PALESTINE — School was in Sunday for hundreds of Palestine residents who filed onto the high school campus to celebrate the completion of campus updates.
Attendees packed into the auditorium and heard music from the high school band and choir.
State officials Rep. Byron Cook and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples were on hand to offer their congratulations to the district and encouragement to the school’s students.
Staples, a Palestine graduate, was the afternoon’s keynote speaker.
“For likely the next 40 to 50 years, this campus represents a launching point for students,” Staples said.
He touched on the success of the state’s business climate and the challenges facing public education in light of deep budget cuts in his address, and ended by thanking the city for voting in favor of the bond package to fund the district’s developments.
He said it’s not in Austin or Washington, D.C., in which the solutions to those issues will be found.
“The real solutions to those challenges will be found in the classrooms across the nation,” he said. “I believe the Palestine Independent School District is sending a powerful message (with the facilities).”
School board member Michael Bennett said the three-year project meant students, faculty and the community had a lot to deal with as the work was completed, but it was worth it.
The high school renovations were the costliest part of the project, consuming more than $35 million of a $65 million bond package voters approved in 2009.
District superintendent Jason Marshal offered his appreciation to staff and faculty who were patient and helpful as the old buildings were demolished and new ones rose from the dust.
He said the district was proud of the new facilities, not only at the high school campus, but at the elementary and middle schools as well, and that he looked forward to the coming years inside the sparkling hallways.
“Is it not a wonderful building or what?” he asked the audience. “We’re very proud and look forward to the opportunities (inside the facilities) for years to come.”