Yates HS welcomes guests to Lion’s Den to celebrate school’s grand opening

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A sea of crimson and gold filled the foyer of Jack Yates High School on Oct. 16, as guests donning the school’s colors gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the new 208,000 square foot building.

A host of special guests and community members joined students, faculty, and staff to recognize the special occasion. The festivities kicked off with high energy as the school’s Marching Motion band provided a show-stopping performance.

“The new building offers brand new technology and a new atmosphere,” Senior Class President Alyss Kerl said. “As a senior in the school of communication, printing technology pathway, I have been provided a new studio in the printing image tech class, which has allowed students to be introduced to industrial printing machines.”

The $65 million building features a grand entryway with large windows connecting the front and back entrances and flexible learning spaces specifically built to showcase the communications and maritime magnet programs.

“This day is important to me because all my family went to school here, so I am excited and proud that we have this new school,” HISD Board of Education District IV Trustee Jolanda Jones said.

Additional features include a three-story academic wing with flexible core learning centers and a one-story, high-volume performance wing with an auditorium as well as fine arts and JROTC spaces. Other features include a gymnasium and athletics area, and large dining commons with floor-to-ceiling windows.

While the gathering highlighted the beginning of a new chapter for the school, it also offered a chance to reflect on Yates’ rich history.

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan reminded students of the school’s storied past, which has produced a long line of trailblazers and pioneers.

“As you walk these halls, remember that you come from greatness. The new library and modern facility you now call home provides you with the tools you need to create your own legacy,” Lathan said.

Yates Principal Tiffany Guillory thanked those who were instrumental in the project, including the Third Ward community that voted for the 2012 Bond.

“I want everyone to be a part of our facility,” Guillory said. “You are welcomed into our facility to spend time seeing the beautiful things this building offers.”

The ceremony also included a rededication of the Hazel Hainsworth Young Library, whose namesake was one of the school’s first teachers when it opened in 1926 as Yates Colored High. Young’s daughter, Marianne Young Walker, addressed the crowd and said she knows her late mother is looking down and smiling.

Also in attendance for the day’s festivities were U.S. Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, Council Member Dwight Boykins, Council Member At-Large Mike Knox, and representatives from the office of Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who presented the school with a resolution.

The students of Yates’ communications magnet programs also lent their expertise during the grand opening ceremony by live-streaming the event for their classmates.

Following the ceremony guests were taken on student led tours of the new facility.

More than 80 percent of all school construction projects from the 2012 Bond 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.