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Beaverton District's newest elementary school is to the far north in the Bethany area.

TIMES PHOTO: DANA HAYNES - Students and parents gather in the cafeteria for the first day of school at Beaverton's new Sato Elementary School.Under a hazy umber sun and persistent ash fall, students and parents queued up Tuesday outside Sato Elementary School, the newest grade school in Beaverton, for the first day of the year.

Sato is in the North Bethany area, on the far northern outskirts of the district. It's a STEAM school — with a focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math. And although it's designed for 750 students, it opened Tuesday with about 300.

The school received the highest possible praise from a fifth-grader. "I think it's cool," declared A.J. Bernatz, 10, with a shrug.TIMES PHOTO: DANA HAYNES - With their backpacks and new dresses, Ivy Zhang, left, and Iris Zhang, both 6, are ready for school. They came Tuesday with their mom, Isabella Zhang.

His parents, Roderick and Ansley Flores, were a bit more effusive. "It's a STEAM school. That's important," Ansley Flores said.

"They're going to do incredible things," Roderick Flores added. "They're building a boat. I mean, an actual boat. They'll sail it and everything. They'll learn to use power tools and equipment; it's all the math. It's amazing."

Principal Charli Hagseth said she was pleased by the progress the district made in getting the school ready for this week. "It's been a blast!" she said. "A million details, a million boxes to open, a million late-night meetings and early mornings. But here we are!"

The incoming students picked a mascot for the school — two of them, actually: Raccoons named Reko and Niko. TIMES PHOTO: DANA HAYNES - Parents wait in line to leave Sato school on Tuesday morning. A new school, amid plenty of new development in North Bethany, means traffic problems won't be getting better any time soon.

The walls of the main office are lined with repurposed wood taken from the barn that was torn down to make room for the school. The library sports a full computer lab, plus every classroom has Google Chromebook laptops.

Robert Peterson, who runs the Emotional Learning Center at Sato, said he was pleased by the size and light in his new space. At Nancy Ryles Elementary School last year, he had two portable classrooms.

Proud parents Vishal and Yogita Warke beamed as their daughter, Aditi, took her place in the first-grade classroom of teacher Katie Rice. Aditi quickly found her spot at a low table next to fellow student Jake Scamahorn. TIMES PHOTO: DANA HAYNES - Jake Scamahorn stakes out his seat for Day 1 of teacher Katie Rice's first-grade class.

"It's amazing, actually!" Vishal Warke said. "It's band new. The level of detail is great."

Third-grade teacher Lindsay Rodgers agreed. "It's been amazing, getting all of the procedures in place. 'Flexibility' is the word of the day," she said, then paused. "...and of the week, probably."

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