Waterville students contribute to success of Community Summit

Lexi Deishl, center, facilitates a collaborative challenge group at the IRIS Success Summit. (Joel Harding photo)

Lexi Deishl, center, facilitates a collaborative challenge group at the IRIS Success Summit. (Joel Harding photo)

 

By Joel Harding
Empire Press Correspondent

The Initiative for Rural Innovation and Stewardship (IRIS) held its sixth annual Community Success Summit Nov. 12 in Waterville. The theme of this year’s summit was “Waterville: A Great Place to Come Home To.” Summit planners worked with Waterville community leaders, educators and their students, and local organizations to present community accomplishments and explore ways in which Waterville and other North Central Washington communities can thrive. In the morning, Shocker students of all ages presented brief speeches about how leadership contributes to their lives. The young folks were also facilitators in the afternoon collaborative challenge discussions.

For the morning session, the students were asked by school administrators to share thoughts about leadership. From third-grader Kellee Kendrick to senior Carlee Meredith, the presentations were smoothly delivered and thoughtfully prepared. Adults from outside Waterville complimented the students on their speeches.

Students also contributed to the Success Summit and to the ongoing tradition of coming home to Waterville by conducting interviews of Waterville educators who have returned to their hometown to pursue their careers. Audio selections are available online through the Listening Post Network, a project of people working together to tell the story of North Central Washington.

Three journalism students, who work on the school newspaper The Shockwave, worked on this project. They are Cithlali Chavez, Taylor Schoenberg and Phylicite Chitwood. Each was involved in conducting the interviews and operating the recording equipment. Marsha Burke Ashley, Tabatha Kendrick Mires, Angie Whitehall Deishl, Jody Flaget, Kieth Finkbeiner, Tayn Kendrick, Armando Davila, Renee Biggar Landon and Alice Melloy Ruud were all interviewed. The students later wrote brief articles, based upon those interviews. Some of those articles have been published in the Douglas County Empire Press and others will be published in future issues.

When students asked why these teachers decided to return, most gave the following answer: “I wanted my children to have to grow up as I did and the best place for them to do that was in my hometown —Waterville.”

Kendrick added, “Waterville is a good place, then and now.”

Chavez said that she developed a better understanding of how the community works and how much people help one another. Schoenberg said that one of the surprises for her was new knowledge. When she interviewed Alice Melloy Ruud, she learned that the building now used by the Checkered Tablecloth (operated by Teresa Ruud, Ruud’s daughter-in-law) was once a law office where Alice Ruud’s father had his practice.

In the collaborative challenge segment of the day, students facilitated table discussions on key rural issues. The topics included recruiting volunteers, developing leaders, engaging youth in community, and reducing waste and increasing recycling and repurposing. Good ideas were generated from the groups and the adults involved appreciated the student efforts.

The Community Success Summit was enjoyed by all who participated. Waterville students contributed significantly to the event and to the ongoing projects of IRIS. In any community, young people can be a part of local success. They certainly make contributions in Waterville.

For more information about IRIS and the Listening Post Network, visit irisncw.org. To read the student articles, visit empire-press.com and click on “Voices” and then “NCW Community Success Summit.”

 

From left, Taylor Shoenberg, Cithlali Chavez and Phylicite Chitwood at the IRIS Success Summit. (Joel Harding photo)

From left, Taylor Shoenberg, Cithlali Chavez and Phylicite Chitwood at the IRIS Success Summit. (Joel Harding photo)

 

Ella Osborne tells the IRIS Success Summit audience about her leadership experiences. (Joel Harding photo)

Ella Osborne tells the IRIS Success Summit audience about her leadership experiences. (Joel Harding photo)