PHARR, Texas – After 20 years of operation, Vanguard Academy has received its first ever school bus.

The arrival of an International model bus from Longhorn Bus Sales in Houston was made on Monday, June 29, with the charter school’s superintendent, Dr. Narciso Garcia, on hand to take delivery. 

“This is an historic day. We got the best of the best with an International bus,” Garcia said, explaining that he has wanted to purchase a school bus ever since he arrived as superintendent three years ago.

“We are really excited because all these years, whenever Vanguard Academy needed to take students somewhere, we would have to lease a bus. This is the first one in Vanguard Academy’s history and the first of many.”

The new bus seats 77 passengers, with seat belts and video surveillance cameras installed. Garcia said the bus will have WiFi added before students come back for the Fall semester.

“Although it seats 77 students, with social distancing we will have to spread them out if we are talking them to South Texas College or between the campuses,” Garcia explained. 

More buses will be added at Vanguard, as the budget allows, the superintendent said.

“When I got here there were two vans to transport students. Now we have nine vans and now a school bus,” Garcia said. “We will budget to buy one or two at a time until we have a fully-fledged fleet of buses. We need at least ten. We will buy one every couple of years.”

Garcia asked Rick Reyes, one of the founders of Vanguard Academy, to bless the bus. Reyes is a pastor with Templo Bethel Asamblea De Dios.

“It has been a dream we have had for a long, long time. Now, every day we are seeing more and more of it come to fruition. We are really pleased,” Reyes told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Explosive growth

Reyes was asked how Vanguard Academy came into being.

“Over 20 years ago I was serving as an associate pastor and the pastor asked me to come with a dream, a plan, something to present to the congregation and the community. I asked God for wisdom and that was the beginning of the dream,” Reyes said.

Reyes said Vanguard started out with just a handful of children in three small classrooms. Now it has about 5,000 students. Due to parental demand, the charter school is likely to expand to 10,000, Garcia predicted.

“God is bursting our vats,” Garcia said. “Once we hit 5,750 kids we will need another amendment. The next amendment we make will probably be for 10,000 students.”

Garcia said Vanguard’s student population has grown by approximately 83 percent in the three years he has been superintendent. Currently, new buildings are planned for Pharr and Edinburg. The one in Pharr will be for early childhood, Pre-K 3, Pre-k 4 and kinder. 

“The growth is amazing,” Reyes said. “We had dreams but God’s dreams are much bigger than our dreams. When we dream we can only take it so far but God takes it way beyond that and we are so appreciative,” Reyes said. 

Garcia said plans to open a Vanguard school in Mission are on track, with an opening date of August 2021. 

“We are going to start construction on another campus in Edinburg in December. Once that campus is completed in the middle of 2021, we are going to move those portables to Mission and start the Mission campus. With that we will probably hit 7,000, right off the bat. We have got to do what we have got to do, to keep up with demand.”

Garcia said he would have liked to have given Reyes on the bus but the charter school’s bus driver was off sick. He said he plans to take all the staff at each campus on a ride around the communities they serve, starting with those based in Edinburg.

Asked for any closing remarks, Reyes said: “We are so, so, pleased that Vanguard has been able to achieve so much, to be able to reach so many families and children in the community. So many children were being underserved by the system at that time. We had nothing against it (the local public school) but we felt, something could be better. We have seen that in Vanguard all these years.”

Asked for any closing remarks, Garcia said: “We see the arrival of this bus as a celebration, in spite of everything our communities are going through (now with COVID-19). We are excited about this opportunity to provide transportation for students to and from college and between campuses, and different field trips. There are greater things to come at Vanguard Academy.”

Editor’s Note: Here is a podcast of the day Vanguard Academy’s first school bus arrived. It includes a blessing of the bus by Pastor Rick Reyes:

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