Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The Toledo School District’s mission is to provide opportunities and meaningful experiences to empower students to achieve their goals, “Each child. Each day. Each classroom.”
In November of 2018, the charming town of Toledo voted on and approved a seven-million-dollar bond. That, along with eighteen million dollars in state funding, allowed construction of a new $25 million high school for the Indians. There are five phases with an additional phase six added as design.
“It became apparent quickly to our community design committee, that we didn’t have enough money to build another 75,000 square foot building,” Chris Rust Superintendent for Toledo School District says. “We’d be settling for smaller unless we built some new and some remodel.” The community design committee recommended this design to the board who accepted it.
The groundbreaking ceremony was on Friday, January 31 in the parking lot of Toledo High School. They honored the past, embraced the present and are building the future. The speakers at the event included Cowlitz Indian Tribe councilwoman Patty Kinswa-Gaiser, the first principal of the current Toledo High School Denny Clark, board president Jerad Buswell, ASB president Greenlee Clark, student Wyatt Nef of the Class of 2022 — the first class graduating from the new structure, architect Ross Parker, and pastor of the Toledo First Baptist Church Joe Martin
Phase one of the construction of the new Toledo High School was scheduled for February to June of 2020. Fencing and a temporary fire lane were installed. The student parking was moved to the baseball field and students entered the new school building from the front. The locker rooms and gym construction began. A new pathway and crosswalk created space for the students to get from the new parking lot to the school.
Phase two was scheduled for June to August of 2020. There was continued work on the locker room and gyms. “Female and male locker rooms each have a varsity side and a PE side,” says Rust. “This allows us to have visiting teams for both boys and girls using the PE locker rooms while our teams use the varsity side.” Changes to the art and ag rooms began and the business lab was moved in this phase.
Currently, construction is in phase three scheduled for September to December of 2020. The hope is to complete all new construction as well as renovate the ART, CTE and Family and Consumer Sciences areas. The Commons will have theater-style bleachers with room for 200 to allow for theater productions, concerts and more comfortable seating for community events. “We’re generally on track with our phasing schedule,” Rust says. “We anticipate occupying the new classrooms in mid-January and the new commons, kitchen, offices and remodeled gym and locker rooms in February.”
Next is phase four, scheduled from January to June of 2021. During this time, plans are to remodel the interior spaces of the current structure. There will be a new front entrance and the student parking lot will be reestablished, as well as beginning construction on the new main parking lot.
Phase five will take place during the summer of 2021. A new loading dock for the kitchen, greenhouse and outdoor classroom space is in the plans for this phase. There will be an increase in parking as well as new crosswalks and signs making the traffic flow safer.
The final phase is the design. “One thing that we’re very much looking forward to is improved ventilation,” says Rust. “It’s always important, but never more so than now with COVID.”
When completed, it will be difficult to recall the old school. Another amazing thing about the design is how bright the building is now. This, as well as the other environmental factors, has significant effects on student’s and staff’s well-being. Good lighting, proper ventilation and acoustics can have a positive impact on the student’s achievements.
A camera has been installed at the stadium to live stream the construction. People are also encouraged to follow Rust’s Construction Blog to find up to date information on the project and timelines. Rust also is scheduling tours of the new building for those interested. Visit the school website for more information.
Toledo High School
1242 State Route 505