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Open House 2013 highlights

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We had record-breaking attendance at our preschool through 12th grade open house on November 3. By some estimates, more than 900 visitors sampled classes, toured our beautiful campus, and talked with students, teachers, and current parents.

Highlights from Sunday include
  • Our Upper School robotics team talking about their recent grant award from MIT
  • Student artists, musicians, and actors performing in our newly opened Creative Arts Center
  • Fifth graders leading tours of our 60-acre campus
  • Dozens of current parents volunteering to help out and answer questions about Catlin Gabel
  • Teachers offering sample classes in English, computer science, math, science, languages, and history

Don't worry if you missed open house. We offer a variety of opportunities to see our campus between now and the application deadlines this winter. See our full events schedule and tour schedule on our website.

Please enjoy this student-produced video that we shared with our guests last year

Kindergarten Halloween photo gallery

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MS Halloween photo gallery

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Thank you, Mark Pritchard, for taking these photos. And, thank you 6th graders, for your spontaneous human tunnel offering a special greeting to the kindergarten students when they paraded through the Middle School in their costumes.

MS Halloween photo gallery

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Thank you, Mark Pritchard, for the photos!

MS boys soccer team wins 2nd consecutive league championship

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Way to go, Eagles!

In the final game of the season, Catlin Gabel beat OES in penalty kicks after battling it out in regulation time and two overtime periods. The future looks bright! 

Video: college admission expert Robin Mamlet

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The college counseling department presents the second annual State of College Admission event

Robin Mamlet, co-author of College Admission from Application to Acceptance and former dean of admission at Stanford University, Swarthmore College, and Sarah Lawrence College spoke with parents at an all-school college evening on Monday, September 7, 2013. Our second annual State of College Admission event covered many of the issues on the minds of students and families as they consider their plans beyond Catlin Gabel.


"The Tempest" photo gallery

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Thank you to Thomas Newlands '14 for the photos.

Shakespeare's  "The Tempest," performed by Middle and Upper School students, was the inaugural play in the Creative Arts Center's black box theater.

Outdoor Program and Arts UNITE at Ekone Ranch

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Horseback Arts Trip a Success for it's Second Year!

After a relaxing no school Friday, students met up at 2:00 for a 2:30pm sharp departure East to Goldendale WA.  On the bus we sang, got acquainted, and chatted and arrived at Ekone Ranch in the beautiful slanted evening light.  The bus filled with smiles as the bus wove down the driveway into the valley filled with horses, little smoking chimneys, pigs, goats, and golden leaves. 
 Shonie met us and we got the lay of the land before moving into the longhouse where we set ourselves up in bunks and lofts.  We stretched our legs on a walk around the ranch and some pig feeding before heading over to the kitchen where we were greeted by a warm stove and delicious dinner.  Students all gathered around a table chatting, eating, and enjoying the company. Just as we were finishing, Nance and Ailie arrived and joined the group! After dinner we helped clean up, bundled up, and headed over to the lodge where we lit a fire beneath the watch of Monarch the buffalo head.  Half the group had planned activities for the evening and we played “hot seat,” a question game where the bonding was sweet and the group got a lot closer.  Just after 10 we headed back to the longhouse where we stoked the wood stove and settled into the chilly evening under the full moon. 
 7:30 came early with the calling of wild turkeys through the morning mist and the breakfast crew bundled up and headed down to the kitchen to help get breakfast ready.  Everyone joined them at 8 and we enjoyed a delicious warm breakfast before cleaning up, getting ready for the day and meeting up for some stretching and plan making.  1/3 of the group went riding while the other 2/3s did encaustic wax painting, photography, and horse charcoal drawings with Nance.  The riders returned from their riding lesson and glorious autumn loop along the canyon rim in time for lunch  and we all ate in the sunshine under the fall leaves.  After lunch we moved wood in the forest and had some quiet solo time where students napped, read, and enjoyed the peace of the valley. In the afternoon the groups rotated.  Art was made, horses were ridden, and adventure was had!
 The evening found us gathered together enjoying a delicious dinner before another evening of games around the fire.
 Our final morning was spent with the remainder of students riding while the rest of us hiked to the bottom of the canyon to a beautiful oasis! After lunch the bus arrived.  We had a talent show on the bus ride back  which included yodeling and songs! We got back to Catlin at 4pm dusty, relaxed, and happy.

