New Instructional Spaces Will Benefit Students at SECHS and Waltrip

Parents and community members at South Early College High School and Waltrip High School got the opportunity to weigh in Thursday on designs ideas for the two schools, which are set for construction under the 2012 bond program.

Site work is already underway for the new South Early College High School, which is being built on the campus of Houston Community College – South, at 1990 Airport Blvd. Waltrip High, located in Oak Forest off 34th Street, is scheduled to be partially replaced and renovated.

“Our district needs new facilities that can help our students achieve more than they already have,” said HISD’s General Manager for Facilities Design Dan Bankhead, who spoke to more than 30 people at the South Early College High School meeting. Among the attendees was HISD Trustee Larry Marshall.

The gatherings at South Early and Waltrip were the first of three meetings scheduled to be held at the campuses. HISD is holding community meetings to gain additional feedback from parents and neighbors to help guide the final design drawings for all schools being renovated or rebuilt.

‘We’re going to make this school amazing,” Waltrip High School Principal Andria Schur told more than two dozen people who turned out for the event.  Waltrip is still undergoing some infrastructure upgrades, such as electrical and plumbing work, under the 2007 bond program.

Shur told the audience that the 2012 program would focus on creating instructional spaces that can accommodate 21st century learning.

The same goal is driving the design at South Early College High School.

“We’re getting away from traditional classrooms and desks,” said school principal Steven Gourrier. We want to engage the students through a more innovative building with advanced technology.”

The new two-story 56,000-square-foot facility will feature hi-tech, colorful and open spaces with flexible learning areas that can be reconfigured and used in various ways. In the center of the building, there will be a large courtyard with stone seat walls and outdoor learning areas, where teachers can teach and students can lounge, study and eat.

“I like the multipurpose and courtyard areas because students get to go outside and interact with each other in different areas instead of being confined to just once area,” said South Early student Myranda Jannette.

Waltrip student  Jonathan Santos will graduate in the spring but he said he was inspired by the proposed changes at Waltrip.

“I’m kind of jealous of the kids coming up,” he said.

The district is holding three more community meetings in the next week.

November 18

• Sterling High School; 11625 Martindale; 6:30 to 8 p.m.

• North Forest Early Childhood Center; 10719 Seneca; 6 to 8 p.m. (Please note this is a not a bond-funded project. This new campus is being built with state money.)

November 19

• Worthing High School; 9215 Scott; 6 to 8 p.m.