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Work moves along at new Westside Christian campus

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Westside Christian High School principal Steve Pringle shows a group of sophomores their new building in Tigard.Passing motorists have seen construction crews hard at work on the new Westside Christian High School campus near Highway 217 and Pacific Highway for months, but few have seen what’s going on inside.

That is, until now.

Students from the private Christian school — which has operated out of Lake Bible Church in Lake Oswego for 20 years — were bused over for quick tours of the new campus on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the school is offering an open house to the public next month.

“Now that we have the new location, it’s a great chance to show it off,” said Andy Sears, Westside’s president.

The school, located at 8200 S.W. Pfaffle St., is the culmination of a decade’s worth of work for the school, and officials are clearly excited about the new surroundings.

Earlier this year, students were asked to write inspirational quotes from the Bible on the walls and floor of the school.

Wearing a hard hat as he made his way through the building on Tuesday, Sears passed concrete husks of classrooms that had teachers’ names hanging up outside.

Initially, Sears said, the school hoped to find a large parcel of property it could grow on. But school officials also wanted to stay in the Tigard area, where most of their students reside.

That meant scaling back those initial ideas, he said.

“We said, ‘We need to think of ourselves as an urban school,’ and find a smaller piece of property,” he said. The school currently uses Fowler Middle School on Southwest Walnut Street for tennis and track and field practice.

After nearly 10 years of work to move the campus, Sears said the next project will be ensuring the curriculum stays just as strong as the new walls.

“We’ve had one science lab for years, and now we have three,” he said. “How do we make that great with all the great new additions we have?”

Plans are to move to the Tigard campus in January, Sears said, but construction won’t be finished when students begin their classes at the new site next semester.

Construction workers will still be buzzing around campus, building a new gymnasium and soccer fields well into next fall.

They plan on constructing a new entrance to the school, and to someday add a performing arts center on the grounds.

With a building of its own, Westside will be able to double its student body to about 400 students, Sears said, while retaining its identity as a small, close-knit community.

“That 400 is our magic number,” Sears said. “We’re a small school, and that is part of our identity. We don’t have a vision of ever having 1,000 students, but 400 would be big enough that you can provide the type of programs for your students that we want, but not so big that you lose your community.”

The school is offering an open house on Nov. 5 to the public, giving potential new students and families an opportunity to learn about the school, and to give curious neighbors a chance to look at the new digs.

“We want people to see where it is at now and get a vision for where it’s going to be,” Sears said.

Keeping that sense of community is important, Sears said. A large part of the new school’s $12.2 million price tag was financed through private donations from local families and people associated with the school.

“The majority of this came from donations from people in the community — there have been a lot of generous folks helping us,” Sears said.




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