Portola High students showcase 21st Century classroom
Portola High School students came together with the Eastern Plumas Chamber of Commerce to host a mixer the evening of Thursday, Jan. 26, celebrating the completion of the newly redesigned “21st Century Learning” classroom that boasted a turnout of more than 60 people, not including students.
The evening kicked off in the PHS library, where the culinary arts students, led by instructor Robin Adrian-Murray, served a beautifully arranged menu of appetizers and displayed an aromatic chocolate fountain as well.
“All of the food and beverages were prepared by our students,” Principal Sara Sheridan said proudly. “Klytia Dutton of DishGrace Party Rentals donated all of the tableware and settings, and the students did everything from preparing the food to serving and cleanup. We even had a few members of the community ask if the students did catering off-site.”
After enjoying the catered treats, the group moved to the door of the “new” classroom and proceeded to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with six students working together to do the honors. Attendees were able to walk around the room, celebrating countless hours of hard work.
Inside, attendees found a room with a total face-lift, with state-of-the-art computer stations and photography by junior Haley Riggins, PHS aide Maria Popish and school secretary Laury Riggins displayed on the walls. “We hope to be able to use this area to display excellent student photography,” Sheridan added.
“All of the building materials were locally bought,” Sheridan continued. “We got all of our materials from Sierra Floors, Plumas Ace Hardware, Blairsden Mercantile, Sugarloaf Ranch and Cabinet, where Thomas Cormany assisted with our countertops, and D&D Roofing and Supply, who provided the metal sheeting the students used on the lower walls in the classroom.”
Over 100 students of all ages and grades participated in the project, with career and technical education instructor Ben Harston at the helm. “The students are very excited to show off their hard work,” Harston said. “This has been a collective student effort for nearly two school years, and the students take great pride in the fact that they redesigned and constructed this room into something that will be used for generations to come.”
Sheridan spoke also of how the PUSD maintenance and custodial crews have been an enormous help on this project, jumping in to assist with elements that required a bit more technical knowledge, such as electrically wiring the room and assisting in the heavier work that included using jackhammers.
District 1 supervisor and Rotary of Portola president Michael Sanchez also played a role in the conception of the project, along with the rest of the Rotary, donating a match-fund grant between the Rotary of Portola and Rotary District 5190 to the school to cover expenses such as the new big-screen TV, the central work center and as window coverings.
“The concept for this multi-purpose room started a couple of years ago,” Sanchez said. “We wanted a room that could be used for a variety of reasons, and we also were looking toward having a place that would inspire the community to get involved as speakers — to come and share information about their trades, such as logging and construction, as not every student is looking at traditional college anymore. Beyond that, the goal was to create a center of learning excellence for our kids in the community.”
In addition to the donation from the Rotarians, The Sacramento Region Community Foundation donated funds to the project, due to Eastern Plumas Health Care District CEO Tom Hayes reaching out, as well as Nakoma Spa and Resort, who donated from a prior fundraiser.
“All of the donations went to great use,” Sheridan said. “We have not had to touch the Measure B monies or the Pittmann donation. Overall, it was a really exciting night for the school and the community. I feel like it was a wonderful thing to come together in celebration, to recognize the hard work of the students, and the essential partnership between the school and the community.”