Port Angeles Citizens Receive Community Leadership Awards

Port Angeles Citizens Receive Community Leadership Awards
Posted on 04/21/2017
Port Angeles Citizens Receive Community Leadership AwardsPort Angeles, Wash. – Two Port Angeles citizens, Commander Mark Hiigel, USCG and Barb Ihrig, received Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Community Leadership Regional awards at a celebration hosted Monday, April 17 by Olympic Educational Service District 114 at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino and Resort in Suquamish. 
WASA and its membership annually honors and recognizes outstanding individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to education. 

Port Angeles School District Assistant Superintendent Chuck Lisk, along with School Board Directors Cindy Kelly and Sarah Methner, attended the award presentation, to honor Commander Hiigel and Ihrig in recognition of their service to Port Angeles students and staff.

“Commander Hiigel has set the standard for community engagement with Port Angeles High School and its Navy JROTC Program,” Captain Jonathan Picker, USN (retired) and senior naval science instructor, said in his nomination of Hiigel. “Throughout his tenure as the commanding officer of USCG Air Station Port Angeles, Commander Hiigel has routinely created opportunities for Port Angeles youth.  Specifically, Commander Hiigel created a program to fly cadets in USCG helicopters as an incentive to do well in school… He has engaged Port Angeles youth in an extremely positive fashion.  When not directly engaging youth at the high school, he has opened up access to USCG facilities, programs and personnel to the NJROTC Program that has not been seen in many years.”

“During his change of command ceremony on July 16, 2016,” Rob Edwards, Stevens Middle School Media Tech instructor, added, “Commander Hiigel stated he felt he had returned ‘home’ to Port Angeles.  Commander Hiigel was first stationed in Port Angeles from 1998-2002 and served as an Aircraft Commander.  During his current tour in Port Angeles, Commander Hiigel has reinvigorated a middle school flight program that he helped establish in 2008; he has worked with district personnel to assure the safe return of students who became trapped at an outdoor education retreat; he has provided resources and guest speakers for Veteran’s Day assemblies; and he has implemented a partnership with Port Angeles High School’s NJROTC Program providing flight opportunities for young cadets… Commander Hiigel’s effort in supporting community is tireless.”

“Mrs.  Barb Ihirg has been the champion of the ‘Clay Play’ art enrichment program at Dry Creek Elementary for nearly twenty years,” wrote kindergarten teacher Cindy Bradford in her nomination of Ihrig. “This innovation, originated by Mrs. Ihrig and a fellow volunteer, has enhanced our students’ experience with art since 1998.  Over the years, Barb has dedicated herself to the program, and thus, became the sole force behind its continuance.  The amount of effort, organization, patience and dedication to maintain a program of this scale is almost incomprehensible.  Yet Barb proceeds, without pause, to provide this unique and memorable experience to each child enrolled at Dry Creek.”

“This “labor of love’ requires a myriad of skills and talents, coupled with a zeal for humanity,” Bradford continued.  “Barb’s responsibilities entail securing funding for the materials used in the program, creating challenging, but age-appropriate, projects for each grade level which differ from year to year, and setting up a schedule for visiting every classroom.  Yearly, she recruits a contingent of volunteers so each child is supported for success.  All students are given an opportunity to learn a new skill, and encouraged with respect and assurance as he/she adds unique touches to his/her own work.”

After each Clay Play session, Ihirg monitors drying of the clay pieces until they are ready for the kiln. After pieces are sufficiently hardened, the children paint their pieces with glaze, then IIhirg prepares the final art for exhibit.

“It is difficult to find such indefatigable determination and dedication as exemplified by Mrs. Barb Ihirg,” Bradford said. “Her benevolence encompasses each and every student and staff member within our building.  She is our treasure, to whom, we are eternally grateful.”
The Community Leadership Regional award criteria includes:  benefit to students, leadership, motivation, success, cooperation/coordination with local district, recognition by others, and history of service. 

School districts within the OESD 114, which participate in this annual award recognition program, are: 

Bremerton School District 
Central Kitsap School District 
Chimacum School District 
North Kitsap School District 
North Mason School District 
Port Angeles School District 
Port Townsend School District 
South Kitsap School District
Accompanying photo shows WASA Community Leadership Regional award awardee Commander Mark Hiigel, USCG with representatives from the Port Angeles School District.  Left to right are School Board Vice President Sarah Methner, School Board Director Cindy Kelly, Commander Hiigel and Assistant Superintendent Chuck Lisk.  

Barb Ihrig was unable to be at the ceremony due to a prior commitment and will be honored at an upcoming school board meeting.
Photo Credit:  Port Angeles School District

For additional assistance, contact:

Tina Smith-O’Hara
Communications and Community Relations Coordinator
Port Angeles School District