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Byron Ball leaves a legacy behind at Sandy High

Board names green space after former science teacher

Former Sandy High School teacher Byron Ball, who died late last week, has left behind a legacy of science — and a forest.

Ball died after a long battle with cancer on Saturday, Sept. 17. The week before his death, the science department at Sandy High School approached the Oregon Trail School District Board of Directors to ask that the wooded area behind the school be named in his honor.

The board agreed and the area was dubbed the Byron Ball Educational Forest. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: OREGON TRAIL SCHOOL DISTRICT - The forested area behind Sandy High School was named the Byron Ball Educational Forest after the former SHS science teacher who inspired students and teachers alike.

“Byron spent more time in those woods than pretty much any staff member,” said Kim Ball, principal at Sandy High School. “He taught students about trail management, insects, ponds, wildlife and so many more beautiful things in our forested area.”

Byron retired in August after teaching science at Sandy High School for 25 years. He taught everything from zoology, botany and biology to parks and wildlife, and the natural history of Oregon.

“Byron was a gentle spirited man who had a passion for the world around him,” Kim added. “He loved providing experiences for students that helped them grow their passion for nature.”

Byron also hosted Outdoor School in the Sandy High forest where high school students taught elementary students from the Oregon Trail School district and other schools throughout the area.

“Byron’s classes were rigorous yet popular,” read a post published to the Oregon Trail School District’s blog.

The post went on to describe how students eagerly anticipated Byron’s class field trips that brought their course curriculum to life, such as sleeping with the sharks in the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, feeding elk from a tractor at Jewell Meadows and bird-watching at Sauvie Island.

Kim said the Byron Ball Educational Forest, named for the man who influenced so many, will continue to be a hands-on learning lab where students can take a few steps from the traditional classroom to observe the living world around them.

“I am very flattered and surprised,” Byron said when asked for his thoughts on the dedication. “I was just doing my best to engage students in the natural world, to provide them with hands-on experience in the field observing plants, insects, and wildlife, so they might realize and appreciate the beauty and value of our green spaces, enough to share their new-found knowledge with others.”