Varsity cross-country teams qualify for state

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Congratulations to the boys and girls teams!

Freshman Samantha Slusher won the district championship with a season best time of 19:34.

The top 10 placers at districts were

Girls: #1 Samantha Slusher, #3 Grace Masback, and #5 Kelsey Hurst

Boys: #5 Max Fogelstrom, #7 Garet Neal, and #10 Luca Ostertag-Hill

The state championships are on Saturday, November 2. For more information, go to

Seniors and 1st graders pumpkin carving photo gallery

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The classes of 2014 and 2025 lucked out with plenty of sunshine for their trip to the pumpkin patch

Click on any photo to enlarge it, download it, or start the slide show.

Science research class publishes scientific journal

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The Upper School science research class has launched Elements, an annual publication showcasing student research. The publication's mission is to increase awareness about what a scientific research project entails, and to create a hub where our community’s researchers can learn, ask questions, collaborate, and see their hard work in a formal science journal format. The inaugural edition features the work of students in the classes of 2013 through 2016.

Open the PDF below.

Students part of citywide Shakespeare collaboration with “The Tempest”

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Catlin Gabel Middle and Upper School students are taking part in Portland Playhouse’s Fall Festival of Shakespeare, a series of plays produced by eight area high schools and two middle schools. The plays will be performed first at each individual school, and then all schools will bring their plays to Portland’s Winningstad Theatre on November 2 and 3.
The Catlin Gabel cast will perform Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” on Friday, October 25, and Saturday, October 26, at 7 p.m. in the black box theater in Catlin Gabel’s Creative Arts Center. They will perform again at the Winningstad Theatre on Saturday, November 2, at 2 p.m. Tickets for the Catlin Gabel performances are available at the door: $9 general admission, $7 for students and seniors. Tickets for the Winningstad performance are available online through Portland’5 Ticketing. Tickets are $15, with a $7.95 fee per transaction.
“The Tempest” is the first mainstage production in Catlin Gabel’s new black box theater. The building was designed to bring Middle and Upper School students together, and they have collaborated on every aspect of the production. Students designed the set, costumes, makeup, lighting, publicity materials, sound, and music. The Catlin Gabel rock band will accompany the play with both originals and covers. See the video below for a preview of the play.
“The process has been so deeply driven by our students,” said Upper School theater teacher Elizabeth Gibbs. “A lot of what you see will come from their minds and imaginations.”
“Our students have built a creative community between Middle and Upper School students, as well as with students from other schools,” said Middle School drama teacher Deirdre Atkinson. “Our students’ insatiable curiosity and infectious enthusiasm has inspired the adults who have helped shape what they create. In turn, we teachers have collaborated with our peers at the other schools to read and engage with Shakepeare’s texts.” Both Elizabeth and Deirdre trained last summer with Shakespeare and Company, funded by a summer innovation grant from the school.
Deirdre and Elizabeth chose “The Tempest” because its compelling roles would be inviting to a wide variety of students and audiences, and they accepted all students who were interested. Deirdre remarked on the relationship between “The Tempest” and the new Creative Arts Center: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on. . . . How wonderful to reflect on Prospero’s words as we gather together in our beautiful theatre in the Creative Arts Center. In the theatre, so many people—actors, designers, dancers, and musicians—come together to bring a story to life ‘out of thin air.’ The building was once merely a dream; as in the theatre, so many members of the Catlin Gabel community came together to bring the dream to life. It has been a delight to watch our students build creative community while exploring Shakespeare’s text and coming to realize the possibilities of this brilliant new creative space.”
From the Portland Playhouse website: The Fall Festival of Shakespeare is a non-competitive region-wide collaboration between Portland Playhouse and area high schools. The Festival is a spectacular theatrical event, in part because student actors connect well to Shakespeare; they understand the passion, the large stakes, and the disaster. High school is not unlike an Elizabethan Tragedy.
The students are not only performers in the festival, but a large and vocal component of the audience. They are most active and vibrant theatre patrons you will ever encounter. They “oooh” and “ahhh”; call out “Oh no she didn’t”; scream and laugh. It’s the closest thing we have to how an Elizabethan audience at Shakespeare’s Globe might have reacted. It’s an unforgettable experience for the students involved, and an engaging cultural phenomenon for everyone to witness.
The collaborating high schools are Catlin Gabel, Ridgefield, Trillium, Roosevelt, Franklin, Ft. Vancouver, Hockinson, and De La Salle; middle schools taking part are St. Andrew’s and King.

