Some teachers, parents and students waited eight years for this.
On Aug. 9, three days before the official first school day, they beamed with pride and happiness as they walked through the halls of their brand new 43,000-square-foot Jubilee Academies Harlingen.
“This is the best-built facility at Jubilee,” said Daniel Amador, Jubilee Academies RGV district superintendent. “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the parents who stayed with us. We love Harlingen and the RGV.”
Located on South Palm Drive just north of Interstate 2 on the west side of Harlingen, this new school merges the previous Harlingen and Destiny campuses into one. It serves pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. It also features state-of-the-art science and art labs, a full-size gym and full-service kitchen. There also will be Chromebooks and Smart TVs to enhance learning and teaching.
A great first impression
“Wow” was parent Bonnie Sterlin’s only word when she gazed into the indoor playground. Both her boys David and William were excited to walk on the artificial bright green grass. Tricycles and basketballs as well as soccer balls and games pepper the room.
“We are really impressed with all there is here,” Sterlin said excitedly as she and daughter Emma walked toward the new library. “The newness, the technology, the gym, the indoor playground, I can’t wait for the first day.”
The new school, as well as its speedy seven-month construction period, also left an impression on Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell.
“The philosophy here is much like the city,” he said. “You focus on leadership, character and excellence to provide a family-oriented and nurturing environment within the schools and that is the kind of city we aspire to be. What a great fit for Jubilee to be here and part of our community.”
Jubilee-Harlingen is a public, open-enrollment charter school that opened in 2011. The school started with just 92 students. Two years later was the opening of a second campus, Jubilee Destiny. There were then a total of 280 students at the separate locations. One was near Harlingen South and the other in the Faith Pleases God Church facility on the west frontage road a couple miles from the new school.
This school year, the merged school welcomes more than 600 students. Both door-to-door enrollment and marketing efforts account for about 450 of that total coming in as new students. Administrators and other school personnel talked to people in neighborhoods around the new school. They then spread out to the area around Harlingen South, then San Benito, La Feria and Raymondville to garner the new students.
Planning for the future
With an expectation of growth, the new campus now accommodates 720 students.
Fourth-year teacher Brad Dandurand was proud to show off his new, large and bright social studies classroom for anyone who came in. It will be his first year teaching the subject.
“I am excited,” he said about the new year and new school. “This is magnificent.”
“I love it,” Jubilee Academies RGV Director of Marketing Sal Martinez said while standing near his favorite area – the library.
This new school isn’t all Jubilee has planned in Harlingen.
“We think with the end in mind and behind this building will be our high school coming up,” Amador said to a round of applause from the family members and staff in attendance at the ribbon cutting. Martinez said there was no timetable for that next step, but is excited about what the future holds.
“Our vision is more schools in Harlingen and the RGV,” Amador said.