Washington HS starts school year in new building

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At Washington High School, the first day of school wasn’t just about starting a new school year. It was a true celebration.

The start of the 2018-2019 school year not only marks the opening of the new campus, but also the school’s 125th anniversary. It was originally built in 1893 as the city’s first African-American high school.

As students entered the new Washington High School on the first day of school this week, they were greeted by a large photo of civil rights activist, educator and school namesake Booker T. Washington on the wall in the school’s foyer, as well as the heart-pumping percussion of the school band’s drumline. The scene set the tone for excitement and a fresh beginning in a new learning environment.

Principal Carlos Phillips said opening the doors of the new building to students for the first time was an experience that is hard to describe.

“It means lot to this community, to the students and the alumni,” Phillips said. “The energy this morning when the teachers were lined up and the kids came in was just fantastic.”

The $56.5 million project is part of HISD’s 2012 Bond Program and showcases 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.

“Our students were in awe walking into the building. They love the feeling of being in a new place that can support their learning,” Phillips said.

The modern campus — located off Yale Street — consists of four large buildings that house up to 1,300 students. It features an auditorium that expands into the cafeteria via a retractable wall with retractable seating, a three-court gymnasium, daycare center, drama, choir, and band rooms, and exterior courtyards where science labs can conduct experiments.

Senior Taquera Bernard said she loves that the new school is open and filled with natural light.

“With all the windows, you don’t even need the lights. It feels like you’re outside getting fresh air,” Bernard said.

Demolition of the old school is underway nearby and the site will be used for a baseball and softball field and additional parking.

Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.