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Academy for students with special needs in Harlingen nears completion, home essentials needed

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HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Harlingen CISD is in the final stage of building its newest academy aimed at helping students with special needs transition from high school into adulthood.  

The Transition Academy — a nearly 4,000 square foot facility built from scratch — has been in the works since early August, and by August 2021 Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola said it should be able to open. 

Across the district, Dr. Noyola estimates a population of about 2,000 special needs students with ranging levels of abilities. These students may stay in school up to the age of 22 and the goal of this transition academy is to help put them in a position to sustain themselves through teaching everyday skills, such as how to make a bed and cook.  

Beyond that, she says they’ll have the opportunity to learn employable skills and receive certain kinds of certifications offered through the district’s partnerships with Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and other colleges.  

“We recognize all students move at different paces and levels, so we need to support them as much as possible,” Dr. Noyola said. “That’s our commitment to every student, but in particular for special needs students for whom that transition from a public school to adult life may take them a little bit longer.”  

The Transition Academy will operate a few hours a day with 15 to 20 students led by current staff.   

RELATED CONTENT: Harlingen CISD encouraging parents to return students to in-person instruction

Before opening, it needs to be filled with everyday items like towels and blankets that will help facilitate the lessons. The district has a registry with Target with several items still on the list. 

“While the district is taking care of a lot of the major things, the registry was really designed around smaller things like housewares and things we could equip the inside of the facility with,” she said. “Because the support has been so great, they were able to add some additional pieces outside like walking trails, gardens and things of that nature. That would really support our students that are on site.” 

By the end of this April, Dr. Noyola said the facility should be substantially completed so they can begin offering tours to students and their families to show what it has to offer. 

To view the registry, click here.

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