Third times the charm

West Linn-Wilsonville School District introduces a third high school to the community


Sydney McCrone

Athey Creek Middle School is undergoing construction to prepare for their transformation to Riverside High School this fall.

For decades, the West Linn-Wilsonville (WLWV) School District has been home to some of the most acclaimed schools in the state of Oregon. With a growing population, both West Linn and Wilsonville High Schools are facing problems of overcrowding in the classroom, lack of supplies, a demand for parking spots, and not enough staff to keep up with students. In an effort to alleviate overcrowding and provide new opportunities to students, the district will be opening up a new high school this fall. 

Riverside High School will be at Athey Creek Middle School’s previous location, and will offer specific Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. According to the Oregon Department of Education, CTE curriculum, “embraces education, passion, and curiosity to fuel the future for Oregon students.” These programs are constructed with the intent of including a more modern approach to education, providing students with the opportunity to take classes that allow them to acquire technical skills through technology and professional practices. Riverside’s CTE programs will offer classes that include curriculum in business and marketing, health occupations, and construction and architecture.

During the 2023-24 school year, Riverside will be open to only freshman and sophomores. As students filter in through other schools, Riverside will eventually become a four year comprehensive high school. 

Nic Chapin is the principal of Riverside, and previously worked in the WLWV district as the principal of the Arts and Technology High School during the 2021-2022 school year. 

“We will have co-curriculars and sports, and those sports will be dependent a little bit on interest and facilities to start with,” said Chapin. “But our plan is to grow into having all of the OSAA sports that you would find at Wilsonville and West Linn.” 

Students will have the ability to involve themselves in both the academics and extracurriculars that are currently offered at WLWV high schools. The programs include core academic subject areas, co-curricular activities, OSAA athletics, performing and visual arts, and clubs. With overcrowding becoming a prolonged issue at both high schools, students will have more flexibility to enroll in classes and extracurriculars that may have been limited otherwise. 

Jennifer Cerasin is a ceramics teacher who has been teaching alongside Marianna Garvey for the past two years. Cerasin will be transferring to Riverside next school year, teaching both art and yearbook. 

“We have two really strong art programs at both of our really big high schools, and my hope is to have our third high school also have a strong and diverse art program, that has some commonalities between the other two as far as some the offerings we have and the way that we do things,” Cerasin said. “However, I’d also like for Riverside’s art program to have its own unique spin, and offer something a little different than the other two schools.”

Cerasin will begin teaching as the only art teacher at Riverside, with classes including Intro to Art, 2D Art, 3D Art, and Yearbook. 

“I’m excited for all the creative things I get to do and help,” Cerasin said. “To help build and set up the program.” 

Along with CTE focused classes, Riverside High School will also be the first school in the district to offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) program. According to the district website, the IB program will replace Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Similar to AP courses, IB programs will be available for students to participate in as little or as much as they would like. IB is a global leader in international education, and is recognized in over 150 countries by colleges and universities. The school will begin as an IB candidate, and will work towards providing the IB diploma for students who are interested in earning college credits.

“IB does offer, in some ways, some of the same things that AP does offer,” said Chapin. “So like if you wanted to take a class or two in a certain subject area and then take the exams you can get college credit for classes that way.” 

While AP and IB classes both demonstrate academic rigor, they differ in the opportunities that they provide to students. 

“The one thing that is a little different is that IB exams are made up of like 65% in most classes are from the exam and then the other 35% are from internal assessments, so it’s kind of a combination whereas AP is just a test,” said Chapin. “And then there is some subjects where it’s portfolio based, like in arts or theater.” 

In order to prepare for the upcoming school year, the Athey Creek building is undergoing renovations to provide more space for incoming Riverside students. Classrooms are being remodeled, a new office space is being built, and the front of the building has been expanded. Project updates are available to view on the district website, with quarterly updates being posted throughout the process. 

“I think we’re just excited to open the doors, excited for a new opportunity for students in our district and you know it’s really a program that we’re looking to grow and I think it’s gonna have a lot of great options for students in our district,” said Chapin.