Travis Elementary: Past, future, community

Published 11:59 am Thursday, March 1, 2018

By Lorenzo Salinas


A Port Arthur school looks toward the future by remembering its past through a collage of photographed memories.

William B. Travis Elementary School is putting out a call to all school and PAISD alumni for photographs depicting their school, classmates, teachers and more. This is in addition to a request for snapshots from Port Arthur’s long history and diverse culture.

Once collected, the photos will be placed in the main corridor of the school’s new building in a mural depicting the city, students and local schools.

It is an initiative that Travis principal Israel Taylor Jr. said would put community front and center in students’ minds.

“This is a community school, so I want to make sure this is a community effort,” Taylor said. “All the buildings the (district) have built have been wonderful, but I wanted something to stand out and say this is a Port Arthur school.”

Taylor’s vision seemed to stem from both pride of his hometown and the rich history found within.

“When I started on the idea, I wanted it to be representative, something unique about the school, something to stand out,” he said. “This is a school that really represents Port Arthur.”

When Taylor discussed his vision with one of the lead architects for the new building, the architect played around with the idea of using the mural as one of the focal points for school entry.

Taylor said the vast image could possibly be made from thousands of smaller images.

“Port Arthur has really contributed to the growth of every town in the Golden Triangle area,” he said. “Port Arthur has contributed as the foundation for so many people who have gone on to do great things.”

History plays an important part for the elementary school, as current and former employees have all apparently made a mark on the school’s legacy.

Taylor made special mention of the foyer in Travis where photos of all the school’s past principals were displayed. He pointed to the longevity of the line, remarking there has not been much turnover for the job.

Even then, many of them had turned up for the groundbreaking for the new Travis site.

“We like to embrace our past to know which direction to go in,” Taylor said.

Among other state-of-the-art facilities, the new school building will feature two science labs, two modern computer labs, a larger library and additional workroom space for faculty.

Taylor gave a target date for either August or the fall when students and faculty could be expected to move into the new building.

In order to stay current, Travis Elementary has embraced social media as a means to keep parents informed and make its school activities known.

“Even folks who have previously attended our school could always link up and find out what’s going on,” Taylor said. “We always post pictures of what students are learning.”

For alumni or individuals interested in contributing to Travis’ mural, they could send their pictures digitally to the school’s email ( or drop by the school itself and have its friendly staff scan the physical photos for them.

Some of the photographs Taylor had already received depict a Port Arthur from a time as early as the first half of the twentieth century. In addition, there are photos from the school’s first classes in the 1950s.

“I want students to have pride in their city…” Taylor said. “They need to know the city they’re growing up in, to know that Port Arthur has been the foundation for many other cities.

“They can grow up and they can be anyone.”