Festive music by the Lawson Middle School band greeted guests Wednesday as they arrived to celebrate the grand opening of the school’s new $66 million building – one of 13 new or renovated HISD schools that opened in August.
The event paid tribute to the school’s namesake, Audrey H. Lawson, and was attended by parents, students, staff, alumni, and community members, along with members of the Lawson family.
“This building is absolutely beautiful. It represents our investment in this community and the future of our students in the Hiram Clarke neighborhood,” said Houston Independent School District Board of Education Trustee Wanda Adams, who served as emcee for the event. “The new Lawson Middle School will have a huge impact on this community for generations to come.”
Adams thanked the project team for their work on the new facility and Lawson Principal Kasey Bailey for the improvement in student achievement at the school.
HISD interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan told the guests that the opening of the new facility represents the school’s and the district’s progression to a new level.
“I’m proud to stand here with you in this gorgeous facility that bears the name of Audrey H. Lawson,” Lathan said. “This building – just like the others built under the 2012 Bond Program – represents the work our district is doing to rise to a new level.”
The newly constructed, 197,093-square-foot facility features a dining commons, central courtyard and a fine arts wing complete with a modern black box theatre.
During the event, Principal Bailey presented a framed photograph of the school to the spouse of the school’s late namesake, Rev. William Lawson, and members of the Lawson family.
“I am glad that you have honored Audrey Lawson. It is a privilege to have a middle school bear her name,” Rev. Lawson said. “If she can see us right now, she is smiling.”
ABC-13 News Anchor Melanie Lawson, who is a daughter of Audrey Lawson, also spoke to the group.
“It’s an incredible day for our family,” Melanie Lawson said. “My mom would have loved this. She wanted all children to have the best education, and we are so proud of all the students here.”
Adams surprised Principal Bailey during the festivities by introducing Houston Texans football player Whitney Mercilus, who presented the school with a $10,000 donation from the WithMerci Foundation to support students with special needs.
Elected officials attending the event included Houston City Councilmember Martha Castex-Tatum and State Rep. Alma Allen, who presented Principal Bailey with a special certificate. Representatives of Congressman Al Green and Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis also presented certificates to commemorate the occasion.
“There is such a genuine sense of support from the district, from the community, and from the Lawson family,” Bailey said. “I’m proud of what this campus represents – a new facility with a new mindset, symbolic of the new levels we’re going to.”
More than 70 percent of all school construction projects are now complete and that number is expected to top 80 percent by the end of 2018. Once all projects are finished, HISD will have one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.
Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest construction updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.