Spotlight on Riddle School District
“We provide our students with opportunities and skills to become strong leaders, problem solvers and positive communicators.”
– Dave Gianotti, Riddle School District Superintendent
February 2022 – Riddle School District has educated area students for nearly 140 years. The 350 students who attend the elementary or junior/senior high school campus are connected to opportunities that equip them for life.
Students are nurtured from grades K-12. During the course of their academic careers they have access to well-rounded integrative learning that includes literacy, social sciences, Spanish, math, science, career and technical education (CTE), music, drama, world/cultural arts, physical education, athletics and clubs. There’s also a school counselor to support students’ social-emotional needs and special education services.
“If students stay in the area after graduation or move to another community, we prepare them for their futures,” says Riddle School District Superintendent and Elementary Principal Dave Gianotti. “We provide our students with opportunities and skills to become strong leaders, problem solvers and positive communicators.”
A network of committed individuals is the key to this approach to learning. “I really appreciate the dedication of our staff to our kids. I recognize how our staff treats their responsibilities as a calling not just a job,” says Gianotti. “I also appreciate how our families have continued to be supportive these last couple of years. I thank students for hanging in there and coming to school every day, which shows how much they love being here. And the school board is wonderful. I appreciate their support and assistance. They are all Riddle High graduates. The district is also extremely grateful to our community partners.”
As early as kindergarten, students begin learning about positive behavior traits. This month’s theme is respect. Staff formally recognize students who display positive behavior. Students even recognize their classmates for being kind by adding someone’s name to the kindness tree, displayed in the hallway. Sixth-graders have leadership opportunities, which include reading morning announcements, setting up for events, helping in the cafeteria and mentoring younger students.
The elementary students also have opportunities to engage in fun projects such as celebrating the hundredth day of school, reading challenges and field trips.
In July the district will celebrate the tenth year of New Ventures Summer Camp, a 3-week program made available to any elementary-age student living within Riddle School District. The activities include science, cooking, art, gardening, music, drama, reading, math and swimming. Junior and high school students as well as staff and community members dedicate time to work at this camp.
“We want to make sure every student is prepared for life beyond high school,”says Russell Hobson high school teacher and athletic director. “Everyone wears multiple hats to get things done.”
This year a new program for seniors offers pathways for students to focus on career and technical education, military or traditional college options, while learning hands-on life skills. At the end of the program each student will know how to budget money, prepare taxes, cook, sew, assemble a bookshelf, change a tire on a car and more.
Learning often extends beyond the classroom walls that includes industry guest lecturers or the opportunity to take dual credit college transfer and technical courses connected to Umpqua Community College (UCC).
College and career readiness and senior nights are designed for parents and students. Teachers, community members and representatives from UCC offer resources connected to students’ futures. “The goal of the program is to prepare students to be ready for training beyond high school or enter the job market, and they will have the knowledge to put themselves in a position where they have career options,” says Roy Wrinkle high school business teacher.
Incentive programs also recognize the junior and high school students’ good behavior. Prizes are made possible through fundraising, grants and donations from churches, businesses and staff members. “Some of the prizes include coolers filled with food. Students who win these prizes tend to share the winnings with their classmates,” says Gianotti.
Leadership students spend time not only keeping the school district looking nice, but they also team up with the City of Riddle to work in the community garden and improve the city cemetery’s grounds. Part of the effort also includes applying for funding from organizations. “It’s useful to have students engage in physical work. They can easily see the results of their labor and learn to take pride in doing a good job,” says Wrinkle.
A devotion to the district can also be found among community members. From Eagle Scout projects to facility improvements, support is evident. A few years ago, the football field needed to be resurfaced. Community members stepped up, donated materials and provided excavation equipment. And now the baseball field is slated to get a new batting cage thanks to similar volunteer efforts and donated wood from local mills.
“Our community is very kind to us,” says Gianotti. “We have a community-based facilities committee who works hard to coordinate efforts.”
As for school sports, Gianotti mentions that that all kids are encouraged to participate in athletics and no cuts are made. This past year a senior joined the wrestling team for the first time. “These are wins for us and the community,” he says.
Hobson adds that athletics are an extension of the classroom. “Kids have the chance to work together and face challenges to reach a common goal.”
The district understands that students benefit when they are given opportunities to try new things while being surrounded by supportive people inside and outside of school. “Our community needs us and we need our community,” says Gianotti.
To learn more about this fabulous school district, visit www.riddleschooldistrict.com.