying abroad. These trips around the world would just be the beginning for Keleman. Upon finishing her undergraduate studies at Scripps College in 2002, Keleman would further continue her global adventures thanks to a grant from the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. 

This was a research-oriented fellowship that allowed her to do her work overseas. She traveled to places like Australia, Costa Rica and Brazil where she conducted a lot of studies about plant biology. Over the years, Keleman would earn both her master’s (2006) and PhD (spring of 2017) from Yale University for various fields like environmental science/anthropology and international relations.

And she did so while working for organizations/fellowships and conducting lots of field work in places
such as Mexico. In fact, her dissertation to earn her PhD was about the impact of indigenous foods for Bolivia and how this affected other aspects of their society as a whole.

Nowadays, Keleman has a busy schedule between family life and her various academic duties. She currently is a postdoctoral researcher for Aarhus University in Denmark. An online publication called Feral Atlas is something she codirects. 

As a platform, the purpose of Feral Atlas is to keep notes of invasive species for research purposes. When she is not researching, one thing is certain for Keleman. You can always expect her to travel. And remember where this desire to explore other cultures began back here in the Eastmont School District - Spanish class
in ninth grade.

“I think it was not such a big deal at the time,” she said. “But it really made a big impact on my life.”

(November 2017 Newsletter) Superintendent’s Message: Thinking About Success for Our Children

over 2 years ago

By Garn Christensen

This fall, two of my grandchildren joined me for an afternoon of roller skating. I considered it a success as by the end of the afternoon the four-year-old had more bruises on his behind than grandpa. I thought
of these two as I read an article in a superintendent’s magazine. It suggested that for an 18-year-old to be successful in today’s world, they must be able to: 

• Talk to strangers.
 Find his or her way around their
community and the world.
• Manage assignments, workloads, and
• Contribute to the running of a
• Handle interpersonal problems.
• Cope with ups and downs.
• Earn and manage money.
• Take risks.

The writer of the article is Julie Lythcott-Haims. She was a dean at Stanford University and the author
of the book “How to Raise an Adult” published June 9, 2015.

(November 2017 Newsletter) One School, One Book Highlights Reading Fun

over 2 years ago

By Nhan Pham

CASCADE – Through September and early October, Cascade Elementary School took part in a special program called One School, One Book. Using some funds from a $10,000 grant for the National
Title 1, Part A, Academic Achievement Award from the prior year, Cascade purchased copies of “The
BFG” by Roald Dahl, the title of which stands for “Big Friendly Giant” as readers of the classic soon learn. Students in every classroom grades kindergarten through 4th grade are sent home with the book.

From there, the literary magic happened. The main focus of this program is to promote literacy for students. Because every student now had a copy of the same book, they all could participate in a school-wide reading event. During One School, One Book, students had the same reading goals for “The BFG.” Regardless of the grade, each student had the same chapter requirements at a given time.

Younger students could receive help from their parents to read the book aloud, which encouraged family
storytime at home.

“I thought it was fantastic to get kids excited about reading at every grade level,” said Cascade Principal Kim

“The BFG” was a real hit throughout the school. Browning said students talked about the book enthusiastically in the hallways, trying to predict what was going to happen next in the plot. There
were “The BFG” trivia questions during lunch.

But best of all for the students – this was all for fun. Students did not have to worry about a giant-sized test at the end or anything of that sort. Instead, all classrooms took part in their own activities, and there
was a school assembly to celebrate “The BFG.” Cascade even showed “The BFG” movie in the gym as a school event, drawing in more than 300 people to come view the film.

Parents loved the program as well. “I think this should be done 3-4 times per year! Having the whole
school continually engaged about one book (everyone at their respective understandings and imaginations) is hard to replicate in terms of educational value. PLEASE do this again, and PLEASE don’t wait till next year,” one parent commented on the survey. In particular, parents appreciated that it got their children thrilled about reading every day.

“I thought it was great and it made my daughter excited to read at home every night!” another survey response stated. Browning said the feedback for this program was overall excellent. “The BFG”
proved to be a delightful story for the students. 

For one thing, the students found it funny when the adults had to imitate the book’s characters when
reading lines out loud. The students even became quite fluent with the book’s made-up words like frobscottle, and they would retain the vocabulary throughout the storyline.

“It’s fun to do this program with the entire school,” Browning said.

Next year, Browning said Cascade would like to take part in the program again, but there is no guarantee because of how expensive it is to put together.

