FDSH names greenhouse for former instructor

Fort Dodge Senior High’s greenhouse is being renamed the Francis Long Conservatory.

Long served the Fort Dodge Community School District for 42 years as an instructor before retiring in 2013.

The request for the honor came from the senior high’s National Honor Society members.

Ryan Takatsuka, FDSH instructor and current NHS advisor, spoke about Long at the regular meeting of the FDCSD board Monday.

“It is a rare distinction to name something after someone while they are still alive,” Takatsuka said, to applause. “It’s very fitting, because Fran Long is a rare person.”

Takatsuka celebrated Long’s 16-year role as NHS advisor, and the educator’s role as coordinator of the school’s annual blood drives.

“Just in the final 10 years alone, 1,800 units of blood were collected, saving approximately 5,000 lives,” Takatsuka said.

Long’s greatest role, Takatsuka said, was impacting the lives of hundreds of students. Takatsuka explained he was one of those students.

“I had him in high school for both anatomy and botany,” he said. “I remember taking the walks around town and looking at the trees and learning about the sap and shape.”

Takatsuka described Long as a mentor, a teacher, an advisor, a colleague and a friend.

“What is most amazing to me is how well Fran has excelled at all of those roles,” he said. “Fran, we need your name on that greenhouse so we can be reminded of someone who is dedicated to planting the seeds of education, in order to make this place a more beautiful community, by nuturing and growing better young minds into stronger, enduring people, deeply rooted in Dodger pride.”

He concluded, “Thank you, Mr. Long, for your dedication and service to this school and community. You have truly made it a better place.”

Long was touched by the honor.

“This is really a wow event,” he said. “To have the students involved makes it really very special.”

The educator had to pause to clear his throat, with tears visibly welling in his eyes.

“I don’t know if I’ve died yet and don’t know it,” he said, with a smile, “but … this is very nice.”