A day before Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, Tiffany
Irving and her son Grant eagerly delivered school supplies to his kindergarten
classroom at Mitchell Elementary, just south of Hobby Airport.
Little did they know then that Grant’s supplies — along with
the rest of his building and three other elementary schools across the district
— would be destroyed in the coming days as the storm dumped unprecedented
amounts of rain on the city.
Unfortunately, the damage wasn’t limited to the school. The Irving’s
home just around the corner from the school also flooded.
Collaborative learning spaces and abundant natural light are
the hallmarks of a trio of Houston Independent School District high schools now
being recognized for their innovative designs.
The new buildings for Madison High School and Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center, as well as the addition and renovations to Northside High School, are three of just 48 projects across the state being recognized by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB).
“These awards are a testament to our focus on our students,”
HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “We are proud to provide them
with beautiful, functional spaces that foster learning and excitement. At the
end of the day, it’s always about the kids.”
Natural light and a central “Main Street” hallway are the hallmarks of the new Bellaire High School, which is now 57 percent complete.
Part of the 2012 Bond Program, the project is on track to be completed in time for the 2021-2022 school year. The completion of Bellaire will close out the massive bond program, which included the renovation or rebuilding of 40 schools, including 29 high schools, across the district.
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.
For more than 80 years, the red-bricked Austin High School
has been a mainstay in the Eastwood community. With construction nearing
completion, the new school now strikes a balance of the past and present.
The $80.9 million project features modern classrooms,
flexible learning spaces, and sound and lighting upgrades to the existing
auditorium. The Art Deco-influenced façade also has been preserved and
refurbished as a part of the project.
“This school has been here for more than 80 years. It was
important to keep a part of this building that has been present in this
community for so long,” Austin Principal Steve Guerrero said. “The entire
building is just phenomenal. It feels very grand with lots of natural light.
Every single part of the building is exciting.”
For the past three years, Carla Garcia and her 9-year-old daughter
Kaitlyn commuted about 25 minutes every morning to get to Mitchell Elementary
School, despite living just across the street from the school.
The original Mitchell was damaged beyond repair when
Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, forcing students and staff to move about nine
miles away to the former Caldwell Elementary School — their temporary home for
the past three years.
With the new and improved Mitchell nearly complete, Garcia
and Kaitlyn will once again be able to walk to school in the mornings.
The Houston Independent School District is restricting access to
all district schools and facilities from Friday, July 3 through Sunday,
July 19, in response to public health guidance and an increasing number of
COVID-19 cases throughout the city.
All summer athletic practices and in-person summer school sessions
are canceled. HISD students will be allowed to keep laptops until the fall
rather than return them to campus, eliminating the need to bring additional
staff and families on site.
The district continues to operate
virtually and will continue to provide educational and related services during
this disruption of normal district operations.
Employees reporting to a location as a part of their assigned duties
will continue to practice social distancing and wear appropriate personal
protective equipment in accordance with district policy and public health
guidelines. The Hattie Mae White
Educational Support Center will remain open for limited purposes.