News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Seeking donations for Skate Park expansion

Daniel O’Neill, a Sisters High School teacher, is teaching young people the culture of skateboarding – not just how to be a better skater, but the life lessons that can be learned from getting into skateboarding.

O’Neill is instructing a class this year at the high school called Skatepark. The skatepark class is offered to anyone who skates, and those who want to be involved in furthering the building project on the Sisters Skate Park located next to Sisters High School.

Sawyer Kiefer, one of the students in the class said, “We all really liked skateboarding and wanted to get into a class to learn how to build something that we can skate on.”

The skate park has been in use since 2010 after being built on the work of O’Neill and his students. O’Neill has been running some sort of extracurricular class for three years, doing maintenance projects on the park and figuring out ways to expand.

This is the first year Skatepark is offered as an actual class in the schedule at the high school. This year’s class goal is to build a mini halfpipe that serves the needs of beginner skaters, as the park right now is tailored to more advanced skaters.

“Everything we do is up for debate; it is up to the students as to what they want to build, and they get to design it,” O’Neill said. “It is one of few DIY skate parks where whoever works on it and builds it gets to use it.”

Right now, the class is in the design and fundraising phase of the building process on the halfpipe. Each class period is dedicated to fundraising, design collaborations, and discussion on what’s next.

They also focus on life lessons that skateboarding and working together on a team can teach you.

“This class is really bringing us together, and the people here are the ones that are passionate about it and it is a part of who we are,” said student Miles O’Neill. “We’ve really built a tight-knit group of people in a different way than any sports team.”

Hunter Briggs, another student in the class, described how it goes beyond just skateboarding.

“The class is also useful for learning life skills, such as talking with businesses when we call asking for donations. We have to hold ourselves in a professional manner while talking with them. We learn construction skills as well and how the world of building actually works.”

Bodie Schar described a bit of what the class is like day to day.

“We are basically spending class researching businesses and communicating with business around Sisters for donations,” he said.

So far, they have raised $36,000 of their fundraising goal of $50,000. They have received grants and donations from organizations around Sisters including the Roundhouse Foundation and Sisters Schools Foundation, as well as donated materials and equipment from Robinson-Owen Construction. They also had 800 concrete blocks donated by Willamette Graystone to begin the building


“The support from the local community has been huge; if kids want to do something in Sisters, the community really steps in and helps. It is good for kids to see people help out their community, and hopefully it teaches them to give back to their community in the future,” said O’Neill.

A couple weekends ago, the class hosted an event at the park, a get-together of community members to come and skate. Local shops donated items for the event. They raised $800 just from a donation bucket, indicating that people want to help the further building of the park for future skaters.

“The event we hosted raised money just from plain donations of people getting together, and we felt it was super successful for people to see what we are doing,” said student Diego Padilla.

O’Neill hopes that this class can help mentor young people — young men specifically — to have a passion for something while also building life skills and communication skills that will benefit them in their futures.

“We want them to learn to have the courage to start something even though they might not know exactly how to do it, but to seek support and become educated so they can do what they want to,” said O’Neill.

Student Baylor Dyer feels the impact of the class through teaching young kids to skate.

“The feeling you get is the best when you see the potential passion for skating in a young person, and we’ve also been able to do that through this class with some middle school students,” said Dyer.

“The crew in the middle school, we’ve really taken them in as part of the crew of us builders and it becomes a really special community,” said another student, Miles O’Neill.

The Skatepark class is still seeking donations for the continued building of the mini halfpipe this upcoming winter and spring terms. They are hoping to wrap up the fundraiser on November 11 so they can begin building.

“Whenever we wrap up fundraising, we will start building immediately, as soon as we can,” said O’Neill.

To contact Skatepark about cash donations, call Sisters Park & Recreation District at 541-549-2091. To contact about material donations, call Daniel O’Neill at 541-306-9315.

Find more information and donate to the gofundme by visiting


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