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.”
Yates is among 40 schools, including 29 high schools, across the district being renovated or rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond Program. Plans for the new school call for a grand entryway with large windows connecting the front and back entrances and flexible learning spaces specifically built to showcase the communications and maritime magnet programs.
Additional features include a three-story academic wing with flexible core learning centers and a one-story, high-volume performance wing with an auditorium, fine arts and JROTC spaces, gymnasium, and athletics area. The new facility will accommodate 1,300 to 1,500 students.
Construction crews are working from the east to the west sides of the building, according to project officials, who noted that all exterior concrete walls and structural steel had been erected. Additionally, the installation of the roof and exterior window frames is underway, and the pouring of interior concrete slabs is complete.
The new school is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2018 and ready to open its doors to students in time for the 2018-2019 school year. Once it opens, the old building will be demolished, making way for new baseball and softball fields and tennis courts.
As Principal Davis walked through the three-story construction site during a recent visit, he said he could finally start to envision where his teachers would be stationed. He and fellow PAT members toured the building, stopping to check out the auditorium, dining commons, magnet program areas, and various classrooms.
Davis said he had been most excited to check out the new gyms because 45 percent of Yates students are athletes. Though no students were on the tour, the principal said he knew they were eager to move into the new building.
“Having a space that’s clean, pretty, bright, airy — they want that type of learning environment,” he said of his students. “The goal now is to improve all aspects of the school in conjunction with the physical building so that when kids come back, they stay back.”
Among the handful of community members on the tour was Jessica Brooks, who is a Yates alumna and has a daughter who will be a junior at the school next year. She said she thought it was important to attend the tour and monitor the progress on the new school.
“My goal is we build a new Yates and it does what it’s supposed to be doing, and we at least have a foundation for a better future for our kids,” said Brooks, whose husband also attended the school. “It’s time for change – we just have to accept it. My daughter is excited. She’s excited to be part of the first class. I’m just here to keep things on track.”
HISD’s bond program, which was approved by voters in 2012, calls for the renovation or rebuilding of 40 schools across the district. Active construction is currently underway on roughly three dozen projects — more activity than at any other time in district history.
Almost half of the schools in the bond program will be complete and open to students by the end of this summer. Once all work is finished, the district will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.
For more information on HISD building programs, visit www.BuildHISD.org.