Bellaire HS community says goodbye to iconic building

Bellaire High School brimmed with excitement on Saturday as alumni — some of whom hadn’t walked the halls in more than 60 years — joined with current students to say goodbye to their beloved campus.

With the school set for demolition this summer, Cardinals flocked from far and wide for the Final Building Walk Through, co-hosted by the Bellaire Parent-Teacher Organization and the Alumni and Friends of Bellaire High School.

“It’s pretty sad to see it go,” Class of 2021 senior David Yang said. “I spent my entire high school life here. I will miss hanging out with friends in the science wing.”

The Maple Street school is being rebuilt as part of the district’s 2012 Bond Program, which called for the renovation or rebuilding of 40 schools, including 29 high schools. The first phase includes new academic, fine arts, and physical education wings, which will open to students this fall.

The second phase calls for the original building to be torn down to make way for an athletics field with artificial turf and a new track, administration wing, and four-story, 700-space parking garage. 

“This was our way of saying goodbye,” Bellaire Principal Michael McDonough said, acknowledging the multigenerational families that attended the school.

More than 1,000 people toured the building, stopping to reminisce, take pictures of trophy cases, and scribble messages and signatures on one of the walls set for demolition.

Some gathered in the cafeteria where red and white cardinal swag was available for purchase. Others wandered through the courtyard, stopping to pose with a life-size red letters spelling “BHS.”

“I really enjoyed my time here,” said Leslie Crossman, class of 1982 and president of Alumni and Friends of Bellaire High School. “My twins graduated in 2019 and I have a senior graduating this year.”

Crossman said she and others originally wanted to preserve the building as a community landmark, but now welcome a more efficient structure.

“I remember spending time in the cafeteria doing homework,” class of 1960 graduate Jeffry Lewis said, laughing. “It hasn’t changed a bit – time for a new one.”

Bellaire’s second and final phase is slated to conclude by the end of 2022. As the final bond school still under construction as part of its original scope of work, the completion will bring the historic $2 billion bond program to a close.

While many cardinals are excited about the new school, they’re quick to note that it’s  the people — not the building — that makes Bellaire so special.

“I am a homeowner in the neighborhood now,” Class of 1992 Jennifer Rose said, strolling through the courtyard. “This is where my friendships started with other girls who I still keep in contact with today.”

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