“You can’t go back,” said Ella Stuebing, former principal of Sims Elementary from 1988 to 2001. “You have memories that can’t be erased, feelings that can’t be erased. The way I look at it, it was a building.”

Sims Elementary School was built in 1964 and was named after Dr. E.E. Sims. On Sept. 13, 2008 the flood waters from Hurricane Ike swept through Bridge City, leaving most of the city in utter devastation. Some buildings were able to be repaired, but Sims was not.

“There were so many things in the building that were just destroyed,” she said. Stuebing mentioned that group pictures of every class for the past 40 years were destroyed due to Ike.

“We’re going to go ahead and have it demolished,” said Dr. Jamey Harrison, superintendent of Bridge City Independent School District. There will be a special ceremony for decommissioning of Sims.

Current and former employees of the school, as well as alumni, are invited to attend the ceremony on Friday, Dec. 17 at 2:30 p.m. A few individuals will have some comments and then the microphone will be open to anyone wishing to share special memories and stories from their time in the building.

“It’s sad to see that a place that housed so many children is no longer going to be there,” said Stuebing. “But I hope that when we were there, we were able to give them something more than four walls.

“We had games, talent shows, and no paper/pencil days,” she said. Stuebing said that the school would have parades for just about any occasion.

“We cried together at times, but we laughed a lot,” she said. “We all knew one another. We all trusted one another. We were all loyal to one another. Our aim was to keep better to serve the kids.”

“I don’t think of the building as much as I think of the spirit,” she said. “The people are what made the school what it is.”

At one point, it housed 720 students from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. The school has only had seven principals: Joe VanBreeman, Ella Stuebing, Sandra Rose, Tammie Skelton, Gina Mannino, Kent Broussard and Kelli McBride. Dr. E.E. Sims, now over 90 years old, lives in Waco in a retirement home.

Harrison said that there aren’t any immediate plans for the property, but they will continue to maintain and mow the lot.

“We don’t want to be an eye sore or a safety problem in that neighborhood. The district currently plans to keep the property.”

Given that Hatton and Sims schools were beyond repair, the district has been focusing on the new elementary school that is being built where Hatton once stood. It will be completed sometime in the spring but will be ready for the students next school year. The new school will house approximately 650 students in it’s new state-of-the-art facility.

About Nicole Gibbs

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