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Music echoed throughout the Lawson Middle School gym as community members gathered with former students and staff to catch up with old friends, flip through old yearbooks, and dance the afternoon away.
Led by current students and staff, the stroll down memory lane was part of a “Walk to Remember” — an event held to let stakeholders bid their final farewells to the building before it is demolished later this summer.
“It’s important to preserve the memories,” Lawson Principal Kasey Bailey said. “There’s a lot of history with this school, but we’re very excited to move into the new building.”
Lawson is one of 40 schools being renovated or rebuilt as part of the voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. Construction on the new building is set to wrap this summer with doors formally opening to students for the 2018-2019 school year.
The 197,093 square-foot facility is being built adjacent to the existing campus and will feature a dining commons, two gyms, a central courtyard area, and a fine arts wing complete with a modern black box theatre.
During the festivities, former Rice School student David Baptiste looked around the gym remembering his time spent as a basketball player at the Lawson campus, which then was named Dowling Middle School.
“I have a lot of memories in this place,” Baptiste said. “My mom taught here, and I met my first love here. So I needed to see the building as it was before we go to what it is.”
It was also a bittersweet moment for class of 1985 alumna Alma Sauceda-Ramirez and her three sisters — who are also alumni — as they walked the halls reminiscing about old times.
“I think I may get emotional when it comes down,” Sauceda-Ramirez said. “It brings a lot of memories.”
Her younger sister, Sara Sauceda-Cerda, said though the demolition will be sad, she is optimistic about the future of the new school.
“Looking at the new building you feel a sense of pride,” Sauceda-Cerda said. “Dowling has come a long way. We are supporters of HISD, and it means a lot to this community to see it.”
Construction is underway at about two dozen HISD campuses. 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.
Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.