GREAT FALLS — Three major gifts to Longfellow Elementary School were announced on Monday during a Great Falls Public Schools Board of Trustees meeting.
The old Longfellow Elementary School building was demolished several months ago, and construction is now underway on a new building and campus that will be ready for students in August 2020.
GFPS Foundation director Dave Crum announced the three gifts to the board, as well as the proposed names for each, all of which were unanimously approved.
The first gift is a new sensory room, which will be named after longtime Great Falls educator Fran Masters.
A plaque for the room will read “In honor of Fran’s 27 years of outstanding instruction in Great Falls Public Schools. Gift from Stu and Janie Nicholson. Janie was Fran’s career mentor.” The donation for this room was made in the amount of $20,000, and will allow physical therapists and teachers to serve students one-on-one or in small groups to address specific conditions based on the individual student’s needs.
The second is a new learning resource center, which will be named the Tammy Lacey Learning Resource Center. Lacey is former GFPS superintendent.
This was made possible by an anonymous donation of $48,200. The learning resource center will feature four classrooms and a breakout area, which will allow the special education department to provide opportunities for students to “utilize assistive technology to expand their communications needs.” Lacey was at the board meeting, and spoke about how generous and thoughtful the donation was, as well as how honored she felt that the anonymous donor wanted the new resource center to be named in her honor.
The final gift is the Longfellow and Community Playground.
A combined donation of $350,000 from D.A. Davidson companies and the Grey Family Foundation is making the new playground possible. The new space will feature specialized equipment and rubber tiles instead of paved surfaces. The entire Great Falls community will be able to use the playground, which will include benches, a water fountain, which Longfellow Principal Lance Boyd says is a much needed addition, and lighting, so that the playground is a welcoming space at all hours of the day.