The Future Home of the LASA Raptors

Katie Busby, Staff Writer

The raptors are moving to a new home. LASA will soon be part of a campus modernization and swap plan, which involves LBJ, LASA and the Johnston campus, located in East Austin and currently being used by Eastside Memorial. As LASA moves to the now Eastside Memorial campus, the Eastside Memorial community will move into a new building. 

Principal Stacia Crescenzi said that the process of moving and modernization of campuses started as soon as the Austin ISD 2017 Bond was passed. According to the Austin Independent School District (AISD) website, $1,050,984,000 will be given to AISD through this bond after two years of work to plan the specifics. Aside from the LASA and Eastside Memorial moves, the AISD website said the bond is also designed to help the district by improving technology and transport, lessening overcrowding and initiating the modernization or construction of new buildings.

According to Crescenzi, LASA moving into its own campus will allow room to grow as a school in a couple ways. For one, Crescenzi said it will help the school be able to provide more opportunities to the student body. 

“I think that the best part will be our ability to really grow, both in terms of total student population and [accepting] more students,” Crescenzi said. “But in the same idea, sort of grow in terms of curriculum as well so that we might be able to offer classes or Career and Technical Education programming that we can’t currently, just because we’re so limited in physical space.” 

Junior Pete Bates said he is looking forward to new hallways to walk through after three years at the LBJ campus. Aside from a new beginning, Bates said he is excited for other advantages this different campus could offer. 

“I think the benefits are that we get to have our own space and we get to have an upstairs and a downstairs,” Bates said. “I don’t know if the building actually has an upstairs, but I guess we can call it a metaphor. And I think that the whole school will just enjoy being able to have a campus that, at least for me, didn’t feel like I was infringing, like I was putting myself in a place where I didn’t belong. So I’m totally happy that LBJ gets their building back because I felt like LASA was always kind of like the one that was added onto the building.”

Along with growth, LASA will also have its own facilities, including athletic practice spaces. Geometry teacher and football head coach Glen McNeil said that this was exciting for him. 

“We won’t have to do all of our athletic practices all over town, we can all just have practice at school,” McNeil said. “And so not sharing an athletic department is going to be my number one.” 

LASA will also have more classrooms as part of the facilities in the new building. Crescenzi said this means fewer teachers will have to move around or share classroom space. 

“I would say the second biggest positive…is right now, we probably have 25 or larger percent of the staff that have to shift classrooms all the time,” Crescenzi said. “And that’s really tough on a teacher, and it limits sometimes, when we’re in physical school, what they’re willing to bring from this part of the building to that part of the building or what chemicals can be schlepped around.”

There are a few challenges in moving, according to Crescenzi. The first one would be physically moving both LASA’s and Eastside Memorial’s materials into new classrooms. Crescenzi said that logistical challenges of moving would be the first issue, especially given the current timeline.

 “The Eastside Memorial community, their new building has to be finished, ready to go so that they can move on from their current building to the new one,” Crescenzi said. But yet we need to get out fast enough so that LBJ can start their construction for their modernization. That’s a challenge, it’s a very, very tight timeline that is very stressful.”

According to Crescenzi, the other challenge is transitioning over from the old building and sharing facilities with LBJ. She said this is because some people feel connected to the current campus, though others may have less connection because of the time away during online school. Bates, however, said he does not feel as connected to the LBJ campus. 

“I think it’s been easier because of the pandemic,” Bates said. “Because I’m not there going to parties or whatever that would happen if there was an in-person school. And so it’s kind of just like a lost land long forgotten in a way. I kind of just left LASA [on] March 12. And I’m going to go to a new building next year like it’s a ritual or something.” 

LASA has history and traditions at the LBJ campus, as does the Eastside Memorial community at theirs. For example, LASA has had a habit of taking yearbook club pictures in front of the Texas statue, which sits at the entrance of the campus. Crescenzi said that leaving memories and traditions like this behind will be somewhat of a challenge.

 “I think that one’s a little bit of ‘we’re gonna gain here in the same way we’re gonna lose,’” Crescenzi said. “So I think we’re just going to have to figure out how LASA and its history and its traditions fits with Johnston and Eastside and its history and traditions.”