Hundreds of Wharton Dual Language Academy students, staff, parents, and community members gathered Thursday in their new gymnasium to celebrate the school’s grand opening.
Red and yellow balloons created a colorful backdrop for guests as they were entertained by several student musical performances, as well as traditional folkloric dance routines performed by students clad in colorful, folkloric attire.
“Today we celebrate the realization of the vision that we had for our new school,” Wharton Dual Language Academy Principal Jennifer Day said. “And it is a school that is built especially for our unique program,”
A dual language magnet program, Wharton is part of the HISD’s voter-approved 2012 Bond Program. The $35.6 million project includes a state-of-the-art, three-story addition connecting to the original 90-year-old building, which underwent extensive renovations designed to completely modernize the interior while maintaining the historic exterior façade.
“This new campus is really big, beautiful, and colorful,” eighth-grader Andres Pargas said. “It’s really nice being here.”
The facility features a three-story glass entryway, new learning spaces and science labs, a new gymnasium, a two-story library and computer lab, and a large central courtyard that preserves two much-loved live oak trees.
The new design also allowed the school to expand its capacity to up to 900 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade.
“That means more students will have the opportunity to take advantage of the invaluable Spanish language program offered here,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said, as she talked about the school’s increased capacity and its impact on the school’s growth.
HISD Board of Education Trustee Elizabeth Santos attended on behalf of HISD Board of Education President Diana Dávila, who oversees the district in which Wharton is located. Santos told the crowd that the new school provides the environment students need and deserve to achieve their most ambitious goals.
“This expansion and renovation fulfills HISD’s promise of providing a world-class education that challenges and inspires our students to strive for excellence,” Santos said.
With the students settled into their new spaces, the principal said she and her staff are now focused on taking advantage of new educational opportunities, including developing partnerships with Recipe for Success to grow vegetables and offer culinary arts at the school and with the Houston Zoo to have a pollination station on campus.
“This new building challenges us to capitalize on all the resources it provides us,” Day said.
Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.