Students at Guy C. Hutcheson Junior High School are looking forward to an exciting summer away from classes, of course, but signs of bigger changes are already looming for their long-lived school.
Opened 52 years ago as the original Sam Houston High School, the campus quickly became known as “Hutch” to students, staff and the east Arlington neighborhood when the high school moved to its present quarters at 2101 Browning Drive in 1970.
Now, the library materials are being packed away in boxes destined for Workman Junior High School to the south. A community goodbye program for the old Hutch-Sam Houston building was last week.
“Hutch” will close at the end of the semester — Friday is the last day of classes — and work will begin right away to demolish the building. The district’s new $46 million Career and Technical Center will be built there, with an opening date set for summer 2017.
In the fall, Hutcheson students will attend Workman, which will have space for them since the Newcomer Center and Venture High School are moving from Workman to the current Ferguson Junior High School.
Inelda Acosta, principal at Hutcheson for a year, will move with the students and become principal at Workman in the fall semester. The majority of Hutch teachers will be going, too.
It will be a sad moment to say goodbye to Hutch, she said, but more than that, a proud one in 2017 when the district opens the state-of-the-art career tech facility in east Arlington. Students will come from all of Arlington’s high schools to take classes there.
“Our school community here will be able to enhance all sections of our district,” Acosta said. “And we need that.”
Hutch students will find enhanced opportunities at Workman, she said, including new Spanish and French classes and five new technical programs.
Acosta, an Austin native and Baylor graduate, has spent all but seven years of her educational career in east Arlington schools. She was principal at Crow Elementary and assistant principal at Carter Junior High, and began teaching third grade at Roark Elementary, where she also did student teaching. Her one assignment elsewhere was seven years at Shackelford Junior High in north Arlington.
Jannette Workman, a longtime Hutcheson history teacher, was in the school library this month doing some research in preparation for her speech at the community goodbye program.
She was also there to make sure the big Texas Sesquicentennial medallion made in 1986 by her students was in no danger of being razed along with the building.
The red, white and blue tile mosaic hangs in the school foyer.
“Every night I’d go home and break up those tiles with a hammer,” she said, “and every student that came into my room would put a piece into the logo.
“I’ve volunteered my garage in case they need a place to store it,” Workman said.
After teaching at Carter, Nichols and Ousley junior highs, Workman opened Hutcheson in 1970 as history department chairwoman and stayed until 1996.
“My most famous student was Vernon Wells, who signed with the Toronto Blue Jays after he graduated,” Workman recalled. “When he came to play the Rangers one time, he autographed a baseball for me.”
Beth Dixon Zimmerman, an instructional coach at Hutcheson, attended school there from 1985 through ’88 and worked on the medallion in Workman’s class.
Zimmerman’s job involves helping teachers in their instructional planning and gathering resource materials. She taught at Crow while Acosta was there.
Zimmerman recalled some of the fun dress-up days and other activities at Hutch in those days.
When it came to a campus tour, Zimmerman refused to enter the band hall with the group.
It was one of her special places. She played oboe, “and I’d rather remember it as it was then,” Zimmerman said.
Longtimers in the faculty are trying to keep focused on the future.
“We’ve been preparing for the move for about a year now, said Shelley Bulin, a Texas history teacher at Hutcheson whose classroom is the same one where she student-taught more than 28 years ago.
“Still,” Bulin said, “I’m sure the last day will be pretty emotional.”