Getting to school! Community
Transitional School
Providing important educational services to children who are homeless or otherwise at risk of school failure.

The Tall Girl

"For our students, school is a refuge from the trauma and hardships of poverty and uncertainty—a place where they feel a sense of community and belonging. This is a place where they have room to learn, laugh with friends and build hope."
—Cheryl M. Bickle, Principal and Teacher

June 30, 2014
How can it be? The 24th CTS school year is over. Our four 8th-grade graduates are high school bound. But somehow, we are not lonely. Maybe it's because we have 36 kids and a hamster keeping us busy during our six-week summer school. Cheryl and Jennipher are the summer teachers, assisted by teacher aide Hilda, PE/Art instructor Lorie, and several of our outstanding CTS volunteers. Tom is manning the office and making the buses run on time. Summer school ends July 17th. But wait! there's more! We hope you can come to one or both of our fund-raisers coming up in late July. You can read about them below, along with more about graduation and summer school. By the way, we have few volunteer spots open for both fund-raisers. Let us know if you are interested. And a big thanks to those who signed up!

  'CTS, my safe haven'
Some people think the ceremony that celebrates the passage from 8th grade to high school should be called "promotion," not "graduation." The thinking is it's not as big an accomplishment as completing high school or college. But each year at our own ceremony, we are reminded that it is a really big deal for our 8th graders. Some will be the first in their families to go to high school. All of them had big barriers to overcome to get this far. We like to think we helped them develop the determination to do it. So, congratulations to the Class of 2014. Here is what one of our high school-bound graduates said at our celebration: "When I came here they told me that I wasn't doing well, but they didn't give up on me. Instead, they pushed me to do better, not for them, but for myself...During my three and a half years here I have changed a lot. I am doing much better in school, and I know I have a bright future ahead of me...Without the support of CTS, my safe haven, I would not be here, right now, giving this speech."

  Listen! It's the sound of brains at work
It's quiet at CTS this summer. But if you walk down the hall and listen closely, you can hear 36 kids' brains thinking hard. (We have a hamster, named Roosevelt, but you can't hear his brain at all.) Our summer session is mornings, four days a week, for six weeks. But we are really packing in a lot in that short time. The students are in book groups. The older kids are reading Harry Potter. The younger kids are reading Calvin Coconut. The older kids are working on math and American history. Younger kids are doing projects on snakes and sharks. They are writing in journals. They are painting sunflowers. They have PE. They have breakfast and lunch. And when school is over for the day and the buses take them home...they have homework!

  It's hot! It's sandy! It's art!
The giant sand art will last for a few days. The donations can permanently change lives. CTS is one of five charities that will benefit from one of Portland's most popular summer events. Each summer, Yoshida's Sand in the City raises funds for children's programs while they turn Pioneer Courthouse Square (Portland's living room) into a giant sandbox. Volunteers from businesses form teams and spend hours in the sun carving big and crazy sand sculptures. There's music and kids' activities, too.

This is the first year CTS has been invited to be a beneficiary. So come on down! Bring the kids! It's July 18, 19 and 20. Suggested donations to enter are $4 for individuals, $10 for a family of any size. All the money goes to the charities.

  It's cool! It's wet! It's root beer!
The Oregon Brewers Festival celebrates craft brewed beverages at what has become in 27 years the largest festival of its kind in the nation, drawing up to 80,000 visitors each July. Minors are welcome when accompanied by a parent. And minors don't have to go thirsty. They can drink handcrafted root beer at the Crater Lake Root Beer Garden. It's free for kids and designated drivers, and a buck for others. Those bucks go to CTS. Some of us will be around to help pour root beer and encourage donations. There's music and food, too. It's July 23-27 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Admission to the festival is free. If you want beer, you have to buy a tasting glass and wooden tokens. The root beer booth will happily take cash.

Sign up, if you haven't yet, to have Fred Meyers send a donation to CTS every time you shop there with your Rewards Card. You will still get all of your rewards, and CTS will get a little something, too. Just link your Rewards Card to Community Transitional School online at Community Rewards.

May 30, 2014
  Science matters

Tom Lechner, Senior CTS Cartoonist, drew the Rube Goldberg device at the right to celebrate the science fair. Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist who was famous for depicting complicated devices that performed simple tasks in convoluted ways. As you contemplate this drawing, you may recognize important CTS elements and mascots: a CTS recess ball cart, Roosevelt the hamster, and popcorn, which is popped fresh weekly by the older students for Popcorn Fridays.

CTS students used pinwheels, sugar in colored water, pop cans and tinsel to illustrate concepts like energy, density and static electricity at the science fair. Other popular topics included How to Make a Moose Call and Your Beating Heart. Of course, every science fair needs a little dry ice. Science Fair Coach Sandy Miller was in charge of that. Sandy, a former science teacher, has been bringing science into the 6th-8th grade class for several years in the form of M.E.O.W. (Mini Experiment of the Week). Thanks, Sandy, for your volunteer time and for helping the class take their interest in science to the next level. Let's keep that dry ice smoking!

