Smiling school staff, excited students and parents, hopeful community members, a thankful superintendent and a big red ribbon marked the scene of the Echo School District’s celebration of its new school building on Wednesday evening, August 22.
“This is a beautiful facility that will reach every aspect of our community and show how we work together and fit together. We start with preschoolers and continues all the way through to our seniors, and this is an exciting celebration of that work,” said Raymon Smith, Superintendent of the district.
The new school addition was officially opened at 5:30 PM with the ribbon being cut by kindergartner Landry James and senior Lexi Cox. After a resounding cheer, the crowd moved into the new gym for the Grand Opening program. Superintendent Smith thanked the Echo school board, community members who voted for the bond, the Oregon Department of Education for the matching bond program, Architects West, Kirby Nagelhout Construction and Echo Mayor Jeannie Hampton.
Smith also thanked Linda Muller and Mike Muller, longtime Echo residents who were instrumental in the entire bond project process. Linda was the bond project manager and Mike was the project liaison, facilitating between the construction company and the district. Both Mullers said they were very happy to see the project completed.
Linda was instrumental in preserving a piece of Echo School’s past – a wooden, wagon-wheel type window that was in the original 1910 building. “When we tore down the old building in 2004, I said ‘we’ve got to save the window and integrate it somewhere in our future building,’” Linda said. The window had been stored in the old bus barn for many years. The window is now displayed prominently in the community portion of the new school.
In 2016, the Echo School District received a grant for $4 million from the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching Program and passed a bond for $4 million. Construction began in June 2017 and the new school addition includes:
- Six new classrooms including 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, middle school/high school science room, an agriculture room and a K-12 Art Room
- CTE Shop (for welding and woods)
- New gym (10,000 square feet)
- Pioneer Hall/Community Center (150 people seating capacity)
- School/Community Fitness Center
- Improved security for entryway, new security cameras
The Pioneer Hall and Fitness Center will be available to the community.
In her comments, Mayor Hampton thanked the school district for all the “new-ness” the district is bringing to the Echo community. “We think big, we look big and we are big,” Hampton said.
Senator Bill Hansell said he loves the words the school district has adopted and that are emblazoned on staff shirts and around the school: Effort, Commitment, Honor, Ownership. “Echo is a can-do community, and it’s not the size of your population that matters, it’s the size of your heart. You are to be commended for this great accomplishment,” Hansell said.
After the program, refreshments were served in the new Pioneer Hall/Community Center from the new kitchen and tours of the new facility was open for tours.
Superintendent Smith summed up the celebration, saying, “Kids, this is all for you, enjoy it.”