Although it may be hard to tell from the outside, the new Blocker Middle School in Texas City ISD will be fully operational for the first day of school Aug. 25.

Incoming seventh- and eighth-grade students will be able to familiarize themselves with their new school at orientations before classes begin. The seventh-grade orientation will be from 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Aug. 19, and the eighth-grade orientation will be from 7 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. on the same day.

Parents and the community will be able to tour the school between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. during a dedication ceremony and open house on Sept. 7. 

The new Blocker is a replacement school of the current building, which was built on 14th Avenue in 1948 as Texas City High School. When a larger school was built on Ninth Avenue for Texas City High School in 1958, the former Texas City High School became Blocker Junior High School. It was named for W. R. “Uncle Bill” Blocker, who served as the high school principal from 1920 until his death in 1944. 

Once again, Blocker Middle School takes over a location formerly occupied by Texas City High School. The difference in 2014, though, is that the majority of the school is a brand new facility.

The two-story academic wing, library and offices are all new construction. The existing cafeteria, band hall and gyms were extensively renovated. The auditorium had significant upgrades in lighting and sound. This will increase the usability of the auditorium, which benefits the entire community. 

Principal Julie Southworth really wanted the school to be a learning facility within the building. Parts of the building have exposed ceilings so students can see the mechanical and electrical work. There are window cutouts in the mechanical room and computer room so students can see what it takes to operate and maintain a building like this. It’s a unique feature we think the students will enjoy.

In addition, the building features a beautiful courtyard set up so classes can meet there for lessons or demonstrations. Raised gardening beds have also been installed so the school’s Garden Club can continue its planting and harvesting it started as a joint project with its former neighbor St. George’s Episcopal Church. 

The academic wing is two stories. The seventh grade will have classes on the first floor, and the eighth grade classes will be on the second floor. Their counselor and assistant principal offices will be in their respective areas for easy accessibility.

The school has the pod concept similar to Kohfeldt Elementary and Levi Fry Intermediate which both opened in 2009. It is a teacher-friendly campus by design. Each pod houses two teams made up of English, math, science and social studies teachers. Each pod has its own work room and conference room. The square footage from the old Blocker to the new Blocker is about the same, but the usability is better for today’s instruction and learning style.

So, mark your calendar for Sept. 7 so you can check out the new building for yourself.

Melissa Tortorici is the Director of Communications for Texas City ISD.

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