River Fall Newsletter Updates & Presentations

September 28,2018

Greetings River,

After a challenging startup of the 2018-2019 school year, we are off and running and it has been a great start!

River hosted a terrific Curriculum Night last week with an impressive showing of family and community. We provided information about the future of the International Baccalaureate Program at River, revealed updated renderings of our Re:Design from our partners at LSW architects and offered a first hand “a day in the life of a River student”.

Throughout the year, we will continue a series of program updates to keep you informed our major initiatives with our IB Excellence and Equity (E2) Initiative and as our Career- related Program develops.

We will continue to host grade level meetings to provide specific information that pertains to your students’ current experience and post high school planning. Notably, Senior & Senior Parent Night will be Monday, October 8th in the Lower Commons beginning at 6 pm. There will be information sessions on accessing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Head’s up! The new 2019-2020 FAFSA launches October 1.

Homecoming Week is already upon us next week. Associated Student Body Leadership Students have planned numerous activities for our first Spirit Week of the year. Note the schedule for next week included in our bulletin. We will have a Forty Minute Early Release Monday, and assemblies on both Thursday and Friday next week. We will have our first dance of the year on Saturday. Students from all grade levels are welcome to the dance, tickets on are on sale before and after school as well as at lunch.

Click here for more information.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us.


Alex Otoupal – Principal

Monday – September 10

We received the great news that our neighbors and friends in Evergreen have reached a tentative agreement and this means that tomorrow the Cascadia Tech Busses are rolling again. Cascadia Tech is back in business!

Individual school portraits will be taken during English classes – be sure to comb your hair and smile big for the camera tomorrow. Photos taken tomorrow will be your school identification photo. And, this will be the photo we will publish in Volume 55 of The Tyee (that’s our yearbook in case you didn’t know).

Students in Running Start may drop in after 8 am and before 1 pm to get their photo taken.

iPads will continue to be distributed through math department this week.

Students in 10th and 11th grade – please check your email for an important announcement regarding the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/ National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test — or better known as the PSAT.

River will host the PSAT on Wednesday, October 10. The PSAT is free for 10th grade students; each will be registered. If you wish not to participate and are in 10th grade, you must complete an “Opt Out Form”.

11th graders may also register to to take the PSAT exam for fee of $16. Please visit the business office before September 14th to register and pay if you are in the 11th grade.

Vancouver Public Schools are on a Forty Minute Early Release Schedule on Mondays. Students will dismiss from period 6 at 1:25 pm. Please note that athletics will begin at the regular practice and game times.

Have a terrific week!

The first day of school – Sept 5, 2018

Hello and good afternoon!

Today is September 4, 2018 and we could not be more excited about great news that we will be starting classes tomorrow, September 5th on a regular bell schedule.  Yes, we will finally be back at what we set out to do here at River, which is to provide you every opportunity to grow and learn side by side with our outstanding instructional faculty and support staff.

Here are some reminders for tomorrow and some important details related to starting off the 2018-2019 school year:

Tonight we host Volleyball and Soccer.  Please come out and cheer on our scholar athletes as Volleyball plays Camas and our Soccer team makes history as they play the first varsity soccer match on our new field surface as our women play Skyview. Tonight’s varsity matches begin at 7 PM.

Tomorrow, Wednesday we will be on a regular schedule for the first day of classes.  Please give yourself some extra time to get settled.

9th graders and LINK Crew will meet in the J Hoover Gym at 7 AM.

Please look at Family Access and review your schedule.  All students will pick up a printed schedule in their period 1 class tomorrow, September 5th.

Thursday, September 6th we will be on a “Pride Time” Schedule and students will stay in period 2 classes to review the Columbia River High School/ Vancouver Public Schools Student Handbook.  There will be a quiz at the end of period 2.

Friday, September 7th we will be on an “AM Assembly Schedule”.  There will be a Spirit Assembly as we will host our first home football game on our new field surface in Chieftain Stadium.  River vs. Skyview kickoff will be at 7 pm.  We recommend you arrive early.

Monday, September 10th we will take individual student portraits in English classes throughout the day.  Monday will be an Early Release schedule.

Please continue to check our website for updates and possible changes.  Thank you and again – welcome to the 2018-2019 school year!


Alex Otoupal – Principal


River Back to School 411

August 15, 2018


Dear River,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2018-19 school year!

