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"Vision, Creativity" Lauded As Ground Broken On 2 Schools At Tech College

New Harrison Preparatory School and combined Oakwood and Southgate Elementary School will open to students in Fall 2014.

It’s a project that will be complete in 2014 – and one that started in 1941.

That is the year that school districts near military bases across the United States were asked to create technical training programs to support the war effort, thus leading to what is now Clover Park Technical College.

On Monday afternoon, the Clover Park School District broke ground on the land to , of which it was granted 130 acres in 1951. The new and combined Oakwood and will be complete by Fall 2014.

It is the next step in CPTC’s mission to provide early-childhood education through a four-year degree at the campus along Steilacoom Boulevard.

“Having a K-5 school and a 6-12 school on a technical college campus is very unique,” said Clover Park School Board President Carole Jacobs in remarks to the crowd gathered under hot, sunny skies for the groundbreaking. “Our students will benefit from their new facility and from future partnerships with Clover Park Technical College.”

Superintendent Debbie LeBeau felt similarly.

"The groundbreaking of these new schools celebrates a unique partnership and a promise we made to our community," she said.

LeBeau thanked CPTC President John Walstrum and his staff for its “vision, creativity, cooperation and partnership.”

“We wouldn’t be here today without everyone’s creative problem solving,” she said.

Among those in attendance were city councilmembers, school board directors, the principals and students from the three schools and community members. And there was a special, surprise guest: retired Lt. Gen. William H. Harrison, for whom Harrison Prep is named.

In emphasizing the impact the new schools will have, Mayor Doug Richardson, who chaired a citizens’ committee for schools, drew upon the words Harrison often uttered during his tenure as mayor, that they will make Lakewood “the greatest place to live and to work and to play – and part of that work, of course, is to be educated.”

The schools are the final component of a $92 million bond passed by voters in 2010 that also encompassed a new , which is .

The new Harrison Prep, currently housed in the former Lake City Elementary building, will have an 800-student capacity and feature the International Baccalaureate Program’s Middle Year Program. The school is in the preliminary planning phase to add the IB Diploma Program.

The combined Oakwood and Southgate is slated to hold 650 students and will replace the former schools, which are 45 and 53 years old, respectively.

“Today’s celebration is actually a way for us to publicly thank the citizens for their continual support of all of our students,” Jacobs said. “The passage of the 2010 bond allowed for this project … Your ‘yes’ vote is why we are here today.”

The turning of the dirt was led by Assistant Superintendents Gary Wilson and Jim Paxinos, and students from all three schools participated.

“In the city of Lakewood I kind of like things torn up all the time,” Richardson joked. “It shows you’re making progress.” 

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