ONLY ON 5: Medford School District board members tour new middle school construction site

MEDFORD, Ore.- Monday afternoon, the Medford School Board toured the construction site of the new Oakdale Middle School. The historic site is in the midst of a major makeover to make it safe and beneficial for students, and only NBC5 News was on site to get a look.

The work isn’t just about updating the areas that are close to 90 years old- it’s also about bringing things up to code. Around $18 million alone is going into unseen changes like making the structure earthquake safe and bringing parts of the school up to ADA accessibility.

“The scope of work is to kind of reconfigure it to the the middle school footprint. So there is some restructuring of the facility, a large majority of it is to just bring it up to code and bring it to life safety standards for seismic events,” said project manager Ron Havniear. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s been a long time in the coming. It’s a great example of a lot of people around the community being able to come together and funding this project.” He says the project will go beyond the campus and impact the district as a whole.

Alongside the upgrades, the location is also sporting a new name. The ‘Oakdale’ title seemed an easy choice for the board, given the history around the campus.

“The Oakdale school is a historical district of Medford, the Oakdale historic district, which makes it a great name to go with where we’re at and going forward. It really fit,” explained board chair Suzanne Messer. She adds that the changes made for earthquake prevention will make the school “an immediate location for first aid and response” for the community. The school will also feature a memorial garden to recognize the histories of military families in the district.

Part of the work at the school also includes conservation. The district is hoping to cut out and save some original wood flooring from the gym, that is at least from before the 1950’s. They are also working to preserve the outside look of the historical windows while improving the function of them inside.

As nails are hammered and foundations re-poured, the next steps will be looking at redistricting and finding a principal for the school and then deciding the fun stuff, like school colors and a mascot.

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Grace Smith
Grace Smith is co-anchor for NBC5 News at 6. The Chicago native is a recent graduate of University of Miami with a Communication Honors degree specializing in Broadcast Journalism. She minored in Creative Writing and focused her senior thesis on social media usage and engagement. During her time at the University of Miami, she anchored multiple award-winning student television programs, covering everything from music festivals to the Super Bowl. Though she loved Miami's beaches, she's thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest where she can experience all four seasons and have a real Christmas tree! When she’s not at work, you can find Grace glued to any television showing live sports (especially if it's the Chicago Bears) or attempting a new recipe as she learns to cook.