Hutto ISD shared its new Ninth Grade Center with the community with a ribbon cutting and open house Aug. 5.

The new facility reached "substantial completion" July 31, according to Britt Williams, the Baird and Williams Construction president who gave a status update on the building at the July 29 HISD Board of Trustees meeting. As the district grows, the campus located at 301 Destiny Lane, Hutto, will eventually become the district's second high school. In a speech leading up to the ribbon cutting, Superintendent Celina Estrada Thomas said the facility could remain exclusive to ninth grade students for five to six years.

Estrada Thomas also said the building was meant to be used for the education of the community, rather than just the students who will attend classes on a daily basis. The district also offers classes and programs to non-student community members.

"As you know, this facility is for our community," Estrada Thomas said. "I'm a huge proponent of community education and not just using our buildings to educate our kids during the day, but for our community to also benefit from the use of these facilities. So please, when you tour this building, make sure that you feel like it's yours, because it is. You were part of this."

LaKesha Whitfield, the campus' first principal, shared her vision for the continuous success that the campus will have on its students.

"Our vision is to be a learning community which empowers every student for continued success, not just between these walls, not just success when they get to high school, but even after they graduate from high school, you want to create productive citizens," Whitfield said.

On Aug. 17, the campus will open its doors to its first class of ninth grade students. It was funded by the district's remaining $54 million of 2008 bond money, with $48.51 million designated for the construction budget and remaining funds set aside for soft costs and nonconstruction-related services. Plans for the campus include athletic facilities such as a track and agriculture barn.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to correct LaKesha Whitfield's name.