YMCPA, Sharpstown HS Unveil Ideas for New Schools to Community

Project Advisory Teams unveiled the latest ideas for the new building design of the Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy and Sharpstown High School Wednesday night. Both schools are being rebuilt under HISD’s 2012 bond program.

“With every decision our Project Advisory Team has made, they have made an effort to ask us students what we want to see in the new school,” said Sharpstown student Muhammad Uzair. “I want to see more flexible classrooms and comfortable furniture like couches, so that when you’re sitting in a classroom, it feels more like home.”

More than 50 people attended community meetings Wednesday held at Sharpstown and YMCPA. HISD is holding community meetings to gain additional feedback from parents and neighbors to help guide the final design drawings for the schools.

 “It makes children feel good to go to schools that are beautiful,” said Ramona Toliver, a longtime resident of the YMCPA community. Toliver praised plans for the new facility, which she hopes will incorporate the site’s history by preserving special elements, such as the original building’s cornerstone, if it can be found.

The school, which is only three years old, is located at 1701 Bringhurst in Houston’s historic fifth ward. The campus includes the E.O. Smith Education Center, which formerly was Wheatley High School, and McGowen Elementary School.

The new two-story Sharpstown campus, located on the corner of Bissonnet Boulevard and Braeburn Valley Drive, will be constructed into a 21st century academic village within a park surrounded by nature walks, courtyards and outdoor learning areas.

“I know how important schools are to communities, and this design reflects the hopes and aspirations of the Sharpstown community,” said Henry R. Muñoz III, CEO of Muñoz Architects, which is designing the school with Autoarch Architects. “The community sees the new school as an academic village representing different people and different cultures coming together.”

The school, which will serve up to 1,500 students, will be expanded to include additional academic centers.

“The building is important, but what goes into it is even more important,” said Sharpstown Principal Robert Gasparello. “The opportunities that this new building will provide for our students will be off the charts.”

YMCPA Principal Damieon Crook agrees that their new school will also lead to greater expectations for students.

“The goal is to create a school that competes with the other high-performing high schools,” Crook said.

YMCPA students shared with their architects that they want the new school to feel collegiate while maintaining a sense of community for both the middle and high schools.

“I’m very interested in the fact that it’s going to be more 21st century,” said Anthony Guzman, an eighth-grader who has been attending YMCPA since it opened. “I want more open areas and more hands-on learning.”