Winston Churchill once said, 'We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.' Our environment - the buildings that we spend our time in - has a great impact on how we 'feel' when we are there. Whether it is the tradition inspired by the architecture of an East-coast Ivy League school or the more modern feeling you get when walking through the institutions of higher learning in our own state, our educational buildings have a profound influence on each of us.

Today we have a dire need to improve the educational environment for our young people. Sandy High School is severely overcrowded. For the past two years the school district has been adding modular classrooms, sometimes mid-school year, to create additional classrooms.

While adding modular rooms gets students off the floor (yes, students were actually forced to sit on the floor due to lack of desk space), it does not ease the overcrowding in the hallways and common areas. Lunch begins at 10:30 a.m. for some students due to space constraints in the lunchroom/multi-purpose room.

In addition to overcrowding, there are structural, security and infrastructure problems. These are just some of the facts discovered by the Facilities Task Force, a citizens committee appointed by the School Board to study the need for a new high school. The group's recommendation to build a new school was not surprising.

The School Board has retained an architect to put together a proposal to build a new school. Sometime early next year, they will make their final recommendations. Will it be expensive? Yes, it is going to cost a lot, more than will be comfortable for many people, but it will be worth it.

Someone once felt that you and I, and our generation, were worth it and provided for our education. Now the time has come to provide for the coming generation's education. Regardless of your family status, send a message that school is important, and that our young people are worth it.

We can build a new high school. Support this worthy cause by making a donation to Value Oregon Trail Education (VOTE), the political action committee spearheading the efforts to get a bond passed for a new high school.

Send your donation in right away to take advantage of the 2007 tax credit. See for a printable donation form and to find out more about VOTE. If you don't have Internet access, mail a check with your phone number to: Value Oregon Trail Education, P.O. Box 271, Sandy, 97055.

Oregon offers an amazing tax credit (not a deduction, but a dollar for dollar credit) for individuals who donate to VOTE (or other political action committee) - up to $50 a person, $100 a couple per year.

Don Hokanson is co-chairman of Value Oregon Trail Education, the owner of Smoky Hearth Pizza Company and a resident of Sandy.

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