As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, the Westfield High School Ninth-Grade Center is one of three ninth-grade centers funded by the $330 million SISD bond referendum approved by voters in 2016. The ninth-grade centers at Spring and Dekaney high schools opened Sept. 21, 2020, and the Westfield High School Ninth-Grade Center is the third and final center to open.
Located just north of Westfield High School at 1500 Southridge Road, Houston, the Westfield High School Ninth-Grade Center is housed in an extensively renovated building on the previous site of Roberson Middle School. According to a Dec. 17 new release, the 178,168-square-foot facility has the capacity for 900 students and features flexible furniture, new classroom equipment, common spaces with natural lighting, an open-concept dining area, a fitness center and a gym.
"It's a beautifully designed and renovated building that will give our ninth-grade students an environment that was really made for them," said Cecily Parker, lead principal at the Westfield Ninth-Grade Center, in a statement. "Our whole goal is to ease the transition into high school so our students can have a strong freshman year that gives them the foundation to be successful in high school and beyond. This campus is perfect."
Each of the new facilities aims to ease the transition for students from middle to high school and to alleviate overcrowding at the main high school campuses, district officials said.
"We knew that we were going to start the school year on the main campus, so we intentionally created an area in the building for ninth graders so they would be in close proximity to each other and begin to get the 'small family' feel that the Ninth-Grade Center will have," Parker said. "We're all excited to officially move in on Jan. 5."
According to the release, the Westfield High School Ninth-Grade Center is the final facility opening that was included in the 2016 bond. Other new facilities funded through the bond include a new JROTC center at Spring High School, two new middle school campuses and Planet Ford Stadium. The bond also funded a slate of other initiatives, including renovations and maintenance projects at various campuses, safety and security upgrades, expanded bus service, full-day pre-K programs and technology upgrades.
"We're extremely proud of all the progress we've made under our 2016 bond program and very grateful to our community for supporting this effort," said Mark Miranda, the executive chief of district operations for SISD, in a statement. "From the beginning, the bond has been about supporting our students so it's especially gratifying to be able to finish up with the opening of this beautiful new ninth-grade center. Of course, we'll still have close-out and punch-list items, but we're nearing the end of a very successful bond program."
While the district will not be hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Westfield High School Ninth-Grade Center due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the school will hold a virtual town hall in the near future, the release states.
"As soon as circumstances allow, we do hope we can showcase all three of our ninth-grade centers and invite our community to come and see what we've been able to accomplish together," Miranda said.