DARRINGTON — Whitehorse Mountain towers over the campus, as students jog from the 1950s-era gymnasium toward the baseball field.
The youngsters appear to be in different grades. They laugh and joke with one another as they move along. Many of them will spend more than a decade here.
All children who attend the Darrington School District go to one of two schools from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Both are situated on the same 12.5-acre plot.
During last month’s special election, the district asked voters for a $1.4 million capital projects levy. The money mainly would go toward a roof at the elementary school and a heating system at the high school.
Superintendent Buck Marsh appreciates that people here came together to support the schools.
“It’s a community that’s really committed to taking care of each other,” he said. “We do whatever it takes to make sure everyone has what they need.”
Marsh hopes to start some of the projects this summer, but doesn’t have a set time frame. The district has started to collect bids, but still needs to choose contractors.
“We don’t want to put any of this stuff off, because they are all really important projects,” he said.
The elementary school roof is now made of shingles and has been patched up through the years to stop leaks. It’s expected to be replaced with metal.
In the high school, some areas are colder than others. Regulating the temperature is important to save energy, but also for the mountain town’s snowy winters.
Levy funds are going toward security improvements, as well.
Both schools are expected to get a new fire alarm system. The current one was made by a company that’s gone out of business. There’s no longer an option for new parts when it needs to be fixed.
The campus also plans to buy surveillance equipment. A couple of years ago vandals caused about $500,000 in damage.
Taxes are not expected to change with the passing levy. That’s because it’s replacing a bond that went toward a high school remodel 20 years ago.
“With the increased tax burden, we definitely wanted to be strategic in terms of waiting to run this levy until this existing bond expired,” Marsh said.
Marsh works on the same property as the two schools. He can step out of his office and tour both campuses in less than 15 minutes.
He walks first through the elementary school. Brightly colored hand-painted self-portraits of nearly every student hang in an entryway.
The halls are nearly empty, except for a couple of adults.
Marsh peeks inside the kindergarten classroom, where about half a dozen kids work quietly. He only takes a few seconds to observe.
Down the hall and through a windowed door, the high school waits. The word “Loggers” marks the top of the building, the name of its mascot.
Out in the fresh, cool air, the mountain still stands tall.