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PSJA alumni reminisce during Jefferson Centennial celebrations

PHARR – Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD welcomed alumni from as early as the 1930s to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its first high school located on Business 83 in Pharr. The school, which was recently renovated to preserve its historic status and is now the home of the district’s first early college campus, PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School. Centennial celebrations began with a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by a once-in-a lifetime evening celebration Dec. 3. Cutting


During the centennial festivities, PSJA school district officials, current and former staff members, alumni of all ages and teachers celebrated and reminisced on the past and shared their future goals. In addition, attendees toured the campus and viewed special alumni memorabilia on display.


According Olivia Robie, a 1958 PSJA graduate, she was happy to relive old memories and was glad to see how the district has evolved since she graduated.


“The event was beautiful,” said Robie, who donated personal memorabilia to the school district. “I attended school here and have a lot of memories. I was involved in cheerleading and I was a Bearette. I love what the Superintendent and School Board have done. My children all came to PSJA and are all educated, PSJA has done good by our children. I am a proud alum.”


Since it was built in 1915, the Jefferson Building has served many generations, as the tri-city area's first high school, a middle school and a ninth grade campus. Due to the significance of the Jefferson Building, PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM ECHS Principal Virna M. Bazan said she is grateful for the opportunity to continue educating generations of students and representing the innovative school district.


“PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School is the lighthouse of PSJA,” proudly said Bazan of her state-of-the-art campus. “This school building has played a key role in educating generation after generation of students from Pharr, San Juan and Alamo. Students here at PSJA Thomas Jefferson are already productive members of society. I want to assure you that our future looks bright thanks to these wonderful students. The 100 years to come are filled with excellence and we will not let you down.”


All proceeds from ticket sales for the Jefferson Centennial Ball went to benefit PSJA T.  Jefferson T-STEM ECHS student scholarships. Attendees received a special antique gold commemorative coin keychain as a gift. A limited amount of commemorative centennial coin key chains are still available for a $20 donation.


For more information on the festivities or obtaining a coin, you may contact the PSJA Public Relations Department at 956-354-2027.


First built in 1915, the historic building was first known as Pharr-San Juan Public School and was part of Common School District No. 4, with an enrollment of 143 students in first through 11th grade. Over the years, as the school district grew and evolved, the building took on many names which included: Pharr-San Juan High School and Junior High, 1925; PSJ High School, 1949; PSJA High School, 1959; Thomas Jefferson Junior High School, 1961; Jefferson East/West Junior High School, 1966; Jefferson Ninth Grade School, 1978; PSJA Ninth, 1978; Memorial Junior High and Memorial Middle School, 1979.   


Today the building, which was given a historical marker in 1986, has been the home of PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School since 2012.