Barely half the number of people who attended a March 9 Sherwood School District community input session on the new high school came to an April 3 event, but they were richly rewarded: Three dozen or so parents and children were presented with a site concept master plan of the future Sherwood High School.
At the March 9 meeting, DOWA-IBI Principal-in-Charge Karina Ruiz presented three different scenarios – A, B and C, saying, "The one with the most potential is B, but A and C have elements we'd like to bring in. It will probably end up being a hodgepodge of the three."
The version presented April 3 at Laurel Ridge Middle School most closely resembles Scenario B, which is roughly triangle-shaped and features an angled layout and clear lines of circulation.
The school district is negotiating to purchase a 50-acre site located off Elwert Road between Kruger and Haide roads along with an adjacent 20 acres southeast of the site owned by the city of Sherwood, although Sherwood would retain part of the smaller site for a traffic round-about.
The site's elevation ranges from 290 feet to 365 feet above sea level, creating a 70-foot grade over 2,220 feet, and the updated school site plan works with the grade, stepping the school up the hill to keep a lower profile around the outside while the highest part will be in the center so passersby will not see a tall building looming over them.
"There will be four levels, but they will not be stacked on top of each other," Ruiz said. "We are taking advantage of the site's slope. At the last meeting, we thought we would have to use several retaining walls, but there will be only one retaining wall plus landscaped terraces, and we have created a series of multiple pathways through the site."
All three original scenarios placed the school in the center of the site with parking lots and playing fields around the outside, and Ruiz added that the parent and bus drop-off areas will be separated.
"The high school should be a reflection of your community," Ruiz said. "It will be built in the newer part of town and should reflect the traits and characteristics of your community and what you want to see in your high school… We want the school to present as friendly a face as we can to the community, and we are trying to give ourselves as much green space as possible."
According to Ruiz, the building's configuration creates a town square with a main entry that offers as many views through the school as possible. Although the school at 360,000 square feet will be one of the largest in Oregon, "we are trying to make it feel small," Ruiz said. "We are creating learning neighborhoods."
Because a building is being created for the next 100 years, "we are trying to be as flexible as possible" so it can be used for future uses not even envisioned now, Ruiz said.
Attendees sat around eight rectangular tables, with a site concept plan placed on each table for people to discuss and mark up before a representative from each group explained to the entire group what they came up with.
Issues raised included whether the football field would have artificial turf (yes), if the auditorium should hold more than 600 (no), if there could be a student footbridge over 99W (too expensive), and if the band and choir spaces were too close together.
Someone asked about elevators, and Ruiz answered, "Everything in the building will be connected, and any place an able-bodied person can reach, so can someone in a wheelchair."
The school is being built for a core capacity of 2,400 with Phase One including classrooms for 2,000 students. SHS currently has 1,727 students at a 1,550-capacity school with more than 2,000 students projected by 2025, and someone asked if the school should be built for the total capacity now.
People asked about the traffic capacity of nearby streets, if 800 parking spaces at the school were enough, and about the lighting on the softball field.
After all the comments were heard, each person received six red and six green stickers and were asked to place them on photos of schools and buildings on posters fastened to the walls, red if they disliked a design and green if they liked it.
"This is an interim process to think about the exterior character of the building," Ruiz said. "We don't want to impose a design on the community, rather the design should be a reflection of the community. It is always good for us to do a visual survey to learn what you like and don't like about the visuals."
When that process was over, people in each group were asked to list on a big poster some design elements they want to see in their new school before a representative from each table read them out loud.
Finally, throughout the evening people could write questions on cards, and after the cards were all collected, they were read aloud with the appropriate school district staff member providing an answer.
"We are looking forward to sharing the design as we move forward," Ruiz said.
The school is being constructed as part of a $247.5 million bond measure approved by voters in the November 2016 election.
More information about the bond projects is available at bit.ly/SSD_Bond.