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Ben Wentz

Stories by Ben

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Davis Elementary time capsule rescued

COLLEGE PLACE — It took two days of digging and searching, but staff finally rescued a time capsule buried under the Davis Elementary School courtyard.

Waitsburg tops Valley schools in achievement

WALLA WALLA – The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction announced the 2013 Washington Achievement Awards Tuesday, and Waitsburg High School won the most accolades among area schools on the list.

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Walla Walla High School bond supporters take to the streets (with video)

WALLA WALLA — About 40 people marched along Main Street Thursday afternoon in a demonstration to support the bond proposal to build a new science building at Walla Walla High School.

Walla Walla school superintendent not chosen for job on West side

WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla School District Superintendent Mick Miller turned out to be the second choice for a new job as superintendent of Shoreline School District.

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Teachers, staff make their pitch for bond

Open houses, including one Monday, aim to show voters needs at Wa-Hi.

Walla Walla superintendent a finalist for job on West side

WALLA WALLA — Public schools Superintendent Mick Miller is one of two finalists for Shoreline School District’s vacant superintendent position, Shoreline announced Monday.

Costs compared for Wa-Hi, state construction

While the Walla Walla High School project would be about 9 percent more than the state average, it is attributed to the complexity of a stand-alone science facility.

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Teacher at Juvenile Justice Center battles through hearing problems

She is able to function with a hearing iplant, a high-powered hearing aid and some lip-reading.

When Donna Coffeen first began teaching at the Juvenile Justice Center in 1998, she wasn’t sure it was the right fit. Then a stay-at-home mom, Coffeen was recruited by a friend to teach at the JJC after volunteering with the Diversion program, which aims to keep low-level youth offenders out of jail. At first it was touch-and-go, Coffeen said.

Class gives juvenile offenders a chance

Education, especially learning to read, can 'stabilize people who are unstable.'

WALLA WALLA — Since 1998 Donna Coffeen has taught some of Walla Walla’s most vulnerable children at the Juvenile Justice Center. Children who may have fled abusive homes and gotten into trouble with the law, or who may have looked for comfort in drugs or alcohol, or who may have found gang life irresistible.

Bond election will cost district $20,000 to $25,000

WALLA WALLA — Running bond elections, or any election for that matter, is not cheap.

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Wa-Hi science building to go to voters

WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla School Board on Thursday passed a resolution to put a $10.2 million bond to build a new science building at Walla Walla High School before voters in the April 22 special election.

Walla Walla School Board votes to put $10.2 million bond on April ballot

WALLA WALLA — By a vote of 4-1 the Walla Walla School Board passed a resolution to put a $10.2 million bond to build a new science building at Walla Walla High School before voters in this April’s special election on Thursday afternoon.

Wa-Hi bond supporters urge April vote

WALLA WALLA — School and community members urged the Walla Walla School Board to move forward with a plan to build a stand-alone science building at Walla Walla High School, despite the district’s Community Facilities Task Force recommendation Tuesday not to do so.

Task force suggests delay in asking for Walla Walla school bond

Discussion will continue at tonight’s Walla Walla School Board meeting.

WALLA WALLA — Despite concerns from its Community Facilities Task Force, the Walla Walla School District may yet forge ahead with a plan to build a stand-alone science building at Walla Walla High School.

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Music started Garrison principal scaling education heights

One teacher nurtured his passion for music while another lit a fire for studies.

Walla Walla voters could see $10 million bond to build new Wa-Hi science building

WALLA WALLA — On the heels of a pair of failed bond elections to fund a complete renovation of Walla Walla High School, district officials are forwarding a dramatically scaled-back plan to build a new stand-alone science building and leave the remainder of the renovation plans to a later bond issue.

Update: Whitman president plans to step down in 2015

WALLA WALLA — Whitman College President George Bridges announced in an email to college alumni Wednesday that he plans to resign in June 2015.

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Crack engineering students vie in egg drop

It’s an annual shell game at Walla Walla University, with the goal to keep the shell intact.

COLLEGE PLACE — One by one, with names like Fabulous Unicorn, the Eggsecutor and Team Viper, egg-preserving contraptions tumbled down from the roof of Walla Walla University’s Kretschmar Hall.

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Students get a fish-eye view of digital media

Wa-Hi students are taking to the digital media tech class like, well, fish to water.

Wa-Hi students are working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a simulation of the Lower Granite Dam as part of their Wa-Hi digital media technology class.

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Visions of the future

A tour of Walla Walla’s public schools reveals a district with forward-looking programs, but outdated facilities.

WALLA WALLA — Despite the floor-to-ceiling windows along one wall, the physics lab at Walla Walla High School is underlit. Bundles of wires and powerstrips dangle from the room’s computers and the six lab tables in the middle of the room leave little room for anything else.

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Ferndale rebuilds education foundation

The formerly highly rated school had slipped to the state’s second-lowest rating.

MILTON-FREEWATER — As short a time ago as 2008, Ferndale Elementary was a model school.

Local trust partners with scholarships foundation

WALLA WALLA — The Carrie Welch Trust will no longer directly award individual academic scholarships but will instead partner with the College Success Foundation to provide scholarships to low-income Valley students, the trust announced.

District staff urge upgrades to Wa-Hi

A survey of school personnel indicates 90 percent favor a new capital bond proposal.

WALLA WALLA — Staff and faculty made it clear in a survey released Wednesday that something must be done to modernize the 50-year-old school.

Walla Walla School District to assess student health

A public committee is being formed to conduct the survey.

