Siskiyou School completes 'green' classroom buildings

ASHLAND — The Siskiyou School, a Waldorf School here, has just finished building energy-efficient seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms, the result of a $400,000, six-week capital campaign among its 125 families.

The feat is a milestone for the Waldorf community, which in past decades has gone through two earlier dissolutions before finding and building on its present Clay Street property, and which had students scattered in sites around Ashland.

In 2006, the Siskiyou School raised $700,000 from parents for construction of two buildings, each containing two classrooms.

"It's a testimony to the people who wanted an education for their children and were ready to have the full school experience, with all the children in one school," said Siskiyou School Administrator Catherine Razi.

"When we bought this property in 2006, we told the parents if they wanted a school, they're going to have to build classrooms, and their answer was a resounding 'yes.'

"We looked at lots of other sites in Phoenix, Talent and Ashland but decided this was the best," Razi said. "This is our third incarnation and if you look around the country, you wouldn't find many schools who've done this much. It's because of the parents and the leadership of the board."

The airy, high-ceilinged classrooms were designed by Ashland architect Carlos Delgado, a former Waldorf parent, and incorporate many green features, including south-facing clerestory windows, radiant floor heating, floors of concrete solar mass and nontoxic building materials throughout. The builder was Vitus Construction of Gold Hill.

"Everyone said they wanted a central location," said volunteer development director Karen O'Dougherty, a Waldorf parent. "It was about the parents and their commitment to teachers and the kids' education. They went for it 100 percent and every family was involved."

The school started in Jacksonville in the 1990s, re-formed on East Main in Ashland, then scattered to many sites early in this decade before buying its present home, an old church, in 2006. That building is used for tutoring, music, administration, first grade and performances in the old church hall.

The new classrooms, sited behind the main building, open onto the city's Clay Street Park, which has playground equipment. Waldorf kids help maintain it and eventually would like to plant a community garden there, said Razi.

"The new classrooms are a pretty incredible space for being so small," said seventh-grade teacher Kelly Shelstad. "It's like a sacred space. That's what the kids say."

Eighth-grade teacher Ghigs Razi said, "I feel inspired there. It made me understand about architecture. The thought that went into it is so evident."

A public ribbon-cutting will take place at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the school will hold its annual Waldorf Winter Faire, a popular holiday event featuring candle-dipping, pocket people, window stars, puppet show and Winterberry Café.

For more information, 482-8223 or

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