Memories flooded back Monday afternoon as Karen Wallock toured the old Joe F. Saegert school campus.
The Seguin resident has years of history connected to the campus where she attended classes as a youth, student taught in later years, spent two stints as a full-time instructor and where her children went to school as well. Her brief tour of the campus was pleasant, but the old oak tree in the middle of the courtyard was emotional. “Seeing the tree on the patio — back in my junior high days, we had parties there, had dances,” Wallock said. “Seeing that tree did me in.”
She and several other area residents took advantage Monday afternoon of the Seguin ISD’s opening of the campus to give folks an up-close and personal look at the changes made at the five-building campus. The improvements took about four months to complete to the tune of about $420,333, said Sean Hoffmann, Seguin ISD chief communications officer.
“Seguin ISD is hosting the Saegert open house as an opportunity for the community to see the new home of the Mercer-Blumberg Learning Center, Discipline Alternative Education Program and the Transition Program,” he said. “Plus, our Saegert facility has touched the lives of so many over the years. We are proud to open the doors to this historic campus to showcase the recent improvements and help share memories.”
Improvements included wireless connectivity, cameras and other technology upgrades; new carpet, ceiling tile and plumbing updates; refurbished concrete and more, Hoffmann said.
The auditorium was transformed into a type of open-area classroom great for MBLC curriculum, MBLC Principal Jay Law said.
“When you’re working in here, the warmth from all the windows and the colors — the staff really appreciate the windows and the kids love the building,” he said. “It’s a really eclectic building and neat.”
The building at 118 N. Bowie St. opened in 1928 and has been the site of the Female Academy, Guadalupe College and Seguin High School, according to information Hoffmann provided Monday. In 1955, it was a junior high school and then became a middle school.
The building and campus are named after Joe F. Saegert, a German immigrant who went on to become superintendent of the county schools and then superintendent of Seguin Public Schools. The campus had been out of use since 2014.
“We had an empty building here,” Law said. “It wasn’t being used. We had three different programs that could be used here.
“It works really good for our environment.”
Erma Freeman, principal of the DAEP, agreed. The building that houses her program on campus was retrofitted with a new vestibule for safety, got upgrades to the hallways and classrooms and now offers more secure space to carry out the program’s mission, she said.
The changes please her, Freeman said.
“I’m glad the learning center and our program are located on the same campus,” she said. “We’re very fortunate to have such a historic building and they were willing to invest in it. It has a lot of life left in it.
“It’s just a great use of a landmark in the community and we’re very fortunate to be able to use it for our school.”
Opening it up to the public was a good idea, evidenced by the smattering of interested people who roamed the halls Monday.
Wallock said she heard about the open house and ventured on in to see what became of her old stomping grounds.
“I wanted to see how it got reconfigured,” Wallock said. “I think it looks great. Some things look quite the same and some are quite different.”