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School of dreams

New Aloha-Huber Park School says 'welcome' with innovations
by: Jonathan House, Aloha-Huber Park School Principal Patti Book is looking forward to the first day of school in a new building. The 117,000-square-foot structure was completed this summer.

When Principal Patti Book first walked down darkened corridors of the Aloha-Huber Park School, she recognized just how much care went into the details of building Beaverton's newest elementary school. As she made her way down the hall, motion sensors turned on lights, illuminating the path in front of her.

'That's the day I got teary-eyed,' said Book.

Since the 95 teachers and classified employees arrived back this week, Book said they seem to be wearing 'frozen smiles,' happy they are both in a brand new building and looking forward to the school year.

'It's really hard to explain how honored I am to be part of this experience,' she Book during a tour of the facility on Tuesday.

Book said students are enthusiastic about the new year as well.

An eighth-grader, who will help lead guided tours of the new school on Thursday and Friday, said 'This is going to be the best year of my school life,' said Book.

The 117,000-square-foot school at 5000 S.W. 173rd Road, replaces the old Aloha Park Elementary School, which has been remodeled, renovated and expanded to create the International School of Beaverton.

It will house students in pre-kindergarten classes through the eighth grade.

'It looks awesome,' Brandon Escobedo, a seventh-grader, said during a recent visit to the school. 'I like how big the cafeteria is going to be … and how everything is freshly painted.'

Brandon will be joined at the school this year by his two brothers, Edgar, a fifth-grader, and Danny, who will begin kindergarten. They are among the 920 students expected when the school opens on Tuesday.

Aloha-Huber Park is a diverse mix of backgrounds and languages with 50 percent of the students being English Leaning Learners.

Of those, about 60 percent are Spanish speakers, not including those who are second and third generation Latinos.

There are a total of 22 different languages spoken at the school.

What impresses Book is the fact that a new school was built to serve a population that includes 75 percent of its student population listed as being in poverty.

'For Beaverton to do this is a statement of every child's right to the best facilities and instructional practices,' said Book. 'We have more than we've ever dreamed of.'

The school that has been rated as exceptional for two years in a row by the Oregon Department of Education and last year received a 'closing the achievement gap' award.

Book said the goal in designing Aloha-Huber Park School was to keep a simple architectural scheme, trying to impart the school's mantra of being a beacon of light in the community. That included massive amounts of glass on the school's south side along Farmington Road.

'The glass is all about that schools should be transparent,' said Book.

At the school's entrance, a metal totem pole greets students, featuring the word 'welcome' laser-etched in 12 languages.

'We wanted a monument sign that shared our diversity,' said Book. 'We already had one of our families call and say how honored she was to have her language represented.'