Fair face

And another

Cheryl's class wrote letters thanking the older kids for inviting them to the science fair. Here are some excerpts.

"I liked the Science Fair. I liked the Moose call We put the string in the water then we scratched it and it made noice."

"It was interesting to hear all of these things that we did not know all of these years in life."

"I learned a lot of facts. Next year when I'm in sixth grade, I don't think I can do better."

"The science fair was really fun because they explained how the stuff works."

"I love the part when I got to see the swishing bottles and when I got to do one too."

"I like the moose call and the one that tells you about your heart."

"I like the bubble thing and the one with the ice."

"I liked the moose noise. You can hunt moose with noise."

Sign up, if you haven't yet, to have Fred Meyers send a donation to CTS every time you shop there with your Rewards Card. You will still get all of your rewards, and CTS will get a little something, too. Just link your Rewards Card to Community Transitional School online at Community Rewards.

May 16, 2014
  Lake Oswego Farmer's market
This Saturday May 17 (8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.), Phyllis Seeger will again have a booth at the Lake Oswego Farmer's Market to raise money for the School! She will also have some of the few remaining cookbooks full of Phyllis' favorites.

February 28, 2014
Happy almost-spring!
We're saying goodbye to February. This short month sure has been busy. We all survived Snowpocalypse. We celebrated Presidents Day and Valentine's Day. Our friends at New to You Simply Posh, a high-end second-hand store in Lake Oswego, celebrated the Super Bowl for us by having a sale on game day for those who prefer to shop. They made $400 for us. CTS staff, volunteers and friends had a great time at Lompoc Brewing's "Chowder Challenge," a contest to determine who makes Portland's best clam chowder. Lompoc and the chowder heads raised $3,500 for CTS. Here's some photos of Valentine's Day and snow.

February 19, 2014

  Sustainable shopping AND funding for CTS

Modified Style Portland is having its annual Clothing Swap, a benefit for Community Transitional School and p:ear. It is from 3-7 p.m. March 2 at Bridgeport Brewing Company, 1313 N.W. Marshall St. Bring a bag of gently used clothes and/or fabric and $5. You can go through all the tons of stuff others bring and take home anything you want. If you don't bring things to exchange, the cost is $10. If you like to dig through bags of clothes, shoes and accessories, and enjoy a no-host bar, this is the event for you. And in the fall, Modified Style Portland will hold its annual fashion show featuring new designers using recycled fabric - also a benefit for CTS and p:ear. We'll keep you posted.

January 31, 2014
Yikes! Where did January go? We're just barely making deadline with this update. But we've been so busy! There's so much learning going on, you can hear the kids' brains working. Jennipher's 6th-8th graders did a power point presentation about the war in Sudan, after reading "A Long Walk to Water," by Linda Sue Park. One of the characters is one of the Lost Boys, and another is a girl who spends most of each day getting water from a well miles from her home. It was an eye-opener for our students and it made them feel grateful. They all said if they had lots of money, they'd help build wells in Africa. In our class of little kids, Akina's Pre-K and kindergarteners have gotten all the way through the alphabet, and they can all count by 10s. Now they're working on rhymes and counting by 5s. See stories below for more classroom news, future fundraisers, a call for volunteers and a new way to support CTS by shopping at Fred Meyers.

  Happy Vietnamese New Year
Minh Trang Nguyen spoke to Cheryl's 5th and 6th graders about Vietnamese New Year customs and traditions. Dressed in a festive red ao dai for the holiday, Minh brought treats for all to taste, including lotus seed, dried flavored coconut and a rice cake wrapped in banana leaves. Minh also talked about her experiences growing up in Saigon and immigrating to Portland with her family when she was 10. Minh has five daughters, and four are at CTS. One of them, Lien, is among the students in Cheryl's class who have been reading "Inside Out & Back Again" by Thanhha Lai. It's about a Vietnamese girl who immigrated to Alabama in 1975. Some of the character's experiences are similar to what Minh went through. (Minh's littlest daughter is pictured with her mom.)

  CTS wants you! In July!
CTS needs help with two big fund-raising events during the last two weeks in July. One event is July 18,19 & 20. And one is July 23-27. Both will be downtown. We're just checking now to see how many people might be available. We don't need a hard and fast commitment. But if you think you could help out for a shift or two, or want to know more, send an email to Marcia at Thanks! And don't accuse us of not thinking ahead.

  Budding writers
In Akina's class, the 1st graders are keeping writing journals. They have special journal-writing pencils and they have a list of writing topics to choose from. Here's one about a girl's favorite food, vegetable tacos. (And it's illustrated, too!)
My fanrit food is tokcow with no mete in it
I like tokocows because it teaseis like vechbol tokow
and that is wiy I like tokcows so much.

