Sharpstown HS community hears about construction process for new school

About 35 community members gathered on Tuesday evening to hear about the construction process and design concepts for a new sustainable 21st century campus for Sharpstown High School.

The school, which will hold 1,500 students, will be built on its current site at Bissonnet Street and Bonhomme Road. Students will remain in the current facility while the new one is being constructed, beginning at the start of 2015.

“This is a really exciting time for Sharpstown High School and the community,” said Sharpstown High Assistant Principal Michael Mitchell. “I’m glad that we are able to stay right here, do what we do every day and transition into a new building.”

Rick Anderson, a contractor with Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), explained to the audience what they should expect with the upcoming construction traffic. He says during the building process, KBR will provide the Sharpstown community with photos of the different stages of construction to stay informed about what’s going on.

“We’re going to be the best neighbors as possible by putting up a great fence,” Anderson said. “We want people to know something is going on, but we also don’t want to be distracting.”

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Students and members of the Project Advisory Team (PAT) have spent hundreds of hours over the last few months collaborating to create a design that ties with the guiding principles of Sharpstown. One of the main focuses for the group is creating a “mall theme” layout that incorporates the flexibility and infrastructure to support various types of learning and technology.

“The guiding principals have really been the thing that has helped shaped the way the school has developed as far as the design goes,” said Geoff Edwards, architect at Munoz and Company. “We are proposing to design the new building so that it does not interrupt the function of the school, and [classes] can continue in the current building while we’re building the new facility.”

Preliminary designs include areas for an outdoor learning space, a 21st century amphitheater and a large dining commons area to include furniture that can be moved and used as a multipurpose space. The first floor will also include learning neighborhoods that feature classrooms, a gymnasium, JROTC building and fine arts wing connecting around a multipurpose courtyard.

The center of the facility will be based around an open area of a two-story light-filled space similar to the idea of a mall, a concept PAT members and architects developed off of the historic Sharpstown Mall.

“Sharpstown [High] is an awesome school,” said parent and Sharpstown alumna Elizabeth Bagby Schooler. “I would definitely like to see some of the school’s traditions incorporated more into the design and I’m glad to see that there are a lot of teachers involved at the meeting.”

The second floor will mainly host classrooms and a learning commons, or a modern version of a library, which will promote students to stay on campus to study and complete group projects.

“Like you see in universities today, we are trying to bring that collegiate feel into the design of the new school,” Edwards said.

Muhammad Uzair, a Sharpstown High senior and PAT member, says many of the design concepts for the new facility developed from surveys and feedback from students and staff.

“We don’t want to do build a school that students and teachers don’t like,” Uzair said. “We wanted their consideration, opinions and views of what they wanted to see.”

Although Uzair will graduate next spring, he says he plans on staying involved with the building process of a new Sharpstown High School, which he calls his second home.

“I value this school, and that’s why I’m working hard to attend these meetings,” Uzair said. “I invest my time to show community members that I’m here for the students and represent all of us.”

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