We begin our school year on Wednesday, August 29.  We will be on a regular bell schedule. As you well know, there is a great amount of work to accomplish prior to that first bell.  This newsletter will provide the best and most up-to-date information for you as we set ourselves up for success.

The Class of 2019 will graduate next June as Columbia River High School turns 57 years old.  We celebrate a rich tradition of excellence as we remodel our physical plant and continue to refine our International Baccalaureate curriculum.  This is the 25th year that River has offered the IB Diploma and we could not be more proud of the program we offer. We have expanded our languages (adding the Mandarin Language Pathway this fall) and continue our exploration of the Career Related Diploma.  River is one of only 50 high schools in the US awarded the opportunity to participate in the IB’s Excellence & Equity Initiative.

River graduates are learning and working all over world.  When we review the Learner Profile and the dispositions of the River Graduate, we celebrate the tapestry and unique bonds that keep all of us centered on our opportunities that start at River.  

We certainly have a great deal to celebrate and much to look forward to this year with our continued Stadium renovation and our remodel of the 500 Wing and remove the 700 Portables and revamp our parking lots.

At River, we promise you an academically focused environment.  We are committed to ensuring that students will get the support they need as we explore new ideas and challenge one another’s thinking as we work for a better, more peaceful world.  You will not find a better prepared, more qualified instructional staff than the one we have at River. Teachers are eager to begin interacting with students in classrooms on August 29.  We are all fired up to cheer on the Purple and Gold on our new field surface at Chieftain Stadium. We are excited to welcome our new Mandarin program to our campus. There are a host of other International Baccalaureate, extracurricular activities and other opportunities with which students can be involved to enhance their high school experience at River.   

In 2018, we will not hold a “back to school registration” event (ID pictures, business office purchases, locker requests, etc.) prior to the start of school; instead, we ask that you work through each checkbox below and complete these back-to-school steps before Tuesday, August 28th. This document can also be found on our homepage. It will be easier to access this information and links online as the links will take you directly to the appropriate information. As always, feel free to come to school to complete these required tasks.

Link Crew will be welcoming our incoming 9th Graders – the Class of 2022 – on August 28.  Note the special schedule for Link Crew and 9th graders on August 28. All 9th Graders will meet again on August 29 in Hoover Gym at 7:00 AM for a special Welcome Assembly.  After the assembly, all students will go to period 1.

Please see the back-to-school information below. Call the Office 360-313-3900 / email Alex.Otoupal@vansd.org

Here’s to a great year!



Starting the 2018-2019 School Year at Columbia River High School…Find below a checklist to start the year off…

New circumstances?  New address, email, phone, contact information?  

Please contact our Registrar Mary.Hyde@vansd.org to verify student enrollment. Parents need to verify their child(ren)’s enrollment information each year. Please help us make sure that this information is complete and accurate.  

All grade reports and report cards will be via Skyward.  In order to view your students information parents must have online access to Skyward.  To ensure you have access please contact Shawnda.Goodson@vansd.org in the Main Office.

Use our online system for any fees. Parents and Guardians can pay most fees using the Online Payment System. Using a debit or credit card, you may make secure online payments with no transaction fees.

Athletics ($50), Activities including band & orchestra ($35) & Yearbook ($40).  Returning students with outstanding athletic fines will not be cleared until previous fines are paid.

Associated Student Body card ($30) and required for participation on River athletic teams.  We highly encourage students to get a student body sticker; this will save money in the long run when your child attends school events.

iPad & 1:1  Responsible Use Form (Español, Pусский). All students are automatically enrolled in the District’s iPAD Protection/Loss Protection Program.

Booster Club information and ways to get everyone involved can be found here.   

School Identification pictures will be taken Aug. 31. See the Dorian Photography picture packet for ordering options. To pre-order school photos, you can also go to the Dorian Photography and our online order form

Class schedules will be available for viewing after August 17th through student/family access in Skyward.  If you have a concern about the assigned schedule, begin with contacting your grade level counselor:    

9th Grade:  Jennifer Waller

10th Grade:  Alexis Bruce

11th Grade & Lieser Branch:  Lou Gill

12th Grade: Rachael Howington

Athletic informationTryouts and practices for fall sports will officially begin August 15 (football only); all other sports August 20 – check www.2agshl.com for first week schedules.

