Huge smiles could be seen throughout the Lawson Middle School courtyard as students headed outside to scribble their signatures on what will be the final beam to be erected as part of their new school.
The southwest Houston middle school is among 40 schools being renovated or rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond program. The signed beam will be the last piece of steel installed, as the $59 million project is nearly one-third of the way complete.
“We are overjoyed at the feeling of knowing that the school is on the mark to be completed by the end of the school year,” said Lawson Principal Tynette Guinn. “The kids are excited to be a part of history.”
Lawson is set to receive a new school accommodating 1,300 to 1,500 students. Work on the project is well underway. The roof deck is in place, the pouring of the foundation is nearly complete, and the exterior and interior wall framing and installation of site utilities are underway.
“It’s definitely going to be a non-traditional school environment,” said sixth grade Dean of Students TaRhonda Harper. “I’m excited to see how the kids respond and the great things they’re going to come up with based on the freedom that they’ll have as far as how they learn.”
Design features include a new dining commons, gym, and central courtyard area, where students can gather to learn and study throughout the day. Plans also include a new fine arts building, which will feature a modern black box theatre that also can be used as a multipurpose space.
“I’ve been here for 14 years — this is what we need,” said Lawson PE Teacher Toni Woods. “As a coach, we need new facilities so I’m very excited.”
Many Lawson students seemed to share her feelings.
“It was a good choice,” eighth-grader Yahir Segura said of HISD’s decision to rebuild Lawson. “I think the school will help other students make better choices.”
Fellow eighth-grader Perla Morales said though she wouldn’t attend classes in the new building, it was exciting to see it begin to take shape.
“We’re going to miss this place,” Morales said.
Construction on the new Lawson is set to be complete during fourth quarter of 2017. Students will attend classes in the original building throughout construction with doors to the new facility opening in January 2018. Demolition of the existing building is set to begin early next summer with installation of athletic fields to follow soon after.
Across the district, construction is underway at roughly three dozen campuses, which is more activity than any other time in district history. Almost 50 percent of bond projects will be complete and open to students by the end of this summer. Once all work is complete, HISD will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the nation.