GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility is dedicating its new education building, New Bridge High School. It’s an effort to provide kids in the system with a “normal” high school experience in order to get them back on track with their education and their lives.
"Most of our kids here have never had a positive school experience," said New Bridge Principal Lynn Eccleston. "So to be a part of a positive school experience that also is a beautiful building, it's pretty neat to see the smiles on their faces, the pride they take in their education and being able to provide them with more opportunities while they're here."
Certain members of the community were invited to take a tour of the high school and experience what kids in the correctional facility will experience during their time inside. It has four classrooms, a career center, manufacturing technology lab, barber shop, and more. It cost $9.8 million and was funded during the 2015 legislative session. Kids with the correctional facility can get their high school diploma, GED, dual-college credit, and earn some vocational certifications.
Before the new building, kids previously attended class in a non-traditional setting in their living units. Youth have enjoyed classes inside the building since April 30th. They say the change in learning environment has had a positive impact.
"Its been a lot of help going to school here, especially when we came out to the new building," said a senior boy named Alfonso. "It has given me a lot more knowledge than I previously I had. I sort of dropped out of school before I came here because I thought I knew a lot but this place has helped me realize I have a lot more to learn."
The new building comes equipped with four classrooms, eight teachers, 4 support staff, and a principal. The school is run by the Three Rivers School District under the supervision of the Oregon Department of Education and additional support by the Oregon Youth Authority.
More than a dozen kids will be graduating from the high school this Thursday.