Awash in a sea of red balloons, the Tokay Elementary School community showed its Tiger spirit when it celebrated the school’s 40th anniversary on Oct. 14.
The school held a lively, music-filled ceremony that brought back memories of the 1980s, with students from each grade level delighting Tokay faculty, staff, parents and special guests by performing classic songs from the era.
Tokay students entertained the crowd with stirring renditions of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” and U.S.A. for Africa’s “We Are the World.” Student council members then performed a dance medley of ’80s hits by Kenny Loggins, the Bangles and Toni Basil. The Tokay Tiger Choir concluded the show by singing “Happy Birthday.”
“It’s my pleasure to welcome everybody to our school’s 40th anniversary,” Tokay Principal Rebecca Hinojosa said. “Thank you to all our wonderful parents who are here to help us celebrate and thank you to all our student council members who have been working so hard to make this day a success. I have been principal at Tokay for nine years and it really is an honor to have you all here today.”
Among the special guests were Fontana Unified Board of Education President Dr. Jennifer Quezada (who attended Tokay), former Tokay principal and current FUSD Director of Secondary Education Terry Abernathy, Board of Education Member Mars Serna, Almeria Middle School Principal Felix Jones, and former Tokay teachers Don Spuhler, Eva Hernandez and Terri Feger.
“I have a lot of great memories here,” Abernathy said. “I see a lot of familiar faces today. I’ve got tears in my eyes coming back to campus. I was a young kid when I came here as principal and Mr. Spuhler made sure I was on my toes every single day. You’ve got a wonderful principal and staff here today. I just need you to look toward the future and understand that you are going to go to college.”
Spuhler was one of just nine teachers on the faculty when Tokay opened its doors on Sept. 7, 1982 as Fontana Unified School District’s first year-round school. At the time, Tokay had 250 students, nine classrooms, and no cafeteria; the students ate lunch on picnic tables. Eventually, the student body would reach 1,200 students.
“My first year I taught kindergarten and I had 63 kids,” Spuhler said. “Tokay is one of those places that has changed a lot but stayed the same. I have so many great memories here. I worked here from 1982 to 2016. I still come back occasionally to sub for the fifth-grade teacher. Coincidentally, it is the same room where I used to teach.”
Today, Tokay has updated classrooms, a new administration building, a state-of-the-art playground, and a new parking lot.
Tokay is one of eight FUSD elementary schools to teach college-prep skills through the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. Tokay has also partnered with Discovery Education to increase students’ science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) skills, with instruction supported by a dedicated STEM room.