New Pre-8 Belen Soto Elementary School opens in Goodyear


Belen Soto Elementary School, the 16th school in the A-rated Litchfield Elementary School District, opened its doors to 928 students Monday, August 5.

The two-story building in the Goodyear community of Sedella is the new home to the Soto Storm, whose school colors are green, black and gray. The students range from preschoolers through 8th graders.

In addition to creative flexible seating in the media center and a makerspace for collaborative work, Belen Soto Elementary School has a large community garden and an orchard with fig, fruit and citrus trees. The building was designed by Orcutt Winslow and built by Chasse Building Team.

Belen Soto places cement on a cornerstone of Litchfield Park Elementary School District’s 16th school during a ceremony Jan. 9 at the future site of Belen Soto Elementary School in Goodyear. The school opened Aug. 5. [Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia][/caption]The school is named after the first college graduate of Mexican-American descent from the Southwest Valley. Mrs. Soto Moreno is a retired educator who graduated as the valedictorian from Litchfield High School in 1954. She and her large family have been active in the creation of her namesake school that is built on the same land where she grew up as the daughter of a farmworker.

Founding principal Courtney Frazier honored Ms. Soto Moreno with a tribute to her late husband that hangs by the water fountain in the new school’s media center. Belen Soto met Rudy Moreno by the water fountain when they were first-graders at Litchfield Elementary School. Mr. Moreno died during the construction phase of his wife’s namesake. They would have been married 60 years in July.

“This is a humbling experience for which I am very grateful. It’s been such an honor to work with Mrs. Soto Moreno and her entire family, most of whom still live in the Southwest Valley,” Ms. Frazier said.

The school cost $15 million and was paid for by a voter-approved bond.

“We are grateful to our local voters for supporting quality education in our growing community,” Superintendent Jodi Gunning said.

Former President of Arizona State University Lattie Coor gives his remarks during a cornerstone ceremony Jan. 9 for Belen Soto Elementary School. Mr. Coor and Ms. Soto attended Litchfield High School, class of 1954. The two have been long-time friends, dating back to when Ms. Soto was valedictorian and Mr. Coor was salutatorian. [Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia][/caption]With 102 years of educational excellence under its belt, Litchfield Elementary School District is known for providing academic rigor in a caring environment. With more than 11,000 students and nearly 1,500 employees, LESD is a statewide leader of educational excellence and one of the largest employers in the region.

“We are already coming to rely on the valued partners who helped make our first week of school so successful,” Ms. Frazier said. “Hilgers Orthodontics donated snacks and drinks to fuel the Soto teachers while they moved in and set up classrooms before school started. The Refinery Church hosted a teacher school supply drive and served as greeters alongside Canyon View High School students at Belen Soto Elementary School’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 2.”