The Douglas Academy
Current and former students, community members and staff from the San Antonio Schools staff gathered in the historic auditorium of Douglass Academy on Sept. 26 for a homecoming celebration and dedication ceremony to mark the completion of a major construction and renovation project at the school.
“Douglass Academy has a rich history and tradition. Our children here have inherited that history and they have the potential to become all that they want to be,” said District Superintendent Dr. Robert J. Durón on the stage where legend has it that Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and B.B. King once performed.
With $9.3 million from the San Antonio Independent School District’s 1997 Bond Program, improvements at the school included renovations to classrooms in the three-story school built in 1915, the auditorium and gymnasium. A building which previously served as a vocational shop was remodeled into a library.
New construction added a wing with classrooms, a kitchen and cafeteria to this San Antonio school. Two courtyards, a central tower housing an elevator and a stairwell connect the old with the new for accessibility.
With a total square-footage of 73,692, the facility accommodates 450 students including those in the Life Strides and in the Early Childhood programs.
Original wood flooring and seats in the auditorium were carefully refurbished and re-installed in this San Antonio school by the District’s Plant Services crews. The stage and walls were also repainted.
“Not only do we have new things that we are excited about but we’re also honoring a lot of the history of this school,” said Melanie Herr-Zepeda, principal.
Colors, tiles and wall textures throughout the campus express the African-American and Mexican-American cultures of the neighborhood surrounding this San Antonio school. “This school is truly rich in history. We’re honoring the neighborhood in what it is now and yet honoring where this school has come from,” Herr-Zepeda added.
Douglass Academy traces its origin to 1869 when it opened for the children of freed African-American slaves in what is now downtown San Antonio. In 1902 it was named for the anti-slavery orator and statesman. The school was relocated as a high school to its present site in 1915. It became a junior high in 1932.
Beginning in 1970 Douglass served as a school for grades 3 through 5. In 2002 while students attended the former Burnet Elementary campus on Barrera St. the school expanded to include pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade. In 2004 6th grade was added making the school a pre-kindergarten through 6th grade academy. Students and staff returned to their original campus when the construction project was completed in August.
New School Yet to be Named
San Antonio Independent School District Trustees and District leaders join students from Foster and Schenck elementary schools in breaking ground Sept. 21 for SAISD’s newest campus, which is located in the 9200 block of South Presa Street. The new academy, which is the first school established by the District in 40 years, will serve the educational needs of a growing student population in the Southeast sector of SAISD.
The planned two-story academy–yet to be named–will accommodate 750 students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade at the 18-acre site. The building will have an exterior design reminiscent of the nearby historic missions. Early grades at this San Antonio school will have elementary-level playgrounds and learning spaces equipped for instruction, physical education and music. Upper grade classrooms will include an art room, science labs, and two music rooms with acoustical areas for band, choir, orchestra or mariachi.
Plans for the newest San Antonio school also include a competition gym with locker spaces for girls and boys, practice fields for football/soccer, a multi-purpose field, computer labs, a library and a cafetorium for various school activities. Cost of the construction project will be $20.6 million funded from interest earned by the District’s bond programs. The school will serve families in the new Mission Creek subdivision and nearby neighborhoods where students currently attend Foster and Schenck elementary schools and Connell Middle School.