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  • 30 Sep 2014

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Southridge Community Plaza takes shape

Final funding push to raise $20,000 is underway, and you can help


by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Looking down from the home stands Tuesday at Southridge High School, visitors can see the transformation taking place around the football field and track as the Community Plaza project moves steadily forward.Jeff and Kim Keller were blown away by the progress as they entered the Southridge High School construction zone for the new Community Plaza taking shape on campus.

The gathering place is being built in memorial to their oldest son, Army Pfc. Andrew Keller, a 2008 graduate who was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan.

“This is so amazing,” Kim said as she was greeted by Art Cortez, general contractor of the project, and his son Orion, a Southridge junior who is helping his father by serving as a monitor on the site tracking work crews, inspectors and all visitors to the athletic stadium. “Thank you so much. Everyone has just done an outstanding job.”

“I feel this overwhelming sense of pride in our community for making all this happen,” Jeff added.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Army Pfc. Andrew Keller

Kim nodded her head in agreement and said, “It’s going to be so nice when it is finished. It is truly taking shape before our eyes, and it’s been a long time coming.”

Construction began in the spring, and by the look of things on Tuesday, it appears the project is keeping pace with plans to unveil the completed plaza in the fall.

After years of lamenting the lack of outdoor restroom facilities, a proper concession stand, an outdoor gathering place and welcoming entry to the Skyhawks’ stadium, a community effort to create a plaza incorporating all of those pieces and more gained momentum and support.

Since the school opened its doors to students in the fall of 1999, the south side of campus has felt incomplete to students, parents, faculty and community members who use the facilities.

A committee of dedicated volunteers last fall unveiled the Southridge Community Plaza Project, a privately funded improvement project “reflecting the pride of our community that will honor Andrew Keller as well as others who have fought and given their lives for our freedoms.”by: SUBMITTED ART: WOOFTER ARCHITECTURE - This artistic rendering shows the vision for the Southridge Community Plaza Project.

Principal Todd Corsetti stopped by the construction zone Tuesday to check in on new developments.

“It honestly gives me chills to see the progress,” he said. “This has been a dream the last 15 years for the school. Unfortunately, it took the tragic loss of Andrew to really marshal the resources in the community to make this dream become a reality.

“Because of the generosity of businesses and people in the community, all of the pieces are coming together to build up into something special that will last forever.”

The plaza will offer restrooms, concessions, proper lighting, an inviting community space with seating and permanent ticket booths for events. Schematic designs provided by Woofter Architecture reveal what the ambitious plaza will include.by: SUBMITTED ART: WOOFTER ARCHITECTURE - This is an aerial view looking north showing what the Southridge Community Plaza Project will look like when it is complete in the fall.

Concessions and restroom facilities will be located on the east end of the stadium, allowing use by both home and visiting fans along with improved spectator access to all field sports and track events on both sides of the stadium.

The muddy, bark-chipped area between the football field and school building will be transformed this weekend into a plaza that will allow students and classes to go outside and enjoy an inspiring space.

The new plaza will feature a wall of honor, a wall of generosity and a wall of hope to recognize members of the Southridge and greater South Beaverton communities.

The project also calls for the creation of an inspirational circle at the stadium entrance. At its center will be an 8-foot-tall sculpture featuring a bronze Skyhawk taking off in flight with the world clutched in its talons above a draped American flag. The area will also have a wall sharing Andrew Keller’s story.

“The amazing thing about all of this is that not one cent of public money is being used on this nearly $1 million project,” Jeff Keller said. “The list of people who have stepped up to support this is amazing, and we only have $20,000 left to raise.”

To date, $135,000 has been raised in cash donations and the lion’s share of donations comes from the contractors, subcontractors and professional service providers who committed countless hours of labor, supplies, services and company investments into the project. For the workers on site, there is meaning and purpose behind every task completed.

“It’s emotional — it’s a way bigger deal than I imagined it would be,” said Scott Taylor of Coffman Excavation. “I’m glad to be here.”

Art Cortez agreed, “It’s hard for everybody — all of this started with Andrew, and everyone has really come together. One of the most amazing things about this job is we have some of the best contractors in the region working on this. It’s been quite the experience.”

“Everyone is bonded on the reason we are here,” Orion Cortez added. “At first, I was frustrated that we couldn’t name the stadium what we wanted to, but the fact this project has expanded for a cause that is above us all is phenomenal in my opinion.”

For more information about how you can support this project, visit srhscommunityplaza.wordpress.com.

“It’s hard for people to pitch in on faith,” Corsetti said. “Now that people can see the plaza taking shape, our hope is that those who are out there quietly waiting to make a donation can be part of something special.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Crews work on the entrance to an inspirational circle leading to the Skyhawk stadium as part of a Southridge Community Plaza Project.