New construction greets students at Tigard High, Templeton
Students starting their first day of school Tuesday at both Tigard High School and Templeton Elementary School Monday were welcomed with a drastically changed landscape – in the form of demolished buildings or classrooms – as they settled into and got used to their temporary surroundings.
At Tigard High School, 500 freshman packed into the school's gym to hear what the new school year will bring with an enthusiastic orientation that included ice-breaking games before they were dismissed to eat lunch, get tours and peruse their new schedules.
In addition to a torn up front parking lot, one of the most notable missing landmarks at THS is the absence of the school's commons area, which was torn down over the summer as part of a $62 million new construction/remodeling project.
That means students will be spending a lot of time in the cafeteria.
Associate Principal Tyler Davila said he was pleased at how smoothly the morning was going, not the least being plans to fit all those students into the cafeteria.
As students listened inside the assembly, workers with contractor LCG Pence were busy next door assembling rebar grids in anticipation of pouring a floor for the new commons area.
"They're doing a good job meeting the timeline," Davila said of the contractor, pointing out that on Friday crews had equipment moved from the main halls. They then made sure fences were in place to "make sure children are safe," said Davila.
Davila said his only question was how the parking situation would play out when the rest of the 1,500 students return on Wednesday. With front street parking gone, the trick will be fitting those students in the lots between the school and the Tigard Swimming pool. To add spaces, a temporary hard-packed gravel lot with striped parking spaces was added on the grass athletic fields east of the aquatic center.
Davila said he's optimistic the parking situation will work out, noting the school is only down 50 parking spaces from last year.
Meanwhile, Davila said he's looking forward to the new year.
"It's nice to have kids back in the building," said Davila. "It's exciting."
While senior C.J. Hilgaertner said the school is a mess at the moment, he's looking forward to the fact "it's going to be such a beautiful school" when the construction is over.
The photo editor for the THS Yearbook, The Tiger 2018, Hilgaertner said one of the things he's looking forward this school year is a new introduction to forensic sciences class, the first of its kind at Tigard High. Hilgaertner is a cadet with the Tigard Police Department.
Meanwhile, freshmen Ellie Davila (yes, she's related to Tyler Davila) said she's excited to meet new people this year and to play both freshmen softball and basketball.
While she finds the construction thinks the construction annoying, she said having the new facilities "will be nice in the long run."
Down the street at Templeton Elementary School, students in the third through fifth grades got themselves acquainted with portable classrooms that were situated on the adjacent Twality Middle School athletic track.
Those included the 26 students in Lisa Johnson's fifth-grade class who were on their way to tour a playground area under construction. A large porch of classrooms once located on the southwest end of the school was demolished during the summer to make room for a rebuilt Templeton Elementary School. Johnson said the students were taking the fact they have to walk from their portable classrooms to what's left of the school to access core facilities in stride.
"They love it," she said. "We really do feel like we're in something new."
They even like the new restrooms, while are essentially upscale portable bathrooms.
Johnson said the teachers and parents, along with Principal Carrie A. Ferguson, have stayed positive, excited and flexible regarding new construction at the school.
Lena Hale, a fifth-grader in Johnson's class, said she has no problems with being in a portable classroom.
"I think it's fun and it's really exciting to be in a new portable," she said, noting that she's pleased there is still part of the old school that still remains. Still, she said desks are squeezed together tighter because there's less space.
Deacon Fogerson, also a fifth-grader in Johnson's classroom, concurred but added for the most part students can get around the room easily.
Meanwhile, Fogerson said his main goal this year is to have a better year than last year.
For Fogerson, having Johnson as his teacher is old hat.
"I had her in third grade," he said. "She's a really nice teacher."
Plans are to have the new school up and running for next school year.