PSJA Memorial ECHS Swimming Pool Ground Breaking

– Good morning, everybody. – [Audience] Good morning. – Morning, thank you for being here. I know it’s a bit hot but
it’s a great occasion. My name is Arianna Vazquez-Hernandez and I’m the Director of Communications and I’ll be your MC this morning. Let me start by introducing
some of our members here at school board. Our president, Jesse Zambrano, (audience applauds) Vice President George Palacios, (audience applauds) Member Jesse Vela Jr, (audience applauds) Member Carlos Viega Jr, (audience applauds) Member Victor Perez, (audience applauds) From our Superintendent’s
cabinet, Dr. King, Superintendent of Schools, (audience applauds) Executive Officer for High
School, Dr. Nora Cantu, (audience applauds) Executive Officer for Middle
Schools, Nora Rivas-Garza, (audience applauds) Executive Officer for Elementary
Schools, Ms. Iris Alvarez. (audience applauds) Joining us from the city of Alamo we have Mayor Diana Martinez, (audience applauds) City Manager Bobby Salinas, (audience applauds) Fire Chief Mr. Roy Contreras, (audience applauds) our Board Secretary
Treasurer, Mr. Jorge Zambrano. (audience applauds) I’d also like to introduce our
PSJA Architect, Jerry Lopez. (audience applauds) Doing this amazing project, P.B.K. architect David Iglesias. (audience applauds) E-Con Construction, Gilbert Enriequez, Juan Hernandez, Art
Guayer and Tony Campos. (audience applauds) Thank you. (audience applauds) From our athletic office, we
have our athletic director, Mr. Orlando Garcia. (audience applauds) Assistant Athletic Director, Melesio Rios. (audience applauds) PSJA Memorial coordinator, David Brown. (audience applauds) As I mentioned before, and I
think he’s now a Wolverine, right now we have aquatics
director Jonathon Landero. (audience applauds) PSJA Memorial head swimming
coach, Benjamin Waddell. (audience applauds) Head diving coach Leslie Richardson. (audience applauds) And obviously our
Principal, Dr. Rowdy Vela (audience applauds) If I could please now have, please help me welcome our
school board president, Mr. Jesse Zambrano. (audience applauds) – Good morning. – [Audience] Good morning. – It’s a little hot out there, right? We’re cool here. First of all, I want to thank all of you for being here today. This is a really a
historic moment for PSJA because earlier today,
we did the groundbreaking over at PSJA High School for
their own swimming facility and so now we’re here
to do the groundbreaking for this great, great facility, and I just want to give
a little background on the history of when we started
looking at these projects. We talked about how
were we going to provide great swimming facilities
for our entire area. And so initially, the idea was that you know, we’d have a
pool and then from there, you know, talking to
the board or whatever, we talked about how can we basically have a second facility as well, so that we cover both cities, being that the city of
Pharr has a pool already, and this would give us an opportunity to also have a swimming facility here in the city of Alamo
and so we’re very proud. The price tag started at a certain amount and then slowly but
surely, went a little up. But we think that what we have here, and what you have here in front of you, is something that’s gonna be a great facility for our students. We believe at the board level that our students deserve the very best, and as I referenced earlier,
PSJA is the only district that over the past 12 years, about $500 million have been
invested in our community for schools and facilities, and I do wanna thank Dr. King for his leadership
throughout that process. So thank you, Dr. King, and if we can give him
a big round of applause? (audience applauds) And the reason I bring that up is because when it comes to swimming, we wanna make sure that everybody in PSJA gets an opportunity to enjoy great, great swimming facilities. And now it’s not just
swimming, we talk about diving, we talk about water polo, we talk about all those aquatic sports, but then there’s also a teaching
component to all of this and Dr. King will elaborate more, but basically, the main point is that we wanna make sure that our
students get the very best. I know we have Mayor Diana here, we wanna make sure also
that the school district and the city work together
for summer programs, and for programs for our kids. Some of us, growing up, didn’t have the opportunity to take swimming lessons or do those things, and we wanna make sure that
our community here in Alamo, that our kids have that opportunity. And so, once again, we’re very proud. This is one of those legacy projects that we talk about at the school board. This will be something that will be here for many, many years to come and so we’re very proud of this project and looking forward to
seeing the final product. Once again, thank you so much. May God bless all of you. (audience applauds) – Thank you, Mr. Zambrano. And now help me welcome our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. King. (audience applauds) – So I asked Arianna, “Arianna, why are you
having this thing at noon? “You know, it’s a hundred and some?” and she said, “Well you
just jump in the water.” (audience laughs) So Arianna, I hadn’t been
