Lakeridge High School has a tradition of excellence. It is ranked as one of the top schools in the state of Oregon, excelling in academics, arts, and sports.

However, when a Lakeridge boy's lacrosse player scores one of the many goals that have led to their three state championships in the past three years, they do not hear their name announced over a PA system. Lakeridge cannot properly host visiting teams because there are no visiting spectator stands. Field lights go off automatically at 9:30 p.m. causing an automatic forfeiture for any Lakeridge team regardless of the score.

I played in just such a game so I'm not describing a hypothetical situation. All of these limitations on field use exist because of a Conditional Use Permit that restricts the use of the Lakeridge High School turf fields. The CUP needs to change. The administration and school community have demonstrated their ability to comply with the existing CUP and are asking for the opportunity to continue to be a good neighbor with a CUP that allows greater field use including the use of a PA system for varsity games, visitor stands, weather protected seating, and use of the field lights beyond 9:30 p.m.

The requested modifications would elevate Lakeridge to the standard usage of most other local high school stadiums and it would allow field use to its full potential.

Lakeridge Principal Dr. Michael Lehman and the entire administrative staff have worked with the residents adjacent to the turf field on Cloverleaf Drive and other nearby neighborhoods. The Lakeridge administrative team has offered these residents special fan packages at sporting events, set out traffic barricades, requested extra traffic control patrols, organized trash pickups after events, they have communicated and responded to the neighbors' concerns. They have promoted good relations as neighbors and now they are proposing, with the school board's support, that the city's Design Review Board modify the Conditional Use Permit for the benefit of the school community. Lakeridge is committed to being a good neighbor and acting responsibly with the expanded uses and facilities.

Some people will argue that it is not fair to impact the neighbors that live close to the field. Those in favor of the status quo argue that having the lights on and the noise of a PA system would be unreasonable.

I believe that these concerns can largely be mitigated through good design and responsible operation and that these impacts are balanced by the positive benefits that come with living next to a school facility such as the use of the fields when not being used for sporting events, general sense of open space, not to mention the excitement of the sporting events.

The Lakeridge community has demonstrated, through the leadership of our administration, that we are capable of being good neighbors. Under a revised CUP, Lakeridge High School's tradition of excellence will only expand along with school spirit and morale.

A new CUP is just what we need to elevate our high school experience to the next level. So let's all begin by standing up and talking to those around us, raise awareness about this opportunity to grow as a school and as a community. Then come to the Board of Design Review meeting on May 5 and communicate how you feel and then you will see change.

Weston Cooper, Lake Oswego, is the Lakeridge High School Sophomore Class Secretary / Treasurer.

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