In 1900, Clover Valley Elementary School consisted of a two-room, white wooden schoolhouse. In 1952, it moved into an 18-room facility that cost $525,000 to build. In 2007, the elementary school closed and served as a home for displaced Oak Harbor freshmen and sophomores for two years during the high school modernization project.
Now, the old Clover Valley building has become the official host for HomeConnection and the Hand-In-Hand Early Learning Center, which includes Oak Harbor’s Developmental and Head Start preschool classes.
On Thursday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, Oak Harbor Superintendent Rick Schulte and Assistant Superintendent Lance Gibbon visited the site for an official ribbon cutting.
HomeConnection is a program that offers home schoolers resources and teaching advisors. When it first began, it had about 25 students and used rented space in the Christian Reformed Church to hold classes. For the last 10 years, the program was held in the Administrative Service Center. Now, with 230 students regularly attending, HomeConnection finally has a building to call its own.
“I look back and I’m not sure how you made it as long as you did in the cramped quarters of the Administrative Service Center,” Gibbon said to the families gathered at the facility, “but you did and now you’ve made a home.”
The school officials recalled special memories from the school’s history and shared their congratulations with the parents and students in between the booming sounds from the Navy planes flying overhead.
As Dorn approached the podium to speak, he joked that most dignitaries get one flyover when they visit a place, “but I’ve gotten four.”
Dorn said getting parents intimately involved in students’ education has been important to him since he began working as a state representative in the Legislature. Though he was supposed to have double knee surgery last week, he put it off for the ribbon ceremony.
“It’s nice to have a break from what I usually do and just see the great things that the communities do and the teachers do,” he said.
During his visit, Dorn spoke with HomeConnection classes and hosted a parent meeting.
In the morning, he took a tour of Oak Harbor High School’s career and technical education classrooms, such as video production, pottery, metal design, woodworking, painting, drawing and welding, and seemed extremely impressed with the work the district has done.
Dorn spoke with many high school teachers during his tour and was happy to learn that many gained their credentials through on-the-job training and could share real-life experience with the students.
“This is awesome,” Dorn said of the renovated high school building. “It’s one of the coolest sites I’ve seen in the state.”