North Forest HS holds grand opening celebration

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With a stunning view of the forest as a backdrop, North Forest High School stakeholders celebrated the grand opening of the first new high school to be built in the area in almost five decades.

More than 200 community members, students, and staff gathered Friday in the school’s dramatic two-story dining commons for the event, which featured student speakers, performances by the NFHS choir, and remarks by HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones and Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan.

“It’s wonderful when we can see the fruits of our labor in our children,” Skillern-Jones said. “This building says we care about our children. It represents the bright future of this community, because education changes lives.”

Skillern-Jones also expressed gratitude to state Rep. Senfronia Thompson for her instrumental role in securing state funding for the new $59.5 million building, which opened to students in January of this year.

“I believe in North Forest,” Thompson told the crowd. “This building is the result of the efforts of this community. You did this.”

The new 215,000-square-foot facility features modern classrooms, flexible learning areas, and a dramatic main entry hall that leads to an open-concept dining commons with floor-to-ceiling windows.

“This is a beautiful building. It’s a testament to this community’s hard work, dedication, and faith,” Lathan said. “Our students and the North Forest community deserve this new facility and the awesome opportunities it will bring.”

During the event, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee presented Principal Darryl Henson with a U.S. flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol building.

“We’ve been provided with a 21st-century facility with bright hallways, amazing CTE spaces, state-of-the-art fine arts spaces, and the best gym and indoor track in HISD,” Henson said. “Students have found a new sense of pride with new expectations.”

Following the official ribbon-cutting, guests were invited to tour the new facility, where they viewed career and technical training spaces designed to support the school’s current curriculum of firefighter training, forensic sciences, agricultural science, and automotive technology.

Guests also saw fine arts and athletics features of the facility, including an auditorium with flexible seating, theater, band and choir rooms, a dance studio, the open-concept gymnasium, a fully-furnished weight room, and the indoor running track – a first of its kind in HISD.

“Entering the new building, it’s obvious that the improvements have sparked a fire in the students,” NFHS Class of 2017 valedictorian Deonna London said. “I’m excited to see people are acknowledging the treasures that come out of North Forest, and I know the students will continue to make us proud.”

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 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.