Cheerful student ambassadors at The Rusk School met alumni, parents and community partners at the front entrance of their school to welcome them to a celebration for the opening of a new building wing.
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Students accompanied guests down the hallways of the school to an outdoor walkway that leads to a new two-story building addition. The 21st century learning areas feature smart boards, document cameras, flexible student seating, and large windows – some of which overlook downtown Houston.
“It feels really good to have our own space,” said seventh-grader Michelle Hernandez, who welcomed visitors to the new building during a two-day celebration that began Friday with an open house that drew more than 300 parents.
The celebration also included a ribbon cutting Monday with musical performances by the school choir and student testimonies about their education at Rusk and how the school has changed their lives.
Many students gave guests tours of the 21,000-square-foot building that will serve 250 middle school students at the K-8 school. The building, funded under HISD’s 2007 bond program, includes seven classrooms, two science labs and a computer lab that will also serve as an engineering lab. The facility will also offer a 1:1 laptop initiative, providing each student with their own laptop or iPad.
“No more temporary buildings for our middle school students,” said Rusk Principal Eduardo Sindaco. “The fact that they have their own space and a brand new space at that will allow them to flourish even more.”
The $11 million building addition, designed by STOA International Architects and built by contractor Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, features state-of-the-art technology infrastructure and multiple environmental enhancements designed to save energy through the use of recycled building materials and increased daylight views.
“I love all the natural lighting and the large rooms that will allow for more collaborative learning opportunities for our students,” said HISD Board President Juliet Stipeche.
The new facility will open to students this week.
“We have been looking forward to being in the new building for a while,” said seventh-grader Nikolas Lechuga while sitting in the facility’s gym that will also serve as a multipurpose room for special events. “We have more room to grow, and we have a gym now. That’s the fun part because when it’s cold and wet outside, we can play in here.”
“It is my hope that with this new building, the school will allow more children to discover themselves,” said eighth-grader Erik Lopez who spoke during the opening ceremony at the ribbon cutting.
Students helped Principal Sindaco, School Support Officer Rudy Trevino, Stipeche and former HISD trustee and Houston City Councilman Felix Fraga, an alumni of Rusk, cut the ribbon before opening the building up for tours.
“I’ve always been proud of Rusk,” said Fraga, who attended the original Rusk in the 1930s. “We keep thinking neighborhoods like this are going to disappear, but they’re not. This community needs school developments like this one that will continue to support and improve our neighborhoods.”