Oregon has a female in the governor's office—and as of the start of this year, the state also can boast having one in the kid governor's "office." During a ceremony on Jan. 8, Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson named fifth grader Erikka Baldwin of Eugene as Oregon's Kid Governor.
The program, modeled after a similar program in Connecticut, began as a way to get Oregon's kids involved in civic participation, teaching kids how elections work and how people can participate in a democratic society. Richardson named Dom Peters Oregon's first Kid Governor in 2018. Peters went on to post blogs, attend events and meet with students and teachers all over the state throughout the year.
Each elementary school in Oregon is eligible to nominate a 5th grader to run for the job. That student has to come up with a community issue they would promote during their tenure. This year, Baldwin—from Eugene's McCornack Elementary—ran on a platform of "finding homes for dogs & cats." Other candidates submitted ideas including stopping school mass shootings, protecting the environment and helping students with disabilities.
Combating Anxiety with Art TherapyAnxiety is not just an issue for adults. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 25.1 percent of kids between 13 and 18 deal with anxiety. While some resources are available within schools, a local art studio is also stepping up to offer support.
Base Camp Studio in Bend now offers Art Therapy groups for both middle and high school students, facilitated by board certified art therapist Darlene Becker. The weekly sessions focus on teaching teens to use art as a method of regulating emotions and calming the nervous system. The first session started in January, with the next one running from April 18 through June 6. Partial scholarships are available. basecampstudio.org
Bend-La Pine Parents Launch New Book CompetitionThird through 5th grade students in Bend-La Pine Schools now have two options when it comes to book competitions. A group of parent volunteers recently started the Clash of the Classics book competition in 2018 to offer "age-appropriate, universal life lessons children can learn while enjoying the classics, and just being an imaginative kid," according to the program website.
Students who participate are given a reading list of classic childhood reads including "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" by Judy Blume, "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo and others. Students then form teams of four and compete in a competition that involves answering questions about the content of the books and naming books based on clues. Competitions start in February, with a championship round scheduled for April. Students in any Bend area school or homeschool can opt to participate.
Clash of the Classics, in format, is similar to the popular nationwide program, Battle of the Books—sponsored by the Oregon Association of School Libraries and the Oregon Library Association. clashoftheclassics.com