Groundbreaking held for new Houston High School

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 7:27 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After years of the high school students and middle schoolers being under one roof, things are looking up for students in Houston, Alaska.

On Thursday many students, parents, staff, and supporters gathered at a groundbreaking event, and work has already begun on what will become the new Houston High School.

Construction on the new high school is expected to be done by December 2022.
Construction on the new high school is expected to be done by December 2022.(KTUU)

The former Houston Middle School was heavily damaged in the 2018 earthquake. It was condemned in 2020 and was demolished a few months later.

Since then, the high school became Houston Jr. Sr. High School in order to take in the displaced middle schoolers who could no longer learn in their own building. A new, separate high school is being built on the site of the old middle school.

“The eighth graders that were in the school when it was damaged and that entire school community that went through that, that disaster,” said Matanuska-Susitna Borough Manager Mike Brown. “The eighth graders are going to realize the benefit of that as the first graduating class in 2023.”

After the earthquake, students at the middle school had to move their classes to the original high school location nearby. Many students still have classes in makeshift classrooms.

Right now, the Houston Jr. Sr. High has around 600 students.

“Our community and our students are going to have the opportunity to gain knowledge, to be productive, young adults,” said Houston Mayor Virgie Thompson. “When they leave here hopefully they’ll want to stay here because they have the knowledge to earn a living.”

The high school will keep some programs and add or upgrade others. Some of the programs the new high school will offer are welding and construction, a full culinary arts lab, a business and medical area, and a small engine repair area.

“It’s actually really exciting, to me, it’s kind of bittersweet to see the other school go,” said student Addelin Surratt. “But, I don’t know, I’m really excited for this, and also it kinda gives Houston a new opportunity.”

The building is expected to be completed by December 2022, with the first graduating class in May of 2023.

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