Corvallis High School welding instructor Isaiah Nelson doesn’t sound like he’s exaggerating when he talks about how much he likes the brand-new 7,000-square-foot technology building that replaced the cramped quarters he was relegated to last year.
“It’s 100 times better,” he said with a grin Wednesday, as he supervised a group of students making metal tables in the spacious welding room.
The Corvallis School District has a little more breathing room on campus this year, thanks to the new digs for the wood shop, the metals shop and the CAD lab, among other classes.
The prefabricated metal structure, complete with a state-of-the-art air filtration system, was paid for entirely with $901,318 in federal dollars from a Quality Schools Grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“We’re really pleased with the high-tech nature of it and all the space,” said district superintendent Monte Silk. “People are interested in those kinds of schools where students can really get started in a career. These types of specialized, practical courses that we offer in the new building, like woodworking and welding and CAD drafting, really draw a lot of interest from kids, because they are not just the usual core classes. They’re classes that they are interested in pursuing a career in.”
Nelson agreed that the kids are the biggest winners.
“My old shop was about the size of the storage room we have now,” he explained. “It just allows us to do so much more.”
Tonia Bloom, the vice-chair of the Corvallis school board, said that she heard only rave reviews at an open house for the new building on Tuesday night.
“The people at the open house were really pleased,” she said. “We had a lot of people come through who were Corvallis High School grads from way back, a couple shops ago. Many of them are in agriculture, or in careers that use construction and welding skills, and they were very pleased with how it turned out. We’re very pleased that we can offer more woods and metals classes for our students.”
Silk said the new building benefitted the entire district.
“We spent another $140,000 on remodeling the old shop into two very large science rooms,” he said. “One is the Classroom Without Walls science room, which needs a lot of room for all their outdoor equipment. And the other is a biology classroom, which needed the extra space too. We have lots of things that need storage. The old CAD room is now an iMac lab, which was donated by the Greater Ravalli Foundation. The community has been very supportive of tech education. We’ve had a lot of good things that have happened in the district in the last year as far as facility and tech upgrades, which means increased course opportunities. That’s what the students really like.”
Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.