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Kyrene Past, Present and Future: A Ben Furlong Education Center Celebration

Posted February 2022


Fifty years ago, Dr. Ben Furlong arrived in Kyrene School District. From 1972 to 1987, Dr. Furlong served as Superintendent of Kyrene. Under his leadership, the District grew eleven hundred percent. On Tuesday, February 22, 2022, distinguished guests, community members, students, staff and District leaders celebrated Dr. Furlong’s service to Kyrene. 


“Once a part of Kyrene, always part of Kyrene,” said current Kyrene Superintendent Laura Toenjes. “That is certainly true for Dr. Ben Furlong, who is not only a legendary former Kyrene Superintendent but also the keeper of so many of our Kyrene stories.”


Kyrene Superintendent Laura Toenjes


In 1984, Dr. Furlong published The Story of Kyrene, a book that documents the founding of the District and events that took place during his superintendency. Dr. Furlong has become the keeper of many Kyrene stories through his written and spoken words. Those stories inspired Tuesday’s celebration, appropriately titled Kyrene Past, Present and Future: A Ben Furlong Education Center Celebration.  


“Dr. Furlong’s service helped make Kyrene the exceptional institution for learning that it is today,” said Superintendent Toenjes. “This District has a legacy of excellence that reaches back 133 years, and thanks to our community, our future is limitless.”


Manitas Steel Drum student performer


Kyrene’s future was on full display during Tuesday’s event. Steel drum band students from Kyrene de las Manitas opened and closed the intimate ceremony, and a student from Kyrene Aprende Middle School shared how Kyrene public schools have helped her find success in and out of the classroom.


“The Kyrene School District is an amazing place,” said Jazmine Bridgewater. “Everyone is so nice and kind. I love my Kyrene school.”


The Kyrene district office served as a backdrop for the Kyrene Past, Present and Future event. The complex in which the district office sits carries Dr. Furlong’s name. The Ben Furlong Education Center recently received a facelift. Updates included new lighting, landscaping, and paint as well as a new front entrance walkway. Tuesday’s celebration included a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to recognize the district office updates.  


Orange ribbon in front of Kyrene District Office being cut by Dr. Ben Furlong


“Thanks to voter-approved bonds and overrides, we have been able to address the facility and infrastructure needs of our schools, and a small portion of Kyrene’s bond dollars were used to finance the upkeep of our central office,” said Kyrene Governing Board president Kevin Walsh. “We take great pride in all our facilities, and we want to provide a workplace our employees can be proud to step into every day.”


Tempe Mayor Corey Woods closed out the Ben Furlong Education Center Celebration by reading a proclamation. The proclamation recognized the rich history of Kyrene School District, Dr. Furlong’s dedication to documenting that history for posterity, and that students are the future. Mayor Woods declared February 22, 2022, as Kyrene School District Day in Tempe, Arizona.


Tempe Mayor Corey Woods proclaiming February 22, 2022, Kyrene School District Day