Big changes coming at Lake Highlands High

Big changes are coming to Lake Highlands High, including one that some said was impossible

Perhaps donkeys do fly.

For years, parents of students walking between Lake Highlands High School and the Freshman Center have complained about the hassles of making the trek. Punishment for being late to class, showing up soaked from the rain and worries about security are just a few objections often brought to principals, PTA meetings and the school board, and committees – including a couple I’ve served on – have considered ways to build a covered walkway between the buildings to keep students safe and dry.

The answer was always the same – it can’t be done.

There’s a fire lane running between the Freshman Center (now called ‘H’ building) and LHHS (now ‘L’ building), and any covered walkway would pass through and interfere with the fire lane. Conventional wisdom was that the fire lane could not be moved.

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Never say never.

LHHS is in the early stages of a major expansion and renovation project funded by the 2016 bond, including transformation of its library, extensive upgrades to its HVAC and plumbing systems, a brand new multipurpose activity center (MAC) and construction of 24 new classrooms. Architects on the project, expected to be completed in 2020, have spoken to the City of Dallas, and the City says “it’s possible” to move the fire lane northward on the property and build classrooms and/or a covered walkway to close the gap.

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The plans are still in the development phase and must go to planning and zoning for approval. Monday night, RISD trustees were briefed updated on the new possibilities, and Tuesday, planners sought opinions from the LHHS Program Planning Committee comprised of homeowners, teachers and students.

If approved, allowing students to move between the two buildings under cover would make a big difference to hundreds of Wildcats each day.

When the Freshman Center first opened in 1998, few of its students spent any of their day at LHHS. Freshmen had their own principal, their own counselors and their own separate (and smaller) catalog of freshman-only courses to choose from. Today, upper classmen travel to the LHFC/H building for classes and to visit the counselors’ office, and freshmen choose courses from the same “world-is-your-oyster” big book of offerings as older students. Visit during any passing period, and teens fill the parking lot, moving back and forth.

Stay tuned – moving the fire lane could be a game-changer.

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