By Alicia Neaves
Imagine a school district where the superintendent also helps drive the bus, where the mayor is the science teacher who makes FedEx deliveries in the afternoon. That's a reality here in West Texas.
It's all a part of a unique school district in Valentine, Texas.
"We think we're the oldest high school building, but it's always been used for educating students. It hasn't become a storage facility or a set of offices, which happens to a lot of older buildings," Superintendent/Principal of Valentine ISD, Doug Cook, said.
It's small, but mighty. The Valentine Independent School District is made up of 43 students, 8 of which make up the high school.
"A lot of people may look at us and say, 'Oh, you're such a small school. It must be boring,' and it's not," Sophomore at Valentine ISD, Jaclyn Garcia, said.
Boring might be the last word that comes to mind when you hear about a Superintendent, who drives the bus on occasion.
"I handle all the discipline and all those things in addition to all the reports and things the superintendent does. I also coach golf in the Spring," Cook said.
How about the second longest running mayor in the State of Texas, who also serves as a teacher?
"I'm also a science teacher. I teach biology here and anatomy, and I teach a class of Spanish," Mayor, Science Teacher and FedEx driver in Valentine, Jesus "Chuy" Calderon, said.
"I teach only in the morning here and when I get out I get on the FedEx and I work in Marfa and Fort Davis delivering packages," he added.
Have you heard of an athletics coach, who is also a connoisseur of fine arts?
"We ran cross country earlier this year and had a young man finish 12th in the state in cross country. I'm also the basketball coach. We go straight from here to track as soon as basketball is over. I'll also be the one act play sponsor this year, or director," Social Studies teacher at Valentine ISD, Lonnie Flippen, said.
It's the perfect example of a jack of all trades. Even the secretary serves as a volunteer firefighter.
The eight high schoolers at Valentine ISD make up the entire basketball team. Four boys and four girls. They even got national attention for it!
With talent aside, Valentine ISD is also rich in history. A heavy earthquake struck the town in 1931, literally cracking the school in half. Did that stop school from running? No way. They still have pipes in place that hold the school together - literally, but possibly morally as well.
"I know that if I get in trouble, 10 seconds later my dad's gonna know because someone's always watching. It's not in a nosy neighbor sort of way, it's looking out for you," Garcia said.
"There's not that many kids that are our age. We tend to hang out with older people and they teach us a lot of stuff that makes us more mature in a lot of ways and they teach us a lot of skills and it's really helped us grow up," Sophomore at Valentine ISD, Elvis Tarango, said.
"It's hard for a kid to slip through the cracks here because we require the work and they have to get it done because we don't get side tracked," Cook said.
In a district, where four members in a graduating class is a high number, in a town with possibly the oldest running school in the state. Well, that's anything but boring.
"Especially living out in a place where there is more mesquite than there are people, you never know what's gonna happen," Garcia said.