(November 2017 Newsletter) Fiestas Mexicanas Come to Clovis Point

over 2 years ago

By Nhan Pham

CLOVIS POINT – “EMBRACE CULTURE!” read the message that hung on the center of the Clovis Point Intermediate School’s gym wall as students filed in for the first assembly of the year on September 15. The assembly was in honor of Fiestas Mexicanas, a celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day (Día de la Independencia) in the valley that takes place at Lincoln Park in Wenatchee.

Erika Gasca and Eder Alfaro, two folklore dance instructors from Guanajuato State Cultural Institute in Mexico, performed elaborate dance routines for students and staff members.

Gasca and Alfaro have performed their Latin American dance routines all over the world, which last year included a trip to Japan.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for kids to celebrate and learn about other cultures,” said Clovis Point Principal Bob Celebrezze. Celebrezze said it is important for students to appreciate other cultures.

Many students just at Clovis Point have cultural backgrounds tied to Mexico. So having the dancers visit their school to showcase a piece of Mexican culture was special, he said.

Gasca and Alfaro donned traditional attire for their dance routine. For instance, in the first performance, Gasca wore a huipil and a turquoise skirt while Alfarosported a cowboy look. The two danced to the beat of Latin music resonating throughout the gym. Their elaborate choreography had the students and staff mesmerized. They clapped along to the rhythm of the music, applauding Gasca and Alfaro as they danced and whirled up the gym floor.

“The students were engaged, watching, quiet and cheering,” said Noemi Martinez, the Latino Education Coordinator and school counselor at Clovis.

The students gave Gasca and Alfaro a huge ovation as they finished their dance. Gasca and Alfaro smiled back to the crowd and took their bow. Prior to the assembly, Gasca and Alfaro also held a workshop to prepare for Fiestas Mexicanas.

Martinez said having the two perform for Clovis has a positive impact on the students and community. Their performance also teaches about the different styles of dancing in Latin culture. 

“We are real lucky to have Gasca and Alfaro perform for Clovis,” Martinez said. “A lot of our kids go to the celebration.”

(November 2017 Newsletter) Cascade Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

over 2 years ago

By Nhan Pham

CASCADE – At Cascade Elementary School, students actively participate in social-emotional learning (SEL). Simply put, SEL is a method for staff members to make sure students are emotionally OK. Every school day, classrooms at Cascade do an SEL activity. 

Each classroom does their respective SEL segment differently depending on the teacher. Generally speaking, this activity entails a “meeting” that takes place at some point. 

For instance, students can circle up and discuss their feelings. Students may write in journals where their teacher can read them and write back to them. SEL aims to promote a positive culture, said Cascade Principal Kim Browning. In addition, it helps students become mindful of one another’s feelings in the classroom. 

“We feel really good about SEL,” she said. “It’s about looking at the whole child as an individual as much as possible.” 

Because every student is different, some students may require more attention than others. Thanks to SEL, staff members can immediately see which child could use a helping hand. SEL lets students address their emotional needs. Ultimately, Browning said SEL is another way for Cascade staff members to show they care. 

The SEL process naturally allows students to share any and all concerns going on in their lives. 

“Counselors and teachers are so involved,” she said. “It’s our way of getting everything out in the open - and always showing the students that we care for them and support them.”

(November 2017 Newsletter) Teachers Use Summer Vacation To Learn

over 2 years ago

By Nhan Pham

EJHS – In August, during summer vacation, Eastmont Junior High School hosted a multi-day teacher conference in partnership with the Washington Education Association (WEA). 

Hundreds of teachers from across the state signed up for specialized courses in various subjects. These teachers learned new strategies and methods to enhance the classroom experience for students by implementing innovative lesson plans. 

Each year, the location for these seminars rotates to a different part of the state. This year, it was Eastmont Junior High School’s turn, so our local teachers did not have to travel far. K-12 Education Coordinator Scott Poirier said guest instructors and other specialists develop seminars to help teachers expand their approach to classroom teaching. 

Teachers choose from numerous subjects for their conference experience. There are classes like Math Common Core, STEM, English courses and more. “A teacher, at heart, wants to learn what they can do to be a better practitioner,” he said. Pourier said the teachers often enjoy the experience. 

The teachers learn a wide array of new teaching techniques to bring back to the classroom for the school year. For example, presenting a particular topic in a different (but more engaging manner) could be a lesson for instructors to consider.

