New Peterson Elementary Classrooms Project Making Progress 

New Peterson Elementary Classrooms Project Making Progress 

This week families, students and staff at Peterson Elementary have seen construction work happening in the early morning at the school. Workers are pouring concrete to make up the floors of six new classrooms and two new restrooms at the school with 591 students. 

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KCSD Board Looking for Public Input

KCSD Board Looking for Public Input

The Klamath County School Board wants your input as it starts the search for the next

The five-member board set dates and times in the last week of November for town-hall style forums. The board wants to hear what the people have to say about the search and what they want in the next leader of the Klamath County School District.

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Honor Band Performs

Honor Band Performs

The Klamath County School District Honor Band, featuring students from Chiloquin, Henley, and Mazama high schools, will be performing a concert on Wednesday, November 15th at 7pm at the Ross Ragland Theater under the direction of guest conductor Dr. Martin Behnke. The concert is free to the public.

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Photo Story: Active Shooter Drill

Photo Story: Active Shooter Drill

Caution: Images are not graphic but are sensitive to some. - Over 500 Klamath County School District staff and 50 First Responders from around the Klamath Basin took part in an Active Shooter Drill held at Henley High School on November 9, 2017. Klamath Falls News was honored to have the opportunity to be in attendance for the drill capturing photos and videos of the activities. These photos are shown below. 

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Active Shooter Drill Conducted at Henley

Active Shooter Drill Conducted at Henley

Klamath Falls, Ore - Henley High School was a host location for a safety drill today. The drill was based on an active shooter scenario.

Many agencies came together on this drill including: Klamath County School District, Klamath Falls Police Department, Klamath County Sheriff Department, Oregon State Police, Merrill Police, Klamath County Fire District No. 1 and others.

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Project to Replace Modulars Starts at Peterson

Project to Replace Modulars Starts at Peterson

This week Peterson Elementary took the first step toward adding six new classrooms and two new restrooms at the busy school with 585 students.

On Monday, workers began clearing ground where new buildings will be constructed. These new, permanent structures, will replace four aging modular classrooms at Peterson.

Klamath County School District Facilities Manager Justin Azevedo said this is just the start of the project. The next phase will be to install plumbing and electrical, before pouring the concrete floor. The goal is to have the new classrooms ready to go by the start of the 2018-19 school year.

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Teacher Travels the World to Bring Lessons Back

Teacher Travels the World to Bring Lessons Back

One day last June, Gilchrist Jr./Sr. High School social studies teacher, Darla Brandon, found herself in a cellar prison talking with Nat Turner, the man who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831.

“There were multiple people in tears. It was very impactful,” Brandon said.

Brandon was not speaking to the real Nat Turner, but a historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg. It was part of a teacher’s institute she attended this past summer.

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KCSD Chronically Absent Rate Lower than State

KCSD Chronically Absent Rate Lower than State

Klamath County School District’s rate of chronically absent students is lower than the rate for Oregon as a whole.

Information released by the Oregon Department of Education on Thursday, Oct. 19, listed the district’s chronic absenteeism rate at 15.3 percent. That is 4.4 percentage points lower than the statewide rate of 19.7 percent.

“It’s always great when you’re performing better than the state average,” said Superintendent Greg Thede. “But there’s still work to do. We’d like the chronically absent rate under 10 percent.”

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School Board Announces Plans for Superintendent Search

School Board Announces Plans for Superintendent Search

The Klamath County School Board is taking its search for the next superintendent nationwide. The board is committed to following a specific procedure to ensure the new leader of the Klamath County School District is the best person for the job.

“We’re systematically searching for the best candidate,” said Board Chairman John Rademacher. “It’s going to be a challenge.”

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Hundreds of students participate in Give Back Day

Hundreds of students participate in Give Back Day

Just after noon on Thursday, downtown Merrill filled with 46 Lost River Jr./Sr. High School students. They swept and shoveled the sidewalks clean, and put all the rubbish in trash bags. They made their way through town, getting it cleaned up for the annual Klamath Basin Potato Festival. 

