The Mandarin Immersion Magnet School (MIMS) on Monday held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the school’s new Galleria-area building.
The $32.2 million school, part of HISD’s 2012 bond program, is one of six new campuses that opened across the district for the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
More than 100 supporters of the school, including State Rep. Gene Wu and Houston City Council Member Mike Laster, turned out for the event, which featured student performances, special presentations, a reception, and a tour of the new 119,000-square-foot facility.
“Today’s celebration is important because we officially dedicate our new building – a building that has been several years in planning and construction, and will now be around for decades to come,” said MIMS Principal ChaoLin Chang. “We’ve only been here two short months, but it already feels like home.”
The event was held in the school’s soaring three-story atrium, which is centrally located and serves as the main learning commons and library. Designed to reflect the themes of the sun and the moon, the building features brightly colored learning spaces and academic areas in the sun wing, which represents energy. Common areas and community spaces, including the cafeteria and gymnasium, are aligned in the moon wing, which is more subtle and symbolizes reflection.
“This is an amazing school, and I could not be more proud of the innovative program and the incredible progress that’s been achieved in just seven years’ time,” said HISD Trustee Harvin Moore, who is the parent of a MIMS student and one of the early champions of the school’s creation. “This building would not have been possible without Houston voters’ willingness to invest in our schools, and I think it’s clear to see the investment is paying off.”
Like HISD’s other dual language schools that teach Spanish, Arabic and French, MIMS alternates instruction between English and Mandarin Chinese, teaching in one language for the first half of the day and in the other for the second half.
Fifth-grade student Quinn Moore said he likes attending the school because, in addition to learning the Mandarin language, they also learn about the culture.
“It’s interesting to learn about Chinese culture because it’s a lot different than ours,” Quinn said. “I really like the new building. I’m most excited about the gym, because our old school didn’t have one.”
This year, MIMS will educate students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, adding one grade level per year to eventually grow into a pre-K through 8th-grade campus. The school is expected to be the largest Chinese language immersion school in the nation once it reaches capacity within the next two years.
As the school grows to its final enrollment of 900 students, the new building will be able to accommodate future programming changes through its flexible design, including the learning commons area, which can double as a classroom or lab.
“MIMS is an extraordinary school, and our students are exceptional,” Principal Chang said. “Our students will leave here after eighth grade with the ability to speak fluently in Mandarin and prepared to succeed in high school, college, and the world.”