As the elementary school gym at Highland Magnet at Kenwood School in Bend continues to be demolished, bricks and other materials are being salvaged for a possible memorial to the beloved structure.
School officials have no plans yet to commemorate the gym, where heavy snow brought down the roof last month, but they are weighing different ideas.
Several community members and school staff have already inquired about being able to keep a brick, chair or door from the building.
“It’s been a request the community has had,” said Alandra Johnson, a spokeswoman for Bend-La Pine Schools. “It’s a building with so much sentiment in our community. It was well loved.”
Kirby Nagelhout Construction Co., the Bend-based construction company tasked with demolishing the gym, is collecting bricks and wood while the school decides how to use the materials. Construction workers are cleaning and chipping the bricks.
The extra work to prepare the bricks is not in the construction contract, said Larry Blanton, business development director for Kirby Nagelhout Construction.
“It’s our way of giving back to the community,” Blanton said.
Some commemorative ideas being discussed include using the bricks to build a memorial, making individual bricks available to the public or using pieces of wood to make a bench, Blanton said.
Blanton, who attended the elementary school as a child, said the construction company is happy to cooperate with whatever the school decides to do.
“It’s not often you get an opportunity to help with something like that,” he said.
The elementary school gym, built in 1950, had a flat roof that collapsed from heavy snow Jan. 12. No one was inside the gym at the time.
Demolition of the gym began the day of the roof collapse. Leaving the gym standing was not an option due to safety reasons, according to the school district.
The school district’s insurance company has approved the demolition work and is now reviewing plans to build a new gym at the school.
Blanton said the demolition work is expected to be completed within two weeks.
“We are not delayed in any way, and we are just moving forward,” he said.
Brian Kissell, principal at Highland Magnet at Kenwood School, said he has been impressed with how quickly the demolition process has progressed.
“When I went out there recently, there was almost no evidence left of the gym,” Kissell said. “The front is almost all soil and dirt and starting to look like a clean slate for us.”
For more than six decades, the gym had multiple uses, such as serving as a performance stage, dance hall and place for physical education activities. The gym also had a basement that housed a music room.
PE classes are being held in the school’s cafeteria, Kissell said, and music classes are in another classroom. With PE in the cafeteria, students have been eating their lunches in classrooms.
“All the staff and students have been very patient,” Kissell said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7820,