The doors to this school opened to the public at the turn of the twentieth century in 1906, with a brand new building at the center of the city. Now, five generations and over a century later in 2016, the building still stands in the heart of Gresham and continues to be a pivotal part of the community. But at almost 110 years, the facility has clearly worn down since its grand-opening.
“Overall, the condition (of the building) is deteriorating,” RJ Connell, head of custodial staff said. “Due to the overall age of the building and our reduction of our maintenance staff, it’s caused a reduction to service in our facility. We are struggling with maintaining the building in it’s current state of decay.”
Social Studies teacher Jay Lehr has been apart of the the school since his high school’s years, and he believes the building has come up against some turmoil.
“It’s not necessarily intentional (that) it’s run down the way it is, but the usage is great and the money just isn’t there there to keep it fixed up.” Lehr said. “The building doesn’t have to have to be brand-spanking new, but it does have to reach a level of competence to the job you’re doing, and I believe that this building is really close to crossing the line of being not up to par.”
Lehr is not the only one who thinks the facility is beginning to fail. Many students around the school also believe the building is becoming inadequate over it is years of wear and tear.
“It’s not good,” Junior, Drue Woods, said. “It’s falling apart, lots of things are broken or outdated and it really needs an update. It’s just not an environment you want to be in as a student. It makes it really difficult to want to go to classes when you know your school is that way.”
Like Woods, many students find themselves hitting a wall as they try to find motivation in such conditions. Lehr sided with their needs, agreeing that the surroundings can affect their desire to learn.
“I think if the students were in a facility that had more respect for them in terms of it’s condition, then they would have more respect for the facility.” Lehr said. “There’s a bit of a spiral, as things get more worn out, people are less careful with it which causes it to wear out faster and things get out of control pretty quickly. When things are relatively new and nice, the entire culture of the school is elevated.”
Sophomore Taylor Veach, has similar thoughts on the effect improvements on the school would have on students.
“I think if it wasn’t so bad, kids could stop complaining and it would make us want to come to school and make us want to learn little more,” Veach said. “Then we would be proud of our school and would be proud of the things we do here everyday.”
Not all students think of the school as damaged goods however. Freshman Connor Henkle enjoys the original feel to the school, despite its deficiencies and believes the condition does not affect his learning.
“When I first came here I didn’t think much of it, but I kinda like how cozy and original (the school) is and the comforting feeling it brings. Everything isn’t perfect and I like that,” Henkle said. “I don’t really feel like the facility or a classroom conditions hold students back. If you honestly want to strive at something and you are determined, you will be able to get it done. I believe we have all the resources we need to be successful. I think it’s the people inside these walls that make a student great, not the building.”
Whether the quality of the school affects students learning or not, the poor status of our facility still stands. There are many specific needs around the school that need attention and repairing.
“We don’t have the necessary power in place to handle modern technology, we fall short there a lot of the time because of the age of the building,” Connell said. “Most doors and windows need to be updated to modern standards, and we need to continue our efforts to bringing our facility earthquake ready, because as of right now it’s not.”
Students also have some specific concerns about the school that they hope to be assessed and met.
“The heating is so irregular,” Woods said “it’s so difficult to deal with. Especially if you’re in one room that is super hot and then the next day it’ll be freezing. The ceilings are also very bothersome. A lot of them are cracked or have water stains from leaks. They are really outdated and broken and it’s upsetting.”
Even with all the flaws pertaining our school according to staff members, the good parts of the school outweigh the bad.
“The teaching, administrative and maintenance staff are all working very very hard to put out a good product,” Connell said. “I love the population, the students and staff are very upbeat and positive and willing to work with all the deficiencies we have.”
A popular favorite characteristic of the school is the rich history attached to it. If and when the building begins the remodeling process, whenever that may be, Lehr will miss the historical aspect of the building the most.
“It’s a mess of a building to move around in, there’s no real cohesive structure to the building and no clear organization to it, but that’s because of the history,” Lehr said. “It’s something I find intriguing and charming about this building. One of the coolest things about a building like this is that it tells its own history. You can see the layers of history in this building and it’s my favorite part of this school.”
Even with all the faults inside and outside the building, Connell believes the school is worth more than just its flaws. The staff and students vouch for the high school more than the deficiencies ever will.
“We are a strong and independent staff, we are very proud of our school and proud of the heritage that Gresham High School is,” Connell said. “It’s a legacy that stretches over four generations, so we have a lot of pride in our school and in our community and I see that reflected through what the teachers are trying to do every day and what the administration is doing. I’m proud of that and I’m proud to work here.”