In Cheryl's class, the 5th and 6th graders wrote free-form poems titled "Wishes I Keep to Myself." Here are excerpts from four of them:
Wish I was a normal girl
in this world
Someone who has
a dad, lives in a house
and has a friend.

Wish I didn't have to worry
if me and
my family will find somewhere
to sleep tonight.

Wish to be appreciated for the way I am --
the guy who likes the
opposite of everyone else.

Wish mom had a job
to care for us,
and to have money to live
in this heavy town.

  Save the date: Chowder Challenge
Are you ready for some chowder?

Our friends at Lompoc Brewing are holding their 8th annual Chowder Challenge from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday February 22. For $10, you can help judge samples of chowder from a dozen of Portland's brewpubs and restaurants, all vying for the coveted Chowder Cup. It's all tasty, and people last year had a great time. Best of all, the money goes to CTS. The family- friendly event includes live music, a tented beer garden, a kids' area and raffles for food and drink. It's at Lompoc's Fifth Quadrant, 3901 N. Williams Ave. See you there!

  Attention Fred Meyers shoppers!
If you shop at Fred Meyers and have a Rewards Card, you can sign up to send CTS a little money under Fred Meyers' new program. Just link your Rewards Card to Community Transitional School online at Community Rewards. You can search for us by name or by our nonprofit number (93396). Then, every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you will help CTS earn a donation from Freddy's. And don't worry: You still earn all of your Rewards points, fuel points and rebates.

  RIP Washington. Hello, Roosevelt!
Finally, some sad news and some happy news. Students and staff were sad when Washington, the CTS hamster, died this month. Washington was as friendly a rodent as you'll ever meet. He really seemed to enjoy the attention he got, living in Cheryl's classroom, playing with the kids and having the run of the whole school in his big plastic ball. After a proper mourning period, Cheryl got her class a new hamster. In keeping with our tradition of naming hamsters after U.S. presidents, we now have Roosevelt (Franklin, not Teddy). Roosevelt is kind of shy, so far. He is white and rust-colored. He looks like Humphrey the hamster from the books that inspired the kids and Cheryl to get a classroom hamster. Washington, pictured here, was black and white and furrier. Stay tuned for more about Roosevelt, as he settles in and gets used to his new home.

January 15, 2014
  A new way to donate!
You can help Community Transitional School earn donations when you shop at Fred Meyer with your Rewards card. It's easy and actually costs you nothing. Sign up for Freddy's new Community Rewards program by linking your Rewards Card to Community Transitional School at You can search for us by our name or by our non-profit number (93396). Then, every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you are helping CTS earn a donation! You still earn all of your Rewards Points, Fuel Points, and Rebates.

November 27, 2013
  Craft sale for CTS
Multnomah Friends Meeting's annual holiday craft sale will be Sunday Dec. 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 4312 S.E. Stark St. A CTS volunteer will have her popular photo cards for sale. All proceeds will benefit CTS. Questions? Contact Elizabeth at 503-830-1691.

November 20, 2013
  Get into the holiday spirit and benefit CTS

Lots of holiday stuff is coming up! Here's a short list:

Kidsgiving: Entercom Radio's annual food drive is Thursday, Nov. 21, at Aaron's stores throughout the Portland area. This year's drive benefits both CTS and the Salvation Army. Radio personalities from five Entercom stations will be at different Aaron's sites at different times during the day. The details are on the Kidsgiving web site. And if you bring your food to the Aaron's in Clackamas from noon to 2 p.m. you can enter to win tickets to one of this Sunday's Trans-Siberian Orchestra concerts.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: For many Portlanders, the annual T.S.O. concerts kick off the holiday season. The high-energy shows always bring a message of peace and good will. Best of all, this band doesn't just talk the talk. They walk the walk. Each year, the T.S.O. donates $1 to CTS for each ticket sold. The afternoon and evening concerts are Sunday, Nov. 24 at the Moda Center (formerly the Rose Garden). For ticket information, see the KGON web site.

Special Auction for T.S.O. fans: But wait! There's more! KGON is having a T.S.O. Between-Concerts Party that will feature a silent auction of five gorgeous electric guitars, signed by the group. All proceeds go to CTS! The event, which includes other auction items and prizes, will be from 5-7 p.m. in the Moda Center's Suite 130, right by the fountains near the south entrance.

The Red Mitten Christmas Bazaar: One of the region's best craft sales is having a preview night Dec. 4 from 5-8 p.m. that benefits CTS and Eternal Impact Ministries. Admission is $3 or school supplies for CTS. The preview is at the Warner Grange Hall, 10100 New Era Road, Canby. The actual Red Mitten Christmas Bazaar is two weekends, Dec. 5-8 and 12-15 at the Grange Hall.

