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Students, teachers excited after Reynolds opens three new elementaries, remodeled high school

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Visitors stream into the light-filled entrance of the new Fairview elementary after the ceremonial ribbon cutting. After several years of planning and construction, Reynolds School District officially opened its three new elementary schools and a remodeled high school with a series of ribbon cuttings this week, just in time for the 2018-19 school year to commence.

The Reynolds School District replaced Troutdale, Fairview and Wilkes elementary schools. Reynolds High School was also renovated and expanded. Other district schools got safety and security upgrades.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - The new Fairview Elementary School will welcome the Eagles this September to the new two-story school. "This is an exciting time for students, family, teachers, staff and the entire community," said new Reynolds Superintendent Danna Diaz at one of the ribbon cuttings. She joined retired superintendent Linda Florence and others to welcome local dignitaries and families to the four celebrations.

Angel Guzman, who will be in fourth grade at Wilkes Elementary School, is excited about his shiny new school, but also is a teensy bit anxious.

"It's definitely big. It'll take me a couple of times walking around to remember" where things are, he said.

His mom, Alberta Hernandez, agrees.

"It's amazing," she said. "It's really, really big. It's a big change for him."

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Wilkes Elementary School fourth-grader Angel Guzman and his mom, Alberta Hernandez, are excited about the new school, but think it will take some getting used to. The ribbon was cut at Wilkes, 17020 N.E. Wilkes Road, on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

One of the biggest upgrades for the Wilkes Wildcats is the spacious, light-filled cafeteria and multi-purpose room. The old cafeteria was a dingy spot in the school's basement.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Wilkes Elementary School, celebrated on Tuesday, Aug. 21, will have an airy new cafeteria, a big step up from the close quarters in the basement where students used to eat. Students and families also were impressed with the new Fairview Elementary School. The home of the Eagles, at 225 Main St., was opened on Monday, Aug. 20.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Library books at Wilkes Elementary are boxed up and ready to go into shelves in the new media center.  "For me it looks like a mansion for rich kids," said Jenmyfer Solano Gonzalez, who will be in second grade at Fairview. "It's so big. I'm really excited."

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Troutdale Elementary has a sweeping new entrance to welcome students and families.  The Troutdale Tigers got a look at their new home at 648 S.E. Harlow Ave., on Wednesday, Aug. 22.

James Ellisor, who is going into fifth grade at Troutdale, declared the new school "awesome." He said his favorite thing was "the view from the top. I can see the airport" from the second floor classrooms.

His mom, Lacey Ellisor, agreed. "I think it's beautiful. I'm sad to see the old one go," she said, "but this is really beautiful."

Troutdale Elementary Principal Ed Krankowski, greeting families and chatting with volunteers, called the new school "spectacular."

"It makes all the little inconvenient parts of the moving process well worth it," he added.

The elementary students attended the three schools in the old buildings while the new ones were under construction next door. Then, this summer, the old school buildings were demolished. Playgrounds, ballfields and parking lots are being installed where the old schools once stood.

Students also attended Reynolds High School during construction and remodeling.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - The gleaming new kitchen at Troutdale is ready to start serving up meals.  Construction managers said almost everything will be ready by the opening of school in September, even though a few things were not completed before the ribbon cuttings.

The ballfields will not be ready for play for a month or more, and the Fairview Elementary playground won't be finished until the end of September. The Fairview site proved difficult because crews kept unearthing huge boulders that had to be removed.

All three buildings reflect a nature theme in their design. All have murals in the sweeping, two-story entry halls that are in the same style, but depict different nature scenes.

Saving energy

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Elliott Worley Cox, entering kindergarten at Fairview Elementary did not have strong opinions about the school, but was having fun with the swag from the opening party. The three new buildings are light and airy and designed to be extremely energy efficient.

"These buildings will be 60 percent more energy efficient that similar buildings," Jessica Iplikci, Energy Trust's new buildings program manager, told those gathered at the first two ribbon cuttings.

Energy Trust of Oregon, a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency, said the Reynolds district is the first school district in the state to enroll in the agency's Path to Net Zero initiative. Net zero buildings create as much energy as they consume.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Lacey and James Ellisor are looking forward to the new school year at Troutdale Elementary. The new Reynolds schools are part of a building program paid for by a $125 million bond voters approved in May 2015.

The ribbon was scheduled to be cut at Reynolds High School, 1698 S.W. Cherry Park Road, Thursday, Aug. 23.

Marea Peters, a first-grade teacher at Wilkes, was reminiscing about her 18 years at the school, when she was interrupted by a young woman who stepped up and hugged her shyly. Greeting her warmly, Peters noted the young lady, one of her former kindergarten students at Wilkes, is now studying to become a teacher. She, in fact, will be student teaching at Wilkes in the fall.

"I love Wilkes," Peters said, watching her former student continue down the hall. "I can't wait to make new memories in the new building."

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