Brookings-Harbor School District 17C
Key Communicators eNews
March 2016 | Volume 1 | Issue 2
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Dual enrollment and career technical ed options growing

Above: Welding teacher Arnold Wardwell works with a student in his basic welding class, part of revival of career technical education options at Brookings-Harbor High School.

Principal Lisa Dion set a goal for the 2015-16 school year to increase the number of college credits completed by BHHS students. Her plan is to build up both career skills building classes and college-track classes.

“We’re running with it,” she said.

Dion brings great experience to the district. At a previous post in Tillamook, Oregon, she participated in one of the state’s first Regional Achievement Compacts. She worked with school district and community college administration to achieve the shared goal of every high school student graduating with at least one college credit, and up to a year of them, and has brought the same model and mindset to Brookings, where she has been principal at the high school since the summer of 2014.

Paired with Superintendent Sean Gallagher’s strong ties to Oregon Institute of Technology, and track record of implementing dual credit opportunities in other districts, such as Project College-Bound in Hermiston and the Innovation and Learning Center in Lakeview, the groundwork has been set to transform opportunities for Brookings-Harbor students.

Career Technical Education

So far, three newly certified Career Technical Education (CTE) programs have been added, all based off existing class options.

They are a Robotics (STEM); Healthcare; and Early Childhood Education. Brookings-Harbor High School already had the most comprehensive STEM program on the West Coast, where students use state-of-the-art equipment and software to develop skills such as 3D printing, advanced manufacturing and computer programming.

All three classes allow students to earn college credit in the vocational and career technical education realm.

“We have the courses in place, and we will just continue to build on them,” Dion said. She filled out a raft of paperwork last June for the first three classes, which were approved by the state in the fall - opening up a new world of funding possibilities for the programs. Dion plans to repeat the process with new classes in the next year and half.

One key hope for Dion is to expand of the popular welding classes offered by new teacher Arnold Wardwell, who teaches basic and advanced welding, to become a full Construction Trades or Industrial Arts curriculum that could be certified as a new CTE option for students.

“Having Arnold show up with the qualifications to do this is a huge blessing. It is a gift. We are going to be able to now bring back a program that will reach a wide range of students from the advanced robotics kids, to students who this is the only reason they want to come to school is to weld,” Dion said. “The welding shop has come to life. It’s a vibrant place where you have all these students coming together to do project based learning.”

Dual credit for college bound

The high school is also moving to more of an emphasis on dual credit options that will give students direct college credit for completion, instead of Advanced Placement (AP) classes.

"Dual Credit" is defined as awarding secondary and postsecondary credit for a course offered in a high school during regular school hours, as determined by local school board and community college board policy. Dual Credit courses are designed to help high school students’ progress through postsecondary education by eliminating duplication of coursework.

Working with Oregon Institute of Technology, the high school has gained approval for several new teachers to instruct college-level coursework starting next year.

“It’s great experience and offers teachers a way to stay challenged in their profession, it’s a great professional path for teachers to have,” Dion said.

For example, Social Studies teacher Kelly Garvin, who has taught Advanced Placement U.S. History, will be able to teach college credit U.S. History starting next Fall.

Dion’s plans also include options for student to earn college credit in Writing 121, College Literature, Marine Science Studies and Statistics.

Dual credit options are less expensive for the district to implement and a better bargain for student and their families, explained Superintendent Gallagher. Students can take the course at no to little cost in high school, and save on the high cost of college tuition per credit later.

All the of BHHS's dual credit options will be granted as Oregon Institute of Technology credits that can be transferred to other four-year institutions.

“We have made great strides in the short 1.5 years I have been here. With the guidance of Mr. Gallagher at the district level, I am more confident than ever that students will be graduating from BHHS in large numbers with a sense of hope and optimism for their futures,” Dion said.

Nancy Raskauskas-Coons



Robotics team heads into competition season

Above: The 2016 Brookings-Harbor High School Robotics Team. Team captain Nick Boyton, junior, (front row, third from right), said the key lesson he has learned during three years of the building and competition process is, “basic problem solving.” He now plans to pursue a degree and career in hands-on engineering work.

Video Update: Watch TEAM 4110 BHHS Robotics in a tight match this weekend! 

After six weeks of classroom work and many late nights in the school’s computer lab, shop and “bot cave”, the 2016 Brookings-Harbor High School Robotics Team is ready for the start of competition season.

In late February, per competition rules, their robot was carefully bagged up and sealed at the end of the six-week build season. The team will have their first opportunity to get their hands on it again at the Pacific Northwest District 2 OregonFIRST robotics competition in Wilsonville, Ore., March 10-12.

At the competition, the BHHS robot will compete in a Medieval themed obstacle course against more than 30 other schools from across the region. The course includes challenges such as a drawbridge and rock wall, that will test the student’s creation with harsh forces.

