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Small institution thrives on involvement.

Byline: Faces and Places by The Register-Guard

Name: Pleasant Hill Junior High School

Grades: Seventh and eighth

Address: 36386 Highway 58

School district: Pleasant Hill

Area served: Pleasant Hill, Jasper, Trent, Dexter and small parts of Springfield and Creswell

Principal: Tony Scurto

How long on the job: It's his fourth year. Previously, he was assistant principal at Pleasant Hill High School, Sutherlin High School and Coquille High School. He taught for nine years in Antelope Valley, Calif.

What's special about the school: There are many factors, Scurto says - a caring school staff; strong parental support and voluntarism; high academic standards and student achievement; a small school population, which means the staff and students all know each other; positive electives, including wood shop, art, music, foods, environmental awareness and computers; strong seventh- and eighth-grade teaching teams that communicate regularly to integrate curriculum and help students succeed; and a grades seven and eight "junior high" configuration.

The school is one of only a few junior high schools left in the state. When middle schools serving grades six, seven and eight gained popularity in the early 1980s, the school's staff adopted some of the ideas and incorporated some block scheduling. But the staff and the Pleasant Hill community favored the existing model, believing that sixth-graders belonged in elementary school.

Number of students: 220

Number of teachers: 12

Total number of school employees: 25

Average years of teacher experience: 15

Average class size: 21

Programs the school is known for: An accelerated reader program; a science fair; instrumental and vocal music; athletics with all-volunteer coaches; and an Effective Behavior Support program based on the following school motto, known as RAMS: Respect, Academic excellence, Manage yourself, Safe choices.

Pleasant Hill also boasts strong participation in Destination Imagination, a creative national academic competition, and recently had three teams place first in the regional competition. Thanks to a federal grant, the school also has a thriving after-school program that includes homework clubs and classes in quilting, stone carving, chess, computers, shop and crafts.

Snapshot of a class day: In Suzy Crasilneck's geography class the Wednesday before spring break, the kids took a final quiz to complete a section on India and south Asia. Earlier, they'd had a guest speaker from Nepal and had been reading excerpts from writers of those countries, as well as magazine articles on current events. On Thursday, they sampled food from Eugene's Taste of India.

Mascot/symbol: Ram

Namesake: The community of Pleasant Hill

Year it opened: The building has seen numerous additions and renovations over the years, but the oldest part - the multipurpose room - was built in 1932. Other additions came in 1951, 1957, 1965 and 1974. The building housed the high school until 1961, when a new high school was built.

What it's built of: A mishmash of concrete block, brick, stucco and wood.

Condition: Old, but thanks to a recent bond measure, the wiring has been enhanced to provide telephone and Internet access in each room.

Interesting history: In April 1853, before Lane County was designated, the region's first school board was elected and Pleasant Hill became School District No. 1. Elijah Bristow founded a church and school together on the site that is now Pleasant Hill Cemetery.

Capacity: About 250

How students fared on the 2001 statewide reading and math tests: Sixty-nine percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded standards in reading/literature, compared with a statewide average of 62 percent. In math, 62 percent met or exceeded standards, compared with 55 percent statewide.

Socioeconomic status, based on the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, mobility rate and attendance: On a scale of least to most affluent and stable, the school's eighth-grade class ranked No. 287 out of a possible 371.

School Report Card rating for 2000-2001: Satisfactory, compared to a strong showing the year before.

Attendance rate: 92.5 percent

Upcoming events: Destination Imagination competition in Corvallis, April 13; Pleasant Hill Jazz Festival, April 20.

- Anne Williams

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FACES AND PLACES / Pleasant Hill Junior High School
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Title Annotation:Schools
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:671
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