Lufkin’s PCA Holds Groundbreaking Ceremony for new High School
When you plant a seed in fertile soil, and then cultivate that seed, it will grow. That has been the case for Pineywoods Community Academy since its inception over 20 years ago. Growth has been a good thing for PCA, but it also creates challenges, such as the need for more space. Tuesday morning, the PCA School Board and Administration took a big step in that direction by holding a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the site of the new PCA High School, across the street from their present location.
I had the pleasure of serving as the Master of Ceremonies of the event. I was honored to introduce Board President - Dr. Neal Naranjo, Director of Pineywoods Community Academy - Dr. Ken Vaughn, and PCA High School Principal Lacey Coleman to the podium for statements at the event.
Dr. Vaughn said, “Since the approval of the Charter in 1998, the Board of Directors have worked to serve the residents of Angelina County and the surrounding area. This new High School has been in the works for 5 years and will be ready for students in the Fall of 2022.”
An open-enrollment charter school, PCA was established in 1998. Since 1998 the school has been located in several locations throughout Lufkin. In 2005, the Board of Directors purchased the building at 602 South Raguet where the school is currently located.
PCA has grown tremendously over the years. They are thankful to have a trusting relationship with Angelina College and The Boys and Girls Club of East Texas. Because of these relationships, PCA has been able to utilize those facilities to accommodate their growing student population. In addition to using those facilities, they currently have 7 classrooms that are housed in portable buildings.
Last year PCA began the process of applying for bonds guaranteed through the Texas Permanent School Fund. Because of PCA’s solid financial history and academic success, PCA was rated and approved for Baa3 Investment Grade Bonds in the principal amount of $15,800,000. With this exciting news began the process to search for and partner with a Design Build Team to design and construct a new high school.
Design Build Teams from across the state presented their ideas and plans. In the end, the Board of Directors chose the Design Build Team of Goodwin, Lasiter, Strong and Timberline Construction. Both businesses are located in Lufkin.
Monica Gunter, Assistant Director, said, “It is an honor to be able to be a part of this building project. I began working at PCA in July 2010. At that time we had a total enrollment of 473 students. Today we have 993 students enrolled. Students, staff, and parents have waited patiently for this day and are very deserving of this new facility.”
The initial plans were to build the high school on 64 acres that had been previously purchased in 2019. Plans soon changed when the Lufkin Industries corporate building became available. PCA was able to purchase that building this past August and it will be the location for the new Pineywoods Community Academy High School.
Projects to be addressed with the bond package are the design and renovation of the new high school, removal of existing portable buildings, and construction of a new gymnasium and athletic complex that will be located on the 64 acres previously mentioned. The construction projects will be completed in phases. Phase 1 is the renovation of the high school, Phase 2 will be the removal of the portable buildings, and Phase 3 will be the construction of the gymnasium and athletic complex.
Yazmin Valdez, a PCA 11th Grader, says, “I think the new building will provide students the opportunity to oversee a new environment and will most likely increase the school spirit of PCA students. I think my siblings will enjoy creating new memories and maybe creating new PCA traditions.”
The new high school will include 20 classrooms, 3 science labs, cafeteria, District administration offices, and a Board of Directors conference room. The renovation is scheduled to be complete for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.