West Fork High School opportunity for learning

West Fork High School: Another Opportunity for Learning

Students represent our future. What we teach them and how well we teach them affects the quality of our communities for the next generation. I closed yesterday’s post with a note about a detention pond at the new Kingwood Middle School. Their simple little pond can provide so many opportunities for learning.

The same is true of New Caney ISD’s West Fork High School, now under construction on Sorters-McClellan Road south of Kingwood Drive. Perhaps this provides even more opportunities for learning because it’s so much closer to a major source of flooding.

Here are pictures taken last week that show the location and status of construction. I begin with an unusual choice: the campus detention pond. The reason why will become clear below.

Photos Taken 1/29/22

This giant detention pond was the first thing built on the site. Notice the 59 Bridge over the San Jacinto West Fork in the upper right. Also notice the expansion of Sorters-McClellan road to handle the expected traffic.
A shot from slightly higher and a little down the road clearly shows wetlands, ponds, the West Fork and its confluence with Spring Creek.
Looking S at the confluence of West Fork (bottom) and Spring Creek (right). That large island first appears in Google Earth Pro as a tiny sliver of sand at the end of 2018. It has grown to its present size since then.
Looking north at entire 50-acre campus. The detention pond comprises about 10% of that.
Athletic facilities at West Fork High School including field house. Note US59, Insperity and Kingwood HCA Medical Center in upper right.
Looking NW toward Sorters-McClellan Road and several West Fork Sand mines in background.
Kingwood Place Drive has been extended south to provide another way to get into and out of the campus.
Looking SW.
The campus is built around a large central courtyard that will become its signature feature. But I wonder how 17 inches of rain will get out of there in a 100-year storm.
Main entrance on Sorters-McClellan Road. Looking SE.

Lessons to Be Learned

Students always have more interest in learning things that relate to their personal lives. They explore those things deeper, learn them faster and retain them longer. Flooding has impacted thousands of students in this area. If they weren’t directly flooded during Harvey, chances are they know someone who was.

Right outside the high school, teachers now have real-world classroom to teach students about flooding.

  • How do compaction and impervious cover affect the rate of rainfall infiltration?
  • How does that affect the time of concentration of runoff?
  • How does that affect flood height?
  • What’s the mathematical relationship between the size of the pond and the amount of impervious cover added to the campus?
  • How do detention ponds work and how does that affect the time of concentration?
  • Why is it important to “retain your rain?”
  • How will the campus detention pond affect people downstream?
  • Why doesn’t every new development have detention ponds?
  • What State, County and Local regulations affect the development of detention ponds and their capacity?
  • What is meant by externalizing a business’ costs?
  • How would downstream taxpayers be affected if this detention pond were not built?
  • What would happen to their flood insurance costs?
  • What is flood insurance?
  • Who should get flood insurance and why?
  • Does the cost of flood insurance affect low-income families more than high-income families?
  • Is that fair?
  • Should we have a state law or regional flood-control district mandating detention pond capacity requirements?
  • How do we change laws?
  • What does caveat emptor mean?

This can not only be a math lesson, it can be a civics/government lesson, a geography lesson, a science lesson, an engineering lesson, an environmental lesson and more.

Why So Important?

Susanne Kite, a reader of yesterday’s post, commented, “Kids and young people should learn these things so they can make smart choices in life!! And so they won’t be surprised when they start growing web feet.” I would add, “So they won’t be surprised when they buy a home!”

After kids explore answers to all the questions above, they need to find answers to an even bigger question. “How can we all live together?”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/7/22

1623 Days since Hurricane Harvey