  We spy pie
Cheryl recently created Pie Day for her book group, after the group finished reading "Pie" by Sara Weeks. It's the story of a girl who is grieving for her late Aunt Polly, who happens to be a world-class pie maker. It took the group several weeks to read the book, and they were getting hungrier with each chapter. So, as a surprise, Cheryl asked volunteers to bake pies and bring them for the kids to sample. We had 11 pies! We had apple, sour cherry, all kinds of berry, chocolate cream and pecan...and more! We even had a peanut butter-raspberry cream pie, which was a recipe from the book. Other classes and the staff got to sample the pies, too. After a very short time, there were just a few crumbs left, along with some very content children. (And adults.) Now, we're all in practice for pumpkin pie next week!

  Rockets forever!
The CTS Rockets Volleyball Team just finished their sixth season in the city parks and rec fall youth league. This is really a big deal for our students, who typically have no experience with team sports. The Rockets experience will help them when they transition to public schools and want to play on teams. And Rockets team members also benefit while they play because they have to keep up their grades, attendance and good behavior to stay on the team. They also get exercise, which means they can eat more pie! Thanks to all of our friends who helped fund the Rockets' 2013 fall season. And thanks to Coach Lori and Assistant Coach Mac.

  All we need is movies
Students in our After School Leadership program have gone into the popcorn business. They are making and selling popcorn on Fridays at school. They also are learning about pricing, marketing and the other ins and outs of running a business. Our 5th-8th grade students can sign up for the program and commit themselves to staying after school one day a week to hone their leadership skills while working on special projects. Past projects have included making greeting cards to sell, putting on a play for the 8th grade graduation ceremony, and getting Nike to send soccer equipment to children in a poor Nicaraguan village.

  Give while you grocery shop
If you shop at Safeway stores, you can register to have Safeway send CTS a percentage of what you spend each time you shop. The program is called escrip, and all supporters have to do is register their Safeway Club Cards and choose CTS to be their preferred organization for contributions. One small inconvenience is that purchases made with a credit card do not earn contributions. But just about any other kind of payment is fine, including debit card, check, cash and gift card. Sign up at the escrip web site (click on supporters, then on sign up.)

October 31, 2013
Happy Halloween!

October 18, 2013
Our Quaker friends are having a fundraiser for CTS this Saturday. Stop on by, if you can. Family-friendly (Friendly)!

October 04, 2013
  More crafts for CTS
Our friend Phyllis Seeger will have her last-of-the-season craft booth open for business on Saturday October 5th at the Lake Oswego Farmers' Market. Phyllis has been running the craft booth for us for many years. All proceeds go to CTS. You can also catch Phyllis and her crafts at the Red Mitten Craft Bazaar at the Grange in Canby in December. The Red Mitten people are also friends, and they will collect school supplies for us at the Dec. 4th preview party to the sale. (We'll remind you!)

September 25, 2013
  Like to stretch? Like to support CTS?
You can do both at the same time.
Grab a towel and head down to Bikram Yoga Fremont Street for a hot yoga class at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 29. Director J. Michael Langenes is featuring CTS as its charity of the month. The studio is at 4831 N.E. Fremont Street #2. Classes start on time, so come early. There is no charge for the class, but donations of any amount to CTS are welcome. Bring your own towel and mat, or rent them for a small

September 18, 2013
  It's a school night: Kennedy School benefits CTS
Come join us for dinner at McMenamins Kennedy School Courtyard Restaurant on Monday, September 30. The generous people at the Kennedy School will donate 50% of all sales from food and drinks purchased between 5 p.m. and midnight on that evening to CTS. It's called Friends and Family Night. So, bring your friends! Bring your family! And if you haven't been there, you'll enjoy wandering the old school halls and looking at the artwork. The restaurant is transformed from the old school's cafeteria, and it offers burgers, sandwiches pizza, salads, tater tots, pasta and more, including, of course, McMenamins handcrafted ales. It's at 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave. See you after school!

September 04, 2013

  We're back
We saw some really happy faces when our 24th year of school started on Wednesday August 28th.
We had 64 kids enrolled, and 63 showed up. Lunch was sweet and sour chicken. We toasted the new year with root beer floats, as we always do. Jennipher's 6th-8th graders were in charge of making the floats. At least one middle school age child was shocked to have homework on the first day. Cheryl and Jennipher's classes watched the Martin Luther King "I Have a Dream Speech." And the little kids - well, the little kids learned about walking down the hall to the lunchroom in a straight line, while not touching the walls or each other. Everyone learned which school bus to get on to get home.

  Welcome, Akina
CTS has a new full-time teacher. Akina Kawauchi is teaching our Pre-K through 1st grade class. She's new on our staff, but Akina already knows many of our students because she was the CTS part-time federal Title I instructor for three years. Akina is teaching the class that Jennipher Cochenour has taught for 20 years. Jennipher is now teaching the 6th-8th grade, replacing Marna Tisdel, who retired in June after 23 years at CTS. Akina says she is thrilled and honored to join the CTS team. "Boy, I've got some big shoes to fill! As the 'newbie,' I'm looking forward to learning from Cheryl and Jennipher, the veterans, and from my students."

