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The excitement was palpable as the Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center Mariachi Band began to perform on Friday, formally kicking off the celebration designed to mark the start of construction on their new school.
Blustery winds didn’t stop dozens of students, teachers, parents, and alumni from gathering in the school parking lot to witness the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Sam Houston — part of the 2012 Bond Program — and catch a peek of the construction that already is underway.
“I believe strongly that our students deserve a state-of-the-art school,” Sam Houston Principal Alan Summers said. “Not only because they deserve to go to a school that looks good, but also because they deserve to be in a building that has facilities to help prepare them for life after high school.
The $101.4 million project is part of the Houston Independent School District’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. The three-story school will accommodate 2,550 to 2,750 students and incorporate an existing science classroom and laboratory wing.
The school will have a collegiate feel with plenty of classroom space, informal gathering areas to facilitate project-based learning, and a large courtyard that will function as both a flexible learning area and gathering space.
“When I think of Sam Houston, I think of struggle and conquest. For the veteran teachers who are here, thank you so much for having stayed here and having believed in Sam Houston,” said HISD Deputy Superintendent Sam Sarabia. “We are here to start the celebration of what happens when you never give up with a struggle.”
The school also will feature a grand learning stairway, which will function as both an informal gathering space for students, as well as a spot for class lectures and presentations. Other design highlights include updated JROTC spaces and a fine arts wing with an 800-seat auditorium and black box theater.
“I cannot tell you how this day makes me feel, to see the earth moving for this building,” HISD Trustee Anna Eastman said. “I really look forward to coming back and cutting a ribbon here soon.”
Several dignitaries participated in the celebration, including representatives from the offices of U.S. Congressman Gene Green and Houston City Council Member Karla Cisneros, as well as representatives from HISD Construction Services, URS Program Management, Stantec Architecture, and Satterfield & Pontikes Construction.
Members of the Sam Houston Project Advisory Team also were in attendance, as were dozens of Sam Houston students, including some who participated in the groundbreaking ceremony.
“All the clubs, organizations and extracurricular activities this school has provided for me has helped me get out of my comfort zone and achieve my goals,” Sam Houston Class of 2017 Valedictorian Uriel Iglesia told the crowd.
Sam Houston is among 40 schools being renovated or rebuilt across the district as part of the 2012 Bond Program. Active construction is currently underway at roughly three dozen campuses — more than at any time in the district history.
Almost half of all projects will be complete and open to students by the end of this summer. Once all projects are complete, HISD will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the nation.
“I’m excited about the new school,” said Sam Houston Alumna Kim Barnett, who brought her young daughter to see the groundbreaking ceremony. It would be thrilling, she said, for her daughter to one day attend the new Sam Houston. “Maybe we can have an alumni like mommy and daddy.”
Construction on the new Sam Houston is slated for completion in third quarter 2019.