WALLA WALLA — To Jennifer Douglas, good health and quality education go hand in hand.

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Rights veteran shares nonviolent blueprint

WALLA WALLA — A woman who led some of the most successful protests and campaigns of the 1960s Civil Rights Movements gave an intimate workshop Wednesday to 20 or so area college students in the front room of the Glover Alston Center at Whitman College.

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‘Grease’ revs up for Power House Theatre engagement

WALLA WALLA — An era of leather jackets, hot rods and teenage love will take over the Gesa Power House Theatre stage Friday and Saturday.

Valley school districts seek to pass levies

Four districts have replacement levies on the Feb. 11 ballot; Dixie also want new capital funds.

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Veteran civil rights leader to visit Walla Walla

Diane Nash will give a lecture, culminating several events to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

McKenzie Marley named to Milton-Freewater School Board

MILTON-FREEWATER — McKenzie Marley will fill a vacancy on the Milton-Freewater School Board created when Dennis Burks resigned in December. Marley, a lifetime resident of Milton-Freewater, was selected as one of two applicants.

McKenzie Marley selected at Milton-Freewater School Board member

MILTON-FREEWATER — McKenzie Marley joined the Milton-Freewater School Board to make a difference, she said in a phone interview Friday.

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Open enrollment for Walla Walla schools starts Feb. 3

WALLA WALLA — There will be two registration periods this year for enrollment in Walla Walla Public Schools during the 2014-15 school year.

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Fundraising effort for Wa-Hi track rounds final turn

The Blue Devils have long been bedeviled with a substandard running track.

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Sporleder gave until it hurt

The former Lincoln High School principal’s approach lifted students and the school, but left him exhausted.

College Place school levy renewal no slam dunk

After winning approval for a new high school, district officials are wary a $2.98M operations levy might be a tough sell this year.

COLLEGE PLACE — With almost 30 percent of its annual budget on the line, College Place Public Schools is hoping voters can distinguish between a bond and a levy as it seeks to renew its programs and operations levy this February.

Board gives OK to rifle club at Walla Walla High School

WALLA WALLA — After years of success shooting air rifles, including winning a national championship this past spring, Walla Walla High School’s Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps precision rifle team is looking to take things up a notch.

Pleasant View High School to be closed

The alternative school near Milton-Freewater has been operating in the red and is too costly to repair.

MILTON-FREEWATER — Facing sizable losses and a building that needs major repairs, the InterMountain Educational Service District and Milton-Freewater School District have agreed to shutter Pleasant View High School at the end of the school year.

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Nethercutt takes aim at US civics illiteracy

The former Eastern Washington congressmen is sponsoring a student tournament in history and government.

WALLA WALLA — Using the same modest charm that helped him unseat then-Speaker of the House Tom Foley in 1995, former U.S. congressman George Nethercutt captivated a classroom of eighth-graders at Pioneer Middle School Thursday.

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Milton-Freewater club's numbers reflect national boost in gun sales

The East End Rod and Gun Club nearly doubled its membership to 800 over the last year.

MILTON-FREEWATER — A surge in gun sales nationally and in the Walla Walla Valley over the past year has led to explosive growth at the East End Rod and Gun Club.

Dixie to seek $450,000 school capital levy

DIXIE — The Dixie School Board approved a resolution at a special meeting Tuesday night to put a six-year, $450,000 capital levy before voters this February.

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Walla Walla's Opportunity Program lives up to its name

WALLA WALLA — With brown hair cascading over a blue Nike pullover, Opportunity Program student Cristal Quezada is the picture of a normal high school senior.

Fleeing burglary suspect prompts Berney school lockdown

A man fleeing what police believe was a home burglary caused a 45-minute lockdown Tuesday at Berney Elementary School.

Whitman dean of faculty stepping down

WALLA WALLA — After six years of service in Whitman College’s highest academic post, Provost and Dean of Faculty Timothy Kaufman-Osborn is stepping down.

School arms students with iPads

The 172 Walla Walla Valley Academy students use the devices more than pencils and paper.

COLLEGE PLACE — The most striking thing about Tyler Anderson’s eighth-period U.S. government class at Walla Walla Valley Academy on a recent day wasn’t the row of metallic iPads students propped up on their desks.

Debate team sorts through gender issues

Whitman’s team has been suspended from official competition over federal Title IX concerns.

WALLA WALLA — Whitman College’s debate team has been suspended from some functions because of Title IX infractions in late October according to a recent report in the school’s student newspaper, the Whitman Pioneer.

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Wa-Hi French horn soloist featured in symphony concert

It will be her first featured spot with the Walla Walla Symphony, but at just 17, Kyli Humphreys is an accomplished French horn soloist.

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District officials in quandary over Wa-Hi

They’re at a loss for a renovation measure they think voters would accept.

WALLA WALLA — How do you persuade a community to pass a bond that will accomplish less but likely cost the same or more than one voters had already shot down?

Ground broken for new College Place high school

COLLEGE PLACE — College Place broke ground for its new high school Wednesday morning, marking the culmination of decades of efforts to build the city its own secondary school.

Voters decide Walla Walla, Dixie school board races

WALLA WALLA — With just more than 80 percent of the vote, Sam Wells was elected Tuesday to the Walla Walla School Board.

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Athena weathers delay for new track

The district got an upgrade at no additional cost because of the delay in the project.

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Wa-Hi’s production of ‘Flowers for Algernon’ blossoms in the round

WALLA WALLA — For this fall’s production of “Flowers for Algernon,” Walla Walla High School drama teacher Brian Senter wants to get the audience close to the action.