Tour gives Waltrip HS community a look at bond renovations

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Seeing was believing Tuesday night at Waltrip High School when those who turned out for a community meeting got a sneak preview of what’s to come with the ongoing renovation and construction project.

“You don’t mind coming in here for a meeting,” said Michael Arcos, whose son Aaron is a junior at the school. “It’s good to see this auditorium upgraded.”

New seats, cleaning of acoustical panels, stage floor replacement and new improved lighting in the auditorium are just some of the upgrades at the school, which is being partially replaced and renovated under the bond program.

More than 65 people turned out for the meeting to hear the latest update on the ongoing construction work at the Oak Forest neighborhood high school. The evening ended with a quick tour of recently renovated classrooms to show off some of the work, most of which will be completed by the start of the new school year.

“I’m a little excited about the classroom,” said an enthusiastic Stephanie Witherspoon, a robotics and engineering teacher at the school, as she led a small group into a health sciences lab. “You have the space and you have the room to teach.”

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Among those who came out for the meeting, the consensus was clear: The improvements can’t be done soon enough. “I’ve been witnessing all of this construction all of my high school life,” said Jonathan Evanicky, a senior who’ll be attending Texas A&M next fall to study construction management. “I’m very disappointed it wasn’t done earlier.”

District I Trustee Anna Eastman thanked the Waltrip community for their patience through the long process. “We are starting to see the beginning of the transformation,” she said.

Significant behind-the-scenes work has been ongoing in the past year, including the upgrading of the of the campus main electrical service feed, replacement of electrical panels and transformers in several areas. Installation of a new curtain wall system and windows, renovation of classrooms in existing three-story academic wing, beginning construction upgrades to athletics offices and locker rooms, as well as construction of new athletic field restroom and storage buildings were the main focus last fall.

Replacement of the fire alarm, HVAC and electrical systems are ongoing. A new band hall addition, new weight room addition as well as construction of new third floor science classroom wing and construction of a new front entry and administration offices for the campus are now underway. Some renovated classrooms were made ready for move-in over winter break.

In the coming months, the focus will be the band hall addition, third story wing and athletic renovations and additions. “It’s been a challenging project,” said Mark Sullivan of Gensler Architects. “It’s going to be a wonderful facility when complete.”

Parent Amanda Cormier is especially looking forward to the renovated band hall. “I’m very excited that the band is getting a facility that is up to par,” she said.

Nora Marquez, another parent, agreed. “I’m just hoping with this new building and new look that we get our neighborhood students back,” she said.