Decked out with yellow and green balloons and yellow flowers, Sharpstown High School’s two-story atrium and open-air dining commons became the focal point of the school’s grand opening ceremony on Thursday.
Scores of students, parents, staff, and community members gathered in the new space to celebrate the completion of construction on the new school, which opened to students in January after being rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond Program.
“It’s an ideal educational environment for our students and will inspire them, encourage their creativity, and challenge their imaginations,” HISD Board of Education Trustee Holly Flynn-Vilaseca said, looking around the room as she spoke to the crowd gathered for the celebration.
Sharpstown is among 40 schools, including 29 high schools, across the district being rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond Program. The $62.8 million facility features a dramatic two-story, light-filled atrium at the main entrance, classrooms equipped with modern technology and grouped into neighborhoods, and numerous flexible learning areas.
“Sharpstown has had a great past,” Sharpstown Principal Dan De Leon said. “In this building, we’re looking forward to a great future.”
The new school also features a large dining commons, two new gymnasiums, a fine arts wing, a JROTC building, and a state-of-the-art media communications area complete with rooms for both editing and film production.
“It’s hard to believe this is just a high school,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “The beautiful, open spaces, large windows and modern finishes make this school a beautiful architectural design.”
In addition Flynn-Vilaseca and Lathan, several dignitaries and elected officials joined in the celebration, including State Rep. Shawn Thierry, who presented the school with a resolution, State Rep. Gene Wu, Houston City Council Member Mike Laster, and a representative from State Sen. Borris Miles’ office.
Many Sharpstown alumni also attended the event, eager to tour the new building. Among them was alumnus Michael Julian, who said he couldn’t believe the difference between the new school and the old campus.
“I was very impressed by how high the ceilings are and how much light filters in,” Julian said, remembering his first time walking into the new school. “It’s very open and it’s quite a contrast from the tight, coziness of the old building.”
For Senior Class President Jojo Mills-Graves, the day’s celebration was bittersweet.
“It is hard to see the building that I spent all of my high school years in being demolished,” he said as he looked out the large atrium windows and caught a glimpse of the old building. “However, I’m glad to be here in a new and improved Sharpstown.”
Construction is underway at roughly two dozen campuses throughout the district. More than 50 percent of all 2012 Bond projects are now complete and open to students, and that number is expected to rise to 80 percent by the end of 2018. Once all projects are finished, HISD will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in America.
Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest construction updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.