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La Joya ISD opens first school-owned water park in state of Texas

After four years of planning, the La Joya Independent School District opened its Sports and Learning Complex, which features the first school-owned water park in the state of Texas.

After four years of planning, the La Joya Independent School District opened its Sports and Learning Complex, which features the first school-owned water park in the state of Texas.

The 90,000 sq. ft. water park will not only be for La Joya ISD students and their community, but the entire Rio Grande Valley, as well.

"It's very exciting. I think it's a dream come true and it will provide a lot of opportunities for kids," said La Joya ISD Superintendent Dr. Alda Benavides. "Sometimes, this could be the only water park these kids get to see and there's no price for that."

The water park will be open to the public every day, except on Wednesdays. Swimming lessons, private parties and aquatic programs aimed at safety and fitness will be available for the public.

But the park is not the only new water attraction at La Joya ISD; The district is also opening up a state-of-the-art 21,993 sq. ft. natatorium that will host swimming and diving meets.

It's something the district's head diving coach, Mark Bullard, said was much-needed.

"There were some problems with the city pool," Bullard said. "We were using and we didn't have our own, so we were basically homeless for a short period of time. When you think about getting these kids on a bus— they have to change clothes for practice— you're looking at a commute time of about 20 minutes each way. That's time we could have been using in the water, practicing these kids' skills. So, this new facility is going to do wonders for our athletes."

But it doesn't stop there for La Joya's Sports and Learning Complex.

"We're super excited because we're not only going to provide new opportunities for our swimmers, but we have a golf course," said Bullard. "We are the only school district in the state of Texas that owns their own golf course, as well as tennis courts. We've never had a tennis program in La Joya ISD."

Although La Joya is home to the district champion in tennis singles, they do not have a full tennis team. Now with the new courts, each La Joya high school will launch their own tennis teams starting next season.

On top of the 27-hole golf course, natatorium, and four tennis courts, the district also opened a planetarium and a learning center.

This will allow students and the community to experience full-dome educational lessons, even live streaming space via webcam and communicating with the NASA International Space Station.

The district is planning activities and events for the community this summer:

  • The planetarium and homework/learning center is free for all LJISD students with I.D.
  • The Howling Trails Golf Course is open to the public from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • The tennis courts are also open to the community year-round from 8 a.m. -9 p.m.

The total construction cost was $20 million and began October 2014.

It is located at 1801 N. Western Rd. in Mission.

The golf course will be maintained by the La Joya ISD Maintenance Department.

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