Jordan HS hosts beam-signing; PAT members tour site

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Barbara Jordan High School for Careers students gathered this week in their old parking lot — now the future site of their new school — to ink their signatures on steel beams beneath the building’s learning staircase.

The students and faculty were invited to sign the beams as a way to commemorate construction progress and memorialize their signatures in the new structure, which is scheduled to be finished by the end of this year.

Constructed as part of the 2012 Bond Program, the $42 million project — which sits adjacent to the current school — is nearly two-thirds complete. Steel framing is done, exterior walls and roofing are nearly finished, and interior framing and window installation is underway.

“I think it’s really exciting that the kids have the chance to see this,” Jordan Principal Ross McAlpine said, smiling as he watched students eagerly pile into the new structure to sign the stairs. “It’s great to see the building coming to fruition.”

The 120,000-square-foot career center is designed to accommodate 600 to 800 students, who will spend part of the day at their home school and part of the day at Jordan participating in specialized, hands-on career training.

The building will feature specially designed spaces for a variety of career and technology programs, including auto/diesel, health science, construction technology, cosmetology, early childhood development, culinary arts, marketing/entrepreneurship, and welding.

The first floor will house administrative offices, as well as cosmetology, marketing, and culinary spaces, and large shops for construction, auto/diesel, and welding. The second floor will contain the health science wing and math and science classrooms. Quieter programs will be located on one side of the building, while louder courses will be located on the other.

The large learning staircase where students gathered this week is located in the center of the school and is part of a flexible learning commons, which can be used for studying, impromptu lectures, project work, or career exploration programs.

Jordan senior Tanya Martinez said she had never been to a beam-signing before and was happy she and her fellow students got to participate in the festivities.

“I’m leaving a piece of my high school memories here,” Martinez said. “It’s so cool we get to do this.”

Also in attendance were students and staff from Jordan’s partner schools and HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones.

Later in the day, Jordan Project Advisory Team members also had the chance to sign the beams and leave their mark on the new school during a tour of the construction site. During the tour, faculty members who serve on the PAT caught glimpses of their future classrooms, including the automotive shop, welding workshop, science labs, and cosmetology wing.

“I think it’s awesome we’ve gotten to see each phase,” Jordan English Teacher Morgan Graham said, adding that her current classroom window offers views of the active construction site. “It’s about time that we get a new school with all of the great things in it.”

Construction is slated for completion during the fourth quarter of 2018. After students move into the new building, the existing facility will be demolished to make way for a parking lot.

Jordan is among 40 schools, including 29 high schools, being renovated or rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond Program. More than 50 percent of all bond projects are now finished and open to students, and that number is expected to grow to 80 percent by the end of the year. 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.