Completed renovations mark new start for Waltrip HS

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Waltrip High School students and staff had an unusual start to the new school year — and not just because of the two-week delay caused by Hurricane Harvey. For the first time in almost 10 years, the school is not under construction.

“I’m thrilled that construction is complete, and we have a facility that is well suited to supporting instruction,” Principal Dale Mitchell said on Monday. “Educating students is much easier to do when classrooms are sized correctly and with new equipment.”

The first day of school initially was planned for Monday, Aug. 28, but that start date was delayed as a result of damages and flooding sustained from Hurricane Harvey. Most HISD schools — including Waltrip — opened on Sept. 11, but some were further delayed or even relocated to temporary campuses as crews worked to repair buildings that sustained the most significant damage during the storm.

The Waltrip campus has been undergoing renovations and been in various stages of construction for years. Work that originally began as part of the district’s 2007 Bond Program was folded into the current project, which is part of the 2012 Bond Program. Work was completed in phases while students remained on campus.

“Before, there was always a hallway closed off, or you’d have to take the long way around,” said senior Sierra Turner. “Now it’s nice, and there are more places to be, so it seems less crowded.”

Recently completed features include a new third-floor classroom wing and renovation and expansion of the gymnasium, the girls’ locker room, and several outdoor spaces. Previous renovations include a new secure main entry, new administrative offices, and renovated classrooms, athletics and fine arts spaces.

“I like it. It’s more modern,” said senior Jocelyne Flores. “It feels like it’s ready for a new generation.”

Waltrip is among eight new and renovated schools that opened for this first time this fall as part of the 2012 Bond Program. Almost half of the 40schools in the program are now complete and open to students.  Once all work is finished, the district will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.