  What we need
Our Wish List has been updated for fall. Some things are marked URGENT! These are things we can't seem to get enough of. They are usually boring (plain white copy paper, ice packs) and sometimes pricey (lice shampoo, printer ink). But they are what we need. There are lots of other options, too, which are more fun to buy and also needed, from colored pencils to shoes. So, it's up to you. A bit of explanation about clothes: Underwear and shoes must be new. If you buy shoes, please choose athletic shoes that have a bit of style, the kind a kid would actually want to wear. All other clothes can be new or gently used. You can bring your donations to our office between 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F. One other important thing: THANKS!

  Thanks for helping this summer
We have lots of thanks to give to summer helpers, including: the volunteers who worked with the summer school kids; all who donated money and supplies; our friends at Argonaut for holding the annual PK Wall Charity Golf Tournament for us; and to those volunteers who helped us raise $3,361 for the school by pouring root beer at the five-day Oregon Brewers Festival. Special thanks go to the Festival sponsors and to Curt Gouverneur of Crater Lake Soda, who supplied oceans of root beer for the festival. He also donates root beer twice a year to CTS for our school's first-day-of-school and last-day-of-school root beer float toasts tradition. See above!

June 12, 2013

  Congratulations Class of 2013
Four CTS 8th graders proudly received diplomas, gave wonderful speeches, received gifts and praise and ate cake and cookies at our annual graduation ceremony. All are high school-bound, despite their many barriers to success. Family members, school volunteers and friends all cheered the graduates. In turn, the students thanked their teachers and mentors. Karina made a special point of thanking Principal Cheryl Bickle: "She was the person that would pull me aside and talk to me about what I was doing wrong. She wouldn't yell. She would talk to me about my mistakes. She taught me that even though there are rough times, you have to stand tall." All of our students have known rough times. That is why we were so thrilled to welcome our graduation speaker, former CTS student Adis Leyva-Duran. Adis graduated from 8th grade four years ago. She graduated from De LaSalle North Catholic High this year with honors and with a full-ride scholarship to Warner Pacific College. She is the first in her family to graduate high school. We are so proud of Adis and of our new CTS grads. We hope all of our returning students are inspired by their stories.

  Farewell Marna! Congratulations Jennipher! Welcome Akina!
Big changes are in store for CTS in the fall. For more than 20 years, three teachers have been the heart of CTS: Cheryl Bickle, Marna Tisdel and Jennipher Cochenour. Now, the triumvirate is breaking up. Marna retired on our last day of school this year, after 23 years. At the graduation ceremony, she was surprised with a gift: a hand-crafted bench decorated with student-drawn pictures of all the far-off places she will be able to visit in her retirement. We will miss Marna, but all of us at CTS are looking forward to the new era. Jennipher, who teaches the preK-1st graders, will take over Marna's 6th-8th grade class in the fall. She's excited about the new challenge. And we have hired a new teacher for the little kids. Her name is Akina Kawauchi. She has been our part-time federal Title I instructor, so she knows the kids and the challenges they have. Cheryl will continue to teach her 2nd-5th grade class full time in addition to being principal.

  Brewers Festival's root beer booth will benefit CTS
Once again, the root beer booth at the Oregon Brewers Festival will be collecting money for CTS. This July 24th-28 will be the 26th annual festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The focus is craft beer. In addition, the Crater Lake Root Beer Garden offers complimentary handcrafted root beer for designated drivers and children (accompanied by parents). They've been doing this for several years. In addition, Crater Lake Root Beer donates root beer for our traditional root beer float toasts on the first day and last day of every school year. CTS staff and friends will be at the festival, pouring root beer and collecting donations for the school. So, stop on by! More details on the event are at

May 24, 2013

  Students canoe the slough
You wouldn't guess it from the photo, but these kids are having fun. Students from Marna's 6th-8th grade class took a guided canoe trip on the Columbia Slough, through the Clean Rivers Education & Slough Program. Of course, it rained. But our kids (and Marna!) were real troopers. Some of the kids were pretty nervous, having never been on water before. "What if I fall out?" one girl said. Marna pointed out that was unlikely, and even if they did, they would survive. They could easily see the bottom of the very shallow slough by looking over the edge of the canoe. The only casualty was one boy's hoarse voice, caused by yelling "Stroke! Stroke!" to his fellow paddlers.

