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Class of 2023 explores Denton’s brand-new high school

The Class of 2023 walked into the gleaming new Denton High School building on Monday.

As they toured their new school, they saw a 21st century building: security-minded design, gender-neutral bathrooms and learning spaces made for collaboration.

A horse, of course

The new Denton High School at 3001 Bronco Way wouldn’t be complete without a bronco of some kind.

Col. Bob West, an aerospace science teacher and an ambassador for the Class of ’23, said the district found out that two bronze horse sculptures at Star Ranch in Aubrey needed a new home. One of them, a massive stallion rearing up on its hind legs, is installed in the cafeteria, beneath the International Baccalaureate flags.

Lucinda Breeding / Lucinda Breeding-Gonzales/DRC 

Col. Bob West, a sort of ambassador of the Denton High School Class of 2023, was surprised when one of the horse sculptures he helped bring to the new high school was named "The Colonel." The sculpture is installed in the cafeteria. The new high school opens Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022. Photo courtesy of Denton ISD.

“It was a little worn,” West said. “We got Benchmark Metals in Ponder to resurface the statue. They bead blasted it, did some brass patching on it and then gave it a clear coat. It looks as good as new. Peterbilt moved it for us.”

West said the school had a budget for the statue, but the companies donated the work to the students and the community. The Class of ’23 officers gifted the businesses with a framed portrait of the refinished statue.

The senior class surprised West by naming the bronco “The Colonel.” West wiped away a tear during the senior assembly and chafed at the whoops and cheers.

“This isn’t about me,” West told the seniors. “This is about you. This is your home. Take care of this place. It’s your house. You’ll forever be Broncos.”

Lucinda Breeding / Lucinda Breeding-Gonzales/DRC 

The famous Bronco floor inlay is now in the entrance of the new Denton High School. The historical piece lines up with the new Broncos logo on the floor, “the Colonel,” a bronze horse statue in the cafeteria and the bronze bronco sculpture on the top of the dome.

The remaining statue is stored in the scene shop for the Denton High School theater arts program. But there are other broncos on campus. There’s a huge bronco cantering across the top of the dome, visible from Bonnie Brae as you turn onto Bronco Way.

Then there is the famous and beloved Fulton Street bronco, a tile that was laid into the floor at the Fulton Street campus. When students, staff and visitors walk into the front entrance, the first thing they will see is the historical floor piece. It’s protected by gold velvet ropes.

A place to learn ... together

“I’m definitely getting my steps in,” said Denton High School math teacher Mary Dean, as she and statistics teacher Rachel Gibson clicked through portals on Dean’s iPad to connect to the Promethean Board. The board is a high-tech mounted screen that allows teachers to share screens and documents with students. The Promethean Boards are also touchscreens.

Dean and Gibson are excited about the bigger classrooms, and the way the desks are set up for students to face one another. When it comes time to look at the white board and the Promethean screen, some students will have to turn their chairs around.

“This classroom is so much bigger than my old room,” said Dean, who was among hundreds who moved the faculty and staff from the historical high school’s Fulton Street location to the new, sprawling campus off of North Bonnie Brae Street. Dean’s husband is a Denton High Bronco, and all five of their children graduated from the Fulton Street campus. Dean is one of many Denton High employees whose family blood “bleeds purple.”

Dean’s classroom is almost ready for students.

“I teach [International Baccalaureate] math, so my students get to work in groups of six. This layout really complements what we always say in the program: ‘think, pair and share.’ I love this,” she said.

The new classrooms often configure desks in clusters. There are tall clusters and short clusters, and some students will be able to use special chairs that allow them to move around more. Other spaces, such as laboratories, are configured traditionally, with students seated in rows facing the whiteboard and Promethean screen.

At the new Denton High School, now a flagship campus bearing the school system’s status as a district of innovation, collaboration is a priority. The move was like all relocations: Dean found some things she didn’t know were available. She found a stack of whiteboards that she now has at the center of each cluster of desks.

“The students can write their name in the corner closest to them, and then they can all use this to solve problems or try out ideas,” Dean said. “Our students are definitely going to work together.”

Principal Joel Hayes said a new feature at the school are “huddle” rooms. Think of a snub of a lounge — desks and chairs in a room enclosed in windows.

