Lamar HS blends old, new as construction nears completion

For Principal Rita Graves, it is impossible for her to pick a favorite part of the construction project at Lamar High School. 

The $122 million project, part of the 2012 Bond Program, brings several improvements to the campus, including a new, state-of-the-art academic wing, renovations to its historic original building, and enhancements to the athletic fields.

“Finally, our physical space matches our educational philosophy,” Graves said. “Without sacrificing the many opportunities afforded by a large comprehensive high school program, we have created a small school feel with our neighborhood structure. “

The academic wing is divided into four flexible learning areas, or “neighborhoods.” Each neighborhood houses 200 or fewer students. 

Graves said the neighborhood structure sets up students for success, allowing for the instructional model to shift from a traditional high school to a more interdisciplinary and project-based approach. This fosters a learning environment that can be focused and adjusted for individual students, she said.

“We have already seen a positive impact to students when they feel like they are individually supported,” she said.

The new wing also features a large covered transit center, a broadcast studio, a black box theater and band-instruction area, natatorium, school store, and large banquet and food preparation space for the school’s culinary arts program. 

Those features are paired with the renovations to the historic structure, built in 1936. The renovation project was designed to preserve the building’s historically significant architecture, as well as provide the campus with a new childcare wing, welcome center, and updated ROTC and Career and Technical Education classrooms.

Construction Services Senior Manager Sizwe Lewis said the work for the entire project is nearing the finish line. 

The new academic wing was completed last year. Lewis said renovations to the original building are now 75 percent complete. Improvements to the athletic fields and tennis courts should be complete by the end of 2020.

Follow @Build_HISD on Twitter for the latest updates on the 2012 Bond Program and school construction across the district.