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El Paso ISD, Fort Bliss mark opening of $40M Captain Gabriel L. Navarrete Middle School

(CAPTAIN GABRIEL L. NAVARRETE MIDDLE SCHOOL – Nov. 3, 2022) – El Paso ISD and Fort Bliss joined forces Thursday to celebrate the completion of the new $40 million Captain Gabriel L. Navarrete Middle School, a 2016 Bond project on military land.

The new campus, a consolidation of Bassett and Armendariz middle schools, is El Paso ISD’s sixth school on Fort Bliss property. The school, located just east of the old William Beaumont Army Medical Center, opened its doors in August to 900 students. The state-of-the-art campus features modern learning spaces with cutting-edge technology, a fine arts wing, a library, a gym and ample student drop-off zones.

“Our decades-long partnership with Fort Bliss is indicative of our mutual commitment to educating our youth,” Superintendent Diana Sayavedra said. “We are confident that these new learning spaces will empower our students with the best tools for them to thrive and find success in the future.”

Eighth-grader Adrianna Bryant is enjoying all that the new school has to offer, especially the spacious learning spaces that foster collaboration, new locker rooms, and the sound-proof fine arts areas. 

“It’s going to help me learn a lot and prepare me for high school,” she said. “My first impression of the school was it’s a rich school. I can’t believe it’s over here.”

The school bears the name of World War II hero Capt. Gabriel L. Navarrette, who served the U.S. Army’s legendary Company E, which was comprised mostly of Mexican-American young men from El Paso who attended Bowie High School. He served under Capt. John L. Chapin – fittingly many of the Navarrete Knights will attend Chapin High School.

“He moved through the ranks quickly when they realized his capacity to lead and, frankly, to fight and defend his country,” said Fort Bliss Commanding Gen. James Isenhower III. “He was awarded multiple Purple Hearts for his wounds, two Silver Stars. It’s hard to find a Silver Star on a soldier today because of the gallantry, the courage required to be awarded a Silver Star medal is extremely high. And he didn’t earn one. He earned two. But he also earned the Distinguished Service Cross and you’ll struggle to ever meet someone who has won a Distinguished Service Cross.”

Isenhower spoke about Navarrete’s valiant leadership, telling a story about his time during the war when he stood by his men as the company was ordered to move into dangerous enemy territory.

“The true legacy of Capt. Navarrete is not the Purple Hearts, not the two Silver Stars, not the Distinguished Service Cross,” he said. “It’s the fact that he stood up for what he believed was right. He stood his ground and I hope all of you can take a lesson and stand your ground when you know it’s right because Capt. Navarrete offers no better example for our children.”

Navarrete’s son David Navarrete proudly sat in the crowd listening to the general’s tribute to his dad in front of the school that graces his name.

“It’s almost surreal. I don’t know if I’m dreaming,” he said. “The school is magnificent. It looks like a university,”

Capt. Navarrete served the El Paso community by helping hundreds of veterans as the El Paso County Veteran Service officer. He died in 1988.

“I know he’s watching this,” David Navarrete said looking up towards the heavens. “And he’s honored and humbled.”