New Year to bring kids back to Marysville
By Cari Hachmann/ The Portland Observer
Three years after a fire destroyed their school, kids, faculty and families of southeast Portland’s Marysville School can finally return to their home building.
“There is a real excitement in the air right now,” said Marysville Principal Lana Penley. “A sense of returning home– that warm feeling you get when you return home to a place that’s really special for you after being away for such a long time.”
Four hundred and sixty students and 17 teachers were displaced when a fire burnt down the school’s east wing on Nov. 10, 2009. The cause was never determined.
In the meantime, Marysville students have been studying five miles down the road at Rose City Park while their school was being rebuilt using $4.8 million in insurance proceeds.
As students left Rose City Park for the last time before the Christmas break holiday, teachers packed up their rooms, preparing to report back to the school’s original location on Southeast Raymond Street on Wednesday, Jan 2. Over the holiday break, movers are bringing over the rest.
Faculty will have three days to get Marysville School set up prior to kids’ arrival. Students start their first day in their old school on Monday, Jan. 7.
While everyone is appreciative for having Rose City Park as a temporary school, Penley says it’s been a struggle for the Marysville community.
Built in 1921 as a K-8 school, Marysville has a rich, 80-year history serving a culturally diverse population of children and their families. The school hosts students from all over the world, where 20 different languages are spoken.
The original trauma of the fire was jarring and the move to an interim school was stressful.
“It hurt our connection with families,” Penley said.
Construction on the burned down school began in June. Workers salvaged most of the original door and framing to retain the school’s vintage look and rebuild the east wing, gym and upgrade fire safety in a sustainable way.
School board members had hoped to completely reconstruct the Marysville building into a $22 million state-of-the-art facility. But voters rejected a $548 million bond issue in May 2011 that would have funded it and other school construction projects.
After re-construction was complete on a scaled-back plan, students got a sneak peak of their new, old school, which maintained the same structure, but donned a facelift on the inside.
New changes include a full sprinkler and smoke detector system, an expanded library and technology lab, and sinks added to most classrooms.
Despite all of the challenges, said Penley, the Marysville community managed to push through together. Kids kept coming to school and working hard and staff kept teaching, she said.
The real story, she said, is one of resiliency from the community, “Three years later, and we are coming full circle back to the neighborhood. I am proud of our staff and proud of the community.”