“The huddles will give groups of students the opportunity to work together without worrying about being too loud or disrupting other students,” he said.

Assistant principals and counselors have offices in the class hallways, too. At the new campus, collaboration isn’t just for students. It’s for teachers, administrators, teacher aides and other staff.

Some perks, though, are for staff and teachers. Workrooms throughout the campus are teacher’s lounges. Each has a refrigerator, Keurig coffee station, microwave and computer room. But the pièce de résistance is about 3 feet tall and humming quietly next to the fridge.

“Check this out,” Gibson said, with a grin. “Check out this ice maker. It makes pebble ice.”

“Yep,” said Dean. “Everyone loves that Sonic ice.”

More space

The campus boasts amenities that faculty and students can put to good use. The fine arts wing of the building has a stage, a band hall, a jazz band hall, a choir area and orchestra hall, and a theater hall.

A college-style lecture hall has seating for about 75 to 100, and there is a weight room for indoor sports teams and a golf space for athletes to practice their swings.

A fine arts lab is lined with keyboards and Mac computers, and the performing arts students have a dressing room complete with a makeup counter and mirror.

The library is large, with two study areas, including a second-floor study and meeting space.

The cafeteria is designed food-court style, in keeping with those at Guyer and Braswell high schools.

Keeping students safe

Hayes said the firm that designed the building took security seriously. No one is in a hurry to talk about mass shootings, fires or tornadoes, but administrators and Denton ISD law enforcement partners have to think of disasters.

The feature that makes the building safest? The Fulton Street campus was surrounded by city streets, Hayes said.

“That’s the thing that gave me heartburn every day,” Hayes said. “With 11 remodels over six decades, we had more than 60 exterior doors. There are half as many on this campus. And there are fewer than five entrances for cars.”

“Something you’ll notice about this building is that, almost wherever you are, you can see students,” he said. “Anywhere the students are, they can been seen.”

Students do have privacy in bathrooms, and dressing rooms and locker rooms are communal spaces that give students privacy as needed.

West told seniors that the minute they drive onto Bronco Way and into any parking lot on campus, they’re on camera.

“There are cameras in every parking lot,” he told them. “Wherever you are, whatever parking lot you’re in, there are cameras.”

Senior Peter Trinh said he felt a little exposed by the design.

“The school is really open, and I wonder if that’s a good thing in every situation. I think I don’t like how you can see everyone all the time,” he said.

The district invested in one seemingly inexpensive fix for active shooter drills or tornadoes: Large whiteboards are mounted on tracks, allowing teachers to pull the whiteboard across the window and block the view from the hallway.

Broncos forever

Some seniors said they were impressed with the new campus.

“It’s a lot bigger,” senior Dakota Cary said. “I’ll probably spend most of my time in the dance studio.”

Reagan Shudart, a senior dance student, said she’s impressed by the new dance space.

“It’s got everything, the mirrors and the space. But what I really like about it is that the stage is right next to it. In the old building, we had to run across the hall.”

Jalen Butler said he’s impressed by the new building, but will have to get used to the commute. He and other students said their drive to campus will be closer to 20 to 30 minutes.

“This is a lot farther away,” Butler said. “What used to take a few minutes is going to take a lot longer.”

Seniors talked about the parking arrangements.

“I think the gated parking is going to be a complication for people who have to leave and go to the [LaGrone Academy] or for people who have an afternoon doctor’s appointment,” Cary said. “I kind of feel sorry for the person working in the booth, because students can get annoyed.”

Senior Erin Murphy said she was looking forward to starting classes.

“It’s so big and open,” she said. “We just have so much more space here than we did on Fulton.”

Hayes said the new campus represents a new era for the high school.

“We’ve had 138 graduating classes at Fulton Street,” he said. “This is a new start for our students, for sure.”

West urged the seniors to set an example for the underclassmen.

“This is your house, your palace,” he said. “We are not defined by International Baccalaureate. We are not defined by cheer squad or being on the football team. We are defined by what we do here, collectively. Take care of this place. We’re Broncos forever.”

