The year was 1957: Sputnik I was launched by the Soviets, the first electric watch was introduced and the Mapleton School District campus was built. While satellites and watches have vastly improved since then, the Mapleton schools have remained exactly the same. Until now.
From seismic improvements, decreases in water lead levels and changes to the flow of the entrances and gathering places, Mapleton’s campus is moving into the 21st century.
“It’s been a lot of work on the forefront, but I think it’s great,” said Mapleton School District Superintendent Jodi O’Mara. “Having students learn in a safe environment, where there’s no lead based paint or asbestos, gives our kids a sense that they are worth this. That can carry on into how they do in school and where they plan to go in life.”
One of the biggest changes to the buildings will be making them seismically safe.
“Everything has to be resheared and connected to the building,” explained the project’s general contractor, Randy Myers, about the process.
“We’re connecting the roof to the walls and the walls to the concrete so it can’t move off its foundation,” Myers said.
Now, if an earthquake occurs, the buildings won’t tip one way or another.
Another concern was the levels of lead that had been detected in one of the wings of the elementary school last summer. For several months at the beginning of the school year, the district capped off the water supply and provided bottled water for the students.
Now, there are no dangerously detectable lead levels in the pipes.
Safety won’t be the only goal of the remodel as the faculty worked closely with the students on improvements. High school students requested a community room, which will be built in their building. The exits of the elementary buildings will lead into a courtyard for all grades to gather and mingle.
While the planning for the construction has taken time, the actual work has been occurring at a rapid pace. The last day of school was on June 14. By June 16, Mapleton staff had moved every piece of material into storage and construction began.
Just 2 weeks later, the campus is almost unrecognizable. With a crew of over 40 (and expanding by the day), walls have been torn out, floors have been pulled and roofs have been demolished.
Structural changes aren’t the only improvements as the district is also installing broadband Internet, new computers, portable tablets and smart screens.
O’Mara believes all of these changes will create better chances for the students.
“These kids deserve every opportunity they can get, just like every other kid in every other community. It shouldn’t matter that we’re a rural community. It shouldn’t matter what our poverty level is. For me, that’s my goal. To make sure they have those opportunities,” she said.
Mapleton School District has 39 days left to finish the project, but all involved are confident it will be done by then.
You can view the progress and constantly updated photographs on the Mapleton district’s website, www.mapleton.k12.or.us on the Projects in Progress page under the “Bond” tab.