If these halls could talk
Conversion of Ochoco Elementary to a new low-income housing complex is well under way, and the long-time school is looking quite different these days.
Old classrooms now feature freshly painted sheetrock walls. New windows and exterior doors have been installed for each of the 29 housing units, and by this fall, people will start moving into the new homes.
Yet, some of the facility still resembles a grade school, particularly the hallway that connects the back doors of each unit. That hall will remain, serving as a common community area and an access to the gymnasium.
Expanding on both the community theme and the building's long history of educating Prineville students, Housing Works leaders are reaching out to education and community leaders in hopes of developing some hallway decorations that will honor the legacy of the school and its hometown.
"This is such a neat development in the Prineville community," said Kelly Fisher, project development manager for Housing Works. "It's just so cool to see how much generational history is there."
Fisher said that she has heard from people who either went to the school or have parents or grandparents who attended.
"So many people in the community have a connection to that school and to that building that we felt it was a way to honor the community and try to get the community involved in helping us build a hallway with memorabilia and artwork."
Fisher ended up connecting with Sarah Klann, who is an academic coach at Barnes Butte Elementary. Klann has worked with her husband, Eric, who is Prineville's city engineer, on two recent projects where school students provided information and artwork for public kiosks. One group of kiosks is located on the Crooked River Wetland Complex, and the city plans to add others to its recently purchased Barnes Butte property.
Klann suggested to Fisher that they take photographs of the kiosks, many of which were created with the help of former Ochoco Elementary students, and display them in the hallway.
"The kiosks incorporate local history and the animals of the area and science topics," she said. "Kids have worked with the city and the teachers to create those."
In addition to displaying the kiosks, Klann suggested highlighting the various storyline curriculums that elementary school kids complete throughout each school year. Storylines immerse kids in a themed curriculum where they complete different academic tasks associated with a particular story arc. For example, a group of Barnes Butte Elementary second-graders have recently become "junior rangers" as they learn about the city's Barnes Butte property.
As they complete the storylines, the children continually add to a large artistic display known a frieze that takes up a large portion of the classroom wall. Klann suggested that Housing Works take photos of the friezes and hang them in the Ochoco hallway alongside the kiosk photos.
"Three times a year, children are creating those beautiful themes from the content area that they are studying," she said. "It is just a beautiful way to keep track of great student work, and it is aesthetically beautiful."
Klann is hoping that once the Ochoco Crossings housing complex opens this fall, some of the children involved in creating the kiosks and friezes will have a chance to see their work on display.
"We just know the power of connecting children to these community action projects," she said. "That connection and ownership is a real critical piece of tying our community together."