Community gathers for dedication of new addition at Katherine Smith Elementary

Katherine Smith Elementary School students, staff, parents, and community members gathered at the campus Wednesday morning to celebrate the completion of and officially dedicate the third and final phase of the school’s new building addition.

The construction project included a new library and a multi-purpose cafeteria/auditorium space, which also can be used for a gymnasium. Previous segments of the project, which were part of the 2002 and 2007 bond programs, included Phase 1 construction of 26 classrooms and Phase 2 construction of remaining classrooms, ancillary, special education and administrative offices.

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Student leaders welcomed about 75 attendees in the new auditorium, where they kicked-off the dedication with student performances by the K. Smith Choir and the Second Grade Scholars.

“We are so excited to finally see our new school completed,” Katherine Smith fifth grader Reneijah Richardson told the crowd.

HISD’s Chief Student Support Officer Mark Smith and Chief School Officers Karla Loria and Sam Sarabia spoke at the event and credited Principal Gloria Salazar for demonstrating perseverance through an extended construction schedule, ensuring the project was completed, and maintaining a strong academic program throughout.

“This is a celebration, but first things first. Kate Smith (students and staff) performed regardless of the distraction or inconvenience of construction,” Sarabia said. “The building is impressive, but the instructional program even more so.”

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Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones echoed the praise for Salazar, who is retiring this summer after 40 years with the district.

“Ms. Salazar has been relentless in advocating for her campus, her staff, and most importantly the kids,” Skillern-Jones said. “Children for generations will benefit from her service.”

Salazar expressed her gratitude to all who had a part in making the new building a reality, and thanked students, staff, parents, and the community for their patience during construction.

“In my 40 years with HISD, never did I imagine that I would get to be a part of building a magnificent new school from the ground up,” said Salazar, as she, Skillern-Jones and others cut a red ceremonial ribbon to formally open the new addition. “I can retire in peace this year knowing that our students and community now have the beautiful new building they deserve.”

Special presentations were also given to the school by representatives of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, State Representative Jessica Farrar, and Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle.

Following the ceremony, a reception was held in the school’s new library.

”To see the old school transform into this new building is really something else,” said Dora Luter, whose children and grandchildren attended the school. “I love the library most. I never imagined it would be this nice.”