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Austin High School students, staff, alumni, and community members gathered Tuesday to show their appreciation for the 81-year-old campus and celebrate the start of construction on their new school.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held just beyond the site where the current school is undergoing demolition and adjacent to where construction crews have started work on the foundation for the new school.
“It’s slightly surreal, but we’re so happy that finally we’re having our groundbreaking ceremony,” Austin High School Principal Steve Guerrero said. “The new building will allow us to continue creating phenomenal learning opportunities for our students.”
Austin is among 40 schools, including 29 high schools, across the district that are being renovated or rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond Program.
The $80.9 million project includes modern classrooms, flexible learning spaces, and sound and lighting upgrades for the existing auditorium, as well as preservation of the historic front facade.
Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan thanked parents, alumni and community members who have invested time and energy into the project.
“Though it’s been a long process, I believe we landed on a fantastic design,” Lathan said. “The building that will stand here will represent the past meeting the future.”
Austin students will continue to attend classes in the temporary learning center located across South Lockwood until the new facility is completed.
“If it weren’t for the voters that passed this, we would not be breaking ground and sharing this great moment,” said HISD Board of Education Trustee Diana Dávila, who presides over District VIII, including Austin.
Austin senior Julio Hernandez, who served as the master of ceremonies, said this moment was bittersweet for him.
“Although I wish I could be here to enjoy the school, I am excited for the students to come that will enjoy it in my place,” Hernandez said.
Several elected officials attended the event, including HISD Board of Education trustees Sergio Lira and Elizabeth Santos, State Rep. Carol Alvarado, Judge Angela D. Rodriguez, and Houston City Council members Robert Gallegos and Dwight Boykins, both Austin alumni. Representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. Gene Green, Former State Sen. and U.S. Rep.-Elect Sylvia R. Garcia, and Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman were also in attendance.
Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest construction updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.