'Like a mansion' - Future students break ground on new Tyler middle school

Published on Friday, 4 April 2014 23:34 - Written by Emily Guevara eguevara@tylerpaper.com

The opening of a new Tyler ISD middle school on Three Lakes Parkway is over a year away, but that didn’t stop some fourth-graders from thinking about the day they get to set foot on the campus.

“It’s just amazing to think that this is my new middle school,” 10-year-old Talina Vargas, of Owens Elementary School, said.

Talina and two of her peers participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for the new middle school campus on Friday.

They will be the first class of sixth-graders at the school when it opens in fall 2015.

“I think it’s very pretty,” Atiana Henson, 10, said of the school’s design. “It’s like a mansion.”

Brynn Huskey, 10, already had in mind a mascot for the campus: The puma, her favorite animal.

The school, which does not yet have an official name, will be the first new nonreplacement school to the district since Jack Elementary School opened to students in August 2007.

It has the potential to reduce the number of portables in the district by half and will provide a neighborhood middle school for those residents living on the southwest side of town, according to district officials.

TISD board President the Rev. Orenthia Mason said it will be one of the most beautiful middle schools in the world. It will be a place where future leaders are educated and a source of community growth, she said.

She thanked the team of people who are working on the project including the contracter Jackson Construction and the architects PBK and Barham Architects along with the Tyler Proud organization and the community for its support.

“All we had was a dream, but we knew with all of us working together, this dream would become a reality,” she said.

The front of the school will face Three Lakes Parkway, which intersects with Old Jacksonville Highway, south of FRESH by Brookshire’s.

The campus will be divided into two main sections with the library connecting them in the middle. From overhead, the footprint looks like an H.

One side of the H shape, which forms the front of the campus, will be two stories and house all of the classrooms.

The other side will be one story and house the gym, cafeteria, fine arts area and locker rooms.

A six-lane track, football field and, in the future, tennis courts will round out the campus.

TISD’s construction project manager Monte Robinett said the 155,000-square-foot facility will have a functional capacity of about 1,000 students with a design capacity of 1,150 students.

TISD Superintendent Gary Mooring said the construction of this new school along with the new Boulter and Moore campuses could reduce the number of portables in the district by half. There are about 165 portables districtwide, but the new campuses will have none when they open, according to district officials.

Tyler Proud President Mark Randall, who will have three kids attend the school, described it as an exciting day for Tyler.

“We’re proud of Tyler supporting TISD, our children and the future of Tyler,” he said.

He said it’s amazing to see what the community can do when they work together and said the school will pay dividends for the future of Tyler.

From a development standpoint, this middle school opens up opportunities. TISD board Vice President Andy Bergfeld, who is president of Bergfeld Realty Co., said there always was a bit of a barrier to development in portions of that area because the west side of Old Jacksonville Highway lacked a neighborhood middle school and was zoned to Hogg Middle School.

“I think there’s so much excitement about having a neighborhood school down here,” he said adding that the addition of the campus no doubt will spur development in the coming years.

“It should be great for the city of Tyler,” he said.

TISD is scheduled to break ground on the new Boulter Middle School campus at 9 a.m. Thursday at 2926 Garden Valley Road and the new Moore MST Magnet School at 10 a.m. April 17 at 2101 Devine St.