Newly named Pat Tillman Middle School held ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday

Aug 13, 2022, 6:00 PM

(Facebook photo / Phoenix Fire Department)...

(Facebook photo / Phoenix Fire Department)

(Facebook photo / Phoenix Fire Department)

PHOENIX — The former Balsz Elementary School is now officially Pat Tillman Middle School as a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Friday in Phoenix.

Students attending Tillman Middle School, Balsz Governing Board members, Phoenix officials, legislators, teachers and other community members were in attendance.

Part of the festivity was the unveiling a mural by Mike Sullivan, which depicts the late football star in his Arizona Cardinals uniform with homages to his education at Arizona State University and service in the military.

Tillman, a standout defensive player at ASU and with the Cardinals, was killed in friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004, and his family permitted Balsz School District to use the name in 2018.

“It is very thoughtful and gracious of Balsz Elementary School District and the community of Phoenix to name the middle school after Pat,” Kevin Tillman, Pat’s brother, said in a press release. “I believe, more importantly, that Pat would be pleased with the high level of resources, commitment and care being focused on students, teachers and staff.”

The school, located near 44th Street and McDowell Road, underwent renovations in 2019 based on feedback and suggestions from the community, according to the release.

The $16.9 million project was funded through a voter-approved bond election in November 2018.

“We welcome the opportunity to celebrate the opening of the Tillman Middle School and to recognize the amazing students, faculty, teachers, and staff here in the Balsz School District,” Gail Knight, president of the Balsz Governing Board, said in the release.

“COVID delayed our celebration, but not our resolve or spirit, and only increased our passion for this remarkably innovative school and campus featuring a state-of-the-art classroom building that fosters learning and collaboration.”

Tillman Middle School aims to be innovative and technologically-advanced, according to the release. It offers the Tillman STEM pathway to train students in science, technology and engineering plus human kinetics and digital art programs.

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Newly named Pat Tillman Middle School held ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday