Students and staff at Booker T. Washington High School had the opportunity on Friday to add their signatures to a steel beam being used in the construction of their new school, which is part of HISD’s 2012 bond program.
“It’s great to see the steel beams and columns going up,” said Washington Principal Carlos Phillips. “We’re happy about the progress and can’t wait to move-in next year.”
The school, located in the Independence Heights neighborhood of Houston, broke ground on the new construction on Booker T. Washington’s birthday, April 5, 2016. They are slated to receive a new 180,000-square-foot building that will accommodate up to 1,300 students.
“After all these years of this being the first African-American high school, it’s time for a new building,” said Taquera Bernard, a 15-year-sophmore at the school. “It makes me think I’m part of history.”
The $51.7 million facility will showcase the school’s engineering program with 21st century technology, specialized engineering and science labs, and flexible learning spaces to support project-based learning and encourage collaboration.
“Our contractors are doing an excellent job,” said HISD project manager Dwight Wilson. “Despite all the rain, we’re making significant headway.”
Workers with Prime Contractors expect to finish the steel installation by the end of March. At the same time, they are busy enclosing the building, with a combination of concrete block and brick masonry. Roofing is also ongoing.
The school has a target completion date of first quarter 2018. Once construction of the new facility is finished, the old building will be demolished, making way for construction of a baseball field and additional parking.
Ravin Banks, a senior at Washington High School, is graduating this spring and heading off to Texas Southern University in the fall. Even though she won’t be a student at the new school, she said she was still excited to sign the beam and be part of the milestone event on Friday.
“Even though we’re not going to be here, we still can come back and see it,” she said.