Austin ISD Celebrates Grand Opening of New Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

Today, Austin ISD and the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders celebrated the grand opening of the new modernized campus, built as part of the 2017 Bond Program. Students, staff and community members gathered to officially cut the ribbon on the new building, which has been open for learning since completion in January 2021.

The event kicked off with a performance by the Marching Stars and featured remarks from students Alexandra Weatherford and Lily Koppen, Principal Kristina Waugh, Superintendent Dr. Stephanie S. Elizalde and Board of Trustees Secretary Arati Singh. Following the formal ceremony, guests were invited to enjoy refreshments and take a tour of the new school led by ARS students.

Since 2007, the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders has embodied its namesake’s lifelong passion for advancing education, empowering young women and creating opportunities for girls who may otherwise be held back from achieving their full potential. The school serves an all-female population in grades 6-12, now with capacity for 1,050 students in the modernized facility.

“While we’ve been enjoying our incredible new school for over a year now, this celebration was so important to our community to recognize the years of hard work and dedication that went into bringing this vision to life,” said ARS Principal Kristina Waugh. “Here at Ann Richards, we tell our students every day that girls will change the world. Now, we have a beautiful facility that reflects that mission and enables students to learn and grow to their fullest potential. I am so grateful to everyone who was part of making this project a success and thrilled that we could commemorate this milestone together.”

The 184,000 square-foot school includes collaborative and flexible spaces that foster community, nurture future leaders and support a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. Key design features include a large dining commons, makerspaces, learning neighborhoods for each grade level and a running track and practice field. The media center is the heart of the school with a two-story slide, learning staircase and outdoor reading porch overlooking the Austin skyline.

“The grand opening of the new Ann Richards School is an incredible milestone for all of us at Austin ISD. It is a project I have been so excited to see come to fruition,” said Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde. “Their mission of empowering young women to reach their highest potential is one of utmost importance to our district, and we are so excited to see the ARS Stars flourish in their new facility.”

Recently receiving LEED Silver certification, the ARS campus is equipped with energy-efficient lighting, water-reducing fixtures and improved air quality filtration. The school also supports outdoor learning, with a variety of new spaces that immerse students in the natural environment and allow teachers to conduct class outside.

For more information on the Ann Richards modernization and 2017 Bond Program, visit