District will also reopen Columbia City Elementary School for the first time since 2008

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Jennifer Vandershuere, center, cuts a celebratory ribbon at Columbia City Elementary School on Wednesday, Aug. 30, welcoming students and parents to the recently reopened school. During the welcome back event, students were also given the chance to vote on a new mascot and school colors.UPDATE: The St. Helens School District will see many new faces this year in top administrative roles and will also likely see major developments in the construction of two new school buildings in the district.

Below is a run-down of some notable changes taking place in the school district this year.

Columbia City Elementary School reopens

After being shuttered for six years, Columbia City Elementary School will reopen its doors next week as students return to the classroom. The building will be led by Jennifer Vanderschuere who was hired in the spring as the head principal.

The St. Helens School Board went through a months-long process earlier this year to determine the attendance boundaries for the three elementary schools, including Lewis and Clark and

McBride Elementary Schools.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and welcome back night for families and students was held at Columbia City Elementary School on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

The building was closed in 2012 for budgetary reasons, but last summer the school board and Superintendent Scot Stockwell identified reopening the school as a priority for the 2017-18 school


New administrators across the district

After several long-time principals left the district at the end of the school year, the top positions have been filled by interim appointments made by Stockwell.

Both the St. Helens Middle School and St. Helens High School will be led by interim principals while the district waits to recruit for full-time applicants in the fall. At the high school, one interim principal will work until December and then a second-interim principal will be brought in to start in January. A new athletic director has also been hired.

New buildings on the horizon

The St. Helens School District continues to move forward with plans for a new middle school building and a new alternative high school classroom, both of which were bond-funded projects approved last November.

Consultants from Soderstrom Architects have been working with the district to finalize designs for the new buildings and have begun to seek bid solicitations from local vendors for construction projects. The school board voted in the spring to follow a procedure where they vet applicants and create a pool of qualified builders before requesting bids. Groundbreaking for the Columbia County Education Campus, the smaller of the two bond projects, is estimated to take place in February.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the year that Columbia City Elementary School was shuttered for budgetary reasons. The school was closed in 2012.

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