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District commits to preserving beloved 'Moby Dick' mural

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Sandy Union High graduate's artwork to withstand renovations of new middle school

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: OREGON TRAIL SCHOOL DISTRICT - Roman Scott' 'Moby Dick' mural as it stands in the old Sandy Union High School library.The Oregon Trail School District has announced it will renovate the old Sandy Union High School and will save the "Moby Dick" mural in the library.

Many have pleaded to the district to keep the early work of internationally renowned Sandy Union graduate Roman Scott, who died two years ago.

The artwork has been a topic of discussion since before plans for turning the space into a new home for Cedar Ridge Middle School had begun.

For a while, the district was unsure if it would be possible to update the building technologically without disturbing the wall the mural covers. After further inspection and discussion, the district has deemed the mural a work of historical importance that should be preserved.

"We directed the contractor to preserve the mural, and we plan to do so well into the future," Superintendent Aaron Bayer said at the district's Board of Directors meeting on Monday, May 8.

Several attended the meeting to read statements from family and friends of Scott, and were pleased by the district's decision.

"I congratulate the board members and the superintendent to go ahead and do their best to preserve that mural," said one retired district teacher who had read statements from Scott's father and brother.

Another former member of district staff noted, "To have it enshrined at Oregon Trail School District would be a testament to the degree of education received here."

Scott, as a senior at Sandy Union High School in 1983, painted a giant mural depicting the battle between Ishmael and the great white whale from Herman Melville's novel "Moby Dick" — a representation of Scott's love for literature.

In other business, Bayer's report to the board also included notes on current legislation, some of which would loosen requirements of the National School Lunch Program. Bayer noted that Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue's recent decision to loosen regulations on school lunch ingredients would affect Oregon differently than other states because its requirements are already stricter than the federal government's.

"The impacts would be negligible at best," he assured those in attendance.

He also went on to update the board on the career technical education-focused Measure 98. The state has just recently announced that it will supply a template for applying to federal funds to expand CTE programs in schools. Bayer said the process appeared simple, but commented on the drawbacks of the current legislative session.

"One caveat is, if anything in legislation changes this session, that becomes null and void," he explained. With that he added that the district plans to apply as soon as the template is available and get its application process underway before legislation can be changed.

In other news:

n Sandy Historical Society President Ann Marie Amstad made an appearance to remind and excite people about the upcoming high school centennial celebration on May 20. She brought posters for people to put up around town, and said she hoped everyone would come and take a tour from Sandy high students.

"We're really excited about doing this," she noted. "We've taken a lot of opportunities to invite a lot of alumni."

n District media specialist Carrie Scaife gave the certified staff report on her recent teacher's union meeting. She said she wanted to talk about the organization in front of the board and community because she has heard many misperceptions about unions in the past. She explained that the teacher's union is less about finding ways to get a bigger paycheck and more discussion about teaching techniques and finding new opportunities for students.

"We write policies and legislative objectives, and 100 percent of that is about kids," Scaife said. "They're not like, 'We need higher salaries and to protect bad teachers.' They're like 'What are we doing for our sped population?' and 'How are we helping kiddos whose parents are part of our migrant population?' That's what we do in that meeting, and that's what the union's all about. And if it wasn't, I wouldn't do this."

n Sandy Grade School Principal Rachael George gave a presentation to the board about her school, highlighting how the student population has progressed in her three years as administrator. A slide show outlined statistics of growth in understanding of subject matter between grades, and how attendance has improved and affected overall success.

"We really want to focus on growing kids from when they come in and maximize that potential," George explained.

n Jamie Zentner, the Clackamas County School-Based Health Center Program Coordinator, provided an update about Sandy's center in its fifth year serving the community. Sandy High student Leo Olmos, said, "The student health center is empowering students to be more involved in their health."

Zentner presented multiple statistics of how many students for which the center has been able to provide care, highlighting that in a recent survey, 90 percent of students polled said they were "very satisfied" with their level of care. He also thanked the district for its involvement in implementing the center, to which director Kurt McKnight replied, "I'm just so happy to see what it's turned into."