out here in a little while and I just thought you knew
something I didn’t know, but it doesn’t look like it’s ready. (audience laughs) This is a really exciting
day here at PSJA, and as board president,
Mr. Zambrano mentioned, PSJA is a leader in many, many areas. Our early college work and dual language, and just so many different areas. The opportunities that we provide for the young people in this community, really for our future
leaders of the community, and facilities is no exception. A neighboring district in a community with
significantly more resources, asked me just a couple of weeks ago because they saw kind of a
YouTube thing that came out where I was talking
about that we have done over half a billion of construction over the last 10, 12
years, and they were like, how in the world is that even possible? Because the large
communities right around us, if they’ve done even 100
million, that’s a lot. And I’ll tell you what, it’s thanks to the commitment from this community, so much community support, and wanting the best for our students, great vision and leadership
from our school board over the years and that continues today. And there’s more to come, by the way, ’cause we haven’t stopped. There’s more to come. But this is very important. And some people might mention, well you already have a pool partnership with the City of Pharr,
and well that’s true, we do already have one, right? But we serve almost 33,000
students at 43 campuses, and Jonathan told me that 33,000 don’t quite fit in that other pool. Is that right, Jonathan? But anyway, we’re really trying to move towards where each feeder pattern, kind of each high school,
each feeder pattern, will have a pool to serve those students. So that’s about eight to
nine thousand students per swimming pool, And so that’s a pretty
efficient use of resources, which as Zambrano mentioned, the price, we are being economical. We’ve a good balance of
having a good quality pool. It’s not an indoor pool,
it’s an outdoor pool, but there’s some advantages to that, to the fresh air, to everything else. But it has a canopy over the entire pool, because we wanna protect our
young people from the sun. We know that too much sun
can create problems as well. But these are educational facilities, and there’s a lot involved here, and so one of the things first of all is we want our young people to be safe. We want all of the students
at PSJA to learn how to swim, how to take care of
themselves around water. There’s canals all over the valley here. Unfortunately, almost every year we hear of drownings of young people at the beach. There’s a lot of water in the area and so we want a place
where our young people can be taught water safety, how to handle themselves
in water, and how to swim, ’cause a lot of young people
don’t know how to swim. So the idea as we get this all scaled up, is that every young person in
PSJA, at certain grade levels, will have the opportunity
to learn water safety, learn how to swim, be part of the physical education program, and of course, competitive. You know, when I got here 12 years ago one of the first things
the board mentioned to me, we were talking about facilities, the timing was kind of a dream thing, ’cause we had so many critical needs. They were like, Dr. King, if there’s any way, and
talking to cities, whatever, can we have a pool, ’cause at that time, there’s really no
functional pool in the area. I don’t think the Alamo one
was done yet, 12 years ago. Or was it? So it might have been. But there certainly wasn’t a large one say
for like, competitive. And they’re like, back in, I
dunno, 60s or sometime back, we used to have a little bit
of a swim team, and all that. So, ultimately we found
a way to get that done. The amazing thing is we
no sooner built the pool, and PSJA became one of the top, thanks to Jonathan and his team and all, almost overnight PSJA became
one of the top aquatic competitive teams in the
area, the different schools. (audience applauds) That’s amazing ’cause you’re
talking about competing against districts that have had swimming programs for decades. And we came in like, fresh new, didn’t know enough I
guess to be intimidated, then went out there and basically have been winning it
all in a lot of cases. And it just shows the talent
that our young people have. Whether it’s in academics or in that also. So besides the water safety
and the educational aspect, we need to give our young people the opportunity to perform, to compete. We’re actually already, Jonathan, right, getting to the stage where
our students are getting scholarships to to college
to swim competitively and you’ll see more and
more of that in the future. That’s a great aspect. I do wanna point out one of
the parts I’m real proud of, you’ll notice that the
pool has two sections, two bodies of water there. And so the larger one is for
a lot of the competitive, and whether it’s a real,
whether it’s athletic, lap swimming, for people
that know how to swim and handle themselves already. The other, the smaller rectangle
is an instructional pool. I’m real proud of that
instructional pool because it was designed not only
with children in mind and all of that, but it was designed, it’s not a wading pool,
