Alabama Street runs for about eleven miles through the heart of Houston, starting in the Third Ward and ending just past the Galleria. At the eastern edge of Alabama—where it begins as a two-lane road—sits Jack Yates High School.
It’s on that stretch where three words now cover the street: Black Lives Matter.
The massive letters are part of a new mural in front of Yates, honoring its own George Floyd. The project, a partnership between Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and the Houston Society for Change and approved through the City of Houston, has been in the planning stages since last summer.
Festive music and cheers filled the air of the new Yates High School as students danced their way into the new facility to kick off the 2018-2019 school year.
More than 20 alumni — donning crimson and gold — gathered at the school’s main entrance chanting the school song as the band and color guard performed for students and staff in celebration of the new facility.
“The building brings life to Yates and the community,” said Yates alumnus Marcus Brooks, who is also the father to a current Yates senior. “It’s something new and fresh for the kids.”
Large science labs, the gymnasium, and views of the Houston skyline were just some of the highlights seen by Project Advisory Team members as they were led on a tour of the new Yates High School on Thursday.
As attendees made their way through the facility making stops in the auditorium, dining commons, and JROTC spaces, the group huddled up near the large windows of a second-floor extended learning area to take in a full view of the University of Houston’s TDECU Stadium.
Currently the construction project is 85 percent complete with interior finishes — flooring, painting and ceiling tile installation — underway. All sidewalks and driveways have been poured and science lab equipment has been installed. Furniture selections will be finalized in the coming weeks.
Construction of the new Yates High School is more than halfway complete, with crews already in the process of installing floors, painting walls, laying pavers, pouring sidewalks, and erecting permanent fencing.
A CenterPoint transformer and meter also has been set, meaning power soon will be connected to the building, allowing crews to begin testing mechanical systems inside the building.
The main entry facing north is nearly complete, with the main entry facing south and building signage soon to follow. The elevator also will soon be installed, and project officials plan to begin ordering new furniture in January.
When construction of the new Yates High School is complete next year, it will offer unparalleled views of the city with Downtown Houston to the north, Texas Medical Center to the south, and the Galleria to the west.
The 360-degree view — which includes University of Houston to the east and Texas Southern University to the west — is already visible from top floors of the building, the construction of which is almost a quarter of the way completed.
“It’s starting to move very quickly,” said Yates Principal Ken Davis, who got his first glimpse at the new school during a recent Project Advisory Team meeting and site visit. “I’m excited about that. It’s an exciting feeling to know it is happening. After years of planning, it’s actually happening.”
The Lion’s Den at Jack Yates High School roared with excitement as the graduating Class of 2017 scribbled their signatures on the final steel beam to be erected in the construction of their new school.
Once all seniors had signed, they joined with school staff to watch as the beam was hoisted into the air and placed in its new home — the auditorium. The beam will be installed and left exposed, showcasing the signatures from the class of 2017.
“The kids were concerned that they weren’t going to have any history with the new school since they’ll be graduating in May,” said Yates Principal Ken Davis, who worked with the construction staff to surprise the students with the informal ceremony. “We told them that we were going to sign the beam — a little bit of history about you will go into the new building.”
Journalist and author Roland Martin, a graduate of Yates High School, returned to the campus Feb. 6 to host his national TV news show live at the communications magnet school.
Martin, the host and managing editor of TV One’s News One Now, broadcast the show live from the TV studio at the campus. The show focuses on news and analysis of politics, entertainment, sports, and culture from an African-American perspective. He plans to hold another live broadcast at the school on Feb. 15 before being honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award at the district’s annual State of the Schools address, also that day.
Left to right: Ray Carrington, Ronnie Morgan, Dalilah Whitmore, Omar Peters, and Ted Irving
Yates HS communications instructors don’t just teach…they are recognized by their peers for great work in their craft through the Communicator Awards, which are given out by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts.
Yates High School held an Elective Fair and Signing Day event on April 29 for Houston-area eighth-graders to see all that the school has to offer. Yates has two magnet programs—communications and maritime—and a Career & Technical Education program in health sciences.
The students, accompanied by Yates High School journalism instructor and STN sponsor Victoria Syes, observed KUHF staff members during their live radio show. Students also operated studio cameras and spoke with on-air talent Dave Fehling and web producer Stacey Morrow.