Waltrip HS celebrates ribbon-cutting and homecoming

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Waltrip High School students, staff and alumni roared with excitement Friday as they gathered before their new three-story building addition and watched as administrators cut a large red ribbon stretched across the entrance.

As the Ram Band began to play, cheerleaders and dance team members led the crowd in singing the Waltrip fight song.

“Go Rams!” Senior Class President Coby Johnston said, smiling at the energetic crowd.

The crowd was gathered in the small courtyard to celebrate Waltrip’s Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and Homecoming Pep Rally — a joint event designed to formally mark the end of construction and renovations on their campus.

The $32.2 million project is among 40 schools being renovated or rebuilt as part of the voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. Design plans called for partial replacement and general renovations to the existing building, as well as a new addition. The renovated campus can accommodate 1,800 to 2,000 students.

“We are here today because of the effort of this community,” Waltrip Principal Dale Mitchell said, thanking stakeholders for supporting the school and the bond program.

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

“This was a long time coming,” HISD Board of Education Trustee Anna Eastman said. “We are here today, and we have a lovely building.”

Northwest Area Superintendent Steven Gutierrez said it was exciting to feel the energy and buzz among the crowd.

“I thank you for all the enthusiasm and hard work,” Gutierrez said. “Having a 21st century space will make learning exciting for all of the students.”

The school’s new features include a third-floor classroom wing as well as renovation and expansion of the gymnasium, girls’ and boys’ locker rooms, and several outdoor spaces. Previously completed renovations included a new secure main entry, new administrative offices, and updated classroom, athletics and fine arts spaces, as well as a new band hall, new first- and second-floor classrooms, and new career education spaces.

During the event, a special plaque recognizing alumni who were fallen members of the armed forces was presented to the principal by former Waltrip alumnus and military veteran William Howard Jr. The plaque will hang in the school’s main lobby.

As the ceremony concluded, students and staff followed the Ram Band into the gymnasium for their annual homecoming pep rally. Freshman through senior classes competed in various activities, and both the dance team and cheerleaders performed for the crowd. Later that night, Waltrip played the Austin High School Mustangs for their annual homecoming game, beating them 38-16.

Bond construction is underway at more than two dozen campuses in HISD. Almost 50 percent of bond projects are now complete and open to students. Once all work is done, HISD will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.

Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest construction updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.