We are excited to have found a permanent home for Heritage School at Fairview. Formerly a state-run training center for the developmentally challenged, Fairview’s 275-acre campus will eventually be transformed into a vibrant new sustainable community.
We love our building’s tall, gabled ceilings with clerestory windows. Built in 1986, the 5,400 square foot building received extensive renovations in 2004, our first year at this site. We have a large art room, a library, a science room, a math room, a writing center, a computer room, and a kitchen. The building was one of the last structures to be added to the original Fairview Training Center and is likely to be the lone survivor, since the remaining buildings have been or are expected to be demolished soon. It was built by volunteers with donated money and named "The Possible Building" because community leaders at the time thought the project would never be completed.
Our school’s many windows allow a pleasant, light-filled view of the fenced play area. A large stand of native Oregon oak and redwood trees provide shade for the two acres our school occupies at Fairview. There is ample space to build forts, play games, and study nature. The attached covered patio spans the eighty-five foot length of the building, allowing plenty of room to exercise even during rainy weather. Opportunities for science excursions abound, as a creek and wetlands are within walking distance.
The state of Oregon sold the Fairview property in 2002 to an organization devoted to creating a sustainable community in Salem. Sustainable Fairview Associates developed a master plan that outlined a visionary concept for creating a diverse mix of housing, green space, and businesses. Developers willing to carry forth the key elements of their sustainable design for this beautiful property began construction of homes in February 2007 in the new Pringle Creek Community, the first thirty-two acres to be sold.
A parent of three former Heritage students, Eric Olsen (no relation to Glen and Elaine Olsen), is also developing another sustainable residential community on Fairview property called "Fairview Addition." Not to be left out, the city of Salem has acquired property at Fairview, within sight of Heritage, to develop a 27.5 acre city park.
We will have the opportunity to witness first-hand the creation of a new type of community and we are delighted to be in on the "ground floor." We know that our own understanding of how to live a more sustainable lifestyle will grow, and the ripple effect will undoubtedly spread to the many families whose children attend Heritage School. Our students care deeply about this land and they inspire us with their hope and wonder.
The concept of community lies at the heart of our school's philosophy, and we share Sustainable Fairview Associates’ notion that we are not islands unto ourselves; everything we do impacts others. We try to cultivate an awareness of how our decisions affect our environment, and we want to promote responsibility and consideration for the needs of others.
Already Fairview has served as a rich learning laboratory for Heritage School students. In recent years, the Fairview property was designated a state game refuge, and we have seen ample evidence that a thriving community of wildlife inhabits this land. We love the fact that deer romp through our field. A fox even scampered onto our “back patio” one evening after school. During our study of nocturnal animals we didn’t have to look far to find owl pellets; the double silo within sight of our playground provided ample evidence of the presence of barn owls. Pringle Creek is just a short distance away. We have investigated water quality, measuring stream health, oxygen content, etc. For the past several years, we've also raised salmon fry given to us by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and released them into Pringle Creek with the hope that they will eventually make their way to the Pacific Ocean.
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