Tuba City School District celebrates opening of new elementary school

Recently retired Tuba City Primary teacher Lucinda Helton was invited back by Tuba City School District staff and students to cut the official ribbon at the new Tuba City Elementary, located directly across the street from the old school. Helton worked for the school district for 30 years.

Photo by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer, for the Navajo-Hopi Observer.

Recently retired Tuba City Primary teacher Lucinda Helton was invited back by Tuba City School District staff and students to cut the official ribbon at the new Tuba City Elementary, located directly across the street from the old school. Helton worked for the school district for 30 years.

TUBA CITY, Ariz. — Tuba City Unified School District’s (TCUSD) newest K-5 Elementary digital school has been formally christened with a ribbon cutting and will be in full operation for the 2018 winter semester.The new Tuba City Elementary school had been under construction for the past 20 months and received its final fire code and internal security clearance in late November 2017.The school is the first of its kind for any tribal reservation in northern Arizona and the building is a showcase school utilizing both passive and active solar power and the latest in fiber optic technology for its students and staff in western Navajo.Several areas of technical wiring for cloud computing capability, hard wiring, furniture, electrical approval and landscaping were completed simultaneously with finishing touches completed in December 2017. In December, Tuba City District Construction manager Wayne Nez said the building would undergo thorough inspections before opening. “Both interior and exterior final finishes are undergoing final inspection from head to toe building surfaces. Based on these final inspections, the general contractor of CORE Construction, Architect and Engineer coordinated for the final contractual timeline as of Dec. 21, 2017. We also were working with Navajo’s FRONTIER phone company to establish working phone services as well as finalizing Navajo Nation Fire department codes. Alongside this, we also worked to establish our data networking systems and setting up all safety monitoring devices required by the Arizona State fire marshall. We also completed work with the TCUSD Technology department to meet all the requirements of the new fiber optic cabling that will provide ultra-high speed internet for the K-5 school with Walter Fowler, the director of technology for TCUSD,” he said. “Once the internet fiber optics were completed, then we started on final programming of the Energy management system. There were multiple construction activities happening all together. We also had to test and balance the HVAC system, get the security system on-line, and set up all electrical components. The entire school has all new furniture coming in that was also set up during the Christmas break.” A public ribbon cutting was held Dec. 22 with recently retired Tuba City Primary first grade teacher, Lucinda Helton, who cut the ribbon with the entire student population of the old Tuba City Primary in attendance. Helton worked for TCUSD for 30 years and was the overwhelming choice to help christen the new elementary school.

About the school

Tuba City Elementary is a digital school and is the only one of its kind in northern Arizona and the only digital school on either Hopi or Navajo reservations.

Once school came back from its winter holiday vacation session, Tuba City Elementary Principal Dr. Justin Roberson had a few practice days set up for the students to familiarize themselves with the new school, from the cafeteria to the music room and from the research areas to the playground and administrative wing.

Students practiced a new bus line up and even had a fire drill on the second day of the new school opening.

The total enrollment at maximum safety fire code capacity is 918, according to state safety standards.

Tuba City Elementary has 550 students from kindergarten through fifth grade and is hoping to fill up the available students slots that are open. Tuba City Elementary has an open enrollment policy because it’s an Arizona state public school.

“This learning community welcomes multiple learning styles in a technologically enhanced, small learning community. We’re focused on student — inquiry centered academia,” Robertson said.

The new Tuba City Elementary also offers K-5 cross country and basketball programs for its students, along with a music program.

More information about the new school or enrollment is available from Tuba City Elementary at (928) 283-1020.


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