  Get your craft on
For years, Phyllis Seeger and her family have generously supported CTS. Until last year, Phyllis had a donation can -- actually, it was a box in the shape of a school bus -- on the counter of her daughter Alice's Lake Oswego bakery, Upper Crust Bread. Well, Alice sold the bakery last year, but the fund-raising goes on. Phyllis has also had a craft booth at the Lake Oswego Farmers' Market for 10 years, and she and assorted Seegers will be there Saturday. All proceeds go to CTS. So, if part of your holiday weekend includes shopping for hand-made bargains, check it out. As a bonus, you will get to see what kind of hat Phyllis will be wearing. It's always worth the trip. The booth is at the Lake Oswego Farmers' Market on Saturday May 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

  Bar Avignon Fundraiser raises $700 for CTS
Thanks to everyone who joined us in April for a great night at Bar Avignon. Good food, good wine and good company are a pretty great way to raise money for a good cause! Thanks to Soter Vineyards and Brooks Wines for donating wine. And a big thanks to owners Nancy Hunt and Randy Goodman, who generously gave 25 percent of the evening's take to CTS.

  Sign here
Have you seen our sign? CTS has been on Northeast Killingsworth for five years, but new visitors continue to tell us "I didn't know this was here!" Well, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department helped us stand out in our neighborhood by raising money for our new sign, which has changeable letters. Students will be in charge of changing the message, highlighting school events and the seasons, and also thanking our friends for their generosity. On Wednesday June 5, the Sheriff's Department will join us for an official sign unveiling ceremony at 11 a.m. with cake for the

April 18, 2013
  Calling all foodie friends: Bar Avignon Fundraiser for CTS April 24th
As all good Portland foodies know, Bar Avignon is one of the city's best casual, small-plate wine bars. And they are having a fundraiser for us on Wednesday April 24. They will give CTS 25 percent of the net revenue. From 5 to 10 p.m., Chef Eric Joppie and the crew will serve up some creative raw specialties, including Hamachi Crudo and Veal Tartare. If you prefer cooked, you can also order off of the regular menu of small plates, artisan cheeses and charcuteries and entrees. Bar Avignon is casual, classy, friendly and delicious. And they like to give back to the community! So, eat, drink and help support CTS. Bar Avignon is at 2138 S. E. Division St. See ya there!

  Another reason to celebrate
April 24 is the day of the fundraiser, and it just happens to be our school's 5th anniversary at 6601 N.E. Killingsworth. Thanks to all who helped us build it and thanks to all who are helping us keep the doors open. We still love our bright and beautiful permanent school.

  A whole lot of clams
Speaking of seafood, thanks to everyone who participated in Lompoc Brewing's Chowder Challenge in February. The kind and generous folks from Lompoc came by with a check from that event - for more than $3,000! Wow! That's a lot of clams! Congratulations to the restaurants with the winning chowders, too: the Ice Axe Grill, the Fifth Quadrant, Salty's on the Columbia and Tabor Tavern. They were all delicious.

  Spring has come to CTS.
In between April Madness and hip-hopping frogs (see below) we are getting lots of work done. The little kids are advancing in math and reading. The middle school age kids are working on biographies. And the 5th-graders finished their projects on "what it means to be an American." One boy said: "To me to be an American means to have the right to express yourself in any way you want. To have the right to practice religion or not to practice religion. To be able to believe what you want to believe without anyone telling you not to." One girl said: "You can be whatever you want to be." That's pretty much the message we've been giving these kids for 23 years. They really can be whatever they want to be. But it will take some extra effort on their part to beat the odds against them. They need to learn to read and write, of course. But they also need to learn how to keep their eyes on the prize when the going gets rough. Thanks to all our friends who help us help them be what they want to be.

  April Madness
Once again, CTS students competed in April Madness. That's our checkers tournament, complete with brackets, and two teams, named Fire and Smoke. In this year's finals, an 8th-grade girl became champion, beating a 7th-grade girl. This cartoon of the checker tournament, by our own Tom Lechner, shows the game being observed by both Washington the hamster and Hip-Hop the frog. For more on our little zoo, see below.

  More news from our little zoo
Washington the hamster, who lives in Cheryl's 2nd-5th grade class, had a little green friend for a while. One of Cheryl's students found a frog during recess. So, of course, Cheryl got the frog a cage and some worms to eat. The students had a contest to name the frog. It came down to a tie between Hip-Hop and Oregon. Why Oregon? Well, some of the students kind of forgot that the hamster is named for the Father of Our Country. They figured he was named for the state. Therefore, we should have a pet named Oregon to go with our pet named Washington. Which makes its own kind of sense. Anyway, it doesn't matter because the students voted to name the frog Hip-Hop. After a few weeks, though, Hip-Hop hopped away. Cheryl told the students he would be happier outdoors. Meanwhile, the CTS staff almost changed Washington's name to Houdini. The little escape artist started turning up all over the school. It turned out that Washington learned how to escape from his cage by squeezing through a slightly enlarged space between the bars. Tom, our general fix-it guy, wired up the space, so Washington's wandering days are over. But he still gets to roll himself down the hall and all over the school by running in his clear plastic ball. We don't think he misses Hip-Hop all that much.

