Armed with cell phones, six juniors from Wisdom High School teemed with enthusiasm as they wandered through their nearly completed new school, snapping pictures and selfies along the way.
“I feel like I’m getting a makeover,” junior Awah Bodunrin said, giggling as she and her classmates made their way through the new facility.
Bodunrin is a member of Wisdom’s upcoming 2017-2018 Senior Committee, a senior leadership group that got an early look at the new school, which is set to open in time for the start of the 2017-2018 school year.
“You see that they light up like a Christmas tree. You can see it in their faces,” said Wisdom Principal Johnathan Trinh, who led the tour.
The $74 million project, part of HISD’s 2012 Bond Program, is substantially complete. The construction crew is overseeing final inspections and system tests and awaiting the arrival of new furniture, which is expected to be delivered in early May. The school will begin its transition into the new building later this summer.
“It’s really satisfying to see your work actually being built,” said EYP architect Brent Oldbury, who added that he takes great pride in building a school for this particular student body. “It’s the most diverse in Houston, and being able to serve that community is really cool.”
The new Wisdom High School is a 280,000-square-foot facility that will accommodate 1,700 to 1,900 students and feature a two-story building divided into four neighborhood wings with flexible learning spaces and plenty of windows to maximize natural light. Other features include a state-of-the-art theater, gymnasium with accompanying weight room, JROTC area, and music rooms. The main entrance to the school will continue to face north, allowing the campus to keep its historic Beverly Hill street address.
Students will have access to a cafeteria complete with a coffee shop, snack bar, and an exterior courtyard area that will serve as an extension of the dining commons. The new building also provides an area for specialized career training in fields such as welding and woodshop, the latter of which will feature an exposed steel beam signed by students, staff, and community members.
A member of what will be the first class to graduate from the new building, junior Vanesas Villatoro said she’s going to miss the old building, but hopes the new building will help the school’s reputation improve among her peers.
“I really want to see more school spirit develop and increase,” said Villatoro, who serves as secretary for the 2017-2018 Senior Committee.
In June, the old building will be demolished to make way for parking lots, driveway areas, and athletic fields. Summer school classes will be held at Sharpstown International School while demolition and site development is underway.
Bodunrin, vice president of the 2017-2018 Senior Committee, said with all of the changes she feels great about the upcoming year.
“With a new name, with a new school and then a new team, I think it’s going to be a powerful year,” said Bodunrin.
Wisdom is among 40 schools, including 29 high schools, being renovated or rebuilt across the district. Construction is underway at roughly three dozen campuses, which is more activity than any other time in district history. Almost 50 percent of bond projects will be complete and open to students by the end of this summer. Once all work is complete, HISD will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.