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Friday, March 10 

Riverdale School District News



Tech for a Better World

Continued from Feb. 24 District Enews: 

ALS Association members returned to the RHS Tech for a Better World class in February with a PALS (Brian - Person living with ALS) and examples of ALS technology that students could test out. Brian shared his experience with frustrating technology restrictions and his hopes for their improvements. He spoke to the class using his type-to-speech device and how he plans to use an Eyegaze system when he eventually loses his motor function. He shared that he would love to have a backup camera for his chair to make sure he doesn't run into things and emphasized how there are so many improvements that can be made. 

After learning more from ALS reps and their special guest Brian, students then shared their project ideas that they would later present and demonstrate during finals week. They ended the class testing out some of the items the ALS rep brought, such as throat microphones, Eyegaze devices, contact microphones, card shuffler, dice roller, tablet white board and switch adaptive call system. The rep shared an example of a device she made for less than $50 whereas a similar commercial device cost $500.

One of the most essential technologies for PALS is their chair - allowing for mobility and everyday functions. The class was loaned a chair from the ALS association so that they could make modifications to experiment and design with.

Students demonstrated their final projects for the ALS Association representatives this week. They showed the incredible things that can be created in such a short amount of time. 

Their proof of concepts were remarkable. Demonstrations included: 

Ultrasonic device - With the goal of improving the wheelchair’s ability to park, students showed how their sensors, which would be placed on each corner of the chair, would detect how close they were to something. They 3D printed adapters for the chair and demonstrated how lights turned on depending upon proximity to the robot. 

Armband control system - Taking signals from muscle movements that are as simple as squeezing your arm, students showed the signal strength based on an LED light turning on, which would translate to being able to control the chair going back and forth depending on the muscle.

Eye tracking program - For PALS who have lost all muscle function, a program such as this detects eyes and pupils and through a lot of coding would then be able to answer questions like Yes or No just through eye movements. The goal would be to have an easily accessible app or website that anyone could use on any device.

Line sensor robot - Students coded an autonomous system using 3 sensors on the front that could be attached to a wheelchair. With these sensors, it can follow a line on the ground in someone's house for example. This would allow the chair to avoid hitting walls, and it uses two stages of logic: one for minor adjustments, and one for sharper turns.

EMG Sensors - Using a device called Raspberry Pi, (a small, single-board computer) students connected muscle sensors to the Rasberry that then has code to see if the muscles are running. When someone flexes their arm, the mouse moves unidirectionally on the Raspberry Touch Display to be able to select something. With more equipment, it could move in different directions based on varying muscle movements. 

With more coding and more parts, students will later be able to connect remotely to the chair through a device like an Xbox controller and then be able to explore even more improvements. Students showed how much can be done and improved with basic equipment and that with even more powerful tools they could change the lives of PALS. 

“Where this fits in education is different from so many classes - students weren’t presented with a problem to solve - they were presented with an experience of human beings and asked to find ways to help them. Students decided on the way they might be able to improve that experience and then worked on gaining the knowledge and skills that would help in that way” - Mr. McLain.

Mr. McLain hopes to continue to build upon what these students have learned and created for the next class to get even further in the process. 



2023-24 School Year Calendar

The board approved the 2023-24 School Year Calendar at the Monday, March 6 Board Meeting. Other important event dates will be added at a later time. View the calendar here. This calendar is also available on our website



Seeking Pole Vault Volunteer

The high school track team is looking for someone with pole vaulting expertise that would be able to help out the RHS Track Team a couple times during the season. Please contact Bart Hawkins and Gilian Gandy ASAP if you're interested or know someone. 



Senior Scores First Place at State Championship

Representing Riverdale High School, Grant A. won first place in the Boys Individual Combined Oregon Interscholastic Ski Race Association (OISRA) State Championships. He qualified for the tournament by being one of the top racers in the Three Rivers League, competing with racers from Lincoln, Lake Oswego, Ida B. Wells and many others. A total of 122 boys from all the high school ski leagues across the state competed at the Hoodoo Ski Area on March 2 & 3. Grant won by having the lowest combined time for two slalom runs and two giant slalom runs. This week he ends his race season by competing in the Western U.S. High School Championships being held at Mount Hood Ski Bowl. Next year, he will attend Whitman College and compete on their alpine ski team.




School Fees Update

Going forward, Riverdale School District is changing the way we collect fees. 


Fees for school-related activities, such as field trips and field studies, are voluntary contributions. In order for these programs to happen and remain viable in the future, we will need donations to cover costs.  


This fee update does not include non-educational activities, such as school dances and sports. Sports fees will still be paid as they always have and are not voluntary contributions. 

Financial aid is available for families - Financial Aid Request for Student Activity Fee. If you qualify for free or reduced lunch, or are experiencing exceptional adverse circumstances, you can request assistance with student activity fees by completing a financial aid request form.   

No student is exempt from charges for lost or damaged books, locks, materials, supplies and equipment. 




Join Us March 14

We would like to invite community members to join us at Riverdale High School from 2-3 pm on March 14th, 2023 for an author visit with Dr. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai. She will be reading from her new book, Dust Child, ahead of her event at Powell’s Books later that evening.

Students in grades 7th-12th will be attending the assembly and have been reading Quế Mai’s work in their language arts classes. 

Here is more information from Quế Mai:

Born and raised in Việt Nam, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is the author of the international bestseller The Mountains Sing, runner-up for the 2021 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Best Debut Award, the 2021 International Book Awards, the 2021 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, and the 2020 Lannan Literary Award Fellowship for Fiction. She has published twelve books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in Vietnamese and English and has received some of the top literary prizes in Việt Nam. Her writing has been translated into twenty languages and has appeared in major publications, including the New York Times. She has a PhD in creative writing from Lancaster University. She is an advocate for the rights of disadvantaged groups in Việt Nam and has founded several scholarship programs, and she was named by Forbes Vietnam as one of twenty inspiring women of 2021. Dust Child is her second novel. For more information, visit:




Riverdale School District Budget Committee

The Riverdale School District is currently recruiting to fill one open position (whose term expires June 30, 2024) and at least one alternate on the District’s Budget Committee. Community members interested in learning more about the fiscal operations of the district and participating in the review, design, and recommendation of the district budget, please see the description below and process to apply.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 17, 2022.

All budget meetings will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 PM

  • Wednesday, April 19, 2023 at Riverdale Grade School
  • Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at Riverdale Grade School
  • Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at Riverdale Grade School


Nicole Bassen

Riverdale School District

11733 S Breyman Ave

Portland, OR 97219


Monday, April 3 2023: Board will review the names of persons submitting applications and appoint persons to fill any vacant positions.

Apply here


Important Dates

  • Sunday, March 12 - Daylight Saving Time starts 
  • Saturday, March 18 - PTC Auction at The Foundry at 6 p.m.
  • March 20 - Board Meeting at 6 p.m. 
  • March 27-31 - Spring Break

Riverdale All-District Pep Rally, 2023