Construction at Kashmere HS to begin this summer

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Kashmere High School alumna Janice Wright has fond memories of her experience at the Trinity Gardens area school, where she graduated in 1978.

Now, with a $17 million renovation project about to break ground, she is excited about the future for the campus and the opportunities for future generations of students.

“I think it’s great for the children,” she said. “It’s going to make the kids want to come to class.”

Wright was one of about three dozen people — including Board of Education Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones and representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Commissioner Gene L. Locke of Harris County Precinct One — who turned out Wednesday for an update on the 2012 Bond project.

Work on the campus is slated to start this summer, with the construction of an addition that will create a new front entrance to the school that is better defined and more secure. The next stage of work will be to renovate the academic areas to provide natural light, updated technology and spaces that enhance collaboration.

Another major component will be to enclose the interior center courtyard to create a large indoor flexible space that can be used throughout the day for different activities. By removing many of the ornamental columns and adding glass throughout that area, the goal is to create visual connections, according to Architect John Haugen of Natex Corp. The contractor on the project is DT Construction.

More information on the Kashmere High School project

Other highlights include expanding the JROTC area, relocating and renovating the dance studio, adding new bleachers to the gym, expanding the weight room, upgrading the school’s snack bar and opening up the auditorium and gymnasium visually to allow for better supervision.

“This is a big improvement,” said Master Sgt. Michael McAneney, who leads the school’s JROTC program, which attracts about 150 students each year. “It’s perfect.”

So that work can begin as soon as possible, Kashmere will relocate for the summer to Key Middle School, where it will hold summer school classes and have temporary administrative offices until July 31.

Principal Nancy Blackwell opened the meeting by talking about Kashmere’s overall plans to strengthen its academic program to boost academic achievement. A major focus will be placed on hiring effective teachers and providing more professional development to improve classroom practices, she said.

Blackwell said the renovations will only serve to help with those academic efforts. All construction work is slated for completion during the third quarter of 2017.

“I’m looking forward to it all being done,” Blackwell said. “It really is a comprehensive turn- around plan, inside and out.”