Mark White ES community meeting offers update on construction, introduction to new principal

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Community meeting attendees for the new Mark White Elementary School on Thursday heard an important update on the construction phase of the project and received a formal introduction to the newly hired principal for the relief campus.

Lisa Hernandez, former assistant principal at The School at St. George Place, will lead the campus when the school opens in August 2016.

“We’re going to be looking at building a strong community for the school and really setting the mission for the school,” Hernandez said. “Our job as educators is to prepare students for the 21st century, and that is something I’m really looking forward to building at Mark White.”

The school, being built for 750 students on 10 acres of land on Old Farm Road between Buffalo Bayou and Westheimer, will help minimize crowding in five existing schools located in the west Houston area. Parents at the surrounding schools will have the opportunity to send their child to the new campus.

Crews with DivisionOne Construction are making progress at the site, with concrete pours completed for the roads leading into the property and foundation pours under way at the main site.

“Site construction is progressing very well,” said Jeffrey Sachs, project manager with DivisionOne. He explained that the project is tilt-wall construction, which will mean walls will go up fast. “The pace of construction will pick up very quickly as we move through the project,” he said.

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Designs for White Elementary show the center of the campus facing a multipurpose and dining room, and it includes an amphitheater and two driveways for bus and student drop-off.

On the second floor, two classroom wings will be connected by a bridge-like corridor with views to the outside. Each classroom will have direct access to a shared collaborative learning commons area. In line with the nature theme of the campus, a “treehouse” gathering space also will be located on the second floor to provide a view below to the multipurpose room.

The Project Advisory Team for the campus has emphasized the importance of LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification for the school, hoping to become one of the best examples of a LEED school in the country.

“I love the fact that we are incorporating nature in the entire design, and I love the fact that it is a LEED school,” said Becky Luman, who is a parent at Briargrove and a member of the PAT. “It’s very healthy for the occupants as well as the Earth.”