YES School Building

The first permanent building on a YES Prep Academy campus is under construction. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, the first YES high school opened in 1998 and eight years later students will have an official gathering place.

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YES Prep High School is a free charter school for low-income students. It was recently named one of the top 100 high schools in the nation. But right now, there's not even a high school to speak of. Chris Barbic is the founder of Yes Prepatory and says as a public charter school, they don't receive any funding for facilities.

"Our campus is completely modulars, I mean everything on this campus is a temporary classroom. You know, our restrooms are temporary, our office space, all of our classrooms, we don't have a gym, our cafeteria is modular, so I mean we're just -- in most schools you see there's like a permanent structure tied together with some temporary classrooms. Well, you know, if you picture our school, just take away the permanent building, it's just modulars. So it's forced us to be quite creative in how we do things."

So the construction of an 18,000 square foot community and althletic center has students and staff buzzing. The building, which is going up at the Southeast campus, will house the school's dance studio, media center, volleyball and basketball teams. High School Junior Michael Duron is on the varsity basketball team and says until now, they've been the only public high school team in Houston that has to practice on the school parking lot.

"And every time it rains, if it was a harsh rain well we would have to cancel practice. In the heat, we're out here and in the cold we're out here. It's kind of hard to manage yourself to the weather because once you play in the gym, well it's different."

The basketball team will host their first home game next fall. Members of the YES Dance Company are also looking forward to better practice conditions. Indira Gonzalez is a senior who won't get to benefit from the new building, but says it's a much-needed improvement.

"At first we started off in a room with no mirrors, so basically we were kind of dancing to what we thought was the right way. But we actually got mirrors in and it's actually just a long classroom. But the ceilings are low and the tiles are loose, so every time we try and do big flips or something people always run in and make holes in the ceilings or trip over tiles and it's actually kind of dangerous, but it's not the best conditions but we still manage."

About 1,500 students currently attend school at four YES campuses. YES is a free, open-enrollment public school system that requires students to gain admission to a four-year college in order to receive their high school diploma. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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