Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jess Paniszczyn
Coppell ISD administrators, teachers and students were joined by members of the Coppell Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the ribbon cutting for CISD’s newest building, Victory Place @ Coppell. Formerly known as the Education Annex, the new school occupies a slightly modified, former business building at the corner of Denton Tap and Natches Trace.
The Victory Place houses two of the district’s programs: Turning Point, a specialty program for students, and the Compass program, which serves as the district’s Disciplinary Alternative Education Program.
Coppell ISD superintendant Dr. Jeff Turner expressed his pride in the new facility.
“First of all, I want to say thank you to the school board for making the funds available for this building. We were actually able to match the quality of the building to the quality of the staff and students here in the district,” said Turner.
“The Turning Point program takes care of kids who for some reason or another had situations in their lives, sometimes not even about them, that caused them to get out of step with their graduation plans. So it became a drop out recovery program that is individualized per student according to their needs and where they are in their education plan. The staff here is specially selected to work in their content area and hold kids to rigorous standards while also being very relationship oriented and helping students through the phases of their lives and situations.
“These are not kids who have not generally been successful in school. A lot of the kids who graduate from here, go on to a community college and continue to be successful through life.
“We have another group of kids who attend the Compass Center here who are in disciplinary situations. Students are assigned over here for a short period of time for some violation of the student code of conduct before returning to their home campus.”
“Victory is about the students, and helping the students to be the best they can be,” said Anthony Hill, president of the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees. “When you take people who have had trials and tribulation and give them hope once again, that is a great thing. It is about perseverance.”
Well mannered, professionally dressed students in the Turning Point program greeted visitors as they arrived for the event. Giovanni Brigida (17) chose to attend the Victory Center to help him earn a high school degree as soon as possible.
“I came here to catch up, because I lost a lot of credits going to other schools. I heard a lot of positive things about this program, so I decided to come here,” Giovanni said. “I knew it would really help me in the long run.
“All of the teachers really push you, so you can do your work and get out of here as soon as possible. It was rough at first, but it was for the best.
“I don’t feel like I’m missing out on ‘high school.’ I really didn’t feel like dealing with the whole ‘high school’ thing. We can still go to homecoming and prom, but all of that stuff is cut short, so you can get out of here and get on with your life.”
Fellow student, Tyler Reed (17), is looking forward to attending Blinn College in the spring before eventually transferring to A&M’s main campus.
“I’m a senior, and I spent three years at the high school, before deciding to come here,” Tyler said. “I really like it here. You get to work at your own pace.
“I work at a fast pace, and I’m ahead in all of my classes. I will be graduated by November. I will be able to get my first semester of college in before the majority of my class graduates, which is great. I would suggest Turning Point to any student who doesn’t like the traditional high school setting.”
Victory Place @ Coppell’s principal Ron-Marie Johnson is very proud of her students and is ecstatic with the new facility.
“We are excited to be in a new facility,” Johnson said. “Our kids are awesome. They are your kids and my kids.
“Students apply for the Turning Point program, because they need a smaller, specialized environment. For whatever reason, they are struggling to graduate on time with their peers on the main campus. Life has happened, and they get lost in the big setting of another school. Coppell has so many great programs at all of their campuses, but you still have those few who slip through the cracks, and that is why we are here.”