News, Events, & Announcements from the Local Education Community


Local Rogue Powerpack Program Receives Grant

Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation Supports Meal Program for Local Students

Rogue Powerpack Weekend Meal Program (RPP) was one of 83 grantees named to receive funding from the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation.    RPP received $7500 that will provide 40 elementary-aged children with meals over each weekend during the 2019-20 school year.

Rogue Powerpack Program was created in 2013 to meet the needs of children who faced food scarcity at home.   Federal meal programs provide meals while students attend school each week and RPP addresses the gap over the weekend during the school year.  Each weekend students take home 6 meals and 2 snacks in a backpack.

In Jackson County, 1 of 6 students experience food scarcity in the home. Rogue Powerpack Program supported 215 students at 8 schools in 3 school districts in Jackson County during the 2018-19 school year.   For the State of Oregon, 47% of students qualify for free/reduced meals while attending school.  The average for schools in Jackson County is 55%.  The range is 25% to 100%.    The goal of Rogue Powerpack Program is to have a presence in all elementary schools in Jackson County.

The partners of RPP make the program possible. In addition to grantors like the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation,  our valuable partners include 7 local Rotary clubs who volunteer to fill backpacks,  Sodexo Food Service who develop the meals and provide food, the school’s administration and staff who support the distribution and select students.

The goal of Rogue Powerpack Program is to nourish young minds in Southern Oregon.




Hedrick Middle School Teacher secures PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab for School

Hedrick Middle School teacher Ivan Olinghouse has been accepted to a weeklong training with PBS NewsHour this July. The program is called Student Reporting Labs, and it trains teachers who have video classes how to teach their students to make industry-standard news reports. These reports are submitted to PBS NewsHour for possible inclusion into their nightly national broadcast.

Hundreds of teachers applied nationwide, with only 25 selected to complete the training. Olinghouse used videos made by leadership students in partnership with SOPTV’s Teacher Community Program as part of his application. To celebrate the honor, SOPTV is paying for Olinghouse’s expenses for this professional development opportunity, and he will be accompanied by SOPTV’s teacher ambassador, Ben Garcia.




ASHLAND, OR – The Oregon Writing Project at SOU, in partnership with SOU’s Multicultural Resource Center and the Southern Oregon Arts and Research conference (SOAR), is hosting a screening of the PBS documentary AMERICAN CREED at Southern Oregon University on May 16, 2019., at 4:30 pm. The screening will be followed by a Community Conversation facilitated by Dr. Alma Rosa Alvarez, chair of the SOU English program.

In the documentary film AMERICAN CREED, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy come together from different points of view to investigate the idea of a unifying American creed. Their spirited inquiry frames the stories of citizen-activists striving to realize their own visions of America’s promise across deepening divides.

At the heart of this film, Rice and Kennedy lead a moving discussion with first generation college students about the question: what does it mean to be American today?

AMERICAN CREED Community Conversations are film screenings and scholar-facilitated discussions that mirror the type of conversation Rice and Kennedy have in the film; one designed to engage Americans in reflection and dialogue about their own part in the American story, and in acting to shape that story for the better. The Oregon Writing Project is hosting this event to offer participants an opportunity to consider their position and role in our complex social world. We encourage SOU faculty and high school teachers to consider bringing their students.

Date: May 16, 2019
Time: 4:30-7 pm
Location: SOU campus, Hannon Library, Meese Room

This event is free and open to the public as part of the Southern Oregon Arts and Research (SOAR) conference.

More information about the film at


Ruch Community Outdoor School Provides Outdoor Education for Washington Elementary School

Washington Elementary Outdoor Exploration Camp funded by Measure 99

Medford School District’s premiere outdoor school, Ruch Outdoor Community School, is providing a comprehensive outdoor school experience for Washington Elementary School students as part of a district and statewide effort to remove barriers for student access to outdoor education.
The Medford School District began offering outdoor school to sixth graders in 2017 after the passage of Measure 99, which designated funding for outdoor school programming for students in Oregon. This is the first year that every sixth grader in the Medford School District will participate.
“There are students in the Medford School District who have never been to Crater Lake or on a camping trip,” said Julie Barry, Principal of Ruch Community Outdoor School. “Because we are recognized as an outdoor school, we wanted to share what we do with other kids in town.”
The three-day program for Washington students will include lessons in field journaling, gold mining, watershed studies, fire ecology, and insect sampling. Students will explore area trails and even embark on a Big Foot hunt.
“We are creating a viable, inspiring program of experiential learning and we hope more schools in the future will take advantage,” said Barry.
What is Outdoor School? It is learning tied to state and national standards, but the education is outside the classroom. For example, it may include biology field trips, observing at a recycling plant or visiting a museum. It sometimes involves residential or journey wilderness-based experiences in which students participate in a variety of adventurous challenges and outdoor activities.

March 13, 2019

C4 Robotics Team Advances to the World Championship

Hillsboro, OR —What they thought would be their last competition of the year at the Oregon State Championship (March 9-10) turned into an advancement to the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship for the C4 robotics team of St. Mary’s School, Medford, Oregon. The team was in the winning alliance for the TECH Division, with the alliance placing second overall (Finalist Alliance). The alliance was comprised of teams Aphelion, C4, and That’s a Lot of Damage. More than 200 FTC teams compete in Oregon. The FIRST World Championship will take place April 17-20 in Houston, TX.

C4 has had a great season this year, winning first place for the most coveted FIRST award, the Inspire Award, and finishing in the champion alliance at the SOAR (Southern Oregon Area Robotics) FTC League Championship in January. For the past four years, C4 has advanced all the way through the state championship, also qualifying for the World Championship their first season (2016). FTC competition components include: creation of a robot designed and programmed for an annually released game challenge and tournament competition, submission of a comprehensive team engineering notebook, and delivery of interviews and a prepared presentation to judges panels at tournaments.

Seven of the ten St. Mary’s C4 team members are seniors, and four have been building robots for the FTC competition since they were freshmen when they formed the St. Mary’s team. C4 members include Heikki Ashby, Benjamin Burt, Joshua Hewitt, Ryan Becquer, Ian Cool, Luke Fernandes, Carson Grebosky, Emma Warr, Mitchell Willhite, and Eric Wang. Coaching the team are Ted Willhite, Jeff Hewitt, and Lisa Burt.

FIRST Tech Challenge is a STEM robotics program for students grades 7-12 and includes over 7,000 teams worldwide with over 70,100 students participating in over 70 countries. FIRST ( For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is based in Manchester, NH, and is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designed to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, and to motivate them to pursue education and career opportunities in STEM fields ( ).

Questions contact Michele Zimmer at St. Mary’s School, , 541-773-7877.