They also did it to give back. Thursday was Give Back Day for the Klamath County School District. 

“I think it’s important to help out our community because they’ve always supported us,” said Rachel Parks, a Lost River student.

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KCSD Give Back Day - Thurs, Oct. 12th

KCSD Give Back Day - Thurs, Oct. 12th

Klamath Falls, Ore. - The Klamath County School District is taking a day to give back.Sixteen of the district’s schools are honoring Oct. 12 as the KCSD Give Back Day. Schools will be cleaning up campuses and nearby parks, along with city streets and downtown. Schools are also keying in on that day to raise funds, canned food and pet supplies for local organizations.

“Give Back Day is all about making your school and community a better place for everyone,” said Samantha Tipler, KCSD public relations representative. “Our schools have really stepped up and taken on projects important to them.”

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KCSD Uses Various Funds to Update and Secure Schools

Klamath Falls, Ore. - During the summer break the Klamath County School District used various funding sources [listed below] to update and secure buildings so that they are safer and better prepared for students.

In this video, Justin Azevedo, Project Manager for KCSD speaks to Klamath Falls News about updates at Peterson and Ferguson Elementary schools.

Several county schools received updates including:

🏫 Peterson Elementary:
• Seismic Rehabilitation Project: $1,498,800 from the Oregon Seismic Rehabilitation Grant program.
KCSD maintenance staff provided electrical and plumbing and installed new HVAC pipeline with maintenance funds (not the grant). 
• Window coverings: $8,975 from bond funds.

🏫 Ferguson Elementary:
• New entryway/parking area: $310,000 from Secure Rural School Funds through Klamath County
• HVAC for library: $4,274 from bond funds

🏫 Bonanza Schools
• Repairs from June rainstorm: still being calculated and billed. Projects still ongoing.

🏫 Gilchrist Schools
• New track: $350,998 from funds included in 2017-18 budget.

🏫 Brixner Jr. High School
• Gym bleachers: $72,097 in bond funds.

🏫 Lost River Jr/Sr High School:
• Football bleachers: $27,504 for aluminum planks and walkways, paid for with bond funds. KCSD staff completed labor.

🏫 Henley High School
• New lighting: cost approximately $125,000 in bond funds (ongoing project).
• Renovated welding shop: $17,514 from CTE grant funding (throughout last year); KCSD staff installed lighting, electrical, gas and ire lines for the new equipment.

🏫 Keno Elementary
• New Drainage system: KCSD Maintenance staff completed labor. Cost approximately $12,000.

Note: “Bond funds” refers to funds from the $31 million bond voters passed in 2013.

Bonanza School Gym Floor Finished


BONANZA – Bonanza Jr./Sr. High School held its first assembly in its newly renovated gym on Friday morning. Students carefully took minimal steps on the new floor and headed straight to
the bleachers.

“It’s beautiful. It just looks great,” said Brooklyn Cunningham, 17, ASB co-president. “It really helps motivate the students to drive and succeed, especially in sports.”

“I think they’re really nice. Everyone is really excited to have them, especially the community,” said Zoey Johnson, 18, ASB co-president.” Everyone’s been giving a lot of support and trying to bring up more school spirit.”

The assembly – like any high school pep rally – featured the volleyball players, football players and cheer squad, along with congratulating students on outstanding behavior and paying respect to local veterans.

In June a sudden rainstorm flooded the gym along with much of the high school wing and parts of the elementary school wing. Over the summer workers with Modoc Contracting and Premier
Floors fixed and replaced flooring and walls in the high school and elementary. But work on the gym floor continued until this week.

The volleyball team held its first game in the gym this week, along with Friday’s assembly.

Camie Munson, 17, ASB vice president, said she is excited for basketball season.

“I play varsity basketball. Since it’s my senior year, being able to actually play on a brand new floor that looks super nice, it’s really exciting,” she said. “Now we get to show it off to the rest of the world.”

