BOWIE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Writer: Eileen Mattei
Article from: Experience HCISD Magazine Spring 2013
Originally known as South Ward School, the grammar school built on Lincoln Street in 1928 soon acquired the nickname La Escuela de Las Viboras due to its architectural design. Brightly colored snakes and elements of Mayan, Toltec and Aztec cultures predominated in the cast concrete façade created by Harlingen artist Luis Lopez Sanchez. Snakes symbolize wisdom and knowledge: Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, brought reading, writing and math to the people of Mexico. Aztecs used the "speech bubble" in their art.
The elementary school, renamed in 1935 for Texas hero James Bowie in anticipation of the Texas Centennial, is the oldest Harlingen school building still in use.
Generations of students eagerly learned times tables, cursive writing and state capitals at Bowie, just as students do now. Yet what they recalled vividly were the field trips to the Rainbo and Holsum bakeries. "They would give each of us a mini-loaf of fresh baked bread, a ruler and a Rainbo paper tent hat, as well. We always loved getting to go to that place." Phillip sharp said.
In the days before air conditioning, students looked forward to outside recess, too, and the time to use the swings or play tag and dodge ball.
Bowie was so overcrowded at one point students were bussed to Bonham. Several years after the school board closed elementary campuses in 1973, Bowie gained a new cafeteria and air conditioning.
Outside classrooms were enclosed in the 1980s. During a 1990s remodel, Principal Susan Salinas saw work crews uncover brick chimneys that had been hidden behind walls for years, she said. Later, long-buried sidewalks surfaced during construction preparation. further additions brought a music room and stage to Bowie along with an extension of the original mural.
Indeed, the wisdom implied by the Escuela de Las Viboras motif has been displayed in Bowie Elementary School's Exemplary ratings in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 (the state did not release rating scores in 2013). Above and beyond that, Bowie has been placed in the top four percent of Texas schools by the Texas Business and Education Coalition (TBEC) ratings. Based on test score improvement, Bowie has won the TBEC award five years in a row beginning in 2007 and is the only Harlingen school to achieve the honor.
Every grade level at Bowie has at least one garden. All 370 students participate in the hands-on life science program that lets them work in separate gardens planted and salsa ingredients, as well as flowers. Additionally, a small pond allows students to observe the life cycles of tadpoles.
All students participate in college days and other fun activities set to prepare them for the long academic journey that lies ahead in middle school. high school and college. With a history of strong leadership and a beautiful campus, Bowie Elementary is sure to remain a bright spot on the South-side of Harlingen.