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The 540 North Stars will go to the new school in the fall of 2019 after about 17 months of building

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - North Gresham Elementary School Principal Tracy Klinger oversees a group of North Stars getting ready for the ceremonial first shovel of dirt on Wedneday. Local dignitaries and a gaggle of students broke ground for the new North Gresham Elementary School Wednesday which will replace the old building that has served students since 1961.

"(My) hope is that it creates memories and learning that will last a lifetime," Tracy Klinger, principal, said, addressing the students.

The new North Gresham Elementary will be built over the next 17 months while students are attending school in the existing building at 1001 S.E. 217th Ave. Then the old building will be demolished and a new playground and parking lots will be built. The 540 students will start in the new building in the fall of 2019. The construction fences will go up starting Thursday.

"It's a great day," Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis said at the ritual turn of the dirt on Wednesday, April 25.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - The new building will be a sleek two-story school ready for students in September of 2019. The new North is part of a building program funded by $291.2 million in bonds voters approved in November 2016.

East Gresham Elementary School will also be replaced. About 70 percent of Gresham High School will be rebuilt and Barlow High School will be remodeled and a sports stadium will be added. Hall and Hollydale elementary schools and Deep-Creek-Damascus K-8 will get 16 new classrooms to ease overcrowding. All district schools are getting safety and security upgrades.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - The old North Gresham Elementary is a single-story building, which opened in 1961. Bond money can only be used to build, remodel or improve school buildings. Bond funds also can be used for furniture and technology purchases. These funds cannot be used for salaries for teachers, administrators or staff or for supplies or books.

The final groundbreaking ceremony for the four schools will be at Barlow High School at 9:10 a.m. Wednesday, June 6. Barlow is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Two North Gresham Stars get ready to take their place on the shovel birgade. More information about the Gresham-Barlow 2016 school bond building program can be found at: gresham-barlowbond.org.

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