One new school and numerous new, more secure, front entrances will greet students and families as the 2019-20 School year begins on Tuesday.

Hood River County School District welcomes a new superintendent, Dr. Sara Hahn-Huston, who moves over from Gresham Barlow School District, succeeding Dan Goldman.

“I am really excited to start the new school year,” Hahn-Huston told the School Board in its Aug. 28 meeting. 

Families got their first look at the new May Street elementary school building on Thursday night. In Parkdale, and at Westside and Mid Valley Elementary, physical improvements paid for by 2016 construction bond funds have yielded new, secure entryways along with other improvements: New roofs, electrical systems and, at Parkdale, revamped bathrooms and a modern play structure.

Hahn-Huston announced that the staff theme for the year is “Knock it out of the park,” and sees strong support for the ethic, starting with her cabinet.

Hahn-Huston spent Wednesday with employees at the all-staff kickoff, and said “this is my first time here and I have never seen an atmosphere of professional learning like we have in this district.” She said learning happens at all levels, including support staff, teachers, and administration. “It’s done in such an engaging way. I’m a very proud superintendent,” Hahn-Huston said.

Three new administrative positions were created in 2019-20: Vice principals at the three largest elementary schools. They are:

  • Jim Mangan, Mid Valley; from West Linn/Wilsonville School District.
  • Amy McConnell, Westside vice principal; she previously taught at May Street Elementary. 
  • Vickie Schmidt, May Street; was previously district technology coach.
  • Parkdale upgrade

“It’s a refreshed look, and it’s exciting for staff, and just a new face at the front of the school,” Principal Gus Hedberg said of the changes at Parkdale Elementary this summer. “Security at the entries will definitely be improved,” he said. 

Mid Valley got the elementary school’s foyer upgrade a year ago, and this year, crews did the work the Westside and Parkdale elementary schools. In 2019-20, Cascade Locks will see that and other changes. (Playground fencing and other exterior improvements have already happened.) Parkdale sees a bump in enrollment to an expected 250 students, up from 200 last year, according to Hedberg. Of those, 18 are from the Mid Valley Elementary area, following the boundary adjustments made last spring.

“But we also just have a really big kindergarten class and a few other classes have grown,” Hedberg said, noting that it puts Parkdale back up to an enrollment level that was typical prior to 10 years ago.

A family place

Griffin Construction foreman Aaron Wetherell enjoyed his work at Parkdale, for personal reasons. His grandfather, Roy Wetherell, attended the school when it was Parkdale High School, and Aaron attended as a grade-schooler, as did his kids.

“It’s a lot of fun to work on this school,” said Weatherell who, when this round of construction bond improvements is done, will have worked on all the district building upgrades with the exception of May Street.

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