After a Long Road, Ribbon Cutting Marks Official Opening of New Toledo High School


It took five bond measure attempts, a multi-million-dollar state grant and over eight years from conception to completion, but the highly-anticipated new Toledo High School is officially open.

“This building reflects true community effort and investment to serve our students for generations,” said Toledo School Board member Brad Dykstra at Friday’s ribbon cutting ceremony.

The new school replaces the old high school that was subject to water incursion, electrical and seismic deficits, poor insulation and ventilation, and a host of other difficulties that made teaching and learning difficult, according to the Toledo School District.

The school district first tried to pass a bond measure to finance replacing the school in 2014 but that measure — along with three more attempts between 2014 and 2018 — failed.

“We knew the rejection (wasn’t) a reflection that the community didn’t support our schools,” Dykstra said, adding that what was needed for a new school was more than the community could afford.

Toledo successfully passed a $7 million bond in November 2018 which, with another $18 million in state funds, gave the district a $25 million budget for the new high school, according to previous Chronicle reporting.

Construction started in February 2020, when ASB President Greenlee Clark was a sophomore.

“Now, as a senior, I’m glad I get the opportunity to talk at the grand opening because what once seemed so far in the future is now one of the greatest gifts my peers and I could have asked for on this type of thing,” she said during Friday’s ribbon cutting. “I'm looking forward to seeing what the younger generation of Toledo will create, and I hope you are too. This new comfort zone is filled with so much potential and with students learning in a better shaped environment, I believe this Toledo can be just as amazing as the last.”

Members of IBI Group Architects, which designed the building, attended along with school administration, school board members and community members.

The building was designed to bring in natural light, provides more ventilation and includes cooling for warmer days in fall and spring, according to the Toledo School District.

“Every one of your top priorities was included in this new facility,” said architect Ross Parker with IBI Group Architects. “Today, you have a revitalized new school that embodies your values and vision for the future. One that's healthier, safer, more efficient, more inspirational for students, teachers and an entire community with new technology, furniture, as well as collaborative indoor and outdoor learning spaces to help teachers teach and students learn.”

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe Drum Group performed in the Toledo High School gym Friday afternoon to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the new school, and Tribal Council Member Suzanne Donaldson formally unveiled the button blanket she designed and constructed with the help of her mother, her mentor, friends and others in the Cowlitz Tribe.

“We have a longstanding relationship with the Toledo School District because this is our aboriginal land, which spans from Mt. Rainier to the Columbia River and over to Portland, Oregon,” said Donaldson on Friday.

Donaldson met with Superintendent Chris Rust about making art for the new Toledo High School and worked with the architects to create a specific place to display it. She began designing the art piece around the same time Toledo School District decided to change its mascot from the Toledo Indians to the Toledo Riverhawks.

“I know that that's a tough topic for a lot of people, and I wanted to do this work in a good way and get this work to this school,” said Donaldson.

The finished design depicts a large red riverhawk with the Toledo “T” incorporated in the center and is displayed in the trophy case near the entrance of the high school.

In addition to the new artwork, Rust dedicated a portrait of Chief David Ike to the new building on Friday.

Ike was a beloved Toledo sports fan and a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.

His son, Gary Ike, was a longtime coach in the Toledo School District.

Gary Ike's niece, Cowlitz Tribal Council Vice-Chair Patti Kinswa-Gaiser was present at Friday’s ribbon cutting alongside Gary Ike’s brother, Bernard Ike, who traveled to Toledo from Boise, Idaho, to be at the ribbon cutting.

“I am honored to be here today and I really thank you very much for this school and carrying on that tradition,” he said.