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‘Our favorite way of learning’

Rogue Primary School, open by next fall, sees unique ‘play-based’ instruction model in its future
Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneMaggie Staley walks through the construction zone Monday of a Rogue Primary School, Central Point School District 6’s new elementary school.

A little less than a year from now, Central Point School District 6 is expected to add a new elementary school with a unique approach to teaching.

Under the motto “play is our favorite way of learning,” Rogue Primary School — home of the otters, located at 615 S. Second St. — is expected to open in September 2022.

District officials have promoted the school recently, sharing pictures of its construction on social media and launching a website. Meanwhile, Rogue Primary’s incoming principal, Maggie Staley, talked of the imminent start of accepting applications from parents/guardians who wish to send their children there.

“We’re trying to get the word out because … we want them to know that this is an option for their student,” Staley said. “We’re a school that places play at the heart of education, and we want to provide an experience for our youngest learners that is filled with joy, curiosity and choice.”

The school will include grades K-2, but the school will admit only kindergarten and first-grade students in its first year.

Rogue Primary beginnings

Before the pandemic changed how schools taught students, Central Point District 6 was having an overcrowding problem — mostly at its “in-town” elementary schools: Central Point, Jewett and Mae Richardson.

“Our other in-town schools are bursting at the seams,” Staley said.

To solve the problem, district officials purchased the former Central Point Hospital, formerly owned by Asante, in 2018.

“This move by the district leadership increased our ability to build a new school with cost savings to the taxpayers,” Superintendent Walt Davenport wrote in an email to the Mail Tribune.

But the district decided to wait and transform the former hospital into a school until it was able to bond, according to Spencer Davenport, chief projects officer for District 6. It put the $82 million bond program out to voters, who approved it in May 2019. Ultimately, the district garnered $89 million due to bond premium, with $18.3 million in bonding funds going toward the Rogue Primary School project.

The addition of the school will not only help with overcrowding, it will also improve safety and create flexible learning spaces, according to the district’s website.

Building aspects

Spencer Davenport said what attracted district officials to the former Asante building was it had a lot of infrastructure in place to build a school.

“All the infrastructure was there — the groundwork, a lot of the grading, asphalt, utilities,” he said. “When we went out and toured the old hospital, we immediately saw the potential for that property to serve as a campus for our kids — something that could serve them for decades into the future.”

Once complete, Rogue Primary will be 45,000 square feet, encompassing 12 classrooms, a gym, full kitchen, cafeteria, offices and outdoor spaces for lounging and educating.

The impact the new Rogue Primary will have on its students is limitless, Staley said.

“When they step out of their classroom, they step into an outdoor space that has a slide from the second story to the first story,” Staley said. “[So], they will see things that you wouldn’t normally see and give them a lot of opportunities. They will be wowed.”

Rogue Primary will accommodate over 300 students — with the potential to add more students in future years.

Play-based model

Staley talked about why some parents might enroll their children in Rogue Primary School as opposed to a traditional institution.

“There are other parents who [believe] it’s important for their students to follow their curiosity and have some freedom around their learning,” she said.

A former first-grade teacher herself, Staley said the play-based model works best in a school that houses such young students.

“It’s not students running around, playing all day long, with no instruction — it’s our job to teach them,” Staley said. “Our younger students need to learn how to read, write and do basic math.”

The new school’s curriculum also dovetails nicely with the “project-based learning” that is going on at Central Point Elementary, Staley said. That way, anyone attending Rogue Primary would be able to make a smooth transition out to attend third grade.

“Our district is pretty innovative,” she said.

Spencer Davenport noted that he has a fifth-grade son who attends Central Point Elementary and has gotten a hefty dose of applied learning.

“We all see how kids learn in different ways, but I’ve always felt there’s a lot of kids that learn by doing,” Davenport said. “A lot of times, those experiences are the ones that stick with us for the rest of our lives.”

Parents interested in enrolling their children in Rogue Primary School can read more information and download an application starting Jan. 3 at https://rogueprimary.district6.org/.

Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or kopsahl@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.