New San Perlita ISD Elementary Opens its Doors

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SAN PERLITA – A new elementary school opened its doors in a qualifying small school district in the Rio Grande Valley.

Traveling east for about nine miles from Raymondville, one will find themselves in San Perlita. The population is about 500.

It’s mostly a farming community surrounded by giant windmills. It has its own history, fire station and community center. But the heart of it all is the San Perlita Independent School District. All grade levels are on one campus.  

San Perlita ISD Superintendent Albert Pena said there’s just something about the city.

“My wife and I moved here from Laredo. In 1994, I was hired to be the math teacher and coach junior high basketball,” he said.

It was 23 years ago, and this year the pride and joy is their new elementary school. It opened up a while ago in September.

“It’s over 1,200 square feet. It has nine classrooms, including a computer and science lab, and we moved all our students from Pre-K through 5th grade into this beautiful new building,” Pena said.

Laurie Kilbourn, the elementary school principal, said San Perlita is family.

“We’re very proud of our new elementary building,” she said.

The current school got a new gym a few years back with an intimidating mural. The old gym is being not wasted, it’s being renovated for other school use.

Everybody seems to talk about how this just feels like family.

“Actually, it’s very comforting for me coming back home to service our students here, just giving them a piece of education that I learned,” first grade teacher Kayle Salazar said.

“The school here is a great family. Kids are very motivated. The community is very involved,” secondary principal Adrian Montemayor said.

In 1934, there were nine graduates, last year there were 24 and this year there’s 18 seniors.

“I said my goal is to have every single senior graduate with something. I want them to have a plan,” Crystal Rodriguez, the school district’s counselor, said.

One would think there’s not a lot of money for scholarships in such a small community, but they are mistaken.

“We ended up at about, I want to say, $880,000. We had 24 seniors and every single senior graduated with a minimum of one scholarship. We had our first annual scholarship banquet last year, and when we announced the grand total we got a standing ovation. And that felt amazing,” Rodriguez said.

It may be small but there’s a lot of pride in San Perlita. 

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