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Robert Buckner addresses the PBCCS eighth-grade class during the ceremony Wednesday evening.
Thirteen exuberant eighth graders took the stage on Wednesday evening at Powell Butte Community Charter School to celebrate and mark their last year of middle school.
“This is a milestone, as it has been 50 years since eighth graders have graduated from a Powell Butte School,” said Administrator Jackie LaFrenz.
This also marks the third year that the PBCCS has been in existence, and first year that the school was established, it served grades K-6. The second year, they added seventh grade, and the current year PBCCS included the first eighth-grade class.
Robert Buckner, who was instrumental in rallying the community to establish the charter school, was the master of ceremonies. The students and families had a special dinner together prior to the ceremony. Cake and refreshments were later served for the entire community.
The students chose Carl Marshall, their friend and bus driver, to be the keynote speaker.
“He is a great community member, and he was in the last Powell Butte eighth grade graduating class, 50 years ago,” said LaFrenz..
In response to the eighth-graders selecting him, Marshal said, “It’s very humbling. It’s an honor.”
When addressing the graduates, Marshal said, “My generation landed on the moon, sent a probe to Mars, and made some big advances to the medical field. Your generation will do even greater things.”
Marshal noted that when he went to school in Powell Butte, it was small and intimate, and the students knew everyone in the community.
“It was fun to go to school there,” he added.
The teachers took a lot of time with the students, Marshal said, and they helped prepare them for the next stage in their education.
“The older kids and higher grades helped the younger ones with their studies and things like that, and it was just fun.”
Some of the same benefits that Marshal cited of the old Powell Butte School were also brought up by some of the students and parents of the eighth-grade graduating class.
Graduate Noah Carmack said, “I would like to thank this community for being so dedicated to keeping this school running and giving kids an opportunity to have a solid education and a safe school experience.”
Holly McLane, whose daughter, Mary, graduated with the class, said that one attraction of the charter school is the size of the classes.
“It’s just such a great transition for kids, particularly our kids, going from home school into the mainstream — getting them ready for college and high school,” said McLane.
She added that the concept of the charter school and the amount of parent involvement is very attractive. She is also supportive of the place-based curriculum and hands-on learning.
“For kids like mine, who like to be outdoors anyway, it has been a great launching pad for getting them excited about learning, and teaching them that everything doesn’t have to come out of a textbook,” she added.
Mary McLane said, “I think this school has been a very good alternative for students in the Powell Butte/Prineville area. You have truly made a difference in so many people’s lives, including mine.”
Lynn Miller and her family moved to Powell Butte from Bend, and a big part of their decision to move was the opportunity to be part of the school. Her daughter is part of the eighth-grade graduating class this year.
“It’s gone great, and I think it just keeps on getting better,” exclaimed Miller. “Every year, they make improvements. One of the really great things about the school is that all of the teachers know all of the students. They have a real feeling of family, and they get to go on a lot of field trips, which further cements that feeling of closeness.
“They are a tight bunch of kids, and in the eighth grade, there are only 13 of them. I think they will look back and be really happy to have had that experience.”
Some of the place -based education projects at PBCCS this year:
• Kindergarten created a local bird habitat by adding feeders and plants
• First grade created a butterfly garden
• Second grade planted pallet herb gardens that provided herbs for school lunches
•Third grade designed a garden entrance and is helping engineers build trails
• Fourth grade student teams created rock gardens to look at
• Fifth grade made a ceramic clay sign for garden entrance and worked on trail construction
• Sixth grade tended trees and helped build trails
• Seventh and eighth grade students harvested native plants from the Ochocos, and planted veggies in garden beds. The seventh graders helped finish the trail to the back, and eighth grade designed a mosaic mural they left as a class-departing gift for the school.