YWCPA celebrates grand opening of new building addition, renovations

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Chants of “maroon-white, maroon-white, fight-fight,” echoed throughout the atrium of the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy as cheerleaders joined with members of the choir to kick off the school’s Grand Opening celebration on Thursday.

The event paid tribute not just to the completion of major renovations on the campus, but also to the school’s Student Creed, which focuses on pushing boundaries to achieve educational excellence, and the importance of sisterhood.

“This whole area — the atrium — is my favorite,” YWPCA senior Kaylyn Steward said, gesturing to the room in which the ceremony was held. “This whole project is just a reminder of why I am in this journey. The renovations really just bring it all home for me and let me know that I really am here for a reason. I am destined for greatness.”

YWCPA is among 40 schools being renovated or rebuilt as part of HISD’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. Erected in 1925, the original, three-story, stately brick building is a historic presence in Houston’s Third Ward and is among HISD’s oldest school buildings.

The $31 million project, which included general campus renovations and a partial building replacement, incorporated the preservation of historically significant building features, while also increasing learning spaces and adding modern science and technology labs.

“Having gone through three actual schools, and now knowing we are in the final school and staying in this community, is really dynamic and meaningful,” YWPCA Principal April Williams said. “It helps our girls know that they do have a community and a village that supports them.”

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said she was thrilled to be able to retain part of the historic building while also adding additional space. She noted that the community as a whole would benefit from the updated school.

“The focus really is on college readiness and preparing our young women here to go to college,” Lathan said. “This school really just focuses on encouraging young women to dream and to be all they can be.”

HISD Board of Education Trustee Jolanda Jones thanked the community and voters for helping make the project possible.

“They did a great job. The girls are so excited to be here. It was very important for the vitality of the Third Ward that there’s a school here,” Jones said. “It was very important for this community and for us to keep this building. This is a great facility, a top-notch facility.”

Also in attendance were Houston City Council Member Dwight Boykins and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who presented the school with a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol. A representative Sen. Ted Cruz’s office also presented the school with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.

More than 80 percent of all school construction projects are 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.