Denton couple hang hat on new shop on Elm Street

Realtor Chrissy Mallouf has always had a love of accessories, but it wasn’t until a road trip last summer with her husband, John, and two teens, Madison and Holden, that she decided it was time to share that passion with the Denton community, in the form of Mallouf Hat Co.

“Every city we go to has a hat shop no matter what city we’re in, and I was like, ‘Man, one of these days I’m going to have a hat shop,’” Chrissy said. “John was like, ‘Let’s do it now, why wait?’”

The pair started drawing up plans early this year, deciding to dedicate space in Chrissy’s new real estate office at 901 S. Elm St. to the shop. Longtime Denton residents — John grew up in the city and Chrissy has lived here since she was 10 — the couple have fond memories of Foster’s Western Wear, with its collection of cowboy hats and other Texas-style accessories. The 50-year-old shop shuttered in March 2020 to make way for a highway expansion, but Chance Foster has since opened Foster’s Hat Shaping & Cleaning in Krum, paying homage to the business his grandfather founded in 1966.

The Malloufs hope their new shop will again offer Denton residents a local place to find their next favorite hat, whether it’s Western-style or something else. The store will stock a range of inventory and styles for men, women and teens and can special order if a customer is in search of something specific.

With just a few weeks in business at the Elm Street shop, business has been steady, the couple said, with locals eager to see what the shop offers.

“Last week we had an older man from Maryland who was in town visiting and wanted a pork pie hat,” Chrissy said. “I didn’t know what a pork pie hat was — I thought I misheard him at first — but John figured it out, and we ordered it. It’s been fun just connecting with people.”

Plans to eventually host custom hat-decorating parties at clients’ homes are in the works for later in the year, and a fence mural and vintage pickup will soon add photo-worthy spots for customers just outside the shop’s doors, the couple said.

Next up is hiring employees to staff the store when the Malloufs are busy with real estate business, but the pair don’t plan to be far from the new venture. The real challenge, Chrissy says, has been keeping herself from the inventory.

“The one Saturday I wasn’t here, all the hats I like sold, but it’s great because I get to see all my friends out there wearing them,” Chrissy said.

Mallouf Hat Co. is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with plans to extend hours in the coming weeks. Customers can also shop online for nationwide shipping or store pickup at

Denton retailers see strong turnout on tax-free weekend despite inflation
  • Updated

Retailers at Denton’s Golden Triangle Mall say they saw record sales for tax-free weekend despite inflation putting pressure on consumers’ wallets.

Texas’ annual tax-free weekend, which ran Aug. 5-7, allowed shoppers to purchase clothing, shoes, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 without paying sales tax. Mall traffic was up significantly over the weekend, with more stores reporting better sales numbers than last year and 2019.

“Some saw upwards of a 38% or 42% increase,” mall manager Aaron Ball said.

Retailers Journeys and Buckle were among those that set store records, while Dillard’s, H&M and Finish Line also saw significant increases in sales. Non-apparel stores also benefited from the increased foot traffic, Ball said.

Those gains come as prices in Dallas-Fort Worth have climbed above the national average of 8.5% in July to 9.4% for the same month, according to the Labor Department. That’s higher than the nationwide 9.1% year-over-year increase in June, the largest in four decades. The price of apparel, one of the primary industries to see increased spending during tax-free weekend, is up 5.7%.

Despite the increased costs at checkout, locals are still showing up to shop. Consumer spending in Denton County increased more than 18% in June compared with pre-pandemic trends, and state sales tax revenue suggests retail spending is up compared with last year.

Forty percent of respondents to an unscientific social media poll conducted by the Denton Record-Chronicle said they bought about the same amount as in previous shopping years, and 23% said they bought less because of inflation. Thirty-two percent said they were on a spending freeze or otherwise didn’t participate in the tax holiday.

While higher prices have affected consumers, retail and grocery giants such as Kroger, CVS and T.J. Maxx raised prices in 2020 and 2021 and saw unprecedented returns, with the nation’s top 10 retailers bringing in $99 billion in profit. Retailers have pointed to increased supply chain costs as a major factor affecting prices.

Although big-box retailers have been struggling with supply chain woes, most mall tenants have seen sales increase or remain flat over the past few months.

“We don’t really see decreases,” Ball said.

Next year’s big tax-free weekend is scheduled for Aug. 11-13, 2023.