Video+Gallery+Story: EPISD breaks ground on MacArthur/Bonham consolidation

MacArthur Prek-8 celebrated the $18.4 million bond project Wednesday morning that unites the campus with Bonham Elementary in a modern facility with 21st century amenities.

The two campus communities joined together for the ceremonial turning of the dirt in front of MacArthur – not far from where construction is already underway. It concluded with students, faculty and dignitaries signing and dipping their thumbs in paint to leave their mark on a special sheet rock commemorating the event.

“We’re so excited about Bonham coming for the 2021-2022 school year,” said MacArthur principal Rose Ann Martinez. “This will just help to strengthen our community and give a central hub where parents can have their children on the same campus from pre-K all the way to eighth grade until they transition over to high school.”

The project includes a new fine arts addition, renovations to the former fine arts spaces to create classrooms, new lighting in the cafeteria, new playground and minor improvements throughout the main building.

“I think that the renovations are going to be essential in attracting more students,” Martinez said. “We welcome military. We welcome students from other districts and they are actively seeking to enroll here because of our location being so central to their parents’ work and the city. With our new facilities and our ability to offer more programs because we have this space, I think that we are going to continue to be a premier site as people are looking for locations to enroll their kids.”

Bonham Elementary principal Sandy Sanchez joined with Martinez to celebrate the two communities of learners joining to become one.

“The merging of both these great schools will provide our students with increased opportunities of academic and social growth,” Sanchez said. “Our students and teachers deserve the best learning environments and most importantly deserve to be in a facility that is most conducive to their academic and social growth. This is exactly what General Douglas MacArthur PreK-8 will offer.”

The 2016 Bond includes campus consolidation making the total number of prek-8 schools in EPISD going from one at MacArthur to a total of five. Martinez, a MacArthur alum, touts the benefits that the newer prek-8s will notice.

“One of the advantages of a preK-8 is that older siblings are able to take care of the younger siblings,” she said. “It helps to keep our middle school students young longer. When they have their little brothers or sisters next to them, they are very mindful of their actions and it helps in growing a bigger, a better, stronger community.”

Bonham students already feed to MacArthur as middle schoolers. With the consolidation, the younger students will become MacArthur ponies as early as pre-kindergarten.

“We have always worked together throughout the years,” Martinez said. “This is simply coming together under one roof as we celebrate.”

MacArthur second grader Anthony Castillo likes seeing the construction around his Cielo Vista neighborhood – mention both campuses and nearby Edgemere Park – because he knows it means progress is coming.

“When I grow up, I want to go to Burges and they’re reconstructing it,” he said. “I think that it’s going to be beautify and I think this place is going to be beautiful, too. I can imagine a new school – way different from this one.”

Story by Reneé de Santos  |   Video by Angel Dominguez   |   Photos by Leonel Monroy and Ray Jackson