Now in its second year, the West Albany High School Bistro is giving advanced culinary students a real restaurant cooking experience and providing one of the best dining experiences in town.
Led by foods teacher Dolly Victorine, the Bistro is part of the Culinary 4 class for seniors. Students are chosen through an application process and are mostly aspiring chefs or foodies who enjoy cooking and working together in a team environment.
“Everyone helps everyone,” said Logan, who is interested in enrolling in the culinary program at LBCC next year. “I’m not sure what I want to do, but I really like working with food,” he said.
Students are responsible for every aspect of the restaurant, including the menu, budgeting, planning, team assignments, table setting, payments and dishes. Students are also responsible for delivering meals within the school and to staff at other locations around the district.
At its busiest, the restaurant has served 20 in-house meals and 55 food orders to go. The cost of the meal covers the ingredients. Victorine said the class tries to make everything from scratch. This year, they have new mixers, food packagers and new smokers for cheeses and sausage.
All duties rotate and students are assigned to groups. Each group takes a turn assuming head chef duties. This week’s head chefs were Hayley, Kylynn and Ty, who chose American comfort food as a contrast to last week’s Thai-inspired menu.
This week’s menu included a Philly steak pizza, an asparagus-stuffed chicken breast, or potato soup and green salad. Each entree comes with a drink and dessert, which was a vanilla, chocolate or Oreo milkshake. At the end of each meal, the student chefs come out to greet the customers and share the plans for next week’s menu.
Head chef Kylynn said the key to a successful kitchen is to be able to work with people and to accept that people may do things differently. “I love the feeling when it turns out right, and we have the plate beautifully presented,” she said. “When we took out the pizza today, everyone applauded.”
The kitchen isn’t approved for commercial use, so the school restaurant is limited to staff only. Phase I of the bond-funded school rebuild will include a larger, commercially designed culinary classroom that should be accessible to diners from the community.
Many West Albany High School staff members are regulars. One teacher said, “We’re regulars, but it’s always a treat. Once you come once, you keep coming back.”
High school students from West Albany and South Albany high schools represented the district and shared their student perspectives at a forum sponsored by the Oregon Chief Education Office. Students talked about how their schools have helped them prepare for college and careers.
GAPS students joined 200 students from schools around the state. Prior to the forum, students completed surveys that provided input, which was also presented during the session.
“Students from three Oregon high schools had the opportunity to meet with state education leaders and policy makers to share their personal experiences with accelerated learning programs. These programs allow students to take college courses and earn college credit in high school.
The student forum, held on Nov. 8 in Salem, was facilitated by Grace Didway, a student at Oregon City High School and a member of Oregon Student Voice. Students in attendance from Oregon City High School, West Albany High School, and South Albany High School talked with members of the Sustainable Systems for Accelerated Learning Work Group. The work group – a collaborative effort among the Chief Education Office, Department of Education, and Higher Education Coordinating Commission – is developing a plan across K-12 and higher education to broaden accelerated learning opportunities and support long-term sustainability. Members of the workgroup include school district superintendents, university leaders, and the directors and staff of the state’s education agencies.”
Design continues for the new elementary school. Groundbreaking will begin this summer. The building will open in Fall 2019. The school is being bid as both a 500-student school and a 600-student school; the School Board hopes to be able to build the school with the larger capacity (the drawings below depict the 600-student school). This school will be immediately north of Timber Ridge School.
Oak Grove Elementary School
The Oak Grove bond project began as a modernization of the existing building with a 44,000 Square Foot addition. The gym and most of the building would have been salvaged while the remaining part of the building would have been torn down and rebuilt. After further study, it was determined that the existing gym was not large enough and/or not properly located to serve as either a gym or a cafeteria in the remolded school layout. A new cafeteria was part of the addition. In addition, the estimated costs for expanding the existing gym was prohibitive.
With the additional bond dollars that resulted from the bond sale, a revised layout was designed that retained less of the existing building and added a new gym and cafeteria. During the cost estimating phase the estimators asked why we were trying to maintain the existing building as they believed it would not cost anything more to tear it down and start from scratch.