BHHS has one of the most comprehensive STEM programs on the West Coast, where students use state of the art equipment and software to develop skills for the realities of today's job market.

Courses in the Robotics program at BHHS include Digital Manufacturing, Computer Science, Welding, and three levels of Robotics. 

All classes are taught by Alain Chirinian, who has been the district’s robotics teacher -- either at the high school or middle school -- since 2000. The program was originally started as an offshoot of one of his Physics classes.

This spring’s competition season will be Chirinian’s last, as he recently announced plans to move to a new mathematics teaching position at Pelican Bay State Prison in Fort Dick, California. Being a robotics teacher, has meant teaching himself how to repair and maintain complex equipment, write grants, recruit sponsors, maintain social media, use about 20 different types of software -- all in order to stay ahead of the students.

He has high hopes for the final season. 

“The expectation is that our design is really competition,” Chirinian said. “We want to be in the top 10 teams.”

According to Chirinian, it’s really more about the process than the competition, however. Brookings Harbor High students spend long hours after school preparing for their competitions, and show incredible determination and dedication as they learn to create solutions to very complex problems in engineering and science.

“It motivates the kids and forces them to learn a lot faster, because there is a hard deadline,” Chirinian said.

Many former students have gone on to pursue engineering in college and computer science, including one former student that is now a security analyst in cyber security. “We have a very high rate, in terms of kids that not only study the topic, but follow through with it,” Chirinian said.

“The best part is to see them gain confidence in themselves and their abilities, and for them to see potential future employment and areas to study,” he added. 

At competitions, although there are rivalries, all teams will go out of their way to help out rookie teams with programming and borrowing parts. They’ve all been there -- it takes a lot to grow a program.

Team Captain Nick Boyton, a junior, has been hooked on robotics since his freshman year. Along the way, he’s learned skills such as welding and machining in order to create the chassis for the robot. The best thing he’s learned, however: “Basic problem solving.”

Boyton loves being a leader and the team approach to figuring out the next step. “We all know  to machine or manufacture something,” he said. “Everyone has a specialty.”

Brookings-Harbor High School has three 3D printers, a laser blaster engravers, and CNC (computer numerical control) software for 3D milling.

Boyton is looking forward to competition and says that this year’s robot has been dubbed “The Honey Badger” by the team. 

“It looks short and stout. It looks pretty darn tough.”

Co-captain Kevin Brambila, a senior, is also ready for the season. “I’m really excited about it being out on the field,” he said. “We have a solid bot that is going to take us far in the competition.”

The robot can be driven around like a big RC car and the team is also developing some programming for a part of the course where they are required to have “hands-off” the controls and the robot must navigate through on its own. “It’s come so far each year,” Boyton said. “Every single year we are making huge steps.”

Boyton has been inspired by the process of building something from nothing with his team, and now wants to pursue a technical degree at Oregon Institute of Technology or elsewhere that will allow him to do something with his hands. “It really changed my outlook,” he said.

Likewise, Brambila plans to take the digital manufacturing skills he’s learned in Mr. Chirinan’s robotics classes to Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon State University.

“This is the only varsity sport where everyone can go pro,” Chirinian said.

Check out the team’s webpage at or follow them on Facebook

Above: The Brookings-Harbor High School competition robot, just before it was “bagged and tagged” for competition season in February. After spending six weeks building, the students are not allowed to touch the robot again until the first competition March 10-12 in Wilsonville, Ore. The team affectionately dubbed this year’s bot “The Honey Badger.”

Above: Cameron Senior, a freshman, and Victoria Edwards (Sophomore) work together on a mechanical arm to pull a lego robot up a wall in Intro to Robotics Friday, March 4, at Brookings-Harbor High School.

Above: Robotics team co-captain Kevin Brambila, senior, uses SolidWorks software to create a pattern for a new part. Brambila plans to take the digital manufacturing skills he’s learned in Mr. Chirinan’s robotics classes to Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon State University. Brookings-Harbor High School has three 3D printers, a laser blaster engravers, and CNC (computer numerical control) software for 3D milling.

Nancy Raskauskas-Coons


March 17: Benefit showing of 'Into the Woods' planned

It's time for the Brookings-Harbor Education Foundation annual fundraiser! We will again be partnering with the Brookings-Harbor Community Theater to bring you a special theatrical performance along with Hors D'oerves and prizes!

The $20 ticket price is our main fundraiser of the year and will support local education.This year's performance is "Into the Woods" featuring a cast and crew of many of our own student body. Our reserved performance will be Thursday, March 17th, beginning with Hors D'oeuvres at 6:00 PM followed by the show at 7:00.

We hope you will plan to join us for the fun and prize drawings during intermission. Tickets are availabe at Azalea from Nancy Chew, Board Member.

Nancy Chew


New interactive mural in hallways of BHHS  

At BHHS, our students are allowed to draw on the walls! (Thanks to Sheryl Tuttle!)


