Knox building was originally a junior high
Knox Elementary is gone. The school building that housed four different schools in its 60 years has been completely demolished.
The school opened in 1962 as the first Ferguson Junior High and the fourth junior high school in Arlington. It was converted into Venture School 25 years later in 1987. In, 2001, the building became Knox Elementary for the next 20 years. Finally, after Knox closed, the aging facility housed Thornton Elementary for two years while Thornton’s replacement school building was under construction.
Once the new Thornton opened in August, the old Knox building was left vacant. Demolition started soon after is now complete.
The demo made way for what’s next: construction of a new junior high school to replace Carter Junior High.
The location for the new junior high is fitting. The site on Stonegate Street in east Arlington was originally developed as a junior high in the early 1960s, so this is a return to its roots. And the school that is being replaced, Carter, was where Knox Elementary’s namesake, Veda Knox, was a longtime special education teacher.
But the location is fitting for more than just historical and sentimental reasons. The site is more centrally located to the Carter student population and large enough to accommodate all program offerings. The current Carter site is too small for a track or adequate parking.
Plus, the new building will be a huge improvement over the current Carter building, which is even older than Knox was.
Unlike the current Carter, the new school will be state-of-the-art, high-tech and full of learning spaces designed to help students thrive and succeed in the 21st century.
“I am eager to see the impact that the new school will have, not only academically, but the confidence and pride that it will create among our students, staff, families and community,” Carter principal Elena Lopez said at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new school in October.
The future 155,000-square-foot building will include 48 classroom spaces, including CTE classrooms, break-out and collaboration spaces, teacher workrooms and offices. There will be performing arts classrooms for band, orchestra, drama, choir and art, along with rooms for SPED programs, science labs and a storm shelter. Outdoor spaces include a new entry plaza and canopy and a regulation synthetic turf football field with a four-lane track, bleachers, press box, concessions and restrooms.
The new junior high site is also absorbing the adjacent Helen Wessler Park. Arlington ISD acquired the park from the City of Arlington by giving the city its nearby and now-closed Roark Elementary site.
Arlington ISD will demolish the Roark building soon and then build a new splash pad in the school’s place to replace the one that was at Wessler Park.
The future junior high is the fourth of four school replacements funded by the 2019 Bond program. The first three are all open. Thornton and Berry elementary schools opened in August at the beginning of this school year, and Webb Elementary opened in January.
“This is all about students,” said Arlington ISD board president Melody Fowler. “It’s all about giving them every opportunity to succeed. And that includes the right spaces. Facilities matter. School buildings purposefully designed to inspire students and equip them to thrive in the 21st century are incredibly important to achieving the outcomes we all want for students.”