Educational enhancements at Fortuna school

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

Students at Toddy Thomas School in Fortuna are enjoying better learning opportunities thanks to remodeling and modernization projects over the last several years. Improvements have been made to classrooms, computer lab, library and restrooms at the school. Savings on utilities and site safety were top priorities for the upgrade.

Classroom improvements include upgrading wiring and hardware to allow better faster Internet access. This provides teachers with up-to-date technology tools for classroom instruction and better student engagement in learning.

Remodeling also included energy-saving new windows and an upgraded heating system, installation of an alarm and surveillance system, and new bathroom facilities which meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

"The school board, staff, and community have done a good job in being patient and seeing this project all the way through," Toddy Thomas School Principal Julie Johansen said. "The students have noticed (the improvements) and take great pride in their new school."

The school was built in 1950. It features 18 classrooms, including two special education rooms, a library, computer lab, multi-purpose room, music room, gymnasium, and kitchen. Nearly 300 students attend classes in grades five through eight. In addition there are special needs classes for grades four and five and grades six through eight.

Much of the interior design improvement to the school library was done by Gary Huber, a full-time custodian at Toddy Thomas and a professional carpenter. "He moved walls, created bookshelves, and changed the placement of things," Johansen said. "It is a completely different room."

All that remains to complete the remodeling is a new roof for the school. "This cannot be done while school is in session," Johansen said, "and the weather also needs to cooperate." Plans to install the new roof over President's Week in February, and spring break last week were postponed by bad weather. The project may not happen until this summer.

Measure M, passed by Fortuna voters in June 2010, authorized the sale of bonds to be used for remodeling and modernization projects at both Toddy Thomas and Norman G. Ambrosini Schools in Fortuna.

Photo by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

Upgrades to wiring and hardware give students in the Toddy Thomas School computer lab better faster Internet access.