McALLEN — In a sort of pep-rally, current and former students, teachers and staff of Abraham Lincoln Middle School gathered at the school’s basketball court Thursday afternoon to bid farewell to the campus as the home of many generations of Scotties.
Teachers and staff sported grey T-shirts with big green and gold letters that read, “Once a Scottie, always a Scottie, 1966-2018,” as they recognized teachers with long tenures and watched their children perform in the cheerleading squads and orchestra. And many of those who also called it home shared memories with about 400 attendees of all ages, who were in some way or another related to the Lincoln family.
“I represent the very, very, very first class that ever attended Lincoln,” former board trustee Hilda Garza-DeShazo told the audience. “We were the ones that chose the Scottie as a mascot. We were the ones that chose the green and gold as our colors. We were the ones that wrote the school song and the fight song. … The real reason that we wanted the Scotties is because there were more girls than boys in our class, and we girls wanted to wear the little Scottish skits and look cute.”
As per a recent decision by the McAllen school district board of trustees, the campus will begin the 2018-19 school year as the new home for Achieve Early College High School. Students who are still coursing middle school will be sent to De Leon, Travis and Fossum, while teachers and staff will also be reassigned within the district.
A visibly emotional and teary-eyed Principal Maribelle Elizondo said she has tried to keep the message positive for her entire Lincoln family — composed of students, parents, teachers and staff — as not everyone was happy with the change. But it was the parents who thought about the event and put it together, she said, as one last big celebration open to the entire community.
“Everywhere I go I either meet somebody that worked here or they came to school here,” Elizondo said. “That is a legacy in itself … I’m just proud that I’m here and I know it’s bittersweet and it’s hard, but I’m glad that I was the one that will be the last principal of Lincoln Middle School. That’s an honor.”
Former principals were present on Thursday including Rosalinda Martinez, who led the campus as principal for 20 years — from 1990 to 2011 — before her retirement.
“It’s such a great honor to be back to my campus,” Martinez said. “Lincoln was my passion. I loved coming to work every single day for 20 years. … We all know that change is inevitable; it’s going to happen. It’s exciting that we have a new legacy that is going to begin with Achieve Early College High School, and even though it is bittersweet, I think some of our Scotties might end up coming back.”
Superintendent Jose Gonzalez also had a beginning of sorts at Lincoln, he recalled, as the campus was home to his first administrative position as assistant principal under Martinez between 1999 and 2003.
“I’ve been with the district for 20 years, and some of the best years of my career have been here at Lincoln,” Gonzalez told the audience. “I learned a lot as a Lincoln Scottie. I learned the importance of working hard. I learned the importance of having pride in what you do. I learned the importance of never giving up.”
The good news about this efficiency-oriented move, he said during an interview, is that the campus gets to stay within the district as “Early College High School at Lincoln.”
All of her staff and teachers have already been placed within the district, Elizondo said, it is only her and her leadership teams that will be assigned until the end of the year. Her position, which she has held for the last three years, and that of her assistant principals might change, she said, as they will be placed in either same role in other campuses or in other administrative positions.
And while uncertainty might not be easy to handle, she said she has faith that her and her entire team will land in good places.
“Right not it’s focused in enjoying every single moment that we have here together as a family,” she said. “I’m at peace with it, because no matter if I’m a principal at another campus, I’m going to be impacting different kids and different staffs. Or if I’m in a totally different field out of leadership as a principal, I know I’m going to make a difference there because that’s who I am.”