School district opens Media Arts and Communications Academy

HARLINGEN — It seemed a star-studded attraction, complete with a red carpet visit by city and school district officials.

“This is historic,” said Harlingen school board president George McShan as he walked into the new Media Arts and Communications Academy, or MACA.

“This is a great day for the Harlingen school district,” he said. “We are doing some exciting things.”

McShan was speaking with Raven Montalvo, 17, a student at MACA. Raven was interviewing local dignitaries as they arrived for a ribbon-cutting Tuesday marking the official opening of the new Academy.

The MACA is one of about five “Academies” that are part of the Harlingen school district’s Strategic Plan.

The MACA is teaching students how to operate a television station and a radio station. They’re also learning graphic arts to produce advertisements and fliers.

“We are going to get a lot of experience here in the MACA, read for the future,” said Raven between interviews.

Soon long-time school board member Gerry Fleuriet came by.

“I am absolutely delighted to be here today,” said Fleuriet, stopping on the way in for a quick interview with Raven.

“We’re celebrating this part of the transformational journey in the Harlingen school district,” she said.

Superintendent Art Cavazos said the work being done at the Academy — news coverage and graphic design — offer students another opportunity for authentic learning.

“It’s an opportunity for them to be college and career ready and give them opportunities for the 4Cs,” he said.

Authentic learning is another crucial element of the district’s Strategic Plan as are the 4Cs: Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking and Collaboration.

“Academics are hard skills and then those are the soft skills,” he said. “We are educating our children to be well-rounded.”

McShan emphasized the importance of teaching not only academics but character.

“We want our students to have a strong moral compass,” he said.