The morning of February 3, Chávez Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy is set to start another exciting new project in Pueblo’s west side. Together, we will break ground on the eagerly anticipated permanent middle school to be attached to Dolores Huerta Preparatory High School, hosting a ceremony to celebrate.
It seems like yesterday that we were breaking ground on the Ersilia Cruz Transitional Middle School, which Nunn completed in July 2022. Through our continued relationship with the passionate staff at CHPA, we have shared the honor of participating in the recent growth of Pueblo’s west side and investment in new infrastructure supporting their community.
One of our best vantage points has been through our experience building the Ersilia Cruz Transitional Middle School. This school is just a small part of an exciting, ongoing growth unfolding in Pueblo, centered on CHPA’s mission to provide engaging education balanced with keeping alive tradition through lively mariachi music and dancing. While expansion means growth for CHPA, it also means unity in vision and continuing the charter school system’s enduring appreciation for Pueblo heritage.
INVESTING IN CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE
The current Ersilia Cruz Transitional Middle School will become the new facility for César Chávez Academy, once the upcoming permanent BEST grant funded middle school is complete. CHPA funded construction for Ersilia Cruz Transitional Middle School through 2007 bonds that also funded the construction of Dolores Huerta Preparatory High School.
Upgrading to a permanent building had been an eagerly anticipated achievement. According to Jack Bay, CHPA chief business officer, 98 percent of the middle school had previously been taught in a modular village of temporary buildings.
“Parents should expect to see a quality education for their students,” Jack told the Pueblo Chieftain at the school’s groundbreaking. “The design is very flexible so we can adapt as educational needs change.”
Ersilia Cruz Transitional Middle School was built on the north side of West 18th Street, another step to a comprehensive K-12 campus on one parcel. Pueblo received funding from the federal government in 2021 to help extend West 18th Street, connecting it with Pueblo Boulevard. This extension project improves traffic and provides better response times for emergency services.
“The West Side was actually annexed into the city in 1968. I came here seven years later and believe me, there hasn’t been a lot of activity on the West Side as far as infrastructure support,” said Jack. “This area is going to become a major hotbed. But we need to have infrastructure in there as well.”
Some other upcoming developments in west side Pueblo include an extension of Joe Martinez boulevard and energy-efficient county jail with its own infirmary, aiming to relieve pressure on the local healthcare system.
“This area is going to become a major hotbed. But we need to have infrastructure in there as well.”
PRESERVING AND CELEBRATING CULTURE
According to United States Census Bureau data, Pueblo County comprises a 41.6% Hispanic and Latino population. CHPA embraces their students’ backgrounds, laying a foundation for a diverse and vibrant campus community to flourish.
Mariachi Águila, an advanced mariachi performance group, includes middle and high school students taught by instructor Jorge Melo. “We really love mariachi music in Pueblo,” said Jorge during an interview with KRCC. “It’s a unique thing, we have it in our roots. It doesn’t matter if we are called Chicanos, or we cannot even speak Spanish. It’s part of the culture.”
Ersilia Cruz Transitional Middle School provided the space needed for Pueblo’s cultural traditions to not only continue but evolve. The new school also allowed for an expanded art program, which opened opportunities for more mariachi classes, performing arts, and folklórico, Mexican folk dancing. Great buildings inspire innovation, advancing community. Ersilia Cruz Transitional Middle School and CHPA have demonstrated how they support theirs.
Looking ahead, CHPA is planning to offer numerous career opportunities for students. On the horizon: an addition of Future Farmers of America and a partnership with the Civil Air Patrol, which will allow high school students to receive pilot licenses and drone certifications.
We are looking forward to working with CHPA and CRP Architects on the BEST grant funded addition to create the new ECMS and renovation of Dolores Huerta Preparatory High School, which faces the same familiar hurdle students met before construction of the transitionary middle school: modulars.
“Our whole goal is to get rid of modulars,” Jack said to the Pueblo Chieftain. “They are modular, temporary buildings. Well, they have been temporary for 22 years. I think our time has come.”
We think so, too. We’re thrilled to see CHPA leading the way and witness these exciting developments emerging in Pueblo’s west side.