Further work concluded that for an additional cost of about $160,000, a brand new school could be constructed. There are many reasons that this plan is more efficient: longer building life expectancy, a school on a single grade (no ramps needed in the school), a more compact design that shortens distances around the school, cheaper to maintain, and an improved parking and vehicle circulation plan.
On Nov. 6, 2017, the School Board formally opted for the new school construction option. This school will be bid as both a 400-student school and a 500-student school. The school board hopes to be able to build the school with the larger capacity. The drawings below depict the 500-student size. This decision will require that the approximately 280 students who would have attended Oak Grove next year will need to be rehoused for one school year. That plan is being devised and is expected to be announced in January.
Here is a conceptual plan of how the new school will be laid out on the site.
South Albany High School
Work will begin this summer at South Albany High School, including new instructional space in the existing gymnasium building (Building 10). The projects include adding CTE classrooms. Directly adjacent to the west will be a new building housing an additional CTE classroom and a large multi-purpose space that can be used for both physical education and CTE lessons.
An added benefit of this project is the ability to significantly improve the inadequate lobby and restroom situation of the current main gymnasium. The space will be shared by the two buildings.
There is also planned a major overall and renovation of Building 4, transforming it into modern CTE space for students. This space will include a new maker lab, a new fabrication lab, new computer lad, renovated metals lab, and a covered courtyard for construction projects. Lastly there will be some improvements to the interior of Building 8 to make the space more functional for performing arts.
These drawing are subject to change.
Middle School Career Technical Education Improvements
Big changes are in store at our middle schools and their CTE space. Work will commence as soon as school ends with ribbon cutting planned for late August at all our middle schools (except that NAMS may be delayed one year depending on the outcome of where to house next year’s Oak grove students). New maker labs, new fabrication labs, improved wood shops, and improved culinary art spaces are all examples of the work on tap. As an aside, the locker rooms at the three older schools will also be receiving long overdue rehabilitation.
West Albany High School
The single largest project in the bond is phase one of an eventual new West Albany High School. Because of the magnitude of this project, the design is not as far along as the other school projects. The team has to decide what will be built now and how phase one will work within the eventual complete campus.
The first phase will include new CTE spaces for maker spaces, video production, digital audio, health occupations, and art studios, choir, band, and drama classrooms, an auditorium, cafeteria, administration, commons, and potentially a multi-purpose space used by physical education and CTE programs.
Decisions involved with this project include going two or three stories on the academic wing as well as the orientation of the new high school’s “front door.” This is a conceptual design of how that might look:
Preparing a mailing to parents is a work-intensive project. To help get an upcoming mailing to parents ready to send, the District sought help from some expert volunteers through RSVP, Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Linn County.
Regular volunteers Elaine Yearsley (also known as the Volunteer Queen), Geri Egli, Linda Creager and Virginia Erickson showed up this morning to stuff and label envelopes for a letter to middle and high school parents about the Pipeline to Jobs program, which partners with the district to help students learn about local industries and opportunities to learn skills for jobs.
The volunteers said they enjoy the opportunity to work with different organizations and share their time and skills. Geri Egli, who retired after a 33-year teaching career in Iowa, said she likes staying busy and giving back. Virginia Erickson said it is a good opportunity to meet others and get out of the house.
Elaine Yearsley said she volunteers year-round in the community at the Senior Center, Chamber of Commerce, county healthy department and school district whenever they call. She’s also a regular volunteer at River Rhythms and the Art and Air Festival. And she has donated volunteer services to the Red Cross for 45 years.
Elaine Yearsley, pictured with staff member Jodee Forrest
On Veterans Day, the crowds came out for the annual Veterans Day parade despite cold and rainy weather.
GAPS was well represented with school marching bands. Students had a chance to honor veterans with musical tributes.
“All the bands of Greater Albany Public Schools are proud to march and to honor our veterans,” said North Albany Middle School Band Director Andy Nelson. “We value the veterans’ service and hope our gift of music is appreciated.”
The following bands performed during the parade: North Albany, Memorial, Timber Ridge, and Calapooia middle schools, and West and South Albany high schools.