Bus routes for 2018-19 will be posted online the week of August 20.  Parking on campus is limited.  Only Juniors and Seniors may be allowed on a limited basis.  Freshman/Sophomores: we are a closed campus.

Breakfast/Lunch account information — Families can open new accounts or make deposits to existing accounts.

Locker requests can be made the first week of school.  Contact Jamie.Davis@vansd.org

The 2018-2019 Student Handbook is a helpful resource.  Students will be reviewing and completing our Handbook Quiz during River Pride Time during period 2 on August 30.

Other important information:

  • Aug. 24: Purple/Gold Scrimmages for Fall Athletics (Football begins at 5 pm)
  • Aug. 28: Link Crew & 9th grade/new students 7:45 am – 12:30 pm in Hoover Gym
  • Aug. 29: iPad checkout begins – iPads will be distributed through math courses and will continue through Sept 7
  • Aug. 31: ID pictures for all students – portraits will be taken during English courses.  Running Start students drop in.
  • Sept. 7:  Fall Pep Assembly Schedule and our 2018-2019 “Family Photo” on the new field surface
  • Sept. 24: Curriculum Night/ Back-to-School Night/ Open House 6 pm

Administrator & Counseling support for this coming year are below. Our team provides both academic and social-emotional support for our students. These supports include:

River’s Class of 2018

IMG_0854It has been a really exciting ride with this group of high school students.  2018 has faced incredible challenges and responded with amazing poise and purpose.  I have never been more proud of my students.  I have never been more hopeful for the future.

This is because of their brilliance, persistence and acknowledgment that “we can do more” that I hold this hope.  I believe this because I know these students and they have beautifully sent their message tonight (Ellie & Ridge’s commencement address.)

This is a group of students who have grown up watching war.  They have seen nations rise and crumble on social media.  They have seen cities across our nation turn on themselves.  Our students know the faces of hatred and bigotry all too well.  They have ubiquitous access to the vile, disturbing and destructive.  They choose to look for the beauty, hope and inspiration.  I have total confidence that our Columbia River High School Class of 2018 will work for a better, more peaceful world.

2018, your leadership is needed more than ever.

2018, By The Numbers:

285 total graduates in the Class of 2018

99 Honors Students – these students earned 3.3 or better cumulative GPA

68 students have reported $8.3 in scholarships and awards

58 Instructional Faculty

26 River graduates simultaneously earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Clark College

24 AVID Elective Seniors will graduate June 13 – All 24 have been accepted to college

23 wins for River’s Men’s Soccer State Championship Team

22 Outstanding Seniors were recognized on June 11 at Senior Awards

21 Full IB Diploma Candidates

15 years of Mr./Miss CR {Doernbecher #forthekids} reached $1 million total this year.  Sophie Landers and Reilly Burke were 2018 pageant winners

13 Greater St. Helen’s League Team Champions

6 Players of the Year:

  • Sophie Landers – Soccer – Defensive Player of the Year
  • Koben Jamison – football – Defensive Player of the Year
  • Kara Noftsker – Girls Swim
  • Jacob Hjort – Boys Basketball
  • Josh Bottleberghe – Boys Swim, Regional, State swimmer of the Year,  All-American
  • Sarah Ellis – Gymnastics

5 Associated Student Body Executive Council Members & 2 Senior Class Council Members

  • Katie Colson, Ella Osterwiel, & Emilia Gorecki: Senior Class Council
  • Sarah Ellis: Treasurer
  • Rachel Ferina: Secretary
  • Julie Hays: Community Outreach
  • Julie Fergus: Vice President
  • Tyler Troelsen: President

4 International Baccalaureate Recognitions:

  • Outstanding CAS: Cece Rathburn
  • Outstanding TOK: Ellie Firth
  • Outstanding EE: Rachel Ferina
  • Student of the Year:  Michelle Kinney

3 spring performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

3 Individual State Championships for Josh Bottelberghe {includes the 200 Freestyle Relay Team:  Josh Bottelberghe, Simon Parish, Ben Phelps & Rob Mead}

3 Staffulty retirements:  Barbara Edwards, Carole Gibson and Barbara Moore

2 Columbia River High School Citizenship Awards: Katie Colson & Jennifer Verduzco

1 SkillsUSA State Champion: Broadcast News, Director, Mitchell Chipman

1 Megaband and dozens of amazing concerts, games, parades, pep assemblies, and performances by our River Musicians

1 Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching Grant (Media Literacy Curriculum Development) to Ms. Shana Ferguson

1 Stanford University Faculty Recognition for Excellence:  Mrs. Kelly Cameron

Congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2018!  Go.  Do.  More!

