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New school in Happy Valley, Damascus area first in North Clackamas to be named for woman

COURTESY PHOTO: NCSD - Beatrice Morrow Cannady Elementary School is set to open to students in the Happy Valley/Damascus area this fall.Beatrice Morrow Cannady Elementary School, the first school in North Clackamas to be named for a woman or a person of color, is set to open to students in the Happy Valley/Damascus area this fall.

PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Cannady Elementary's open-library design allows more space for community events in the schools living room, but requires students to be quiet while in adjacent hallways to avoid disturbing library users.Community members from across the school district are invited to a 5:30 p.m. ribbon cutting followed by an open house Thursday, Aug. 29. North Clackamas School District Superintendent Matt Utterback said some of his favorite classrooms in the area are located at Cannady, where BRIC Architecture tried to emphasize natural light in the design and preserve views of mature Douglas fir trees that surround the school grounds.

In May 2018, NCSD officials broke ground on construction of Cannady Elementary at 18031 S.E. Vogel Road. Next month the 61,700-square-foot school with a capacity of 550 is projected to open with 385 students, but the area has seen a population boom lately.

"Those 25 classrooms will fill up pretty quickly," Utterback said.

Cannady (1889-1974) was the first black woman to graduate from law school in Oregon. The school board chose to name the school after Cannady so students will be inspired by her historic efforts as a "goodwill ambassador between races." Cannady was noted for her local civil rights activism in the early 20th century using her position as editor of the Advocate, Oregon's largest African American newspaper at the time.

PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Inspired by mature trees surrounding two sides of the school grounds, Cannady Elementary features vinyl mural wall hangings made out of high-resolution photos of two of Oregon artist Hilde Morin's handmade quilts. This newspaper originally reported four, rather than the two, because the district intended to have four, but the imaging apparently only worked for two of them, according to the latest information from district officials.School Board Chair Steven Schroedl said that Cannady Elementary's namesake, hopefully, will inspire future generations to believe anything is possible.

"Eighty years ago, people didn't necessarily welcome her strong voice, so it's an inspiration to students that they can go to a school named after a strong woman of color, because we try to educate all our future leaders equally, regardless of their colors, genders, circumstances and abilities," Schroedl said.

The $31 million new elementary school is part of NCSD promises to the community when voters passed the $433 million bond in 2016. The original estimate for constructing the school was $36.9 million in 2017, but the project was completed on time and under budget. Cannady's unexpectedly low price tag will help cover the rising costs of constructing a new Milwaukie High School, which went from $77.3 million estimated in 2017 to an estimated $96.6 million currently.

Utterback said that Cannady's design ended up being "virtually the same design as Scouters Mountain," making it easy to model the building's construction off of another recently built elementary school in the district. NCSD officials benefited on the Cannady project by going out for construction bids earlier than with MHS in a market where construction price were increasing rapidly. Cannady contractor Robinson Construction, along with project managers Shaun Stuhldryer/CBRE Heery, benefited from a comparatively blank slate.

"The whole overall bond project remains within budget," Utterback said. "From a scheduling and timeline aspect, the project was difficult at MHS, where students continued to need to go to school during construction, and renovations tend to cost more than expected."

Some shuffling of administrators will help staff the new school. Dianna Ngai, previously principal of Happy Valley Elementary School, was named principal of Cannady Elementary. Portland's Abernethy Elementary Principal Heather Hull was recruited to replace Ngai as principal of Happy Valley Elementary.

"I'm really excited about the opportunity to open a school where the name has such significance in our community," Ngai said. "Beatrice did so much to further the cause of civil rights, and this will be a diverse school where everybody belongs. I really want this school to embody the district's commitment to equity and to making students and families feel safe, welcomed and valued."

Ngai said she is excited to build a school culture starting from scratch.

"We have an amazing staff and our community is very excited to come here," she said. "Together, I think we're going to be able to build a really awesome school culture where everyone belongs and we care about each other. We're going to be a school family."

Last year NCSD purchased the last approximately 2.4 acres it needed for the elementary-school property for $230,000. NCSD purchased 7.96 acres on Vogel Road for $1.58 million in 2008 using money from the prior bond.

PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - School officials get a sneak peek at the gym of Beatrice Morrow Cannady Elementary School, prior to the grand opening this week.Construction of the new Vogel Road elementary school will continue through this month, officials say.

It approved boundary changes in the current Clackamas High School attendance area to balance the enrollment for the opening of Cannady Elementary in September and the new high school. NCSD's fourth comprehensive high school named for Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson won't open until September 2021, so these boundary changes will be implemented in two phases.


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