Oregon City High School staff was noticing that some students were stuffing their pockets with rolls, fruit and other food, especially on Fridays, so they would have something to eat over the weekend.
That really disturbed Ted Thonstad, the school district’s recently retired Director of Operations. “I got to thinking, we should do something about that, because no kid in America should go hungry.”
Thonstad wasted no time. He contacted Tom Lovell, the High School Principal, and Mary Ellen Winterhalter, the district’s “homeless liaison,” and together they spent last spring creating “The Pioneer Pantry” at Oregon City High School. Tom found space at the high school for the groceries while Thonstad gathered up a board of directors and began soliciting donations from local service clubs, businesses, and individuals.
We are going to provide food for weekends and school breaks for food-insecure kids at the high school,” Thonstad told the school board. About 750 students at OCHS receive free or reduced price lunches, and 74 are classified as homeless, he said. Many elementary and middle schools already have “backpack” programs that send food home with hungry students on Fridays.
Thonstad and Lovell met with a representative of the Oregon Food Bank to request Partner Agency status. Thonstad purchased some shelving, Lovell located a refrigerator, and Winterhalter provided an initial supply of backpacks.
Suz Maus, Community Education Coordinator, arranged a meeting with the owner of Grocery Outlet, and with the support of their customers, “The Pioneer Pantry” will begin the school year with food on its shelves.
Donations from fundraising efforts have generated 50% of the amount needed to fill backpacks for the weekends in the coming school year, Thonstad said. He hopes some clubs at the high school will agree to do food drives to help stock the pantry and that The Pioneer Pantry will be able to purchase food from the Oregon Food Bank.
The pantry, which is being funded totally by grants and donations, hopes to one day be open to the other high schools in Oregon City. “That is an admirable retirement,” school board chair Chris Storey says.
If anyone would like to support the OCHS’s Pioneer Food Bank, cash is the most critical need. You can send a check made out to the Pioneer Pantry to the high school at 19761 S. Beavercreek Rd., Oregon City OR 97045.
Recently, Candy Lane Elementary began serving produce grown at their school farm in the cafeteria. They are the first school in the district to source produce for the cafeteria from their school garden. Students will have access to tomatoes, lettuce and other greens from the garden served on the salad bar once a week.
Candy Lane Elementary partners with the Oregon nonprofit, Schoolyard Farms, to cultivate and maintain a one-acre school farm located on a portion of the schoolyard. The school farm organically grows over 40 types of fruits and vegetables and serves as an outdoor classroom for the 300+ students who visit the farm each week.
“Children involved in a school farm or garden are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and develop healthy eating habits,” said Courtney Leeds, executive director and cofounder of Schoolyard Farms.
The first day produce was available, there was a high level of excitement from both students, staff and the Schoolyard Farm team.
September 3, 2014 – Handling the transportation for the schools of Oregon City School District is no small task. The current transportation facility, a former rural school at Maple Lane Court, is the hub for over 65 school buses and various maintenance vehicles. Beyond vehicle storage, the property also has a two-bay repair shop, fueling station and is home to the district's maintenance and transportation departments.
For ten years, staff have parked their personal vehicles in an adjacent lot leased by the district. However, in the near future the parking area will no longer be available for lease. In addition to the parking issue, the district is also faced with an inefficient and aging building that was never equipped to handle the current transportation department needs or meet current industry safety standards.
An expansive report completed in 2011 confirmed the district's significant need for an updated and upgraded facility. Over the past several years the Oregon City School Board has been discussing the issue and weighing options to move forward. At recent work sessions the board has reviewed three specific options:
• Option 1: Remodel the existing transportation facility on the current property. Move and build new maintenance facility elsewhere. (Estimated cost $8M.)
• Option 2: Build a new transportation facility on the current property. Move and build new maintenance facility elsewhere. (Estimated cost $9M.)
• Option 3: Build a new transportation and maintenance facility using bare land owned by the school district on High School Avenue, sell existing location. (Estimated cost $10M.)
Oregon City, Oregon – August 28, 2014 – Oregon City School District has announced that Laura Poore will be the interim supervisor at Oregon City Community Education (OCCE). Since 2011, Poore has been helping high school students with credit recovery at the Oregon City Alternative Program (OCAP) based in the Jackson Campus.
Poore is an established educator and leader in the district with a Masters of Arts degree in Education. For the last sixteen years, Poore has been a part of the Oregon City School District team holding various positions and providing outstanding support and education for local students.
Oregon City, Oregon–June 26, 2014–We are very excited to welcome Pete Danner as the new Ogden Middle School Principal at Oregon City School District. Danner comes to us from the Salem-Keizer School District where he has been a middle school administrator for the past ten years, serving as principal of both Claggett Creek Middle School and, most recently, Walker Middle School.
Mr. Danner is an experienced middle school leader recognized for creating strong relationships with students and staff as well as closing the achievement gap at both Claggett Creek and Walker middle schools.
Oregon City School District is an equal opportunity educator and employer.