Culberson County-Allamoore ISD celebrates groundbreaking ceremony with cookout

Van Horn School to envelope 21st century concepts in elementary wing

Over 200 enjoyed a cookout provided by CCAISD during their ground breaking ceremony last week

Photo by Edna Clark

VAN HORN, Texas — Culberson County-Allamoore Independent School District held a cookout celebration and groundbreaking ceremony for a newly designed Van Horn School at 400 W. 7th Street. The residents had voted in a 2016 bond issue to pay for a mostly new “all-in-one” consolidated school for pre-K to 12th grades. The school will include science labs, a metal shop, wood shop and competition gym. The construction will include renovating the current gym to be used as an auxiliary gym.

Hector De Santiago, firm principal with Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, said he took CCAISD staff on tour when PSC started designing the pre-K–12th grade school in Van Horn to see schools his team designed in Odessa and as well as schools Midland designed by architects in our Midland office, and they were able to incorporate a lot of the 21 Century Learning Environment features within the budget they had originally set for a more traditional school.

“Thus we were able to do magic, actually, to make this a reality for them,” he said, “incorporating hub spaces, studio spaces, very flexible learning spaces with operable glass partitions, lots of natural light and flexibility for them to be able to collaborate among different classrooms together and within the hub space itself. And then bringing in a very good new competition gym, turning their existing gymnasium into an auxiliary gym and … incorporating some of the library components into the hub spaces so they have a dispersed library space within the hub spaces.

The design overcame some challenges, said Dalia Benavides, superintendent of the Culberson County-Allamoore Independent School District. “(The challenge was) making sure we included our tennis courts and our existing auditorium. It was going to be like threading a needle, because of the space between them. PSC was able to figure out how to redesign to allow us to maximize the space we had and also maximize our budget.

“We are very crowded, security is an issue in the school we are in, and it’s cold in the winter – the kids have to wear their coats in the wintertime, and it’s hot in the summertime. Today is the first day for a new future for the kids in Van Horn,” Ms. Benavides said.

The new school will be more energy efficient, said Board President Letty Hernandez. “We won’t be using as much electricity because we will have natural lighting coming in… and the cooling and heating won’t be escaping through the windows.”

As a tribute to the school’s mascot, the Van Horn Eagles, the commanding entrance in the design evokes eagle’s wings. The elementary wing envelopes 21st century concepts, with folding glass walls, openness, an abundance of natural light and a hub space in the center to which classrooms or studios can expand, transforming the hub into a collaborative teaching space. Angelica “Angie” Gonzalez, board member, said the board looked at schools in Midland and El Paso where 21st century learning was being done, and saw the potential. “It had shown a big improvement in the kids’ education, and so we said let’s do it the right way and do it in the 21st century (concepts).”

The youths will have three academic wings with an expansive corridor that doubles as a collaboration pod, teaching space or gathering area. Featured in the Commons will be a dining area, portable stage for various functions, television screens for educational purposes, striking red accents in tandem with neutrals, and a multi-level vaulted skylight archway.

The design incorporates a new playground, landscaping, and separate drop-off sites for buses and cars.

PSC provided inclusion for existing portions of the school grounds, including four tennis courts, an asphalt band practice area, a practice gymnasium and an auditorium.

For further information, call (432) 283-2245.


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