it is a pool, right, but it has a sloped
entrance so it’s designed for the handicapped,
elderly, and so forth. So it can serve in a lot of ways. And it’s important, I always
push on our principals, and the staff and all, one
of the most critical things, we’re about education, but
we’re about quality of life. And one of the issues that we, every generation struggles
with different issues. One of the issues that
we struggle with today is that young people don’t
get out and exercise. They’re not running enough, they’re not playing enough. They’re not walking enough, and why? About 90% of it is these things. Like, they can be on this or any screen, and they’re real happy. The problem is, there’s
predictions right now that the young people right now might be the first generation
in hundreds of years to live shorter than their parents. Because health issues
are developing very early because they don’t work,
the body was made to move, and they don’t work
the circulatory system, the heart, all of this stuff, so anything like this that we
can do to get at young people, they can have fun, water’s fun. So they can have fun and exercise,
and that’s important too. It’s important for their health. It’s important for adults also, it’s important for employees. We have an employee wellness
program we’re starting. We’re hoping that as these get done, we can have a lot of employees
lap swimming as well. But, it’s very important
for length of life, for quality of life. The research shows very well
it actually impacts academics. The more you exercise and
keep yourself conditioned, the better blood flow to the
brain and all these kinds of things that makes you more alert. So, young people, you wanna be smart, take the time to exercise as well ’cause that’s actually part of it. Part of this being a successful person is taking care of your body, taking care of all of that because that’s that’s
what gets you through. I did want to point out the
different components of that, and a lot of the careful
though that went into that. I wanna thank our staff. Jonathan involved in the design, Jerry involved in the design, together you know with the
board, the administration, our architect contractor, and
we’re looking forward to it. Arianna, we’re not gonna cool off I guess. (audience laughs) All right, thank you very much. Oh, I forgot one thing. I was asked, Dr. Rowdy
Vela asked for a promise. I’m not gonna be here so I’ve
gotta leave that in writing. He wants to be the first
one off the high dive, so, thank you. – Let me make sure they
bring that tank over so we can shower Dr. King before he leaves. And now if you can please
help me introduce Dr. Vela. (audience applauds) Get ready. (audience applauds) We’re gonna start the
wellness program soon. – Good morning everybody and thank you for being here
with us this morning. I know everybody’s probably wishing, it would be great right
now if the pool were ready. And so on behalf of PSJA Memorial
Early College High School, the administration, the
staff, and our students, we would like to thank Dr King, our superintendent of
schools, our school board for being visionary in
always wanting the best for our students, always having the best interests
of our students at heart. If it weren’t for you, these great facilities
that we are building that we have here in PSJA ISD, our students would not be able
to succeed and be successful. So, thank you. Please help me give them a round
of applause for their help, (audience applauds) and for their vision. The aquatic center, as Dr. King mentioned, is going to be state-of-the-art. Our students are excited,
our staff is excited. I know that when we first
heard we were getting a pool several months ago at the
beginning of the year, the first thing the teachers said was, can we have professional
development at the pool? can we have our end of
year party at the pool? And so, we will join
forces with our students, with our staff, with our
community City of Alamo, to make sure that this
aquatic center is available to everybody from Alamo,
everybody from PSJA ISD, to take advantage of and be a part of. Our students are excited. Our swim team is excited. I know that it’ll be
very quick before we have district champions, state
champions in swimming, and diving as Dr. King mentioned. I won’t probably be a
champion diving, Dr. King. But one of these young ladies
or young men will probably be. But again, thank you. We are excited. Thank you for being here
with us this morning, and go Wolverines. (audience applauds) – Thank you Dr. Vela. So now it’s time for the closing, which is the actual groundbreaking. So if I could please have our
school board administrators, our coaches please join us back here. Okay, so join us? Okay, we’re gonna have to, okay, students you’re
gonna come in between us and we can share the shovels. Coaches, please share. You’re like, no, it’s my shovel. (man laughs) All right, so just fall in in between. Sir, do you wanna move
back just a little bit. There we go, you too sir, yes. At three you’re gonna toss it, and you’re gonna say, “Go Wolverines!” One, two, three! – [Group] Go Wolverines! Yay! (upbeat drum music) (gentle electronic music)

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