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13 June . 2017

Paetow High School features brand-new design and “real world” emphasis

A “learning green” the size of eight football fields is one of many unique features that students and parents will discover when the Katy Independent School District’s new Paetow High School opens in August.

Part of a Katy ISD K-12 tri-campus located two miles from Elyson, Paetow High School is adjacent to Stockdick Junior High, which also opens in August. Bethke Elementary, also part of the tri-campus, opened in 2016. Elyson students are zoned to attend all three of these state-of-the-art schools.

Paetow features a brand-new architectural design that represents a dramatic departure from the traditional linear layout of older high schools, said Principal Mindy Dickerson.

“We worked closely with the architects to create a new school design that would reflect our emphasis on student-driven learning and real-world connections,” said Dickerson, who has 16 years of experience as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in Katy ISD.

The first three-story high school in Katy ISD, Paetow has an L-shaped design with two classroom towers on the east and west ends. In between the towers is the “hub,” which houses the school’s counseling office, library, administrative offices and other support services.

The school has three sets of “learning stairs,” providing spaces for students and teachers to gather for collaborative learning, arts performances and other activities.

Located between Paetow and Stockdick, the learning green will connect the two campuses and facilitate collaborative projects between students at both schools. The green will include an amphitheatre for student performances, and picnic tables where students can gather for lunch.

Other features include art classrooms with access to outdoor studio areas, a
natatorium and a 900-seat performing arts center. The athletics program will offer 16 sports.

Technology is another focus at Paetow, with filtered Wi-Fi in all classrooms. Students can bring their own devices, and each classroom will have five Chromebooks available for student use. Each classroom will also have a 55-inch smart panel computer, allowing students and teachers to conduct research and share presentations with the entire class.

Science classrooms include advanced calculators and professional grade temperature probes that will enable students to graph data points. By design, all science labs are located on the third floor, so students only need to go up to the top floor once during the school day.

The school’s many gathering spaces and collaborative learning areas will provide many opportunities to expose students to what Dickerson calls “real world connections.”

“We already have exciting plans to bring in guest speakers that will help every students find his or her path and passion, whether that’s going on to college or an apprenticeship,” Dickerson said. “A team from Google will come in to share about their company’s goal setting process and how it impacts their products. PBK Architects, who designed our new building, will come in for a leadership forum.”

Before coming to Paetow, Dickerson was principal of Katy ISD’s Beckdendorff Junior High School, which has about 1,800 students and ranks No. 4 among more than 300 Houston area middle schools ranked by Children at Risk in 2017.

“Compared to Beckendorff, our incoming class of about 750 students will be relatively small,” said Dickerson. “We look forward to getting to know each student, figuring out what’s important to them, and helping them on to their educational journey in high school and beyond.”

Dickerson said that Paetow will start with 9th and 10th grade classes, and will add one new grade level each year. She expects the 450,000-square-foot school to quickly reach its capacity of 3,000 students. The school is starting out with a staff of 102, including 55 teachers.

The entire Katy ISD community will be invited to get a first look at Paetow and Stockdick with the Ignite! celebration on August 12, a week before school starts. Festivities will include food trucks and activities such as bounce houses.
We’ll have more details on Ignite! in a future blog post.

For more information on the highly regarded Katy ISD schools serving Elyson, please visit our Schools page.

tags: Katy ISD