Press release from Klamath County School District

Superintendent Thede Announces Retirement

KCSD Superinendent Greg Thede. File Photo

KCSD Superinendent Greg Thede. File Photo

It is with profound respect and appreciation that the KCSD Board of Directors announce Superintendent Greg Thede’s retirement from the Klamath County School District.

Mr. Thede began his career with KCSD as a teacher at Chiloquin High School in 1976. Throughout his career with KCSD he has served as a Vice-Principal, Principal, and Personnel Director, but his longest tenure has been at the helm, serving as our Superintendent since 2006.

His formal retirement date will be October 31, but Mr. Thede will finish out the 2017-18 school year and retire in earnest on June 30, 2018.

The process for Mr. Thede’s replacement will be discussed by the Board of Directors at the Oct. 12 regular school board meeting.

Plans to honor his retirement and lengthy career with KCSD will be announced at a later date.

Press release from Klamath County School District

700 Sixth Graders Tour the Forest

Michelle Cottier a firefighter with ODF geared up Feanix Hightower of Chiloquin Elementary and instructs her how to use the fire hose of  Oregon Department of Forestry  Engine 8150 at the 54th Annual Klamath County Forest Tour. Image:  Brian Gailey

Michelle Cottier a firefighter with ODF geared up Feanix Hightower of Chiloquin Elementary and instructs her how to use the fire hose of Oregon Department of Forestry Engine 8150 at the 54th Annual Klamath County Forest Tour. Image: Brian Gailey

Keno Ore. - Located 11 miles out side of Keno Oregon near the Spencer Creek Drainage off Clover Creek Road is the Klamath Forestry Tour. For the past 54 years, this tour has been educating Klamath County sixth graders through individual stations about; forest products, recreation, survival, reforestation, tree identity, soils, water, forest management, fire suppression and wildlife.

"Sixth graders spend two days in the forest, learning about the forest...after 54 years we are expecting the great grandchildren of the original students that attended all those years ago to attend this week." Daniel Leavell.

Leavell adds, "It's a wonderful way to get to know the forest and uses of the forest and to teach them about different aspects of the forest environment."

Students arrived by bus to the location where they lined up to head to the different stations. Each station taught the classes something different about the forest.

At the Tree Identity station, Mr. Mike McKittrick and his students from Ferguson Elemtary learned how to use a classification diagram to determine if a tree was a True Fir or a Douglas Fir. Students also were able to identify what a Sugar Pine is as well.

At the soil station, Mrs. Kay Linmans' class from Henley Elementary learned about different layers of soil and how they impact all living things above ground.

Students from all local elementary schools were able to participate in this program. Students from Mrs. Sara Thomas' sixth grade class from Triad were able to hear about survival techniques if they were to become lost in the woods.

"We think of ourselves as being a rural area, but it is surprising how many kids in town, that this is their only experience out here. Getting out into the forest and seeing what really goes on." says Ron Loveness.

At the forest management station, Patrick Peterson and Jennifer Case from the Oregon Department of Forestry obtained a core sample from a fir tree. This core sample, was then used to educate the kids on how a tree can be aged without being harvested. This technique is used to better understand the forest and help selectively harvest trees for a healthier forest.

The tree they captured a sample on counted to be 96 years old. That means when the Forestry Tour started in 1963, that fir was a young 42 years old.

Live Interview -
Reforestation - 
Forest Management -
Recreation / Survival -

VIDEO: How the Woods are Rebuilt - Reforestation

Keno Ore. - At the 54th Annual Klamath County Forest Tour, Mel Twyman and Bobby Douglas of Green Diamond Resource Company speak to the sixth grade class from Chiloquin Elementary.

Over the past two days up to 700 Klamath County sixth graders have been able to visit the forestry tour learning about the forest through designated stations where they rotate through every 15 minutes. This station is on reforestation of the woods.

LIVE: Klamath County Forest Tour

Keno Ore. - 2017 marks the 54th Annual edition of the Klamath County Forest Tour. In this video we interview Daniel Leavell and Ron Loveness about the tour and what Klamath County sixth graders are experiencing and learning.

