Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Tilley School Building Opens to Fanfare, Excitement — and Lots of Panther Pride
gvw_nancy_price
By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 5 years ago on
August 10, 2019

Share

The start of the new school year can’t come soon enough for Nicholas Diaz, a fourth-grader at Central Unified’s Hanh Phan Tilley Elementary School.
He was among the hundreds of students, parents, educators, district employees, and public officials who gathered Thursday evening to celebrate the opening of the school’s new two-story building.
Nicholas knows his classroom will be on the second floor of the brand-new building instead of in a portable. He thinks the playground might be a bit smaller than the old one, “but at least we have a playground.” And he knows that when classes start next Wednesday for Central Unified students, he’ll be glad to see all his friends again.
By then, the hubbub that enveloped the Valentine Avenue school west of Highway 99, with proclamations, public speakers and the ceremonial cutting of a purple ribbon spanning the two columns in front of the school, will have been replaced by the hubbub of the first day of classes.

Photo of ribbon-cutting at Tilley Elementary School
Central Unified trustee Richard Atkins and board chairwoman Terry Cox hold a large purple ribbon as Superintendent Andy Alvarado and Cox wield the ceremonial scissors. (GV Wire/Nancy Price)

Three Educators Remembered

If there were questions about the school colors or mascot, the purple balloon columns topped by large panther-head balloons left little doubt.
The school’s teaching staff includes Sang Phan, an intervention specialist and brother of the school’s namesake. Hanh Phan Tilley was a teacher at McKinley Elementary who died of cancer in 2013.

“This school will thrive and bring forward successful students because it will have an extra advantage over other schools. There’s going to be three angels up in heaven with purple and black wings, watching with Panther Pride over our children and our staff.” — board chairwoman Terry Cox
Although the ribbon-cutting celebration was somewhat bittersweet for the Phan family, Sang Phan said he was excited for the students, and he knows his sister would have been excited as well. “We grew up a mile up the road,” he said. “To see this school in the neighborhood she grew up in … this big, beautiful building.”
Some board members and district officials speaking at the ceremony had to choke back tears at times as they remembered Karen Davis, the school’s founding principal, and Assistant Superintendent Kelly Porterfield, the district’s chief business officer, both of who died earlier this year. A plaque outside the school office names them among the officials involved in the school’s construction.
Davis and Porterfield had key roles in planning the new $28 million building and its contents, board chairwoman Terry Cox said.
Every ribbon-cutting is a milestone for Central Unified, but Tilley’s is particularly special, said Cox, her voice choked with emotion. “I do not say this to cause sadness, but merely share my belief that this school will thrive and bring forward successful students because it will have an extra advantage over other schools. There’s going to be three angels up in heaven with purple and black wings, watching with Panther Pride over our children and our staff.”
Photo of plaque at Tilley Elementary School
A plaque outside the Tilley School office includes the names of Karen Davis and Kelly Porterfield, who both died before the new building’s opening. (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)

Gradual Expansion

When the school opened with portable classrooms in November 2014 there were 350 students, and enrollment has nearly doubled since then. Officials expect 677 students this year at the school, which has a capacity of 851.

Photo of Sarah Garcia and her children
Sarah Garcia and her four children, three of them are Tilley Elementary students
 
The 79,000-square-foot facility was designed by TAM+CZ and built by Harris Construction, using funds from the Measure B and C bond measures. In addition to 31 classrooms, it has a large shade-covered courtyard that can be used for instructional activities.
Tilley’s new principal, Kristen Ginger, said the new building means Tilley’s students “have a home. We’re very excited.”
Ginger said she’s worked for Central Unified for 13 years, but always at established school sites.  “To be able to walk into a classroom with the state-of-the-art technology, soundproof rooms, it’s just going to be amazing,” she said.
Sarah Garcia was at the ribbon-cutting event with four of her children, three of them students at Tilley. Garcia said her kids have attended the school since it opened, and had a front-row view as the new building was under construction. “They’ve been here, waiting for it to go up,” she said. “This is just so exciting.”
Superintendent Andy Alvarado said he considers Tilley to be the “crown jewel” of the Fresno neighborhood, and the model for the district’s next elementary that will be built on West Shields Avenue.
 
[activecampaign form=25]

DON'T MISS

Whitey Herzog, Hall of Fame Manager Who Led Cardinals to 1980s Success, Dies at 92

DON'T MISS

Coalinga-Huron Teachers Say They’ll Strike Unless a Fair Contract Is Offered

DON'T MISS

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

DON'T MISS

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

DON'T MISS

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

DON'T MISS

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

DON'T MISS

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

DON'T MISS

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

DON'T MISS

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

DON'T MISS

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

UP NEXT

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

UP NEXT

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

It’s ‘Signing Day’ for These Clovis Unified Youngsters

UP NEXT

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

UP NEXT

Fresno Fire and Police Ramp up Probe Into Fires at Cemeteries

UP NEXT

New Recruiting Programs Put Army, Air Force on Track to Meet Enlistment Goals. Navy Will Fall Short

UP NEXT

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

UP NEXT

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

UP NEXT

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

9 hours ago

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

Local Education /

10 hours ago

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

Local Education /

10 hours ago

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

11 hours ago

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

11 hours ago

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

Breaking News /

11 hours ago

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

11 hours ago

It’s ‘Signing Day’ for These Clovis Unified Youngsters

Local Education /

11 hours ago

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

11 hours ago

Charges Against Trump and Jan. 6 Rioters at Stake as Supreme Court Hears Debate Over Obstruction Law

12 hours ago

Whitey Herzog, Hall of Fame Manager Who Led Cardinals to 1980s Success, Dies at 92

NEW YORK — Whitey Herzog, the gruff and ingenious Hall of Fame manager who guided the St. Louis Cardinals to three pennants and a World Seri...

5 hours ago

5 hours ago

Whitey Herzog, Hall of Fame Manager Who Led Cardinals to 1980s Success, Dies at 92

5 hours ago

Coalinga-Huron Teachers Say They’ll Strike Unless a Fair Contract Is Offered

8 hours ago

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

9 hours ago

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

Local Education /
10 hours ago

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

Local Education /
10 hours ago

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

11 hours ago

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

11 hours ago

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend