New Washington HS set to open for the 2018-2019 school year

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When students enter the new Washington High School this fall, they will be greeted by a prominent image of civil rights activist and educator Booker T. Washington.

This year marks the 125th anniversary for the school, which was built in 1893 as the city’s first African-American high school.

Washington Principal Carlos Phillips said he is excited to move into the new school and looking forward to presenting the facility to the community.

“I think community members are going to be impressed with how students will thrive and learn in this building,” Phillips said. “The next era of Booker T. Washington is going to be outstanding.”

The $56.5 million project, which is part of HISD’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program, is slated for completion this summer, with doors formally opening to students for the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Finishing touches on the building, such as paint and exterior landscaping are underway, as is flooring of the three-court gymnasium. Bus drives and parking lots have been poured.

HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones and a small group of community members got a sneak peek of the new facility last week when they visited the school’s grand staircase, science and engineering labs, cafetorium, gymnasium, and administrative offices.

President Skillern-Jones said she considers the project somewhat restorative for a community that has, at times, felt neglected throughout the years.

“This is one of those buildings that will bring children to 21st century learning,” Skillern-Jones said as she looked up at the loft-style ceilings. “To give a building like this to kids who have been historically underserved means a lot.”

The new facility will showcase the school’s engineering magnet program through the use of 21st century technology, specialized engineering and science labs, and flexible learning spaces that support project-based learning and encourage collaboration. The modern campus — located off of Yale Street — will consist of four large buildings set to house up to 1,300 students.

Additional building features, include an auditorium that expands into the cafeteria via a retractable wall that contains retractable seating to accommodate larger audiences, a three-court gymnasium, daycare center, drama, choir, and band rooms, and exterior courtyards where science labs can conduct additional experiments.

HISD Senior Project Manager Troy Sneed said he feels the construction project team did a great job incorporating the school’s vision into the final product.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done and couldn’t be happier with the end result,” Sneed said.

Furniture and equipment will be moved in later this month with staff scheduled to move in during June. Demolition of the old building is set to begin later this summer, making way for a baseball and softball field and additional parking.

Washington is among 40 schools, including 29 high schools, being renovated or rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond Program. Half of all projects are now finished 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 updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.