State-of-the-art school rises from ashes of Hurricane Irma

State-of-the-art school rises from ashes of Hurricane Irma

Published on Fox 13 Tampa Bay by Aaron Mesmer


Crews began putting the finishing touches on the new Tampa Heights Elementary School Friday, three years after the building nearly completely burned down following Hurricane Irma.

Workers added the final piece to the top of the building — an architectural finish called a cupola — as the Hillsborough County School District prepares to open the school for the second semester.

“This school, Tampa Heights, is more than just a school. It is a tradition in our community,” said Superintendent Addison Davis. “It is a staple in this community. For us to really get back together to bring this school back and allow our children, accept our children to transition back to these hallways is going to be a remarkable moment for this community and for our students.”

In 2017, as power was restored on the heels of Hurricane Irma, a fire destroyed almost all of what was then Robert E. Lee Elementary School. Design and construction teams were able to salvage the century-old exterior brick walls, while building a state-of-the-art interior.

Principal Wendy Harrison said she’s excited to welcome students back to the building.

“I can’t wait to get our children back into the seats of Tampa Heights,” Harrison said. “It’s been here since 1906 and we’re going to continue the education journey here at Tampa Heights. We’re going to take a combination of old traditions and we’re going to make new traditions.”

The more-than 300 students who will be attending Tampa Heights have temporarily been going to Lockhart Elementary School.