Innovative facilities

Vernonia aims to develop a replicable educational model for other rural communities across Oregon. The new facility is built to meet today’s classroom needs with the capacity to expand for up to 1,000 students—enough room for a minimum of 30 years of population growth. The design calls for integrated kindergarten through 12th grade facilities, with a layout that minimizes cross-traffic among the youngest and oldest students. The integrated and highly efficient K-12 design is a national model for social and intellectual growth that has yet to be piloted in rural Oregon at this level, and offers educational benefits for expanded mentoring and teaching opportunities. The integration also provides consolidated administration, energy and maintenance savings.

The school offers improved physical education spaces including upgraded gymnasiums, an indoor track and a climbing wall; science labs; on-site wetland mitigation areas for hands-on biology studies; studios for art and shop instruction; technology upgrades including wireless Internet access in every room; a community garden; and ample outdoor spaces.

The school is the first LEED Platinum-designed public K-12 building in the country. The sustainable features (such as passive heating and cooling, day-lighting, and photovoltaic and ground source energy use) create a healthier and more productive learning environment, and considerably reduce long-term operating expenses.

These features also tie to new natural resources curricula, and offer students the chance to experience a “living laboratory” connected to major green economic opportunities in Oregon’s future. This focus will strengthen the school’s bond with higher education facilities across Oregon, such as Portland Community College and Oregon State University, through workplace training programs and environmental field of study that connect to the state’s emerging environmental industries.