Luckily the students and parents at Bridge City Elementary School
have gotten a preview look at the new building. Otherwise, the
school would have a huge pedestrian traffic backup on Monday, the
first day of school. The inside is stop-and-stare gorgeous.
"Look how awesome your school is," a mother told her children
Thursday morning as they walked the main hall lined with colorful
painted murals on the walls.
The entry to the main hall gives a preview of what is in store.
Above the double doors is an arch made of three-dimensional figures
of cars and boats, with a cardinal mascot named "Little Red" in the
middle. "Your Journey Begins Here."
"It's almost like Disney here in Bridge City," said Principal Kelly
McBride. The Disney connection is for-real. The interior designer
has done work for Disney.
The glassed-in library is the focal point inside. Besides having the
traditional shelves of books, the library has a bright red and black
old-fashioned train. A three-dimensional cardinal with a train
engineer's cap is hanging out the locomotive engine's window, waving
a wing. The cars are open with long pads to give young readers a fun
place to relax with a book.
Parent Rhonda Proctor was there with her 5-year-old son, Kolton, who
will start kindergarten. "I think it's really inviting when (the
kids) walk in the door. It captivates their attention," she said.
In the middle of the library is a puppet stage designed to look like
an old-fashioned one-room school with a clock tower. Square wooden
stools are gathered around the puppet stage.
That model of a school is the only thing resembling old-fashioned in
a school that is not only colorful, but full of modern technologies.
Each classroom has a 'smart board,' a dry-erase style board that is
connected to a computer. The boards can do things never imagined by
teachers who once had to use chalk for lessons.
In addition, teachers have microphones that will hook around their
necks. Each classroom has a sound system with speakers in the
middle. Kids will have no more excuses that they can't hear in the
Teacher Vickie Brown is also amazed by the new school. She's been a
teacher for 27 years and can remember a time when they had to use an
old ditto machine to copy tests for students. If you had purple
fingers, everyone knew you had been at the ditto machine with its
But she also points out that the high-tech and colorful school is
something the young students deserve. For three years, elementary
students in Bridge City have had to meet in portable classrooms
because Hurricane Ike in September 2008 flooded the district's two
“The little ones going into the third grade haven’t been a real
school,” said Stephanie Harvey, a paraprofessional.
The new elementary is on the same site as the old Roy Hatton
Elementary, which was more than 50 years old when it was demolished
after Ike. The storm surge also ruined the E.E. Sims Elementary that
was built in the 1960s. The two schools are memorialized with the
names on the entry way design.
Brown has a special connection to the new school site. She and her
husband, along with her son, attended Hatton Elementary.
The ‘awesome’ school is a kind of reward for the suffering the
Bridge City school district went through in the months after Ike.
The district was able to build the school without a bond issue or
tax increase through using insurance money, along with FEMA and
other government hurricane recovery grants.