We are proud to announce this year’s 10 Community Builder award finalists. The winning school, selected by you, our online community, will receive the $5,000 grand prize. Additionally, four other schools chosen by the OnPoint Prize Selection Committee will each receive $2,000.
The voting period runs now through May 5. We encourage you to read about the schools below and vote for the project you think will make the most of the $5,000 award. Don’t miss our announcement of the Community Builder award winners and the six finalists for the Educator of the Year on May 10!
Read about our finalists and their amazing school projects:
Dayton Grade School—peaceful, pleasant and productive playgrounds.
Dayton Grade School has started a project to make playgrounds safe, comfortable, enjoyable and accessible for all its students. The staff has participated in the Peaceful Playgrounds training program to improve playground supervision and increase engagement through more activities.
The 3rd through 5th grade playground needs revision, with funds necessary for playground improvements, additions to the accessible portion of the playground, and the replacement of an almost 30-year-old play structure. Funds will help improve recess time and provide an enjoyable, healthy, and productive time for students of all physical, mental and social abilities.
Desert Sky Montessori—Montessori melodies.
Desert Sky Montessori is the first and only tuition-free Montessori elementary school in Central Oregon. The Music Program is being developed in three phases, and funds will help support Phase 1 of the project, which includes the following objectives:
- Obtain and utilize Montessori-centric music instruction tools for all seven classrooms
- Provide Orff Instrument training to one teacher in the 2022-23 school year
- Utilize any obtained music equipment during the 2022-23 school-wide winter performance
- Invite musicians to the DSM campfire ring to share their music with the children, hold group sing-alongs, etc. Desert Sky will strive to bring a diverse array of musicians so children can see, hear and possibly touch various instruments
Gervais School District—wellness walking path.
Gervais School District will create a walking path for cross country and track practices. Its horticulture class plans to plant native plants and use the space for classroom purposes when children study the native plants of Oregon. The construction class has also been challenged to install trail markers to mark distance and provide fitness challenges along the path. The path will be open to the community and the school. It can be used for the Functional Learning Classroom for walks, athletics practices, community walking, classroom education, staff wellness and school clubs.
Community Builder funds would be used for benches along the path, giving people a chance to sit down and rest as needed, and provide a calm place to relax.
MA Lynch Elementary—school garden.
MA Lynch Elementary plans to further develop its school garden and create an inclusive outdoor learning and growing space for students, teachers and eventually, the community. The garden will provide a space where students learn how to grow food from seed to table, explore nature concepts, and have an outdoor area that can be utilized for other core learning and emotional/behavioral regulation.
Funds will be used to update and fix the garden space so that it is ready and safe for students to access. This includes:
- Benches so that students can sit for observation or to do other school work
- Seeds and plant starts
- Supplies for student-created stepping stones
- A butterfly habitat
- Materials for a small ramp for students who may be using a wheelchair
- Paints and other supplies for artwork that will decorate the fence that surrounds the garden
- Garden supplies such as trowels, shovels, garden gloves, new soil and a new shed
Marcola Elementary School—playground improvement.
The staff at Marcola Elementary would like to give their students an improved playground, allowing the children to play at recess. Funds will be used to improve or replace broken equipment, including a slide that has been broken since 2018, a basketball hoop, new tetherball polls, and an improved storage area for the playground equipment. They will also make landscaping improvements on school grounds, including the playground and track that students use for PE and jog-a-thon fundraiser.
McKenzie School District—fire recovery and art therapy.
The fire of 2020 continues to leave a lasting impact on the McKenzie River Community. The residents and kids of the small rural school district are still recovering from that trauma. The McKenzie School District would like to provide art and music education, using art as a form of therapy. Funds will be used to buy art supplies to provide supportive mental health.
McMinnville Montessori School—community gathering space.
The project’s primary objective is to create a safer, more environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective space that fosters increased opportunities for collaborative learning and community building. The current space is under-utilized and presents some ongoing safety concerns. With funds from the Community Builder award, it could be completely renovated to improve the experience of students, parents, faculty and staff.
The majority of the budget will be allocated to fencing, which will enclose the space, creating a clear boundary for strangers and increasing opportunities for educational collaboration among members of the school community.
Pioneer Elementary School—butterfly and habitat learning gardens.
Pioneer Elementary School’s vision is to enhance its campus with butterfly and habitat learning gardens to support outdoor learning opportunities. A large meadow-sized garden will utilize a wide range of plants in various colors to attract different species of butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. Diverse plantings will include a range of textures, leaf shapes, flower shapes, and features to reinforce multiple curriculum goals, including science (biological and earth sciences, parts of the plant, habitats, seasons), art (colors and shapes), language arts (poetry and journaling), and history (heritage, culture, traditions). Interpretive signage in English and Spanish will describe species and habitat features for self-guided learning.
A growing body of evidence suggests that teaching students outdoors has many positive impacts, including increased attention span, better focus, higher interest in the subject matter, and improved test scores. The Learning Gardens will provide increased access to nature and science for all students, staff and the community, as the campus is open to the public after school hours.
The school will use Community Builder funds to purchase plants, seeds, soil, CMU block, and pressure-treated wood to build planter boxes and interpretive/educational signage.
Rex Putnam High School—Kingsmen Thunder drum line and winter percussion.
The Kingsmen Thunder Drum Line Program is the only competitive drum line in the North Clackamas School District. It consists of 20-25 marching percussionists performing in the community at parades, fundraisers and school assemblies/sporting events. It is now an award-winning competitive program on the NW Performing Arts and WGI Winter Indoor Percussion circuits. The drum line program strives to provide one of the best youth development programs in music, train in musicianship, leadership and stewardship, and promote arts in schools.
To compete and perform, essential supplies for the battery instruments (snare, bass, drums, cymbals) require regular replacement of heads, sticks, and hardware to keep equipment usable. Community Builder funds will be used for items such as sticks, heads, hardware, repair and maintenance.
Reynolds Community Transition Program—Sweet Gum & Cedar—The Greenhouse Program
The Reynolds Community Transition Program provides post-high special education students ages 18-21 with work experience in on-site greenhouses. Funds will be used to purchase items to expand the student business, Sweet Gum & Cedar, by having regular plant sales that involve the school district and surrounding community.
Funds will also help add several raised garden beds and standing garden beds to plant and grow a wide variety of vegetables, including culturally significant plants. Students will participate in the construction of the raised and standing garden beds. The program allows students to explore career options, practice work skills, and help maintain the campus. Graduates of the Community Transition Program become more employable in the community.
Supporting teachers with the OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education.
Students and teachers have been through a lot in recent years. However, the education community has persevered, going above and beyond to keep kids engaged, curious and connected.
Each year, the OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education provides us with an opportunity to discover and share remarkable ways teachers and schools support students. The Community Builder awards are one of the many ways we honor the unwavering commitment of our students and teachers. The annual award provides grants for innovative campus projects that either inspire students, foster community, demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, or reach a broad segment of the school community.
Show your support and vote.
This year, we will donate up to $150,000 to outstanding schools and educators who are contributing to positive change in the places we call home through our annual OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education.
We hope you will join us in honoring those who are making an impact in our community. By casting your vote today, you can help show appreciation for our education community as they continue striving to reach our children and improve our community.