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Merger brings summer of change for CSLA

A furious wave of renovations will help C.S. Lewis to move its high and middle school programs to the former Open Bible campus


One morning a few weeks ago, C.S. Lewis Academy high school principal Mike Mc­Con­aughey, athletic director Steve Wallo and a handful of regular volunteers found themselves feeling a bit lonely as they sat in the parking lot at the school’s new campus on North College Street. by: SETH GORDON - From the floor up - A Game Courts, LLC, employees William Tracey, of Silverton, and Joe Miller, of Salem, nail the boards that together will make up C.S. Lewis Academy's new gymnasium floor at the former Open Bible Christian School campus Monday morning. The two schools merged this year.

A work day at the former Open Bible Christian School campus — acquired as part of a merger of the two schools in February – was designed to prep it to house the high school and middle school programs and was officially scheduled for 8 a.m., but no one else had showed by about 8:45.

Because people were simply unavailable, Wallo and McConaughey had seen work days like this before, as well as well-attended ones, but what they were about to see surprised even them.

“Out of the blue, in the next hour there are just people everywhere,” Wallo said. “The gym at that point was all full of furniture. All of a sudden, that’s gone. We have wood being taken down. We have one guy mowing the lawn, three guys doing weeding and people are ripping up carpet.”

That day’s effort was emblematic of a massive volunteer drive on the part of parents, students, staff and others over the course of the summer. Not only were furniture and un-needed remnants removed, but floors were razed, walls knocked down walls and interiors repainted to prep classrooms for professional contracting work. Many numerous delayed maintenance and grounds­keeping issues on the campus were also addressed and everything at the high school’s former location at an old Newberg Friends Church building on South College Street was moved out as well.

“They’re excited when they’re out here,” Wallo said. “The more volunteers we get, the more excited they are. When we hit that critical mass of volunteers on any given day, there’s a lot more smiles, there’s a lot more laughter.”

Even some of the professional work is being done for free, including that of general contractor, which board member Jeremiah Horton volunteered to handle.

“We’ve had new families that are brand new to our school this fall that have spent multiple hours and days and are really investing in the space that they have not set foot in on a school day with us yet,” McConaughey said. “They’re really investing in this endeavor.”

Davis Hall, which will house the high school, has already had all of its floors replaced, with new carpet and paint in all eight classrooms, two of which are being divided to make room for offices and a teachers’ lounge.

The most notable change on campus will be a new wooden floor in the gymnasium, which will replace the dark gray rubber composite playing surface and is being installed by Gervais-based A Game Courts, LLC. The backboards have been, and the court will be, moved several feet toward the side of the building, allowing for new bleachers to be installed along nearly the full length of the opposite wall.

The building already has a much brighter feel thanks to the combination of more energy-efficient florescent lights and the floor. In an effort that has become typical for the project, Wallo spent a whole weekend day on a scissor lift dusting the ceiling and rafters because it had not been done in ages and wouldn’t again with the lift scheduled to be removed the following Monday so work on the floor could begin.

The gym will also house the middle school, with the upper level being renovated to make four equal-sized classroom that will feature high vaulted ceilings after the previous 8-foot tall ceilings and overhead storage were removed. The science lab on the first floor will remain and receive a few upgrades, as will the restrooms. Once the middle school furniture is removed from it, Wallo will have his office in the first-floor room near the building entrance.

Another large volunteer effort of the weekend completed the move out of the old high school building, but with so much equipment moving around and in between basically four campuses, it’s been a monstrously complex game of musical chairs for McConaughey, who is handling the logistics.

“If we were just moving, that would be a big job,” McConaughey said. “The fact that we’re installing new carpet and new paint, rearranging rooms and walls and floors and all those things, that just increases the complexity a great deal. Then on top of that, we’re trying to do the normal work we do in the summer to prepare for the school year. That’s been a challenge.”

All the buildings at the North College campus have been outfitted with wired and wireless Internet, while the Wynooksi Street campus, which will continue to host grades K-5, has also undergone some renovations, from re-painting and carpeting the modular classroom to adding walls to create storage space for the theater and music departments.

“We’re just so excited,” Wallo said. “I’m sure there are going to be some more hurdles, but it’s been fun.”




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