April 05, 2013
  Book sale!
If you are by the Gladstone Community Club (255 E Exeter St, Gladstone, 97027) on Saturday, April 6th, come in to a children's book sale! The Oregon chapters of Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority have organized this book sale as an event to benefit CTS. Bring books to donate, shop, eat some desserts, and maybe even get your face painted! Click here for a full flyer.

February 13, 2013

  Chowder-down for CTS
You are invited to Lompoc Brewing's Annual Chowder Challenge, a fun and yummy event that will warm your tummy and help CTS. Local pubs and restaurants will compete to see who serves Portland's best clam chowder. There's no admission fee, but if you want to participate in the blind tasting, you can buy a tray holding a dozen samples of chowder for $10. The winning chowder's restaurant will receive the coveted Chowder Cup. And CTS will receive all the money raised from the event. Lompoc's Chowder Challenge will benefit our school for the second year in a row. Festivities also feature a beer garden, live music, a kids area, a raffle and other food and drink. Minors are welcome at the family friendly event. It will be from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday February 23 at Lompoc's Fifth Quadrant, 3901 N. Williams Ave. More information: Don't clam up! Chowder down!

February 01, 2013
  Alas, poor Lincoln
Lessons come from odd places. Lincoln the Hamster came to live in Cheryl's 2nd-5th grade classroom one day late in January. Unfortunately, he died the next day. No one is sure why. Naturally, the students were shocked and sad about Lincoln's sudden demise. Cheryl immediately sent a staff member to the pet store to get a new hamster. The new pet is named Washington. The inspiration for a classroom hamster is Betty G. Birney's popular series of "According to Humphrey" books, which Cheryl's class has been reading. Humphrey the Hamster is the first-person narrator (first-hamster narrator) of life at fictional Room 26. A substitute teacher brought Humphrey there and told him, "You can learn a lot about life by observing another species." (As it turned out with Lincoln, the children also learned a little about death.) In the books, Humphrey manages to have lots of adventures despite his frequent naps. He keeps telling the reader, "Remember, hamsters are nocturnal." So, Cheryl's students were prepared to see Lincoln snoozing most of the day he arrived. Washington seemed perkier right away. We hope we don't have to name any more hamsters before Presidents' Day.

  'We would always have food'
Cheryl asked her students to write about what changes they would like in their lives in 2013. One girl wants friends: "Then I'll have people to talk to at recess, lunch and partys. Then I won't need to be with my brothers anymore" One girl had her whole life planned out, starting with a successful school year, high school, college and a good job: "Then I have to save up money, and I want to buy my mom her dream. A restaurant. It would be wonderfel to see her surprised and happy." Hoping for better times for their families was common: "I want the year 2013 to be a year of change for my family... I would like my mom to have a job because if she gets one she would get more money and she can rent a house or duplex...I bet if my mom had a car and a drivers license we would always have food."

  Classroom update: lots of learning going on
A person walking down the CTS school hallway this time of year can almost hear brain cells firing and light bulbs going on over small heads. We've been back from the long holiday break for a month now, and we are focused, focused, focused. Jennipher's 1st grade kids have gotten so good at math they are adding sums in their heads. Cheryl's students are interviewing adults and each other, asking what it means to be an American. Marna's class is reading "To Kill a Mockingbird." Reading novels is often a good introduction to history. And Marna's middle-school students are truly shocked at how different life was for African Americans in the 1930s, when Harper Lee set her novel. Marna is bringing in topics like Jim Crow laws to help understand the times.

  Like we always say, it all adds up
For three months, we asked friends to shop at Whole Foods' Hollywood store, which has a shopping program that donates to charities. From December through the end of the year, people who brought reusable bags to shop got to donate 10 cents to our school per bag of groceries. Well! We just learned that all of those dimes added up to $2,867.20! Thanks to Whole Foods Hollywood and thanks to all those who gave. This is such a good example of "every little bit helps." But we also are grateful to all of our supporters who donated large or small amounts at the end of the year and all year long. That also adds up! We also thank those who donated clothes or toys for our students or supplies for our classrooms and office. That adds up, too, because we can use our funds for other things, like paying the utility bills and the bus expenses. And thanks to all who volunteered to deliver gifts on Christmas Eve, and to those who volunteer in the classrooms all year long. We literally couldn't exist without all of you.