“The Human Resources department gets feedback with teachers saying this is the best training they ever had,” Poirier said. But at its core, the main focus of the event is to improve the learning environment for students. Jeff Halstead, a WEA Innovations Instructor, said the specialists design their courses to encourage more dynamic classrooms to engage students. 

This can entail more projects, more hands-on activities and other methods to promote discussion as opposed to traditional lecture formats. “We believe classrooms ought to be energetic learning environments,” he said. 

Halstead said classroom lectures have their place as well, but they can be limited when it comes to student engagement. Instead, students often understand concepts better when they come to conclusions on their own rather than being told directly. 

“We need more students who can think and create solutions,” Halstead said. “We need to send more students out into the world to be problem solvers.” 

Of course, not every classroom experience can be exciting all of the time - at least not without effort from a teacher. After all, it is difficult to prepare elaborate (but engaging) lesson plans constantly without structure. “Time is so short for teachers,” said Tammie Schrader, Regional Science Coordinator for the Northeast Washington ESD 101. 

Part of the workshop’s program demonstrates how to create a model for such ambitious lesson plans and integrating them into the classroom. Especially with the abundance of technology in classes these days, there is no excuse for students to rely solely on textbooks and old-fashioned teaching methods anymore, she said.

Schrader said she believes everyone is a hands-on learner. Regardless of the subject matter, there is always a way to highlight a topic with interesting elements. For instance, gamification is often a great way to spark student participation. Students often enjoy applying the knowledge they are learning when teachers present a lesson in a game format. “We want to bring passion and fun to teaching rather than teaching to standard,” she said. 

Teachers would constantly give feedback about their experience during the conference. One form of feedback was to leave comments on notes for instructors to read. “The spice for me is the innovation - getting permission to add to lessons and improve! Igniting passion in my lessons and not being afraid to spice things up,” a note read.

(November 2017 Newsletter) Sterling Seventh Graders Show Great Leadership

over 2 years ago

STERLING – Sterling seventh-grade students have taken on a huge leadership role within Sterling Intermediate School. They assist with the K-4 students in the mornings and during their lunch/recess by facilitating games such as kickball, soccer, football, basketball, tetherball and four square. So far this year, we have had zero behavior referrals to the office for K-4 students during these times, and that is largely contributed to the older students helping to keep everyone busy and having fun! Thank you for being such wonderful role models and leaders, seventh-grade students!

(November 2017 Newsletter) Wildcat Sports Roundup

over 2 years ago

In a thrilling overtime win, the Eastmont Wildcats Football team won 2017’s “The Battle of the Bridge” this year against the Wenatchee Panthers. Final score was 36-34. 

The wild shootout ended with a gutsy two-point conversion attempt on the final play from the Wildcats. In cross country, boys are currently second in the league with 119 wins and 9 losses. Girls are currently second in the league with 27 wins and 9 losses. 

Boys cross country just missed qualifying as a team for State by one point. Individual qualifiers are Gus Wavra, Jared Barnes and Ashlyn Hill. Academically, boys varsity carried an outstanding 3.958 cumulative GPA, earning them the WIAA 4A Academic State Championship for 2017. Great job, cross country! Wildcat Sports Roundup The Eastmont Girls Swim and Dive team finished second in conference. 

The postseason is up next. Girls Soccer made it to districts, and results are pending on that competition. Plus, Volleyball made it to state! Stay connected with Eastmont Athletics on Facebook on the Eastmont Wildcat page for up-to-date news about all our sports programs.

(May 2017 Newsletter) Math Is Cool at Clovis

over 2 years ago

By Nhan Pham

Not all sports need a ball or field to play. For one particular contest, knowing your numbers is not only necessary - it’s actually cool to do so. For the Math is Cool teams at Clovis Point Intermediate School, students compete by relying on their mathematical skills. Math is Cool is a statewide competition for grades 4-12 comprised of regional and state-level events. Top qualifiers at the regional level receive invitations to compete at Masters, which takes place at Moses Lake High School in May.

Clovis Point has Math is Cool teams for both fifth and sixth graders. Katie Tucker, a math teacher and coach for the sixth-grade team, said students join because they love to learn and be part of a group dynamic.

“They want that extra challenge,” she said. “The kids get to do rigorous math. It’s a choice getting to work with the team.”

There are no grades or extra credit for these students who join Math is Cool, rather these students wish to get a jump-start on their math knowledge, Tucker said. For the sixth graders, it can mean exploring seventh and eighth-grade concepts ahead of schedule as an example.

