Mud Oven Pizza's Janel Lajoie and Brian Mayfield serve lunch to teachers Tuesday at the middle school. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

With roughly three hours to go Tuesday on the final official work day of the 2022-23 school year, Philomath School District teachers gathered at the middle school for a few slices of pizza, a side of salad and sweet treats.

And they could go back for seconds.

Mud Oven Pizza, which launched last year under the umbrella of the Bountiful Backyard nonprofit organization, had a plan all along to give back to the community in some way.

“A portion of every pizza we’ve sold since we started this last year has been saved in an account,” Mud Oven Pizza’s Janel Lajoie said. “So we have some funds that we were able to choose where to give back to our community.”

This week’s lunch for teachers was the first such event.

“Our board met and decided that our first big community giveback should be making pizza for our teachers as a small way to thank them for all their hard work — for the love, care, time and attention they give to all our kids all year long,” Lajoie said.

Mud Oven Pizza has developed a following as a frequent participant in various events around the Philomath vicinity, including weekly at the Philomath Farmers’ Market. For the first time this summer, the pizza makers started participating in the Music in the Park concerts that occur on the last Sunday of each month.

“Usually, we have a thing like this at the beginning of the school year … The School Board, they would always barbecue things for us so it seems kind of similar but inversely doing it at the end of the year by a non-School Board organization,” teacher Scott Card said while waiting in line to grab some pizza.

“We are very grateful for the community businesses that came together to make this happen,” teacher Shelly Brown said. “Everybody loves pizza and then we have special treats, salad — it’s amazing.”

Bountiful Backyard, Mud Oven Pizza and Superintendent of Schools Susan Halliday collaborated on making it happen, Lajoie said.

“You’re talking about something that starts as a simple idea from somebody in our community that wants to be supportive,” Halliday said, “and it just echoes in terms of the importance that our educators play in the community, so it’s awesome.”

Others came on board to support the effort. Hiatt Farm Bakery donated treats, the Philomath Chamber of Commerce and Pheasant Court Winery wrote checks so the menu could be expanded and Timber Towne Coffee also contributed to the cause.

Lajoie said she hopes it’s an event that can be done every year, perhaps even making it bigger the next time around.

Said Brown, “It’s great to feel appreciated and recognized.”

School Board Chair Rick Wells swears in high school rising junior Raegan McKinney during the June 15 meeting. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

2. Student representation on School Board

Raegan McKinney, who will be a junior this fall at Philomath High School, was sworn in June 15 as the second-ever student body representative on the School Board.

“We went to a truncated and very speedy process … but we did attract a field of six interested candidates for the School Board position and this morning, we finalized our election,” David Dunham, who serves as the high school’s Associated Student Body adviser, said prior to introducing McKinney at the board meeting.

Dunham said McKinney is the daughter of an educator and was a new student to the district this past academic year.

“Just a truly outstanding young human being that I’m really happy to be working with,” Dunham said. “Couldn’t be any happier to have her representing our student body and the students really supported her candidacy. She’s going to be a great School Board member, put her to work, she has a great attitude.”

McKinney replaces the outgoing student representative, Jackson Holroyd, who took a seat at the School Board table beginning this past November.

Although the position allows for meeting participation, the student will not be a voting member and will be prohibited from attending executive sessions, which are closed to the public.

Tarweed Folk School participants can register for classes in woodworking, blacksmithing, fiber arts, natural building, basketry, bike repair, nature and more. (Photo by bortn76/Getty Images via Canva)

3. Folk school running summer programs

A new organization called Tarweed Folk School in neighboring Corvallis this summer will be offering community-based learning opportunities for people of all ages. According to a press release, participants can register for classes in woodworking, blacksmithing, fiber arts, natural building, basketry, bike repair, nature and more.

What is a folk school? According to Tarweed, this style of education blossomed in rural Denmark in the 1800s with an approach that revolved around “the living world.” Emphasized were “practical, hands-on knowledge, skills and crafts, but also — through individual and shared social experience — connection, community, equity and joy.”

Tarweed says that its mission is “to tend to the land, ourselves and each other through the sharing of practical arts and place-based knowledge in the heart of the Willamette Valley.”

Maxtivity offering various summer camps

Maxtivity Arts & Crafts Creative Space is offering several summer camp opportunities, the Philomath-based nonprofit organization announced. Weekly camps include Explore Studio Friday Camp (Fridays 1-4 p.m.) with three separate sessions that run June 30-July 14, July 21-28 and Aug. 4, and Aug. 11-25. The TableTop Cooperative Game and One Shot DnD Camp (runs July…

The first classes begin July 19 and run through Aug. 27 and will take place at multiple locations across Corvallis, the organization said. Class costs range from $40 to $200 with full and partial tuition scholarships available to all.

The program will feature 22 teachers and more than 30 classes. You can check out the offerings at this link.

The classes are offered in partnership with Greenbelt Land Trust, Coyle Outside, Highland Woodshop and Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation & Development.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.