The School Funding Mosaic
Oregon School for the Deaf
What do a world-class haunted attraction, a TV renovation show, and state-of-the-art bilingual education all have in common?
Funding Our Future
In Oregon, all public schools receive a mixture of Lottery dollars and other state funds to finance their core operations. Voters sometimes pass bond measures for special projects and new construction. But beyond those sources, the schools themselves get creative about finding other ways to finance the stretch goals that invariably result when they dream bigger.
The Oregon School for the Deaf will receive approximately $2.1 million in Lottery dollars this year. That’s a lot of money, but only a fraction of what they’ll need to serve the needs of their very unique student body. And OSD dreams of providing the best technology and facilities money can buy to fully support Oregon’s deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
So how do they go about raising that money?
Read on to learn how they’ve leveraged killer clowns, reality TV and other unexpected opportunities to give their students not just great tools, but great experiences — and an enduring, inclusive sense of community.
To say Oregon School for the Deaf (OSD) Director Sharla Jones is proud of her student body is an extreme understatement. The 100+ students who attend annually come from all corners of the state. Some stay in dorms on campus; others bus in. Two will even fly in this year to attend a school that represents every grade, plus an important adult transition program to help graduates move from their familiar campus into the wider world. “Here,” Sharla says, “they aren’t mainstreamed among hearing students with just an ASL interpreter; at OSD they can all communicate and participate. Here, they can just be themselves.”
Student life on the OSD campus is a little different than for most of Oregon’s public schools, and not just because kids and faculty can be seen communicating in sign language in every setting. For one thing, OSD serves all ages, from kindergarten kids through young adults. Boarding is an option, so students who live outside of commuting distance can benefit from OSD’s unique programs too. But at its heart, OSD gives kids all the experiences you’d expect. From classrooms and dorms to libraries and cafeterias, OSD does it all!Learn More about OSD
The Nightmare Factory at OSD
Oregon’s Longest Running Haunted Attraction
Are You Ready for Terror?
It’s been more than 30 years now since the basement of a typical dorm building on the OSD campus was transformed into a haunted lair for unspeakable monsters, crazed clowns and all the jump-scares money can buy. For the price of a ticket, anyone brave (or foolish?) enough can test their courage at The Nightmare Factory.
The popular attraction has grown over the years to almost 13,000 square feet of appropriately dank and dark basement. And, while it’s generally open to the public in the weeks leading up to Halloween, the maze-like rooms remain in place, collecting dust and spooky cobwebs, year-round. It is, during the offseason, one of the most unusual classroom laboratories boasted by any public school in Oregon.
More Than Just Jump-Scares
The Nightmare Factory is more than just a fun, seasonal attraction or a way to the Oregon School for the Deaf to raise money beyond what they receive from the Oregon Lottery and other state funds. It also helps OSD students develop marketable skills that could lead to future careers. Painting, makeup design and set construction are some of the more obvious skills students acquire as they work to impart even more nightmares to visitors. But just as importantly, it can help students learn to interact with the public, perform “on stage,” and take on increasing leadership roles.
Many students return over and over, even after graduation, because The Nightmare Factory was such an important aspect of their time at OSD. It turns out that the stuff of nightmares can sometimes be transformed into the stuff of fond memories and a cherished sense of community.
Thirty years ago, when Kivo LeFevre was a student at OSD, he helped co-founder Ed Roberts set up the very first version of the Nightmare Factory in the basement of his dorm. Today, Kivo is on staff at OSD and continues to oversee the Nightmare Factory. Over the course of three decades, he’s seen it evolve into a world-class haunted attraction. But more than that, he’s watched generations of students participate, learn, and grow through their year-round involvement with the project.
“Students have contacted me years later and wanted to thank me for their experience with the Nightmare Factory,” said Kivo. “It’s really impacted their lives in a positive way.”
If you remember the series Extreme Makeover, you probably remember host Ty Pennington’s catchphrase: “Move that bus!” The vehicle would roll away to reveal the exterior of a newly renovated property. Often the episodes featured a private residence, but in 2010, the cast and crew came to Salem to construct the building now known as The Panthers’ Den on the OSD campus.
Today the colorfully decorated facility remains largely as the show producers envisioned; it continues to give OSD students a place to relax and recharge. And it probably represents the most creatively financed project on any Oregon public school campus today.
As for Ty’s famous catchphrase, instead of a megaphone, it was delivered to the student body via a banner pulled by a small plane flying over the campus — a perfect way to communicate the excitement of the moment to the OSD Panthers!
Pictured: OSD Principal Matthew Boyd in The Panthers’ Den
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