Last year, the school district surprised Gutierrez Middle School with an opportunity to transform the campus into an arts and science academy. The news was released to an unsuspecting crowd of students and staff who gathered in the Harlingen Performing Arts Center to enjoy “Frozen”, a play performed by Lee Means Elementary Fine Arts Academy students.
Since then, the school has been making proactive adjustments to prepare for the launch of new courses beginning in August 2020. Now, despite the uncertainty COVID-19 has brought, Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences remains eager for the new school year.
“If we are unable to return to school, courses will also be available remotely,” Gutierrez Principal, Mike Reyes said. “These are great opportunities for our students.”
For the most part, Gutierrez’s previous classes will remain the same, but new science and fine art courses will be added.
Students who applied to the science pathway will be offered three courses: Integrated Sciences, Math and Science combination, and Project Lead the Way courses that focus on robotics.
Students in this pathway won’t be taking math or science in isolation. Both subjects will be combined into one course. The combination class will allow teachers to emphasize the cross-curricular aspects of these subjects.
“They are going to be doing a lot of project-based learning,” Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education, Joseph Villarreal said. “They will be given problems that exist in the world, and they will use what they are learning in class to solve those problems and then demonstrate those solutions through projects.”
The science pathway will also offer an exciting course called Flight and Space, where students will be introduced to the world of aerospace. Students will become engineers in this course as they design, prototype, and test models to learn about the science of flight and what it takes to travel and live in space. They will even plan a mission to Mars.
Another course in this pathway is called Integrated Sciences. In this course, students will explore the various forms of energy. They will learn about biofuels, hydroelectric power, natural gas, nuclear power, solar power, wind energy, and tidal and wave energy.
“Field trips will be a part of the integrated sciences,” Villarreal said. “We want to take students to areas in the Valley that involve the type of energy they are studying. For wind energy, we might visit some of the wind turbines you see out there. We want to make it as hands-on as possible for the students. We also want to ensure we provide an opportunity to practice our 4 C’s: Communication, Collaboration, Critical-thinking, and Creativity.”
The arts pathway will offer three advanced tracks in Musical Theatre, Theatre Production, and Dance.
Highly trained professionals will teach these advanced classes through the Harlingen Performing Arts Conservatory next door.
“We want to make sure all students can take courses in the arts, whether it is at a beginning or advanced capacity,” Fine Arts Specialist, Sally Cavazos Navarro said. “So, we will also offer beginning courses in Theatre, Technical Theatre, Dance, Graphic Arts, Piano, and Guitar. We have so many plans that include a Main Stage Musical, Art Club, Drill Team, Art Exhibitions, and so much more.”
The administration, staff, students, and everyone else involved is excited to offer these opportunities at the middle school level.
“These options are available for all students,” Villarreal said. “The main difference between those taking a few classes as electives versus those taking all the classes in the pathway is that students in the pathway will be studying either art or science more intensely,” Villarreal said.
For any additional information, call Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences at 956-430-4400.