After successfully becoming International Baccalaureate World Schools, Austin and Houston Elementary held ribbon-cutting ceremonies at their campuses.
The ceremony at Austin Elementary consisted of several performances by the Austin Knights IB Choir, a few speeches by school and district administration, a message from an Austin Elementary alumnus, and a speech by Austin Elementary IB Student Council President.
“This event marks a transition of this wonderful school into an IB World School,” fifth-grade Student Council President Nicholas Pierami said. “Who knows if the future president of the United States is at this school at this moment? Maybe you want to cure cancer or to go to Mars. Who knows if the future ambassador is with us today? That is what an IB world school is all about.”
Pierami shared what he had learned through the IB curriculum and why learning about different cultures and languages was important to him.
“I have been a student at Austin Elementary for two years,” Pierami said. “Here you are able to experience all the IB learner profile attributes. We are encouraged to be open-minded into different cultures and traditions that every student embodies. Due to having Brazilian parents, I know how important it is to respect different cultures and countries. Thank you to all the administrators, board members, and HCISD staff for their hard work and for making our district the best it can be. I would also like to thank the Austin IB World School teachers and staff.”
He ended his speech by saying, “Thank you to everyone for coming out and sharing this important moment with us,” in Portuguese.
A former Austin Elementary alumnus, former ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, and current President of WW Tichenor, Warren Tichenor also shared a message via video.
“Always be prepared for when your opportunity in life comes,” Tichenor said. “For it will surely come. You could improve your school, your town, your organization, the state, the country, the world.”
Austin Elementary Principal Magda Gonzalez ended the ceremony with a message to the students.
“Always remember you were part of this historic day,” Gonzalez said. “When you pass by the school, you will have fun memories about how you were a risk-taker, you had an open mind, and the confidence that you were going to be a change maker.”
The ceremony at Houston Elementary featured poetry read by students, speeches by school and district administration, a message from the teachers, and a performance by the Mighty Eagle Choir.
Ana Lopez, a fifth-grade student read an ABC poem that she wrote herself which described the attributes of an IB student.
C was for “communicate with confidence”, E was for “expressing my ideas”, and G was for “gaining knowledge.” She ended her poem with the letter J.
“J is for the journey that awaits me as I fill out the rest of my ABC poem,” Lopez said.
Fifth-grader Raymundo Lugo recited “Educar” by Gabriel Celaya in Spanish and third-grader Lauren Elliot read “Believing in You” by Catherine Pulsifier.
Houston Principal Virginia Armstrong ended the celebration at her campus with some inspiring words.
“We want to thank you again as we celebrate this wonderful monumental day for our mighty eagle community,” Armstrong said. “Implementation of the IB PYP program is a transformative experience for our schools, our students, and the community. Learning and implementing the PYP is a continuous journey, and our journey has just begun. I cannot wait to see where this takes us.”
Board President Eladio Jaimez shared how proud he and the Board of Trustees were for the accomplishments of Austin and Houston Elementary.
“This is just the start of a great opportunity for the students of HCISD and for this great community of Harlingen,” Jaimez said. “As a board member, and as your president representing our other board members who are here today, Dr. Reininger, Dr. Muniz, and Mrs. Gerry Fleuriet, we could not be any more proud of you all. You know, there is only two IB schools in Cameron County, and they are both in Harlingen. Worldwide, there is about 5,000, and two of them are here. So that is a huge accomplishment, not just for you but for the district.”
Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola shared her excitement for the future of HCISD with the addition of two IB schools.
“We did a lot of studying around IB Schools,” Dr. Noyola said. “And the more we studied what IB was, the more that we found that it aligned extremely well to what we are wanting to do in our district, to transform education for global achievement. Not just for achievement in our area, in our country, in our state, but globally. How can we better prepare our students to be successful no matter where life takes them? Franklin Roosevelt said, ‘We may not always be able to predict the future for our children, but we can prepare them for the future.’ It doesn’t matter if I go into a pre-K classroom or a fifth-grade classroom, that vision and that work that happens through an IB program is there.”