Garden Oaks Montessori welcomes students into new facilities

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The first day of school after Spring Break is always busy, but for Garden Oaks Montessori students and staff, the day was marked with even more excitement thanks to the opening of new building additions.

Teachers worked through Spring Break to ensure classrooms were ready for students, while some parents even stopped by last week to give their children a chance to get acclimated early.

Garden Oaks Principal Lindsey Pollock said the first day had been hectic, but exciting.

“We have new routines, new breakfast spots, new gathering places, new dismissal procedures,” Pollock said. “The teachers were here at 6:30 a.m. putting the finishing touches on their classrooms. We really wanted it to be a special day for the kids. It’s so exciting, and the classrooms are beautiful.”

Garden Oaks is among 40 schools being renovated or rebuilt as part of the district’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. The $30.8 million project includes the two new additions, as well as renovations to the existing buildings.

Originally constructed in 1979, the school now has two new additions connected via a covered walkway. The three-story addition serves as a classroom wing, while the two-story addition contains a new gym, administrative lobby with a secure check-in area, and classroom spaces.

“There’s lots of light and LED lighting in the classrooms,” Pollock said. “The old building has conduit and electrical plugs that had been added over the last 50 years. We’re very excited for the improved functionality, and the updates bring us into the current century.”

On Monday, middle school students gathered on the third floor of the new addition, where they were welcomed by teachers to new open-concept classrooms.

“We’ve been in traditional classrooms spaces until now,” middle school social studies teacher Matthew Jefferson said, noting that the renovation was expected to boost enrollment in the middle school program. “As a group, we’re really excited about moving into our new space. We’re looking forward to adapting to our open-concept and engaging our students in learning.”

The opening of the additions marks the start of the next phase of renovation work, which includes extensive remodeling of the three existing classroom buildings. This work is designed to provide the school with additional updated classrooms and science labs.

The project is scheduled to wrap up in the third quarter of 2018, with additional site development wrapping up in the fourth quarter.

Construction is underway at roughly two dozen campuses in HISD as part of the 2012 Bond Program, and half of all bond projects are now complete and open to students. Once all work is finished, 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.