Guadalupe last day of school

McKenzie McNutt, a first-grade student, slides on the playground during the last week of school festivities at Guadalupe Elementary School.

A light morning breeze swept through the maize field that surrounded Guadalupe Elementary School on Wednesday morning as students raced on scooters and stilts.

The students all cheered for each other throughout the field competitions, which brought a smile to Principal Laura Longoria’s face.

“All the kids are so supportive of each other. It’s a family atmosphere here – the kids are like brothers and sisters,” Longoria said. “It’s been a blessing to be chosen to be the principal here, the best little school.”

The last week of school has been emotional for the three Victoria school district elementary schools that will soon close.

March 21, the Victoria school board decided in a 5-2 vote to move forward with the recommendations from the efficiency and resource management task force to merge several campuses. The task force, which is one component of the Designing Our Future Task Forces recommended closing Guadalupe, William Wood and F.W. Gross elementary schools to help the district save money.

The students who attended the schools will now be sent to Dudley, O’Connor, Hopkins and Aloe schools.

This is the second time in almost 30 years that Guadalupe and William Wood schools have closed. In July 1990, the two campuses were closed as part of budget-cutting measures for the district.

Stephanie Tumlinson, a parent at Guadalupe Elementary School, said she is sad to see the school close again. Tumlinson attended the school as well as her three sons. One of her sons, Brenham, will attend Dudley next year.

“It’s been very emotional here this week. Everyone is like family here, and being out here has been a real nice experience,” Tumlinson said. “All the parents are involved also.”

Kadence Alebis, who will be in second grade next year, said she enjoyed her last week at Guadalupe.

“We went to the school (Dudley) and I thought it was interesting because it is shaped like a horseshoe,” Kadence, 7, said. “I’m excited to make new friends.”

Melissa Rubio, who was the fourth-grade teacher, said the students at Guadalupe are sweet, respectful and keep her on her toes. Rubio has been a teacher for four years, and enjoyed being able to see her students grow and move from classroom to classroom.

Rubio said she has spent time packing up her classroom. The teacher’s move-out day is Friday. Rubio said she will transfer to Dudley Elementary, where the majority of the Guadalupe school kids will transfer to beginning next year.

“You open the door to your class – and there’s only one hall in the school – so you get to see all the students grow,” Rubio said. “I’ve enjoyed my time out here for sure.”

William Wood Elementary hosted its last awards ceremony in the school gymnasium Thursday morning. Families packed the room of the century-old campus to cheer on the students for all of their accomplishments.

Each child received a bag of school supplies for next year, provided by the WoodHi Benefit Club, a group of parents and community members who raise funds for the school. The club also provided the students with days of field trips, food and games for their last week at the school.

Parent Alicia Rodriguez waited for her two children to receive their awards for the year. She is still upset that the school is closing. Students from Wood Elementary will attend O’Connor Elementary.

“I’m sad. I love this school – it’s a very good school with great teachers,” Rodriguez said.

Leslie Peralez is also heartbroken over the merger. Peralez has a first-grade student and a third-grade student and she is withdrawing her children from the district. The two children will attend the Industrial school district next year, she said.

“It’s more of a small family here than a school. That’s what has been so hard about everything that has happened,” Peralez said. “The teachers here have been wonderful. They go above and beyond for these children.”

Principal Katherine Schuelke made sure to take photos with each student who asked her for one. Schuelke has been with the school for six years and said she was glad to be able to see the graduating fifth-grade class grow. She also appreciates the help of the club of parents and community members who have supported the school for years.

Schuelke said she is not sure where the district plans to place her next year.

“They have done so much to support the teachers and children of this school. We couldn’t have done so much without them,” Schuelke said.

The last fifth-grade class to graduate from F.W. Gross Elementary had a special ceremony Thursday afternoon for the teachers and parents. Each student received a gift bag from the First United Methodist Church when they received their awards for the year.

After the awards ceremony, the students sang versions of “7 Years Old” by Lukas Graham and “Good Riddance” by Green Day.

Laura Garcia, whose daughter Analia Salazar spoke to the school board to reconsider closing the school, said she is still sad to see the school close but thinks Hopkins Elementary will be a good place for her two children to attend next year.

“We went to Hopkins and every one was really welcoming – it was like home,” Garcia said.

Garcia’s son, Miguel Salazar, is part of the last fifth-grade class to graduate from F.W. Gross. Miguel said the students went on a field trip to NASA this week and have enjoyed their time together.

Though it’s sad that no more kids will be able to graduate from the school, he said, he is remaining positive.

“I have all my friends from here, and it is going to be really special to do this all together,” Miguel said. “Our teachers have been nice, and I hope to see all my friends next year.”

Amber Aldaco reports on education for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at or 361-580-6303.

Education Reporter

Amber Aldaco is the education reporter at the Victoria Advocate. She's covered various events in the Crossroads including a zoo rescue, a biker funeral and a state meeting with the governor. She enjoys singing with her significant other.