Thornton celebrates with singing, dancing and tamales
Tamara Edwards, Thornton Elementary School’s music teacher, lined her choir students up on the stage stairs and then sat down at the piano.
The standing-room-only crowd in the cafetorium, along with the overflow in the library watching the live stream, waited patiently for the students to start singing – even though everyone was eager for what was next on the program – tamales.
“We are Thornton Tigers …” the students sang.
It was a new song – written by Edwards – perfect for the occasion, the dedication ceremony for the new Thornton school building.
These Thornton Tigers are the first to have a new building since the original school opened in 1956. Those original Tigers would hardly believe what their school looks like now.
Same goes for the former Thornton teachers and administrators who came to see the ribbon cutting and tour the new school. One of them opened the ceremony with a prayer and recalled her days walking those halls.
“We think of the new building – and folks it is beautiful,” said Tillie Burgin, executive director of Mission Arlington, former teacher at Thornton and namesake of Bob and Tillie Burgin Elementary.
“I used to walk these halls for many, many years until finally y’all got rid of me,” she joked. “But we love Thornton Elementary School. The beauty you cannot ever change are these kids that are all around us.”
Those kids and this community are what define Thornton.
“What really makes the school ‘school’ is families and students,” said Thornton principal Alicia Rodriguez who hosted the dedication ceremony.
Arlington ISD interim superintendent Dr. Steven Wurtz agreed.
“It’s the love that you have for each other, the love that you have for learning, that’s made Thornton the amazing school that it is,” he said.
Amazing since 1956 because of the students, teachers and families, Thornton is even better now with a building designed just for them.
“I remember when this building was being designed and we had students, teachers and families talk about their dreams about what the building would look like, the kinds of things that would be here,” Wurtz said. “And today, you can look around and walk the halls, and those dreams that students articulated are real and they are actually alive.”
Funded by the 2019 Bond, the new Thornton sits on the same site as the original school, which was demolished in 2020. Architects and senior district administrators were purposeful in incorporating the culture of the school and its families in the design along with the needs of a 21st-century education. The two-floor, 105,000-square-foot building features pods for each grade with five classrooms each (pre-K – 6), a media center, fine arts classrooms, STEM labs, makerspace, collaboration spaces, outdoor learning areas and more.
“We know that if we equip you with facilities that match your love and devotion, your potential is limitless,” Wurtz said. “And that’s what this new building is about. It’s about giving every student here every opportunity to succeed and thrive.”
Thornton is one of four new schools being replaced by the 2019 Bond. The new Berry Elementary also opened in August and the new Webb Elementary opened in January. The last of the four rebuilds will be a new junior high school to replace the aging Carter Junior High. Construction is beginning this fall.
“I want to thank our Arlington community who made this possible,” said Arlington ISD board president Melody Fowler. “This school was funded by you through the 2019 Bond … This is how we ensure Arlington has a great future. Thank you.”
See more photos from the dedication.