Back to school, for the first time
Tuesday, Sept. 5 is a day that's likely to be remembered for the Beaverton School District.
It'll be remembered as the day that Mountainside High School opened its doors to its first freshman class; as the day Sato Elementary, named after a family of WWII Japanese internment camp survivors, welcomed K-5 students for the first time; and as the day Vose Elementary, a community institution since the 1960s, debuted its new school building.
It will also be remembered as the day that the district's $680 million bond measure from 2014 started paying off for its residents.
For the nearby Tigard-Tualatin School District, Tuesday wasn't so much a day of fresh beginnings as it was one of transitions. Projects associated with the district's $291 million bond measure of 2016 are just starting to pick up, and students at Fowler Middle School will have the chance to watch their school transform before their eyes this school year.
Members of Mountainside High's freshman class — the first class that will spend all four years at the high school — had their first day on Tuesday, and were joined by sophomores Wednesday. The school will add a third and fourth class progressively over the next few years.
First-day festivities included a pep rally and group activities to help students form bonds as members of a new high school. Community members will have a chance to see the school during its grand opening celebration on Saturday, Sept. 23.
Vose Elementary School has been serving its Beaverton neighborhood since 1960 — but on Tuesday morning hundreds of K-5 students, along with their families and loved ones, lined up outside of a brand new school building.
Vose just finished a rebuild as part of the Beaverton School District's 2014 bond measure construction, and parents, students and administrators alike were eager to see their new school building. The school's students and faculty spent last year at 650 N.W. 118th Ave., the district's recently completed middle school building that is serving as a temporary second home for other schools as they are rebuilt.
"The most exciting part is just seeing the families come in and seeing their faces," said Veronica Galvan, Vose's principal. "Everyone's very excited — there's a huge line just to get in."
That line included Brayden Beck, a second grader at Vose who attended kindergarten in the old building. Beck told his mother Raci that he liked the new building's "vibrant colors," referring to a lime-green wall on the school's façade.
"I can't wait to see the inside," Raci Beck added. "I think it looks great on the outside, and it's a great improvement."
For Deshawn Bohannon, also a second grader, the new building is the only Vose he'll ever know. His family recently moved to Beaverton from Portland.
"He's excited," said Bohannon's father Tony. "It's a brand new school and a brand new area."
Meanwhile, Sato Elementary School is in the North Bethany area, on the far northern outskirts of the district. It's a STEAM school — with a focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math. And although it's designed for 750 students, it opened Tuesday with about 300.
The school received the highest possible praise from a fifth-grader. "I think it's cool," declared A.J. Bernatz, 10, with a shrug.
His parents, Roderick and Ansley Flores, were a bit more effusive. "It's a STEAM school. That's important," Ansley Flores said.
"They're going to do incredible things," Roderick Flores added. "They're building a boat. I mean, an actual boat. They'll sail it and everything. They'll learn to use power tools and equipment. It's all the math. It's amazing."
Principal Charli Hagseth said she was pleased by the progress the district made in getting the school ready for this week. "It's been a blast!" she said. "A million details, a million boxes to open, a million late-night meetings and early mornings. But here we are!"
Proud parents Vishal and Yogita Warke beamed as their daughter, Aditi, took her place in the first-grade classroom of teacher Katie Rice. Aditi quickly found her spot at a low table next to fellow student Jake Scamahorn.
"It's amazing, actually!" Vishal Warke said. "It's band new. The level of detail is great."
Third-grade teacher Lindsay Rodgers agreed. "It's been amazing, getting all of the procedures in place. 'Flexibility' is the word of the day," she said, then paused. "...and of the week, probably."
Over in the adjacent Tigard-Tualatin School District, students also greeted Fowler Middle School. Sixth-grade students attended an orientation day on Tuesday, and seventh and eighth graders joined them on Wednesday.
The school is currently undergoing construction, which includes a STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — classroom remodel, a science classroom renovation, office relocation and seismic upgrades.
Students are attending the school as it is being revamped, and the district has a completion date set for November. Construction will begin at Tigard High at the end of this school year, and at Tualatin High the following year.
Reporter Dana Haynes contributed to this article.