We are Kelso: Kelso Public Schools Foundation (KPSF)

The Kelso Public Schools Foundation (KPSF) has been serving Kelso students for 28 years. In that time, the organization has given over a million dollars in student scholarships and grants to fund programs and activities in Kelso schools. This year alone, the Foundation provided $110,650 in scholarships to graduating seniors and more than $16,200 in grants to fund programs at schools throughout the district.

“It has been the greatest accomplishment of my life to follow in Ruth Clark’s footsteps. Ruth invited me to join the KPSF board after being a contracted employee since 1993,” said Jana Clarke, Executive Director for the Foundation.  “Everything I do is to honor and memorialize both Ruth and Doctor Marion Clark. As an alumni, it has been my honor to continue the “WE ARE KELSO” spirit.”

Help from the foundation is available through the scholarship season to assist both students and staff with the process.

Since its inception, a total of 34 community members, five district superintendents, nine ex-officio members from the district and five part-time staff have contributed to the success of this organization. You can learn more about this group or make a tax deductible donation at kelsokidz.org.

We are Kelso: Citizens for Kelso Schools (C4KS)

C4KS members

Established in 1991, Citizens for Kelso Schools (C4KS) has been behind the success of  two bond measures and eight levy elections.  As a result of their efforts, our schools have been remodeled, expanded and modernized; and our staff and students have had greater program and materials support. As longtime residents of Kelso – many are Kelso graduates – they help us stay attuned to our community’s priorities.

“We focus on assuring our kids have the very best schools and programs that our community can reasonably provide,” said Mike Haas, C4KS member. “We are very excited about what this bond is accomplishing. The community’s support of this once-in-a-generation measure is greatly appreciated.”

Last year, C4KS helped us get the right message about our bond and levy to the right people in our community through mailers, radio and newspaper ads, phone calls, door-belling and signage.  With their help, both passed and our students will benefit from the upgrades and state-of-the-art schools as a result.

2019 Scholarship Awards

Kelso High School’s 2019 graduates have been awarded a total of $2,362,170 in scholarships. Sixty-seven scholarships totaling $100,650 came from the Kelso Public Schools Foundation. Students also received $76,640 from community organizations, $1,800,000 through the Department of Defense, and $384,880 from colleges and universities.

Congratulations Class of 2019 and good luck with your futures!

Alan Luff          $1,000
WIAA Greater  St. Helen’s League Scholarship

Alexandra Harman      $19,600
Baker Family
Kaiser Permanente Health Care Career Scholarship
Lower Columbia College Basketball Scholarship
Moore, Max
Stover, Chuck (Class of ’37)

Alexis De La Grange    $11,250
Concordia Merit Scholarship
Kelso Fastpitch  Booster Club

Andrea Morales-Marquez      $180,000
US Army

Asher Lange    $1,200
Kiwanis/Dr. Herron

Ashley McGhee           $2,500
Kelso Volleyball Booster Scholarship
Roberts, Rick
King, Vern

Benjamin Wohl           $180,000
Marine Corps Enlistment

Bergen Whitney          $1,500
Gary Wagner

Blake Fowler   $180,000
Marine Corps Enlistment

Braxton Lloyd    $1,000
Careers that Work!

Brea Ferguson       $500
Elms, Jack

Breanna Ball    $500
Wardlow, Corey

Brenden Kazensky      $1,500
Class of ’45/Laakso, Al
Kelso Rotary Merit Scholarship

Carlos Valencia           $1,000
Mary Anne Wainwright

Carol Byman   $14,650       
Central Washington University Sports Scholarship
Chamber of Commerce Scholarship
Clark, Marion Memorial
Delta Kappa Gamma International
Hilander Hall of Fame/ Kaiser Permanente
Kelso Recreation Council
Kelso Rotary Merit – Norm Peterson
Living Educator/Kathy Williamson
Windermere Kelso/Longview

Chance King    $2,000
Careers that Work!
Kelso Eagles- Robert V Larson

Charlee Remick           $300 
Altrusa Award

Chelsey Kissinger        $2,000
Dykstra, Robert Class of ’54
Klawitter, Charles & Anita

Ciara McMains            $6,000
American Workforce Group
Careers that Work!

