Construction on the new DeBakey High School for Health Professions is wrapping up as contractor Tellepsen prepares to turn the building over to HISD next month.
The new 198,000-square-foot, five-story facility located on the western edge of Houston’s world-renowned Texas Medical Center is slated to have furniture delivered and additional technology upgrades installed in the first quarter of 2017.
Named for legendary heart surgeon Michael E. DeBakey, the new school then could be available for use before the end of the spring semester.
“The location and accessibility to the Med Center is huge,” said HISD School Support Officer Jenifer Topper, who oversees DeBakey HSHP. “It has a sophisticated, collegiate-like feel. It’s unlike any other school in the district.”
Founded in 1972 in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine, DeBakey HSHP was the first health-focused high school in the nation, and it continues to serve as a model for school districts and medical centers across the country. Through its rigorous college-preparatory curriculum and hands-on practical health-field experience, the school offers students interested in science and health careers an alternative to the traditional high school experience.
“I love the building. I’m impressed with the medical research-type environment,” said Principal Agnes Perry during a recent tour of the new construction. “It’s going to be a new beginning for our students.”
The building will open to students in time for summer school, but Perry said she hopes to hold some senior events at the new facility in late spring so that seniors have the chance to see and experience the facility before they graduate.
DeBakey is among 40 schools, including 29 high schools, being renovated or rebuilt as part of the district’s voter-approved bond program. The $64.5 million building will accommodate 900 to 1,000 students and feature state-of-the-art medical training equipment with teaching labs for dentistry, rehabilitation, and patient care. Extensive science labs, mock hospital rooms, and simulation patient-care labs will feature programmable mannequins, allowing students to diagnose various illnesses based on the symptoms presented.
Other building features include a ground-floor dining commons open to the five-story atrium, a large multi-purpose room, and a college center. The top level of the facility houses a gymnasium, fitness center, black box theater, art room, and music room to be used in conjunction with the Texas Medical Center Orchestra. Outdoor space on the top floor of the building and a terrace on each level help make up for limited ground space at the new site.
“The degree of professionalism in the building will make the students feel like their journey into the medical community has already begun,” Topper said.
Almost three dozen projects are expected to be under construction by the end of 2016—more construction than at any other time in district history. Once the bond program is complete, HISD will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.
In addition to funding for new and renovated schools, the bond program also includes $44.7 million to replace regional fieldhouses and improve athletics facilities, $35 million to renovate middle school restrooms, and $17.3 million for safety and security improvements.