Woodburn School District (WSD) celebrated the completion of a bond project with a grand opening right before the Winter break.
School district officials, educators and community members gathered at Washington Elementary for a ribbon cutting ceremony on December 18, 2018.
Among the attendees was special guest, Richard C. Hohnbaum, Jr., who shared his story with the audience on how he became the first male first-grade teacher and the first kindergarten teacher hired by the State of Oregon.
“I always wanted to teach 1st grade,” said Hohnbaum, “but in those days, men weren’t really allowed to teach 1st grade.”
Hohnbaum said he still has a letter from the superintendent overseeing the district at the time that tells him he would “never hire a man below fourth grade because the younger grades are only suited for a woman’s temperament.”
He was appreciative that WSD eventually took a “gamble,” as he called it, because he was passionate about his career with the district which spanned from 1969 to 1991 when he retired. At the time of his retirement, he was a teacher at Washington Elementary.
WSD Superintendent Chuck Ransom said Hohnbaum story is a reminder to us that in our communities, “we are only caretakers passing through.”
“We are doing this for the children and for future generations,” said Ransom, “and to see the connection – remodel after remodel – taking care of our kids, generation after generation, is powerful.”
Marlene Gillis from Soderstrom Architects provided a detailed list of renovations that were constructed at Washington Elementary.
“The design of the building started about a year before we were building anything,” said Gillis. “There was a lot of collaboration and questions. We had a school that was very full, that needed a lot more space everywhere.”
Gillis said they approached the project by taking the existing school and using as much of that as possible for the renovations. The renovations she described included the construction of a 2-story addition, as well as a gymnasium, and a covered play area, extra parking, a new bus turn-around, additional staff parking, underground water lines and access roads for fire department.
A lot of the construction and completion of the Washington Elementary project was done over the summer and completed on time for the 2018-19 school year.
The last part of the project was the removal of the modular classrooms. They were removed in December.
For a more detailed story on the event read:
Woodburn School District unveils Washington renovation
By: Phil Hawkins, Woodburn Independent