Six grade elementary students throughout Klamath County come out to Keno every September to tour our counties forests and to learn about from field experts. Stations include - Forest Products, Recreation, Reforestation, Tree Identity, Soils and Water, Forest Management, Fire Supression, and Wildlife.

Starting the School Year Off with Timber

Gilchrist School class begins class by felling a tree

GILCHRIST – For students in Brian Wachs’ class, the start of the school year is an adventure. On the second day, students in his woods and metals shop class hike out behind the school.

Their mission? Fell a tree using only hand tools, geometry and math.

“It’s a lot of fun because we get to go out on all these adventures,” said Katie McDaniel, 15, who has been taking Wachs’ classes since seventh grade. “It’s not step one, step two.
You have to figure it out.”

“We get to go out and say, ‘Use your math, use your understanding of what you learned in these classes to make
predictions in real life,” Wachs said. “We know our brains don’t remember all these disjointed facts. We work with context. Being able to look at it causes that lightbulb to come on.”

On Wednesday, Sept. 6, the Gilchrist students took a two-handed bucksaw to a tree Wachs’ had picked out. They decided which direction they wanted the tree to fall, then began sawing angled cuts into the tree’s trunk to cause it to fall in that specific direction.

Katie said getting out and sawing into a tree was very different from reading about the logging industry in a book.

“Reading about these types of things, especially since logging is a labor job, it doesn’t make sense not to experience it,” she said. “I think it’s better to start it like this because it’s working from the
bottom and making you appreciate the actual process.”

“Having kids ask, ‘Why are we learning this stuff?’ That shouldn’t ever happen,” Wachs said. “By building that umbrella context of felling a tree, and applying geometry and applying those aspects, then it makes sense. They go, ‘Oh! That’s why we’re doing this. That’s why we’re making things happen.”

The town of Gilchrist has a strong history with the timber industry, logging and forestry. Gilchrist was one of the last company towns in Oregon, according to the Oregon Encyclopedia. In 1937 the Gilchrist Timber Company built and founded the town to house a mill, workers’ housing and amenities.

At its height, the company town included a restaurant, cocktail lounge, barbershop, beauty parlor, bowling alley, grocery store,
meat market, post office, library and had a population of about 600 people. With the decline of the logging industry toward the
end of the 20th century, the company sold in 1991 and houses and businesses were sold to individual owners. Though Interfor
Pacific still runs a mill in town, it employs far fewer people than the Gilchrist mill did in its heyday.

Today Gilchrist School, grades K-12, serves a little more than 200 students. The portion of the school housing high school
grades was built in 1938. “There’s such a huge history and important history of Gilchrist being a logging town,” Wachs said. “By us going up and felling trees, being in the woods, that ties them to the history of their town and grounds them in some way.”

It even connects the students to history in the tools they use. Wachs’ doesn’t know how old the two-person bucksaw the class uses is, but admits it bears a strong resemblance to antiques on the walls of some homes.

“That two-man bucksaw, it cuts fast. It does the job well,” he said, and it teaches life lessons to his students. “They’re understanding that the world is not a throw-away society. We can continue to use all these things. Even though they’re old, we can touch them up, we can work with them. We can build things that are made to last.”

When asked if most students start the school year felling a tree, Katie said, “Probably not. Mr. Wachs’ teaching style is not conventional.”

Wachs’ and his students didn’t just fell a tree for the fun of doing it. They will use the wood to make projects. On Wednesday, the students made the exact cuts to send the tree falling precisely where they planned. Next, they brought out the hand saws and continued cutting the trunk into shorter lengths. Later in the week they brought those lengths into the school shop. Through the semester they will plank them and build picture frames.

“They come into my class and they know they are going to get sweaty, they’re going to get dirty,” Wachs said.

His goal?

“Getting them out here and having them actually, real-life apply the math, the science, the geometry, all those different things in real life,” he said. “And be able to produce a real-life product based upon the information they’ve learned in the past.”

Press release and images by:
Samantha Tipler, Public Relations
Klamath County School District