What IS Systemic Change?

Welcome to Jim Needham's

"A Former Board member's view from the OTHER side of the table."
Molalla River "BoardWatch" Website

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It's a good time to pray for terrorist victims!

Since the Board of Education will no longer be providing video-taping for cablecast (effective July, 2002), suspended delivery of the "Molalla River Reporter" and stopped communication with the "Educational Ambassadors" (September, 2002) I have tried to provide information regarding education concerns for interested persons:


Molalla Pride

Molalla High's FFA more than 'cows and plows'

Despite recent uncertainty, the school program sends 11 students and seven adults to a national convention 


MOLALLA -- For a program that nearly was plowed under last spring, FFA is proving as resilient as an oak tree, at least in strongholds such as Molalla.

A group of 11 Molalla High School students and seven adults returned earlier this week from the National FFA Organization's annual convention in Louisville, Ky., where they took in sessions on everything from raising thoroughbred horses to the latest advances in barcode technology.

Their journey marks a high point in what has been a turbulent six months for the student leadership organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America. In May, the Legislature considered cutting support for the program because of state budget problems.

Although some state money was restored, staffing at the state office was reduced by 75 percent. And Oregon's fiscal crunch caused school districts from The Dalles to Estacada to drop their agriculture programs, which are essential for FFA to exist.

"But we're still alive," said Danell Blair, an agriculture teacher at Molalla High who called FFA an invaluable part of her curriculum. The agriculture program serves more than 180 students and includes introductory classes and electives on horticulture, aquaculture, equine science and agriculture mechanics.

Blair cited a number of factors for the perseverance of FFA in Molalla, including the school's unique 50-acre land lab, considered among the best in the state. A school administration that places a high value on FFA also helps, she said, as do students willing to work hard and get their hands dirty.

About 20 FFA students camped out at the Oregon State Fair this summer, mucking out barns to raise money for their chapter and for the trip to the national convention, she said.

Molalla's secret weapon But Blair said Molalla's secret weapon is an active and resourceful FFA alumni association, which kicked in $200 toward airfare for each student heading to Kentucky. The group also provides a $500 scholarship to each graduating student who focuses on agriculture.

Dennis Ettestad, a 61-year-old window and door contractor in the group, said the alumni association has 80 members. His wife, Cindy, is a past president of the National FFA Alumni Association.

"One of our missions is to make sure there is a caring adult for every single FFA student," Ettestad said. "Another is to get them the most modern and up-to-date knowledge. FFA is more than cows and plows these days."

Ettestad said alumni achieve some objectives through an annual dinner and auction, which this year is scheduled for Nov. 15 at the high school. Last year's event raised $19,000, all of which went to scholarships or student expenses such as travel.

Erin Beyer, a 17-year-old senior at Molalla High and president of the FFA, said students and alumni "have a really excellent relationship."

"It doesn't matter what we're doing or what we need, we can always go to the alumni and say, 'Hey, we need your help,' "she said.

Beyer, the daughter of Sen. Roger Beyer, R-Molalla, said such strong support for FFA stems from the fact that people in the community have a real sense of the value of agriculture.

Erin Beyer said she, too, is looking to give something back. When she graduates in the spring, Beyer plans to delay college for one year while she runs for a state FFA office.

"FFA has given me so much and has been such an integral part of my life," she said. "It would just be a way of saying, 'Thank you.' " Tom Quinn: 503-294-5918; thomasquinn@news.oregonian.com

Maple Grove Best In State!
(Report provided
by Oregonian Newspaper 08/08/03)

Maple Grove Elementary staff and students achieved an unprecedented distinction in this age of diminished education priorities - 100 percent of third and fifth graders met statewide standards in reading and math!.  Across the district, Clarkes Elementary, also achieved an outstanding 100 percent of third-graders and 87 percent of fifth-graders meeting the reading benchmark!  Congratulations staff and students!

Culinary Arts Team Excels At State!
(Report provided compliments of Dr. Ericksen
Therese Fennimore)

Update of how Molalla's Culinary Arts team did at the State competition.  Twenty-seven teams attended and there were two parts of the competition: the "Knowledge Bowl" (similar to Jeopardy but with info