Steven Chapman Freddie Villalon Kino Flores Nora Gutierrez Corina Madruga

From left to right, Tolleson Elementary School District board members Devin Del Palacio, Steven Chapman, Vice President Freddie Villalon, Dr. Kino Flores, Superintendent Nora Gutierrez and President Corina Madruga. 

Students, parents, staff and Chasse Building Team officials gathered at Desert Oasis Elementary School in July for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honor of the school’s latest expansion: A new two-story building equipped with classrooms; science, art and IT rooms; and a gymnasium.

The 33,000-square-foot facility, which was funded by a voter-approved bond and constructed by Chasse Building Team, would not be possible without the community’s support, said Lupita Ley Hightower, Tolleson Elementary School District (TESD) superintendent.

“I’m so happy that your parents and this amazing community said, ‘Yes, let’s build this building.’ The community always comes and supports us. I’m so grateful for each one of you,” Hightower told attendees. “I am beyond thrilled that you’re going to have this facility, so you can continue to live your dreams for the future.”

The building, which houses seventh and eighth graders as of August 5, features innovative learning spaces that will complement the curriculum and programs on campus, Hightower told the West Valley View.

“We have a STEAM focus — science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. We have an award-winning band program at Desert Oasis. We have an outstanding physical education teacher. The instruction, overall, with the new middle school building — it means a lot,” she said.

Desert Oasis Principal Claudia Espinoza said the gymnasium — which features bleachers, six adjustable basketball backboards and a multi-use stage — is going to change the game for students who play outside in different weather conditions.

“It was rough in the heat, in the rain, in the cold. I think it’s going to allow the kids to do more. We can have sports after school here on our campus instead of going to other schools. We can be hosts,” Espinoza said. “They’re going to be super excited.”

And Eva Gomez, who works with the school’s mariachi band, said the stage, which is connected to a music storage room, will serve as the band’s new classroom.

“A bigger spot for the advanced mariachi to be able to perform; the space for all the kids; even just the sound system is really going to help them with their performances. I’m excited,” Gomez said.

It’s that kind of growth that Chasse Building Team envisioned when it broke ground on the new facility last September, said Fred Bueler, Chasse Building Team project director.

“The support from you guys culminates as students and staff are able to occupy this building,” Bueler said. “Occupy it for a place of inspiration, collaboration, for learning, for amazing musical performances and to utilize this gem for activities to continue to grow and develop the students of your community.”