HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Want to see one of Houston's most historic schools and what $50 million looks like? Well, stop by Booker T. Washington High School in Independence Heights.
Booker T. Washington High School was the first secondary school for blacks here in Houston, established back in 1893. Now the school is celebrating its 125th birthday with a brand new building.
For students and staff at Booker T. Washington High School, it isn't only the first day back to the books. It's also their first day in a brand new $52.1 million building.
”I love the new building,” Booker T. Senior Cleveland Shepard IV says with a smile.
”I like the new rooms and how most of them are glass. I think it looks really nice,” adds senior Summer Mayberry.
”The cafeteria is awesome. It’s like a kitchen in a major restaurant,” says Booker T. Alumni Rev. John C. Gibbs.
”This new environment, the new building, the aesthetics of the building will only add value to our students belief in themselves, their self-esteem and the output of their academic achievement level,” explains Booker T. Principal Dr. Carlos Phillips II.
There's nearly as much symbolism as there is history here as the old Booker T. building comes down and Houston's first high school for blacks, which was once named "Colored High", celebrates a bit of a rebirth 125 years after the school was born.
”It’s a new era at Booker T. Washington High School and we’re so excited for all the great things that are yet to come,” adds Dr. Phillips.
“I’m glad we’ll be the first class to graduate from the new building,” says Mayberry.
Reverend Gibbs graduated from Booker T. a few short years ago in 1975. The once class president received a scholarship to UCLA and is back at his alma mater inspiring the kids. “I have to keep planting seeds and encouraging the kids, if I can do it you can do it.”
Booker T. students are also inspired to soar by all of from the quotes and pictures posted of the school's namesake himself.
”We just can’t wait to see what the results will indicate on our high levels of improvement and how well students can achieve when they have the state of the art facilities to match their needs,” says Dr. Phillips. Now each student will have their own laptop and the building includes what's called open space learning labs, outdoor teaching areas and an outdoor dining atrium. ”Our gym facility is dynamic, a state of the art gym facility,” says Dr. Phillips.
Booker T. has been on the state's "Improvement Required" list for three years. Dr. Phillips feels confident this new building will bring a new beginning and a higher rating on the state accountability system. So he says don’t call his kids at-risk unless you mean, “All of our kids are at risk to be lawyers, doctors or even teachers. So we’re proud of our kids and where they come from.”