Mickey Leland College Prep students, staff, alumni, and elected officials on Thursday gathered to break ground on the new school and to celebrate moving forward with the $42.4 million project.
Despite challenges, including the threat of rain on Thursday, those who attended expressed enthusiasm and excitement about getting construction underway on the all-male preparatory school in the Fifth Ward.
“To all of you young men out there, I want you to take a look around at all of the people here who are invested … to ensure that you have the very best 21st century education,” HISD School Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones told the crowd of about 500, which included students.
Principal Dameion Crook, Houston City Councilmember Jerry Davis, and Alison Leland, widow of the late Mickey Leland, also made remarks.
Crook said he believes the campus will attract students from across the district, noting that parents from Pearland, Pasadena, and Missouri City were in the audience to support the school.
“We offer an academic program that is second to none,” he said.
Senior class President Michael Suber will walk the stage in May as part of the school’s first graduating class. He credits the school for helping him receive acceptances to a list of colleges, including Texas A&M and Tulane universities.
Although he is still making up his mind on which college to attend, Michael said the all-boy environment is a plus at Mickey Leland.
“There’s a stronger sense of brotherhood and a great sense of community,” he said.
The students at Mickey Leland are attending school at the former Crawford Elementary building on Jensen Drive until their new campus is finished. Construction already has begun at 1701 Gregg St., where site utilities and additional earth work will take place in the coming months.
The former Wheatley/E.O. Smith building site, where the new school is being built, will include features to honor the history and accomplishments of that campus and its alumni.
Honor roll student Robert Lane is looking forward to the new building but said the academics at Mickey Leland are already great.
“It’s one of the best schools in the district,” said Robert, who is in sixth grade. “We have very good teachers.”
The new school is scheduled to open during the first quarter of 2017.