Changing demographics and an economic downturn have led to many changes in Montana, the state’s northwest region, Sanders County, and the local community of Paradise. One result of those changes is the closing of the Paradise Elementary School. The school once housed all grades and over time had reduced its population to an elementary school only. Because of its history, the school holds a special place in the community, the county, and the state. So like the hundreds of teachers, thousands of students, and parents and citizens of Paradise School District #8 who have supported, nurtured, and loved this school in the past, we set our minds, energy, commitment, and hearts to ensuring a positive, productive, educational, and emotion-filled future for this grand old school building and the community and valley graced by her serene presence.
The school is on a hill overlooking the town of Paradise, facing State Highway 200, and overlooking the scenic Clark Fork River Valley. It includes two buildings and a large outdoor space. The original school building has three levels. The upper level includes three large classrooms; the main level includes two classrooms and a foyer; the lower level includes a large and a medium sized room. The second building, added behind the original school in the 1960s, serves as a gymnasium and cafeteria and has a certified kitchen.
The vision is to renovate, improve, and repurpose the school to meet three key needs: a community center, a visitor center, and an arts center. These changes and uses can be accomplished while retaining the original integrity of the school. The citizens of Paradise and nearby communities have given careful thought to what uses would serve the community, the county, the state, and be compatible and complementary in the space.