HOUSTON – A DJ playing some music, alumni welcoming students, hugs and smiles all around: it was the entrance to the new Jack Yates High School in Third Ward on the first day of school.
Students said they are excited for the new year, the new programs and equipment and all the campus has to offer.
"It's outstanding," said student Tamika Smith. "We're able to do things that students from previous years weren't able to do. I will be the first the experience them and go back and share our knowledge with others."
Houston Independent School District officials said the new building has a much more open floor plan, spacious classrooms, and lots of updates to technology. The communications school has a new radio station and recording studio. There are also maritime magnet programs that have partnered with the Port of Houston.
The $65 million project is nearly finished. It's expected to hold 1,500 students.
HISD officials and alumni want the kids to know this is where they will be able to begin the path to their goals and dreams.
"I would say strive for excellence," alumnus Marcus Brooks said. "Remember community family and love and academics, and remember school first because their students are first before anything."
The new facility backs up to the old school on Sampson Street.
HISD said that two dozen schools underwent some construction and renovations as part of the 2012 bond program.
Once all are complete, HISD officials said it will have one of the "most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country."