“Build a school, save a town” was the motto guiding the recovery of Vernonia, Oregon, after a catastrophic flood devastated the area. Among the most severe physical losses was the combined K-12 school campus -- the heart of the small, scenic community located an hour northwest of Portland.

But the town has rebounded with the help of local leaders such as Columbia County commissioner Tony Hyde, Oregon state senator Betsy Johnson, Vernonia schools superintendent Aaron Miller, and others. Early support for rebuilding Vernonia’s school came from Georgia-Pacific; an initial gift from local GP mills catalyzed the successful fundraising campaign, and in-kind donations of GP Professional products have reduced the construction and operating costs of the facility.

Vernonia’s new school is a showplace of sustainable building technologies and innovative curricula, which aim to better realize the area’s economic potential. The town and its children are well positioned to thrive in the future, thanks to the new heart of the community, its school. 

This video is one in a four-part series featuring the community service activities of Georgia-Pacific’s northwest mills. Don’t miss Paint Your Heart OutRacing for the Cure, and Cleanup at Lacamas Lake.