Schools launch mental health partnership


Last updated 12/14/2022 at Noon

The Sisters School District (SSD) has quite a few new programs and updates that were presented to the school board in last week’s meeting.

Students from Rima Givot’s biology classes presented an update on the Trout Creek Conservation Area (TCCA) trees that have been studied by students for many years. Students presented on the number of ponderosa pine, and western juniper trees in different one-acre plots throughout the area behind the high school. The TCCA is a 160-acre area owned and protected by the SSD. The purpose of their study was to observe how many of the species of trees are present, what the human impact is on the area, and which animals and plants are present in the area.

One student said, “It was really cool to be able to observe the forest and learn skills to measure the forest and what’s happening within it.”

Lorna VanGeem, the director of student services with Sisters School District, presented a new collaboration to the board with organization Care Solace. Care Solace’s purpose is stated: “We work alongside school districts to connect students, school staff, and their families to quality mental health and substance use treatment providers matched to their needs.”

VanGeem worked closely with the Roundhouse Foundation, which provided the grant for a two-year contract with Care Solace.

SSD began the partnership just last week. Kristen Spoto, the regional director for K-12 with Care Solace, presented on some of what Care Solace does.

Care Solace creates umbrella mental health support to anyone in the school’s district, including parents, school staff, and their families. They serve ages three to 65. Care Solace helps to take out the stress of navigating care. Those in need are paired with a care companion, who helps coordinate whatever kind of care the family or individual needs.

“We help coordinate care for those who need it and provide an easement of stress on the families in districts,” said Spoto.

SSD will be implementing its own unique URL in collaboration with Care Solace, hopefully starting before winter break in mid-December.

Superintendent Curt Scholl’s report included updates on the construction of the new Sisters Elementary School, with a still-promised completion in September of 2024.

“We are excited about the infrastructure and moving forward on the bond measure,” said Scholl.

They now have a real-time time-lapse video live on the SSD website where citizens can check out the progress on the building of the new school. Visit

Scholl also reported on the potential increase in the amount of PE hours in schools. Scholl is advocating for programs in Sisters schools that promote life-long health and activity in the outdoors.

“We want to promote the success model for lifelong health amongst students with our programs like IEE (Interdisciplinary Environmental Education) and ECoS (Earth, Community, Self),” said Scholl.

Scholl also provided an update on the collaboration with University of Oregon students looking at the optimization of the current elementary school property as an asset to the community. The students will be coming to Sisters on December 14 to look at city planning, and to work with the District on what to do with the existing property. They will be looking at three aspects including housing, age- friendly Sisters, and recreation potential for the building.

The superintendent also provided a few data points on student groups, including the notable four-year graduation rate in Sisters schools. The graduation rate in Sisters Schools in the 2020-21 school year was 93.8 percent, versus the statewide 80.6 percent graduation rate. Scholl attributes some of that success to programs within the Sisters schools that make the students excited to learn and stay in school.


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