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CTE internship and upgraded facilities welcome students on first day of school

By Lindsay Keefer

Woodburn Independent editor

Students in the St. Paul School District returned to class Sept. 4 to some new facilities, staff members and programs.

St. Paul received its second seismic rehabilitation grant and over the summer $1.5 million in federal grant funds went into remodeling the main gym at the high school.

The work included adding reinforcing to the interior and exterior walls of the building, new flooring, a complete roof replacement and reinforcement and refinishing the trusses.

"The project was completed on time and under budget," Superintendent Joe Wehrli said in an email. "We are excited to welcome our community to this new and improved facility."

The elementary school received a facelift as well, with the replacement of the landscaping in the front of the building.

Kevin Schindler and his company Autumn Leaf completed the project and district officials say they're pleased with the results, Wehrli said.

New to the high school is a career technical education internship program. Melissa Reed is supervising students who will be placed in internships in local businesses.

Athletically, St. Paul has returned to 1A classification after four years at the 2A level. The Bucks football team made the transition without a hitch, destroying rival Wallowa in the team's first game Aug. 31.

"We expect our student athletes to continue their long history of success as they compete in this new division," Wehrli remarked.

Last year's news that U.S. News and World Report ranked St. Paul as No. 16 of all high schools in Oregon (based on graduation rates, performance, state assessments and attendance) has motivated the school board and district staff to build on that excellent performance, Wehrli said.

The board, led by board Chairman Tim Crawford and with the help of Oregon School Boards Association and district staff, is also taking on updating all school district policies.

In his fourth year as principal of St. Paul Middle/High School, Tony Smith has two new staff members: Garrett McLean is teaching science and Don Kunkel, who left the district for a short time, is returning to the high school to teach business classes and to head up the school's DECA club. The remainder of the district staff is returning as well, Wehrli said.

"I believe our district has the strongest group of instructional staff and academic programs in place for 2018-2019 that I have had the pleasure to work with since I arrived in St Paul in 2012," he said.

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