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Students tour new Veterans Memorial High School after ribbon cutting

School officials line up to cut the red, white and blue ribbon officially opening the new Veterans Memorial High School in Corpus Christi. Photo by Suzanne Freeman

Around 800 people stood in the blazing afternoon heat of a South Texas summer for the ribbon cutting that officially opened the new Veterans High School. The 76 acre complex at 3750 Cimarron Blvd. is the first new high school built in the Corpus Christi Independent School District since 1967.

The most exciting event came, not as the Veterans Band played or as the officials were announced or even as the ribbon was cut. The real star of the show was the school itself, which opened its doors to throngs of students and parents eager to tour the facilities.

“Veterans Memorial High is nothing short of magnificent,” said superintendent Roland Hernandez. “This new state-of-the-art high school includes over 426,000 square feet of space for standard and specialized classrooms, athletic facilities, science and computer labs, fine arts areas and media centers and of course, administration, cafeteria and support areas.”

As the school mascot — a brown and gold bald eagle — clapped and danced in the background, the superintendent recognized past and present board members responsible for both this and a new middle school, which held its ribbon cutting a week earlier.

The two schools were built with $125 million in bonds approved by voters in November, 2010. Current board president John Longoria also praised trustees who worked together over the last five years to see that the schools were built.

“This is a historic day and I’m deeply honored to be here to recognize the trustees who supported passage of the bond issue and the construction of this school,” Longoria said. “They are the ones who laid the foundation. They did all the blocking and tackling. We [the current board] took it over the goal line.”

The football metaphors were much appreciated by Alex Gonzalez, a junior looking forward to the red, sliver and blue Eagles’ first game.

“I’m really excited about school starting,” he told Corpus Christi Business News. “I’m going to have a lot of good opportunities here. I’m not nervous at all.”

Another incoming student lining up to tour the building, Shelby Corbett, admitted to some first-day-of-school butterflies. She’ll be a freshman, but feels somewhat reassured that every other student showing up August 24 will be new to the school, not just her fellow 9th graders.

“I’m nervous because it’s a new school and I don’t know anything about it,” she said. “That’s why I’m going on a tour.”

Every branch of the military was represented at the ribbon cutting. The Marine Corps League, in their red shirts and hats, sat front and center under one of two tents erected for at least a little shade. Attending veterans received the biggest round of applause (except for maybe the new principal, Kimberly James) as the school board president asked them to stand and be recognized.

This is great,” said Tony Infante, commandant of the Marine Corpus League. “A lot of people gave their lives for this beautiful country of ours. They are all being honored here today.”

Jessie Perez, a Marine Corps League chaplin, agreed. He talked bout specific people he remembered who served in Vietnam.

“A lot of the guys are here for them: the ones who didn’t come back,” he said.

Longoria stressed the school’s connection to the veteran community and to the community as a whole as he pointed out the positive economic impact the school has had on the city.

“I’m excited about what this project has done for this community, economically and socially,” he said. “There is a lot we want to do to educate the community about what veterans do and have done for this country.”

As the principal took the podium, preparing for the cutting of the red, white and blue ribbon strung across the front of the school’s glass entryway, she, too, stressed the people involved.

“This building is not what makes a school,” she said. “It’s the teachers, the coaches, the staff, the parents and the students who will make this feel more like a home. I’m looking forward to making our home here at Veterans Memorial. I’m looking forward to creating new traditions and blazing a brave new path. Welcome to Veterans High School and go Eagles!”

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