‘Nothing is going to stop the music’ at Sutherlin High School, not even $1.4 million in damage to building

March 22, 2019
1 of 3
Sutherlin High School music instructor Melissa Jmaeff, middle, teaches class in the Sutherlin Middle School library on Tuesday. Music classes at Sutherlin High have temporarily been moved to the middle school library while repairs are made to the building housing the high school’s music room. Repairs are required after the building sustained water damage from the snowstorm earlier this month.

Sutherlin High School will be getting a refurbished gymnasium and band room thanks to $1.4 million in damage from the snowstorm that hit Douglas County in the last week of February.

“Our first inkling something was wrong was Wednesday (Feb. 27). At that time our custodian noticed water, cleaned it up and put a bucket down,” Sutherlin School District Superintendent Terry Prestianni said. “The phones didn’t work very well, so we didn’t communicate much. But the next morning, we noticed more water and then the insurance company took over.”

Servpro was brought in to help with the cleanup and when Melissa Jmaeff, Sutherlin High School’s choir and band teacher, came in Monday, she was instructed to bring everything from her classroom to the middle school library in the building next door. Jmaeff’s classroom, the weight room, and the gymnasium were the only three instructional spaces impacted by the damage.

High school principal Kevin Hunt and middle school principal Jon Martz started making plans almost immediately to keep the courses impacted by the storm on track.

“Music is a good vehicle for life lessons. They learn cooperation and doing things that take integrity,” Jmaeff said. “This situation fits right into it. We’re going to be gritty. Nothing is going to stop the music.”

Students helped create a spot in the library for the instruments, chairs and other things necessary for Jmaeff to continue teaching.

“The people at Servpro did a good job covering everything in plastic. That was awesome,” Jmaeff said. “I came in and got what I needed and made a pile of everything.”

Students then moved the instruments into the new space, and Jmaeff tried to continue her lessons as planned. She did realize there were a few things she forgot — notably music and her to-do list.

Thankfully, other music instructors in the area have been able to help her get music and schedules to keep the program moving forward.

Now, instrument cases are strewn in the library aisles, on the counters and the students are surrounded by books in a very tight space. Jmaeff said there were well over 100 instruments that had to be moved.

“It’s been never a dull moment,” Jmaeff said. “I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything organized, so this has been a little overwhelming. (The students) were the ones who inspired me to have a great attitude.”

There have been two major competitions for Sutherlin High School’s music programs, so while the choir practices mostly in the middle school library the students had to move to the art room and the high school library for rehearsal on a few occasions.

“That’s where the piano is,” Jmaeff said. “We don’t have room for that here.”

Despite the move and chaos, Sutherlin High School’s choir qualified for the state competition, as did three chamber ensembles and four soloists.

The middle and high school are on the same bell schedule, although both bells are independently operated and sometimes differ by a few seconds.

Physical education courses have also moved to the middle school. There is a balcony in the middle school gym with some weightlifting equipment where classes are held when the gym is shared.

Prestianni said the weight room is estimated to be ready for use by mid-April and the band room may be ready in late April.

The floor in the gymnasium will need to be replaced and the remainder of the construction is not expected to be completed until June at the earliest. Graduation, which is held June 2, will be moved to the football field.