By Megan Kehoe

The Bulletin

A lot of changes are in store for La Pine in the next 20 years.

There’s going to be a new doughnut shop, a casino, an indoor play zone, a trampoline house.

And of course, there will be a new paper factory owned and operated by Shawn Masters.

“It’ll be good because it’s right by the school,” Shawn, 9, said.

Friday evening, students from Amity Creek, Buckingham, Elk Meadow, Ensworth, Juniper Technology Magnet, La Pine and Ponderosa elementary schools displayed design models they created over the past few months through the Architecture Foundation of Oregon’s Architects in Schools program.

The program, which has been in Central Oregon schools for the past seven years, pairs local architects with classrooms for two hours a week over the course of six weeks. Students learn not only what it’s like to be an architect, but also some basic fundamentals of the profession they apply to classroom projects.

“The idea of the program is to show students that design is ingrained everywhere in their lives,” said Kim Ruthardt Knowles, associate director of Architects in Schools. “Whether it’s on the playground or in their schools, it shows them design is part of all the spaces they learn and live and play in.”

Friday’s exhibit was in the Moda Health building near the Old Mill District. Each classroom’s projects varied, but often tied in with curriculum.

“This was the culmination of our entire year of our third-grade math curriculum,” said Carrie Crossley, a third-grade teacher at Buckingham Elementary. “It was also a fantastic team-building exercise for the students.”

Crossley’s class constructed bridges out of Popsicle sticks with the help of local architect Liz Hedrick, and learned about bridge suspension, angles and working with others.

“The teamwork stuff was cool,” said Aspyn Steeley, 9, a Buckingham third-grader. “I learned that you have to compromise on some things that you want. We did a lot of work on it.”

Nearby, third-graders from Juniper Technology Magnet displayed a paper model of their vision of Bend in the year 2039. The very green city featured natural grocery stores, shiny new apartment buildings, alongside current landmarks in the Old Mill District.

“I think students definitely learned how to think more conceptually,” said Tyson Staab, Juniper’s architect in residence. “Even though they’re just in third grade, they were able to get a lot of math concepts.”

Nearby, the town of La Pine got an adventurous redesign by a third-grade classroom. Constructed out of boxes and paper, a row of new and exciting shops lined Huntington Road.

“I learned how to make the floor plans, and that I really like making paper houses,” said Shawn, the La Pine Elementary third-grader. “I liked cutting out the walls and coloring them.”

Mark Ward of Neal Huston & Associates Architects Inc. in Bend, has been working with Elk Meadow Elementary students through the program for five years. He said he’s impressed every year by what he sees.

“I’m always surprised by what the kids come up with,” Ward said. “They do really well with the projects.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0354, .