- El Paso Independent School District
EPISD and City of El Paso celebrate new planetarium in star-studded event
(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT – July 11, 2022) – El Paso ISD’s iconic Roddenberry Planetarium officially opened its doors Monday in a new state-of-the-art facility that promises students an adventure to infinity and beyond.
The official ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the completion of the planetarium, now located in the former multipurpose facility at Crosby Elementary. The star-studded event gave dignitaries, community members and EPISD campers from the Boys and Girls Club of El Paso a glimpse into tonight’s El Paso sky at specifically 9:15 p.m. and a short movie about the universe.
“I really enjoyed the trip to the planetarium, and I loved the movie,” said Nathaniel Hernandez, a rising fifth grader from Clendenin Elementary. “I can’t wait to go back.”
The $1.16 million project was made possible through a partnership between EPISD and the City of El Paso. A nearly $1 million Community Development Block Grant provided the bulk of the funding for the area’s only planetarium – originally built in 1969 at EPISD’s former Boeing Drive offices.
“This collaboration allows us to continue to provide students with awe-inspiring lessons about the universe and space exploration across a 40-foot dome,” said Superintendent Diana Sayavedra. “It has nurtured a passion for science and the stars for students for decades and will continue to inspire generations of students to come. The Roddenberry is an El Paso treasure.”
Modernizations to the 3,635 square foot planetarium include specialized lighting and sound, a new HVAC system, a ticket room, a catwalk above the 40-foot dome and storage facilities.
“This is a top of line facility that will give our students a more immersive experience,” said planetarium manager Evelyn Maldonado. “I want our students and the community to leave the planetarium feeling inspired – inspired to dare to dream of science, to be an astronaut.”
The Planetarium represents EPISD’s third recently completed project developed in partnership with the City of El Paso. The other collaborations are the Jefferson Baseball Field at Washington Park and the Austin Softball Field at Memorial Park. Both are Bond 2016 projects.
The Roddenberry Planetarium, created through a partnership between the National Science Foundation and the Women’s League of El Paso, has welcomed more than 2 million visitors since opening in 1969. More than 13,000 have already enjoyed the star-studded educational programming offered at the new Planetarium since its soft opening in fall 2021.
El Paso students travel to the Planetarium during the school year for grade-level specific programming. Public shows also are offered during the summertime which feature an educational film and a tour of El Paso’s night sky. Go to episd.org/planetarium for more information.
Photos by Leonel Monroy Jr.