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New Warm Springs school building excitement


Thirteen-year-old Mary Olney was feeling apprehensive about leaving Jefferson County Middle School, but as she toured the new Warm Springs K-8 Academy on Friday, the worry melted away.

“I can see myself going here now,” Olney said.

She was just one of more than 100 students, school officials, parents and community members who came out to see the school’s progress in an open house Friday afternoon.

After an opening ceremony, people walked through the unfinished halls, peaked in classrooms and ran around the gym.

Olney was especially excited to see the large gymnasium.

“It’s going to be fun — I’m going to play volleyball,” she said. “And I can’t wait to see their track.”

Olney is one of dozens of Warm Springs students who will now have the option of going to middle school in their own town — instead of making the long trip to Madras.

One student told NewsChannel 21 that he spends more than an hour on the bus every day getting to school.

Olney’s mom, Sonia Health, said knowing her daughter won’t have a long bus ride any more gives her peace of mind.

“They have to go up the grade and on the icy roads — it’s scary. So it will be a little nicer,” Heath said.

The $21 million school is expected to be complete in July and open up in the fall.

Teachers said they’re eager to move in.

“I’m excited about all the plug-ins,” kindergarten teacher Renee Rodin said. “We did not have as many plug-ins in the older style building, so now we’ll have the technology to be a little more moveable.”

From simple plug-ins, to the anticipation of high-tech solar panels, community members said they like what they see and are ready for the new year in a new school.

“I can’t wait to see how it’s finished,” Olney said.

The school is half paid for by a Jefferson County School District voter-approved bond, the other half comes from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, whose members approved their share of the funding.

School officials said the new school will be the most energy-efficient school in the district.

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