HARLINGEN — “Welcome, friends.”
Jubilee-Harlingen is extending that message to first responders with a special parking space set aside just for them.
“It is very important to Jubilee because our first responders are extremely important for our community, our parents, our students,” said Gabriel Trevino, assistant principal at Jubilee Harlingen at 123 Palm Court.
He and other school administrators gathered at the campus Friday morning to dedicate the parking space as a gesture of gratitude toward first responders. Police officers and firefighters regularly come into the school and speak with students — when there’s no pandemic raging outside.
“We always want our first responders to feel welcome at our campus,” said Tanya Perez, principal.
“We welcome them in for student presentations, we welcome them for Red Ribbon Week, just different things that we have going on,” Perez said. “We invite them out to talk to our students because I think the best way to have an authentic learning experience is to meet those people first-hand.”
Representatives of the Harlingen Police Department, Harlingen Fire Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and other agencies expressed their appreciation.
“Thank you all for having us here,” said Ralph Barrera of the Harlingen Fire Department.
“Us in the fire department and the police department, all we have ever strived to be for children is positive role models, to give them someone to look up to,” Barrera said. “We seem to reach a lot of the kids when we come over here and talk to them.”
With the pandemic, he and his fellow responders haven’t been able to come into the school lately, which they all regret, he said.
“We look forward to keep coming in the future, and keep coming and talking to the kids to do fire prevention,” he said. “Tanya Perez always gives us good feedback when we come over here.”
Harlingen Police Chief Michael Kester spoke of the connections many officers have with the community.
“Many of us grew up here, we went to schools here and we know the quality of schools we have here in Harlingen and throughout the Valley,” Kester said. “So having the spot here where the officers can stop in and visit with the kids and the administration, the teachers, is just a bonus for us. It gives us a place to come in and get to know the kids a little more and let the kids know the officers.”
Trevino said Jubilee-Harlingen currently enrolls 454 students, with 167 of those attending face-to-face learning.