By Cholla Sizemore News Review Contributor –
People gathered at the corner of Argus and Athol Streets in Trona on November 15 for the Ground Breaking Ceremony launching the commencement of construction of the new high school.
The ceremony began at 10:00 a.m. when Mayson Parks, a Trona High School student, played the Star-Spangled Banner on his electric guitar. Priscilla Benedom, the Trona School Board President, welcomed everyone and discussed the hard work, dedication, and collaboration of the many people who made the vision of a new high school in Trona come to life.
Benedom recognized the companies that helped with the assessment of the earthquake damage and the design of the new school, in addition to those that helped with the financing. They are the California Office of Emergency Services, California Department of Education, California Geological Survey, California Professional Management, Frick, Frick & Jette, Key Analytics, KNA Structural Engineering, Leighton Consulting, Inc., and the Office of Public School Construction. Also recognized were Audrey Schuyler, Searles Domestic Water Company, for help with the necessary easements, and Darik McCullar, TJUSD Director of MOT, and Angelica Rivera, TJUSD MOT Business Clerk.
Other speakers were Tom Lackey, Assemblyman, 34th District; Norm Nunez, Community Relations Manager, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools; Paul Cook, Vice Chairman and First District Supervisor; and Corrine Mora, a Field Representative from the office of Jay Obernolte (R-CA 23rd District).
The July 2019 earthquakes damaged the old high school on Trona Road and, as a result, the students and staff were forced to move to the elementary school where they currently share the building with the elementary students. After the earthquakes, detailed reports on the damage to the high school facility and underlying soil conditions were obtained, which found that repairing the damage was not cost-effective, and therefore, plans for a new high school began. As part of those plans, a portion of the old elementary school, which was demolished in 2015, and the old high school will be repurposed into the new high school building, thereby preserving a small part of Trona’s past.
The day was significant for the residents of Trona because the Trona School District has supplied education to the students of the community since 1941 when the old school facility opened. The new high school represents the continuation of the town’s commitment to educating its students, empowering them, and giving them the best education the community can offer.
Sari Fleishauer, Principal of Trona High School, said, “The students in Trona deserve to have this new school. Our students have endured an earthquake, displacement from their school back to the elementary campus, COVID accompanied by extreme isolationism, and a mass exodus of staff during their time as patrons of the high school; they deserve to feel seen, heard, and that they matter. We are literally building back in every way and our students will be the ones who benefit from this exciting and unique change. We will build back better than before; we have to put in the hard work and have the dedication to see it through.”