Milby HS celebrates the old and the new at grand opening ceremony

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“It’s a great day to be a Milby Buffalo!” exclaimed HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza as hundreds of attendees cheered with pride and excitement at Milby High School’s highly anticipated grand opening celebration Thursday.

Current and former Milby Buffs filled the new school as the Milby Marching Thunder Band and Charlie’s Angels pumped up the crowd at HISD’s largest ribbon-cutting ceremony to date. Shiny gold and blue decorations adorned the large learning commons area, which showcases a combination of new construction alongside the historical front façade of the school.

“Let me start by saying welcome to Milby High School,” said Milby Principal Roy de la Garza as he flashed a smile to the crowd. “Milby is a great school — it has always been a great school — and now we have a building and facility that honors this great community.”

Milby’s new $68.8 million campus, part of HISD’s 2012 Bond Program, features two new academic wings that house science and engineering labs, CTE spaces for welding, cosmetology, printing, and culinary arts. Other features include a new secure main entrance and administrative offices, an auditorium with a black box theater, a large dining commons area, a huge outdoor courtyard, and new gymnasium, dance room and locker rooms.

HISD Trustee and Milby alumna Diana Davila spoke with pride about her alma mater and also paid tribute to her friend, Trustee Manuel Rodriguez Jr., who passed away last month.

“I’m so glad to be here today,” Davila said. “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Trustee Rodriguez making sure that Milby got the funding that it needed.”

Rodriguez served 14 years on the HISD Board of Education and represented the school. He worked diligently to support Milby students and successfully pushed for the school to receive a new swimming pool, which will be built in the next phase of construction.

During the ceremony, the Rodriguez family was presented with a memorial wreath and a framed portrait of the historic front façade of Milby. As festivities wrapped up, Principal de la Garza led the family and others to the exterior courtyard where they released butterflies in honor of Trustee Rodriguez.

Also offering congratulations and joining in the celebration were state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, state Reps. Carol Alvarado and Mary Ann Perez, U.S. Congressman Gene Green, and Houston City Councilmembers Karla Cisneros and Robert Gallegos.

As hundreds roamed the hallways on self-guided tours, former HPD Officer Richard Gonzalez said he was amazed at the new building. Gonzalez left Milby over a decade ago after policing its students for 20 years. As he reminisced on the school of old, he admitted the homecoming was bittersweet.

“It’s awesome,” Gonzalez said of the new building. “Milby has been everything to me.”

Senior Class President Ana Moreno, who emceed the program, expressed the impact the new building will have on the current students and those to come.

“I am so excited to be in the first class to graduate from this new building,” Moreno said. “It is something that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Milby is among 40 schools across the district being renovated or rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond Program. Bond construction is underway at roughly three dozen campuses in HISD — 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 country.