Fifth Ward community celebrates opening of new Mickey Leland College Prep campus

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Deep blue skies, crisp cool air, and the smooth sounds of the Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men Jazz Band set the stage Tuesday for the grand opening celebration for the school’s new $44 million facility.

More than 100 community members joined students and staff in the school courtyard, where they heard the Leland Men’s Choir kick off the event by singing “I’m Building Me a Home.”

“We just built a home here in the Fifth Ward,” Principal Dameion Crook said after the performance. “It’s a special place in a very special neighborhood, and it was well worth the wait.”

The 139,000-square-foot building, which is part of HISD’s 2012 Bond Program, was designed to honor the history of the two schools that previously occupied the site — E.O. Smith Middle School and Phyllis Wheatley High School.

The state-of-the-art all-boys school will serve up to 1,000 students in sixth through 12th grades. It features robotics and engineering labs, innovative classrooms and learning centers, and the Joe Sample music hall with recording studio, as well as athletic facilities and two eco-friendly courtyards.

“This project means so much to this community,” said HISD Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones, who represents the school. “The building is amazing, and I know it will build legacies and continue the historic traditions of the Fifth Ward.”

Attendees also heard from HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza, Leland Senior Class President Cameron Lawrence, and William “Gaston” Leland, brother of late Congressman and school’s namesake Mickey Leland.

“It is always an honor and a privilege to be in the historic, resilient, and beautiful Fifth Ward,” Carranza said. “This building is just the first of many to come in this community that will be markers of pride.”

During the event, Principal Crook presented framed photos of the new building to members of the Leland and E.O. Smith families.

State Rep. Harold Dutton presented the school with a resolution from the Texas State Legislature. Darryl Jackson, a representative from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s office, presented the school with a certificate of recognition and an American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol.

Following the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, students led visitors on tours of the new building.

“We are truly grateful and fortunate to have this facility,” Senior Class President Cameron Lawrence said.

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.