The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district hosted a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for its newest early college campus the Dr. Daniel P. King College & University Center on Thursday. (Courtesy photo)

Surrounded by friends and family, Superintendent Daniel King, the community here and across Pharr and Alamo honored him with a physical honor, reminiscent of his over 40-year career as an educator.

The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District celebrated the naming of the Dr. Daniel P. King PSJA College and University Center after the soon-to-be retired superintendent. King is slated to retire on Sept. 30, and his successor, Jorge Arredondo will take his place on Oct. 1.

“When we as a board thought about naming this building after Dr. King, one of the things that came to mind, is the transformation that PSJA ISD has had over his tenure,” board President Jesse Zambrano said in a presentation.

King had many challenges when he first started during a difficult time in the district’s history, but did end up changing the trajectory of the district, he said.

Marisa Saenz, PSJA Collegiate HS Program Principal, relayed the history of the center.

The building originally opened in 1960, and is currently undergoing remodeling. The campus has served various initiatives since 2018, she said. The PSJA Collegiate High School Program, PSJA Academies, which provides a way for a cohort for juniors and seniors enrolled in dual enrollment course work to take classes through South Texas College and use the center’s equipment. The campus also acts as the home base for the departments of College Readiness, College for All Project, Career and Technical Education and the Communications Department.

Many employees and current staff graduated from the campus in previous years.

“This campus not only represents the future of PSJA, it represents the past, and it represents the present,” Zambrano said addressing the audience.

Pharr Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez and state Rep. Terry Canales were also in attendance, honoring the retiring superintendent.

“It branches out, it’s everywhere, you have touched literally every part of the community, if I had to describe PSJA I would say it’s a sun, and the rays have lit the entire county of Hidalgo, and stretch across the great state of Texas,” Canales said.

The school board announced the naming of the Dr. Daniel P. King PSJA College and University Center after its current superintendent on Monday evening during a board meeting. With King’s accomplishments in reducing the dropout rate at the district, and a push toward dual language and dual immersion program, the board found it fitting to name the building after King as discussed on Monday.

A video presented a collage of King’s achievements and displays presented newspaper clippings of milestones he made after the ribbon cutting. The superintendent also reflected on his mission to improve the condition of the district in a video titled “Sun Shines Bright Over PSJA ISD.”

Sara King, wife and PSJA faculty member who teaches at the campus, and their six children, were also honored. The district has become a model for other school districts and taken a lot of dedication and time to do so, she said.

“If you’re from this community, then you know the impact, but you have also seen the transformation,” Sara King said to the crowd.

Building “unity” within the district through academics and the early college initiative are a part of the significance of district’s accomplishments.

“The sun is up, it’s shining bright, there’s a good future here, I am going to move to the side, I will be around,” Daniel King said.