Students, staff and alumni at El Paso’s oldest high school came together on Thursday morning under the landmark columns of the Lady on the Hill for a ceremonial turn of dirt to mark the start of construction that is part of the 2016 EPISD Bond.
The District will spend nearly 20 million to upgrade instructional space at the school, taking into careful consideration the historic architecture that has become trademark of El Paso High School and the community as a whole.
The 2016 Bond project at El Paso High includes the construction of a new fine arts building with state-of-the-art instructional space for art, band, choir plus a recording studio and art gallery. Other upgrades include the installation of a new elevator and renovations to classrooms, bathrooms and window treatments.
“What we have here at El Paso High is a truly unique combination of modern learning facilities with historic architecture,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “I know the community is excited to get amazing new spaces that will respect and enhance the beautiful Trost building our city loves so much.”
The District also is in the process of assessing the beautiful façade of the historic building to determine which upgrades are needed. An architectural firm already is performing the study and should have a report ready by January.
Principal Mark Paz, surrounded by his fine arts students, thanked the community for the passage of the 2016 Bond – knowing that the new facility will be a source of pride for current and future generations of Tigers.
“I cannot begin to tell you just how excited this campus is for the 2016 Bond Project to get started,” he said. “We have a lot of programs to be proud of on this campus, but our fine arts programs have never been stronger or more popular among our students than they are right now. This new fine arts addition will ensure our students are able to compete at their full potential and enjoy a state-of-the-art facility for generations to come.”
Freshman Mariana Jo Silva stood amongst her theater peers at the steps of the 102-year-old building excited about the possibility of performing in the new fine arts building.
“Our school really appreciates the new building,” said Silva, who also marches in the Tiger band.
“Being in theater makes me feel confident and helps me get ready for the real world. I’m glad people are working together and making the commitment to doing this for the kids.”
Choir director Tim Thompson whose students kicked off the ceremony with the National Anthem looks forward to the completion of the building – especially the recording studio.
“It’s going to mean everything for our students – more room to practice and rehearse and to do sectionals. For band and orchestra, the kids won’t have to practice sectionals in the hallway. It’s going to mean a lot for an already award-winning program to do even better.”
The bond project balances maintaining the historical presence of El Paso’s first high school while offering new and upgraded facilities to keep up with 21st century learning.
“There are just a lot of benefits across the board for this bond,” Paz said. “Upkeep to the historical frame of the outside of the original building is just much needed but will be in-line with the historical facade. All of the three main buildings will have that same look with modern twists and upgrades. But if you’re driving by on Schuster, you would see a universal theme.”
The fine arts project begins construction in the coming weeks with an expected completion of fall 2020. Construction also will begin this month on new tennis courts. One of the first projects of the $668 million bond was the new turf, which was installed last summer 2017.
“We will have many more of these ceremonies in the coming months. Our bond is going on overdrive right as we had scheduled,” Cabrera said. “We are going to deliver on our bond promises throughout EPISD by 2021. We are excited to start working.”