Heizer Makes Middle School Debut Aug. 15
The inaugural class of Heizer Hornet middle schoolers will swarm their new building when school begins on Aug. 15. In addition to newly carpeted classrooms and freshly painted hallways, 6ththrough 8th-graders will be greeted by a new mascot in their front hallway.
Heizer alum Ashley Flores spent dozens of un-air-conditioned hours painting an oversized insect and accompanying motto – “Heizer Hornets, A Proud Past And A Bright Future” – on an entrance wall adjacent to the office. The 18-year-old was careful to pay homage to the school’s former colors by painting “A Proud Past” in Heizer blue while using black and gold paint for the rest of the mural.
Because Heizer was former home of the Freshman High School Eagles, much of the building’s color scheme was black and gold, colors which officials opted to keep in lieu of a costly blue makeover.
Heizer was scheduled to become a middle school for the 2011-12 school but budget shortfalls forced Hobbs Municipal Schools to postpone its opening until next month. The delay allowed extra time for the training of teachers and district wide modification of curriculum as Heizer, Houston and Highland combine to form the city’s first-ever middle-school system.
The reclassification of schools is the result of a master plan which last year saw freshman students moved from the isolated Heizer campus to the newly constructed Freshman High School. “Research has demonstrated that learning increases when ninth-graders feel they are an actual part of a high school setting and are involved with campus activities such as band and athletics,”HMS Supt. TJ Parks said of the relocation.
The Heizer vacancy meant sixth-graders across the city could move up to one of three middle schools, a process that will free up prime classroom space in overcrowded elementary schools. “The Heizer delay actually gave us extra time to make teacher assignments and firm up plans for aligning our curriculum between the sixth-through eighth grades,” Parks added, noting that more and more schools across the country are shifting to a middle school system.
Hobbs fifth, sixth and seventh grade students were notified this spring of their middle school assignments and participated in orientation activities. In addition, an Open House is scheduled at each of the middle schools for 6 p.m. Aug. 13 – two days before school begins.
Meanwhile, Heizer Principal Zeke Kaney and Assistant Principal Rene Cantu have kept busy throughout the summer conducting teacher interviews, ordering supplies and readying the “new” school for the onslaught of over 600 teens and pre-teens.
“It’sexciting,” said Cantu, a former Heizer student who began his career at the school teaching math. “I went here as a kid and had my first job here. I’m glad to see Heizer opening its doors again. It’s a cool deal.
Another cool deal is the chance encounter Cantu had with Flores at church, one that resulted in the May HHS graduate volunteering to paint the school’s new logo. However, because Flores had a full-time job with the city’s summer recreation program, she could only work at night in an empty building that was without air conditioning and with, frankly, some frightening moments.
“I’d always hear small creaks and little taps and get kind of freaked out,” Flores said of the work she sketched in her head, then painted free hand. “But I think it turned out really well.”
Explaining that she is optimistic that her design will still be in place when her younger sister and little brothers one day become Heizer Hornets, Flores said she hopes the artwork“serves as an inspiration” for this year’s incoming classes. “And,” she added,“I hope it stays there for a long, long time.”
(Note: Flores, who hopes to begin school at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design next month, has opened her own small business based on feedback she’s received from the art work she donated to Heizer Middle School. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)