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LJHS students win regional event

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After winning Pacific Northwest Regionals in the SchoolsNext Competition, LJHS kids now have the chance to advance to an international competition in October.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: CATHERINE MELTON - Lakeridge Junior High School students Elina Desphande, Rowan Kirkpatrick and Hamza Said-al-Naief discovered on May 9 that theyd triumphed at the Pacific Northwest Regionals in the SchoolsNext Competition. Here is their doughnut-shaped model of the school of the future.There's architectural déjà vu this spring in Lake Oswego, but with a twist.

Lakeridge Junior High School students Elina Desphande, Rowan Kirkpatrick and Hamza Said-al-Naief learned last week that they'd triumphed at the Pacific Northwest Regionals in the SchoolsNext Competition, which is an architecture contest, said LJHS architecture teacher Catherine Melton. A local team won the same competition last year and triumphed at the international event as well, but that group was from Lake Oswego Junior High.

The LJHS students "are very excited!" Melton said. "Just advancing from the first round was a happy surprise, since we were up against the LOJ team that won the whole thing last year. They've been working incredibly hard for months."

The contest challenges students to build the school of the future. The building that the LJHS students designed, complete with a real-life model, is shaped like a doughnut, a la the Apple campus in Cupertino, with a forest in the center and classrooms suspended in the trees. A cluster of arboreal teaching spaces was inspired by the "Star Wars" Ewok village on the planet of Endor.

Randy Miller, the Lake Oswego School District's executive director of project management, said these types of programs provide students with the opportunities to test the waters of the professional world. Miller is thrilled

locals are performing well again.

"I'm so proud of these kids, I truly am," Miller said.

To achieve the honor, Lakeridge Junior High went up against two LOJ teams on April 5 and then advanced to regionals against a Washington state team on April 27. The group learned on May 9 that they'd been victorious at the regionals event. Now the group is in the semifinals for the international competition, although Melton hasn't caught wind of who the local trio's competitors will be just yet. The entries will be electronic.

"Our next step is to submit everything to the judges by July," Melton said.

She says that there are seven teams in this round, and only the Top 2 will advance to the international finals in Atlanta in October. Melton says she doesn't expect to find out the LJHS team's placement or if the group will move on until late July or August. 

Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Jillian Daley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..