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Alto ISD dedicates new buildings in wake of devastating tornado

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Published: May. 10, 2022 at 10:21 PM CDT|Updated: May. 10, 2022 at 11:29 PM CDT
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ALTO, Texas (KTRE) - An East Texas school district overcame the devastation of a tornado with the dedication of new facilities on Tuesday.

“Today’s just a very remarkable day in our Alto history,” Alto ISD superintendent Kelly West said.

In April 2019, a tornado destroyed the Alto High School, gymnasium, elementary gym, and cafeteria, displacing its students and faculty.

Voters approved a $10.5 million bond to help Alto ISD rebuild its facilities.

“It’s totally been a community effort,” West said. “We have a lot of community members that are coming out today that helped us to pass the bond.”

The high school students have been in portable buildings for the last three years.

Tuesday, Alto ISD dedicated three new buildings: the Alto High School, Alto gymnasium, and the Book T. Washington Elementary gymnasium.

Safety is top priority in the new facility. It is a tornado safe space, and large enough to hold all the students in the district in the event of another storm.

“We have taken what has happened to us in the past and we’ve taken provisions to make sure that we have safety in place for our future,” West said.

The Booker T. Washington school was an African American school built in 1959 before being integrated in 1967. Over the years, the gym was preserved and became the only original structure from the old school. However, the gym was destroyed in the 2019 tornado.

The new Book T. Washington gymnasium is named after the original school.

“This brings the community together because we want Alto to be one community, but we want future generations to know that they stand on tall shoulders and proud shoulders, and that they come from a great legacy,” President of the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association, George Martin, said.

In spite of a challenging past, the school looks forward with excitement as they embrace what is to come.

“The future is very bright for our community and for our students,” West said.

The basketball court will be named after Devonte Mumphrey, who passed away a few months ago during a basketball game.

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