AIM survey letter from Lark Palma

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Assess Inclusivity and Multiculturalism

October, 16, 2013

Dear parents, faculty, staff, trustees, Middle and Upper School students, and recent graduates,

For Catlin Gabel to continue as a vibrant and relevant school we must get to the heart of diversity and inclusivity. Assessing how we’re doing with respect to diversity and inclusivity is not merely a navel-gazing exercise. This is essential work that, if we do it right, will prevent our school from going the way of the dinosaur.

AIM is a year-long project to Assess Inclusivity and Multiculturalism. It supports one of the school’s strategic initiatives and addresses a key recommendation from our accreditation process. Frankly, we were dinged for our lackluster progress in this regard.

AIM is a serious and comprehensive undertaking. The first part is an online survey that launches October 23. We are eager to hear from all Catlin Gabel community members. The survey results will be carefully examined to identify future goals and plans, to ensure we are the most inclusive school community we can be. The second part involves numerous focus groups in the spring.

Next week I will send you a link to the online survey.

I would personally appreciate it if you could take 15–20 minutes to let us know what you think and how you feel about diversity and inclusivity at Catlin Gabel. The survey is absolutely anonymous. We hope this allows for your full participation; we want every voice heard.

With gratitude,
Lark Palma, PhD, head of school

Lemelson-MIT program announces $10,000 grant to student engineering project

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Congratulations, engineers!

Catlin Gabel’s Global Community Engineering Club is one of 15 teams across the country that was awarded $10,000 through the Lemelson-MIT 2013-14 InvenTeam initiative. Thanks to the grant, the team now takes the new name, Catlin Gabel InvenTeam.

The Catlin Gabel project, ScumBot, addresses the real-world problem of duckweed infestation in Aspen Lake in Sunriver, Oregon. ScumBot is an autonomous robot that propels itself around inland bodies of water collecting algae and duckweed and depositing that cargo in designated areas. With the grant money, the team will work to build the Scumbot under the leadership of Alexandra Crew '16, president; Anna Dodson ‘16, communications manager; Max Armstrong '15, mechanical manager; Jacob Bendicksen '16, control systems manager; and Vincent Miller '15, software manager. For more about the project visit the Catlin Gabel InvenTeam website

A respected panel of invention and academic leaders from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Lemelson-MIT Program, industry, and InvenTeam student alumni selected the InvenTeams from a national pool of applicants.

Members of Catlin Gabel’s InvenTeam will travel to MIT’s EurekaFest  in June to present their project, meet other teams, get behind-the-scenes tours of MIT labs, and engage in hands-on challenges.

Dale Yocum is the dedicated faculty advisor of Catlin Gabel’s InvenTeam. “InvenTeams isn't a competition, it's more of a celebration of the creative spirit,” said Dale.

“Our team is thankful for the support of Lemelson-MIT in bettering our local Oregon community through invention,” said CG InvenTeam president Alexandra Crew. “We are proud to be doing our part to help the environment.”

