School officials and industry leaders agreed that the partnership between the largest school district in the state and the Energy Capital of the World was long overdue.
On Wednesday afternoon, Houston ISD held the grand opening of The Energy Institute High School, 4400 West 18th Street, in the Heights.
“We have support from the school board and the energy industry,” said Dr. Andrew Houlihan, HISD’s chief of major projects. “Students will get a personalized learning environment that will connect them to relevant, real world experiences when they graduate from high school.”
The magnet high school is located at the site of the former Holden Elementary School.
The school, which opens for students on Aug. 26, will prepare students for careers in the Energy industry, including engineering, geology, geoscience, offshore drilling, environmental science and more.
The ceremony was attended by HISD school board president Anna Eastman and school board trustees Paula Harris and Mike Lunsford, both of whom are Petroleum Engineers.
“This an exciting day,” Harris said. “You can’t find another school board in the country with two Petroleum Engineers on it.”
Harris, who grew up in the Sunnyside neighborhood in south Houston, said the industry provides a lot of opportunities. She discovered it as a Texas A&M freshman and ended up choosing to major in it.
“It’s good that students have an introduction to the industry this early,” Harris said.
The school’s principal, Lori Lambropoulos welcomed the students and community members to the grand opening.
“I’m so excited to be the leader of this brand new school,” Lambropoulos said. “I foresee good things for our students. They said it takes a village to raise a child. I think it takes a city to raise a school.”
Sara Ortwein, vice president of engineering for Exxon Mobil, spoke extensively about the demand for energy and jobs in the field, in the coming years.
“We need highly-trained, high-skilled individuals,” Ortwein said. “Energy is an integral part of our lives. By 2040, we’ll have a 25 percent increase in the world’s population and a 35 percent increase in energy demand.”
Ortwein said traditional energy sources, such as oil, natural gas and coal will be important, as well as biofuels, wind and other alternative energy.
Barry Russell, CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), said students will have the opportunity to work in the field through externships, and hear guest lectures from industry leaders. They’ll also have the opportunity to earn scholarships from Energy companies.
“It’s an honor to be here,” said Russell, a product of HISD schools. “This is a critical partnership.”