Colten Jorgenson        $500  
Roy Parsons Memorial

Darina Kuchinskaya    $1,000
Dykstra, Robert Class of ’54

Donovan Smith           $500   
Express Employment

Dustin Cook    $180,000
Marine Corps Enlistment

Elizabeth Olney           $350
Kelso Fastpitch  Booster Club

Elizabeth Whobrey     $250   
Kelso Fastpitch Booster Club

Erik Relation    $6,500
Moore, Lois

Graham Karvolas        $400 
Hilander Hoop Club

Hannah Palenske        $1,500
Kelso Lions Club

Houston Temanson    $9,250
Grand Canyon Provost Scholarship
Kelso Cheer  Booster Scholarship
Longshoreman’s Credit Union

Isaac Ford        $11,000
Kelso Rotary Merit Scholarship
Moore, Lois
SW Symphony
University of Washington Music Scholarship

Jacob Lease     $2,750
Kelso Rotary Merit Scholarship
Stover, Chuck (Class of ’37)

Jacob Redmill  $180,000
Marine Corps Enlistment

James Peabody           $500 
Kelso Rotary Merit Scholarship

Jayden Hardeman       $8,850
Clark Family
Class of  ’45/St. Onge, Alan
DTQ- Brad Thiery
Hilander Hall of Fame/ Kaiser  Permanente
Hilander Hoop Club
John Reichert Scholar-Athlete Fund
Kelso  Recreation Council
Schleif Family
Washington state Bass Federation

Jeremiah Holter-Johnson       $1,800
DTQ – Mike Heuer Memorial Scholarship
Friends of  St. John

 Jesse Laulainen           $8,800
JATC & Northwest Institute of Electrical Technology

Joshua Dowling           $180,000
US Navy

Joshua Wiltfong          $1,000
Kiwanis of  Kelso Longview Key Club

Kahler Kirk      $3,250
Class of ’48/ Roy Dennis
John Reichert Scholar-Athlete Fund
Kelso Rotary Merit Scholarship
KLOG Student of the Month
Ryan Wolf Memorial

Kaylee Seaman           $82,750
Clary, Terri
KLOG Student of the Month
Schleif Family
University of Alabama Academic Scholarship
Vandecar Family

Keaton Bedegi             $875
Cliff Furness

Kevin Wolff           $5,200
Class of ’45/Bailey, Vronia
Kelso Rotary Merit – Make A Difference
Kingsley, Rosemary
McCool  Living Trust- Engineering/Construction

Kurstin Oliver           $500
Kelso Cheer Booster  Scholarship

Levi Redmill          $4,600
Bergman, Sharon
Class of ’45/Armstrong, Colleene
Schleif Family

Lindsey Roberts          $250
Kelso Fastpitch Booster  Club

Maekaili Russell          $2,600
Baker Family
Kelso Lions Club

Makaila Hughes          $1,000
Class of ’52

Makayla Roggow        $500
NW Nazarene University Athletic Scholarship
Scottish  Rite FreeMasonry  Jim Davies

Makenzie Stephenson        $3,500
Kelso Lions Club
Kelso-Longview Early Bird  Lions
Walworth,  Frieda/Wallace Elementary

Megan Johnson         $5,650
Class of  58/Mike Lyons
Georgia Pacific Foundation Scholarship
Kelso Rotary Merit Scholarship
PEO Chapter CO
Red Canoe- Wally Ohlfs
Windermere Kelso/Longview

Michael Murray        $180,000
US Navy

Michael Richards        $22,000   
Arizona State University Discovery Fellows Award
Arizona State University Presidents Award
Bits and Bots
Semi Tech U

Mikayla Schmidt         $2,700
Anderson, Very! & Larry
Carrolls Elementary School Scholarship
PSE of Kelso Chapter #1

Milee Weitman        $875   
Cliff Furness

Olivia Schamel        $1,100
Piper, Walt & Marty

Riley Noah       $27,900
Butler Acres Alumni Scholarship
Central Washington University Sports Scholarship
Cowlitz County Pop Warner
Cummings, Maurice & Betty
DTQ – Walt Piper
Hilander Hoop Club
John Reichert Scholar-Athlete Fund
Kelso Recreation  Council
Kelso Rotary Merit Scholarship
KLOG Student of the Month
Ryan Wolf Memorial
Scottish  Rite Free Masonry Jim  Davies
Stover, Chuck (Class of ’37)

Robert Sherard           $1,000
Careers that Work!

