Out of ashes comes Hillside Elementary School

It was late August 2002 about 4:30 in the morning. The phone rang and I was pretty sure Michael Remick wasn’t calling me to say we were having a snow day.

He told me instead that the junior high was on fire and I needed to get down to Glen D Hale. I actually didn’t believe him and he told me to look out of my doorway toward the junior high. I saw black smoke billowing up from the direction of the school. I headed down the hill to GDH and stood with my colleagues Mr. Remick, Glen D Hale Principal, Joni Parsons and then Superintendent Bill Jones, teachers and neighbors in silence as we watched the junior high school become engulfed in flames.

In spite of this tragedy, the D9 staff and families rallied and came together to have the HS and MS students double shift at the high school.  Later, when I was selected to be principal of Little Butte School, we moved the staff and students of GDH into Little Butte so the staff and students of White Mountain Middle School could move into Glen D Hale until their school could be completed.

That was a very cozy time for the two schools to live under one roof, and showed how resilient a school community can be. We had over 800 kids learning and working in LBS, (and one very unfortunate cat.) Since Eagle Rock was nearly completed thanks to a bond measure passed by the community, the decision was made to build an elementary school with the settlement we expected to receive from the Junior High fire. Little did we know it would take until 2008 to settle with the insurance company.

Under the leadership of Superintendent Rickert, we broke ground for Hillside on Dec 3, 2009.  And now just 16 months later the newest addition to the District 9 family: Hillside Elementary is open!

The staff, students and families of Little Butte School never complained about the leaks, squeaks and funky smells and  passionately loved the old school. They packed up the entire building and moved all 517 students, 60 something adults and whole lot of “stuff” into Hillside in a little over one week.

During the construction process I learned alot. Construction crews like donuts and design teams like Hershey kisses. I learned that honey graham cracker is a color, that a hard hat is not an option even if it wreaks havoc on your hair, and that light fixtures can get in the way of bathroom stall doors. Asphalt cannot be poured unless the temperature outside is 40 degrees and rising and you do not even want me to get started about solar panels, light pole bases and random busted pipes!

It’s extremely important to have a strong partnership with the city to make a project like this go so smoothly, and I learned that some people are really good at telling a pouty principal “no”. But, they will say “yes” when it really makes a difference for kids  I learned that architects are not just very creative folks, they notice every little detail about their project and care about it much like I care about our students. I learned that a Project Supervisor is like an orchestra conductor; a Business Manager knows a whole lot more than how to count beans and that an OSU Beaver can actually be a great Project Manager.  Finally, I learned that a District Maintenance Supervisor can (and occasionally will) explain the entire process of short cycling a boiler and also knows why and how to fix it when the toilets in two wings back up unexpectedly on the first day with students!

It takes a village to raise a school and I would like to thank everyone in that village.
By Lynn Scott
Principal Hillside Elementary School


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