Poetry Out Loud winner: Katherine McPherson!

Congratulations to Katherine McPherson, winner in the Poetry Out Loud competition. She recited Richard Wilbur's "A Barred Owl" and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Arrow and the Song."

Katherine will travel to Medford to compete in the Southwest Regionals.

Congratulations also to runner up Sabrina Christopher for her recitation of A. E. Stallings' poem "Fairy-Tale Logic," in a close competition.

Michelle Mitchell-Foust


Geography Bee winner: Zack Walker

The overall winners from Mrs. Chew’s 6th grade language arts class for this year's Geography Bee on Jan. 12 were Zach Walker (1st place) and Caleb Bourdalies (2nd place).

Congrats to these students!

Nancy Chew


Welcome to the key communicators list


Thank you for your interest in news about the Brookings-Harbor School District! If you are receiving this email, you signed up for the “Key Communicators” list serv to receive monthly updates about our local schools; and school board and emergency alert information.

Please share the information that you find here with your friends and neighbors and help us engage the community in the important work of cultivating a highly effective learning environment where all students can succeed.

If you have questions or ideas to share, please contact the school district office via phone at 541-469-7443, email, or drop by our office in the parking lot of Brookings-Harbor High School, at 629 Easy Street.

To sign-up for the list or update your preferences, click here.

Sean Gallagher


Upcoming Events

Regular Board Meeting: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 6:00 PM, Kalmiopsis Elementary School Library.

School Board information.

The week in athletics

Congratulation to the Girls Basketball Team for finishing 6th at the 4-A State Basketball Tournament! The girls represented themselves and their community very well. Also congrats to Drew Farmer. She made 2nd Team All-Tourney. Go Lady Bruins!

The HS Robotics Team had their competition in Wilsonville over the weekend and did very well. The team was chosen for the "play-off" round for the first time ever. Congrats Robotics Team!

Monday, March 14th
  • HS- Team Pictures for Golf, Baseball, and Track. Softball later in the week.
  • AZ- No Games
Tuesday, March 15th
  • HS- Home "Ice Breaker" Track Meet. Field Events start at 4pm and Running Events start at 4:30pm. 
  • AZ- No Games 
Wednesday, March 16th
  • AZ- Knowledge Bowl at North Bend
  • HS- No Games
Thursday, March 17th
  • AZ- No Games
  • HS- Talent Show starts at 6:30pm
Friday, March 18th
  • AZ- No Games
  • HS- No Games
Saturday, March 19th
  • AZ- No Games
  • HS- Varsity Baseball at Sutherlin vs Waldport at 1pm. 
  • HS- JV Softball vs Del Norte Home DH. First Game at 12pm. 
Check or for schedules, updates and standings. Have a great week!
Buell Gonzales, Jr., District Athletic Director

Recent News

Here's a brief list of available coverage of Brookings-Harbor schools people and programs. Inclusion of any item constitutes neither endorsement nor critique, but is intended only to make the BHSD community aware of significant items in the media. Shared when links are available.

Press Release: School District seeks feedback on 2016-17 school calendar options.

Press Release: District unveils new online payment option for parents.

Curry Coastal Pilot: Back to Back Champs! (Feb. 13)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Dollars for Dornbecher (Feb. 14)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Chocolate Festival a Temptation Celebration (Feb. 16)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Playoff hopes dashed (Feb. 16)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Wrestlers ready for upcoming state meet (Feb. 16)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Lady Bruins beat Bulldogs, 66-46 (Feb. 16)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Team trains for mental sport (Feb. 17)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Lady Bruins perfect in league (Feb. 19)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Three bruins advance to state finals (Feb. 23)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Farmer, Schofield nab top honors (March 1)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Local athletes invited to all-star game (March 8)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Lady Bruins face tough Tigers team (March 8)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Robotics team preps for tourney (March. 8)

The Oregonian: La Grande surges past Brookings in quarterfinal (March 10)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Lady Bruins hopes dashed with loss to La Grande (March 10)

The Oregonian: Abby Farmer, Brookings-Harbor rally past Madras for 4A consolation (March 11)

Coos Bay World: Brookings-Harbor girls fall to La Grande (March 12)

Curry Coastal Pilot: Lady Bruins sixth in state after loss to Banks (March 12)

Job Postings

Now hiring:
  • BHHS Cheerleading Coach
  • Azalea Middle School Assistant Track Coach
  • BHHS Head Football Coach
  • Elementary Resource Teacher
  • Temporary .5 BHHS Early Childhood Education Teacher (15-16 School Year)
  • High School Social Studies
  • Temporary Special Education Teacher Grades 6-8 (15-16 School Year)
  • School Psychologist
  • Substitute Instructional Assistant
  • Transportation/Bus Driver
Information and online application.
Copyright © 2016 Brookings-Harbor School District, All rights reserved.

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