On Sept. 19, the new high school in Bend officially broke ground in front of an excited crowd of students, parents and community members.
Officially the project began last spring, but that doesn't take away anything from the moment.
"The groundbreaking ceremony was always a fun and important opportunity to bring various members of the community together," says Chris Boyd, who was named principal for the new high school in March. "It's a celebration of our community's willingness to invest in our children and future prosperity of our region."
As construction continues on the corner of Knott Road and SE 15th Street, many other things need to happen for the school to be ready. For Boyd, two questions written on his desk offer guidance and inspiration in how to move forward. One reads: "How might we develop the adult behaviors needed to cultivate powerful relationships and relevant learning experiences at our new high school?" The second, while shorter, covers quite a bit of ground: "Who have you included in your design?"
"I am currently working with regional partners to create college and career pathways that connect learning outcomes across content areas," Boyd tells the Source Weekly. "The ultimate goal of the school is to develop a school culture and academic model that prioritizes relevant learning across content areas in order to help students see that learning expands beyond the walls of school."
This isn't Boyd's first time being involved within the processes of creating new schools, having helped open Pacific Crest Middle School, where he served as principal before joining the new high school team, and another in Happy Valley. He's aware of what will help the school succeed even in the earliest stages, specifically the fact that the work is done better in teams. Boyd says he's always seeking out new voices and people who are experts to help develop these ideas.
One of the most talked-about topics in the process centers around the school's identity. The district has a policy for naming new facilities or schools, which involves quite a bit of input from the community—including an online survey and various school gatherings and meetings. In the end, a committee overseeing the identity process will review the suggestions and then take the final three name suggestions to the school board for consideration. The committee will be made up of Bend-La Pine Schools staff, community members and parents.
"I am also putting together student focus groups at a couple schools in order to have student voice embedded throughout the process," adds Boyd.
Along with the name, the school mascot and school colors are key areas of interest. Suggestions for these will also be involved within the community input process.
"I have mocked up some options for school colors. Actually, there are 36 options that I am taking out to students in the coming weeks," says Boyd. "The goal is to narrow down options in order to then spend some time developing color combinations that will be used in the actual construction of the school, as well as for athletics and activities. Working on school colors is going to be really fun because I know students are going to have fun playing around with different color options."
As Boyd mentioned, some of these colors will go directly into the school's design. To get some ideas for what the school could look like, Boyd and members of the school board visited different schools around the Northwest for inspiration.
One of the things Boyd is most excited about for Bend's new high school is the collaborative open spaces that will expand throughout the hallways and commons. He says the school has an open library that acts as the primary hub of the building, where he hopes to see students working together and connecting with each other. Another aspect will be the career-technical education spaces that will serve as showcase classrooms for students to walk by and see every day through glass doors and walls. The CTE programs are still in design, but some areas Boyd mentions he's looking at are construction trades and a health care academy, both of which would hold common links to technology and design.
"At this point, I am looking at ways in which our CTE programs can lead to World of Work or to future areas of study such as architecture, engineering, physical therapy, nursing or health care management—to name just a few," says Boyd.
Another addition to the new high school will be housing the Dual Immersion program—though Boyd says leaders have yet to decide when the program will transition entirely to the new school—and which grade levels the school will service in its first years.
While there's still a long way to go, Boyd is prepared and excited for the upcoming steps.
"From opening previous schools, I have learned to be patient and open to the process. There are a lot of decisions that go into the opening of a new school, and they are all important. Thus, it is imperative to slow down and work to make decisions in partnership with individuals that are closest to the impact of the decision," Boyd says. "If we are going to be a school that prioritizes relationships and relevance, then we have to be intentional about how we cultivate working relationships with each other, with our students, with our families and with our community."