Photo courtesy of Eric Nesse
On the first day of our freshman year, my peers and I walked into a building where everything was new and uncertain. The future lay ahead of us, as unknown and mysterious as all the halls and rooms there were to explore. From the beginning we were encouraged to find our passion, or anything that inspired us to learn more, and hold on to it.
I found that passion by writing about construction, which is admittedly not the usual thing that comes to mind when people talk about ‘passion.’
Ever since my first day here at Tigard High, I had always been curious about the upcoming school remodel. I wanted to know more—I wasn’t merely interested in the surface level of what was announced to the public in the ballot measure; I wanted to go behind the scenes and learn more from the source, the school administration. Taking journalism and joining the publications staff was my gateway to that goal.
As the ballot measure was passed and the planning progressed, I saw more and more stories unfolding before my eyes. I found myself asking tough questions as I talked to teachers, administrators, and architects alike, and I learned truly how much work it took from everyone involved. I wanted more students to have the same appreciation for the time, money, and effort that went into this remodel as I did, so I wrote about it.
There were times when my own opinions disagreed with those of the administration, and it did lead to some dispute over how strongly I should be allowed to voice said opinion in a school newspaper. But despite any disagreements we may have had, the one thing that always allowed me to connect with so many people when I was interviewing them was our shared passion for this remodel. Hearing everyone’s thoughts was one of the most exciting parts of covering this remodel all four years, as it showed our collective excitement to see positive change in the school.
Yet over these four years, just like the school was being torn down and rebuilt, I was learning and changing. We all were. I’m sure there have been countless times when we’ve all questioned ourselves or our ability, and many of us may have wondered if going further is worth the effort.
There is no doubt especially that the closure of Tigard High as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak has been a heavy burden on our motivation to keep going. Several of my friends stopped caring about their online classes entirely, or have been depressed by the situation we’ve all found ourselves in. It became increasingly harder to work toward anything school-related as we felt there was little or no reward behind it.
That’s what makes the school remodel so special. The team responsible for getting it done hasn’t stopped, because the reward is still there. Even after the school closed down for the rest of the year, the construction team has been working day and night to finish what they started.
I talked with Principal Brian Bailey and bond support administrator Eric Nesse to get an update on how construction has fared since the closure, and what they’ve done with the unforeseen difficulties.
“We are still on target to finish on time with the bulk of the project,” Bailey said. “There are a lot of variables and the timeline could change at any moment, but so far it looks good.” Along with the recent demolition of the small gym, some work has been done in the “Main Street” hallway and commons area to prepare for the expansion of the commons and courtyard.
“On one hand, our construction partners have been able to widen their scope and work in places they may not have been able to with students and staff around,” Bailey said.
Of course, the pandemic hasn’t been the only major obstacle to construction thus far. One of the biggest factors the administration had to plan around was us, the students and staff ourselves.
“The most challenging part of the construction process has been undertaking a significant construction project while students remained on campus,” Nesse said. Other high schools in the area receiving remodels had had their students sent to a different campus beforehand, but there were no suitable locations close by for Tigard students.
“Shifting Tigard students to a different campus was not an option for us and as a result, we’ve had to phase the Tigard modernization project to allow students to continue to have access to the school,” Nesse said. While every effort was made to minimize disruptions, Nesse says he and the team acknowledge the inconveniences faced by students and staff during construction and were appreciative of our patience and flexibility over the last two years.
“I know that everyone’s patience will be rewarded when students are able to return to a new, modernized building,” Nesse said.
After four years of work and having made numerous revisions to the original plans along the way, the school administration and everybody involved with this renovation have finally approached the last phase of this long journey.
I feel the same can be said, in a way, for the class of 2020. Although we have already graduated, many of us are now getting ready for college and all of us, no matter our future plans, are preparing for a new stage in life.
The fact that the school administration has been unwavering in keeping construction going reflects a promise made four years ago to the Tigard community—to have a new school ready for the incoming class of 2024—and a commitment to that promise through thick and thin.
Maybe we can all take something from that. Looking back on my four years at Tigard High, I believe one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned was that each one of us is changing every single day, and we must all be willing to accept that change. After all, with every twist and turn in our lives comes something new to be discovered about ourselves—sometimes for the worse, but usually for the better.
We can take what we know about ourselves and apply that knowledge to improve and grow, not only as individuals but as a community. In the wake of all that has happened in the past few months, it’s important to recognize that we are still able to learn and that each day brings an opportunity to continue moving forward through it all.