Spudders aim to make everyone feel at home
Charlie Fisher has two homes, if you will.
Right now, she has to stay away from one of them.
“What makes Ridgefield High School special is how much it feels like home for me,” said Fisher, a sophomore who plans on running for ASB president for the next school year. “I’ve grown up in Ridgefield my whole life. Started as a very small, tight-knit community. Even though it’s grown, we’re all still friendly with each other. It’s a homey feeling whenever I’m there.”
Tyler Lehnertz said Ridgefield High School takes care of its own.
“We have some of the greatest student-faculty relationships in Southwest Washington or the state,” said Lehnertz, a senior. “They care about us as people. Not just in the classroom, but out of the classroom. A lot of teachers mean a lot to our students. That’s the best part of our school district.”
Now, the Spudders are in a holding pattern.
Lehnertz recalled having lunch on the last day of school before the closure was announced. A friend had an observation.
“He said, ‘This is our last day together.’ That might be an accurate statement,” Lehnertz said.
Of course, that friend meant last day as a group, at school, this academic year. Because no one knows for certain when school will resume.
“I miss pretty much everything about school,” Fisher said. “I love going to school. My academic success is very important to me. I miss seeing my friends and all of my teachers. It’s definitely weird to be away from all of my work.”
Fisher is in several leadership groups outside of school, too, including the Clark County Youth Commission. She is devoted to social justice causes, as well.
Through her efforts, she is hoping to help her school and community ease through the transition from small town to not-so-small-anymore.
“One of the most important things about Ridgefield High School is just how much it is growing,” Fisher said. “There are some people who are keeping up with the growth and staying together. It is hard to adjust to at first, but then we get in a groove and we get used to it.”
Lehnertz is the president of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society. He used to run cross country, but this past fall he played football. He also should be playing baseball for the Spudders right now.
“At the moment, I’m an at-home baseball player,” he said.
“I miss all the extra-curricular activities and things like that. I miss my fellow peers, especially the seniors. This was the homestretch for us. This was a big deal. I just miss being around my peers and being out in the sun and hitting baseballs. It’s a rough time but you have to find a way to get through it.”
Lehnertz said he hopes everyone will learn from what the world is going through these days.
“You have to make the most of your chances when they present themselves,” he said. “You never know when you’ll get that chance again.”
“I miss pretty much everything about school,” Fisher said. “My academic success is very important to me. I miss seeing my friends and all my teachers. It’s definitely weird to be away from all of my work.”
Regardless of how this school year ends, Fisher and Lehnertz know they are part of a special community. They are the Spudders, after all. Folks across the state have heard of them. That name certainly stands out in a crowd.
“When I see the Ridgefield Spudder, I honestly just think of community and family,” Fisher said. “We have a unique mascot. That makes us stand out. There’s a lot of blue and orange everywhere.”
As part of the senior projects every year, community members come to the school to listen to presentations from the students.
“They genuinely like to hear our plans moving forward,” Lehnertz said. “It’s exciting to see how much they are involved in our students.”
Advice to other students during the school closure:
“Stay away from the media when you can,” Fisher said. “The media can really mess with your mental health. Constantly watching the news and the death toll makes people really anxious and worried. Don’t get me wrong, staying updated is important, but if the TV is on, turn to a different channel.
“We are young. This is something that has never happened to us before, so being aware of our mental health during this time is really important.”