WALDPORT — Last fall, in the first year of his team competing in timber sports, Waldport High School CTE (career technology education) teacher Jeff Skirvin told the News-Times confidently that his timber sports team would be state champions. He thought it would take a couple of years to build that team, but Waldport took first place at the Oregon Future Natural Resource Leaders convention held virtually on May 14.
Unable to compete in the physical events his team was doing so well in, the Irish dominated the academic events.
Kaden Simmons earned the title of Oregon State Log Scaling Champion, and he placed fourth in Tree Identification.
“I consider him a Renaissance man,” Skirvin said of Simmons, who also competes in physical events, such as the arborist climb, and plays center offensive lineman on the WHS football team that Skirvin coaches.
Simmons told the News-Times, “I want people to know Waldport for its forestry team and its hard-working students.” He also indicated that he misses school a lot. “It was pretty cool to get a break from the stress of COVID-19,” he said of the virtual competition.
Skirvin echoed Simmons. “We have the highest test scores in Lincoln County, and we’re one of the top schools in the state. A big part of the population of our kids are underserved. I think our teachers and our students are doing a great job.” He referred to his students as a “notch above.”
WHS Principal Amy Skirvin agreed. “We were recognized as one of the Best High Schools by US News and World Report in 2020.” She verified that WHS students “are rated at level 5 on the state report card for English Language Arts Academic Details” and higher than other district schools in math.
“I am so proud of our students who continued their passion for forestry and submitted their CDEs for the virtual FNRL state convention,’ said Principal Skirvin. “This is exciting, and we will be celebrating the forestry students success.” The school will be providing the team with sweatshirts to mark the championship.
Simmons is not the only WHS state champion. Sophia Elizondo took first place in Business Math, as well as second place in the job interview category. In total, 14 WHS students competed, nine of them placing in events. Waldport earned 56 points to claim the state champion title. Tillamook High School placed second with 36 points, and Clatskanie came in third with 34 points.
“I’m really proud of the kids. They did really well in their academics,” Jeff Skirvin said. With school being held virtually, he is not there to push and guide them as he does in class. “It took a lot of initiative to do the competition,” he noted.
They didn’t have forestry class or competitions at team member AJ McFarlane’s old school in Nevada. “I moved from a desert,” he told the News-Times. “This is a great way to embrace this whole new place,” he said of his first year in Waldport High School’s forestry program.
“Skirv told me my resume could look a little better,” McFarlane explained when talking about how he prepared for the competition. “He brought people in to interview us. We practiced a lot in class.” McFarlane took third place in the job interview category.
Ryan Eriksen placed fourth in Written Expression. Elise Green was fourth in Tree Identification. Delilah Kim and Eli Spangrud took fourth and sixth place respectively in Tool Identification. Mick Greenwood placed fifth in Business Math, while Hunter Postma placed sixth.
Also on the team and participating in the virtual event were Bailey Browne, Joey Burton, Cameron Clawson, Jake Turkaly and Hadassah Wilson.
Greenwood said, “We had always placed well in our athletic events before COVID, but to find out our strength was in the academic portion of forestry was a really exciting surprise. Oregon is a leading timber producer in the nation, and for Waldport to represent, that is a huge compliment.”