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New Year Brings New Campus as Westfield Ninth-Grade Center Welcomes Students

HOUSTON - Jan. 5, 2021 - As Spring ISD students returned to school on Tuesday for the start of the spring semester, in-person freshmen students at Westfield High School walked into their brand new ninth-grade center campus – marking an important milestone for the district.

Asked how it felt to finally be welcoming the students to their new campus after the years spent in preparation and planning, Westfield Ninth-Grade Center Lead Principal Cecily Parker said she was feeling a mixture of emotions.

“Excited, anxious, just all of the above,” Parker said in between helping students find their way to their classrooms for the start of the day and the new semester. “We have been anticipating this day for a while, so we’re all ready for this day to be here.”

Assistant Principal Rasheda Malveaux was upbeat and excited to start the first day at the new ninth-grade center, warmly greeting students and staff as they came through the building’s safety checkpoints. Malveaux, a Westfield graduate and former high school English teacher now in her first year as assistant principal, said she was especially excited to be working with students at her own alma mater.

“I’m a product of this school district, so I’ve been here to see this be Bammel Middle School and Roberson, and now you can’t even recognize what this building used to look like,” Malveaux said. “They’ve really put a lot of thought into this building, and it’s amazing.”

The project’s completion brings the site full circle. The same location originally served as Westfield’s ninth-grade center before its later use as a middle school campus for Bammel and then Roberson Middle School. The facility’s most recent transformation also marks the culmination of the final major project under the district’s 2016 bond measure, which addressed long-standing facility, technology and safety and security needs throughout Spring ISD.

Freshman Mayte Mendoza was one of the first students to arrive Tuesday morning, giving her a chance to start finding her way around before starting the new semester at the brand-new ninth-grade center.

“It was a bit confusing when I got here at first,” said Mendoza, who along with other students had participated in an online town hall and virtual campus tour over the winter break, but had never seen the building in real life before. “We were on the wrong side, but I got there eventually,” she added.

Enrolled at Westfield in her very first year as a Spring ISD student, Mendoza said the 2020-21 school year had been tough in some ways, but hopes to see more of her classmates again in person as the semester progresses.

“Hopefully everything goes back to normal, or at least semi-normal,” she said. “In my personal opinion, having friends around and being able to be more face-to-face with your teachers is a bit more helpful, especially when it comes to learning new things.”

The new ninth-grade center features flexible furniture, state-of-the-art technology, common spaces with abundant natural lighting, an open-concept dining area, fitness center and gym. Westfield upperclassmen will also be able to utilize the new facility to take select elective courses, including sophomore Moises Rodriguez, who arrived on campus bright and early to attend Westfield teacher Rob Muñoz’ audio and video production class.

“I was amazed seeing all this because I didn’t have this in ninth grade,” said Rodriguez, who said he got a sneak peek at pictures of the facility on the district’s social media channels. “It looks futuristic, is how I’ll put it, and it kind of looks cool because of all the black and red, which are the colors this school is known for.”

Science Instructional Specialist Nykia Whiteside said that the new facility would help Westfield serve all of its students better and help build a strong culture of learning right from the outset.

“I’m a big fan of ninth-graders being in their own space, because this is where it starts,” said Whiteside, who has spent the past seven years at Westfield during her two decades as a science educator. “The foundation that’s laid in the ninth grade makes or breaks their high school career.”

She also explained how the new building’s design would support the safety of students during the challenging months still ahead in the pandemic.

“The classrooms here are much larger,” Whiteside said. “When this was designed, COVID was not in the picture, but the forethought that went into the spacing in the rooms that the teachers have, it really lends itself to the social distancing that’s needed.”

Westfield Principal David Mason kept busy Tuesday welcoming students and staff while proudly showing off the new facility, where he said underclassmen will have the chance to learn about Westfield’s culture of high expectations and ‘Mustang Pride.’

“It’s just an exciting opportunity,” Mason said. “Many principals work a long time and never get this opportunity. Many districts operate a long time and never have this opportunity, and we have it. So I’m excited to work to make the best of it, for the students and our entire Westfield community.”

He also made a special note to thank district leaders and Spring ISD community members for believing in the project and allowing it to become a reality.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Mason said. “Hats off to the Spring ISD school board, Dr. Rodney Watson, and all the community members who voted for the bond to approve this.”