Robin Hardwick       $54,480    
Kelso Rotary Merit -George Ott
Long, Kate
Moore, Max
Reed Grant
Schleif Family

Sam Rosado    $180,000
US Army

Samantha Gould        $250
Kelso Fastpitch  Booster Club

Sandra Rios Rios         $1,500
Hamm, Lori Annette  Memorial
Murphy, Gordon & Pauline

Sarrah Newenhouse   $300
Altrusa Award

Savanah Becker          $250
Kelso Fastpitch Booster Club

Saxon Hickey   $400
Hilander Hoop Club

Shaw Anderson           $220,400
Hilander Hoop Club
Seattle Pacific University

Shelby Hiatt    $2,100
Class of  ’45/Jabusch, Tommy
Schloss, Betty

Skyla Bentley  $4,000
PEO Chapter CO
Western Washington University Presidential Scholarship

Stephen Williams        $180,000
Marine Corps Enlistment

Sydney Hall     $10,350
Jabusch Family Memorial
Kelso Volleyball Booster Scholarship
Presidential Scholar
Rose Valley Grange
Rose Valley PTO

Tally Connors          $3,700
Eastern Washington University Athletic  Scholarship
John Reichert Scholar-Athlete Fund
Kelso Elks Lodge 1482
Schroeder, Emmett

Thomas Nichols          $180,000
Marine Corps Enlistment

Timisha Robinson       $4,600
Kelso Eagles Auxiliary
Mathis, Ernestine
Schleif Family
Stover, Chuck (Class of ’37)

Todd Johanson            $4,500
Butler Acres Alumni Scholarship
Chamber of Commerce Scholarship
Cowlitz County Pop Warner
DTQ – Ed Laulainen Scholarship
Hopkins, Virgil
Kelso Rotary Merit Scholarship

Trey Hartley    $900
Hilander Hoop Club

Tristan Dombrowsky  $3,500
Class of ’45/Ames, Don & Vivian
Jabusch Family Memorial
Kelso Rotary Vocational Scholarship

Zoe Prothero   $11,154
Bergman, Sharon
CFSWW Gerald Bergquist
Class of ’45/Chinn, Willard
Kelso Lions Club
Kelso  Recreation Council
Kelso Rotary Merit – Robert Almos
PEO Chapter CO
Schleif Family

The Arts Issue – May 2019 Hilander Highlights

arts infographic

If we were to make a word bubble of what our students say about their arts classes and clubs, these words would be the largest: acceptance, family, laughter, confidence-building, where I can be myself…

The arts are truly powerful. With 24 classes at Kelso High alone this year, we’re proud to offer a robust selection of offerings to enhance the learning and lives of our students.

Here’s some information, by the numbers, about the arts at KHS.  (Here’s a printer-friendly pdf of the May issue.)


  • 200: students enrolled in 2018/19 music classes
  • 5: teachers
  • 10: music classes offered
  • 3: after school bands
  • 64: musical performances this year
  • 29: students went to state competition this April
  • 5: students made all-state honor groups
  • 180: hours marching band practices for 9 performances
  • 30: leadership positions in KHS music offerings


  • 139: enrollment in 2018/19 theater classes
  • 2: theater classes offered
  • 5: theatrical shows this year
  • 25: active members in the Theatre Club
  • $3,500: average cost to put on a musical theater production
  • $2,000: average cost to put on a theater production
  •             (rights, posters, programs, sets, lights, advertising)
  • 9: fundraisers this year to support productions


  • 1200: enrollment in 2018/19 visual arts classes
  • 4: teachers
  • 12:  art classes offered
  • 2,700: ceramics pieces per year fired in the KHS kiln
  • 8: pieces of art from KHS students have hung in the U.S. Capitol
  • 100+ pieces of art framed for the Spring Art Show each year

