Students build a gathering place – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

For five years, students at Butte Falls Charter School built a clubhouse using recycled wood and metal on the grounds of a former hatchery

Photo submitted Pavilion of the Butte Falls Charter School.

Just over a week ago, when students, teachers and administrators gathered for Butte Falls Charter School’s annual ball, it was more than a night of music and dancing. It was an opportunity for the students to celebrate the very structure under which they were dancing.

For the inaugural outdoor prom on May 27, school superintendent Phil Long, fabrication instructor Chris Mathas, and students including Keara Milch and Rikie Myers gathered around the pavilion that so many students had helped build over a period of five years.

“The prom that the juniors threw for the seniors was just a magical night,” said Milch, a junior. “There was a huge sense of accomplishment, not only finishing the ball, but also the pavilion.”

The pavilion proved critical on the scheduled date of the ball, which experienced cold and rainy weather. However, Myers said, it all cleared up once the dancing started.

“(The pavilion) really brought us all together,” he said, “and I think that’s why prom was more of a success for our class because we were able to help build the pavilion itself. same.”

Mathas noted that the hours leading up to the high school dance were also an important part of the pavilion unveiling.

“They really must have created this property, this final stamp of approval for the pavilion when they spent 24 hours decorating the whole thing for the ball,” he said.

Long was among the officials who saw the pavilion unveiled.

“I’m really proud of our kids and what they’ve done,” Long said. “I just think in this area of ​​pandemic and chaos, it’s great to have a resource like the Natural Resource Center and build something that’s sustainable and make a difference for the community and have fun to do it.”

The Natural Resource Center facility is a story in itself on the site of a 100-year-old state fish hatchery – the oldest in Oregon at the time.

“What goes through my mind is how far we’ve come from what it looked like before. When I first went to NRC in fifth grade, it was a very run-down place,” Milch said. “Having the pavilion there and everything falling into place perfectly is a great boost in getting this place up and running again. The pavilion absolutely started that.

The pavilion sits just above an old fish pond, which has now dried up and will be rebuilt into an amphitheater, according to Mathas.

The pavilion was a concept that came up in 2016 from the fabrication instructor and several of his students.

“I think it was a fluke. We had the resources available,” Mathas said, referring to a dozen dying Douglas fir trees that were 100 years old and in danger of being removed.

“The students and I said, ‘Why don’t we just machine them at the natural resource center and create the woods we need to create a pavilion?'”

They machined 14,000 board feet of lumber and lumber.

“It was a teachable moment – how we transform these dead trees over time into something valuable to the community,” Mathas said, noting that the roof of the former sports hall at the school was another reused element of the project.

The wood was glued and milled to make the pavilion. Mathas began working with a local engineer and obtained building permits from Jackson County to build the structure.

Milch became involved in the project last year when she worked on the roof and foundation of the pavilion before class. She remarked that the weather was still “very good”.

For his part, Myers did not weld the tabs, but he ground them clean. He also cut lumber for the roof and delivered it to the crews working on the structure.

“It was all a big learning curve,” Myers said.

Aspects of the project, as well as things beyond the charter school’s control, caused the pavilion to go unfinished for several years.

It took Mathas students a year to become certified welders and another year to weld the 100 steel brackets needed to assemble the structure, he said. Supply chain and labor issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic also required Mathas to work with a contractor himself to complete the pavilion’s framework.

“Looking back, that seems like a relatively short time frame when we look at the value we have for the financial investment,” said the school’s manufacturing instructor. “I think we all look to the future with such high hopes that the past has been compartmentalized.”

Now that the structure is complete, Mathas salutes the work of 30 students to build the charter school’s first outdoor classroom. Still a teacher, he hopes they’ll come back with some lessons learned.

“I want them to first understand that no dream is too small, and I want them to understand that with initiative and increased effort, they can achieve great things,” Mathas said. .

The materials that were reused to make the pavilion should also serve as a way to remind students of how they can be environmentally friendly in their adult lives, he added. But more than that, Mathas wants his students to remember that the pavilion is a space where events, from barbecues to dances, will take place.

“I also want them to have the sense of community that comes with building a gathering place like this,” he said. “(And let’s) bring our youth back into the community after they graduate from college or upgrade their skills and use their skills in our community.”

For Myers, his work on the pavilion changed his life.

“I never thought I’d build a building and lay down concrete, and build a bridge and clean up a pile of brush and everything – I never thought I’d do that at school “, did he declare. “Now I am, and I realize that’s basically what I want to do with my life.”

Milch looks forward to returning to the lodge decades from now when she has a family of her own.

“I just want people to admire the work that has been done by the students,” she said.

Contact journalist Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.

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