HARLINGEN — A colorful mariachi, a jazz band and a greeting in French, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language welcomed guests to Vernon Middle School.

To kick-off Texas Public Schools Week, the new World Languages Academy at Vernon held a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday morning.

Mayor Chris Boswell, Superintendent Art Cavazos and school board members were in attendance to celebrate the occasion.

“I did not understand any of what these students were saying. It’s a good thing they are all smarter than I am. That is where we need to be,” Boswell said during his remarks.

“What a great school district the city of Harlingen has. All three of my children went to public school here in Harlingen and have all graduated from college,” he said.

Boswell said the education they received prepared them to succeed in the real world.

“The diversity you find in a public school is really the real world, and it helps you get where you need to be. The kind of student you need to be in college or technical [school] or the kind of life-long learner you need to be,” he said.

Boswell said HCISD had the best school board in the state of Texas and added Harlingen was thriving.

“You can never underestimate the value of public schools in a community and the impact it makes in bringing new doctors, new businesses and seeing the possibilities of developing industries because we have such a great pipeline,” he said.

Boswell mentioned the partnership with UTRGV for an early college high school.

“You are going to be able to complete two years of college education before leaving high school. We’ve partnered on to make history,” Boswell said.

Built in 1929, Vernon Middle School was originally one of the first high schools built in Harlingen.

In 1958, the school became a middle school, which was named in 1959 after Julia Vernon, a well loved English teacher and librarian.

Gerry Fleuriet, HCISD Board Secretary, gave a speech to remind board members, students and teachers of the legacy the school carries.

As an alumna, she said she remembered walking down the halls and told tales of the days when she was a student herself.

Fleuriet also said the school’s architecture resembles the White House East Wing, which was designed by architect Roscoe Dewitt, who designed both.

In his remarks, Cavazos described his childhood and the hardships his family endured to provide an education to him and his siblings.

“With the highest hopes she puts them in a morning bus and wishes them the very best and sends them off to school,” Cavazos said about his mother.

“There were times she would wake up early enough to say her morning prayers and try herself to welcome her kids every morning and tell them, ‘things will get better,’” he said.

Cavazos said he has five other siblings and three of them have a doctorate degree in education.

“HCISD parents should be excited every morning to send their children to Harlingen public schools. Wake up with confidence in knowing that in this school district, we have certified teachers waiting for their children every morning,” Cavazos said.