Arts in Education Matters

  • Sustained learning in music and theater correlates strongly with higher achievement in both math and reading.[1]
  • Not only does music improve skills in math and reading, but it promotes creativity, social development, personality adjustment, and self-worth.[2]
  • Students who study art are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and 3 times more likely to be awarded for school attendance.[3]
  • Curricular and extracurricular art studies and activities help keep high-risk dropout students stay in school.[4]
  • High school students who earned few or no arts credits were five times more likely not to have graduated than students who earned many arts credits.[5]
  • Students who had intensive arts experiences in high school were three times more likely than students who lacked those experiences to earn a bachelor’s degree. They also were more likely to earn “mostly A’s” in college. [5]
  • Performing arts students show greater flexibility and adaptability in thinking than their peers.[6]
  • Students who participate in the arts develop leadership skills, including decision-making, strategy building, planning, and reflection. [6]
  • Students who have had an arts-rich education volunteer more often and exhibit greater civic engagement than other students. [6]
  • Students with higher involvement in the arts scored better on measures of persistence than their peers with lower arts involvement. [6]

We Are Kelso Spotlights:


[1] Americans for the Arts. “Summary of Key Additional Arts Education Research and Facts.”

[2] Weinberger, Norman M. “The Music in Our Minds.” Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, University of California.

[3] National Endowment for the Arts. “Re-Investing in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.”

[4] National School Boards Association. “Prediction: Identifying potential dropouts.” The Center for Public Education.

[5] National Endowment for the Arts. “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth.”

[6]  Arts Education Partnership (AEP). “Preparing Students for the Next America.”

We Are Kelso: Breaking out of their shells in Theatre Club

Theatre Club

If you walk by the KHS auditorium on any given day after school, you’re likely to hear people running lines, breaking out in song, or letting out big belly laughs. It’s the Theatre Club holding their regular meeting. The 25 active members are most likely rehearsing, building sets, or planning fundraisers for the two main productions they put on each school year. They may also just be doing a little bit of team bonding. Not that they really need it.

“We’re all family here,” explained Braden Lesh. “Everyone loves each other.”

Maekaili Russell agrees, “It’s everything we go through that makes us a family. We get to understand each other through the process of working together.”

There’s an overwhelming feeling of appreciation and acceptance among the group that’s easy to see; making the vulnerability that comes with acting and performing a little easier.

“Once you enter, you understand that no one will judge you for anything. At all,” Taya Deal emphasized. “You can do the chicken dance and people would join you.”

This year, the club has put on Arsenic and Old Lace and Love’s Labour’s Lost. The dedicated group is completely self-funded. With the average play costing about $2,000 to produce, and the average musical costing $3,500, fundraising is a near constant endeavor. Being part of Theatre Club also requires a fair amount of DIY time, as the students build, paint, disassemble and rebuild their own sets. For all that these students put in, they get even more out.

“I struggle with anxiety and theater helps me break from that shell,” shared Lauren Cramtom. “I can get up and perform for people, but I can’t always talk to them. It helps me realize that people aren’t so scary.”

Rowan Bratton added, “Since being in theater, I’m able to show more of my emotions.” And Levi Redmill said, “Theater helped me build more lasting and meaningful relationships; and how to help others when they’re not feeling great.”

With added benefits like that, it’s no wonder club alumni come back to support current members. Some even travel quite a way to do it, like Michael McMahon who takes a six-hour train ride from Western Washington University to see shows.

That’s not really too surprising to club advisor Sharayah Lovell, whose own passion for theater is hard to beat. She’s been doing theater since she was in third grade and is quick to say one of the best things is “getting to experience this thing I love with them. These kids are phenomenal.”

We Are Kelso: The transformative power of arts in education

At Kelso High School, the arts are alive and well. The robust program has 24 classes taught by 10 passionate teachers; and the quality of their teaching is evidenced by the many successes of their students.

For example, in band, 29 students went to state competition this April, five students made all-state honor groups and another 16 are part of other honor bands. Visual arts students bring home numerous regional awards every year, and KHS students have won first place in the Ceramics Showcase in Portland for the last three years in a row. Thirteen theater students are active members in the International Thespian Society, and 16 more are eligible for induction, which takes place at the end of the year. These are just a handful of the many accomplishments stemming from the arts departments.