  Not your average walk in the park
Some of our students have been working on a community-wide project called "Let's Build Cully Park." They are lending their expertise in playing to the project by helping design a playground for the neighborhood park that is being created at 72nd and Killingsworth. A local nonprofit, Verde, is leading a coalition of 15 organizations to design and build the park on 25 acres that the city set aside 10 years ago. Leon Smith of Planet Earth Playscapes is helping children from four schools, including CTS, come up with playground designs. The schools will present paper mache models of their playground to the community in February. The CTS model playground includes a sun-clock, a sand pit, a climbing wall, a swirly slide, a jungle gym and a clubhouse/fort. Leon said ideas from each school will be part of the final design. You can learn more about the project at

  Field trip time
Some of Marna's and Cheryl's students learned about Northwest Native American art in January, thanks to the Portland Art Museum docents. The docents did a great job, leading our kids through the museum collection, where they saw carvings, masks, and beaded bags, as well as contemporary paintings. A week before the trip, the docents came to CTS to introduce the children to the art and the cultures that produced it. The trip included some hands-on activities, including beading and drawing. Some of the students also practiced the ancient art of story-telling. Each student held a beaded bag and made up a story about it. Then, they told their stories to each other. Last year, the docents hosted a similar excursion, with portraits as the study topic.
These opportunities to see great art are rare for our students, so thanks to the docents!

November 28, 2012

  Get crafty
Our favorite crafty lady, Phyllis Seeger, will be selling handmade ornaments at a show this weekend. And all of the proceeds will go to CTS. She'll be among 50 crafters at The Red Mitten Christmas Bazaar Nov. 29-Dec. 2 at the Warner Grange Hall, 10100 S. New Era Road, Canby (1/4 mile off 99E). Hours are: Thurs-Fri 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-7p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Organizers of the bazaar also will be collecting school supplies for CTS.

  Thanks to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and KGON
The holiday season got off to a great start thanks to our generous friends, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Every year, the TSO puts on two shows in Portland on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. And each year, the TSO donates $1 for every ticket sold to CTS. We are so grateful! This year, they also donated signed guitars for us to auction. Our good friends Amy Linford and Iris Harrison at KGON started this relationship. Amy and Iris really came through for us this year. They auctioned off the signed guitars at a party between the two shows. All of the proceeds go to CTS! But wait! There's more. They also organized a humongous food drive for us before Thanksgiving. Thanks to the Kidsgiving Food Drive, all of our students will have plenty of food at home over the long winter break.

  We want dimes!
And finally, you now can help us if you shop at Whole Foods' Hollywood store. Through December, when you bring reusable bags to shop, you have the option of donating 10 cents per bag to CTS. Whole Foods' Hollywood store is at 4301 N.E. Sandy Boulevard. Don't forget your bags!

October 31, 2012
A Happy Halloween
Jennipher's Pre-K to 1st Graders had great fun making Halloween T-shirts this year.
They wore them to their annual trick-or-treat party that the PERS employees throw for them at their office. Cheryl's 2nd-5th graders also got to go to the PERS party and collect candy. And Marna's 6th-8th graders decorated their classroom and had their own party with pizza, candy, games and other treats (and tricks).

KGON's Kidsgiving Food Drive benefits CTS & Oregon Food Bank
Once again, our good friends at KGON Radio are holding an all-day food drive before Thanksgiving called Kidsgiving. This year's drive will benefit our school as well as the Oregon Food Bank. KGON will be broadcasting live from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Farmington Thriftway in Aloha, located at 17675 Southwest Farmington Road. Co-sponsors are Western Family Foods, Thriftway stores and Aaron's. Other participating Thriftway stores are in Canby, Hillsboro, Wilsonville and Salem. For times and addresses, go to

A Holiday Tradition: Trans-Siberian Orchestra concerts benefit CTS
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra will be at the Rose Garden Arena for two shows on Nov. 25. As in past years, these generous musicians will donate $1 for every ticket sold to CTS. This long-standing arrangement is also due to our friends at KGON. So go to their website and buy tickets!
See you there! (

October 23, 2012
  Remembering John Gray
The CTS staff is sad to learn that John D. Gray died Friday. He was a good friend and benefactor. The well-known Portland developer and philanthropist gave millions to the Knight Cancer Institute, Habitat for Humanity and many other charities. He also liked our little school. He donated $250,000 to our capital campaign to build our school in 2006, and then he came back a few years later - on his own, without our asking - and donated $400,000 for a new classroom, when he saw we were already crowded in our new building.

Mr. Gray may have had a soft spot for us because his mother was a teacher in a one-room school and because he grew up poor during the Depression. He was modest and sincere in his giving. He came to have lunch of pizza sticks and pineapple with our students after the new classroom was built. He seemed to enjoy himself, but he would have preferred it if we hadn't called the Oregonian in to write about the lunch. "I don't want a fuss," he said, and he only agreed to the story after we convinced him it would be good for the school. We are among many people in Portland who are grateful to have met John Gray.

Read old news...

The word of the month is

Here's what
a 1st grader
had to say
about another
word of the

Recess in verse!
Recess is
 Recess Queens
 Recess King
 Teachers talking
 ropes slapping
 friends chasing
 Kick balls slamming
 tether ball slapping
 jump ropes rhyming
Doing anything
you want to do
until the whistle
blows recess' end

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