Union Park Elementary School
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District opens with Newest School at Capacity, Celebrates Replacement Campuses
A longtime hotspot for student growth in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Denton ISD posted the district’s highest student registration numbers, 32,309 pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students, as campuses opened for the 2021-22 school year.
Situated in the ninth-fastest growing county in the United States with an average annual growth rate of 3.2 percent, Denton ISD has consistently ranked among the top 10 districts in the number of new home starts and closures for the past five years. That growth has led to the district averaging at least one new school opening since 2008.
“Coming off a year of challenges, we were extremely excited to see everyone in-person as well as launch our new virtual academy,” said Dr. Jamie Wilson, superintendent of schools. “We are all really focused on teaching, learning and re-establishing relationships this school year, especially in our areas of fast growth.”
Union Park Elementary, the district’s 24th campus for kindergarten through fifth graders, opened beyond capacity welcoming 927 students. The campus opened in 2019 in the far eastern portion of the district, and to address the explosive growth Denton ISD is currently constructing Sandbrock Ranch Elementary in an adjacent neighborhood. The 25th elementary will open in 2022.
Denton ISD opened one of the state’s only K-8 virtual academies with 307 students and 28 staff members. Enrollment was based on family interest through an application process last spring. At this time, only students who reside within the district’s boundaries can attend and on a space-available basis.
Across town, replacement campuses for Strickland Middle School and Wilson Elementary opened, offering families a new experience in familiar locations.
Built on the same site, Shultz Elementary replaced Wilson, which was built in 1959. The new school is a two-story anchor for a well-established Denton neighborhood and was renamed for the generous donor of the original property, Ms. Nette Schultz, an agriculture extension agent who believed in education.
“My father, Rick Coleman, started second grade at Wilson in 1959,” said Jenifer Haught, parent. “Dropping off my kindergartener, Jameson, today is a 'full circle' moment for my family. We could not be more proud to have him attend this school renamed for such an amazing woman.”
The re-opening of Strickland Middle School, built-in 1968, on the same site has been 24-months in the making. Students have been shifting in and out of temporary buildings over the past two years as new structures have been erected around old areas. The classic auditorium received a complete restoration, a facility that will now be highly coveted for its amazing acoustics, grand stage, and improved lighting and sound systems.
“As I start my 15th year as principal at Strickland, I can’t remember a better first day,” said Kathleen Carmona, a 35-year veteran educator. “Just watching our families come in this morning and marvel at the technology, collaborative spaces and new features has been amazing.”
The thrill of seeing old friends in new places and getting back into the groove of learning about a favorite subject was enough for students, and parents seemed eager to get their children back into the classroom.
“My kindergartener was not sad at all,” added Ms. Haught, as she was wiping away tears. “I have way more anxiety about this than he does. This is a great school with very supportive teachers and we know this is going to be a great year.”