Even more important and impressive than the awards and accolades is the growth and development of the students. And that blossoms so well due to the culture nurtured in these classes.

“The kids are really supportive of each other. There’s never a judgmental vibe, so it’s a safe place for them,” said art teacher TJ Frey. “When they trust us, and each other, enough to really put themselves out there, that’s when you see really cool art.”

Theater teacher Sharayah Lovell agrees, and has seen students go from being nervous or shy to being able to explore characters and “stand up in front of people and say anything. They learn how to be vulnerable.”

Arts education also has a unifying force. “We all come from different homes, religions, backgrounds,” says band teacher Daniel Hartley. “That doesn’t matter, because for the next 10 minutes we’re all going to play ONE piece of music together.”

All the arts teachers agree that the classes are about more than the name in the course catalog. “We have a saying here,” Hartley confirms, “you’re here to learn about music and life.”

Frey adds, “It’s about expression, whether it’s band or art or theater. It’s about acceptance, that safe space to develop yourself. The arts lend themselves to self-discovery.”

Indeed, they do.

Where we’re at with Early Learning

(Click here for the printable info-graphic version of this Hilander Highlights)

We’re seeing a steady decline in the number of kids coming to school ready for kindergarten. Some of the ways lack of readiness shows up is in a student’s ability (or not) to walk in lines, self-regulate, work with others, identify letters, or recognize their own name when it’s written.

Early learning is one of our top district priorities. In addition to providing additional supports for teachers to meet kids where they are, we’re working on ways to help more kids come to kindergarten ready to learn.

Percent of Kelso School District kids ready in all 6 areas of development over time:

kinder readiness over time


Percent of Kelso School District kids ready by area of development in 2018-19:

by area of development


# of Development Areas
K-Ready in 2018

Kelso SD

WA Longview SD

Vancouver SD

0 of 6


7.8% 13.9%


6 of 6


44.9% 25.4%



Percent of qualifying kids in Head Start programs:

  • 95% in Longview
  • 50% in Kelso (due to lack of space)


What we’re doing to help:

  • The district is looking for more space for Head Start programs and partnerships
  • We’re looking for grants to fund kindergarten readiness training for ALL pre-K and day care providers and teachers in Kelso.


Did you know?

  • 71% of kids who are behind when starting kindergarten are still behind in 5th grade (Children’s Reading Foundation)
  • 70% of the achievement gap is created before the beginning of second grade and most likely between birth and kindergarten (Northwest Evaluation Association)


What care givers can do:

  • 20 minutes of reading a day builds attachment, resilience and empathy
  • Label household items so kids see letters in relation to things
  • Play with purpose
    • Find all the red vegetables
    • Count toys in a box
    • Identify shapes

Look at the Readiness Family Checklist by Spokane Public Schools for more: bit.ly/k-readiness

We Are Kelso: Kindergarten teachers work on closing the readiness gap

The number of kids entering kindergarten ready to learn in Kelso has been on a steady decline for the last three years. Kinder teachers in the district are seeing the impacts of that readiness gap, and having to find ways to lessen it.

“I consistently observe gaps in social-emotional and literacy,” said Megan Berry, kindergarten teacher at Catlin Elementary.

“Kindergartners are entering with few tools to deal with their social-emotional needs,” agreed Barnes Elementary teacher Julie Brigman.  “Yet, it feels like they need the tools more now than ever.”

“To aide in this, we spend the fall teaching kids how to problem solve and manage emotions effectively,” said Cherie Gaston, another kindergarten teacher at Barnes. “We teach, practice, and encourage them to apply these skills in order to improve their ability to self-regulate and be competent socially & emotionally.”

In addition to social-emotional and literacy, other areas of development include physical, cognitive, language, and math. Gaston and Brigman have noticed gaps in all six areas. “The one that has the most impact, though, is language,” said Gaston. “We are trying to mitigate that gap by creating language rich classrooms full of exposure to books, new vocabulary and experiences, conversation, environmental print…”

“We use GLAD strategies (Guided Language Acquisition and Design) and have seen improvement in our students’ oral language skills with the use of Open Court (a reading program) in our classrooms,” said Brigman.

