Hundreds of North Forest High School students followed Principal Darryl Henson across Mesa Road on Monday, coming together to formally mark their transition into their new school.
The $59.5 million campus is the first new high school built in the North Forest community in almost 50 years.
“It’s important to show our students that we are coming over into a new environment that was built just for them,” Henson said, talking about the importance of the ceremonial walk from the old building to the new one. “I want the kids to feel a sense of pride and ownership.”
Funded through money provided by the state, the new school accommodates 1,300 to 1,500 students.
It features flexible learning areas, a modern dining commons, and career training spaces, as well as large windows that provide ample natural lighting and open views to the prairie in front of the building and the forest in back.
“I think it’s dynamic, incredible, and outstanding to see the new facility that HISD has provided,” said 1990 graduate Zano Bailey, who was one of several alumni that came to the new building to welcome students. “We need this new school.”
The new North Forest also features a gymnasium, auditorium, dance studio, theater room, and a unique indoor running track – a first of its kind in HISD.
“I think it’s so much better than the old building,” junior Di’ja Ellis said, smiling as she looked at the modern lighting and two-story cafeteria in the main lobby. “I love it.”
North Forest 2018 Class President Damond Wiggins said he also loved the building and looked forward to seeing the athletic fields.
“It’s a great feeling,” Wiggins said.
Active construction is underway on roughly two dozen schools across HISD. Once all projects are complete, the district will boast of one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.