With signs of construction already visible on campus, Grady Middle School community members gathered at the school on Wednesday evening to hear from the architect and contractor working on a new building addition. Stakeholders expressed enthusiasm for the project, which will complete a multi-phase master plan for the campus.
Crews have erected fencing at the campus and are moving in equipment to prepare for the final phase of the school’s state-of-the-art 21st century learning center. The new addition will add about 56,000 square feet to the building and will be aesthetically integrated with the existing facility. Current T-buildings will be replaced with a new wing accommodating 24 core learning centers, six science labs, six learning commons, and three administrative suites – all centered around a central courtyard.
“I’ve been teaching in a temporary classroom for 10 years,” said history teacher Brian Harrist. “I’ve actually grown quite attached to it, but it will be really nice to have a permanent room in the new addition – and no more T-buildings.”
The original Henry Grady Middle was built in 1941 and was replaced by a new main building that was completed in 2012. As part of HISD’s 2012 bond program, Houston voters approved the second phase of the building, the new core classrooms wing, which will expand the student capacity from 580 to 850.
“The newer, bigger school is going to be great for the neighborhood – we’re very excited about it,” said Ann Cochran, Grady PTA president. “Our parents are also planning to raise additional funds to improve our outdoor athletic areas, which is greatly needed and will nicely complement the new facility.”
Grady Principal Gretchen Kasper-Hoffman said she was looking forward to the green space centered around the addition.
“Grady hasn’t had a nice green space – and for middle-schoolers, that is important,” she said.
More than 200 meeting attendees, many of whom were also at the school for its open house night, heard from the project’s contractors, who have extensive experience working in an active school environment.
“Student safety is always our number one priority, and we work to minimize any disruption to school activities,” said Todd Hamby, President of DivisionOne Construction.
Grady Middle School is part of the first group of schools to start construction under the district’s 2012 bond program. Construction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2015.
“This is going to be a very nice-looking school,” said Rene Langlois, the grandparent of a Grady student. “The area is growing, and the IB program is a big draw for students. We need this bigger, updated school.”