ETCETERA - WWU engineering students help rebuild school in Honduras

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While in Honduras in March, Walla Walla University students began rebuilding a school in Nueva Suyapa.

To raise funds for this effort, the Engineers Without Borders WWU chapter will host its fourth annual Hope for Honduras Gala at 6 p.m. April 29 in the Whitman College Reid Campus Center ballroom.

The gala is a community event. Guests may purchase tickets by Monday for an early bird rate of $40. After that, tickets cost $50 until April 24. For more information about EWB-WWU and ticket reservations, see ewb-wwu.org.

The fundraiser benefits children's education in Honduras. The event will feature catered food with a dash for dessert, live music performed by WWU students and live and silent auctions. Honduran hammocks and coffee, Melody Muffler metal creations, an Oregon coast getaway and golf packages are among the items to be auctioned.

EWB-WWU has been working in Nueva Suyapa, a small mountain town in northwestern Honduras. A major earthquake two years ago severely damaged the town's school classrooms.

Proceeds from the gala will be used to build five new classrooms in Nueva Suyapa and 12 surrounding communities.

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Larry Langhoff and granddaughter Shyanne Albee hung out a lot. Flying kites, and going fishing and even some nail painting were among their favorite pursuits.

Now a senior at Weston McEwen High School, Shyanne's grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer when she was in middle school.

After his death in 2008, "all I could think about was trying to figure out a way to honor his memory; and what better way is there than to give back to the people that helped him?" she said in a release from Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

Shyanne honored her grandfather's memory by raising funds for cancer patients as her senior project.

The $542 she donated to Providence St. Mary Foundation went into its Cancer Special Needs Fund at Providence St. Mary Regional Cancer Center, where Larry was treated.

This fund helps cancer patients in the region with expenses not normally covered by Medicaid, Medicare and most insurance plans. In 2011, the foundation paid out $30,000-plus to cover power bills, transportation costs, lodging and other ancillary costs patients incur when traveling to receive treatment, hospital spokeswoman Kathleen Obenland said a release.

To honor another family member who has autism, Shyanne donated an additional $542 to F.A.C.E.S Northwest, a camp near Bellingham, Wash. She volunteered at the cancer center and F.A.C.E.S. to learn more about both organizations.

She held an art auction that included some of her own pieces and sold pulled-pork sandwiches during Caledonian Games to raise the money.

"We are honored to have such a caring young woman donate her time and energy towards our Cancer Special Needs Fund.

The difference this young woman has made in the lives of those patients who cannot afford the care they desperately need is tremendous," said Chris Garratt, executive director of the Providence St. Mary Foundation.

Shyanne plans to join the medical profession, and will enroll in nursing school at Shoreline Community College north of Seattle. She is the daughter of Dennis and Laree Albee of Athena.

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The Association of Washington School Principals named former Pioneer Middle School teacher Kenny Renner-Singer its Washington State Middle Level Principal of the Year.

Kenny is currently principal at Icicle River Middle and Beaver Valley Elementary schools in Leavenworth with the Cascade School District.

He started his career as a language arts and social studies teacher at Pioneer in 2000, according to a release in the Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review.

In addition to teaching duties, in 2003 he also served as an administrative intern and spent time as acting assistant principal at Pioneer.

For this year's honor, a panel of principals representing the Association of Washington Middle Level Principals, a component of AWSP, selected him from a pool of regional finalists.

The selection committee said his work producing "significant student achievement gains" made him stand out above the rest.

Kenny has been principal of Icicle River and Beaver Valley schools since 2005. He's encouraged his staff to question everything.

"They pored over reams of student achievement data and determined focus areas. He helped teacher teams develop content-area learning targets, benchmark assessments and interventions for struggling and accelerated students.

"As a result of adding new enrichment programs for accelerated students, eighth-grade math scores skyrocketed from 63.5 percent in 2005-2006 to 90.4 percent in 2009-2010."

He also focuses on hiring, carefully selecting new hires to fit grade-level and content-area teams and the overall culture of the school. He places a strong emphasis on national board certification and teacher participation in leadership roles at the local, regional and national levels. Because of that, Kenny has seen direct gains in student achievement.

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Blue Mountain Chorus of Sweet Adelines will present its competition send-off performance at 7 p.m. April 23 at First Presbyterian Church, 325 S. First Ave.

In addition to songs from the Chorus and Blueprint quartet, Kevin Loomer and Richele Loney, accompanied by Siena Picchi Dobson, will reprise songs from the 2011 Show "They Write the Songs."

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call 509-520-0675.

Members of Blue Mountain Chorus will join Sweet Adelines from Alaska, Washington and Idaho for the Regional competition weekend in Spokane April 27-28, said their director, Darlene Filla. Twenty-five quartets and 16 choruses will perform on stage at the INB Performing Arts Center, formerly the Opera House.

The first-place quartet will be eligible to compete on the international stage in Denver this fall and the first-place chorus will travel to competition in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2013.

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Two local students who competed in the Daughters of the American Revolution History Essay Contest won big, said Sarita McCaw, chairwoman of the DAR Narcissa Prentiss Chapter here.

Mary Grace McKeirnan won locally, at state and in the Western regional contest at the seventh-grade level. Her essay has been entered in the national contest.

A student of Ted Knoph, Mary Grace attends Sager School in College Place. She is the daughter of Lisa and Michael McKeirnan of Walla Walla.

Home-schooled sixth-grader Lauren Marie Bergman won in her grade level locally and at state. She is the daughter of Sarah Bergman of Walla Walla.

Locally, winners received a bronze medal and Sarita will present them with a certificate.

State winners receive a silver medal and certificate. A certificate also comes at the district and national levels. And a gold medal and cash award go to the top national winner.

Mary Grace and Lauren wrote on the topic that asked them to pretend they were alive during the War of 1812 and had a friend who was famous in history for standing up for America during that time.

They described how the person stood up for America and why it's important to honor such heroes when celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

The U.S. declared war on the British Empire on June 18, 1812, over trade restrictions and various other issues. The British burned Washington, D.C., before the Americans repelled their attacks in New York, New Orleans and Baltimore.

The Battle of Baltimore in 1814 inspired the lyrics for our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the conflict became known as the "second war of independence" against Britain. The war ended on Feb. 18, 1815.

A ceremony to honor state winners will be May 5 during the statewide DAR convention in the Tri-Cities.

Contact Annie Charnley Eveland at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

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