The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Students may pursue science, technology, arts, and engineering in summer program


There is a new summer program in the works for students of all ages in Wahkiakum this year, thanks to local volunteers and dedicated staff at Wahkiakum School District.

The program is the brainchild of Ron Wright, a former teacher and volunteer who has worked tirelessly to bring robotics to students in school and 4-H, Wahkiakum High School science and robotics teacher Jeff Rooklidge, and Principal Stephanie Leitz.

“We have been kicking the idea around for a couple years,” Wright said, “but the project was slowed by the pandemic.”

Their goals parallel some at Wahkiakum School District, where they are hoping to make the most of the natural resources in the county, as well as build STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) skills in the 21st century.

The STEAM Wahkiakum Summer School, or SWSS, will be a fun way for students to get involved in building robots, programming, ham radios, or a STEAM project of their own design. They can earn high school credit, demonstrate their work for ribbons at the Wahkiakum County Fair, or just to challenge and improve skills in those areas of concentration for their own satisfaction and future. Students can also receive credit for working at the wildlife refuge alongside Rooklidge this summer.

Wright has been working with Paul Ireland, who is in charge of IT at WSD, on Minecraft, which can be used to teach programming.

“It’s a great way to get kids involved in programming because it uses JAVA., an AP computer science language,” Wright said.

Some of the goals of the program are long term. If they take advantage of the county’s natural resources, and teach kids valuable skills for a modern world, in ways that challenge critical thinking and problem solving, perhaps more graduates can find a way to stay or return to the place they call home.

“We are going to measure how we do on our goal in this broad sense,” Wright said. “Right now, a small percent of our high school kids find a way to stay in Wahkiakum and have a family wage job or business. We will know we have been successful in transforming Wahkiakum County when over 50 percent of our our kids might go away for a year or two, but come back because they have family wage jobs or businesses here.”

This little summer program is just an attempt in achieving part of that.

So far, only a few students have signed up, but with the continued enthusiasm for the robotics program at the high school and a team that is committed to working through the summer, Wright is hopeful that this program will continue to grow.

“We’re going to see how it works,” Wright said.

For more information, contact Wright at


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