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Kashmere High School students buzzed with anticipation Monday morning as teachers, staff, and community members welcomed them for their first day back to school at a newly renovated campus.
“It’s just beautiful,” Principal Nancy Blackwell proclaimed. “We went from dark and dingy to light and open.”
Blackwell said that the aesthetics that surround a child are important, so she is hopeful the new environment will positively impact students — both academically and emotionally.
Kashmere was renovated as part of HISD’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. In conjunction with an upgraded front entrance, the $17 million project included upgrading and enclosing the main central courtyard to create a large, indoor flexible space designed for year-round use.
Classrooms and corridors were renovated, and plenty of windows were added to provide abundant natural light throughout the building.
“It’s really nice,” said junior Hera’Emperatrize Gibson. “You can really feel the school spirit. I want to hang out here now.”
Other new features include an expanded JROTC area, relocated and renovated dance studio, new bleachers in the gym, an expanded weight room, upgraded cafeteria and snack bar area with new modern seating, and new administrative offices.
“I’m amazed at all of the new things,” said teaching assistant Anthony Wiltz, who graduated from Kashmere in 2012. “Kids weren’t eager to be here before. Now, I think they will want to come. It has a happy feel now.”
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 Kashmere — 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.
Kashmere 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 40 schools 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.