Barbara Jordan Career Center opens the doors to its new facility

Barbara Jordan Career Center welcomed its first group of students to the new building Monday morning as they made their way from their home school to spend the first half of their day at the newly built facility.

“They are learning their way around,” Principal Scott McAlpine said. “They are really excited about being here and having this new building, it’s going to be a great opportunity for them.”

The new career center is one of 29 high schools being renovated or rebuilt as part of HISD’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program.

The 120,000-square-foot building, which accommodates up to 800 students, features a mix of spaces for a variety of programs. One side of the school houses construction and welding lab spaces and the other side houses programs such as cosmetology and early childhood development.

The second level has a human sciences wing that will host programs such as allied health and medical biotech. Math classrooms and a video production lab are also located on the second floor.

Shaiyonna Babineaux, an eleventh-grade Wheatley High School student who is studying to become a veterinarian, loves the three human science classrooms she now gets to learn in.

“In the old building we couldn’t really interact and have hands-on training. Now we have these three huge classrooms, so I will be able to understand more because I can perform real work instead of just learning it conceptually,” she said.

Babineaux said she was excited about the new fume hood, a ventilated enclosure where chemicals can be used and stored. She said she’s previously only seen one on a field trip to Houston Community College.

Located at the school’s center is a large learning staircase that provides a place for students to gather for studying, impromptu lectures, and career exploration programs.

“It’s nice to have all of these open areas where teachers can bring their students to do some career exploration and collaborative lessons,” McAlpine said. He said he plans to make the school available to the community as a place to meet and hold events.

More than 80 percent of all HISD construction projects are now complete. Once all projects are done, HISD will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.

Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.