Tour Gives an Up-Close Look at the New Atherton ES

HISD opened the doors on Friday for the media to get a closer look at Atherton Elementary School, one of the district’s new schools opening on Monday for the 2013-2014 school year.

Atherton, located in the city’s historic fifth ward, is an 86,000-square-foot facility that is nearly twice the size of the original school, built in 1957.

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Guests who entered through the building’s unique aluminum-cone-shaped entrance on Friday got to see many of the new features, including a comprehensive library with windows on multiple levels. The library also features a large video screen, which will be used for Skyping with students and teachers at other schools. The school has several flexible learning spaces with moveable seating at the base of daylighted stairwells.

“I think this is one of the first of many schools we are creating for 21st century learning that our kids are going to require to compete educationally, globally and later in the global market,” said HISD Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones.

The school, designed by IDG Architects, is built to LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards and is seeking silver certification. The building is two stories to increase green space and features native plants to reduce irrigation and maintenance. Three recycling stations are included, and more than 40 percent of the building products are made with recycled materials.

Principal Albert Lemons said his top priority in the design process was to support the academic needs of the students at Atherton.

“I want to give the children in fifth ward the opportunity to have everything you need to get an education,” he said. “I want the teachers to be very effective.”

Students at Dogan Elementary School also will be returning to brand-new facilities on Monday thanks to the 2007 bond, and those attending Sherman Elementary School will be moving into a new school later this year.