Katy ISD celebrates new school year with opening of Haskett Jr. High

By R. Hans Miller, News Editor
Posted 8/18/21

The halls of Haskett Junior High School – Katy ISD’s 17th junior high – buzzed with excitement after the bell between first and second periods this morning. Students, faculty, staff …

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Katy ISD celebrates new school year with opening of Haskett Jr. High

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The halls of Haskett Junior High School – Katy ISD’s 17th junior high – buzzed with excitement after the bell between first and second periods this morning. Students, faculty, staff and even the school’s namesakes, Bill and Cindy Haskett, expressed excitement about the district’s new $65.6 million campus.

“We’ve been out here all morning welcoming the kids in,” said Katy ISD Superintendent Ken Gregorski. “It’s pretty fantastic.”

Gregorski said the campus has about 800 students registered for classes at this time and that things for the new campus have been going smoothly overall. Gregorski was able to attend the recent meet-the-teacher night and parents and students had given him positive feedback on the new building.

Many students wore masks in the hallways though the school district has not mandated such. Court battles between Fort Bend and Harris counties are ongoing with Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Gregorski has issued a statement encouraging masks but said at this time the district will follow Abbott’s standing executive order until the courts and Texas Education Agency have given clear guidelines.

Haskett Principal David Paz said that he’s excited about the new building, but more so the team he has been able to put together. Paz said hiring the right people, which he has referred to as “difference makers” has been important as well as getting his new staff together over the summer for team building has allowed him to build a culture at Haskett before the doors even opened for students.

“Really, having our workout tour what we did and having staff socials throughout the summer is something that … builds vulnerability,” Paz said. “For them to get to know who the leadership team is, who their principal is, in a casual setting before the work starts – I was able to really understand and get to know my staff at a deeper level.”

Paz received his Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Masters in Educational Administration from the University of Houston.  He also holds a Doctorate in Public Administration from Texas A&M University, according to the KISD website.

Paz said the summer did offer up some challenges as the campus’s construction was coming to be finalized. The school’s gym is still without bleachers, though Paz said he hopes that is remedied before the Huskie’s first volleyball game. Texas and American flags are on back-order, so while the students will still say the pledges to both flags, they’re making do with images on a computer or smartboard in the classroom for now.

Paz said contingency plans are in place for temporary bleachers if the permanent ones are not installed before the first home game at Haskett. He also praised Katy ISD’s administration and maintenance staff for their support and ability to provide flexible solutions to the challenges of opening a new campus.

Bill and Cindy Haskett, the school’s namesakes, were also on hand for the campus’s opening. Cindy said she was extremely proud of the staff and the district for the quality and details put into the campus. She was especially excited about some of the faculty she was familiar with and other things that brought her and Bill joy.

“The fact that the Husky was selected as the mascot since we have a husky (is very special),” Cindy said. “There are teachers here that are former students of mine. There are parents here of students that the parents are former students of mine.”

Both Hasketts had long careers in education, including time serving in Katy ISD. Bill was principal for Katy High School for 15 years and Cindy taught math at Katy Junior High from 1980 until 2005. Cindy said Paz and his staff have been welcoming and open and both she and Bill said they were truly honored to be the namesakes for the school.

“I’m just thinking about the fact that there have been so many outstanding namesakes in the district,” Bill said. “And we’re amazed and humbled by the fact that we were selected to be the namesake of this outstanding facility, and like Cindy said, we’re just blown away by Dr. Paz and think the enthusiasm he exhibits – I can see future leaders from this school going to other schools because he’s done such a great job of putting together his staff that they’ll go on and do great things beyond Haskett Junior High and we’re happy about them.”

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