Tuesday, May 22 and it’s great to be at River!

It is an eventful Tuesday evening here at Columbia River High School.  I am in between events and pausing to soak up the energy and excitement on our campus and in our community.

Last week, we completed the IB Exams.  Three.  Consecutive. Weeks.  Our goal is 95% passing.  We have achieved this goal in each of the past five years.

This morning we set up SBA testing for all Juniors and Sophomores. One more day of state testing will take place tomorrow.   Our goal is 90% participation.  The SBA is required for the school and graduation requirements for students and classes are slightly different each year.  The cleanest, easiest to read version of graduation requirements can be found here.

It will be fun to be on a regular schedule with max teacher contact until final exams in mid-June.  Here’s the link to our schedule for finals.

Tomorrow, we will begin our process of preparation for commencement, first with River Faculty.  The beginning of the end.  Seniors will be selecting speakers and diploma presenters this week.  Follow this link to our list of very important dates for the Class of 2018.  It never ceases to amaze me at how fast the time goes!

In our co-curricular programs, athletic teams are making history this weekend at the WIAA Finals in track, golf, soccer and tennis.  This spring’s production of A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream will debut tomorrow and continue through Friday.  This evening, the Annual Picnic Concert will be hosted by Columbia River Music Students in the courtyard.

We are about to open Hoover Gymnasium and welcome the incoming 9th graders – the Class of 2022 – to the family.

As I write this, the VPS Elementary Track meet is winding down inside Chieftain Stadium.  This is the final week of a grass surface on our infield and turf.  Dirt will start moving soon and an artificial surface is scheduled to be ready after August 1.  This begins the face-lift for our campus.  While we look forward to the future, we celebrate a tradition unmatched.

My message to the Class of 2022 tonight will be to enjoy the opportunity of joining our community as a student.  I will emplor students to take healthy, intellectual risks and push to be “the best you” that you can possibly be.

We refer to the IB Learner Profile and the vision we have for each member of our learning community:  demonstrate respect, act with integrity, value the time and place we share, be excellent and take responsibility.

As we bring one year to close and celebrate our accomplishments; we look forward to our future together.

I believe, for each of us here in our community, that this best is yet come.  It’s great to be at River!

Equity & Excellence Grant Award

Columbia River High School has been Selected to Participate in New Initiative to Bring International Baccalaureate Programmes to More Students


Vancouver, WA – January 18,2018  – Columbia River High School has been selected to participate in a new national initiative created to promote the inclusion and success of under-represented students in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) and the Career-related Programme (CP).


Columbia River High School has been selected to participate in the IB’s Excellence and Equity Initiative (E2).  Over the next two years, secondary school leaders from all over the nation and the Columbia River High School faculty will work to remove barriers to IB participation.  The focus of E2 is to increase participation for under-represented students, create pathways to the DP or CP, and incorporate strategies that are designed to positively impact the success of under-represented students enrolled in the programmes.  These efforts will empower more students to graduate with the skills and tools needed for post-secondary education and lifelong learning.


Research indicates that less than 1% of diverse schools nationwide have advanced programmes in which their students reflect the diversity of the overall school population. Research has also shown that the DP and CP can empower underrepresented groups for college entrance, persistence and success. One of the most compelling studies found that IB Diploma candidates in Chicago Public Schools — low income, minority, first generation college goers — have not internalized the negative stereotype effect of similar non-IB students. In fact, the study concluded that, “the IB program in Chicago appears to have accomplished something very rare in urban education: it took economically and socially disadvantaged students and radically changed their long-term educational prospects by making them world-class learners with an arsenal of academic skills.” To read more about this study, visit http://ibo.org/globalassets/publications/ib-research/dp/cps-summary-en.pdf.


“We look forward to adding even more depth to our DP and beginning the CP.  Our goal is to increase participation rates in order to prepare more students to find success as life-long learners,” said Alex Otoupal, Principal/Head of School. “Our teachers and leaders are excited to increase the impact of an international curriculum in our school community.  The E2 Award and subsequent work will bolster and expand opportunities for River students.  It is a great privilege to be considered leaders in these efforts.”