All three teachers agree that the importance of early learning can’t be overstated. “Students with preschool experience have advantages both academically and socially,” said Berry. These students come in recognizing letters and numbers, and are more prepared for classroom structure.

“Students that attend quality early learning programs start school with a toolbox full of skills,” said Brigman, “which helps them have an easier and often more successful transition into elementary school.”

Wherever they’re at when they come in, the growth in these students is impressive. “Kindergarten is the best because you see so many gains academically and socially,” said Berry.

Gaston and Brigman concur. “Many of our students began the year knowing zero to few letters and sounds, and in the spring, they are beginning to read and write sentences,” said Gaston. “Their social-emotional growth coupled with their language development, is tremendous too.”

“You start with kids unable to verbally share a complete thought or make friends, and end with them able to problem solve and brimming with new friendships,” said Brigman.

We Are Kelso: The life-changing power of preschool

pre-school class

Jennilee Dunlap’s class at Catlin Elementary is one of five preschool classes in the district, and is the only medically fragile developmental preschool class. Some students in the class have high medical needs, some have disabilities that require one-to-one support, and some have challenges socially or emotionally; all her students receive specially designed instruction.

“The students in my class are all at different skill levels,” Dunlap said. “Some students come in knowing how to identify their name in print, some kids can already identify letters, and others cannot point to pictures or turn pages in a book. I started the year teaching all of these things.”

Given specific and consistent support for academic development as well as social and emotional skills, the children in Dunlap’s class make great strides.

“I have seen all levels of improvement in my students. One student was unable to communicate without mimicking single words (i.e., hi, more, moo, etc.). She is now able to independently use words, combine some words (i.e.  go play, cracker please, etc.), and she is able to get her needs met when she does this,” shared Dunlap. Another student has made so much progress that she was able to drop two areas of special education services.

If you ask Dunlap about the importance of early learning programs, she’ll tell you they’re life-changing.

“I have personally and professionally seen the difference an early learning program can make for a child. It can make the greatest difference, especially for students who have borderline or low skills in adaptive, social/emotional, cognitive, communication, fine motor, or gross motor areas. Some students have entered our program with very limited skills, but have made such good progress they are able to be in general education kindergarten classes.”

Dunlap believes if we had more programs available for more students (with and without special education services) in our community, more kids could start kindergarten with the pre-academic knowledge, the behavior management practice, and the social skills to participate and succeed.

“We have an amazing opportunity to grow our early learning programs to meet the needs of the kids in our community. I am excited to see how Kelso will work together to support our youngest students in the future.”

We Are Kelso: Kelso’s SLC Mentors changing everything for nine Wallace students

For one hour, one day a week, true magic happens in the structured learning classroom (SLC) at Wallace. The nine students in that class are there because their behavioral needs or mental health benefits from a more supported and structured environment. On Thursdays, they get a very special visit that just may be changing everything for them.

One or two students from the Kelso High School SLC visit the Wallace SLC to do an activity with them. What looks like play, is really a powerful form of mentoring.

“It’s a beautiful thing when they see a teenager who was right where they are,” said Nancy Baldwin, Instructional Aide at Kelso High. “Each one of these littles has related to one of the teenagers we bring in some way.”

The high school students do puzzles or play with putty with the elementary students. It’s during this play time that magic happens. They talk about how they, too, have struggled to control their anger; or how they know how hard it can be to adjust to new medications.

“When I was little, I had no one to talk to like this,” said Nathaniel Reed, KHS SLC student and most frequent of the seven different mentors.

Having older peers acknowledge the younger ones’ struggles, and let them know they’re not alone, makes them feel better about themselves. And that helps them pause and make different choices.

“The kids see me as a buddy that can help them with what’s going on with them,” said Jordan Barrett, another KHS SLC mentor. “It’s a really big deal.”

Big deal, indeed. When asked what it would have been like to have a mentor like them when they were in elementary school, Jordan said it would have helped them through a lot. And for Nathaniel, “It would have changed everything.”

Kelsey Rodman, KHS SLC Teacher, started this program last year and couldn’t be happier with it. Not only is it helping the elementary students, but she also sees behavioral improvement in the high school mentors after they’ve had some time with the kids at Wallace. “The best part is when you hear them saying ‘I’m making good choices because I want to.’”