Bend racing to cut ribbons before school year begins

By Abby Spegman, Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 2, 2015 at 11:11 a.m.

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BEND, Ore. (AP) — Outside the computer labs with 3-D printers are glass-plated whiteboards for students to try out new designs. In a science room are desks that can be raised to the height of lab tables, all by remote control. Pacific Crest Principal Chris Boyd said his favorite feature may be the light dimmers in each classroom — it's old technology, but you don't see it in many schools.

Pacific Crest Middle School in northwest Bend and Silver Rail Elementary School in southeast Bend will hold dedication ceremonies this week. With enrollment growing, they are meant to help with overcrowding at other schools in the Bend-La Pine district.

The schools were built with funds from the $96 million bond approved in 2013; they account for about half the money, with the rest going to renovations at buildings throughout the district. This fall officials will begin updating the long-term facilities plan to identify future building needs. Already they are predicting the district will need a new elementary school and a high school in the next five years or so.

For now, workers are focused on finishing work at Silver Rail and Pacific Crest before the first day of school Sept. 9. (That's for first- to ninth-graders; 10th- to 12th-graders start Sept. 10.)

"You just take for granted all the building routines. It's having to go through every single detail," said Tammy Doty, principal at Silver Rail. She's thinking about how cars and buses will navigate the parking lot together at drop-off time, and how to keep students out of the back stairwells. "The things you wake up in the night going, 'Oh yeah .'"

Silver Rail looks ready for students. Second-grade teacher Donna Lindsay already has spelling words posted on her classroom wall, and there have been books on the shelves in the media center since July, Doty said. The school's name was inspired by the nearby train tracks; accordingly, the entrance here is called the platform, the cafeteria is the dining car, the mascot is the Steam Engines. From the second-floor skybridge you can see into the music room and gymnasium, down to the media center and into the courtyard. The wood facade on the outside of the school is echoed inside, where wood columns contrast with the polished concrete floors.

At Pacific Crest, parts of the building still smell like paint and lockers still need to be installed. At the school's ribbon cutting Wednesday there will be some classrooms set up for tours, but work will continue through the week.

On Monday, art teacher Julia Reynolds was unpacking supplies for her classroom. At a nearby table, a kiln that was delivered last week waited to be installed. "It's kind of like Christmas. Boxes will show up and you think, 'Oh, what is this? I forgot I ordered, like, glue sticks.'"

Between classrooms at Pacific Crest are open spaces with extra tables and plugs for students to charge their iPads, which are now standard issue for all students in third to 12th grade. Boyd said there will be an emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, and these common areas are places where students from different classes can collaborate.

After more than a year of construction, Boyd said he is excited to see students in the school. While the focus, at least in the short term, will be on the new building, that can't last, he said.

"We should not be defined by newness. People make schools, and we have a lot to do."


Information from: The Bulletin,

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Abby Spegman


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