Dyess Elementary School Officially Takes Flight

Category: K12 Education

Written By: Valerie Edgren

Date: September 9, 2021

Dyess Elementary School Officially Takes Flight cover image

Guests from the Dyess Independent School District, Dyess Air Force Base, Parkhill, and others helped celebrate Dyess Elementary School with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

An aging elementary campus led to a bond election to create a new facility, said David Young, Abilene ISD superintendent.

“Dyess Elementary has been a part of Abilene ISD for a long time, but this is our first year as we opened this new building that's been beautifully designed for us by Parkhill and built by Collier Construction. Dyess represents an incredible collaboration between the city of Abilene, Dyess Air Force Base, and the Abilene Independent School District,” he said.

Among the school's unique features are 21st-Century design and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) focuses, said Chad Drake, principal of Dyess Elementary School.

Parkhill Architect Ruppert Rangel, AIA, said this project brings Abilene another team-teaching 21st century school with six “neighborhoods” and an open hub area for teaching. The principal and superintendent emphasized that feature.

“We have several STEM features that are unique to our campus. We have a maker space and a little Lego room that kids can go in and explore, and really, our whole library STEM area is a totally different take on what we've been used to,” Drake said.

Young added, “Inside, you'll see all kinds of just engaging from Legos to little robotics things to light boards to raceways that just make this campus even more special.”

An aviation theme is another unique aspect of the school, including a runway painted on the main sidewalk that continues through the cafeteria, graphics of the school's namesake Lt. Col. William Dyess, and many elements depicting flight, Young said. An existing F-104 Phantom will be moved to a new location as part of Parkhill’s design.

A majority of Dyess Elementary School students are militarily connected, Young added.

“This campus represents the very best of community in Abilene. If you were standing here at the start of the school day, you would see parents in uniform walking their kids to school. It's a very special place. The military parents would tell you that the connective tissue between the school and the base is very, very strong. So that, to me, is what community is,” Young said.

“Ruppert is part of our community," he added. "Every step of the way has been a very engaging and professional process."