Open house event -- community members recognized

Members of the public gathered inside Kalama School District’s new 33,000-square-foot secondary school building on Thursday evening to take tours, meet building leaders, and help thank those involved in the pre-construction process.

The May 26 event, advertised by the district as a “Community Open House Celebration,” represented the first real opportunity for many in attendance to see the new facility up close and in-person. The building opened at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, but access for non-students had been limited due to pandemic health and safety protocols. 

“It was really important for us to finally be able to open the doors and welcome everyone inside our new buildings, which exist today only as a result of the community’s amazing support,” said Eric Nerison, Kalama School District Superintendent.

In addition to the new secondary school building, attendees toured the STEM center and science labs on the third floor of Kalama High School, as well as the new Kalama Elementary School building (which opened during the 2020-2021 school year).

The new facilities, designed by BLRB Architects and constructed by Emerick Construction Company, were made possible by state grant funds and a $63.4 million school bond that voters in Kalama approved in 2018.

“I’m just so thankful for the support of our community,” Kalama School Board Vice President Wes Eader told the crowd in attendance. “It’s so important in this day and age to have facilities that are built with safety and security in mind – and these buildings certainly were.”

During the celebratory event, Nerison presented each of the following members of the community with a plaque from the district, recognizing them for playing an instrumental role in the success of the building projects:

  • Keith Bloom, ESD 112 Construction Services Group Project Manager
  • Gerri Brewer-Harkleroad, Former KSD Business Manager
  • Heidi Bunker, Kalama High School Principal
  • Jeff Johnson, KSD Maintenance Director 
  • Cleone Kockritz, Community Member 
  • Vic Leatzow & Cowlitz County Fire District 5 Commissioners
  • Dr. Kala Lougheed, Former Kalama Elementary School Principal
  • Jennifer McCallum, Kalama Middle School Principal
  • Tim Merlino, ESD 112 Superintendent
  • Kirk Pawlowski, ESD 112 Construction Services Group Director
  • Adam Smee & Kalama City Councilmembers
  • Bob & Barbara Stewart, Community Members 
  • Bob Von Roch, KSD Director of Technology
  • Mark Wilson, Port of Kalama Executive Director 
  • Chris Winn, Kalama Middle School Teacher 
  • Kevin Wright, KSD Athletic Director

To learn more about the facility improvements financed by the 2018 school bond, click here.