Celebration of Hope: Oakville School District Holds Ribbon Cutting for New and Renovated School Buildings


Walking the shiny new floors of the new Oakville Elementary School and peering into its spacious classrooms, it’s difficult to imagine the Oakville School District as it was six years ago, with its buildings on the verge of falling apart and its enrollment steadily declining.

“During that time, our board goal had been to accomplish two main goals,” said Superintendent Rich Staley. “Number one was to inspire hope for this community, for our students and our families. Number two was to personalize the student experience where students and families have the pride and confidence to succeed in a new and a changing world.”

One significant part of achieving those goals was to tear down the outdated elementary school building and build a brand new elementary school.

After nearly a year of construction, the new elementary school was formally opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

“Tonight is about gratitude, hope and celebration,” Staley said to the large group of Oakville parents, students, teachers, staff and community members gathered outside the new elementary school Wednesday evening for the dedication ceremony.

The new building houses four general education classrooms, one special education classroom, a weight room for the high school’s use, an office and a multipurpose-cafeteria space.

“I’m excited for our new building here and it should be good for our young people,” said Dan Penn, a representative of the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and Oakville School District community member who was invited to speak at Wednesday’s dedication.

The demolition of the old elementary building and construction of the new elementary school is one of a series of projects funded by a $5.6 million bond measure passed by Oakville voters in February 2020.

The second part of the bond project included a total renovation of the high school, including updating the technology and learning spaces, renovating the bathrooms, modifying the music room to increase acoustics and make it easier for students to get instruments in and out, adding a new classroom near the kitchen, updating the office area, and installing new ceilings, floors, furniture and doors in all classrooms.

Other projects included upgrading the playground, paving the parking lots, remodeling all bathrooms on campus, installing a campus-wide public announcement system and putting in a new readerboard by the main road.

There are still some “odds and ends” to the projects left to be completed, including finishing up work on the old gym that housed several high school classes while construction was going on in the classrooms, but the majority of the renovation work in the high school was complete as of Wednesday’s celebration.

Staley took time Wednesday to acknowledge some school improvements achieved within the last six years that weren’t part of the bond projects, namely the establishment of a preschool program thanks to a Grays Harbor Foundation grant; the establishment of an elementary school library funded by a local Dollar General grant; a series of remodeling projects funded by a Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction grant in 2019; work to replace hallway and gym floors funded by Oakville School Board provisions; and facility upgrades funded by an Americans with Disabilities Act grant.

“Tonight is a night of celebration and accomplishment of a journey our district has been going on for at least the last six years. And what a journey it has been,” Staley said.

In addition to thanking voters, donors, project coordinators and the school board for making the improvement projects happen, Staley specifically thanked Oakville teachers, students and parents for their patience during the recent construction and the month-long delay to the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

“I remember the first day that we got to open the doors to (students), the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and ‘oh wows’ and all of that, that made it worthwhile,” he said.

Wednesday’s ceremony concluded with a formal ribbon cutting, where Staley asked the Oakville community to continue supporting the school.

“I ask you to help support our students and help them see a future that is bright and full of potential to see themselves performing at an extremely high level,” Staley said. “I ask you to help support a new generation of Acorns and future Acorns, so we can create strong families and citizens that help Oakville become not an afterthought, but a lighthouse for personalized learning and hope.”