YES Prep Public Schools
YES Prep Public Schools & SPARK School Park Program

On Thursday, November 17, YES Prep Public Schools was honored to host a dedication ceremony of the brand-new SPARK park located next door to YES Prep East End Secondary. The new East End SPARK Park is located at 8401 Lawndale Street. The celebration was part of SPARK School Park Program’s “SPARK Week” events with park dedications each day. 

The East End SPARK Park is a cooperative venture between YES Prep’s East End families, students and community.  The new park includes a concrete walking path, picnic tables and  a lighted sporting field.  

SPARK park dedication ceremony 

For the dedication ceremony, YES Prep East End Secondary Principal Aaron Simmons welcomed all the attendees. He was followed by Enrique Garcia, from Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia’s office, who shared that the school will be presented with a United States flag that has flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. and State Representative Christina Morales, Dist. 145 presented the Texas flag that has flown over the Capitol in Austin. SPARK School Park Program Executive Director Kathleen Ownby presented certificates of appreciation to all those who had a hand in making the East End SPARK Park a reality. YES Prep East End Elementary Principal Brian Vannest closed out the ceremony.  

To celebrate the opening of the park, YES Prep’s East End Secondary cheer team performed and an official ribbon cutting concluded the event. Attendees were also treated to hot chocolate, fitting for the chilly day. 

Additional special guests included: Sandra Zamarripa, Harris County Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s office; Joaquin Martinez, Council Member Robert Gallegos’ office, City of Houston District I; Mark DiBella, CEO, YES Prep Public Schools; Guy Hagstette, Kinder Foundation; Ryan Smith, The Brown Foundation; Garret Berg, Port Houston; Trisha Bradley, Frost Bank; Lauren Griffith & Associates; and Chris Gonzalez and Michele Fraga, SPARK Board Members. 

It takes a village  

The East End SPARK Park contractor was Linbeck and the project managers were Cheris Kotalik, Director of Construction Projects, and Keith Weaver, Managing Director of Operations, from YES Prep. The landscape architect was Lauren Griffith. YES Prep students worked with former art teacher Jerry Ellison and current art teacher Antowana Richardson on the concrete picnic tables. Trees for Houston furnished 10 native Texas trees including four maple, two sweet gum and four American sycamore which were planted by Port Houston volunteers.   

Generous financial support  

Council member Robert Gallegos gave $10,000 from his council district service funds. The Cullen Foundation gave $25,000, Port Houston donated $25,000 and Frost Bank donated $3,000. YES Prep contributed $154,000. The total cost for the SPARK Park was just over $317,664. Park desert funding of $100,000 came from Houston Endowment, Kinder Foundation and The Brown Foundation. The school is eligible for “park desert” funding because there is not another city, county or SPARK Park within a 10-minute walk from the school.   

About SPARK School Park Program 

SPARK was founded by then-Council member Eleanor Tinsley in 1983. The program develops neighborhood parks on public school grounds and uses available public land as a fast and cost-effective way to increase park acreage. Each park is designed based on ideas and needs of the school and surrounding neighborhoods. SPARK has built 200+ community parks in 17 different school districts throughout the Houston area.  

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