More than 100 South Early High School community members gathered Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of their new facility, which was built as part of the 2012 Bond Program and opened to students in August.
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The $13.5 million, 57,000-square-foot facility built adjacent to the Houston Community College-South Campus features modern, flexible learning spaces specifically designed to support the school’s robotics, computer technology and software engineering programs.
“This is an exciting opportunity we have here at 1930 Airport Road,” South Early Principal Steven Gourrier said to the audience. “It took a long time for us to get here, but now we’re here and excited about what’s to happen from this point forward at South Early College High School.”
South Early is one of 40 schools across the district being renovated or rebuilt as part of HISD’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. The new facility — one of six new schools that opened to HISD students this year — will accommodate 400 students.
“Everybody wants to make sure that all of our students, regardless of what zip code they live in or where they come from…have an environment and facility that’s respectful to the learning taking place in that community,” HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza said during the celebration. “I’m even more proud of the fact that this building is here in the community as a real testament that we believe every student should have the best.”
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South Early is one of five early college campuses in HISD. Through a partnership with HCC, students can earn both their high school diploma and associate’s degree for free and while still in high school.
South Early is the district’s only early college campus to offer a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) magnet program and was named by the Texas Education Agency this year as one of 23 new Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) Academies.
“Walking through the front doors of this illustrious and beautiful building with the vibrant colors, I think it’s a warm invitation and the students feel it when they walk through the door,” HISD Trustee Wanda Adams told the audience. “To realize their full potential and find their individual paths to success, I believe they can do it right here at South Early.”
Joining Superintendent Carranza and Trustee Adams at the Grand Opening were Houston City Council Member Dwight Boykins, HCC P16 Director Monique Smith, and retired educator and founding member of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc. Alpha Kappa Chapter Lillian Parker, as well as South Early students, alumni, staff and community members.
The program concluded with a formal ribbon cutting to dedicate the new building. Attendees then were invited to tour the new campus.
“My favorite concept is how we now have study rooms, so now we’re able to actually go in during and after school to study with friends, and do our work in a closed environment so we can focus more,” said South Early junior Taylor Gallow. “We have needed a new building for a while, and I’m really excited we have all of the open space to move around.”