Anticipation mounts as new fine arts building completion nears


Daniel Ornelas

The new fine arts building at El Paso High School is located east of the main campus along side Schuster and expected to open in the spring of 2022.

Deborah Sosa and Edith Prieto

A project that started in 2016 after the EPISD bond approved the construction of a new fine arts building for El Paso High School is finally coming to an end with the building set to open in the spring of 2022.

     The building was set to open in the spring of 2021, but was delayed due to COVID-19 setbacks and shortage of construction materials.

     “As a 106 year old building, there’s a very limited space, of course it’s nice to have a nice theater, but there’s never been classroom space for the theater in the past,”  Principal Mark Paz said.

     The new building was necessary in order to also accommodate the space for band, orchestra, choir and art groups that occupied smaller rooms, portables and some using space in the auditorium during class time.

     According to EPISD project news, the new building total budget is $19,478,383 and it’s 93 percent completed.

     “This centralizes all of those classrooms so the students really get a first class experience and get to showcase their talent or enhance their talent”, Mr. Paz said.

     He added that the age of the main campus had been an obstacle for the function of the groups.

     “I would think the first biggest benefit if it creates more space, I mean as a 106 year old building there’s a very limited space”, Mr. Paz said.

     That lack of space has been something students have been impacted for the better part of two years after being displaced due to ongoing construction.

     “The space that we’re in right now, we can’t really practice with the whole band. We’re in a spare classroom that they build. We can’t really do much,” sophomore band member Luciano Chafino said. “I’m just hoping that it’s going to be bigger.”

     Elijah Escobar, one of the art teachers, said he’s excited for the art creations they can do and how it is going to benefit the students and the teachers.

     “It’s going to benefit the fine arts teachers just because or simply because of the views and it’s going to benefit the students in that way too. On the second floor, it’s all surrounded by glass and you have windows everywhere,” Mr. Escobar said. “Views of the mountains, views of downtown overlooking El Paso, high  things like that. So it makes it like for the visual arts, we can do things like landscape drawing and things like that, that we couldn’t do before.”

Mr. Escobar added that he expects to have a different feel in the new building in contrast with the main building that’s over 100 years old.

“My expectations just for everything to actually work on all the electrical to work. I know in this old building here, I mean, one there’s not gonna be any ghosts in the new building,” Mr. Escobar said jokingly. “So far, but two, I know there’s a lot of electrical problems in this building here, the current and in the new one. Everything should be working. Everything is going to be modernized. It’s going to have a more modern feel to it. Not necessarily the historical feel, but a modern feel to it and honestly just can’t wait to see how it inspires the students to create an art.”

The anticipated wait for the completion of the building is being received with a sigh of relief for administration, teachers and students alike, primarily those who were affected the most by the relocation of their classrooms.

“It was really disappointing because we were promised the room at a certain time…It just displaced a lot of teachers and a lot of students and it’s still really hard, our room is too small for our ensemble,” orchestra director, Mr. Eric Rangel said.

The same sentiment was shared by Luciano who’s been waiting since he first arrived to EPHS.

“I’ve been waiting for this building for two years. I remember when I first came here and I saw it and wondered, ‘Oh that’s the new fine arts building, when is it going to be built so we can go into it,’ Luciano said. “Now it’s been two years and I’m still waiting.”