The newest school in McMinnville, Sue Buel Elementary, has opened its doors just off the Linfield campus.
Sue Buel is a green, or “high-performance,” school and has recently been named Oregon’s first school to receive gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
Standing amidst kindergartners eating lunch, principal Debrah Weiner assisted students with lining up to go back to class after enjoying lunch in the sunlit cafeteria.
“This is a big deal because we now have extended-day kindergarten,” Weiner said. “So they are all eating lunch here.”
The location Weiner is referring to is the massive cafeteria students and staff can now enjoy. Sue Buel is replacing Cook Elementary school, where eating lunch in the cafeteria involved going down to the basement, a great difference from the high ceilings and walls made of windows now in place.
The idea to make Sue Buel a “green” school came from the community.
“The parents and community were very vocal that they wanted an energy-efficient school,” Weiner said.
Buel is one of several projects McMinnville city voters approved in November 2006 by passing a $62 million bond.
As the kindergarteners marched out and the first graders marched into the cafeteria, they were welcomed by teaching assistants armed with bottles of hand sanitizer. Every student got a squirt. The cleanliness, the concrete floors and huge, open spaces don’t necessarily add any warmth to the space, but the smiles on the faces of students and staff show just how excited they are to be in the new facility.
Weiner said she is excited about the proximity of the school to Linfield’s campus and the opportunities stemming from that.
Linfield students can get involved at Sue Buel by joining the Start Making a Reader Today (SMART) program. Beginning in mid-October, students can come in and read with children for an hour either Monday or Wednesday morning.
Sophomore Maria Sandoval grew up in the McMinnville area and is eager to see how the new school will fit into the Linfield community.
“I definitely think that students at a young age should be exposed to college-aged students so they can get an idea of what it is like,” Sandoval said. “Hopefully it will create enthusiasm to pursue a college education.”
Buel is also in connection with Linfield’s education program and is working with the Foundations of Education class in the Education department. However, Weiner hopes the two schools will not only be connected by the education department.
“Can you imagine, say, if the soccer players invited the kids to watch a practice? Or we went to an art exhibit? Or a tour of the library?” Weiner said. “That would be huge. We are always looking for connections.”
Sue Buel is located on Davis Street, behind the Linfield soccer field. Applications for SMART and to be a coordinator can be picked up at the elementary school or by going to www.getsmartoregon.org.