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December 26, 2006 > Thornton multipurpose room dedication

Thornton multipurpose room dedication

by Gary Leatherman

About 500 students, parents, community members and school district staff attended the dedication ceremony for the new Thornton Junior High School multipurpose room on Dec. 13. Still, the cavernous new room could have held twice as many people, according to Thornton Principal Ron Echandia. He said that with extra chairs, the room can hold the entire Thornton student population of more than 1,000 students.

That is a milestone for the school because it has not been possible for the whole student body to assemble together for many years. The school's original multi-purpose room could accommodate only about a third of the student body at one time.

In addition to the nearly 11,000 square feet of gym and cafeteria space, the new structure houses a 900 square-foot faculty room, a snack bar and restrooms. Architect Erwin Wong, who designed the structure, said, "It's a very large, practical space. There is no wasted space. It looks much larger inside than it appears to be from the outside."

Echandia and FUSD Board of Education President Larry Sweeny praised the involvement of a very active volunteer committee in the development of plans for the new building. Echandia said teacher Jan Coleman-Knight and parent Gaby Machuca were "phenomenal" in their dedication to working with the architects and FUSD staff to make sure the students got the largest and most useful building possible with the funds available.

He said Coleman-Knight spent many hours of her own time attending to details. "Jan deserves special thanks for making sure Thornton Junior High is all it can be. She talked to the contractors, to the electricians and to the painters. The reason this building is so perfect is due in large part to the tons of extra hours she put in every week."

Coleman-Knight in turn thanked the voters of Fremont for passing the 2002 Health and Safety bond that funded the new building. "This community and this school deserved an outstanding facility," she said. "The people of Fremont stepped up and made it possible."

The Thornton Winter Band and Chorus Concert inaugurated the building with its first public event immediately following the dedication ceremony. Echandia said physical education classes will begin using the new facility after the first of the year.

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