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Work on new Don Haskins School begins

DH Groundbreaking  DH Groundbreaking

DH Groundbreaking  DH Groundbreaking

(LINCOLN MIDDLE SCHOOL -- Feb. 4, 2019) — A ceremonial ground breaking on the site of EPISD’s new Don Haskins PreK-8 School last week showed the beginnings of what officials hope will be a strong partnership between the campus and UTEP.

The school — which is the Bond 2016 consolidation project of Lincoln Middle School with Bond and Roberts elementary schools — honors in name the man who lead the UTEP Miner basketball team for decades and ushered a new era in civil rights for African-Americans in college athletics. 

“We are excited to be part of the bond consolidation and to have the opportunity to have a new school for our students living in the valley,” Lincoln principal Haidi Appel said. “This new campus will serve as a great opportunity to build relationships with the university. Don Haskins was a real ground breaker, leading the way for desegregation of college athletics. This will serve as a great opportunity to share with lessons on diversity and good sportsmanship with our students.” 

Don Haskins’ family joined with EPISD and students from Lincoln, Bond and Roberts to celebrate the start of construction on the school. The hum of construction vehicles just 100 yards away let attendees know that construction of the new state-of-the-art school already is under way.

In 1966, Haskins led an all African-American basketball team to an NCAA championship — the first and only university in Texas to date to have won the title. He was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famein 1997 as a basketball coach.

“I know my dad would never have expected it and I know he would be humbled by this,” said Steve Haskins, Coach Haskins’ son. “He has a gym named after him and a street named after him, but I think he probably would be the proudest about this one because of what it really means.”

The Bear, as Don Haskins was endearingly referred to by fans, wanted to make sure his players got their education even if it was after they finished playing for him.

“One of the things that he did that people didn't know about was when guys didn't graduate at UTEP, he would tell them to come back when they were ready, and he would pay for it himself,” Steve Haskins said.

UTEP was represented at the event by Paydirt Pete and the Miner Pep Band, which played the university’s fight song alongside Lincoln Middle school students.

The campus, which is expected to open for the start of the 2021-22 school year, offers many links to the university and Haskins. The colors are orange, white and Columbia blue – UTEP’s original colors – and the mascot is the Sun Bears, a nod to its namesakes’ nickname.

“I’m looking forward to going to the new school,” said future Sun Bear Rudolfo Valdez, currently a third grader at Bond. “I like that I’m going to meet new friends. It’s going to be two stories. I’ve never been to a school with two stories.”

Story by Reneé de Santos
Photos by Leonel Monroy