First days of new combined school go well, officials say

Oregon Junior/Senior High School new name for facility

OREGON — The first two days of seventh and eighth graders joining high school students in the new Oregon Junior/Senior High School went well, school officials said on Monday.

“The kids were really, really amazing with the older kids helping the younger ones,” said OJSHS Principal Heidi Deininger. “It was very heartwarming.”

Monday marked the first day of school for the Oregon district and the first day that junior high students attended classes in what used to be the Oregon High School.

In February, the school board members decided to close the David L. Rahn Junior High School, located in Mt. Morris, at the end of the 2021-22 school year and have seventh and eighth grade students attend classes in the high school.

School officials cited decreasing enrollment throughout the district and increasing maintenance costs for the DLR building as their reason to close the school.

On Monday, students in grades 7-12 had their first day of school in the merged building which is now called Oregon Junior/Senior High School. The OJSHS now houses 684 students and 42 teachers.

Deininger said officials still needed to work on the “flow” of students to the cafeteria during lunch periods.

“We have to work on the ebb and flow there,” she said.

On Tuesday, Deininger along with assistant principal Kip Crandall and Shannon Cremeens, dean of students, were observing the flow of students in the cafeteria, which is located in the school’s basement.

“We are working on it,” said Crandall.

Deininger also said the high school’s new policy of requiring students to turn over their cell phones at the start of each class period and place them in a phone safe’ appeared to be well received.

“I think the kids were like ‘thank you’ and the parents were like ‘thank God’,” Deininger said.

She introduced the new policy to school members last month as a way to eliminate cell phones as a distraction in classroom.

Deininger said the district purchased cell phone safes for each of the school’s 50 classrooms. She said she hopes the safes, which cost around $140 each, would standardize each classroom’s approach to cell phones.

In the event of an incident, the phones could be taken out of the safe, she said.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen oversees production and content of 9 community weeklies and has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.