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Future school to be named for Art Ruktin

Former school board member was principal at Hazelbrook, Bridgeport and Mary Woodward schools
by: Jaime Valdez Lois Rutkin and granddaughter Claire, 2, explore the site of the future Art Rutkin school, which will be dedicated on Friday.

Art Rutkin has been a recognized name in the Tigard-Tualatin School District for nearly 30 years. Now the popular principal and school board member will continue his legacy in the district when a school bearing his name is built in the area over the next few years.

A special ceremony on Friday will name a future school site off Beef Bend Road after Rutkin, a long-time student advocate and elementary school principal for Tigard-Tualatin schools, who died last October.

For Rutkin's wife Lois, there's no greater honor.

'It's awesome,' she said, standing in a grassy field off Beef Bend Road with her 2-year-old granddaughter Claire.

The 20 acres of grassland the two pick flowers in may not look like much right now, but over the next few years the school district hopes to build a new school to meet the increasing population expected on western Bull Mountain in the coming years.

For Lois, having a school named after her husband is a perfect way to remember the man known as 'the Heart of Tigard-Tualatin.'

'It stands for all he stood for,' she said. 'Education was so important to him. It was his life, he accepted everybody and treated everyone the same and those are the things that every school should stand for: Accepting people no matter who they are or their creed or color or ability. He just had a big heart with everybody.'

District spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon agreed.

'This is going to be a fantastic school because it will have his spirit,' Stark Haydon said. 'We have some really nice school sites, but this one is something special.'

Rutkin died at the age of 69 from mantle cell lymphoma, a rare cancer of the lymph nodes, which he had been fighting for about five years.

A prominent member of the School Board from 2003 to his resignation in 2010, Rutkin previously worked as a principal at several Tigard-Tualatin schools, between 1984 and 2001.

Plans for how the district would remember Art Rutkin began soon after he left the Tigard-Tualatin School Board for medical reasons last January, but were not finalized until just after his death.

'We found out (about the school) and my father had just passed away the day before, and we were just in shock,' said Sarah Rough, Rutkin's daughter who teaches fourth grade at Metzger Elementary. 'What an incredible place it'll be. And a school? It's just so him.'

The school district has owned land in the West Bull Mountain area for years in anticipation of the area's development.

Just when that the school will be bulit is anybody's guess, Stark Haydon said. Washington County is working to develop the area and district officials say it could be six years before houses, parks and commercial areas are built in the area, which reaches out to Roy Rogers Road and up to Scholls Ferry Road.

'There has been such a slowdown in development, we need to wait for the houses and kids to come,' Stark Haydon said.

It's also unclear what type of a school will be built on the site, and with 20 acres of land, it's possible that more than one school could be built on the site, Stark Haydon said.

'Truly there are all kinds of possibilities,' Stark Haydon said. 'It could be an elementary school, or it could be an elementary and a magnet school.'

Rough said that she can't wait for the school to be built and that she hopes to one day teach there.

'I'll be there the day it opens and stay until I retire,' she said. 'That would be my dream.'

In the meantime, Rough said, the site is the perfect place to remember the man who dedicated his life to education, and even donated his body to Oregon Health and Science University for study.

'The family was going to go to (the site) for Father's Day and be there,' Rough said. 'It means a lot to us. We don't have a place to go to remember him. This will be a really neat thing for our family.'

At a glance

What: Dedication of new school site after longtime principal and school board member Art Rutkin

When: Friday, June 17 at 10:30 a.m.

Where: The future school site on April Lane near Beef Bend Road.

How to get there: From 99W travel west on Beef Bend Road past 150th Avenue. Turn right on April Lane. Travel straight until you see the signs.