PSJA alumni reminisce during Jefferson Centennial celebrations

PHARR – Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD welcomed alumni from as early as the 1930s to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its first high school located on Business 83 in Pharr. The school, which was recently renovated to preserve its historic status and is now the home of the district’s first early college campus, PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School. Centennial celebrations began with a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by a once-in-a lifetime evening celebration Dec. 3.

During the centennial festivities, PSJA school district officials, current and former staff members, alumni of all ages and teachers celebrated and reminisced on the past and shared their future goals. In addition, attendees toured the campus and viewed special alumni memorabilia on display.

According to Olivia Robie, a 1958 PSJA graduate, she was happy to relive old memories and was glad to see how the district has evolved since she graduated. 

“The event was beautiful,” said Robie, who donated personal memorabilia to the school district. “I attended school here and have a lot of memories. I was involved in cheerleading and I was a Bearette. I love what the Superintendent and School Board have done. My children all came to PSJA and are all educated, PSJA has done good by our children. I am a proud alum.”

Since it was built in 1915, the Jefferson Building has served many generations, as the tri-city area's firsthigh school, a middle school and a ninth grade campus. Due to the significanceof the Jefferson Building, PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM ECHS Principal Virna M. Bazan said she is grateful for the opportunity to continue educating generations of students and representing the innovative school district.

“PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School is the lighthouse of PSJA,” proudly said Bazan of her state-of-the-art campus. “This school building has played a key role in educating generation after generation of students from Pharr, San Juan and Alamo. Students here at PSJA Thomas Jefferson are already productive members of society. I want to assure you that our future looks bright thanks to these wonderful students. The 100 years to come are filled with excellence and we will not let you down.”

All proceeds from ticket sales for the Jefferson Centennial Ball went to benefit PSJA T.  Jefferson T-STEM ECHS student scholarships. Attendees received a special antique gold commemorative coin keychain as a gift. A limited amount of commemorative centennial coin key chains are still available for a $20 donation.

For more information on the festivities or obtaining a coin, you may contact the PSJA Public Relations Department at 956-354-2027. For more photos, you may visit www.facebook.com/psjaisd.

About PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School

First built in 1915, the historic building was first known as Pharr-San Juan Public School and was part of Common School District No. 4, with an enrollment of 143 students in first through 11th grade. Over the years, as the school district grew and evolved, the building took on many names which included:

• Pharr-San Juan Public School, 1915-25;

• PSJA High School and Junior High, 1925-48**;

• PSJA High School, 1948-62;

• Thomas Jefferson Junior High School 1962-66;

• Jefferson East/West Junior High School, 1966-69; 

• Jefferson Junior High, 1969-78;

• Jefferson Ninth Grade School, 1978;

• PSJA Ninth, 1978-79;

• Memorial Ninth Grade, 1979-90;

• Memorial Junior High, 1990-92;

• Memorial Middle, 1992-2002; and

• PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School, 2012-Present 

**Even though Alamo was not officially incorporated to the school district until 1959, diplomas and yearbooks show the school name changed to Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School around the late 20s.

After being vacant for 10 years, the Jefferson building which received a historical marker in 1986, became the home of PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School in 2012. It was the first PSJA ISD early college high school, serving as the role model for the rest of the district. Since its inception, the campus has earned Exemplary Ratings and Distinction Designations from the Texas Education Agency, with many students graduating with the opportunity to earn their high school diploma and an Associate Degree from South Texas College.

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