Rafting the Mighty Deschutes River

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Upper School students spend three days on Oregon's great river

This fall we had so many students sign up for the annual fall rafting trip that we created two trips as a way to assure everyone a quality experience. 

The first and second groups were both guided by the able oarsmen of All-Star Rafting, from Maupin.  Bob Sauer was the Admiral of the first team and Paul Monheimer was the Admiral of the second group.  We were favored by great weather all weekend, and the students had the funnest time.  The first day was spent navigating fairly straightforward rapids from the put in at Warm Springs to a camp near Whiskey Dick.  Most of the time was occupied getting to know each other. learning various paddling techniques and getting to know our guides.  Dinner that night was prepared by the students under the watchful and hungry eyes of the guides and school faculty.  The students and leaders slept out under the stars or in tents.

Day two included the challenge of White Horse Rapids, a class III-IV rapid that is long and somewhat complex.  Everyone made it through unscathed and on they travelled after a brief stop for some swimming and jumping into the river.  That night was spent near the old townsite of Dant.

On the third and final day the group faced up to the challenge of the toughest rapids on the lower river.  These rapids include Boxcar, Wapinitia and Oak Springs.  We stopped to scout some of these and used the expertise of the guides on others.  Everyone got wet- and those who were not wet were invited into he river on the sunny day.  The trip ended about noon on Sunday and the bus was filled with smiling and happy faces on the return trip to Portland.

Rafting the Mighty Deschutes River

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A sunny October weekend on the water

A yellow bus towing a tightly packed trailer pulled out of the gravel lot of Catlin Gabel School at 8:00am on Saturday October 12th. It cut its way through the rain and the basaltic cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge in search of chilly rapids, starlit skies and one particularly epic camp breakfast. In the two days to follow the fifteen adventurers would get their fill of churning whitewater, bacon, and chocolate chip-enriched pancakes…but they would not see a single star  (had they not brought a thirty pound telescope perhaps the skies would have cleared)


Below is an account of this trip brought to you by those students who lived to tell the tale (which fortunately included everyone who signed up).

We woke up to the sun rising to climb on the bus to the Deschutes River. After a couple hours of driving, we arrived at White River BLM campground and set up our camp before continuing on to Maupin City Park for a delicious BBQ lunch prepared by our guides at All Star Rafting. From there we got suited up in wet suits, booties, spray jackets and life jackets. Then we got back on the bus and reviewed safety protocols before hopping in our rafts and heading down the river.


People on the right side of the raft got SOAKED while the people on the left only got splashed a bit. Some people rode the bull, which means they sat on the front of the raft. Jesse broke his paddle (likely because he’s so strong…this was added later by Jesse).


We got to swim through one rapid (Elevator rapid) with one of our guides but only after being bombarded with safety info. Still, eight of us jumped in one after the other and were swept away. We paddled to shore smiling from ear to ear but a little sad that the rafting was almost over. We then went back to the All Star Rafting headquarters and peeled off our soaking wetsuits and outfitted ourselves with warm clothes for our drive back to camp.


Half the group prepared dinner while the other half walked up a beautiful viewpoint. When we got back to camp, night had descended and a chill was in the air. We scarfed down some food (burritos!) and feasted on sweets (s’mores…and gummy worms!).


The day had worn everyone out and the camp began to grow quiet. One-by-one people headed their tents to talk until they nodded off.


The next day…

The sun rose on the sleepy campground and brought light to the zombie-like kids. We ate a breakfast of bacon, eggs and chocolate chip pancakes and began to open our eyes. Later we walked up into the hills as a group and looked back as the light glistened off the flowing river and the camp and breathed in the beauty.


All that is left to say is that we after a two and a half hour drive and a lunch stop in the Columbia Gorge we arrived back at Catlin Gabel at 3:00 on Sunday. Everyone was happy. It was a great trip

Sixth grade farm overnight photo gallery

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An outdoor education adventure

Students enjoyed a snapshot of farm life, from playing with the animals to harvesting their own food for dinner. Click on any photo to view a larger image, download the picture, or start the slide show.