Austin HS celebrates virtual grand opening with watch party

Following a path of green and white balloons, dozens of Austin High School students and staff shuffled into the auditorium to find seats for the big event — the premiere of Austin’s virtual grand opening.

Clad in green attire and masks, students and staff gathered for the physically distanced watch party hosted in the recently renovated school auditorium, where a giant screen was set up to display the celebration.

Among the sea of green was senior Zuri Mendoza Gonzalez, who sat front and center in a ruffled green and white dress. She said she was excited to represent Austin as the master of ceremonies in the virtual grand opening and wanted to be close to the action.

“It was nice to be part of such a historical event, especially as the master of ceremonies,” Mendoza Gonzalez said. “It was very special, an honor really.”

Built as part of the 2012 Bond program, Austin’s $80.9 million, 288,628-square-foot campus features a three-story academic wing, two gyms, and an outdoor courtyard. The virtual grand opening showcased these areas, bringing them to life with student-led segments and performances.

Senior Anthony Gonzalez showed off the school’s maritime simulator lab and CTE programs. Though he spent his final year as a virtual student, he shared some advice for lower classmen.

“Take advantage of this new school because it really is nice,” Gonzalez said.

The new facility — which opened to students in January of 2021 — also included the preservation of the school’s historic front façade and existing auditorium.

At the watch party, Houston City Council Member and ‘77 Austin alum Robert Gallegos said he appreciated the blending of the original structure with the new.

“Being in this auditorium brought back so many good memories,” Gallegos said. “To see the improvements here is exciting, but I’m happy they kept the façade in the front. It tells the whole history of the school.”

For Austin Principal Orlando Reyna, building the school’s legacy will always be a priority. He said he’s looking forward to the day the community can visit the school in person.

“It’s very important that we were able to put this video together to share with our community,” Reyna said. “It’s an awesome time to be a Mustang.”

Watch the Austin virtual grand opening celebration. For the latest on construction news, follow @HISD_Build on Twitter.