By Allan Jamail
Galena Park, TX. – October 17, 2018 — The Galena Park Independent School District (GPISD) held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new Galena Park Elementary School (GPES). The new school is equipped with the most modern and latest technological advancement s available for teaching elementary age students.
Allan Jamail, the NC Star writer, said, “It was an emotional day for me to witness the new facility which replaced the old building where I got my elementary school education 67 years ago. Just being there brought back so many childhood memories; I was thrilled to be in attendance. After all, once a Yellow Jacket always a Yellow Jacket.”
Ceremonial comments were made by many, but the one that received the loudest applause came from Marilyn Chavez, a fifth grade student. She said, “When I first came to Galena Park Elementary, I was four years old, and when I saw the school, I said to myself, ‘WHOA, THIS SCHOOL IS HUGE!’ As I walked into my kindergarten class, I was scared and wondered if I was going to do okay. Is my teacher going to be nice?”
Marilyn said the year passed quickly, and on her last day of kindergarten she cried because she was going to miss her teacher. The teacher gave her a big hug, and she went home for the summer. Through her school years, she attended at the old school building, then portable buildings, and now the new beautiful building, which she said looks like a palace with shiny floors.
Dr. Angi Williams, Superintendent of Schools, said, “This day has been a dream of so many. The students, parents and staff are off to a fantastic start this school year. To say this community is excited about this beautiful new campus would be quite the understatement.
“Galena Park Elementary is indeed a tribute to this community, our school board, and to the dedication, hard-work, planning and construction which has taken place over the past year.”
Terri Moore, Assistant Superintendent, said, “The individuals who served on the Bond Steering Committee are an invaluable group and were very instrumental in the development of the bond recommendation to the Board of Trustees. Thank you for volunteering your time and talents helping us chart a path for the future of the Galena Park Independent School District.
“Special thanks go to our public officials and community leaders who support Galena Park ISD on a daily basis. It is always a pleasure to have them join us. Their presence at today’s ceremony demonstrates their support of Galena Park ISD in providing our children a quality education in facilities that are ‘second to none!’”
Wanda Heath Johnson, Board of Trustees President, made the following comment. “In 2016, you, the community, continued your investment in our children’s future by passing a bond referendum. Today, we celebrate one of the products of your support. While we are very happy and extremely proud of this beautiful campus, let us not forget that this celebration is not for a building, but for the opportunities that this building provides for our students to excel in the classroom. The Board of Trustees will always be grateful to those who have made this day possible. Thank you, community and staff, for your commitment to excellence. Thank you for your support and being with us today.”
Senator Sylvia Garcia said, “Let’s not forget the teachers. The teachers through the years are what has brought us to where we are, here today. Without teachers there would be no school. They deserve lots of credit for this new school.”
Linda Jamail, State Representative Ana Hernandez’s Community Liaison, said Ana was taking care of State business and couldn’t be there, so she read a Resolution from Ana commending those who made the new school building possible.
Jaime Rocha, the school’s principal delivered the following reflection:
The rich history of Galena Park Elementary began more than 85 years ago. The original one room schoolhouse is where our great district began. Over the years, additions were made and generations came through its doors. Even many of GPISD’s own were students in the original building. So needless to say, there was definitely an emotional attachment to the original GPE for many. However, this city, and most of all our students, deserved the building we are standing in now. The time had come to turn the page and begin a new chapter. A new chapter that is set to deliver 21st century learning for generations to come.
In the initial planning phases, the discussion was to deliver an eye catching “wow” factor; a building that could be the hub of the city; that was the goal. Based on the reception from all stakeholders, and especially our students, there’s no doubt that vision has become a reality. Much like the original building was the place where dreams began for thousands of little Yellow Jackets, this magnificent building will continue the rich history established so long ago, while taking learning and opportunity to new heights for years to come. Within these walls are many bells and whistles. But what made the first GPE special is what will make this building special now and in the future; the spirit and pride of the community of Galena Park.
I’d like to thank Dr. Williams, the Board, Cabinet members, architects (PBK for designing such a wonderful building and maximizing the land space), contractors (Satterfield and Pontikes), Rice and Gardner Consultants-Program Managers, Dr. John Moore, Sonny Fletcher, Ron Keller, Barbara Reed, Robert Arcement, and the community members of Galena Park.
I’d also like to thank my wonderful staff who has been real troopers throughout this entire process. Last year was difficult for many reasons; packing, unpacking, and packing again, braving the weather (hot and cold), the rains, the flooding, the wasps, but we never lost sight of why we are here, and that’s to take care of kids and put their needs first.
Principal Rocha concluded by saying, “I look forward with great anticipation to the tremendous future we have in store for us. The learning, the life lessons, the friendships, and the memories that will be made will form the character of this building. I’m extremely blessed to be a part of this history in the making.”