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Hutto ISD Breaks Ground on Gus Almquist Middle School

HUTTO, Texas—Groundbreaking ceremonies for Hutto ISD’s newest campus were celebrated Jan. 27, marking the inception of the third middle school for the fast-growth school District.

The facility, to be named Gus Almquist Middle School, will become Hutto ISD’s thirteenth stand-alone campus and house students in grades 6th through 8th when completed.

In the ceremonial turning of the soil to officially commence construction, District officials were joined by relatives of the late Mr. Almquist, school board members, representatives of the general contractor, Drymalla Construction Co., and VLK Architects. Also on hand for the groundbreaking were representatives of the city of Hutto and local elementary students who will attend Gus Almquist Middle School in the coming years.

“We thank our community, our parents, and our families for their support of the District’s vision and mission and who support our bond elections, which make renovations and construction of new facilities possible for our students. The students, who represent our future, deserve the very best we can offer them," said Dr. Celina Estrada Thomas, superintendent of Hutto ISD.

Gus Almquist Middle School will be situated on approximately 82 acres adjacent to Kerley Elementary School along Haybarn Lane, just west of Texas 130 and south of Limmer Loop. The 160,000-square-foot, two-story facility will accommodate 1,200 students and feature general classroom and science laboratory spaces, a robotics lab, art classroom and fine arts studios, library and digital learning space with arena seating, collaboration areas, cafeteria with stage, and athletics areas with competition and auxiliary gymnasiums.

Each grade level will be supported by separate classroom wings and areas are included for Career & Technology Education programs as well as special education and administrative functions. Also included in the campus plan is a middle school athletic field and four-lane track, complete with synthetic turf.

Highlighting the new middle school’s features, designed by VLK Architects, is a centralized courtyard and outdoor learning spaces with shade canopies. Visitors to the school will enter through the courtyard area which incorporates outdoor seating and design elements that include nods to Hippo Nation with simulated hippo river and grassland habitats. The external space also incorporates metric measurements with shaded markings in the concrete walkways, a solar system with planetary paths, cartesian grids, an atomic structure and gardening beds­­­—all intended for outdoor lessons and expanded co-curricular activities.

A native of Hutto, Mr. Almquist served 17 years on the local school board, including leading Trustees as Board president. One of the high marks of his tenure as a Trustee, was ensuring that Hutto ISD remained independent during talks of a Pflugerville/Hutto consolidation.

After retiring from the Board and from farming, Mr. Almquist worked at Hutto ISD in groundskeeping and maintenance and became known to all as “Mr. Gus.” He had a loving heart, was giving, caring and became a good friend to numerous teachers. He could often be seen carrying boxes and hanging bulletin boards for teachers, and giving hugs to students who grew to call him “Mr. Gus,” or “Pawpaw Gus” as his own grandchildren also called him.

Trustees approved a construction budget of $71 million for Gus Almquist Middle School with estimated costs totaling $67,730,618. The new school is slated for completion May 30, 2024, with 504 days (17 months) scheduled for the duration of the project.