To learn more about E2 and the International Baccalaureate, visit http://www.ibo.org/excellence-and-equity/.


About Columbia River High School

Columbia River High School is a comprehensive public high school in the Vancouver Public Schools District.  Columbia River High School serves over 1,200 students.  Currently, more than 40% of Columbia River High School students participate in the IB Programme.  The on time graduation rate for the Class of 2017 was 95.5%.


About the International Baccalaureate

In 2018, the International Baccalaureate (IB) celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Pioneering a movement of international education in 1968, the non-profit foundation now offers four high quality and challenging educational programmes to students aged 3-19 years old. Through a unique curriculum with high academic standards, we champion critical thinking and a flexibility for learning by crossing disciplinary,

Magnet Night at Columbia River High School

ib image


Columbia River High School’s Magnet Night will be Wednesday, January 17.  Our doors will be open at 6 pm.

Our intended outcome for the first 30 minutes of the evening is to provide a preview of some of our athletic, activity and club organizations. These programs make us a comprehensive high school and we have a great deal to share.  Student and staff representatives from a variety of our teams, clubs and groups will be spread out in the Upper and Lower Commons.  We hope you make personal connections during this time.  We encourage incoming students to interact with current students and staff so that we can keep you informed over the spring and summer of upcoming events.

At 6:30 pm, Our Associated Student Body President and I will provide a welcome and some brief comments as “The State of The School”.

At 7:00 pm we will move to J. Hoover Gym to present our International Diploma Magnet Program.  This meeting is for those students and families interested in learning more about the IB at Columbia River . During this presentation, you will hear from Julie Nygaard, River’s IB Magnet Coordinator, some of our teachers and our current students.

International Baccalaureate Magnet Program application checklist – applications submitted before February 5, 2018 are considered on-time.

In order to be ready for the IB diploma program, students must complete a first year algebra course (or its equivalent) with a grade of A or B by the end of their 8th grade year.  Please note, in order to complete the requirements for the Full Diploma, 9th grade math is PreB Geometry or higher.

Checklist for ALL Applicants

  1.  Thorough completion of the online application (Please use either Google Chrome or Safari as your web browser for the online application.)
  2. Request copies of current 7th & 8th grade transcripts from your current school and submit paper copies to Columbia River High School no later than Monday, February 5, 2018
  3. Schedule and complete an interview and writing sample.  Interview dates are February 1, 3 and 8, 2018.  Use this link to schedule an appointment for an interview SignUpGenius.com/go/10C044EAAAA23AAF94-ibmagnet2

Students who do not currently attend a VPS school will also need to submit their State Assessment (HSPE, MSP and EOC), MAP, SAT, PSAT or other similar scores from standardized tests) to Columbia River High School no later than February 5, 2018.

Students who reside outside of Vancouver School District boundaries…will be able to submit a boundary application after May 1, 2018 from your resident school district. If accepted, this boundary exception will need to be completed before May 15, 2018.

Applicants will be notified about the status of their acceptance by mail and email after March 8, 2018.

2252 in the House

House Bill 2252 is scheduled for public hearing on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 1:30 pm with the House Committee on Higher Education in Olympia, Washington.

River students taking International Baccalaureate Exams (and IB students everywhere) who enroll in Washington State higher education programs will gain with this legislation. HB 2252 is sponsored by Dolan, Harris, Santos, Johnson, Bergquist, Steele, Lovick, Senn, Stokesbary, Kilduff, Ortiz-Self, Valdez, Slater and (our very own – Legislative District 49th’s) Monica Stonier.

HB 2252 will require Washington State universities to award college credit for IB exams at both the HL and SL. The current Bill states credit for a score of 4 or higher. Read more about the bill here.

Because the IB is recognized internationally, the IB Diploma far exceeds state diploma requirements, and many colleges/universities already accept IB exams as equivalent credit in various courses, this will be a win for our students.

With HB 2252 we have another chance to create opportunities at home, here in our Washington Higher Education System. This will improve our partnerships, actualize opportunties for students and assist students/families with the financial burdens of university tuition.

As CR’s Head of School, I am not endorsing politics or politicians. My commitment is to advocate for my students and HB 2252 is legislation that is good for everyone. Join me in recognizing the quality work our IB students do in the classroom and those faculty who support them along the way.