When it comes to prepping for Math is Cool competitions, Tucker said she focuses on keeping everything engrossing for the students. Months away before an event, the team meets up a few times a week after school - even on Fridays, no less. They practice and learn with games to keep things fun.

“I’ve never had a group that wasn’t excited,” Tucker said, who has now coached the sixth-grade team for 12 years.

Different phases make up the Math is Cool competition. Students compete both individually and as part of four-person units. A typical event at the fourth-to-sixth grade level has written tests, a mental math portion, team relays and finally a college (quiz) bowl. Questions start off easy for the students’ grade level, but they become progressively harder during the phases, Tucker said. In addition, proctors score everything as either correct or wrong. There is no partial credit.

“I’ve always loved math,” said Jaime Hobson, a sixth-grade team member.

Hobson said she has competed in Math is Cool since elementary school. Individually, she has excelled in competitions. At the last regional event, she placed in the top six out of hundreds of other students.

“I just think it’s really fun (to compete in Math is Cool),” she said. “We did really well. We have a good team and a great coach.”

The sixth-grade team placed second in a regional event this year, and the fifth-grade team placed first. Clovis Point will send a team of fifth and sixth-grade teams to the Masters event at Moses Lake High School in May. Tucker said she is proud of the students for their hard work, dedication and perseverance. The students get to represent their school with pride while learning valuable math skills to help them in the classroom and beyond.

“I hope (Math is Cool) as a program continues,” she said. “It’s beneficial and a high-quality competition.”

(Photos by Katie Tucker.)

(May 2017 Newsletter) Lego Robotics

over 2 years ago

By Nhan Pham

Legos are not only fun to play with - they’re educational as well. At Grant Elementary School and many other schools throughout Eastmont, students can take part in a Lego League club that teaches robotics and more. This club is part of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) for the district.

“The US First Robotics Programs are a great way for students of all levels to learn and become excited about robotics, programming and STEM careers in general,” said Patricia Betzing, a math teacher at Eastmont High School. “Eastmont School District is running teams at most elementary schools - primarily third and fourth graders, both middle schools and the high school, which includes students from the junior high and high school.”

Cassie Manring, a fourth-grade teacher who runs the program for Grant, said this is a great opportunity for students to acquire valuable skills. “Kids learn to work together,” she said. For each session at Grant, up to 24 students take part in a course that lasts three months. Both boys and girls from 2nd-4th grades meet a few times a week after school - for up to an hour and a half. The program is free for students and they get a T-shirt for joining.

However, this is a big commitment, and not every student can just join. Due to the limited spots, teachers recommend names from their classrooms as candidates to take part in the program. Also, students must have transportation, and there is a signed contract because of the team-oriented aspect of the program, Manring said. Still, this is all meant to be fun for the students. They get to choose team names like “Space Piranhas” and “Donut Warriors” while also coming up with a fitting team logo. All of which promotes the teamwork aspect of the Lego League. “(The program) teaches how you are not an individual when you are part of a team and how everyone counts on you,” she said.

A focus of the club has the students working on an ongoing project about habitats. For instance, a group could choose to do a bear habitat. Thus, they would learn about what a bear’s natural habitat is (natural versus manmade), what a bear would eat, potential predators/prey and so forth. And this is where the Legos come into play. Student teams divide themselves into separate roles with the goal of constructing their habitat using the Lego pieces.

“My favorite part is to build,” said Nathan Pierce, a second grader who took part in the club’s first session earlier in the year. “I like the jobs.” Pierce said he enjoyed working with other students in expressing their ideas, especially when it came to choosing which Legos to put onto their habitat project.

Not to mention, there is the robotics portion of the club. Using the WeDo 2.0 robotics kit computer software, students learn to “program” special Lego creations. They can make these creations perform actions, such as having them move across the table or do sound effects.  “The kids have a good time,” Manring said. “It’s also guided imagination.” Eventually, the students have to present their projects to judges as part of a “competition.” There are no real winners per se, but the students do receive awards and recognition for their hard work, Manring said.    

Overall, the Lego League has been a successful program for Grant. Though next year, there might be some changes to the requirements and structure of the club, Manring said. Nonetheless, the Lego League provides students with an excellent environment to learn about teamwork while also being creative and imaginative. “Parents are really thankful,” she said. “We have received nothing but good feedback.”