It was a decade ago that the Oakdale Joint Unified School District welcomed its newest campus in over 50 years. In August 2005 Sierra View Elementary School greeted its first 700-plus students.
The school, which sits on 11 acres at the southeast end of town, cost more than $14 million to build and was paid for through the Measure C bond and state funds.
“If you look around you can see what the community of Oakdale believes in,” stated Terri Taylor during the dedication ceremony in 2005. The now Assistant Superintendent was the inaugural school principal for Sierra View.
Ten years later, David Kindred now sits at the desk once occupied by Taylor.
“I was on the planning committee,” Kindred said of the full circle moment he has experienced as the school’s lead administrator. The first year Kindred taught first grade and was the designated Teacher in Charge. The 2014-15 school year marks his fourth year as the school’s principal.
To commemorate the 10-year anniversary, the Sierra View Parent Teacher Club is offering the community an opportunity to be etched in stone. More precisely, bricks which may be purchased and personalized with a sentiment at the discretion of the purchaser. Bricks are offered at $50 for a 4x8 size and $100 for an 8x8 size.
“It’s really cool,” said event coordinator Melanie Shatswell of the brick website. “They can go directly to the website www.thatsmybrick.com and it’s all there. They can choose their font, place their business logo, anything and see exactly how it will look when complete.”
The bricks will be placed in a designated area at the southwest area of the campus, bordering the parking lot.
“We thought this was a spot where everybody enters,” Principal Kindred said of the location. “There is enough space that we can continue to add to it.”
A deadline for purchase has been set for this Friday, Aug. 29. The first installation is planned for later this fall.
“Whatever bricks are purchased we’re going to use,” Shatswell stated.
The East J street school location is the only campus of its type in the district. Many of the current staff members were there that first day of school in 2005. Among them would be school librarian Gwen Schmitt. After 10 years of tending to the needs and books of Fair Oaks Elementary school, Schmitt joined Taylor as a member of the Sierra View staff in 2005.
Now in her 20th year as a school librarian, Schmitt lights up as she recalls the early days of planning and creating the special space at Sierra View.
“It’s a really special place,” Schmitt said of her home away from home. “This library is really special. She (Taylor) was so excited to make Sierra View that neat place; it was hard not to get excited about it.”
According to the veteran librarian, she was involved with every phase of the Sierra View book haven. Schmitt was offered the ability to review the structure plans, move walls if she saw fit and create an interior space which is exciting to the young visitors.
The “Story Chair” is among one of the many personal touches the reading enthusiast introduced to the Sierra View students.
“I’m pretty sure it came from Jeannette,” the librarian said of the idea behind the chair.
Recalling early conversation with best friend Jeannette Lawrence, Schmitt offered, “Where are you going to sit? You’ll have to have a chair.”
“So we have the Story Chair and the Birthday Cushion,” Schmitt said, sharing the cushion is a special place for the student to sit during story time on their birthday.
“No one ever gets to sit in the Story Chair,” she added, “except Mrs. Schmitt.”
As celebration of its 10th birthday, the Story Chair was given a makeover for the 2014-15 school year and Lawrence was once again at the ready to help with the ‘new’ look.
“She shopped for fabric and would send me pictures, ‘What about this? This? Do we paint it or not? Change the knobs? Yep! She helped with all of it,” Schmitt said.
As Schmitt spoke of the Story Chair her eyes began to wander the walls of her decade-old work space.
“It all just started to evolve,” she said as she looked from one corner to the next. “Once we learned we had carte blanche to create our own space … well, once you start creativity, it’s hard to contain.
“It’s just really fun and the kids love it.”
As testament to that, the Sierra View library is hopping with avid student (and parent) readers every day. Schmitt opens her doors each morning before school at 7:30 a.m. and does not close up shop until 3 p.m. In addition to before and after school library hours, Sierra View Elementary also offers parent accounts for checking out books from the school library.
“I’m packed in here every day,” she confirmed.
“This is not ‘my’ library,” Schmitt offered of the space she has created. “I love it and that it’s here. It’s here for them. It’s their library.”