As Superintendent Millard House arrived at Wharton Dual Language Academy, he walked toward two young students tasked with welcoming the chief educator and holding open glass double doors leading to the main hallway.
Clad in masks and blue school shirts, the second graders peered quizzically at their special visitor.
“Are you guys doing OK?” House asked, as he approached the pair and asked about their names and grades. “You know, it makes my day when I get to see you all.”
Wharton was among several stops the superintendent made as he continued to visit campuses on Tuesday, the second day of the 2021-2022 school district. The dual language magnet was among 40 schools recently renovated or rebuilt as part of HISD’s 2012 Bond Program.
Completed in 2019, the project includes a state-of-the-art, three-story addition with three-story glass entryway, new learning spaces and science labs, new gym, two-story library and computer lab, and a large central courtyard that preserves two much-loved live oak trees.
The new addition connects to the original 93-year-old building, which underwent extensive renovations designed to completely modernize the interior while maintaining the historic exterior façade. The new design also allowed the school to expand its capacity to up to 900 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade.
House was led around the colorful campus by Principal Jennifer Day, making stops in classrooms and science labs, as well as the cafeteria, gym, and library. As he toured, he emphasized the “vast opportunities” that will be available to Wharton bilingual students.
“These are the kinds of facilities we need to have at all of our schools,” House said. “These kids are incredible and resilient individuals that understand what we feed them. We fed them two languages and that will stay with them the rest of their lives.”
Eighth grader Maverick Marsh, who has been at Wharton since prekindergarten, spoke in Spanish to the superintendent as he explained how much he’s enjoyed being a part of the Wharton community.
“I’d love to stay here,” Maverick said, adding that he wished the school could add additional floors to the already three-story building to make room for high school classes.
Fellow eighth grader Aimee Anali San Miguel said she considered it a great opportunity to be a part of the Wharton’s “tight knit” community.
“It’s an incredible gift, and we are all so grateful,” said Aimee, who also has also been at Wharton since prekindergarten. “I really love it. The way English and Spanish are incorporated into the curriculum and the way it flows and it is set up is a great experience and you learn very well.”