Ribbon-cutting ceremony at Carpe Diem Westwood in San Antonio

Ribbon-cutting ceremony at Carpe Diem Westwood | San Antonio Charter Moms

Carpe Diem Westwood held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 14, 2015 at the entrance of its new campus at 8038 West Military Dr., San Antonio, TX 78227. The new facility fulfills the expectations of the groundbreaking ceremony on May 2, just four months earlier. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was a joyous event for students to show off the new learning spaces to their families and for community leaders to welcome the school to the neighborhood.

Cutting the ribbon at Carpe Diem Westwood | San Antonio Charter Moms

Carpe Diem Westwood is a tuition-free, open-enrollment public charter school serving grades 6-10 in 2015-16; it will eventually expand to serve grades 6-12. Carpe Diem uses technology to provide personalized learning. Each student gets an individualized plan to help meet their current needs and to fill gaps. The school building is a reflection of the personalized learning model. In a large, central room, each student has his or her own cubicle with a personal computer.

Learning Center at Carpe Diem Westwood | San Antonio Charter Moms

Students spend part of the day working at their computers to meet learning goals, while teachers monitor their progress. At other times, the students meet in classrooms for project-based learning.

Classroom at Carpe Diem Westwood | San Antonio Charter Moms

The building also has a gym and a cafeteria.

Gym and cafeteria at Carpe Diem Westwood | San Antonio Charter Moms

The cafeteria has a microwave for students to heat up their own food. (Trust me. This is a big deal.)

Microwave in the cafeteria at Carpe Diem Westwood | San Antonio Charter Moms

The building feels safe, with lots of wide-open spaces and no hidden corners. The architecture reflects the school’s philosophy: the teachers are monitoring every students’ progress, and no one gets neglected in a back row.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was an opportunity to gather some of the people who helped bring Carpe Diem to San Antonio. Pictured clockwise, starting top left: Carpe Diem CEO Robert Sommers, Learning Schools of Texas board members Felix Odigie and Martin Rico; Carpe Diem founder Rick Ogston, Choose to Succeed board member Steve Lewis, Carpe Diem Westwood Principal Valerie Robertson, and Learning Schools of Texas board chair Brandon Seale.

Carpe Diem Westwood leaders | San Antonio Charter Moms

Not pictured above, but present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, were Learning Schools of Texas board member Don Soifer, Superintendent Nick Fleege, George W. Brackenridge Foundation trustee and chair Victoria Rico, and Ewing Halsell Foundation manager Jackie Moczygemba.

Rick Ogston deserves special recognition. He founded Carpe Diem Collegiate High School in Yuma, Arizona, and designed the blended-learning curriculum used by Carpe Diem schools nationwide.

Rick Ogston, founder of Carpe Diem schools, visiting Carpe Diem Westwood | San Antonio Charter Moms

Carpe Diem operates high-performing charter schools in Arizona, Ohio, Indiana and now Texas. The George W. Brackenridge Foundation and Choose to Succeed helped Carpe Diem apply for a Texas charter and find a location on the west side of San Antonio. The school’s growth was supported by local elected officials, including San Antonio City Councilman Ray Lopez (District 6) and State Senator José Menéndez (District 26), whose office presented a Texas flag from the state capitol, as seen on the left.

Carpe Diem Westwood flag, San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Westside Chamber of Commerce | San Antonio Charter Moms

Two community groups welcomed Carpe Diem Westwood: a group of ambassadors from the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (upper right), and a delegation from the West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce (lower right).

School has been in session for only a few weeks, but the Carpe Diem Westwood students (mascot: the dragon) who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony showed deep enthusiasm and pride.  I am looking forward to watching their progress and watching Carpe Diem schools grow their presence in San Antonio.

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