Youth center takes place of closed TUSD school
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Since 1939, Wakefield Middle School served as a place where students could learn and grow. But when it made the list of schools TUSD would close, that legacy would soon come to a end.
Until Higher Ground stepped in, with plans to turn the historic school into a community youth center.
"This building has been serving generations of students," says Jansen Azarias, founder of Higher Ground. "We have students in our program whose primary reason for being here is that their parents and their grandparents went to this school. Our program is their only opportunity to continue that tradition."
And it just so happens that the youth center was about to lose its space as well. The center offers things like after school tutoring, Jiu Jitsu, dance classes and sports.
They also help families with emotional and financial needs. Jansen says by moving into the school, they hope to offer those services to even more families.
But its not just the after school program that gets saved, it's the legacy.
"That's why we choose not to change the name Wakefield," says Azarias. "To us, we want to respect the history of this building."
Named after Arizona's first female teacher, this school meant a lot to the neighborhood. David Flores has lived down the street since 1960 and says he worried the school would remain empty.
"I was afraid eventually someone would break in and start using it as a dump site," he said. you "A lot of the schools you see throughout Tucson are now being vacated. [Jansen] could be the prototype for taking all these middle schools throughout the city and making them neighborhood service centers. It's a win win situation."
Jansen says they plan to display Wakefield's history on one wall and Higher Ground's history on the other.
Two histories coming together, for one bright future.
The new youth center will hold an open house this Friday, September 27. The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the school, located at 101 W. 44th Street. Anyone is welcome to attend and meet the staff.
More information about Higher Ground, and how to enroll your student in the program can be found on its website, or by just dropping in between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.