Sequim to honor revamped high school building

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — A Saturday afternoon ceremony at the old Sequim High School will include exhibits and tours to show the public the restoration work and to honor those who did it.

Community members are invited to a 1 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by an open house tour and celebration until 4 p.m. at the building at 503 N. Sequim Ave.

An exhibit of historical schoolhouses will be on display, along with class photos going back to the 1940s era.

Workers have almost completed the transformation of the 93-year-old building from an early 20th-century high school to a 21st-century school district administration building.

District department offices that had been spread around the district are now housed in it, while the small building that once housed the district office is used by the maintenance department.

“It's good to have everyone under one roof and in offices that are functioning well,” said Patsene Dashiell, spokeswoman for the Sequim School District.

Visitors Saturday will find that just enough is left of the old interior to show how it looked before the seven-year restoration effort began.

“It started with one upstairs classroom,” Dashiell said.

Building-trades students

In 2007, a group of building-trades students from the North Olympic Peninsula Skill Center, in partnership with the district's maintenance department and licensed electricians and plumbers, began learning the building trades by renovating a single classroom on the second floor, Dashiell said.

Students replaced windows, installed new drywall and did carpenter work to restore and upgrade the room, which turned out so well they were turned loose on the rest of the school, said Riley Stites, skills center building-trades instructor.

Since then, they have renovated almost the entire building, completing about one room per year, and now are building a new School Board meeting room on the second floor, Stites said.

Both current and past students who did the work will be honored Saturday.

Students who have been involved are excited about the project and about the work they are doing, Stites said.

“I don't have problems with attendance,” he said.

None of the students doing the work ever attended school in the old high school building — except for their building-trades classes — but Stites said they have become invested in the school where many of their parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents went to school.

“They have ownership. They feel they are a part of this,” he said.

Built in the '20s

The school's west wing was built in 1920, followed by a 1932 extension to complete the main school building and the addition in 1932 of a 673-seat auditorium, which included the school library.

Initially a high school, the building later housed a middle school. The last classes in the building were in the late 1980s or early '90s.

The structure is still strong, and the school has a good roof, Stites said.

For more information, phone the district office at 360-582-3260.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 16. 2013 8:00PM
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