Tom Helmuth, better known as Tommy to his family and friends, was a beloved teacher at Orland Junior High School for many years. He taught P.E., but had a profound impact on his students and coworkers that extended far beyond the gymnasium.
Eric Kenes, an OJH alumnus, approached past principal Linda Kane asking for her support on a project intended to improve the courtyard at the school. Kenes’ hard work was put on display on September 7th, when he invited teachers, administrators, and community members to attend the unveiling of his project: An eagle carved in wood atop a tree trunk along with a stone plaque were placed in the courtyard in honor of Mr. Helmuth and the lasting impression he had on the students of Orland Junior High.
Mr. Helmuth’s brother assisted Kenes in revealing the statue to the teary-eyed audience after reading a tribute to his favorite teacher. Kenes reminisced about seeing Mr. Helmuth reading in the courtyard through a window, and hoping to one day be coached by him on the volleyball team. He expressed how Mr. Helmuth instilled in him the desire to make a difference in the world around him, echoing the sentiment of the variety of other administrators that spoke at the dedication.