Moving on up
Despite delays earlier in the project, the Pioneer Building is complete and Cedar Ridge Middle School staff welcomed students into their new scholastic home Monday, Nov. 27.
The old Sandy High School has now been fully renovated and reopened as Cedar Ridge Middle School.
Through the past year, the Oregon Trail School District encountered three "significant" complications, in the form of problems with PGE's engineering design for the electrical system; undetected, underground tanks; and unanticipated plumbing-related permits from the city later in the game.
Nonetheless, the district kept the project on track for its revised opening date, and now the students have a new, better learning environment.
"I am thrilled with the new campus," said Principal Nicole Johnston. "It has really come together beautifully and provides a number of programming and growth opportunities for our kids."
A Sandy native, Johnston herself attended high school on the nearly 100-year-old campus, and she is excited for the students she is now leading as a principal to make their own memories in the space.
"For me it has been so fun to see it transform into a really great space for our students," she said. "While much of the facility layout is the same, it has a new, warm feeling to it. I look forward to seeing my students make memories here."
The students toured the new facility on Nov. 17 before their week-long Thanksgiving break. Leadership students took the reins to introduce their peers to the building, and teachers and staff handed out new gray, red and black Mountaineers-branded gym clothes.
"(I'm looking forward) to seeing everyone happy," said eighth-grade leadership student Jesse Nava. "They're finally getting something they've deserved for a while ... where everyone's welcome. There's a lot more space and it will be a lot less crowded."
With 23 classrooms, the new school allows for student population growth as well as for teachers to expand their curricula. The school has 400 students, close to if not beyond the capacity of its old campus on Pleasant Street, while the former high school's first story alone can house 650 students.
The second floor has the potential to be remodeled in the future should the school need the space, but is not part of current plans.
Johnston sees the new campus not only providing more room for the school to grow, but also a more intuitive layout for students and faculty to navigate. Where the old building was a maze of stairs and separate buildings, the new one's hallways are almost completely circular, and the building is self-contained.
"The old building was a bit confusing for students and did not have the same cohesiveness that the new facility has," she explained. "I love that we are all on one level rather than in separate buildings, and the larger hallways greatly relieve congestion during passing times. In addition, we have much better common spaces now. From the commons (cafeteria) and performing arts areas to the gymnasium and meeting rooms, there are really some great options for students and staff."
Students also have noted the physical benefits of the Pioneer Building.
"I'm really excited because it's a lot nicer than the old building," said seventh-grader Amaya Peralta. "I'm exited to see what this new school has to offer."