Omni Hotel Lobby Simulation at RHS

desk in lobby

Richardson High School now offers students a chance to gain hands-on, real-world experience in a simulated hotel front desk setting on the second floor of the high school. The “Hospitality Hub” is a unique and dynamic classroom environment, meticulously transformed by the Omni Hotel & Resorts design team into a fully functioning simulated hotel lobby.

Bobbie Weir has been a Career and Technical Education teacher in RISD for 12 years. She understands the value of providing students with opportunities to get practical experience through realistic situations. 

“I’m a second career teacher,” Weir says, “That means I have 20 years of experience with Fortune 500 companies across the country. I came back to teach to give back to my community.” 

Weir saw a need and began advocating for a hotel management and hospitality practicum at RHS, and it is growing into something bigger. 

She formulated a plan for a few years to transform her classroom into an operating hotel front desk and had her idea approved with funding in April 2023. Now complete, this classroom is the first in-school, hotel lobby learning space in DFW, and one of a handful in the state.

Weir routinely attends hospitality industry functions and is a member of the Hotel Association of North Texas. During these conferences, she began talking to Omni Hotel representatives about her idea for an expanded hotel management program for high school students. The international luxury hotel company has a 1,001-room hotel connected to the Dallas Convention Center and a new resort in Frisco billed as “The Modern Home of Golf.” 

“’With all this growth and expansion, I said to them, ‘Where do you think your employees are going to come from?’ I know that I can prepare my students to step into high-paying jobs the moment they graduate. The jobs are there; we just need to train the kids and give them an opportunity.”

Cherie DePuy, who used to be a CTE Hospitality Specialist in RISD, met Weir at Omni’s hotel in Frisco to talk to Carolyn Dent and Dave Ricci from Omni. The hotel representatives proposed that Omni design, create, and furnish the hotel management class at RHS. With upcoming renovations to the Dallas Convention Center expected to further boost demand at the Omni downtown, the hotel chain’s decision to partner with RISD and bring this class to RHS is all the more critical. 

“More people need to know more about the skills this program teaches and improves,” Coach Weir says. “Because quick-thinking, interpersonal relationships, and civic responsibility are necessary attributes of any career.”

Weir’s students have had success interning through other hospitality partnerships, including Hyatt Regency, Hilton Lincoln Center, Marriott Courtyard, and Addison Renaissance. Some of the executives who’ve shared their experience with Weir’s students, include the CEO of AT&T and the first Black pilot at the Addison Airport. 

Currently, there are about 50 hospitality students at RHS, including five current interns at Marriott’s Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel. In December, Omni completed the transformation of Weir’s classroom, and everyone gathered in late February for a ribbon cutting. 

“Hospitality is more than the kitchen. It’s transportation, convention centers, and hotels. With this classroom renovation and reinvention, RISD is now at the forefront of the hotel industry,” according to Weir.

(This feature was written by Richardson senior Lily Nicholson, who was a PIP intern this year, working with RISD Strategy & Engagement.)

Share this post