In spite of the COVID-19 restrictions since March, Gresham High School has seen many new developments, and is currently in the final stages of all construction.
In November of 2016, the school was approved for a $291.17 million bond for a project reconstructing the entire building. Construction didn’t officially begin until April of 2018, with light demolition until June. The project has undergone four stages in total, and was supposed to be finished in 2021. However, due to the pandemic there were no students to work around, which allowed construction to proceed at a faster pace, and thus be completed ahead of schedule.
Since the lockdown, all of the “cool stuff” has been completed, according to Assistant Principal Jason Bhear. This includes the new student commons, media center, SUN classrooms, college and career center, three new career and tech classes, the new gymnasium, counseling offices, and many more aspects of the campus.
“I’m probably most proud of the new weight room and the new gym,” Bhear said. “This is the first time we’re going to be able to fit the entire student body in one room at once.”
Resuming school amidst the ongoing construction was challenging for staff members and students, who tried to maintain a positive learning atmosphere throughout. Construction was also difficult for the workers involved.
“Gresham High School is a fairly large campus, and is a ‘congested site.’ It’s surrounded by busy roads, and main street is pretty busy, and it’s difficult for shipments like steel,” Senior Project Engineer Jeff Nakashima said.
Nakashima has been on the project since July of 2018, and has seen most of the development. This was also the longest project he’s ever overseen, at two and a half years.
Another difficulty was having to split the project into phases due to working around students, instead of having a straight timeline of development. There were also a few discrepancies, such as the wildfires in September, where construction was put on hold until it was safe for workers.
With this reconstruction, and the many improvements that have been made to the campus, we should see more opportunities open up for students, and the day-to-day will go smoother than ever before.
“The thing I’m most proud of is how the new school will impact the community,” Nakashima said. “There’s newer technology, the campus is safer, and there’s room for a bigger student body. All in all this means the students get a better education, and a better school.”
Several students are looking forward to the new gym, the better tech, and the more modern look of campus.
“I am most looking forward to experiencing the new feel of the school, not having to travel from school to school, and seeing all the new developments. And being able to dance in the new gym with my team when the time comes,” sophomore Savannah Smith said.
There were also some new developments that were finished just before the lockdown, such as the new auditorium, that many students have eagerly talked about since March.
“For me personally, I’m really excited to go use the new auditorium and be able to put on shows with the new equipment. We will have more opportunities to do more things with all of our shows,” junior Evii Anderson said.
The expected end date for all construction is December 9th, and everything will most likely be cleaned up by the end of the year. Much of the staff, students, and workers themselves are extremely excited for all work to be done on the school, and many are eager to see the end result when school is back in session.