This story has been updated
Following a 5-2 School Board decision May 9, the new high school in the North Clackamas School District will be named for Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne C. Nelson.
Funded by the capital construction bond that voters approved in 2016, the school will open in August 2021 after the conversion of Rock Creek Middle School.
Raised in Arkansas, Nelson moved to Oregon in 1994. She served on the Multnomah County Circuit Court prior to being appointed to the Supreme Court last year.
District officials described Nelson's professional and personal history as characterized by advocating for those who are marginalized, and inspiring people to strive for their best, no matter their circumstances or demographics. Superintendent Matt Utterback said he was thrilled the School Board voted to name the new high school after Nelson.
"Her commitment to uplifting individuals and communities, along with her personal integrity reflect all that we want for our high school students," Utterback said. "The process for naming this school was emotional, and prompted difficult, but necessary conversations within our community. In the end, the School Board selected the name of a remarkable person and resident of our district."
Construction on the Rock Creek Middle School campus for conversion to Adrienne C. Nelson High School will begin in June. In May 2018 the School Board voted 4-3 against the name, but Nelson won election to a six-year term in November, and the makeup of the board has changed. As previously reported, in January, Libra Forde was appointed to fill the vacancy on the board left by Trisha Claxton.
Jena Benologa was appointed by the board on April 25 to serve the remaining two months of Position 2's term following the resignation of former board chair Lee Merrick on March 20. Benologa has two children who graduated from Milwaukie High School. She currently serves as academic director for the nonprofit student exchange company Cultural Homestay International. Previously, she served as national director for another exchange organization, Terra Lingua USA, and for many years ran her own preschool and after-school programs in the Milwaukie area.
After moving to Milwaukie in 2000, Benologa quickly became involved in NCSD, beginning with the PTA at Campbell Elementary School. Additionally, she has volunteered with the Parent Community Leadership Alliance, two capital bond campaigns, and with several NCSD committees, including the Budget Committee.
The board approached Benologa, who is running for Position 2 in the May 21 election, about serving the remainder of Merrick's term. She is running unopposed for a four-year term beginning in July.
"I feel I have the experience across the district and through all facets of education to help shape policy," Benologa said. "With my work with young kids, special needs children, and high school exchange students, I understand the foundation that needs to be in place to ensure all students are successful."
This story has been updated with corrected work history for Jena Benologa.
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)